Lucinda Holdforth is an accomplished speechwriter, an in-demand speechwriting coach, and a seasoned author. She worked with the likes of Australian deputy prime minister Kim Beazley in the 90s. Her latest book, 21st Century Virtues, How They Are Failing Our Democracy came out in August 2023 and caught my attention ironically through a post she did on LinkedIn, describing the modern perils of the said online professional networking platform where many of us professionals have found ourselves posting, scrolling, adding emotional reactions like “insightful” or “celebrating”, commenting and sharing.
Her leadership communications experience is broad-ranging, and her client list includes board directors and senior executives across many fields, including aviation, manufacturing, retail, government, telecommunications and information technology, finance, and banking. Her acclaimed speech writing workshop has been delivered to leading organisations such as the Australian Embassy in Beijing, Westpac Bank, and law firm Corrs Chambers Westgarth. Lucinda also provides one-on-one speechwriting coaching/mentoring on request. Lucinda's book about the art of speechwriting was released in 2019 and she is the author of two previous non-fiction works: True Pleasures: A Memoir of Women in Paris (2004) and Why Manners Matter: The Case for Civilised Behaviour in a Barbarous World (2007).
Here we discuss The Politics of Modern Virtues including:
1. Why do you regard the free play of speech and ideas as essential for democracy and shared progress? And what does that mean you see is currently happening in 2023?
2. “Authenticity. Vulnerability. Humility. Transparency. These are some of the 21st-century virtues proselytised by mindset gurus, paraded (if not practised) by big corporations, and lauded by professionals on LinkedIn. The quest for authenticity, for example, is central to progressive campaigns for greater diversity and inclusion, while our political and business leaders are highest praised if they appear to be humble. But are Australia’s newest virtues fit for purpose? “This is quite the introduction to explain your latest book. Can you recall the moment that you decided this was book-worthy material and why now?
3. You essentially are resisting this new world orthodoxy. Why do broader civic values better serve our democracy than the more inward-focused ones like sharing “my truth” or “personal brands” we seem to see more of online and even offline. Can you give us an example of why this is not helpful or to be applauded?
4. What is the anecdote to saving our modern democracy from virtue signalling but still recognising the modern world and younger generations are going to define and showcase what matters to them with labels and affirmations, even if we don’t? We may never fully embrace the ways and values of the past.
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