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Ralph Talmont believes it's vitally important to give positive, human-centered communities a chance to grow and thrive.

Ralph Talmont believes it's vitally important to give positive, human-centered communities a chance to grow and thrive.

A conversation with Boma Poland’s Ralph Talmont

'We Must Act Now to Counteract the Forces Pulling Us Apart'

Ralph Talmont is a 30-year veteran of helping companies evolve and thrive in rapidly changing environments. From emerging technologies to ever-changing political and economic landscapes, he works to connect people and ideas that can steer organizations through uncertainty with intelligence and vision. Earlier this year, Talmont and two partners, Ola Dudek and Filiberto Amati, founded Boma Poland — the fifth country partner to join Boma’s global organization — to create a new community to address some of the nation’s most pressing challenges.

Why did you start Boma Poland?

We hope that by gathering a wide range of people from all walks of life, we'll find new ways to bridge the enormous chasms that are now dividing our society — and threatening our future. We want everyone in on this conversation: explorers and scientists, actors and musicians, business leaders, politicians, monks, historians, students, storytellers, hippies, venture capitalists, inventors, you name it. We need positive future-minded people to come together and take meaningful steps to put us on a better course.

How do you build such a community?

If you think about it, a community is not really something that needs to be "built." It already exists in granular form — its potential members, the people I’m talking about, already share common goals, perspectives or ideas. They just don’t know it yet. They haven’t identified themselves as belonging to a bigger collective. So it’s not that this community needs to be built, it simply needs to be defined — and given a chance to coalesce.

What are the challenges of making that happen?

We are living in a time when prevailing political and economic forces often work to pull communities apart — whether by design or by unintended consequence. That’s why giving positive, human-centered communities a chance to grow and thrive is vitally important. Fortunately, never in history has it been easier to bring people together at scale — and never have communities been more ready and eager to form. The community we wish to define already exists in pockets spread around the globe. Boma will provide an opportunity for those little pockets to run together like beads of quicksilver on both local and global stages.

What distinguishes Boma Poland from its sister organizations?

For us, this is a chance to tackle head-on one of the most fundamental issues facing Polish society today: Many Poles have a deep lack of trust toward people outside their immediate circle. Although there may be good historical reasons for this, renewing this trust is one of the best things we can do to have a positive impact in our community.

Where do you think this lack of trust comes from?

I believe it’s because we've lost our "national myth," as one of my heroes, Joseph Campbell, would describe it. And we need a new one. Poland is likely not going to become a global industrial power any time soon, and we will likely not regain the military status we held 500 years ago. We need to move from continual recounting of pain, sacrifice and loss as the central narrative, to celebrating what can be built on those lessons from history with intelligent, creative work in the present.

What we can do is find our own place and build on the depth of culture, richness of wisdom and wealth of professional know-how to make Poland count on the world stage in terms of what the American political scientist Joseph Nye calls "soft power." Some people say that’s not important. Not true. Take a look at what countries of a similar size and wealth are achieving with soft power and you will see how important it really is. Our Boma community, with its global perspectives, attempts to champion achievement and celebrate striving for quality and purpose, in whatever field.

Is that how you define success for Boma Poland?

Going forward, success for Boma, for Poland, for any any country, will be counted not just in terms of wealth, capital and power, but also wise governance, freedom of expression, levels of satisfaction and health (mental and physical) of its people, and that elusive "quality of life" we talk so much about, but have only a sketchy idea of what it means or how to achieve it. A successful country will be one that provides conditions in which its citizens can thrive — and in an open, connected world will be seen as a place not only worthy of living in, but of attracting more like-minded people, investments and opportunities.

Conversations are key to achieving this. And I believe communities that are defined and coalesced around principles of respect, cooperation, learning from each other, and facing the big problems without blinking, are the right places to start those conversations.

Learn more about Boma Poland, or browse upcoming Boma events around the globe.

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