We created Not Simple, because we care deeply about the way we as humans oversimplify the complex problems of the world. Will we solve those problems in this podcast? Probably not! But we encourage you to join host Wendy Bittner as she embraces their complexity and tries to think differently.

Not Simple is produced by Rebecca Scott.
Dave Michalak composed our theme.

“That can also happen in the game! In whatever match it is, it can all be going one way, the momentum’s going, and then suddenly a small event–as in complex systems–tips the system . . . and suddenly the whole game is transformed.”

Keith Johnston, co-founder of Cultivating Leadership, writer, and passionate fan of the All Blacks, joins Wendy to talk sport(s) as an echo for human life, a way to understand complexity, and a source of fun.

“What’s the gift in the now? It’s so easy to be thinking what’s the next thing, what’s the next thing, what’s the next thing.”

Aenslee Tanner, engineer turned leadership coach, talks to Wendy, chemist turned leadership consultant, about how we oversimplify life’s big choices and what new questions we might ask to change our focus from choosing the right thing to embracing possibility.



“If we are going to welcome diversity, we have to welcome conflict.”

Aftab Erfan, Director of Dialogue and Conflict Engagement at the University of British Columbia, and Wendy discuss how we can engage with, rather than manage, conflict in the name of creating greater insight along polarized lines.

“Psychologists have a way of talking about people as if we were only minds and it’s to miss something incredibly important and beautiful about us, which is that we’re organisms that have this amazing ability to connect and enrich and infuriate.”

Writer, editor, psychotherapist, and now filmmaker Lloyd Linford joins Wendy to discuss the ways we co-create narratives and how we talk to others changes our brains.

“Because it’s such a complex system, it’s a gradual change and has bumps and wiggles.”

Juliane Fry, professor of Chemistry and Environmental Studies at Reed College, talks to Wendy about the complexity of climate change.

“I’ve given up looking for ‘whys’ so much as ‘tell me the story that that brings to mind’ . . . because I think with ‘why’ you can easily justify, you can easily go to ‘here are concrete reasons that fit for me.’”

Tony Quinlan, CEO and Chief Storyteller at Narrate (and one of our colleagues at Cultivating Leadership), joins Wendy to discuss the ways society’s polarization destroys connections between people and impedes our ability to deal with the problems we face.

“It’s not about simple cause and effect. You can put in place all the right conditions to grow beans, and then they start growing and there’s a sense of pride. Then you come in one day and realize ‘Oh no! Deer have eaten everything.”

Gideon Culman is the founder and owner of K Street Coaching, host of his own podcast, Where Genius Grows, and an amateur gardener. He talks to Wendy about using gardening as a prism for making sense of complexity in the world.

“I think knowing that there are many different experiences is possible if you take the time to do it . . . asking, ‘I see you’re a veteran. From what era?’ and then saying ‘What was your service like?'”

Hillary Wandler is a professor of law and Director of the Veterans Advocacy Clinic at the University of Montana. She and Wendy discuss how we oversimplify veterans’ experiences and what everyone can do to help.

“We’ve ingested the mythology that’s put out there that everyone has a chance to make it and that everyone can do it–and if you don’t make it, it’s your fault.”

René Bryce-Laporte, a DC-based consultant, joins Wendy to discuss the ways we oversimplify issues of advantage.

“Our personal interests drive both our risk appetite and how we manipulate and control risk.”

Elizabeth Mayo, Global Director of Solar Advisory at UL, joins Wendy to discuss the ways we oversimplify risk in energy, airplanes, and life in general.