CM 088: Eric Liu on Your Hidden Power

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Blog Post - Liu and PowerfulWhen you hear the word power, what comes to mind? For most of us, we imagine power-hungry leaders or think of phrases like power corrupts. But when my guest, Eric Liu, considers power, he sees something different. He views power as a positive force. In fact, he believes it is a gift each of us can use to shape society.

At a time when many of us feel powerless, Eric offers a simple set of instructions for seizing power and using it to help shape our communities, our nation, and the world. He is Founder and CEO of the non-profit, Citizen University and author of the book, You’re More Powerful than You Think: A Citizen’s Guide to Making Change Happen. His TED Talk on citizen power and voting has been viewed over 2 million times.

In this interview we discuss:

  • How power is an important literacy
  • Why power is about who gets to decide
  • How power is a gift we are continuously giving away
  • How our citizenship endows us with unearned power and privilege that we should share with intention
  • Why we need to ask ourselves, to whom am I giving my power, my might, and my imagination?
  • The myth of rugged individualism in the face of game-changing collective action and collaboration we have seen across history
  • How we are part of a collective web of relationship, obligation, and mutual aid
  • The fact that power compounds as people with voice and connections amass it
  • The fact that power justifies itself as incumbents spin narratives to maintain it
  • The realization that many rely on intimidation and self-justifying narratives to maintain their power
  • How power is infinite as demonstrated by movements to push back and reinforce pockets of power
  • How we can reframe power by changing the game, the story, and the equation
  • The fact that we are all better off when we are all better off
  • The power of story in organizing for change — the story of self, the story of us, and the story of now
  • How a civic collaboratory taps into the shared need and wisdom of organizations to amplify their impact
  • How we are strong in our ideals of citizenship but weak in practicing them
  • Why citizenship is about power plus character – working on behalf of a greater good
  • How we accuse others in order to excuse ourselves
  • How taking responsibility sets in motion a cycle of responsibility that is contagious

Links to Topics Mentioned in this Podcast


The Power Paradox by Dacher Keltner

Nick Hanauer

Marshall Ganz

Jose Antonio Vargas

Bonds that Make Us Free by C Terry Warner

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Thank you to Emmy-award-winning Creative Director Vanida Vae for designing the Curious Minds logo, and thank you to Rob Mancabelli for all of his production expertise!



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