#Technology to Deeply #Listen to Each Other through Small Groups, both Asynchronous and Synchronous with Lorenz Sell

Imagine software that can be used to cultivate meaningful connections online. According to Lorenz Sell, this is possible by creating a container where small groups can deeply “listen” to each other, both sync and async.

95% of people who engage in online learning are likely to drop out. In this episode, Lorenz Sell shares how it is possible to create impactful learning experiences online through deep listening in ways that may surprise you and in turn gain 100% engagement.  He shares his story when he first recognized the importance of integrating listening into small groups, and how this inspires him when he writes code. He talks about his insights on the importance and effectiveness of tracking how you listen over time, and the unique force small groups bring in engaging individuals so that they experience a deep and genuine sense of connection. 

Lorenz describes his entrepreneurial journey and how deep listening has played a role. Not only has he learned a lot about himself and his internal landscape, he has also learned about what happens with others when you listen in various ways, what happens when people listen to you, and how this has inspired his drive to make possible generative listening in the online environment. His participation with the ulab program of the Presencing Institute back in 2015 gave him his first encounter with strangers online where he felt a deep sense of connection. Since then, he strives to provide people the life-changing power of a heartfelt relationship in small groups.

Lorenz Sell is the co-founder of Sutra – an all in one course and community solution for heart centered educators. His interest in community dynamics began after attending the Burning Man Festival in 2007. He has spent almost two decades building technology companies and has a deep interest in online.  Sutra has supported programs at the Harvard Program in Refugee Trauma, leadership programs at the UN and the Presencing Institute, as well as many other organizations and individuals.  Together with his partner and co-founder, Lorenz has helped hundreds of people create impactful learning experiences online.  He is a certified yoga teacher and received a degree in Computer Engineering from Tufts University.

“In my world view, the path to peace was to keep listening. The path to peace was cultivating a capacity to truly receive one another – to truly listen at a much deeper level.” Lorenz Sell

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Listen IN Notes:

0:27 – The first time Lorenz noticed the real essence of listening: His experience with the Presencing Institute’s u.lab program where the four levels of listening was emphasized.

02:24 – The four levels of listening discussed by the Presencing Institute: (1) Downloading, (2) Factual Listening, (3) Empathic Listening, and the (4) Generative Listening.

03:20 – The moment he first heard of these four levels of listening and when he experienced what those levels meant for him.

08:28 – The back story of all these: the experience that really brought his awareness to the possibility of peace.

15:05 – What is different with online connection and what he learned about creating experiences for deep levels of communication.

19:32 – Lorenz talks about his company Sutra and what it does: how to bring more relevant human connections around the world and connect people in communities to share knowledge.

22:45 – How unique Sutra is from other platforms: The heart of all their work revolves in creating spaces where there is a deep level of presence and connection between participants as they share in small groups.

29:49 – The similarity of visual drawings to the tagging feature of Sutra: allowing people to see what just happened in the conversation.

32:04 – The complexity of online communities. There’s no magic formula to do everything.

35:04 – Lorenz’s advice for younger engineers in relation to creating code that can have impact on deep connection.

39:21 – The mentorship program: Transformational Teaching Online. 

Key Takeaways: 

“If you don’t know listening as a thing, then you can’t really practice it.”  – Lorenz Sell

“One of the ways that people can feel deeply connected is when they create something together.” – Lorenz Sell

“Conversations can be unstructured and in a chaotic space, and that’s the beauty of it. It’s the unpredictability of it that gives the magic to it. It allows for something to be spoken or phrased in a new way that is just perfect and really captures something.” – Lorenz Sell

“Not every person needs to have an aspiration to have an impact on the world…but if there is an aspiration for a person to do so, really find what’s meaningful to them and engage in that inquiry very earnestly, because that inquiry can be an adventure.” – Lorenz Sell


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