Today, on my birthday — closely hugging the arbitrary marker of a new year and new decade — some reflections and paradoxes have come into even clearer focus for me.

Paradoxes:

  • I am utterly insignificant, and yet infinitely valuable (as is true for all human lives)
  • My work and efforts are meaningless, and yet how we spend our lives matters. We must be compelled to respond to ‘that of God in everyone’
  • Individual choice matters, and yet nothing we accomplish in life is the result of our individual efforts
  • No success, or perceived success, can be claimed by me alone…


At the end of the Earth

will we not want to scream,

that we bore witness to the

thrashing beauty of all things?

Earth scorched, flooded, tempested, frozen…

that we saw the eagle fly

the iridescent, velvet head of the mallard

the soft hunch of squirrel?

That for a time, this was given us

to delight upon and to commune?

At the end of the age,

do we even recognize our own

hollowed hands that wrought

the final emptiness?


One month ago, we published an article with recommendations on where to give during Covid-19. Today, on Giving Tuesday Now, we have updated our list with:

  • a new section on election adaptation and protection
  • added additional organizations to the worker support section
  • de-emphasized ventilator and personal protective equipment (PPE) efforts, due to the large amounts of funding already channeled there*

*According to this piece by Danielle Gram, Managing Director of Founders Pledge San Francisco, Covid-response has already generated over 9 billion of philanthropic giving and “respiratory system support is currently the third most funded philanthropic area in response to Covid”…


Many of us have been moved to give philanthropically in these unprecedented times. The aim of this post is to help you think about how to support both immediate response efforts and long-term needs that the virus has made even worse.

A little about us: We are not experts on philanthropy, and everyone should respond in the way that feels right for them. However, we are close with folks who have thought deeply about effective and meaningful giving. Last year, in collaboration with Bloomberg Beta, Schmidt Futures, and The Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society, we convened a group…


I recently listed to the Doug Rushkoff’s Team Human podcast in which he interviewed Nora Bateson of The Bateson Institute. She’s well known for her concept of ‘warm data’ which describes the critical context often ignored with ‘empirical’ data sets.

In the interview, Bateson uses the term “transcontextual” (as opposed to multi-disciplinary or transdisciplinary) to describe the idea that disciplines are human-made divisions — they are, ‘of the academy.’ Whereas, our world is simply a litany of contexts, and you and I embody multiple of them daily. Your role as husband is a context different, and yet overlapping with your…


The weightiness of beauty,

Like a millstone that threatens to pull you

down…unto breathless death.

A single pulsating star visible in the

Apparition of distant mountain peaks

Now, presently being gifted a fresh winter coat

How did I get this life?

How was I worthy?

Am I worthy?

Morning breaks with cloudless sky

Blue, white, and pale winter green — almost grey

The simplicity of hues and fresh snow, a reminder

Some small creature has traversed our land

but I cannot make out the tracks

Snow filled with tiny diamonds, singing back to the sky


Nice cufflinks

Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase, is at it again — this time pontificating from Davos on saving capitalism. Here is his piece. It’s a quick read, and I suggest you read it for context.

Now, a few thoughts:

  1. Framing the discussion as some age-old battle between capitalism vs. socialism is distracting, unhelpful, and an intentional skirting of the real issues. I’ve written more on why capitalism vs. socialism is the entirely wrong debate and dichotomy (please forgive my horrible homemade graphic), but the key takeaway is that 99% of global economies are a spectral mixture of the two systems.


(originally posted on Twitter @denisehearn_ on June 8, 2019)

Recently I was asked to appear on a conservative TV news show for their “capitalism vs. socialism” week. After explaining the basic premise of my argument, I was rescheduled and then canceled.

Here’s why capitalism vs. socialism is an entirely wrong debate and dichotomy:

Sorry for this horrible graphic, I take full responsibility.

First off, no one agrees on (or even seems to understand) definitions of both systems. To quote Michael Bloomberg in an address at Harvard:

“Anyone who believes that unfettered capitalism works hasn’t read history.” — Michael Bloomberg

I would add that anyone who believes socialism works also…


Not a day goes by without another op-ed about the need to save capitalism, to make it a more equitable vehicle for progress. Proponents, bolstered by the Business Roundtable announcement about expanding the corporate charter to a broader set of stakeholders, argue that doing well and doing good are not mutually exclusive.

Time Magazine cover from May 12, 2016. LINK.

While this is generally a positive discourse, in my own conversations with a broad swath of people (investors, founders, nonprofits and community orgs, academics), two opposing factions have surfaced, both of which I find unhelpful and incomplete responses to this unyieldingly important time of values realignment.

In one…


Here’s why I’m glad 99/100 people on Forbes Top 100 Most Innovative Leaders list were men:

The list is NOT the problem, the list is the symptom.

The real problem is the methodology/thinking about what kinds of leaders we venerate, and how we measure success.

The problem of scale — the research started by isolating for companies over $10 billion in market value and highest growth firms. Now, I’m not against people succeeding and building large businesses — but too often, that scale has come at the expense of winner-take-all dynamics (Amazon, Google, FB, Uber, etc.) that venture capitalists goad…

Denise Hearn

I’m the co-author of The Myth of Capitalism. Here you’ll find my personal reflections and poetry.

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