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Re-newing for Authenticity, Courage and Resilience

There must be at least 6 or 7 versions of this newsletter that I’ve started to send to you to share a bunch of things in the best way to let you hear them and resonate but fate has spoken and I’m working on another machine while hurrying in traffic because once you hit the ground running after a half-work-half-play vacation, the ground hits back... so in its stead... here is what I wanted to say.

I had a midlife crisis-level revelation. "Another one Duena?!? Isn’t that what made you leave the financial industry to fix Human Debt everywhere?!?" to which I say "Yes exactly like that one – who decided how many we can have considering no one is sure when the actual middle is?"

What’s this new one? That I have been starting to be inauthentic and am burning out again. Over my career and lifetime, it happened quite a few times. My first time managing tens of reports. My first time building a scale-up. My first ask to execute someone else’s failed strategy and some of the times when I had to navigate places with extreme Human Debt and rampant politics. All of those times required a level of fakery out of me that asked me to wear one other additional “professional mask” in addition to my hide-neurodivergence-from-mean-neurotypicals one. And when the level of fakery is high I become so emotionally dysregulated I dissociate aka disengage so then there is no authenticity to speak of.

I expect this process my mind goes through to protect itself is neither isolated to me nor unique and a version of that happens to most of us Human Debt Fighters when we hit cape fatigue but this time I was more prepared for it and saw it coming.

Over the years, I've had to concede that inauthentic interaction costs me dearly emotionally, so when I can afford the respite I tend to stay well away from them but in business, we don’t elect who we will come in contact with and with my book TechLedCulture about to land in October, my media and PR teams have caused me to reconsider everything and accept business commitments that I knew would hurt my ability to function so I decided to take the constraint and use it against my own patterns of procrastination and turned the entire exercise into a branding moment that I executed while launching a few new channels and taking the kiddos to Lanzarote.

I had the luxury to deeply consider why this need lingers and what is the genuine holdup to clearing the debt outside of fear if any. I got to think deeply about the industries and communities we are all in – TL;DR – the sheer fact there is this division is at the root of the HumanDebt status quo-; of the bone-chilling fear and utter lack of psychological safety we encounter in executive leadership teams; of the coming of AI and how that ought to unite us all asap; of how not having landed the topic of “work from anywhere” means none of the hard convos on who, what and why everyone is haven’t happened and never will as some of these enterprises will vanish on the back of the silly moves they made post-covid and of how, yes, the paradigm of work has changed and it is now entirely driven by technology in process and in needs.

And then I got to think deeply about where I fit in these many fractured communities. A voice obsessively repeating in the void

We have to kill this HumanDebt you have – clean house, start fresh, with values and purpose and vision and principles that you can hinge your only future competitive advantage on humanity and it is easy to do if we focus on teams and empower them to humanize in ways that improve their performance – you need a Tech Led Culture shakeup

and quite possibly making herself unpleasant to all sides. Execs and HR professionals roll their eyes at how vehement I dare to be about what’s right despite my lack of supporting post-name acronyms, Technology gurus, DevOps, Product and Agile people think I’m “from the other side” even when they can see my WIP tattoo and my heart. Two different worlds I was trying to address differently in my two newsletters “Chasing Psychological Safety” and “The Future is Agile” and hitting none of the briefs really because I was impression managing with all sides in one fashion or another.

So I shall stop trying to fit in as you may have seen in my social media of late. I’m embracing colour, radical honesty and neurodivergence, I’m going to always try and be kind and empathetic but I won’t be sugarcoating anything anymore. What you will see on various channels is a me that just tells it like it is at all times on the topics of humans and work.

The website saw a lick of paint and you can find it at - If you want to help your HumanDebt use this occasion of the book launch to bring me in internally in your enterprise for either an internal forum and a sobering keynote or in any other capacity, so I can be bad cop and tell unpleasant truths to laggard execs who think this is all silly and we could just cut costs. I’ll be honest about how deadly scared of extinction they should be and about how lip service won’t get them anywhere. I won’t hold back. It may not be transformational but it needs saying. Maybe a few of these execs are still passionate enough about their purpose that they’ll come to ask how to empower and help you be a value, not a commodity.

I will from hereon ramble almost daily on social media in some fashion You can find me on YouTube TikTok, Facebook and a sleuth of others in addition to here and soon in the traditional media around the book launch but the bulk of it will stay in your inboxes through these newsletters and on one of these two podcasts where you’ll be pleased to hear, my co-hosts are specialists in the two areas, not like me:

The Secret Society of Human Work Advocates and Human Debt Fighters which I co-host with the amazing Dr. Allessandria Pollizzi, an HR authority can be found here and on all major platforms


And the “people AND tech” podcast which I co-host with my incredible technologist husband, Dave Ballantyne can be found here.

Coming up: "Married 2 Tech" - an exploration of being a couple in technology -think Come Dine with Me but on a podcast with technologists and NeuroSpicy At Work - a foundation I am creating to elevate the amazing gifts we get from neurodivergent leaders and professionals.

All of these formats are about "community and pods" because I strongly believe we need to universally re-team for this big job of figuring out the next step for humanity in the workplace so we will need all of you - please send us your CVs and ideas and proposals. We want to feature all the stories. They all matter so we know we belong.

We’re also working on a handful of other super fun initiatives to help us help you. The ones who are still trying. The ones who were excited after the pandemic turned the tide and are disillusioned and worried now. The ones who never quite shook the tiredness and intellectual hurt of the pandemic. The ones who knew humanity was the way all along but had to conform to the insane business practice of pretending we are not human once we get paid for our skills. The ones who have to bite their tongue every time that the emperor parades around the room naked and proclaims we’re doing well because an annual survey told him so and he has already invested a few hundred in a meditation coach and new oat milk dispensers so they had better return stupendous outcomes in return. I’m here and I’ll be outrageous by being unpleasantly honest with your execs for as long as it takes before we finally see some of this HumanDebt shrink for all of our sakes. --------------------


🎟️Secret Society of HumanWork Advocates podcasts on all major channels

🎦 See more on TikTok and YouTube

📰 Read more weekly and subscribe on LinkedIn or and then DM

us for a discount for my upcoming 📘#TechLedCulture Book out in October

For speaking engagements, to be part of the upcoming global book tour and for paid appearances contact

For media interviews, etc contact

To lower your HumanDebt and get closer to a healthy Tech Led Culture:


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