Jean Houston, Margaret Mead, Helen Keller on Tipping!

Replay Jean Houston:


Jean Houston

One of my all-time favorite quotes is the Margaret Mead gem: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has“.

THIS is the Tipping Point experiment in a nutshell, and today I am thrilled to be interviewing Jean Houston, one of the great story tellers of our time!


If you are not familiar with Jean’s work, this is a ‘MUST hear’ interview. She talks us through the current state of the world from the perspective of a cultural anthropologist who has spent 40+ years working on the ground in over 100 countries with the intent to deepen our understanding of what it really means to be a human being.

Because Jean consults with many of the world’s top business and political leaders, she gives an interesting perspective about how these people hold the whole systems shift we are ensconced.

We talk Jeffrey Sachs, Occupy Wall Street and also about her encounter with Helen Keller when she was a child.  She speaks of our collective need to nurture healthy learning communities, and the power of human potential through the vehicle of creativity.

Jean’s life has been mythic journey and her views about what is happening on the planet right now are relevant and enlightening!

There is also a comical moment where I was positive I heard Jean say ‘I have come to believe that we are NOT going to make it’ and I am glad I push her on this because what she said was actually quite different.

In the end, this interview symbolizes why I started this website in the first place…and I encourage you to share this beautiful dialogue with friends and family!


*The Tipping Point intro was created by Emmy award-winning composer/producer Gary Malkin, founder of Wisdom of the World – media for a meaningful life. Please click here to see more of Gary’s work.

  • Bearheartwest

    I had the great pleasure of meeting this woman many years ago, and she was “on top” of her game even then. I had no idea she is the adopted daughter of the late Margaret Mead. To say the least, she is definitely one of the forward thinkers of our time. Definitely worth listening to.

  • Barbara

    Thank you for the affirmation and enhanced inner resolve to continue speaking and sharing as possible the synchronous truth of the process of soul union in peaceful eststatic harmony.

  • Bruce Bingham

    Eloquent and insightful, a “must” listen!

  • Anonymous

    Todd, I heard her say “We weren’t going to make it…” too. I swear.
    She is nice and learned but if I was someone in that capacity where I had a “white guy” (she calls them) in leadership worry about “Occupy…” but can’t go public, the I would call him on the carpet and challenge his integrity. Listen to the interview, she said that, so I am not being negative but my first response when I heard her was something … I need to listen to this three times.
    She said (Jean) “we need teaching communities” and her dying adopted mother M. Mead said to give up working with governments and such on her death bed. She is a consultant to the UN. Something is missing folk. Sounds good and all the right words but, I think I am going to get a double Latte. Occupy has been corrupted and tainted like all movements.
    Todd your Great!

  • Ken Ng

    In-line with Barbara Marx Hubbard: Humanity Ascending and
    Foster Gamble’s Thrive

  • Maura

    It would be helpful to know how long the interview is – just a suggestion for the site. Thanks for all that is offered!

  • Maura

    I heard “and will not survive” as she was speaking about the dinosaurs pushing chairs on the titanic… as a loose interpretation

  • Stevenmagos

    Thanks but it was confusing and still a lot of the same old rhetoric if I can just be real and definitely no disrespect to the lady. I would rather the lady tell me(us) that if we don’t do something we are going to fail as a “real Teacher, Instructor” would do. (which I am). Facts that do not get you to act is just words. Thanks for the clarification though I did not get that.

  • belle400

    I heard “not going to make it” as referring to those with “dinosaur thinking” … in my opinion a big piece that is missing is the very intentional undermining of common sense by the funding of “think tanks” such as the Fraser Institute, the Frontier Centre on Public Policy, the Manhattan Institute, the Cody Institute etc … 400+ that keeps folks off balance and confused … and it is intentional. Check out the Atlas Foundation for Economic Research, the Mont Pelerin Society, Anthony Fisher, Frederick von Hayek, and the Chicago School of Economics … Yes we need the creation of learning/teaching communities … however we need to not be naive about the forces “shoring up their privilege” that they have carefully put in place over the last 30+ years

  • Hal

    So why did you not say how long the interview is.

  • Pbabcock46

    When she said “will not make it”, she was referring to the old order. It was easy to mistake “will” for “we’ll”, which is why, I think, Todd asked for clarification. I doubt very much that she is being naive; she’s simply putting her attention on the forward motion that is evolution unfolding.

  • LTyurt

    is this THE Barabara? (like Marx Hubbard) Whether or not, your comment uplifts me with not only the ideas put forward, but the garmenting in poetic language. Both sides of my brain have been nurtured.
    I know that Jean also includes dancing in her workshops…what a great way to embody ideas and ideals!! Keep moving. Keep the movements coming. Soon we will be occupying the sky and flying on the wings of Joy!(think Beethoven’s Ode in the 9th Symphony… Freude, schoene Gotterfunken (Joy, beautiful God-sparks…and ‘alle Menschen werden Bruder wo dein sanfter Fluegel weilt: (and all Humanity shall be as brothers where your gentle wings do dwell)

    Upward and onward, Excelsior
    Louise from Victoria, BC

  • Joelchudnow

    “Let’s get together and feel alright.”

  • Steven

    Something listeners can check out :-)

  • Bev Rielly

    I would love to listen to the content, but it just repeats the first 3-4 minutes over and over

  • Mesale

    ‘Evolve or perish’…says it all. Our ‘cleverness’ has created a hell on earth as so much of our ‘progress’ has been based on exploitation, destruction and injustice…. and the chickens are coming home to roost! As a grandmother of 9. I can only hang my head in shame for the mess we have created for their generation. Ignorance is no longer an excuse. And our young are, quite rightly, holding us to account. We can continue in the delusion that ‘it will all come right again and some committee ‘up there’ will fix it for us’. OR …We can choose to waken up to our true nature and BE the fully realised Universal Humans who recognise our total inter-connectedness with all others. We can start by “Living Simply that Others may Simply Live” …..
    Love and Peace from Scotland….Maggi

  • Maureen Geddes

    Thank you Jean and Todd, inspiring as expected. It is so helpful to those of us in smaller centres with few engaged voices to connect in this way. It fuels me for more local active leadership, and to encourage my spirit. with love and gratitude,

  • Sally

    On the knowing the length of the interview comment, how about a format like they use on the website where you not only can see how long the interview is you can stop it at any point and know where you need to come back to. Just a practical point, otherwise I’m loving the interviews.

  • Roy Childers

    I wanted to know how much time to block off to listen. I need to go pick my daughter up from school and I did not want to stop in the middle.

    There are also times when I hear other books or people that I want to Google but I do not want to start from the beginning to find out.

  • S Bogart

    What was the you tube reference Todd said he was going to have a link to?

  • G E Nemeth

    These words (beautifully said) reinforce an epiphany I had reading Jeanine Benyus book Biomimicry – that evolution happens in an instant (it is merely proven over time), what’s more, it is always sparked in response to catastrophe. The Mayans predicted a rebirth in 2012, and as Jean is saying, we are now experiencing a quickening and systems are collapsing all around us – I absolutely believe we are undergoing an awakening which will bring us to a new way of being. It is a very exciting (and scary) time to be alive. We are very lucky! – The beginning is near!

  • G E Nemeth

    (I especially love her question “What would you do if you knew you could not fail?)

  • Donna Kaminski
  • Donna Kaminski
  • Mary Ann Ihm

    Jean, it was good to hear you again. I was introduced to you 25 years ago through Kathleen Giese who directed our Kid’s Quest summer art camps for children at Wellspring in Wisconsin. Do you remember her? I worked with you again at Grailville where I attempted to sing the peace prayer of St. Francis in their beautiful barn

    Wellspring turns 30 soon and we have created a vibrant learning community on a farm north of Milwaukee. Since I am the founder, I wrote a book about this venture – The Wellspring Story, the First 30 Years. It’s available online: I would be so honored if you bought a copy. I think you’d like it and maybe be inspired. All proceds go to Wellspring, a non-profit education and retreat center wherwhose mission is to inspire and teach people to grow, prepare and eat healthy food and in so doing transform food systems and build community.

    I am also involved with the development of the New Wind Folk School out of Port Washington WI which is becoming a learning community honoring and preserving our natural resources, the arts, our culture and passing on the best of our traditions.

    Thanks for the interview and for the good work you do!


    Mary Ann Ihm
    Newburg WI

  • Jmoikos

    Todd, what an uplifting interview, so empowering and full of possibilities, and also coherent about the ‘dangers’ of simply being alive. I’m fascinated to hear Jean talk about 70% of the work being done by ‘post-menopausal’ women. Isn’t part of the Tipping Point getting enough people past the point of procreation as raison-d’etre? I am so moved by great women whose identities go way beyond physical motherhood, i.e. Hellen Keller, ‘mid-wife of souls’. Thank you Jean, thank you Todd.

  • Jmoikos

    Steven, I think you’re right about needing to listen three times to catch all that was said. You might try catching the wisdom coming from all the different sources (Jean herself, Margaret Mead, Helen Keller, Paul Hawkin, John Lennon-Mind Games, the transformation of Jeffrey Sachs). Also, why bother wondering if it’s possible to ‘work for’ the UN and keep one’s integrity? Next time I get a double latte, I’ll be using Jean’s suggestion and making Sacred Time for Self in the midst of the chaos.

  • Stevenmagos

    All these people that are being interviewed are wonderful people doing their best. What in the hell has “Sacred Time” got to do with the self, Jm? Now being an Air Traffic Controller around 8:00 AM in the midst of that “Chaos” is quite “Sacred” to me. All your “Self” is aware. WOW! Glad they are not just “talking about” “What they should be doing” which is an apparant reason most folks are tired of “Talkers” about the “Sacred”. Thanks to all the Air Traffic Controllers who are being “Sacred”. “You might try catching the wisdom…”? Gees Jm. That was insightful. Thank you.

  • Zaruga

    First of all, I love the site. And this interview in particular hits a lot of crazy awakening things I’ve experienced (like self healing, etc. and trying to really get the word out). I’d love to share these interviews far and wide, and echo them as a podcast, but most of the people I’d want to reach might be scared off by the opening intro due to old held cultural fears. Even the “find out what’s really happening” blurb on the site has caused some friends to cry conspiracy or fear a cult, and avoid hearing these amazing interviews.

    Every day I see new young people especially, waking up and coming to the conclusion that they are some reincarnation of the messiah, and acting in some foolish way accordingly (like the kid who thought he was Jesus, and allegedly opened fire on the White House). I feel like we should be more open in getting the word out so that A) People don’t have these sort of fear/dogma based reactions and hurt someone or fight back against it and B) so we can all help shepherd each other through these transitions by sharing our stories. Just my thoughts. Peace and thanks for your hard work. :)

  • Zaruga

    We were all blind together. Our individual and shared experiences left each of us blind to some other suffering we were complicit in. Now that we’re waking up to it, we can forgive ourselves for being blind, and forgive others for still being blind, and so together move forward to finding better ways to be.

  • Myriam

    In the 80′s & 90′s individualism ruled. The individual was central and “it” was all powerful, with promises to be able to achieve whatever on its own.
    Little did we know. Now years later we woke up to the fact that though the initiative may come from a single individual, we are unable to achieve great things alone, on the contrary great achievements require the collective, a community that share the same vision and drive to bring the initiative to completion.
    I’m so happy the realization that we are all interconnected has finally taken root. As far as I’m concerned this is the only solution to correct a situation gone haywire.
    Together we stand strong, we are capable of building our dreams.