Freedom Isn’t Free: Reviewing the Ukraine-Russia Conflict & Avoiding Cyber Warfare

Episode #1063: In this episode of the Arete Coach Podcast, Severin Sorensen reviews and discusses the current Ukraine-Russia armed conflict. Severin explores the current war in Ukraine, the historical background of Ukraine and Russia relations, NATO, rest-of-world support for Ukraine, and likely retaliation action by Russia’s Vladimir Putin. Severin also examines prescient executive coaching topics that are increasingly vital for business leaders to review in light of the Ukraine-Russia conflict.



About Severin Sorensen

Severin Sorensen is a serial entrepreneur and lifetime learner with a passionate curiosity for people and businesses. Severin is the CEO of ePraxis LLC, a premier level retained search firm that provides executive headhunting, talent selection, and executive coaching. In addition to finding top talent, Severin has provided over 7,500+ hours of paid executive coaching to entrepreneurs, CEOs, Presidents, and C-level executives. Severin is an ICF ACSTH Certified Executive Coach, Certified Organizational Development Coach, Certified Life Coach, and Certified Positive Intelligence® Coach. Severin is the founder/producer of a new podcast, Arete Coach, that explores the art and science of executive coaching with some of the industry's best coaches.


From 2010-2018 Severin was also a Vistage Chair where he coached three CEO and key executive groups. In 2011, Severin received the "Rookie of the Year Chair Award" from Vistage. Since 2013, Severin has added international speaking for Vistage, CEO conferences, executive peer groups, and corporations on the topic of identifying and hiring difference-making top talent.


After graduate school, Severin moved to Washington, DC, where he worked on security-related economic and public policy issues that included a brief stint in The White House, as a Special Assistant to the President, for George H. Bush (POTUS 41). In 1994, Severin founded Sparta Consulting Corp., and Sparta provided world-class physical security and safety related management consulting services for public and private sector entities. From 1994-2002, Severin managed HUD's Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design technical assistance and training program. In 2005, Severin sold Sparta to Westec Interactive (Digital Witness), which was subsequently acquired by Interface Security.


Severin, a native Californian, grew up in Salt Lake City, UT and graduated with honors from the University of Utah with Economics and Political Science degrees. He completed graduate studies in economics at King's College, Cambridge University (England), where he earned a M.Phil. degree in Economics. Severin has a great love and appreciation for sports, and while overseas, Severin rowed for the King's College Boat Club, and played basketball for the Cambridge University Basketball Team (1986-87).


Key highlights


Severin’s experience in the USSR and Russia

Timestamp 03:00

Severin offers valuable insight from his experience as an undergraduate visiting the USSR. He shares two stories of his experience with Russian and USSR locals that gave him a deeper look into the lives and culture of the area. In his first experience, he is shown the western desires of “Communist Party Children” and states that “what was public and what was private, were completely different.” His second experience came from an invitation into the home of some Russian citizens. These citizens showed him their efforts to keep their freedoms in the form of rescuing and reprinting literature banned by Russia. They also showed Severin the differences in state-sponsored media versus media from outside of Russia. Severin states that he “observed there were many good Russian people who loved life and wanted democracy, and though their freedom of expression was greatly limited inside the USSR, I wondered how much longer this would last.”

History behind the war

Timestamp 10:00

Severin reviews a “contemporaneous history prepared by the U.S. Department of State” which overviews the relationship between Ukraine and Russia in history and today. Severin also dives into the history and story of Vladimir Putin, Russia’s President. He shares Putin’s rise to power and explains perspectives on Putin’s motives for invading Ukraine today.


Considerations for business leaders and executive coaches

Timestamp 20:22


Severin explains that “the war in Ukraine and sanctions on Russia are likely to have a dramatic impact on businesses and households everywhere.” He shares that Putin has two viable retaliation strategies: oil supply disruptions and cyber warfare. In light of these potential challenges, Severin encourages business leaders and executive coaches to be aware of potential cyber warfare strategies.


Avoiding cyber warfare

Timestamp 24:12


Severin offers several key strategies for keeping businesses and executive coaches safe from the consequences of cyber warfare. These strategies include having a privacy screen protector when traveling, installing virus protection software, updating software, using complex passwords, and other tips for avoiding cyber warfare and unnecessary financial loss.

A call to action

Timestamp 17:04


Everyone has a role to play in supporting the Ukrainian people during their invasion by Russian forces. Severin shares several ways that professionals from a variety of careers can support the Ukrainian people in their fight for freedom. In closing, he pays tribute to Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the Ukrainian president, and shares several powerful quotes from his time in leadership.

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