David Preston


Educator and Founder of the Open-Source Learning Network

You don’t have to be sick to get better. I help leaders and organizations at every stage of growth. Whether you’re getting unstuck or preparing for a leap to the next level, you’re not alone.

Every champion has an expert in their corner.


Professional growth practices like management consulting, executive coaching, and life coaching have created a sea of titles, certifications, conferences, and a seemingly endless feed of listicles. Asking “So what exactly do you DO?” is a fair place to start.

I help organizational leaders address interpersonal communication issues that influence every element of operational performance. Many executives and entrepreneurs have shown that improving interpersonal communication, knowledge transfer, leadership, teambuilding, and conflict management has directly improved sales, task delegation, training, strategic planning, customer service, quality control, succession… the list goes on and on.

Q: So what exactly do you do?

A: I create learning experiences that help individuals, groups, and large audiences achieve specific outcomes. I make complex ideas simple to understand and easy to act on so everyone can do their best work, share insight, and create a learning culture that lasts.

Each client engagement is tailored to your needs. Here are some recent examples:


Tao means, “The Way.” Whether or not your organization has documented a vision, mission, core values, or how to integrate those values in daily operations, you already have a way of doing things. (Think of this like eating. You may not be “on a diet” to count calories or lose weight, but you do eat something. Your actual diet is whatever you ate today.) If your way is getting the results you want, keep it up! If you see an opportunity to improve, it’s time to Design Your Dao. We’ll invite stakeholders to examine the patterns that influence observable behaviors and tangible results, and together we’ll integrate systems, processes, and structures that will reinforce and sustain your Tao over time. The outcome will be an operational guide to your organization’s culture and philosophy: “The [Your Entity’s Name Here] Way.”


Building a successful team is an art. 25 years ago I worked with the best coaches in the world to build a program that creates championship teams who savor success and learn bitter lessons: the kitchen. Participants in Too Many Cooks learn the processes and practices of successful teams. Then they apply what they learn in the kitchen under the guidance of our executive chef. The immediate result is a gourmet meal. The lasting impact is a sustainable network of relationships that achieve increasingly high levels of performance.

Too Many Cooks painting

6’x4’ oil painting on canvas, Too Many Cooks by Adam Stone, July 19, 2000.


The first time my Dad took me to the Hollywood Bowl, I was mesmerized by the sound filling the Hollywood Hills and the laser light show overhead. It took me a while to realize that one person was guiding the entire experience: the conductor.

A conductor must know the music and the musicians well enough to move back and forth from the scripted page to what’s happening in real time onstage. Every move the conductor makes is both intentional and spontaneously responsive.

Similarly, a skilled facilitator immediately establishes a similar understanding and rapport that elicits every participant’s best performance throughout the meeting, retreat, or project. When I guide a meeting, lead a training, build a team, or mediate a conflict, I use decades of experience and what I see right in front of me to bring out everyone’s best. Participants risk thinking out loud, they achieve goals, and they have fun.*

*A Note About Fun: Fun is an underrated key to success. We do our best when we are fully engaged, and we are most fully engaged when we are not distracted by thoughts like, “This sucks and I wish I were doing something else.” Fun is also a happy outcome of success. Q: Has a championship team ever moped during the trophy ceremony? A: No.


Clients meet privately or in small groups with me on a regular basis to share confidential information that helps them gain insight and improve their skills. They’ve called me a Consultant. (Yes.) Coach. (Sometimes.) Therapist. (Nope. Please see note below.) Consigliere. (That client was a huge Godfather fan.)

Having an objective, caring expert you can call on is valuable in a variety of situations. We can structure this type of engagement to meet a particular need or create a process over a specific time period.

Please Note: My work with individuals focuses on interpersonal dynamics, such as your understandings, skills, and practices as they relate to organizational communication and performance. If you want to do intrapersonal work such as therapy, I highly recommend that you seek out a specialist in that area.


We learn more quickly and more effectively when we learn together. Unfortunately, many of us confuse learning – which is a highly personal, extremely active process – with schooling, where we spend our formative years passively following rules and keeping our eyes on our own paper.

When I taught at UCLA and California high schools, I created a model that became known as Open-Source Learning. Students and community members created interdisciplinary, multimedia explorations that they curated online. They recruited expert mentors and communities of support and critique all over the world. They demonstrated mental, physical, civic, spiritual, and technological fitness, and – perhaps most importantly – they achieved goals that were previously considered impossible.

Today I work with organizations to improve their capacity for sharing information and achieving goals using Open-Source Learning. Recent clients have established communities of employees and customers to raise awareness, improve performance, and restore the passionate curiosity that helps us all identify opportunities and solve problems.

David’s Clients Respond

“Dr. Preston developed an instructional framework that became known as Open-Source Learning (OSL). OSL helped students understand the online environment and achieve extraordinary results. Dr. Preston is an asset as a consultant in the areas of technology, instruction, and learning community development.”

Santa Maria Joint Union High School District

“It was amazing to watch David not just describe best practices but model them in real time– bringing students and colleagues online from around the world took the promise of learning from ideal to real.”

MacArthur Foundation Digital Media & Learning Conference

“David is a role model for educators and business leaders who want to improve performance within their organizations, and together improve cooperation and corporate citizenship as a society.”

Hon. Brad Sherman of California in the House of Representatives

“Thank you for your thorough analysis and insightful definition of the challenges facing our group in this time of executive transition at FOX/Liberty Networks. Your facilitation skills were impressive… the comfort level you created in a very short time frame led field managers to be candid, and that openness was the foundation of the results that we achieved. I look forward to working with your company in the future.”

FOX/Liberty Networks

“I want to express my sincere gratitude to you for facilitating ECF’s first Board retreat in over six years. I now have a clear understanding why you came so highly recommended to me by prestigious leaders in our community. Thanks to your professionalism and focused efforts, ECF has a board-approved operational plan for the next three years. As President and CEO of this fine organization, I am most thankful for your help and hope we have the opportunity to work together again in the near future.”

Exceptional Children’s Foundation