Conscious-Business – Conscious Manager – Online Magazine A holistic approach to self, business and life. Mon, 29 Jul 2019 12:33:32 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Emotional Intelligence (EQ) Sun, 01 Dec 2013 17:51:53 +0000 The emotional brain responds to an event more quickly than the thinking brain. --- Daniel Goleman

The emotional brain responds to an event more quickly than the thinking brain. — Daniel Goleman

Emotional Intelligence – EQ – is a relatively recent behavioural model, rising to prominence with Daniel Goleman’s 1995 Book called ‘Emotional Intelligence’. The early Emotional Intelligence theory was originally developed during the 1970s and 80s by the work and writings of psychologists Howard Gardner (Harvard), Peter Salovey (Yale) and John ‘Jack’ Mayer (New Hampshire). Emotional Intelligence is increasingly relevant to organizational development and developing people, because the EQ principles provide a new way to understand and assess people’s behaviours, management styles, attitudes, interpersonal skills, and potential. Emotional Intelligence is an important consideration in human resources planning, job profiling, recruitment interviewing and selection, management development, customer relations and customer service, and more.

Emotional Intelligence links strongly with concepts of love and spirituality: bringing compassion and humanity to work, and also to ‘Multiple Intelligence’ theory which illustrates and measures the range of capabilities people possess, and the fact that everybody has a value.

The EQ concept argues that IQ, or conventional intelligence, is too narrow; that there are wider areas of Emotional Intelligence that dictate and enable how successful we are. Success requires more than IQ (Intelligence Quotient), which has tended to be the traditional measure of intelligence, ignoring essential behavioural and character elements. We’ve all met people who are academically brilliant and yet are socially and inter-personally inept. And we know that despite possessing a high IQ rating, success does not automatically follow.

Different approaches and theoretical models have been developed for Emotional Intelligence. This summary article focuses chiefly on the Goleman interpretation. The work of Mayer, Salovey and David Caruso (Yale) is also very significant in the field of Emotional Intelligence, and will in due course be summarised here too.

Emotional Intelligence – two aspects

This is the essential premise of EQ: to be successful requires the effective awareness, control and management of one’s own emotions, and those of other people. EQ embraces two aspects of intelligence:

  • Understanding yourself, your goals, intentions, responses, behaviour and all.
  • Understanding others, and their feelings.

Emotional Intelligence – the five domains

Goleman identified the five ‘domains’ of EQ as:

  1. Knowing your emotions.
  2. Managing your own emotions.
  3. Motivating yourself.
  4. Recognising and understanding other people’s emotions.
  5. Managing relationships, i.e., managing the emotions of others.


Emotional Intelligence embraces and draws from numerous other branches of behavioural, emotional and communications theories, such as NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming), Transactional Analysis, and empathy. By developing our Emotional Intelligence in these areas and the five EQ domains we can become more productive and successful at what we do, and help others to be more productive and successful too. The process and outcomes of Emotional Intelligence development also contain many elements known to reduce stress for individuals and organizations, by decreasing conflict, improving relationships and understanding, and increasing stability, continuity and harmony.

Mindful meditation has been discovered to foster the ability to inhibit those very quick emotional impulses. ---  Daniel Goleman

Mindful meditation has been discovered to foster the ability to inhibit those very quick emotional impulses. —
Daniel Goleman

Emotional Intelligence competence framework, case studies, examples, tools, tests, information and related theory references

The following excellent free Emotional Intelligence materials in pdf file format (Acrobat Reader required to view) are provided with permission of Daniel Goleman on behalf of the Consortium for Research on Emotional Intelligence, which is gratefully acknowledged:

The Emotional Competence Framework – a generic EQ competence framework produced by Daniel Goleman and CREI covering in summary:

  • personal competence – self-awareness, self-regulation, self-motivation
  • social competence – social awareness, social skills

‘Emotional Intelligence: what is it and why it matters’. An excellent information paper by Dr Cary Cherniss originally presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology, in New Orleans, April 2000. This is a detailed history and explanation of Emotional Intelligence.

The Business Case for Emotional Intelligence – a paper by Dr Cary Cherniss featuring 19 referenced business and organizational case studies demonstrating how Emotional Intelligence contributes to corporate profit performance. The paper is an excellent tool which trainers, HR professionals and visionaries can use to help justify focus, development, assessment, etc., of EQ in organizations.

Guidelines for Promoting Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace – a paper chiefly constructed by Cary Cherniss and Daniel Goleman featuring 22 guidelines which represent the best current knowledge relating to the promotion of EQ in the workplace, summarised as:

paving the way

  • assess the organization’s needs
  • assessing the individual
  • delivering assessments with care
  • maximising learning choice
  • encouraging participation
  • linking goals and personal values
  • adjusting individual expectations
  • assessing readiness and motivation for EQ development


Doing the work of change

  • foster relationships between EQ trainers and learners
  • self-directed change and learning
  • setting goals
  • breaking goals down into achievable steps
  • providing opportunities for practice
  • give feedback
  • using experiential methods
  • build in support
  • use models and examples
  • encourage insight and self-awareness


Encourage transfer and maintenance of change (sustainable change)

  • encourage application of new learning in jobs
  • develop organizational culture that supports learning

Evaluating the change – did it work?

  • evaluate individual and organizational effect

More information about Emotional Intelligence, plus details of EQ tests, EQ training and EQ development in general are available at the Consortium for Research on Emotional Intelligence in Organizations.

Tips on how to explain emotional intelligence – perspectives and examples

As mentioned above, Daniel Goleman’s approach to Emotional Intelligence is not the only one. The work of Mayer, Salovey and Caruso is also very significant in the field of Emotional Intelligence and can be explored further on John Meyer’s Emotional Intelligence website.

When teaching or explaining Emotional Intelligence it can be helpful to the teacher and learners to look at other concepts and methodologies, many of which contain EQ elements and examples.

Emotional Intelligence tests/activities/exercises books – for young people ostensibly, but just as relevant to grown-ups – provide interesting and useful exercises, examples, theory, etc., for presentations and participative experience if you are explaining EQ or teaching a group. For example ’50 Activities For Teaching Emotional Intelligence’ by Dianne Schilling – my copy was published by Innerchoice Publishing – ISBN 1-56499-37-0, if you can find it. Otherwise look at Amazon and search for ‘activities for teaching emotional intelligence’).

There’s a very strong link between EQ and TA (Transactional Analysis). To understand and explain EQ you can refer to the ‘adult’ aspect of the TA model (for example, we are less emotional intelligent/mature when slipping into negative child or parent modes). In this way we can see that one’s strength in EQ is certainly linked to personal experience, especially formative years.

NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) is very relevant to EQ, as is Multiple Intelligences Theory.


When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight. —Kahlil Gibran

Ethical business and socially responsible leadership are strongly connected to EQ.

So is the concept of love and spirituality in organisations. Compassion and humanity are fundamental life-forces; our Emotional Intelligence enables us to appreciate and develop these vital connections between self, others, purpose, meaning, existence, life and the world as a whole, and to help others do the same.

People with strong EQ have less emotional ‘baggage’, and conversely people with low EQ tend to have personal unresolved issues which either act as triggers (see Freud/Penfield TA roots explanation) or are constants in personality make-up.

Cherie Carter-Scott’s ‘If Life Is Game’ and Don Miguel Ruiz’s The Four Agreements’ also provide excellent additional EQ reference perspectives.

Empathy and active interpretive modes of listening are also very relevant to EQ.

Ingham and Luft’s Johari Window and associated exercises on the free team building games section also help explain another perspective. That is, as a rule, the higher a person’s EQ, the less insecurity is likely to be present, and the more openness will be tolerated.

High EQ = low insecurity = more openness.

A person’s preparedness to expose their feelings, vulnerabilities, thoughts, etc., is a feature of EQ. Again the converse applies. Johari illustrates this very well (see the Johari Window diagram pdf also).

Maslow’ theory is also relevant to Emotional Intelligence. Self-actualizers naturally have stronger EQ. People struggling to meet lower order needs – and arguably even middle order needs such as esteem needs – tend to have lower EQ than self-actualizers. The original 5 stage Hierarchy of Needs explains that all needs other than self-actualization are deficiency drivers, which suggest, in other words, some EQ development potential or weakness.

There is a strong thread of EQ running through Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits.

In fact, most theories involving communications and behaviour become more powerful and meaningful when related to Emotional Intelligence, for example:

  • Leadership
  • Buying Facilitation®
  • Benziger Thinking Styles and Assessment Model
  • McGregor XY Theory


How Money Actually Buys Happiness? Sat, 29 Jun 2013 07:36:16 +0000 “If you’re in the luckiest one per cent of humanity, you owe it to the rest of humanity to think about the other 99 per cent.”  ? Warren Buffett

“If you’re in the luckiest one per cent of humanity, you owe it to the rest of humanity to think about the other 99 per cent.”
? Warren Buffett

Warren Buffett’s advice about money has been scrutinized — and implemented — by savvy investors all over the world. But while most people know they can benefit from expert help to make money, they think they already know how to spend money to reap the most happiness. As a result, they follow their intuitions, using their money to buy things they think will make them happy, from televisions to cars to houses to second houses and beyond.

The problem with this approach is that a decade of research — conducted by us and our colleagues — demonstrates that our intuitions about how to turn money into happiness are misguided at best and dead-wrong at worst. Those televisions, cars, and houses? They have almost no impact on our happiness. The good news is that we now know what kind of spending does enhance our happiness — insight that’s valuable to consumers and companies alike.

Buffet recently penned an op-ed titled “My Philanthropic Pledge” — but rather than offer financial advice about giving, he suggested we give as a way to enhance our emotional wellbeing. Of his decision to donate 99% of his wealth to charity, Buffett said that he “couldn’t be happier.”

But do we need to give away billions like Buffet in order to experience that warm glow? Luckily for us ordinary folks, even more modest forms of generosity can make us happy. In a series of experiments, we’ve found that asking people to spend money on others — from giving to charity to buying gifts for friends and family — reliably makes them happier than spending that same money on themselves.

And our research shows that even in very poor countries like India and Uganda — where many people are struggling to meet their basic needs — individuals who reflected on giving to others were happier than those who reflected on spending on themselves. What’s more, spending even a few dollars on someone else can trigger a boost in happiness. In one study, we found that asking people to spend as little as $5 on someone else over the course of a day made them happier at the end of that day than people who spent the $5 on themselves.

Smart managers are using the power of investing in others to increase the happiness of their employees. Google, for example, offers a compelling “bonus” plan for employees. The company maintains a fund whereby any employee can nominate another employee to receive a $150 bonus. Given the average salaries at Google, a $150 bonus is small change. But the nature of the bonus — one employee giving a bonus to another rather than demanding that bonus for himself — can have a large emotional payoff.

Investing in others can also influence customers. Managers at an amusement park were unable to convince patrons to buy pictures of themselves on one of the park’s many rides. Less than one percent purchased the photo at the usual $12.95 price. But researchers tried a clever variation. Other customers were allowed to pay whatever they wanted (including $0) for a photo, but were told that half of what they paid would be sent to charity. Now, buying the picture allows the customer not only to take home a souvenir, but also invest in others. Given this option, nearly 4.5% of customers purchased the photo, and paid an average of more than $5. As a result, the firm’s profit-per-rider increased fourfold.

Warren Buffett, happiness guru. Just as we have taken his advice on making money, research suggests we should now take his advice on making happiness. By rethinking how we spend our money — even as little as $5 — we can reap more happiness for every dollar we spend. And Buffett’s happiness advice comes with a financial payoff as well. By maximizing the happiness that employees and customers get from every dollar they receive in bonuses or spend on products, companies can increase employee and customer satisfaction — and benefit the bottom line.

Written by: by Elizabeth Dunn and Michael Norton

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Enlightment-engineer Tue, 25 Jun 2013 18:24:58 +0000 Meditation and mindfulness are the new rage in Silicon Valley. And it’s not just about inner peace—it’s about getting ahead.

Meditation and mindfulness are the new rage in Silicon Valley. And it’s not just about inner peace—it’s about getting ahead.

CHADE-MENG TAN IS PERCHED ON A CHAIR, his lanky body folded into a half-lotus position. “Close your eyes,” he says. His voice is a hypnotic baritone, slow and rhythmic, seductive and gentle. “Allow your attention to rest on your breath: The in-breath, the out-breath, and the spaces in between.” We feel our lungs fill and release. As we focus on the smallest details of our respiration, other thoughts—of work, of family, of money—begin to recede, leaving us alone with the rise and fall of our chests. For thousands of years, these techniques have helped put practitioners into meditative states. Today is no different. There’s a palpable silence in the room. For a moment, all is still. I take another breath.

The quiet is broken a few minutes later, when Meng, as he is known, declares the exercise over. We blink, smile at one another, and look around our makeshift zendo—a long, fluorescent-lit presentation room on Google’s corporate campus in Silicon Valley. Meng and most of his pupils are Google employees, and this meditation class is part of an internal course called Search Inside Yourself. It’s designed to teach people to manage their emotions, ideally making them better workers in the process. “Calm the mind,” Meng says, getting us ready for the next exercise: a meditation on failure and success.

More than a thousand Googlers have been through Search Inside Yourself training. Another 400 or so are on the waiting list and take classes like Neural Self-Hacking and Managing Your Energy in the meantime. Then there is the company’s bimonthly series of “mindful lunches,” conducted in complete silence except for the ringing of prayer bells, which began after the Zen monk Thich Nhat Hanh visited in 2011. The search giant even recently built a labyrinth for walking meditations.

It’s not just Google that’s embracing Eastern traditions. Across the Valley, quiet contemplation is seen as the new caffeine, the fuel that allegedly unlocks productivity and creative bursts. Classes in meditation and mindfulness—paying close, nonjudgmental attention—have become staples at many of the region’s most prominent companies. There’s a Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute now teaching the Google meditation method to whoever wants it. The cofounders of Twitter and Facebook have made contemplative practices key features of their new enterprises, holding regular in-office meditation sessions and arranging for work routines that maximize mindfulness. Some 1,700 people showed up at a Wisdom 2.0 conference held in San Francisco this winter, with top executives from LinkedIn, Cisco, and Ford featured among the headliners.

These companies are doing more than simply seizing on Buddhist practices. Entrepreneurs and engineers are taking millennia-old traditions and reshaping them to fit the Valley’s goal-oriented, data-driven, largely atheistic culture. Forget past lives; never mind nirvana. The technology community of Northern California wants return on its investment in meditation. “All the woo-woo mystical stuff, that’s really retrograde,” says Kenneth Folk, an influential meditation teacher in San Francisco. “This is about training the brain and stirring up the chemical soup inside.”

It can be tempting to dismiss the interest in these ancient practices as just another neo-spiritual fad from a part of the country that’s cycled through one New Age after another. But it’s worth noting that the prophets of this new gospel are in the tech companies that already underpin so much of our lives. And these firms are awfully good at turning niche ideas into things that hundreds of millions crave.

MANY OF THE PEOPLE who shaped the personal computer industry and the Internet were once members of the hippie counterculture. So an interest in Eastern faiths is all but hardwired into the modern tech world. Steve Jobs spent months searching for gurus in India and was married by a Zen priest. Before he became an American Buddhist pioneer, Jack Kornfield ran one of the first mainframes at Harvard Business School.

But in today’s Silicon Valley, there’s little patience for what many are happy to dismiss as “hippie bullshit.” Meditation here isn’t an opportunity to reflect upon the impermanence of existence but a tool to better oneself and improve productivity. That’s how Bill Duane, a pompadoured onetime engineer with a tattoo of a bikini-clad woman on his forearm, frames Neural Self-Hacking, an introductory meditation class he designed for Google. “Out in the world, a lot of this stuff is pitched to people in yoga pants,” he says. “But I wanted to speak to my people. I wanted to speak to me. I wanted to speak to the grumpy engineer who may be an atheist, who may be a rationalist.”

Mindfullness coach Chade-Meng Tan.

Mindfullness coach Chade-Meng Tan.

Duane’s pitch starts with neuroscience and evolutionary biology. “We’re basically the descendants of nervous monkeys,” he says, the kind with hair-trigger fight-or-flight responses. In the modern workplace, these hyperactive reflexes are now a detriment, turning minor squabbles into the emotional equivalents of kill-or-be-killed showdowns. In such situations, the amygdala—the region of the brain believed to be responsible for processing fear—can override the rest of the mind’s ability to think logically. We become slaves to our monkey minds.


Repeated studies have demonstrated that meditation can rewire how the brain responds to stress. Boston University researchers showed that after as little as three and a half hours of meditation training, subjects tend to react less to emotionally charged images. Other research suggests that meditation improves working memory and executive function. And several studies of long-term practitioners show an increased ability to concentrate on fast-changing stimuli. One paper cited by the Google crew even implies that meditators are more resistant to the flu.

But Googlers don’t take up meditation just to keep away the sniffles or get a grip on their emotions. They are also using it to understand their coworkers’ motivations, to cultivate their own “emotional intelligence”—a characteristic that tends to be in short supply among the engineering set. “Everybody knows this EI thing is good for their career,” says Search Inside Yourself founder Meng. “And every company knows that if their people have EI, they’re gonna make a shitload of money.”

Meng has had quite a career himself, joining Google in 2000 as employee number 107 and working on mobile search. But for years, his attempts to bring meditation into the office met with limited success. It was only in 2007, when he packaged contemplative practices in the wrapper of emotional intelligence, that he saw demand spike. Now there are dozens of employee development programs at Google that incorporate some aspect of meditation or mindfulness. And Meng—who was born in Singapore and was turned on to Buddhism by an American nun—has slowly ascended to icon status within the company. More than one Search Inside Yourself student has asked Meng for his autograph.

There is in fact little data to support the notion that meditation is good for Google’s bottom line, just a few studies from outfits like the Conference Board showing that emotionally connected employees tend to remain at their current workplaces. Still, the company already tends to its employees’ physical needs with onsite gyms, subsidized massages, and free organic meals to keep them productive. Why not help them search for meaning and emotional connection as well?

Duane, for one, credits Google’s meditation program with upgrading both his business and personal life. It wasn’t long ago that he was a stress case, and with good reason: He was leading a 30-person site-reliability team while dealing with his father’s life-threatening heart disease. “My typical coping strategy—the bourbon and cheeseburger method—wasn’t working,” he says. Then Duane attended a lecture Meng arranged on the neuroscience of mindfulness and quickly adopted a meditation practice of his own.

Duane believes the emotional regulation he gained from meditation helped him cope with his father’s eventual death. The increased ability to focus, he says, was a major factor in his promotion to a management post where he oversaw nearly 150 Googlers. In January he decided to leave the company’s cadre of engineers and concentrate full-time on bringing meditation to more of the organization. Google executives, who have put mindfulness at the center of their internal training efforts, OK’d the switch.

Duane still doesn’t have much use for hippies. He still professes to be a proud empiricist. But when I walk back into the Search Inside Yourself class, neither he nor any of the other Googlers seem at all fazed when Meng tells us to imagine the goodness of everyone on the planet and to visualize that goodness as a glowing white light.

As before, Meng’s voice lowers and slows to a crawl. And, of course, we close our eyes. “When you breathe in, breathe in all that goodness into your heart. Using your heart, multiply that goodness by 10,” he says, in a variation on a Tibetan Tonglen exercise. “When you breathe out, send all that goodness to the whole world. And if it’s useful to you, you may visualize yourself breathing out white light—brilliant white light—representing this abundance of goodness.” We exhale. I actually feel a buzzing on the underside of my skull as I try to imagine pure love. For a minute, I forget that we’re in a room ordinarily reserved for corporate presentations.

A “Search inside yourself” class at Google.

A “Search inside yourself” class at Google.

SEARCH INSIDE YOURSELF might have remained a somewhat isolated phenomenon in the Valley if a mindfulness instructor named Soren Gordhamer hadn’t found himself divorced, broke, out of a job, and stuck in the town of Dixon, New Mexico (population 1,500). Gordhamer, who had spent years teaching yoga and meditation in New York City’s juvenile detention centers, was feeling increasingly beleaguered by his seemingly uncontrollable Twitter habit. He decided to write a book—Wisdom 2.0: Ancient Secrets for the Creative and Constantly Connected—that offered tips for using technology in a mindful manner.

The book wasn’t exactly a best seller. But Gordhamer struck a nerve when he described how hard it was to focus in our always-on culture. By providing constant access to email, tweets, and Facebook updates, smartphones keep users distracted, exploiting the same psychological vulnerability as slot machines: predictable input and random payouts. They feed a sense that any pull of the lever, or Facebook refresh, could result in an information jackpot.

And so he got the idea to host a conference where the technology and contemplative communities could hash out the best ways to incorporate these tools into our lives—and keep them from taking over. The event, billed as Wisdom 2.0, was held in April 2010 and drew a couple hundred people.

That was three years ago; since then attendance at the now annual conference has shot up 500 percent. In 2013 nearly 1,700 signed up to hear headliners like Arianna Huffington, LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner, Twitter cofounder Evan Williams, and, of course, Meng talk about how they run their enterprises mindfully. Gordhamer has become a Silicon Valley superconnector, with an array of contacts that would make an ordinary entrepreneur burst with envy. He now leads private retreats for the technorati, and more conferences are in the works—one just for women, another to be held in New York City. “Everywhere you turn at Wisdom,” says PayPal cofounder Luke Nosek, “it’s like, ‘Oh my God, you’re here too?’”

On an enclosed porch outside the exhibition hall at this year’s Wisdom 2.0 event, Zen-monk-turned-CEO Marc Lesser talks about his plans to take the Search Inside Yourself training to companies everywhere. Plantronics, Farmers Insurance, and VMware have already signed up. Nearby, companies promoting mindfulness apps and “cloud-based platforms for market professionals” hawk their wares while an acoustic guitar player strums. On the main stage, executives discuss how they maintain mindful practices during the workweek: One wakes up early and focuses on his upcoming meetings; another takes a moment to pause as she dries her hands in the bathroom. In the cavernous, wood-paneled main hall, oversize screens show a silhouette of a brain connected to a lotus flower and the logos for Twitter and Facebook.

One of the reasons that Wisdom 2.0—and the broader movement it represents—has become so big, so quickly, is that it stripped away the dogma and religious trappings. But it’s hard not to consider what gets lost in this whittling process. Siddhartha famously abandoned the trappings of royalty to sit under the Bodhi Tree and preach about the illusion of the ego. Seeing the megarich take the stage to trumpet his practices is a bit jarring.

It also raises the uncomfortable possibility that these ancient teachings are being used to reinforce some of modern society’s uglier inequalities. Becoming successful, powerful, and influential can be as much about what you do outside the office as what you do at work. There was a time when that might have meant joining a country club or a Waspy church. Today it might mean showing up at TED. Looking around Wisdom 2.0, meditation starts to seem a lot like another secret handshake to join the club. “There is some legitimate interest among businesspeople in contemplative practice,” Kenneth Folk says. “But Wisdom 2.0? That’s a networking opportunity with a light dressing of Buddhism.”

ON THE THIRD DAY of this year’s Wisdom 2.0 conference, Facebook engineering director Arturo Bejar takes the stage with Thupten Jinpa, the Dalai Lama’s English interpreter and right hand in North America. They tell the crowd about an experiment going on at Facebook that is at once subtle, a little strange, and potentially of deep significance. While many other Silicon Valley companies are teaching their employees to meditate, Facebook is trying to inject a Buddhist-inspired concept of compassion into the core of its business.

Bejar had been a somewhat reluctant guest at the first Wisdom 2.0 conference in 2010. But he was struck by an onstage conversation about kindness with American Buddhist trailblazer Jon Kabat-Zinn. If people truly see one another, Kabat-Zinn said, they’re more likely to be empathetic and gentle toward each other. Bejar knew something about depending on the kindness of others. As a geeky teenager in Mexico City in the 1980s, he snuck into a tech convention by bribing the guards with candy bars; a local IBM exec was so impressed he gave Bejar a job. Then Bejar had his college education paid for by a friend of a family friend: Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak.


After hearing Kabat-Zinn, Bejar began looking for ways to bring some of that compassion to Facebook, where bullying and flame wars were all too common among users and the tools for reporting offensive content weren’t terribly effective. Bejar set up a series of “compassion research days” at Facebook and brought in Buddhist-inspired academics from Berkeley, Yale, and Stanford to see if they could help.

The researchers’ advice: Make the tools more personal, more conversational, and more emotional. For instance, let people express their vulnerability and distress when asking for a problematic picture or status update to be removed. The changes were small at first. Instead of tagging a post as “Embarrassing,” users clicked a new button that read “It’s embarrassing.” But those three letters made an enormous difference. It turned the report from a seemingly objective classification of content into a customer’s subjective, personal response. Use of the tool shot up 30 percent almost immediately. This in a field where a change of a few percentage points either way is considered tectonic.

Facebook’s meditation room.

Facebook’s meditation room.

Further fixes followed: personalized messages, more polite requests to take down a photo or a post, more culture-specific pleas. (In India, for example, online insults directed at someone’s favorite celebrity tend to cut deeper than they do in the US.) “Hey, this photo insults someone important to me,” reads one of the new automatically generated messages. “Would you please take it down?”

It’d be easy to be cynical about this effort—to laugh at people who over- identify with a Bollywood starlet or to question why meditation teachers, the masters of directing attention, are working with the social networks that cause so much distraction. But when you sit with Bejar and his colleagues at Facebook as they review these reports—when you see all the breakups, all the embarrassing photos, the tiffs between mothers and daughters—it’s hard not to feel sad and awed at the amount of confusion and hurt. Over a million of these disputes happen every week on Facebook. If you had a God’s-eye view of it all, wouldn’t you want to handle that pain with gentle hands?

Buddhists have been preaching for centuries that we are all fundamentally interconnected, that the differences between us literally do not exist. That is the basis of Buddhist compassion. And there is no place where this interconnectedness is more obviously revealed than on Facebook. Arturo Bejar isn’t running off to a monastery; his personal meditation practice, if you can call it that, is taking a walk with his camera. But incorporating Buddhism’s compassionate kernel into a billion-person social network? That reflects a level of insight many people will never reach, no matter how long they sit cross-legged.

ONE NIGHT DURING the Wisdom 2.0 conference, I meet Kenneth Folk and some of his protè9gè9s at a vegetarian restaurant run by the local Zen center. At first the conversation doesn’t sound so different from what I might hear at Wisdom 2.0: the neuroscience of mindfulness, the remixing of ancient traditions, the meditation-as-fitness riff.

Then things turn kaleidoscopic. After the mesquite-grilled brochettes with Hodo Soy tofu, Vincent Horn, who runs the popular Buddhist Geeks website and podcast, tells me that everyone I’m eating with is enlightened.

Horn drops this casually, as if he were discussing his hair color or the fact that all of the men are wearing pants. I’m not sure how to respond. As Jay Michaelson — the guy sitting to my left, and the author of Evolving Dharma: Meditation, Buddhism, and the Next Generation of Enlightenment — gleefully notes, talking openly about enlightenment is as big a taboo as there is in modern American Buddhism, where the exploratory journey trumps any metaphysical destination. Enlightenment implies sainthood, perfect wisdom, an end to the cycle of birth and death. Michaelson, Folk, and Horn are polishing off their second bottle of red. Is that who they think they are?

Folk’s journey toward enlightenment, he later explains to me, started in 1982 when he ran out of cocaine. An addict, he took the only drugs he could find: four hits of LSD. He saw a glass tube open up into the sky and merge with beautiful white light. “My drug addiction vanished in that moment,” he recalls. It sent him on a decades-long journey to re-create the experience. He spent three months on a silent retreat in Massachusetts and another six at a Burmese monastery, wearing a sarong in winter and eating his final meal of the day at 10 am. He found himself hitting ecstatic heights. But he also found that, at times, meditation could lead to rather horrible depression.

The monks of Burma told Folk that the depressive episodes were the completely predictable result of his meditative work and that they would soon be over. He was on a well-worn path through 16 stages of insight, each one bringing him closer to enlightenment. They laid out a map of his inner voyage and told Folk precisely where he was. Folk followed their plan and, he says, eventually became enlightened.

It was a radical shift from the method traditionally used by mystics to impart wisdom, in which a master cryptically pointed the acolyte in the direction he should go. And Folk loved it. Enlightenment wasn’t some completely mysterious, ungraspable goal. He returned to America ready to preach a gospel of jail-broken enlightenment: The source code for spiritual awakening is open to anyone. “Enlightenment is real. It is reproducible,” he says. “It happens to real human beings. It happened to me.”

Not surprisingly, Folk’s doctrine was rather attractive to a set of seekers who were raised with the idea that information should be free and status updates should be shared publicly. He and Horn started contributing to a web forum called the Dharma Overground, founded by Daniel Ingram, the soundman for one of Folk’s old bands. It became the place online to share tips on the most effective means to promote enlightenment, to brag about the mystical powers that come with intensive meditation, and to chart their progress through the four rounds of 16 stages that lead to a final awakening. Ingram wrote “Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha: An Unusually Hardcore Dharma Book,” which became a cult classic, in part because it likened meditation to a contemplative videogame. Episodes of Horn’s “Buddhist Geeks” podcast are now downloaded regularly by 100,000 people. On his website, Horn is constantly introducing new forms of mindfulness for the social media crowd, from concentration- boosting apps to something he calls #Hashtag Meditation.

But until recently, Folk himself remained relatively unknown. He lived with his mother-in-law in a New York City suburb, teaching meditation over Skype. Then, in the spring of 2011, Luke Nosek—a partner at one of Silicon Valley’s most successful venture capital firms—emailed Folk from Manhattan and insisted they get together. Like, immediately. “I have a spaceship,” said Nosek, whose fund owned a chunk of the private rocket company SpaceX. “What planet do I have to fly to so I can meet you tonight?”

Nosek had a history with meditation. But nothing like this. When he and Folk meditated, it brought him into a state of such utter focus, he says, that “I could see the patterns of threads in my socks with more detail than I had in my entire life.” Nosek and several other execs paid to move Folk out to San Francisco so he could start opening some of Silicon Valley’s most influential minds.

In some ways, Folk’s seemingly mystical enlightenment gospel would appear to be a bad fit for the titan-of-industry set—especially compared with the business-friendly message found at Search Inside Yourself or Wisdom 2.0. And several established Buddhist leaders who came to this year’s conference were openly wary of what they saw as an unhealthy fixation on the brass ring of enlightenment. “If someone really wants it, I’ll teach it,” says Kornfield, cofounder of the Spirit Rock Meditation Center north of San Francisco. “But a strong goal orientation can heighten unhealthy ambition and self-criticism. It doesn’t really heighten wisdom.”

Folk’s doctrine may be less radical than it seems, however. Yes, he calls himself enlightened. But he doesn’t think of himself as some holy man. To him, the old stories of Buddhist saints shaking off their cravings for food or sex are just that: stories. “Sainthood is a relic of the past,” he says.

Nor is Folk interested in re-creating that LSD-induced peak anymore. “It’s a loser’s game,” he says. Better to take every experience as it comes and then let it pass. (You can’t hold on to those feelings anyway.) Enlightenment may be hackable and shareable, but only if its meaning radically changes. To Folk, being enlightened is about “meta-OK-ness”—meaning that it’s OK even when it’s not OK—which he says anyone who tries can achieve.

AT SEARCH Inside Yourself, Meng starts with a seemingly small request for Googlers to pair off and take turns meditating on each other’s happiness. I sit across from Duane, the tattooed former engineer, and do my best to send him good vibes. Not only is he a nice guy who’s been through some pain, he’s at least indirectly responsible for the tools I use a thousand times a day. I want him and every other Googler to be their highest selves—centered, focused, calm, and content. Perhaps I can help head off a future Google Buzz.

But Meng has another goal in mind for this exercise: to help his colleagues develop mental habits conducive to kindness. It’s these sorts of meditations, Meng tells me later, that ultimately led him to “discover the ability to access joy on demand. After a while, it became a skill.” He smiles and gives me a look as if to say: No, seriously.

Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised at the claim. Last year Meng published a Search Inside Yourself book. The introduction proclaims him to be “a closet Bodhisattva”—a Buddhist saint, next in holiness to Siddhartha himself.

Despite the language of neuroscience and business advancement, Search Inside Yourself is ultimately an attempt to replicate Meng’s elevated mind-state—first in Googlers and then in the rest of us. “We can all become saints, because saintly habits are trainable,” he tells the class. “I hope you all do.”

And if we start such training, Meng insists, we won’t just be helping ourselves. “My dream is to create the conditions for world peace, and to do that by creating the conditions for inner peace and compassion on a global scale,” he writes. “Fortunately, a methodology for doing that already exists … Most of us know it as meditation.”

Suddenly acid-inspired Kenneth Folk seems downright grounded in comparison. It’s hard to deny that meditation can have remarkable benefits. But world peace? Sainthood? That may be a bit of a stretch. Steve Jobs spent lots of time in a lotus position; he still paid slave wages to his contract laborers, berated subordinates, and parked his car in handicapped stalls.

One of Meng’s students raises her hand. This saintly training, this randomly wishing for others’ happiness—it doesn’t seem all that genuine, she says: “It felt like I was saying the words, but I wasn’t actually doing anything by thinking that.”

Duane tells her it’s OK to feel that way. The practice will help you later, he says, even if it comes across as empty at the time. “There’s definitely a fake-it-till-you-make-it aspect to it,” he says.

Oh no, Meng answers. It’s the first time in the whole class he’s corrected anyone. “It’s not faking it until you make it,” he says. “It’s faking it until you become it.”

The session ends and we walk out into the sun feeling slightly dazed. The next lesson begins in five minutes.

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How love, compassion and spirituality became unfashionable in corporations Sun, 05 May 2013 07:33:48 +0000 Business is associated with power and greed, spirituality is about the ability to let things go. Businesses or individuals can prosper only when these two come together. “We all breathe. But it’s only for a certain time that you can hold it inside. At one point you have to let go" --- Ravi Shankar

Business is associated with power and greed, spirituality is about the ability to let things go. Businesses or individuals can prosper only when these two come together. “We all breathe. But it’s only for a certain time that you can hold it inside. At one point you have to let go” — Ravi Shankar

Historically men dominated the business landscape, and still do today to an extent. Not surprisingly then male-oriented ideas and priorities – especially dispassionate left-side-brain factors – have tended to dominate business and organisations.

Conversely love, compassion and spirituality are generally perceived to be female traits. Men are less likely than women to demonstrate loving, compassionate, spiritual behaviour because of cultural and social expectations, especially when reinforced by the business traditions already mentioned.

Additionally, in some cases successful business people owe much of their success to a personal drive borne of insecurity – the motivation to fill a gap or want, which can manifest as relatively unloving, dispassionate behaviour. Some successful people seem to suppress their spirituality, and to actively resist love to the point that they cannot even discuss it.

Where unloving dispassionate behaviour exists in a business leader, whatever its cause, this unavoidably sets the tone for the whole organisation to be unloving and uncaring, and devoid of spiritual awareness. If this situation is replicated across very many large organisations, as arguably it has been during the 20th century, then inevitably business and work as a whole tends to be characterised in the same way – as unloving and uncaring, and certainly not spiritual.

I’m not saying that the western world is run by a load of emotionally insecure mentally dysfunctional ruthless men (although I bet we’ve all worked for at least one of them in our time), but arguably there are certain correlations between aggressive results-driven male behaviour, the short-term business success demanded by western economic systems, and the organisational and economic cultures that arose and endured from ‘successful’, dispassionate anti-spiritual (and mostly male) leadership.

I should also make the point that dispassionate results-driven behaviour is not the exclusive domain of men. Many successful women in business (and politics) have had to wear the trousers, if not full the battledress, to beat the men; at a man’s game, in a man’s world.

Let’s acknowledge also the reality that a methodology based on cold-hearted logic and dispassionate decision-making can produce very effective results, especially short-term, and where clinical leadership is required to overcome great challenge or difficulty. Moreover tyrants and bullies sometimes succeed. Some even achieve long-term success (according to their own definition of the word success). And arguably certain dispassionate methods, where people and environment are not affected, are a perfectly appropriate part of the business management mix.

However, unloving uncaring methods, which tend to predominate in organisations and to be passed on through successive leadership generations, are not the entire and only way to run a business or organisation.

Compounding the situation, the historical prevalence of dispassionate leadership, unloving ideas, and uncaring behaviour in organisations has tended to determine that reward systems and training and development methodologies have been correspondingly dispassionate, (staff and suppliers basically do as they are told after all), and so the whole selfish cycle reinforces itself.

Not surprisingly therefore, ideas about loving people, being compassionate and spirituality are unlikely to appear in many management training manuals or training courses. Nor are the principles of genuine tolerance and selfless giving, or the values of forgiveness, or of nurturing your own spirit, because after all we must love ourselves before we can unconditionally love everyone else, and what’s the point of loving yourself if the idea of loving anyone else is a totally alien concept in the conventional corporate world?

People who extol the virtues of love and spirituality in organisations have until recently largely been regarded as cranks – not because love and spirituality doesn’t work – but because organisations, and also the developed western economic world, have evolved to ignore and exclude the deepest of human feelings and needs. Which when you think about what we actually all are, and what we actually all need as people, is a bit strange and a bit daft.

Work and organisations in recent times have simply not aligned with some of humankind’s most basic needs – to be loved, and to find our own purpose and meaningful connections in life, which often brings us full circle to loving and helping others.

For a hundred years or more, millions upon millions of people who need love and spiritual meaning like they need food and drink, are denied these basic life requirements at a place that occupies the majority of their useful existence (their work), because love and spirituality (and all that these words represent) seemingly don’t feature on the corporate agenda.



Yes. However. As we know, things are changing.

People are most certainly now seeking more meaning from their work and from their lives.

People in far flung exploited parts of the world now have a voice, a stage, and an audience, largely enabled by technology and the worldwide web.

Customers, informed by the increasing transparency and availability of information, are demanding that organisations behave more responsibly and sensitively.

Increasing numbers of people are fed up with the traditionally selfish character of corporations and organisations and the way they conduct themselves.

The growing transparency of corporate behaviour in the modern world is creating a new real accountability – for the organisations which hitherto have protected the self-interests of the few to the detriment of everyone and everything else.

Now, very many people – staff, customers, everyone – demand and expect change.

Leaders need now to care properly for people and the future of the planet, not just to make a profit and to extract personal gain.

And so businesses and corporations are beginning to realise that genuinely caring for people everywhere is actually quite a sensible thing to do.

It is now more than ever necessary for corporations to make room for love and spirituality – to care for people and the world – alongside the need to make a profit.

Love, compassion, and spirituality – consideration for people and the world we live in – whatever you choose to call it – is now a truly relevant ethos in business and organisations.

Written by: Charu Talwar (November 2006) and supervised by Dr Sudha Banth Panjab University, Chandigarh, India.

The Future of Work Thu, 21 Feb 2013 11:30:58 +0000 egyptian-laptop-cooler1

All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence. — Martin Luther King, Jr.

Changes in both the nature and skills required of employees and the dynamics in the global labour market are creating both uncertainty and opportunity.  Many labour trends have been stable for long periods of time, yet are now entering a period of greater change.

In this report, six major trends have been identified as having the greatest impact on organizations, regardless of size, industry or location:

  • Globalisation of the workforce along with changes in the global labour market; no longer is it a foregone conclusion jobs should be moved to developing economies to gain cost advantages.
  • The demand for skilled labour has been increasing at the same time as large pools of unskilled labour look for work. Increasingly, we see rising rates of unemployment at the same time employers report the inability to fill positions.
  • Generational and cultural diversity in the workforce is increasing, creating challenges for organisations, management and individuals.
  • Job insecurity and high demand for skilled labour are changing the employer/worker relationship and resulting in changing attitudes and values about the nature of work for many.
  • The demand for skilled labour is increasing faster than the supply of skilled labour is growing, indicating future skills shortages.
  • Coordinated efforts between government and industry could positively impact the future workforce.

Understanding the long term trends impacting an organisation is one of the keys to reducing uncertainty and helping create robust strategies and resilient organisations. Strategic foresight helps organisations improve the quality of strategic thinking and brings new insights into the planning and budgeting process. Strategic foresight also helps organisations maintain awareness of the trends that have longer term impacts, monitor indicators of the directions of these trends, and focus initiatives on the long range opportunities.

This 75-page report exposes the major trends in the labour market which will impact business in the years ahead and affect their ability to remain competitive.  How well is your organisation positioned for the future?

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Business – Spirituality, is there a Connection?! Sat, 14 Jul 2012 19:45:14 +0000

Business – Spirituality, is there a Connection?!

For the past 10 years, Tatjana Stankovic is Member of Board of the Directors of PXD System International, company for distribution of products for health and education of people. She has been in the business for 15 years, with previous sales experience in few other companies. She is one of the best students in the history of Mechanical Engineering at the University of St. Cyril and Methodius, in Skopje, Macedonia.

Tatjana: A lot of people want to achieve success in life and in business and generally in the beginning they don’t know how? Somehow they start the business, they have certain success but they get stuck somewhere. On the other hand, they start having certain discipline, and become better people and start having a better communication with their business partners because they see that this is needed. And because they hear about it or they have a family custom, they practice some type of spirituality. But it seems like there is no connection between their business life and their spiritual life. So is there a connection between business and spirituality?

Akrura: Definitely there is a clear and strong connection between spirituality and business. There are a spiritual laws of success that some of the famous teachers today promote and teach. And there are basically many principles that are very spiritual and that are used in business education, business training, sales training, etc. And they are not always given credit as being spiritual.

So we have heard of ethical business and spirituality in the workplace. We see many courses that basically teach how to live and work in the mode of goodness. And goodness is basis for spirituality.

Q: As I understand from you there is a connection between business and spirituality. But now the question is why there is connection between business and spirituality and why this connection is very close?

A: It’s very simple. Life is an indivisible whole. We are not one-sided or one-dimensional beings. We have at least four dimensions and some people say there is more. I want to propose four human capacities or four human needs that are part of our life. One of them is spiritual side, another is physical side (it refers to our body, our physical well-being, our health), another is mental (how our mind and intelligence work, how we use our creativity), and the forth is emotional side (how we relate to other people, how we express love, how we receive love).

So, life is a whole, and every area affects the other area. Like if you have a car with four wheels, if one wheel breaks, the car will go for some time but ultimately you have to stop and fix it. Similarly, if any of these four areas doesn’t work, other three areas are affected and one has to look at the area that does not work and do something about it.

Q: Does that mean that business cannot function without spirituality?

A: Business can function without spirituality or spiritual principles but not for a long time. We see that people who neglect those principles of success they run for some time but after a while the business fails and stops functioning.

There are many examples of this. There was a restaurant which started neglecting their clients. In the beginning, they were very kind and sensitive and considerate of their clients but then they became big and became proud. They neglected the principle of customer care and the quality of the products. They started buying cheap food and slowly the quality of the preparations went down. Actually it happened when new management came and they wanted to be very efficient and to exploit the clients and slowly this business was closed, because they neglected the very principle that brought them initial success.

Q: I have a friend whom I was trying to explain that one has to be a better person every day, more and more, to be more successful in business. And this is spiritual principle as I know. And he told me this is not possible because I have so many friends that I know and they have money, but they are acting and behaving so ugly that I cannot understand. They talk to people very ugly, they have not good communication with their family, they don’t communicate well with their employees, they do ugly things but still the business works. How is that possible? These people have money.

A: This is a very good, very practical question and the answer is very simple. They are spending their accumulated credits. By the way they acted in the past they created some good karma or good credits and now it seems like they don’t have to follow this principles anymore and they can do whatever they like. They can even act in such a bad way and still seem to be successful.

Whoever is successful and at the same time he seems to be breaking the laws of success, the spiritual laws of success, their success is temporary. If you want long-term success, which can even go beyond this lifetime, than you have to follow these laws of success.

Thus an intelligent businessman wants long-term success. He wants clients who are lifetime clients, not “one sale, one deal” clients. And these kinds of businesses actually become really, really huge.

Q: Now the next question that is like a result of this previous question is: Is there a possibility that without spirituality the business can be honest and in virtue?

A: Actually virtue or goodness is spiritual, it comes from spirituality, so business cannot be successful long-term without this.

We see that even nowdays politicians are taking advice from high-class leadership teachers and experts. And we know that in politics there is a lot of corruption and a lot of cheating. And of course these teachers will not encourage that. They will not tell them: “Continue with your corruption strategy and your strategy of being a very smart cheater!” They will teach them, for example, about trust. There is one expert on trust who was engaged by the American government to help. As soon as you start speaking of trust, trust is a spiritual principle.

Now, what is trust? How can somebody be trusted? How they can be trustworthy?

There are two thing in order to trust someone, character and competence. So, if person has a good character, he is well meaning, well wishing, he is a person who has good qualities, their communication is very friendly and kind and patient and polite, we can trust him. But it’s not enough to trust him completely. They have to show competence. For example, if you are competent consultant or expert in anything like dentist or a surgeon, then people can trust you.

You can be a good guy but if you don’t know what to do, if you always pull out the wrong tooth, we cannot trust you. On the other hand, you can be very expert in doing some technical work or some manual work but if you always charge more, or there is hidden expenses, etc., we cannot trust you. So, there has to be both character and competence in order for someone to trust us. And that is a spiritual principle.

Q: What is the best way to use these principles of spirituality in business? And can you name some of the principles that can be used?

A: I already mentioned trust. Trust is also related to integrity and honesty. Very important thing in business and in life is to make and keep promises. If you want to build trust, you make and keep promises. If you promised that your product will help me and then it doesn’t help me, then you know you are not keeping your promise. Or we have to see why it doesn’t help. Maybe I’m not using it in a right way, maybe you need to train me and educate me how to use it properly, so that I get the results I want.

Another very, important principle, spiritual principle in business is Win-Win, looking for a mutual benefit in all interactions. And Win-Win approach ensures long-term relationship, long-term mutual benefit.

And we see that this also influences marketing. Your marketing investment and the expense will be much smaller if your approach to business is Win-Win, because your own clients will become your free marketing force. They will bring you other clients because they are satisfied and they will recommend your services and products. Seeking mutual benefit in all dealings is goodness. And goodness is very close to spirituality.

These are only few but there is many more.

Q: Do you have an example where spiritual principles bring better business results?

A: I will give you a very famous example I believe many business people or business leaders are aware of: the work of Jim Collins. He has written the book “Good to Great“, which is a study of how good companies became great and how they stayed great. And this is very pragmatic, nothing idealistic. There are very tangible measures and proofs how companies remained great for many, many years. His criteria of selecting great companies were very rigid.

I remember two of the companies: Wallgreens, an American company not so much present in Europe, and Gillette. Gillette everybody knows. They have shaving creams, shavers, and other things. He has named eleven companies, which actually fitted into the highly rigid criteria of being a great company.

So what we see there is again something that is related to being trustworthy. They had character and competence.

For example, Jim Collins has developed a concept of Level-Five Leader, someone who has strong professional will and also humility. This was the result of his study. These leaders were amazing leaders. They were “helpers of thousand geniuses”.

We also have a phenomenon of a Celebrity Leader, who is basically a “genius with thousand helpers”. Great companies had leaders who are Level-Five and they were helpers of thousand geniuses. They had people on their teams who were amazing and they were not putting themselves first, as Celebrity Leaders do.

This study is very practical, you can read it. It is a tangible proof, how spiritual principles work in business and how they make companies great.

Q: Does this all mean that there is no result if there is no spirituality in the business?

A: As I said, results can be there. You can have results but very important criterion of measurement is – for how long? You can be successful for some time but you cannot be successful long-term if you are breaking spiritual laws of success.

Q: Is it more important to educate people that work for the company to become more spiritual, or it is more important when you have communication with your clients to respect spiritual principles? Or both?

A: In order to be successful in this world, which has its spiritual side and its material side, we need both. We need the synergy of material and spiritual. And one principle which I will first describe in Sanskrit is very powerful principle. It is called yukta vairagya. It comes from a very wonderful spiritual teacher from the 15th Century, Rupa Gosvami. And he says that you can use anything from the material world but use it to benefit others. Use it well. Don’t use it to exploit others. Don’t use it for anything bad. In this way we can use unlimited resources that we can get, unlimited money, unlimited materials, equipment, if we use it for good purposes. In this way we can benefit others, benefit ourselves and our usage of material things will be spiritually-based. So we need both, we need the synergy of spiritual and material.

Q: What is the best way to introduce spirituality in business to people? Is there a certain technique or coaching seminar or mixed method or everyday briefing of people? What is the best way to introduce it and the easiest one for them to understand on both levels?

A: In order to introduce spiritual principles to people we need to educate them regularly, not only one seminar a year but at least one seminar a month with the follow up coaching and personal consultation.

For example, this interview is already an introduction and what I am presenting here for our readers is the benefits of spirituality in business. What is the benefit? The benefit is that you get better results. Especially you get better long-term results and better holistic results; results in all areas, not only in making money. I believe that most of the business people want long-term results and therefore they would be interested.

Spirituality in business is not some idealistic dream. It’s actually something very practical and practical means results. Everybody wants results and if there is a way to achieve short- and long-term results I believe people would be interested.

Q: Is it possible that the main founder and the director and the main board of the company is not in virtue and doesn’t practice the principle of spirituality but besides that, they want to introduce this to the people that work and are involved into the process? Is it possible that the leader of the company, the founder, directors, are not spiritually educated and they still want to educate the people that work in the company about spiritual principles?

A: This is a very good question and I believe that this is often a case. In my seminars also I ask the question “How many of you think that people who need to hear this are not here?” Many raise their hands.

In my work with people around the world I actually come to companies and institutions, and teach and then the main guys, the top guys are not there. They encourage the people to go to the seminar, they like their people to hear about this but they are not there. And of course most of the people think that the people at the top are the ones who should hear it most. So what to do in this situation?

You can start the transformation, you can start the turnaround, you can start change from any part of the company, from any individual in the company. This principle is called trim tab. Trim tab is a small rudder (steering wheel) on a boat. It can turn completely the direction of a ship although it goes slower than with the big one.

Let’s say that this trim tab is a person who has small influence. But if they start to do the right thing, if they start to apply these powerful principles, gradually, their positive influence will spread and they will contribute to creating a culture that is based on those sound principles.

Of course, there is a great advantage if the top management is supportive. But even if they are not, the culture will spread and these leaders just either have to leave and go somewhere else or change. The change can come from any part of the company and the results can happen and they can be visible.

Q: After all these questions, is there something that we didn’t mention and you think it’s important to mention?

A: Yes, thank you for this question. What I’m telling you, you have probably heard from many teachers. There are teachers who are more clearly pointing out the spiritual side of life and the spiritual side of business. Some teachers are doing it in a more hidden way, some teachers even mention religiosity.

Like, for example, Ken Blanchard, the author of “One Minute Manager”. He is working with one minister or priest on a project called “Lead Like Jesus”. So, he is clearly expressing his faith in God and the importance of that connection. But most of the teachers are quite reserved about mentioning something that is to me, actually, key to success. And what I mean is higher connection and support.

The point is that we are not the only doer. We can do everything right but we are not the one who ultimately controls the results of our efforts and actions.

So if that is the case, what we can do and what we can benefit from by listening and following different teachers is – we can increase the probability of our success by aligning ourselves with the timeless principles, the spiritual laws of success. Still, even this doesn’t guarantee a 100 percent success.

There has to be a higher connection. And there has to be a link to universal management, and universal connection, and natural laws, and we have to see whether life and universe and God is allowing us to have results.

One distinction of the famous book of wisdom Bhagavad-gita as the ultimate success guide is that it describes five factors of action and results. And one of them is the Supersoul. This is the factor of success that is neglected and often success teachers do not even mention it. And they give us impression that we are almighty and that with our efforts and the right alignment with the laws of success we are going to be successful.

Q: How can this connection between us and God be introduced to people that are 100 percent involved in mater and don’t see more than that?

A: We can help people see more clearly the spiritual side of life and because everybody is a spiritual being they already have a sense of spirituality in them. It is not something that we have to impose on them.

How the spiritual side of life and this kind of connection already manifests in the lives of everyone, or the general mass of people? For example, one is intuition. People can have that sense, on the inside, about certain things.

Then there is a paranormal phenomena, things that are completely against known laws but are happening. There is so-called accidents, or there is synchronicity, there is serendipity. There is all this phenomena that is out of ordinary, out of the laws that we know, and indicates that there is some separate reality, there is something higher. And nowadays more and more people, with so many books on success, happiness and spirituality, think that there must be something else.

They are thinking deeper or higher and many people are ready to learn more about spiritual principles and higher dimensions of life.

Q: A quick message to our readers who want to make the connection between spirituality and business?

A: Our quick message is that if you understand that you are a spiritual being then the number of possibilities for you increases and the potential that you have will be much more released. You will realize that you have much more potential than you are using right now and that you can achieve much more: you can be more happy, and you can make other people more happy, if you become open to learn about other dimensions of life and other sources of knowledge, strength and skill.

Q: Thank you for these straight answers because I’ve been in business for ten years and I always felt that there is a connection, but I didn’t know how to explain the principles. Thank you for these very clear explanations about the strong connection that definitely exists.

A: My pleasure.

Aleksandar Akrura Todorovic is a Spiritual Life Coach, success teacher, lecturer, and seminar leader. He also performs traditional and modern spiritual music.

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8 Life Winning Principles Thu, 04 Aug 2011 20:06:50 +0000

"You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today." --- Abraham Lincoln

Here are 8 principles that can help you succeed in your life and service.

Take Responsibility

Take 108% responsibility for your life, for what you are, for what you say, for what you do. Absolutely refuse to blame other people for whatever is not working in your life. Always say, “I am responsible.” Because you are.

Take Initiative

Don’t wait for things to fall from the sky. Don’t wait for other people to do things so you can move forward or achieve what you want. Don’t wait for Krsna to arrange things for you. Take initiative. Take action, take massive action. Act as if everything depend on you while being aware that results depend on Krsna’s sanction. If you want to achieve more, do more. See what works and what doesn’t and adjust your approach.

Clarify What You Want

Be crystal clear about what you want. Write it down. You cannot hit the target you do not see. Clarify your dreams into specific and measurable goals. Set deadlines for their achievement. Don’t be afraid to desire things. you are a person and you have desires. If desires are unfavorable, it will become clear after some time. But don’t be afraid to confront what you want.


Decide what is most important to you in your life and then spend plenty of time on it. Work on your most important goals first. Always ask yourself, “What is the most valuable use of my time – right now?” Make a list of things you need to do every day and then mark them or put them in order of priority. Work on the most important things first, until you complete them.

Think Win-Win-Win

Look for a mutual benefit in all interactions. Ensure that Krsna, the other party and yourself are happy with an arrangement or a deal (3-win approach). Don’t be a martyr and don’t be an exploiter. Ensure everyone is happy, as much as possible.


Sincerely seek to understand other people. Listen to them attentively. If needed, repeat to them what you have heard so you are sure you have understood them well. Make notes so you can capture the most important points. If you understand the needs of others, you will be able to serve them better.


Always try to be in a cooperative mood. Remember that when people come together to do something, there is an added value, simply because they have united. Two brains have more intelligence that one. Four hands can lift more that two. Think of ways how to unite differences, how to be complementary, taking full advantage of each other’s strengths and making up for each other’s weaknesses.


Regularly practice self- renewal or renewal in general. Take care of your sadhana, health, relationships, service, responsibilities. Do the needful. Always renew your capacity for doing service. Without taking time to renew your ability to serve, you might end up being without any capacity. If you don’t take time initially, you will have to take time eventually. If you don’t put the gas in your car, eventually it will stop.

Written by Akrura dasa Conscious Coaching

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Learn to Manage Expectations Thu, 11 Nov 2010 11:56:28 +0000 Managing expectations is about perception

Managing expectations is about perception

When I was working a “regular” day job and review time would come around, the main thing I looked for was that last page of the review where there were 3 check boxes:

  1. Does not meet expectations
  2. Meets expectations
  3. Exceeds expectations

My main concern as my manager evaluated my performance was that they felt I was exceeding expectations. As I moved into the freelance world, my main concern is still that I am in the business of exceeding expectations. How do I do that? Many times it’s all in how those expectations are managed.

1. Managing expectations is about perception. I attended a seminar several years ago where the speaker told a story that illustrated this point perfectly:

There was a small town in which there were two candy stores: Smith Candy and Jones Candy. A mother asked her son which he would like to visit for a treat. Her son replied immediately that he wanted to go to Mr. Jones’ Candy Store. Why? He believed he got more candy for his money from Mr. Jones. The truth was that Mr. Smith’s and Mr. Jones’ prices were exactly the same, but Mr. Smith’s practice was to put a large pile of candy on the scale and then remove it piece by piece until he reached the correct weight, while Mr. Jones put a few pieces on the scale and kept adding and adding until the correct weight was reached. The little boy’s perception was that he was getting more, even though the end result was the same.

Two designers can produce the exact same work in the same amount of time, but the one who tells their clients they will get the work done in 10 days and finishes three days earlier will have happier clients than the one who tells the client they will get the work done in 5 and finishes two days late. The difference is not in the length of time it takes to do the job, but the client’s perception.

2. Expectations should be set up front. I try to always give clients a clear list of what they will receive from me and when I will have the work completed. Often, clients don’t know what to expect or have unrealistic expectations. Knowing what their expectations are is key to managing them. Since I am the one who sets their expectations- it’s my fault if they’re disappointed.

3. Expectations should be realistic. Keeping track of how long it takes to do projects helps me to better estimate future jobs. I have to guard against overselling, especially when it’s a client I really want to work with.

4. Communicate early and often. I keep my clients updated regularly during projects that have a longer time frame. Even if the message is “I’m still on schedule to finish by the end of the month.” If I foresee that a problem is going to cause a missed deadline, I let them know as soon as possible. If a client asks for something extra that was not in the original plan, I respond with a revised completion date. When an update to a website is requested, I send an e-mail as soon as it’s completed to let them know.

5. Throw in a freebie. I like to add an extra bonus if possible, often it’s something that takes very little time. You can even plan this up front. In your list of services you’re going to provide, leave out one thing you might normally do for clients, then throw that in for “free” as a bonus.

Managing expectations well is an important skill no matter what business you’re in. Are you in the business of being a husband? Tell your wife you’re going to do that chore by Friday and then do it on Tuesday. Are you in the business of selling a product on the internet? Tell your customers as soon as possible if there’s going to be a delay in their shipment, and then throw in a freebie unexpectedly. Are you in the business of being a typical employee in a typical company anywhere in the world? Make sure you know exactly what your manager expects of you, and then find ways to go beyond their expectations and make sure they know all about it.

The majority of people and businesses simply meet expectations, and some don’t even manage to do that. With a little attention towards managing and exceeding expectations it’s easy to stand out in the crowd.

Author: Randa Clay; take a look at some examples of my work in my portfolio, and then contact me – let’s work together.

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Triple Bottom Line Model Wed, 22 Sep 2010 05:20:16 +0000 people-planet-profit

A Conscious Business will seek to minimize its impact on the environment, and replenish the environment where it is able.

Most Conscious Businesses subscribe to a Triple Bottom Line model of success for their business endeavor. They aim to provide positive value in the domain of People, Planet, and Profit.

Frequently, a Conscious Business will donate employee paid time, money, or products towards various non-profit organizations. Sometimes a Conscious Business will create a Foundation, which works with one particular cause


A Conscious Business seeks to benefit both the external livelihood as well as the internal lives of its shareholders and employees. Furthermore, the Business seeks to benefit all stakeholders including manufacturers, affected communities, and humanity at large. Some trends in Conscious Business which have arisen out of these efforts include:

  • The forming of wellness affirming workplace cultures
  • Improved Employee benefit programs
  • Use of Fair Trade materials for manufacture or sale
  • Assistance to communities who supply raw materials
  • Assistance to communities who manufacture materials
  • Local Community outreach programs


A Conscious Business will seek to minimize its impact on the environment, and replenish the environment where it is able. Conscious Businesses may choose to benefit the environment in many different ways, some trends include:

  • Robust Recycling programs
  • Building “Green” or “Zero-impact” workplace facilities
  • Using solar or wind energy in the workplace
  • Purchasing materials from organic or sustainable farmers
  • Purchasing renewable and sustainable materials
  • Working with environmentally conscious distributors
  • Urging manufacturers and distributors to adopt better environmental practices
  • Adopting sustainable product packaging

Above and Beyond

Many Conscious Businesses choose to use their resources to benefit social and environmental programs that are not directly related to the creation or distribution of the product or service. Frequently, a Conscious Business will donate employee paid time, money, or products towards various non-profit organizations. Sometimes a Conscious Business will create a Foundation, which works with one particular cause. Also, some Conscious Businesses will become involved with social or political campaigns to protect the environment, animals, or people. Conscious Businesses will sometimes use significant amounts of their profit towards these causes. Furthermore, a Conscious Business will sometimes work closely with suppliers in either a farming or manufacturing community in a developing country, and help to develop the community economically and replenish it environmentally.

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Conscious Business in Essence Wed, 22 Sep 2010 05:09:22 +0000 conscious_business

There is currently no agreed upon criteria to ascertain whether a business is a Conscious Business or not.

Many believe that Anita Roddick pioneered the Conscious Business Movement with her company, “The Body Shop” in 1976. This company has been an environmental leader, and worked to support various activist causes including putting an end to animal testing, and defending human rights.

An overwhelming amount of Conscious Businesses can be found in the health food industry as well as the LOHAS (lifestyles of health and sustainability) market. However, today Conscious Businesses can be found emerging in almost all aspects of the business world.

There are various agencies and companies that catalogue the social and environmental practices of businesses for consumer use, as well as companies which consult with businesses to increase their awareness and beneficial practices in the world.

Conscious Business is about people who are aware of the impact each of their habits and actions has on their environment (people and planet). It is about people who live their lives based on the knowingness that everything is interconnected. It is about people, who know who they are:

  • who know about their strengths and weaknesses and
  • who desire to live and work with joy, creativity and ease instead of fear, power and domination

Resources for more information

  • Abergene, Patricia; Megatrends 2010: The Rise of Conscious Capitalism. Hampton Roads Publishing Company (September 2005).
  • Hawken, Paul. Natural Capitalism. Back Bay Books; 1st edition (October 12, 2000).
  • Kofman, Fred; Conscious Business: How to Build Value Through Your Values. Sounds True: September (2006).
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