Mindful Culture

The Importance of Mindful Culture for Start Ups

The Importance of Mindful Culture for Start Ups 300 168 Catherine Bell


Paul Zelizer, Co-Founder and CEO of Wisdompreneurs shares lessons learnt about corporate culture for The Awakened Company.

One of the biggest trends of the past decade in the start up space is the Lean Start Up movement. Through a combination of careful observation and research, leaders like Eric Reis and Steve Blank have helped map out an approach to launching an enterprise that increases success and decreases the time spent flailing around.   I think that’s a great thing – unless you LIKE failing around. J
This is a huge service to the startup world. We now have a road map to better organizing the conversations and iterations that lead to a profitable company.

And yet, much of the conversation in the start up world reminds me of the culture at Google that Search Inside Yourself author Meng Tan describes. Meng talks about how Google and other tech companies were constantly “looking outside ourselves” for increased effectiveness and profitability.   As someone with a lifelong interest in awareness practices, Meng couldn’t help but wonder what kind of benefits would be available to companies if they would consider the research about “searching inside ourselves first”.

For instance, research done by TalentSmart when they placed emotional intelligence alongside 33 other important workplace skills found that emotional intelligence is the strongest predictor of performance, explaining a full 58% of success in all types of jobs.

Because of results like these, the conversation about self-awareness and emotional intelligence in larger business settings are rapidly growing. Google has Search Inside Yourself. LinkedIn has it’s Compassion in Business project. Arianna Huffington has launched GPS for the Soul.

Yet the conversation in the startup world about the importance of awareness and Emotional Intelligence practices seem to be lagging behind.

Business leaders like Arianna Huffington and Seth Godin have begun the conversation about the importance of mindful attention to the cultures we create in start up.   However, on the front lines of the organizations teaching and mentoring the next generation of entrepreneurs – incubators, accelerators, entrepreneurship programs at universities and the like – practices like Emotional Intelligence are rarely mentioned. How many programs do you know where start up leaders are taught that Emotional Intelligence and similar practices are among the single biggest factors about whether a start up fails or thrives?

Twitter co-founder Biz Stone said:

Daily mindfulness and compassion will make you a healthier, more productive person. Additionally, the people you work with are going to respond better and do better work. The outcome is going to be a superior product or service, a happier user or client, and in the best case—a positive global impact.

A positive global impact. That’s the vision of the startup community that I serve. And in order to take the next step towards that, I believe it’s essential for the start world to make it a priority to deepen our commitment to and awareness of creating more mindful culture in start ups. It’s something I’m saying yes to with every cell in my body.

Bio: Paul Zelizer runs a global business as a business and marketing coach for wisdom/awareness based entrepreneurs.   He is also the co-founder and CEO of Wisdompreneurs, a start up that brings easy to implement mindfulness and Emotional Intelligence practices to the entrepreneurial world as well as more entrepreneurial skills to transformational leaders.   Paul’s website is and Wisdompreneurs is at

What’s Missing in Today’s Business World

What’s Missing in Today’s Business World 450 300 Catherine Bell

What’s Missing in Today’s Business World

The modern workplace lacks humanity, hurting performance and sustainability. How to bring it back to your company.

Most new companies perish within nine years of their founding. There are also countless examples of failed major organizations, like Arthur Anderson, Lehman Brothers, and Enron. The individual, social, environmental, technological, and political costs of all of this failure are astronomical.

The prevalence of failure in business tells us something about the way we do business. While there are many causes for business failings and economic downturns, they tend to include a mercurial concoction of factors such as lack of foresight, poor strategic planning, lack of capital, lack of adequate and properly trained personnel, technological advances, geopolitical forces, increased competition, and often just plain greed.

In addition to the ups and downs of the market—with its extremes of increasing wealth for the few and the loss of even hard-earner pension funds for others—a particularly tragic aspect of the modern economy is that the majority of the workforce is disengaged. It’s a factor that increases the likelihood that companies either don’t thrive as they could or survive over the long term.

Underpinning all of these reasons for our economic woes are humans who in some way fail to perform in an optimal manner, both in the head office and on the shop floor. The reason is that much of the business world tends to have a dehumanizing effect on people, which ultimately undercuts worker enthusiasm, creativity, commitment, and performance.

When we value people instead of devaluing them as if they were to be merchandized, we greatly benefit as organizations, as societies, and as a world. Our bipolar boom-bust economy is the result of a workplace that lacks humanity. “Profit above people” is a bad mantra with a poor prognosis for the wellbeing of individuals, families, society at large, and the world as a whole.

It’s clearly time to change our metrics of success. We need to bring humanity back into organizations by establishing strong one-on-one relationships in our workplaces, defining a clear reason for our companies’ existence that our people at every level can believe in, and ensuring that everything we do as an organization is responding to the deeper needs of society.

How do you put these principles into effect in your business? Drawing on my own experiences and conversations with inspiring entrepreneurs, leaders and thinkers, here are three types of practices you can implement to bring humanity back to your business.


Have your team recreate your vision, if the timing is right.  People support what they create. This doesn’t mean the executive locking themselves up in a room to write a new business plan. It means getting feedback from everyone in your organization about why you exist. Making gobs of money doesn’t capture most people’s true hearts, so you need to find out what does.


I made huge mistakes about BluEra’s vision, as I learned the hard way. In one instance, we had scheduled a planning session with a consultant from Denmark. When the consultant asked what the team vision was, no one remembered. Imagine my embarrassment.

I had done a very poor job of reiterating and sustaining the vision of the organization. Now, we have our vision on our website, our blogs, on cakes—I’m constantly reminding our team of it. If your vision is in good shape, do something today that reiterates it to the team in a way that they will remember. Booking one-on-one meetings with members of your team to discuss the vision can also prove valuable.


From answering emails from bed to checking messages in meeting, we are burning ourselves out with constant work. To implement alternate metrics of success leaders are increasingly utilizing practices such as meditation, and yoga, stillness breaks for staff, and mindfulness training. These practices allow us to be more thoughtful and inquiring.

• • • • •

The results of these changes will be less failures, more engagement on the part of personnel, and a deeper sense of meaning for everyone involved in and connected to our organizations. Let’s start considering the quality of our experiences in the workplace.

Catherine Bell is the founder of BluEra and author of the upcoming book The Awakened Company. BluEra was ranked #123 on the 2015 PROFIT 500 Ranking of Canada’s Fastest-Growing Companies.

• • • • •

Article originally appeared in Profit Guide by Catherine Bell.


We want this to be all about you!!!

We want this to be all about you!!! 2000 1000 Catherine Bell

What is it that you would most like to experience on this blog?

How can we best serve you? Latest business thinking articles? Articles on Innovation? Something inspiring or something that really makes you think? Videos? What is it that this community would most like to learn and why do you visit us?

We are here to help wake up and engage with business leaders. We believe that organizations will solve our greatest challenges. How can we help you most? What would elevate you the most?

Please let us know.

Many thanks!


Our Corporate Bubbles – VW’s Cheating Ways

Our Corporate Bubbles – VW’s Cheating Ways 1920 1282 Catherine Bell

With the recent news of Volkswagen’s cheating, I wonder how we can do better and I remembered my conversation with Otto Scharmer.

Otto is the author of Leading from the Emerging Future, Theory U, and Presence. He is a senior lecturer at MIT’s Sloan School of Management. He is the founding chair of the MIT IDEAS Program, that takes leaders from civil society, government and business from Indonesia and China on a nine month action learning journey in order to co-create profound social innovation in their communities. With the German government (GIZ Global Leadership Academy) and the Gross National Happiness Centre in Bhutan, he co-founded the Global Well-being and Gross National Happiness Lab, which brings together innovative thinkers from developing and industrialized countries to prototype new ways of measuring well-being and social progress. He has worked with governments in Africa, Asia and Europe and led leadership and innovation programs at corporations such as Daimler, Alibaba, ICBC, Eileen Fisher, Google and PwC.

Here is one of his comments during our interview:

“So we all live in bubbles. In each organization, the more successful you are as a leader of the organization the more you are in a bubble. And, the CEO is the bubble king, so to speak, because anyone around you is, you know, faking some stuff, right. It’s, kind of, sorting out the information that they think you don’t want to hear, so you live in a fake environment that is projected onto you because people think that’s what you want to hear.” Otto Scharmer

What kind of bubbles do you think possibly existed at Volkswagen?

What bubbles exist in your organization?

How can we be more truthful with one another?

We would love your thoughts.


book launch

Awaken – Book Launch October 22!

Awaken – Book Launch October 22! 2048 1366 Catherine Bell


Awaken. At a time in our world where our traditional business models have failed, The Awakened Company shows us a path to a sustainable model that energizes, sustains and energizes people, business, communities and our planet.

Owl’s Nest Books is graciously hosting The Awakened Company’s first official book launch.

The book launch event will take place on Thursday, October 22, 2015 from 7-8:30 pm in the Crump Room at Christ Church (3602 – 8 St SW Calgary). Make sure you RSVP as the event is almost full.

Come and meet Catherine, learn more about the awakening that is taking place all around us and engage in meaningful conversation with other guests.  Copies of The Awakened Company book will be available for purchase and signing by Catherine. There will also be a few other surprises in store!


Chances Are Your Business Will Fail

Chances Are Your Business Will Fail 284 177 Catherine Bell

Let’s get real, the evidence is brutal.

Most likely your business will fail.

Let’s investigate why and take action to prevent the human, environmental, and technological costs. Reasons for failure could include:  market shifts, more competition, lack of resources and expertise, disengaged employees, lack of a real strategy, low trust, and the list goes on.

Are you considering what your organizations risks are and planning accordingly?

What have you learnt from past failures and how can you apply them today?

Let’s get real and stop making the same mistakes.

What is an Awakened Company?

What is an Awakened Company? 800 869 Catherine Bell

People all over the world are defining what an Awakened Company is for them.

Russ Hudson, a collaborator of THE AWAKENED COMPANY, and co-Founder of the Enneagram Institute out of New York and best-selling author, tells us what an awakened company is for him.

Check out what others are are saying in the videos on our YouTube Channel. Then, we would like your personal involvement in defining what an Awakened Company is for you!

Let us know!

Send your video to

Something Profound is Happening

Something Profound is Happening 600 340 Catherine Bell

It is your birthright to awaken. To awaken is to become aware that you are more than your thoughts about yourself and the world. You experience deep fulfillment and a sense that you are connected with all people and things on this planet. To discover who you truly are is your primary purpose in this life. When we do not know who we are we feel disconnected, we struggle to find meaning in our lives and fulfillment evades us. Our dissatisfaction and sense of separation from everyone and everything propels us on a futile quest for more things and experiences in the hope that we will finally feel fulfilled.

We also build our businesses in our own image—a distorted and incomplete impression of who we are and why we are here…until we wake up. When we awaken our businesses also awaken and discover their higher purpose beyond profits—and yet profits consistently grow as we grow in awareness.

Many people have come to understand that the most recent financial meltdown was a big cry for help from a business model that is failing. Too many businesses have been putting profits before the employees and wider community that give their company life. Of course, businesses do need to turn a profit, but when we value profits far more than people, society, and the planet, disastrous results occur. From the drive for always more, grows a special class of mercenary enterprise: using their power to defang regulations and aggressively engage in high risk activity.

At the same time, something profound is happening. Beneath the wreckage of collapsing businesses, communities, and families—all suffering from the side effects of the current economic paradigm—more and more have found their way out of this mode of being. More and more businesses and their employees are wiping off the dusty mirror and taking a hard look at themselves. And in the process they, as individuals and as entire companies, are finding a truer calling, their soul.

This book details this new shift in energy and awareness and shows how to replicate it in your life and in the life of your business. These changes are already underway; they are real, practical, and achievable and are exciting in their results and in their implications. There is something happening, and it is good.

Learn from wisdom makers, academics, private equity builders, breakthrough renewable energy companies (even some traditional energy companies), healers, entrepreneurs, one of Oprah’s top publishers, and social enterprise. So join us on this journey of awakening as we all become more aware of who we are and how we are all interconnected. We think you will be pleasantly surprised to learn who is joining you on this journey of transformation, and even more surprised by how rewarding it is for your own business.


Quote from Joel Solomon

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