best-selling book

Owl’s Nest Book Launch

Owl’s Nest Book Launch 1941 1214 Catherine Bell


Hi there, just a friendly reminder that our First Official Book Launch is being hosted by Owl’s Nest Books on October 22nd at 7 pm at Christ Church.  You can find out more here.    Owl’s Nest Books is a local, independently owned book store that  believes there are  books that are worth talking about and worth reading. And worth owning.  We are very appreciative that they are  hosting this event.  Our friends from the Rubaiyat will be ensuring that the space provides the context for a lively discussion!   Please help us launch the book with our community rising!


Executive Leadership Awakening – BlueSteps Interview

Executive Leadership Awakening – BlueSteps Interview 2560 588 Catherine Bell

BlueSteps‘ mission is to optimize your visibility to top executive search firms and to position you for the best executive jobs. Julia Salem of BlueSteps interviewed Catherine Bell on Executive Leadership Awakening. BlueSteps is AESC‘s career service for executives. You can find the interview here and reprinted below.

Leadership Awakening: An Interview with Executive Search Consultant, Catherine Bell

BlueSteps chats with Catherine R. Bell, co-founder of BluEra executive search, and author of the new book The Awakened Company.

catherine_bellIn your book you say “few today would argue that ‘business as usual’ is working well.” How can individual executives and employees become ambassadors for driving more awakened company practices?

Research shows that the more self-aware a person is, the higher performing they are. It begins with who are we and what we need to become to best serve the organization. This means truly knowing what our gifts are. So many times I have interviewed candidates who have a long list of positive traits, but never have something to work on. In practice, I have never met someone who doesn’t have something they need to work on! The moments where we begin to truly look at ourselves and our behaviours, our success and our failures, that is awakening. We need to be compassionate with ourselves during that process.

Modern leaders are finding their personal and work lives have become more and more intertwined. Your company, BluEra, has taken this into account when doing weekly staff check-in meetings. How and why do you think company leaders should facilitate effective check-ins that go beyond their work role?

The practice is called “Stars and Bones”, the term coined by my MBA colleague, Rob Beamish. Depending on the size of the team, you can allow more or less time. The point of this process is to find out what’s going well in your team’s lives and what’s going not so well.

I do have a funny, practical example of why this is important. I met with an executive team and the CFO was grumpy. No one knew what was going on with her. What was happening was that she was on a cleanse. People didn’t know, so they took it personally when there was no need. So by doing quick check-ins or “Stars and Bones”, we can acknowledge each other’s humanness.

About 75 percent of firms are gone after nine years, so clearly we’re missing something. We also have 80 percent employee disengagement in companies. We need to focus on what we need to do to bring humanity and wholeness into organizations. We should be building something meaningful and important.

“Too much emphasis is put on…the bottom line. This doesn’t really motivate people…”
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How can executives leverage self-awareness for their own success as well as the success of their organization?

Self-awareness: there aren’t many people who aren’t interested in learning more about themselves. By learning more about yourself, you learn where your blind spots are. If you know where those spots are, you can work with people who are strong in those areas. If you can round out your team in that way, you’re all going to be better. Empirical evidence shows the more diverse a team is, the higher performing it is.

Self-awareness is pivotal, but it isn’t for financial success—it’s for the experience of learning and growing and being open-minded. Too much emphasis is put on the financial aspects of a business and the bottom line. This doesn’t really motivate people because the increased income goes to shareholders and a small number of people at the top of an organization.

Executives need to take the time to expand their self-awareness, whether it’s through, for example, meditation or 360 reviews. So much of our culture is focused on constant growth. We’re becoming a virus on the earth. We need to take some time and think about what’s fundamentally important. Too often it’s grow or die.

There is a different way of being. We can do this, organizations are the way to solve many of our current ills. At BluEra, we do stillness breaks. There is a yoga room and we come together and do meditation, no one is forced, it is by choice. I also begin sessions with executive teams and board of director meeting with meditation. I start by sharing the research and explaining the benefits. When I first started, I was nervous; but now many of these executives and board directors are sharing this with their own teams.

Research shows that mindfulness reduces employees’ stress, increases emotional intelligence, increases productivity, lowers impulsivity, and so on. We know there are many benefits, yet there’s always this knowing/doing gap.

“When looking at all the different companies that haven’t survived…the list is long. We can do better.”
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What benefits are non-awakened companies missing out on? What’s the first step an executive in the organization can take towards awakening?

When looking at all the different companies that haven’t survived or have declared bankruptcy, you can see that the list is long. We can do better. Typically organizations don’t last beyond ten years. We don’t seem to be learning. The whole system needs to change. And the first step begins with ourselves, self-awareness combined with mindfulness, then our relationships, and of course everything is interdependent. However, here is some practical advice for organizations:

The organization needs to be energized. What is your vision? Why do you exist? So many organizations talk about how profitable they will be, but they need to go deeper. What need is your organization going to fill? Why are you in business? This vision needs to be created within a community because what we support, we have to create; and what we create, we support.

It’s also important to ensure that you sustain the vision. Here at BluEra, we take the opportunity to reinforce our vision in creative ways. For example, we have an “evolve and awaken” t-shirt. It’s important to remember why we’re in business. Making money isn’t a good enough reason itself.  Go deeper, inquire, and get curious about how you are fulfilling a need.

Remember to take the time to regenerate your initiatives by examining what you need to stop, continue and start doing.

In your book, you talk about the fact that “much of our leadership and business culture needs to be turned on its head.” Can you give any examples of current leadership practices that executive leaders should focus on changing and what that change looks like?

When we look at the research in terms of leadership, I like to speak about the transformational leadership model. Leaders aren’t spending enough time in one-on-one meetings (individualized consideration) with their direct reports. One of the top reasons many people leave an organization is because of their direct reports. A good golden nugget for leaders is to occasionally have town hall meetings. But more importantly, take the time to do one-to-one coffee meetings to have real conversations.

Another thing leaders need to embrace is discomfort. For example, in the beginning, trying to be mindful is uncomfortable. However, based on the research, it’s the right thing to do. We need leaders to take a bold stance to communicate what they aren’t good at.
How can executive candidates seek out awakened companies when seeking their next opportunity?

I would look at their vision and see if it’s in alignment with who you are. Then look at whether the values are clearly articulated and see if you fit. Look for open mindsets versus closed mindsets. Are people open to learning, growing, and having a joyful and fun experience? It’s a matter of not being so focused on the compensation. We need to go deeper and more fully understand ourselves, our relationships, and our organizations so that we all awaken together.


I leave you with this one consideration: what is one thing you want to awaken in yourself, how can that be aided by the organization you are in and how can you help the organization?


Check out Catherine’s new book, The Awakened Company.
AN EVOLUTIONARY LEAP from the “business is business” mantra that stifles creativity, neglects human wellbeing, and treats work as separate from the rest of life. Businesses can be prosperous, sustainable, caring, interlocking communities that benefit all their stakeholders and investors — those who work in them, the communities they serve, the international community, and the planet. The Awakened Company comes at a time of crisis in the business world, as evidenced by the most recent financial meltdown, which was a cry for help from a bipolar boom-bust business model that’s failing. From a mentality of profits first and growth at all cost, those in the know in the business world are coming to the realization this approach is no longer sustainable.
Click here to learn more.


Namaste Interview with Catherine Bell

Namaste Interview with Catherine Bell 1500 344 Catherine Bell

Namaste Interview with Catherine Bell

Namaste Publishing interviewed Catherine Bell  on The Awakened Company. You can read the article here or reprinted below.

A global conversation on awakening in organizations has begun!

Namaste: You entitled your book The Awakened Company. What exactly do you mean by the term “awakened” when you use it in a business context?

Catherine: You often hear it said that “business is business,” or that something is “just business.” All kinds of things take place in the name of “business” that aren’t necessarily beneficial in their impact on other aspects of life. Sometimes whole communities are destroyed. A fundamental premise of The Awakened Company is that business can never be “just business,” but is in some way connected to each and every dimension of our lives. An awakened company is therefore aware of its impact on the whole of life.

To be aware of its effect on the whole of life, a company needs to be in touch with what’s occurring in real-time, which includes the needs of the moment, but also with trends that are on the horizon. For instance, it was one thing to build factories with chimneys that belched smoke into the air at the start of the industrial revolution, when we didn’t understand the impact of how we were polluting the atmosphere and what the long-term consequences might be, whereas it’s quite another to do the same today. An awakened company is one that’s looking at all the ways it affects our lives, including potential effects on the future. In a sense, it is continual awakening.

Namaste: When you speak of the “whole” of life, say more about the kinds of things you have in mind.

Catherine: I am speaking of our lives personally, relationally, environmentally, technologically, communally, and globally. We think of companies as having stakeholders. Usually when we refer to a “stakeholder,” we have in mind those who have a financial interest in a company. However, the stakeholders in any company are much broader. They include the community in which a company operates, the people it sources materials from, the people it provides goods or services to, the people who work in the company, the environment in which it operates, and much more. An awakened company is in touch with the needs of all its stakeholders, not just those whose focus is the bottom line.

Namaste: Would you say that companies are more awake or less awake today than they have traditionally been?

Catherine: It’s a mix, but overall I see some promising signs that more companies are awakening, while others are becoming aware of the need to awaken, since they recognize that the way most businesses operate today simply isn’t sustainable. On the one hand we are seeing some extremely successful household names shift to awakened business practices, while on the other many companies seem to put in place more and more impersonal rules, give their people less and less power to make decisions, and increasingly function more like machines than communities of people. Rules trump personal service in all too many cases today.

Namaste: Doesn’t a company need to have set standards, or rules, about how it functions and how it relates to the public?

Catherine: Yes, of course. But this doesn’t justify a company becoming rule-bound and time-bound, so that it’s no longer relevant in terms of the customer’s needs or employees because those who are in touch with the public simply have no power to make wise decisions that are in the company’s best interests. An awakened company evolves to match the reality of this moment in time, as well as envisioning where the future lies. To achieve this, it seeks to empower its people, seeing everyone as a leader. In this way a company is responsive to the needs of the moment, as well as mindful of the future, and can switch gears when necessary. Awakening, then, isn’t a state but an ongoing process, so that the awakened company is anything but a fixed entity. It throbs with the life of real people.

Namaste: Speak to the individuals who work in awakened companies. How are they different from the workers in the majority of companies?

Catherine: An awakened company consists of individuals who are aware of the big picture and where they fit into it. People are deeply self aware, the culture reinforces this self awareness, they have a deep understanding of the organizational vision, and have a learning mindset. They in essence combine mindfulness with self awareness. People who are aware are what’s going to transform the very nature of what we consider “work.” In those companies that are already awakening, the entire organization— from the CEO to the publicists, technicians, secretaries, and janitors— functions harmoniously. A collegial spirit prevails in which each values the other, engaging in interaction that regards colleagues as precious individuals, so that we each recognize and honor one another’s humanity. This in turn spills over to suppliers, customers, and the wider public in a manner that enhances the wellbeing of all, since all of these are a company’s real stakeholders.

An awakened company is therefore an organization that has moved from “me” to “we” in its thinking and practices. The leaders of such companies no longer see those who work in the company, the communities they serve, or the planet itself in terms of mere resources to be merchandized.

Namaste: What moved you to write this book? And why now?

Catherine: As someone who has worked since I was young in an array of work settings, I have experienced anger, rage, fear, disengagement, and deep sadness over the behavior of many organizations. I have seen the pain people suffer in these organizations. The saddest aspect of many a corporate work experience is that such distress is entirely unnecessary. That it doesn’t have to be this way is clear from how companies thrive when they move away from the model of “business is business” that causes this distress.

It’s because I’ve seen so much sickening behavior in organizations that I started BluEra. I saw how business could be fundamentally different and wanted to put these insights into practice. As the founder of a globally- focused, multimillion dollar consulting firm specializing in executive search, team transformation, and coaching, I helped build dynamic teams in a variety of organizational settings from small start-up companies to Fortune 500 firms. By interviewing thousands of senior executives on the hunt for talented leadership, our team uncovered common characteristics of awakened individuals: open-minded and open-hearted, yet have a sense of clear decisiveness; tenacious in their commitment to grow and learn both personally and professionally; compelled by a vision that overrides fear and incorporates different possibilities; not satisfied with the status quo, always exploring new possibilities; deeply aware of the interdependence and interconnection of all things.

The book comes at a time when there’s a crisis in the business world. From an era of profits first and growth at all cost, businesses and the people within business are coming to the realization this is no longer working. The Awakened Company offers practical ways and useful examples from business, community, social, and academic leaders to take business to a new and awakened level through the merging of wisdom traditions, including mindfulness and yoga, with best practices in business. The depth, scope, and practicality of the book set it apart from other books on business.

Namaste: Do you have particular qualifications that made you the right fit for authoring such a book about business?

Catherine: In terms of traditional qualifications, I have a BA in sociology from Western University, an MBA from Queen’s, certification in the Enneagram, an advanced certificate in Executive Search Consulting from Cornell University, have completed the Institute of Corporate Directors NFP Governance Essentials Program, and am a certified yoga instruct or. I have started a company and worked for a large organization.

Recently the firm that I founded was rated as one of the fastest growing organizations and as a best workplace. I’m currently doing research in mindfulness with a leading university. As well, I have done all of this while being a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, active volunteer, and community member, perhaps some of the most potent qualifications of all.

Namaste: Tell us about your collaborators.

Catherine: I chose not to go it alone, but to work with Russ Hudson and Christopher Papadopoulos. Russ is a well-established author and lecturer who sold over a million copies of his previous book and has awakened hundreds of thousands of people. Chris, also an author and teacher, has seen the launch of his book PEACE—And Where to Find It this fall, also from Namaste Publishing.

In a nutshell, The Awakened Company is a collaboration between three individuals well versed in and deeply concerned about the present state and future direction of organizations. Indeed a whole community has rallied around awakening in organizations. My editor, David Ord and publisher, Constance Kellough have been powerful forces in the book too, not to mention the amazing contributors! Indeed a community rising!

Namaste: What do you see as the future of business?

Catherine: From one-person enterprises to multinational corporations, organizations are the principal vehicle for supplying the world’s needs and have the potential to solve some of the world’s most pressing challenges. Almost anything significant in the world is done in organizations.

Namaste: You are saying that organizations are the solution?

Catherine: We are the solution. However, despite being woven into every part of our lives, the approach to business often leaves much to be desired. For instance, no small number of companies tend not to be good at surviving. Witness the fact that the majority of businesses die before they are ten years old! With such a high rate of attrition, we have to wonder how the current “business as usual” mentality of many companies sets employees, clients, and customers up for success. Instead, it results in a bipolar boom-bust economy. How can such instability, with all the ups and downs it causes in the marketplace, create thriving communities?

The production and distribution abilities of corporations have achieved marvels. But shouldn’t organizations that are so integral to every part of our day and every aspect of our lives reflect the highest values and the very best of what it means to be human? Is the current model really the best we can do?

Namaste: You are seeing real change in the business world?

Catherine: In the course of writing this book, we were excited to discover just how many business leaders are aware of the severity of the problem— and how many of them share with us the simple realization that we not only can do better, but that some of the leading corporations are already pioneering a new business model, with amazing results.

The writers talked with business leaders about what works and what doesn’t. They chose to interview those breaking new ground—leaders in organizations like Zappos, Queen’s University, Selco India, Me to We, Free the Children, USC Marshall School of Business and Culture Sync, McGill, MIT, Renewal Funds, and Patagonia. The companies we interviewed span the globe.

Our desire is to launch a global conversation on awakening in organizations.

We care.

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!