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!

fearlessly truthful

Awakened Companies Are Fearlessly Truthful

Awakened Companies Are Fearlessly Truthful 2000 1000 Catherine Bell


Christopher Papadopoulos is a collaborator on The Awakened Company and is the author of PEACE and Where to Find It.  Here are some of his comments, which reflect the truth of The Awakened Company.  Enjoy!

Personal awakening involves a fearless search for the truth of who we are beyond the roles we play and the things we believe. It is the essential work that everyone is born to do. One of the most important realizations we have on the path to awakening is that there is no part of our lives that can remain hidden in the shadows and unevolved for too long. We may be quite composed and graceful in one part of our lives but lament that another part of our lives is a “train wreck”, suffocating us, and bringing out our worst behavior.

A business person who is growing in self-awareness knows that there is a point that a kind of spiritual stagnation can set in unless this fearless quest for authenticity and truth includes all aspects of their life including their business life.

A fundamental feature of awakening is the palpable sense that all of life is sacred and that we are all interconnected. It is from this felt realization that we begin to expand our definition of ‘self’ to include more people, more living things of every sort and even objects. Correspondingly, we begin to see the organizations we are involved with as living and sacred entities as well.

This is the natural progression from personal awakening to fostering an awakened company. Awakening executives know their personal evolution, their personal quest for peace and fulfillment, cannot advance unless they include their companies as a whole in the awakening journey. And just as the awakening executive relentlessly and honestly looks into every shadowy corner of their own life, the awakened company must be equally relentless and fearless in facing the truth about how humane and evolved it is.

The feeling of sacred connection that emerges with greater awareness contains some very familiar sentiments: gratitude, reverence, joy and love. Does your corporate culture and workspace reflect these sentiments? Do you revere, and yes, love your coworkers? Do you appreciate your employees and clients not just as “resources” or “assets” but as human beings? Is joy a priority?

Are you unabashedly honest about your marketing and advertising strategies? That is, do your campaigns showcase your products and services without deceiving and manipulating your target audience?

Can you say with confidence that your products and services are developed without exploiting vulnerable people or polluting the environment?

Is the company aware of its symbiotic relationship with the surrounding community and planet and does it resist using its power to lobby governments to neutralize the voice of citizens?

If you are earnest in your quest for organizational awareness answering “No” to any of the above is not a sign of failure but of success. To fearlessly question all of a company’s practices no matter what the truth is means the process of awakening has begun.


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.

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.


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.