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well-being

Three Keys to Awakening Well-Being in Organizations

Three Keys to Awakening Well-Being in Organizations 603 266 Catherine Bell

THREE KEYS TO AWAKENING WELL-BEING IN ORGANIZATIONS

well-being

Well-being in the workplace.

The worst decisions and actions have been made when I’ve been tired.  I’ve spent the last decade starting and selling a Profit 500 company while being a mother, a wife, a friend, a community member, and an author.  I know what it is like to try to “balance” everything.  I now prefer the word harmony over balance.  Over the last decade I’ve worked with leaders, on executive relationships, and organizations incorporating self care and organizational cultural health into their mantras.

What is self care, relationship care, and organizational health?  I will now define what each one of these means and how to promote well-being in organizations with some practical tips to sew into your work day.

1. Awakening Self Care

At the root of self care is your relationship and connection to your awakened self.  I am not just meaning physical health. I am intending your personal relationship with your thoughts, your emotions and feelings, and your body.  Self care is not about beating yourself up when you are already too busy.  It is also about engagement.  Over 70% of people are not engaged at work. This is heart-breaking. That is over 70% of people not engaging in self care.

Self care emerges from an intention to stay connected to your heart, mind, and body.  Self care flows from understanding your inner compass and north star.  Specifically, knowing what you are in service to and what is the contribution you hope to make to the world.

Once you are in touch with your inner compass and aim, you can make positive decisions toward the world you want to create. Self care is highly personal and not one size fits all. We all know when we are coming from an Awakened or Asleep place. We will know our Awake/Asleep line. The asleep state represents when we are acting out of fear, anxiety, anger, or  a sense of scarity. The awake state represents when we are acting out of authenticity, love, peace, compassion, and a sense of abundance.

Here are some other brief (not exhaustive) self care tips:

• Develop your self awareness. This includes knowing your gifts, your work ons, and how to silence your inner critic (that voice in your head can take up way too much space and time).

• First thing in the morning, write down the three most important things for you to do that day. Stay focused on those.

• Celebrate the things you have accomplished in a journal or with a colleague or friend over lunch.

• Be aware of the context you are in. Workspace can have a significant impact on how you feel.

• Develop a centering or mindfulness practice. Your presence is your power. And the power of the pause cultivates better leadership.

• Ask for help when you need it, whether it be with cleaning the house or with database entry to keep you focused on your north star.

• Get enough sleep for you.

By awakening self care in a competitive world, we will operate from abundance. Anxiety, fear, control will no longer be in the driver’s seat. By incorporating self care, and relying on it more in times of stress, we can all become our most awakened selves.

2. Awakening Relationships

According to research, the majority of people rate the worst time of the day as the time with their bosses; how long someone stays and how productive they are is determined by the relationship with their immediate supervisor. Yet, the majority of leaders would prefer to spend time independently or in a group than one on one with someone. We need to cultivate the ability to go deep with our relationships where we establish genuine connection with someone.

Relationships are a key element of a life that is meaningful. Everyone needs to be regarded as a human being with dignitiy. We need to cultivate relatedness through mindfulness, spaciousness, and heartfulness in our organizations. Being a colleague is a structure, a role. Beyond structure lies the possibility of real connection which involves an awareness of the field of us.  We need to be mindful (open, thoughtful), spacious (the sense that we are independent and respect this), and heartful (kindness and caring) in relationships.

Here are some brief relationship tips:

• Make deliberate times for one on one meetings.

• The key in Awakened Relationships is to focus on improving yourself and being present to the experience.

• Be aware of how your body is speaking for you. Note your body language and what signals it is sending and correct to open posture if appropriate.

• Be aware of triangulation, and know that having a no gossip policy is almost impossible. We are social animals.

• Use ‘I’ language and speak from your three centres:  I am feeling, I am thinking, I am doing, and my request for action from you is.

• Listen. Listen. Listen. You can listen by writing down the exact words the person is saying, you can listen by repeating what the person has said in your head.

• Surrender. Instead of expressing your opinion…solicit others’ opinions and really listen. Surrender to what is really happening.

• Acknowledge other people’s greatness. Notice what they are doing right…and tell them, in person and write lots of thank you cards!

• Be vulnerable and be willing to be touched emotionally.

• Be open with your heart and mind.

• Allow what people are saying to you to be digested.

• Make it a practice to put away technology before engaging.  Focus on doing one thing at a time, giving the person or task your full attention.

• Be non-reactive.

• Cultivate your ABC’s.  What awakened attitude you want to bring to the relationship, what boundary, and what sense of connection.

Healthy connected relationships are a secret key to cultivating an environment of well being.

3. Awakening Organizations

The majority of organizations do not survive past nine years. Research has shown that organizations that focus on both cultural and financial metrics perform the best. Most organizations measure only their financial bottom line. How does one create and measure the health of their organizational culture?

How do you create the context of a healthy culture? The journey is an individual company one. One where groups of people decide on their collective fates by intentionally and collectively determining their vision, values, road maps, and committing to living daily from those places. For example, does everyone know the vision of your organization?  Are people hired who believe in the corporate values?  Are performance evaluations based on how you contributed to the vision and values of the firm? Is the context awakening for all?  For example, in the company I co-founded, there was unlimited vacation because one of our core values was trust. We trusted people to do their jobs.

Here are some brief tips to awaken well-being in organizations:

• Develop clear embodied sense of where the organization is headed, a unified vision, that informs meaning in people, in relationships, in transactions, in the choice of suppliers, in choosing employees, in social media strategy, for example.

• Develop a clear understanding of the organization’s values.

• Develop a clear sense of how the organization creates value for its employees, its customers, its competitors, its suppliers, its environment and its owners.

• At a very minimum, ensure that facilities are safe, and ideally have facilities where people can care for themselves and are in the best context to do their jobs (e.g. access to natural light, plants).

• Develop practices that help ensure there is psychological safety for everyone.

• Develop cultural metrics (based on vision and values) that are measured quarterly and reported to the board – for example, measure quality of relationships in the organization, tracking turnover contribution to the community, contribution to the environment, employee happiness, etc.

One of my mentors told me to focus on what is the smallest thing I can do daily.  While this may seem like a big list to awaken well-being in organizations, take a moment to choose what is the smallest thing you can do to awaken self care in yourself, relationships, and organizations.

The keys to awaken well-being in organizations lie within ourselves, our relationships, and the organizational context.

 

Article originally appeared in The Dalai Lama Center for Peace + Education.

three keys to awakening well-being

 

For more articles on building better leaders, relationships, teams and organizations, visit our ideas on our website.

The Awakened Company is a global consulting firm focused on igniting passion, purpose and engagement, so your organization can flourish.

one-on-one relationships

One-On-One Relationships at Work: Why They Matter, And How To Get Them

One-On-One Relationships at Work: Why They Matter, And How To Get Them 1518 1000 Catherine Bell

How productive employees are and how long they stay at a company is directly determined by their relationship with their immediate supervisors. But people rate time with their bosses as the worst part of their day, even compared to doing chores.

It turns out it’s not just our bosses we’re avoiding at work. The Awakened Company, a management consulting firm based in Calgary, Canada, asked people how they like to interact in the workplace. The majority want to work alone or in groups, and only 6 percent prefer one-on-one time. Catherine Bell, founder of the Awakened Company and author of the best-selling book by the same name, was surprised by the findings and set out to learn more about how strong one-on-one relationships influence company performance.

“A colleague once told me, ‘Not having trust is like imposing a tax on an organization. It just makes everything slower,’” Bell tells Conscious Company. “Cultivating one-on-one relationships builds trust within the company. You’ll get things done faster, and work is more fun when you know each other. We get so caught up in our titles, when really we’re all related.”

If the idea of striking up a conversation with someone in another department or lingering in a co-worker’s office for small talk gives you hives, you’re certainly not alone. “Cultivating one-on-one relationships is a blind spot for a lot of people,” Bell says. “It can be very, very, very uncomfortable for some, and that’s okay. We need to lean into our discomfort.” Still nervous? Try these three mental tricks to ease the awkwardness and build genuine workplace relationships that last.

Be mindful.

Okay, so you want to spend one-on-one time with an employee or co-worker. How do you go about doing it? If the idea is uncomfortable for you, take a moment to consider why you feel this way, Bell advises, and begin dismantling your mental roadblocks.

Are you nervous the two of you won’t have anything in common? Think of questions you can ask to get the conversation going. Are you worried your colleague won’t reciprocate? Studies continue to show that relationships make people happy, even more so than money or fame, and our craving for connectedness means people naturally respond to genuine gestures of friendship. It’s all about getting the ball rolling, and don’t feel pressure to connect with everyone. Set a goal that feels attainable — such as booking lunch with a co-worker or subordinate once a month — and be deliberate about sticking with it.

“Building these relationships takes time,” Bell says. “Start with those closest to you, such as your teammates or your direct reports, and spiral outward.”

Listen.

Time with colleagues, whether it’s lunch or a few minutes at the water cooler, is an opportunity to check in on their well being, so make the most of it. “When you’re with them, be present and truly listen to their responses with loving kindness,” Bell advises.

Experts agree that good listeners make good leaders, and research shows that good listening skills come down to active engagement in a conversation, rather than silent head-nodding. “Take the time to connect with them,” Bell says. “Look them in the eye. Ask how they are doing, and listen to their response.”

Let people be themselves.

Research shows that diverse teams feel less comfortable — and that’s why they’re so successful. While we all look for similarities when interacting with new people, it’s equally important to let people be themselves, Bell says. Your colleagues may have opinions that differ from yours, and that’s perfectly fine. You can still have a genuine relationship that leaves both of you feeling respected and fulfilled.

The bottom line

Nearly 70 percent of people say having friends at work makes their job more enjoyable, so taking the plunge into one-on-one relationships comes with a big payoff. “We need to build on the concept of the working relationship,” Bell says. “To me, it’s a missing piece. Through our relationships, we bring humanity back to our organizations. We replace the robotic sense of, ‘I’m here to work,’ with the sense of creating something awesome.”

 Article originally appeared in Conscious Company Magazine on February 14, 2018.

one-on-one relationships

Mary Mazzoni

Mary Mazzoni is an environmental journalist and editor based in Philadelphia. Her work has appeared in print and online, including TriplePundit, AlterNet, Yahoo Travel and multiple Philadelphia publications including the Philadelphia Daily News. She is available for freelance and you can follow her on Twitter @mary_mazzoni.

Rachel Zurer

Rachel is Conscious Company’s resident words wrangler, in charge of all editorial content. Before joining the CCM in April 2016, Rachel spent nearly 5 years as a print and digital editor on the award-winning team at BACKPACKER magazine. Her freelance writing and radio reporting has appeared in a variety of national publications, including Issues in Science & Technology, Yoga Journal, Paste Magazine, Pacifica Radio, and Wired, where she was a fellow in 2011. She holds an MFA in Creative Nonfiction writing from Goucher College, studied linguistics and computer science at Duke University, and is a certified yoga teacher.

women

8 Ways for Women to be More Successful Entrepreneurs

8 Ways for Women to be More Successful Entrepreneurs 759 500 Catherine Bell

The world needs more women entrepreneurs, says Catherine Bell, founder of the Awakened Company, a management consultancy in Calgary, Canada. But women face a unique set of challenges as new business owners. “Women carry the lion’s share of responsibilities at home and at work, so we need all the help we can get,” Bell tells Conscious Company. “The question is: How can we make it a little bit easier for women entrepreneurs to succeed?”

Bell started her first business, an executive search firm called BluEra, as a new mom with two young sons. The early days were a challenge, she says, but she grew the boutique venture into a Profit 500 company (the Canadian equivalent of the Fortune 500) and ultimately bootstrapped it to an acquisition by DHR International. “I want women to learn from my life experiences,” she says. “I’ve lived, and I’ve made mistakes that I wouldn’t want anyone to repeat.” Read on for Bell’s top tips for women entrepreneurs.

1. Be clear about how the business represents you, and stay true to it.

“Lead, or you’re going to be led,” Bell says. “If you have clarity of your purpose and your micro-purposes, you will take deliberate action. If you don’t, you will be at the will of others.”

Evidence continues to show that, on average, women are less self-assured than men when it comes to business and are more likely to doubt their abilities. But as a new business owner, you are in the driver’s seat. The buck stops with you when it comes to the vision of your company, so it’s up to you to make sure that vision aligns with your values and is maintained over time.

“For women, it’s especially important to be clear about your internal alignment,” Bell says. “What are your values? What’s your responsibility to your community? To the environment?” Once you define what is most important to you, set specific cultural and financial metrics for your business that reflect those values, and stick to them.

2. Ask for feedback . . . and then ask for more.

As Margaret Wheatley observes in her 10 principles for healthy communities: People support what they create. “When you start a business, focus on the problem you are trying to solve, and get your team involved in setting your vision,” Bell advises. “Solicit feedback from the team you’re building, from your clients, and from your community. People will buy in and feel like they’re a part of what you’re creating.”

3. Set priorities for your day.

We all know the struggle of spending so much time staring at a massive to-do list that we become distracted from the tasks at hand. Fight back against scatterbrain and overextension by setting attainable priorities that allow you to chip away at your list over time, Bell suggests.

“Ultimately great companies are built on a series of small things,” she says. “Every day, ask yourself: What’s the smallest thing I can accomplish, and what are the top three things I need to do? I often felt overwhelmed. ‘How are we going to do this?’ But we did it one small thing at a time.”

4. Be true to the leader within.

women

“Often in our more patriarchal and male-dominated world, the focus becomes solely financial results,” Bell says of the pressures new business owners face. “But there is a movement afoot within the private equity realm to start measuring cultural and social responsibilities. For many women, this will come quite naturally, so it’s important to stay true to who you are.”

Of course, embracing corporate culture alongside a push for greater profit is not a characteristic that’s unique to women. But the fact that women are still relatively underrepresented in the business and entrepreneurial worlds presents an opportunity to think outside the box, Bell says. “We’re doing it our own way, and we can help to create a new reality for ourselves and our brothers and sisters by doing it a different way. We don’t have to buy into what has traditionally been done.”

5. Grow stronger through diversity. 

“The more diverse and inclusive we can make our teams, the stronger we’ll be,” Bell says. This is true of all businesses, but Bell insists a balanced team is even more important for women entrepreneurs, who tend to try to wear all hats in their new ventures. “You have to have the self-awareness to recognize your gifts and your blind spots and get help where you need it.” That means surrounding yourself with people who look and think differently than you do.

6. Connect with other women. 

“Women need to form strong professional relationships with other women and mentors,” Bell advises. Navigating male-dominated fields is tricky, and the support of fellow female leaders may come in handy in ways you don’t expect.

“When I walked into boardrooms, the other members were usually all men, and I often felt incredibly alone,” Bell explains. “But I felt I had the support of many women who were standing with me, which allowed me to be more courageous than I would be otherwise.”

7. Be intentional about self-care.

Self-care is absolutely huge for women in particular,” Bell says. “Women often have more trouble asking for help than men do. We take it all on.”

Burning the candle at both ends may work for a while, but it’s simply not sustainable in the long term and will ultimately impede your success. If you are intentional about taking care of yourself, you’ll be better prepared for the long haul: Get some sleep. Eat right. Exercise. Don’t be afraid to hire a housekeeping service once a week or ask a neighbor to pick your child up from school.

“Find creative ways to support yourself. Make sure you take time — it can be five minutes a day — to sit quietly and be on your own,” Bell advises. “One of the biggest mistakes I made was not getting enough sleep. My performance went down, and I made terrible mistakes in my business as a result of being tired.”

8. Let go of the guilt.

Women are under extra pressure to “do it all,” so they often beat themselves up when they can’t. “Let go of the guilt,” Bell tells women entrepreneurs. “When I got started, I felt guilty a lot of the time, and there was no need for that. In retrospect, it didn’t help me, my kids, or my relationships.”

That sounds easier said than done, but Bell offers three tricks to help women leaders be kinder to themselves:

  • Prioritize: Prioritizing your day is equally helpful outside the workplace, Bell insists. Since you know you can’t do everything, focus on the three most important things you feel you can accomplish in a day — no matter how small.
  • Be present: As a new business owner, you can’t always give your loved ones the quantity of time that you’d like, so focus on the quality of the time you spend with them. Stay off your cell phone, don’t think about the project you need to finish tomorrow, and enjoy every moment. “The practices of meditation and being present are incredibly helpful,” Bell says.
  • Say stop: Even with the best intentions, the shadow of guilt can easily creep back in. “Women have a tendency to magnify the negative,” Bell says. “When I catch my inner critic in the act, I intentionally tell myself to ‘stop,’ and redirect toward something more soul-filling and constructive.”

The bottom line

“I want women to know that it all comes down to being deliberate and conscious about your choices,” Bell says. “There is this saying, ‘You can’t have it all.’ I say that you have what you create. We are blessed with being able to create our own realities, so figure out where you find meaning, and put your attention there.”

 Article originally appeared in Conscious Company Magazine on February 2, 2018.

women

Mary Mazzoni

Mary Mazzoni is an environmental journalist and editor based in Philadelphia. Her work has appeared in print and online, including TriplePundit, AlterNet, Yahoo Travel and multiple Philadelphia publications including the Philadelphia Daily News. She is available for freelance and you can follow her on Twitter @mary_mazzoni.

Rachel Zurer

Rachel is Conscious Company’s resident words wrangler, in charge of all editorial content. Before joining the CCM in April 2016, Rachel spent nearly 5 years as a print and digital editor on the award-winning team at BACKPACKER magazine. Her freelance writing and radio reporting has appeared in a variety of national publications, including Issues in Science & Technology, Yoga Journal, Paste Magazine, Pacifica Radio, and Wired, where she was a fellow in 2011. She holds an MFA in Creative Nonfiction writing from Goucher College, studied linguistics and computer science at Duke University, and is a certified yoga teacher.

long-term thinking

Awakened Leaders Vlog Part 8 – New Resource Bank CEO

Awakened Leaders Vlog Part 8 – New Resource Bank CEO 2400 2400 Catherine Bell

Awakened Leaders Vlog Part 8 – Long-term Thinking in Business

Our current guest on our Awakened Leaders Vlog Part 8 is Vince Siciliano, President and CEO of New Resource Bank . This our 8th and final part of our interview with Vince.

We’ll be releasing a new interview series with a new guest starting next week.

In this interview, Vince discusses long-term thinking, and the concept of time and money in business.

Awakened Leaders Vlog Part 8

About New Resource Bank

New Resource Bank is a mission-oriented bank based in San Francisco. As a result, they use money and banking to do good.

They advance sustainability with everything they do. From the loans they make to their commitment to using deposits for good, they work to transform banking and create a better world. Read more here.

About Vince Siciliano

A longtime environmentalist and finance leader, Vince has lead several financial institutions. Because of his leadership, 1st Pacific Bank of California was named the best-performing de novo bank in California.

Vince has been a member of the board of governors of the Savings and Community Bankers of America and the National Trade Association for the savings and loan industry, as well as a board member of the California League of Savings Institutions. He serves on the advisory board of the American Sustainable Business Council and is chairman of the board for the Ken Blanchard Center for Faith Walk Leadership.

Siciliano is a graduate of Stanford University and earned a master’s degree in environmental planning from the University of California at Berkeley. He lives in Millbrae with his wife and is a proud father of two sons. Read more here.

 

We welcome your thoughts and feelings to this video. Please leave a reply below.

Awakened Leaders Vlog Part 8

Do You Know an Awakened Leader in an Awakening
Organization?

Do you know a great leader in an awesome organization? If you do and you think we should interview them, please email us.

We want to hear from you!

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regeneration

Awakened Leaders Vlog Part 7 – New Resource Bank CEO

Awakened Leaders Vlog Part 7 – New Resource Bank CEO 2500 1406 Catherine Bell

Awakened Leaders Vlog Part 7 – Regeneration Practices & The Role of Capital in Organizations

Our current guest on our Awakened Leaders Vlog Part 7 is Vince Siciliano, President and CEO of New Resource Bank . This is part 7 of 8 in our interview with Vince, and we’ll release the final interview with Vince next week.

In this interview, Vince discusses practices on regeneration in organizations and the role of capital.
Leaders

About New Resource Bank

New Resource Bank is a mission-oriented bank based in San Francisco. As a result, they use money and banking to do good.

They advance sustainability with everything they do. From the loans they make to their commitment to using deposits for good, they work to transform banking and create a better world. Read more here.

About Vince Siciliano

A longtime environmentalist and finance leader, Vince has lead several financial institutions. Because of his leadership, 1st Pacific Bank of California was named the best-performing de novo bank in California.

Vince has been a member of the board of governors of the Savings and Community Bankers of America and the National Trade Association for the savings and loan industry, as well as a board member of the California League of Savings Institutions. He serves on the advisory board of the American Sustainable Business Council and is chairman of the board for the Ken Blanchard Center for Faith Walk Leadership.

Siciliano is a graduate of Stanford University and earned a master’s degree in environmental planning from the University of California at Berkeley. He lives in Millbrae with his wife and is a proud father of two sons. Read more here.

 

We welcome your thoughts and feelings to this video. Please leave a reply below.

awakened leaders vlog part 7

Do You Know an Awakened Leader in an Awakening
Organization?

Do you know a great leader in an awesome organization? If you do and you think we should interview them, please email us.

We want to hear from you!

Check Out Our Monthly Newsletter

Sign up for our free monthly newsletter to receive:

  • Practical advice & tips on strategy, culture & leadership
  • Articles on building better & more successful organizations
  • News & events on building Awakened Companies
starting

Awakened Leaders Vlog Part 6 – New Resource Bank CEO

Awakened Leaders Vlog Part 6 – New Resource Bank CEO 339 149 Catherine Bell

Awakened Leaders Vlog – Starting Your Own Business

Our current guest on our Awakened Leaders Vlog is Vince Siciliano, President and CEO of New Resource Bank . This is part 6 of 8 in our interview with Vince, and we’ll release the rest of the interviews with Vince over the coming weeks.

In this interview, Vince gives us three tips for starting your own business.Leaders

About New Resource Bank

New Resource Bank is a mission-oriented bank based in San Francisco. As a result, they use money and banking to do good.

They advance sustainability with everything they do. From the loans they make to their commitment to using deposits for good, they work to transform banking and create a better world. Read more here.

About Vince Siciliano

A longtime environmentalist and finance leader, Vince has lead several financial institutions. Because of his leadership, 1st Pacific Bank of California was named the best-performing de novo bank in California.

Vince has been a member of the board of governors of the Savings and Community Bankers of America and the National Trade Association for the savings and loan industry, as well as a board member of the California League of Savings Institutions. He serves on the advisory board of the American Sustainable Business Council and is chairman of the board for the Ken Blanchard Center for Faith Walk Leadership.

Siciliano is a graduate of Stanford University and earned a master’s degree in environmental planning from the University of California at Berkeley. He lives in Millbrae with his wife and is a proud father of two sons. Read more here.

We welcome your thoughts and feelings to this video. Please leave a reply below.

awakened leaders vlog

Do You Know an Awakened Leader in an Awakening
Organization?

Do you know a great leader in an awesome organization? If you do and you think we should interview them, please email us.

We want to hear from you!

Check Out Our Monthly Newsletter

Sign up for our free monthly newsletter to receive:

  • Practical advice & tips on strategy, culture & leadership
  • Articles on building better & more successful organizations
  • News & events on building Awakened Companies
unlimited vacation

Should Your Company Have An Unlimited Vacation Policy?

Should Your Company Have An Unlimited Vacation Policy? 2000 1351 Catherine Bell

Unlimited Vacation

Unlimited Vacation

Article originally appeared in Women of Influence by Catherine Bell

Catherine Bell is the founder of BluEra, an executive search and team transformation company—that has successfully implemented its own unlimited vacation policy. She’s also the best-selling and award-winning author of The Awakened Company, a thought-provoking read that explores how treating businesses as communities can transform them for the better, and how trusting your employees sets them up for ultimate success. Catherine speaks around the globe and The Awakened Company’s services help your team awaken!

By Catherine Bell


Take a moment to contemplate the idea: unlimited vacation. What words does it conjure up in your mind?

If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, it’s certain to garner mixed feelings. On the one hand you’re probably thinking, wouldn’t that be nice? So nice, in fact, it may sound too good to be true. How could a company function if its employees were allowed to take off whenever they pleased? Wouldn’t it be a logistical nightmare?

If your thoughts on unlimited vacation quickly moved from blissful to disastrous, keep reading—I’m about to tell you how, why, and when it can work.

Unlimited VacationIt may sound farfetched, but unlimited vacation is actually a proven concept. It’s a policy that has been offered successfully by large corporations, including General Electric, LinkedIn, and Netflix, as well as small and medium businesses, like the company I co-Founded, BluEra.

We have been offering unlimited vacation to our employees since 2013. Our decision to institute the policy came after we realized there are better ways of working together. We had great people working with us—sixteen passionate, motivated, high-performers—but we recognized that burnout could become a serious problem, and trust is one of our core values. From a broader picture standpoint, we didn’t want our company to have a sweat-shop mentality. We value our employees as stakeholders in our business.  In addition, we can easily measure success in our business.

The announcement was made to our team at our annual strategic session. SInce then, we’ve managed the policy using an online spreadsheet. All employees have access, and they are free to block off any days they plan to use for vacation. We don’t ask for advance notice.

I was initially worried people wouldn’t take enough time off.  Our experience since then has been the same as what many other companies with the same policy report: nobody abuses the system, they take about as much vacation as we would have “officially” allotted them, and they are respectful of deadlines and busy periods. In fact, it has brought about more accountability and collaboration. Our team members support each other so that everyone is able to take time off.

And the greatest benefit of unlimited vacation? It may not be what you think. Yes, it’s a great perk for attracting and retaining highly skilled workers, but the concept goes much deeper than that. It’s a sign of trust. Empowering our employees to be in charge of their time off shows that we believe in their ability to manage their responsibilities, workload, and results.   We also believe in the power of the pause and this gives people the time to regenerate themselves.
Many policies were created with the worst employees in mind, as a means to keep them in check.  We want to work with rockstars. Do rockstars want unnecessary boundaries put on them?  This approach of giving freedom to employees and expecting the best of employees encourages them to be just that – the best.

Will it work in your organization? I’ll answer that question with a few more: what kind of culture do you have, and what kind of culture do you want? Do you want your employees to be leaders, or followers? Do you want them to feel accountable to their results, or just punching a clock?

With the right team in place, unlimited time off can help your employees focus on the work they are doing and the results they are achieving, and feel empowered by the trust you have shown you have in them. So evaluate the idea based on the message you want to convey, rather than how much vacation you think you can afford to have your employees take. You may find you need to encourage them to take their allotted time off (yes, companies with unlimited vacation policies have reported this phenomenon), and if you have an employee that immediately books a month-long getaway, they probably aren’t a great asset to your business anyhow.
At BluEra, we have found that our unlimited vacation policy has been a positive and important element of our company culture. It is a way we live our values. And a happier rested person is a more productive and engaged person. Of course, this won’t work at all companies, but it’s certainly worth taking into consideration.


Ready to awaken your own business? Get your copy of The Awakened Company, hire The Awakened Company, and learn how companies are achieving a new standard of success. A best-seller within a week, one of Eight of the Best Business Books of 2015, and a Nautilus Silver Medal Winner for Best Business Book for 2015, it explores a new way of doing business: incorporating mindfulness and wisdom traditions to ultimately benefit companies, those involved in them, and the planet itself. It has earned praise from business leaders and industry experts, and is the blueprint for the successful executive search and team transformation company, BluEra.

REAP

Catherine Bell Keynote at REAP’s Down to Earth Week Festival on April 15

Catherine Bell Keynote at REAP’s Down to Earth Week Festival on April 15 1854 2029 Catherine Bell

keynote

I am super excited to be the keynote presenter at REAP’s 8th annual Down to Earth Week Festival in Calgary on April 15. Join me at this event from 5:30-8:30 pm at Civic on Third (130 – 3 Ave SE) for an inspiring evening that showcases what it means to be an Awakened Company.

Click here to buy tickets.

Click here to find out more about the festival.

REAP Business Association, which stands for Respect for the Earth and All People, is a Calgary-based not-for-profit association for locally owned businesses that care about the community and the environment.

This festival is for social entrepreneurs and business leaders of all industries who are looking to take the next step in their sustainability journey. Come to network and support your fellow Albertans who are working hard to launch and/or grow their business, shape our local community and make a positive impact for people and the planet.

In my keynote presentation, I will make the business case for an awakened approach and a new economic model. Then five entrepreneurs, who are either starting or growing local businesses, will pitch their crowd funding campaigns on the BoostR Stage. You decide which of the presenters will get a boost of $1,000 from ATB Financial.

Dozens of displays will help you connect with local partners who can help you to advance your business for greater prosperity and community benefit. Your ticket only costs $56.28 and includes:

  • My keynote presentation
  • A copy of my best-selling book, The Awakened Company (Namaste Publishing 2015)
  • 5 pitches from social entrepreneurs running an Alberta BoostR crowd funding campaign
  • 4 judges who will give candid feedback to the entrepreneurs pitching
  • A vote for which pitch will receive a $1,000 boost from ATB Financial
  • Networking with 300 of Alberta’s brightest business leaders and social entrepreneurs
  • A seasonal, locally sourced dinner and cash bar

I hope to see you there!

#AwakenedCompany

inspired

Top 3 Tips to Stay Inspired as an Entrepreneur

Top 3 Tips to Stay Inspired as an Entrepreneur 5760 3840 Catherine Bell

 

Staying inspired running a business can be hard. Entrepreneurship can be just as rewarding as it is challenging.

So, how do I stay inspired? I stay inspired by having a meaningful vision, working with awesome people, leaning on core values, and learning continuously.

Learning keeps me alive. What am I open to? How am I pushing my own developmental envelope? Learning drives business innovation, which ignites my passion and fuels me.

Here are my top three tips to stay inspired on your quest as an entrepreneur:

#1 Challenge the Status Quo

I continually ask myself the question “Why?” and “What is needed most?”. For example, most job descriptions are terrible. They are boring descriptions of companies, success factors, experiences needed, personal characteristics, blah, blah, blah – BORING!

Why does it have to be this way? It doesn’t! At BluEra, an executive search, team transformation and coaching firm I co-founded, we create videos of our clients articulating their corporate cultures and the importance of the role we are hiring for. While we hire a professional videographer, you can do this cheaply and easily with your smart phone. Now, our clients have exciting and unique position descriptions – something that sets them apart. It’s also a heck of a lot more fun to do!

I invite you to iterate on what exists now to solve a business problem.  I work at radiating and modelling a new way of business daily by challenging my own assumptions.

#2 Get outside of your comfort zone

Recently, I took an aerial yoga class at Miraval. I’m a trained yoga instructor, but had never done an aerial yoga class. It was pretty uncomfortable swinging through the air intertwined in a silk rope. And though the class had nothing to do with business, it taught me the importance of being confident, knowing my own boundaries, and trying new things—all skills I can directly apply to my company. Doing new things gives me soul fuel.

If you don’t have a business background and are new to the world of entrepreneurship, for example, consider taking courses that’ll challenge you to think differently, develop new skills, and explore the aspects of business you haven’t yet touched on. While completing my MBA, I leaned into my tax class since it was something I knew I didn’t have enough first-hand experience with. Not only did that course provide me with a business building block, but I now know what questions to ask tax lawyers and accountants.

#3 Create a positive memory for someone in your organization

I try to do this every day. Most people leave organizations because of their bosses, and many rate doing household chores as more enjoyable than spending time with their managers, according to researchers Tom Rath and Jim Harter in Well Being: The Five Essential Elements.

I’ll randomly leave notes on my colleagues’ desks to give them a little inspiration, and applaud them when I catch them doing good work.  Often they respond with a comment of how that note inspired them just a little bit more or was in alignment with what they are working on today. Doing little acts of kindness for suppliers, partners, clients, and team members—like sending flowers, cookies, balloons, jelly beans, or thanking employees for their hard work—shows them your appreciation and makes you happier in return.

These small acts make a big difference – increasing staff engagement and morale, which studies show improve financial results. I call this creating heart wind.

Challenge the status quo, get outside your comfort zone and create positive memories for your team will keep you inspired. For me, these fuel my soul, create heart wind and keep me lightly radiant – all part of my recipe for inspiration as an entrepreneur.

Learn more about becoming a remarkable leader and building remarkable teams, business and communities in my best-selling book, The Awakened Company.

Sign up to our newsletter for free insights into building an Awakened Company.

Fortune

The Real Reason so Many Businesses Fail

The Real Reason so Many Businesses Fail 5560 1500 Catherine Bell

The Real Reason so Many Businesses Fail – as originally appeared in Fortune

It shouldn’t always be about the bottom line.

The Entrepreneur Insider network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in America’s startup scene contribute answers to timely questions about entrepreneurship and careers. Today’s answer to the question “What’s something you wish you knew before starting your business?” is written by Catherine Bell, cofounder of BluEra.

Most new companies perish within nine years of their founding, but no leader starts a business to fail. 

Fortune Magazine, The Awakened Company

The prevalence of failure in business tells us something about the way we start companies. While there are many causes for business failure and economic downturns, they tend to include a mercurial concoction of factors, such as lack of foresight, poor strategic planning, a shortage of capital, insufficient personnel, and inadequately trained individuals. To these we can add the broader factors, such as advances in technology, 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-earned 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 to the degree they could or fail to survive over the long term.

Underpinning all of these reasons for our economic woes are team members who in some way fail to perform in an optimal manner, both in the head office and on the shop floor. Much of the business world tends to have a dehumanizing effect on people, which ultimately undercuts worker enthusiasm, creativity, commitment, and performance. Let’s not start businesses like this anymore.

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, societies at large, and the planet that sustains us.

See also: Here’s How to Know Your Business Is Headed for Disaster

It’s clearly time to change our metrics of success. We need to bring humanity into our startups 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 at the start:

Energize

Have your team help you create your vision. People support what they create. This isn’t about the executives locking themselves up in a room to write a new business plan. It’s about getting feedback from everyone in your organization about why you exist. Making gobs of money doesn’t capture most people’s hearts, so you need to find out what does. People want to hear about your mission and what problem you’re solving. If it is just you at the startup, what deeper need or problem are you solving? Communicate this. 

Sustain

I made huge mistakes with BluEra’s vision, and learnedthe 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.

Once the vision for our organization had been solidified, I did a poor job of reiterating and thereby sustaining this vision. Now we have our vision on our website, our blogs, cakes—I’m constantly reminding our team of it in all kinds of ways. If your vision is still right for your company, do something today that reiterates it to the team in a way that they will remember. Booking one-on-one meetings to discuss the vision is also important.

Regenerate

From answering emails in bed to checking messages during meetings, we are burning ourselves out because we rarely stop working. To implement alternative metrics of success, leaders at some of the top companies are increasingly utilizing practices such as meditation, yoga, stillness breaks for staff, and mindfulness training. These practices allow people to be more thoughtful and inquiring. We must have compassion for ourselves as leaders and take time for proper self-care, as well as providing for those who work throughout our company. 

The result of these changes will be greater engagement on the part of personnel, a deeper sense of meaning for everyone involved in and connected to our organizations, and consequently less business failures. Let’s start considering the quality of our experiences in the workplace—not just the bottom line—and thereby become quality companies in every way. It’s easier to start companies this way, and I wish someone had told me about this.

Catherine Bell is a founder of BluEra, an award-winning executive search and team transformation company, a fastest growing company in Canada, and author of the best-selling book The Awakened Company, a Best Leadership Book of 2015. You can find The Awakened Company on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

#FortuneInsider #AwakenedCompany