executive search


Top 3 Tips to Stay Inspired as an Entrepreneur

Top 3 Tips to Stay Inspired as an Entrepreneur 2560 1707 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.

Creating an Awakened Ripple in the World

Creating an Awakened Ripple in the World 2560 1375 Catherine Bell


The Awakened Company is a model for creating a positive ripple in the world.

A new model of business that serves people is needed, anawakened one where people are working on themselves, their relationships, their teams, the organization and their community for a noble purpose.

On November 27th, Indigo Downtown Calgary hosted a pop up event with author Catherine Bell and contributors to The Awakened Company, CEO of Matrix Environmental Solutions Rob Pockar,  Founder of BluEarth Renewables, Kent Brown, and facilitated by Melissa Pockar of MoreSo.

We discussed the following themes:

  • awakeness
  • independence and interdependence
  • communityship
  • culture.

Catherine laid out a framework, noting the importance of environment and context, which are holding all of us, and that we are truly having an interdependent experience. Profit is not a good enough motive for businesses to survive, let alone thrive. We need to focus on the more mecurial aspects of culture in organizations, such as engagement, values and mindset to name a few.

In our next series of blogs, we will focus on learnings from our pop up event from Rob Pockar and Kent Brown, and how The Awakened Company has impacted their organizations. These blogs will include videos and photos from the event on 1. Awakened Leadership as an entrepreneur and 2. Awakened Leadership in a large organizations.

Mac Van Wielengen

Failure: Turning Lead into Gold

Failure: Turning Lead into Gold 2560 1707 Catherine Bell


20151027_CB_BellBreakfast_063The BluEra book launch took place Thursday, October 27th.  Thank you so much to the amazing BluEra Team for the sold out launch of our book, The Awakened Company, and to all of our clients for your support.  The President and Founder of Namaste Publishing, Constance Kellough, and her husband Howard, along with my collaborators Russ Hudson from NY and Christopher Papadopoulos from Montreal, and my sister Kim Bell, were in attendance. Calgary participants in the book are Rob Pockar, Mark Montemurro, Shawna Guiltner, Brett Wilson, Kent Brown, and Mac Van Wielingen.

Our morning was kicked off by my wonderful cofounder Shahauna Siddiqui. The panel was le20151027_CB_BellBreakfast_094d by the brilliant Mac Van Wielingen. Members of the panel included the incredibly dynamic Suzanne West,  the thoughtful Regan Davis, and myself. We addressed the ways in which awakened (or awakening) leadership is confronting. We also covered the importance of trust, the realitiesof today’s business environment, and how we can bring positive change to the community and wider society.

20151027_CB_BellBreakfast_003Underpinning much of the conversation were the invaluable lessons failure can teach us. The facts must be confronted: the majority of businesses die within a decade of their launch, while at the same time those who staff our workplaces are largely disengaged.

To draw on the words of Pema Chodron, we need to fail, then fail again, but fail better. This we can do only if we learn from our lesser failures, instead of requiring a massive failure to teach us—with the result that people no longer want to work with us, trust is eroded, and obtaining capital proves challenging.

Are we learning? A Watson Wyatt study shows high trust environments outperform low tr20151027_CB_BellBreakfast_053ust environments by over 300%. However, according to the Edelman Trust Barometer, fewer than one in five believe their leaders are truthful. The reality is that trust is easily eroded and the social contract is being broken all the time in organizations. I recently heard of a company who turned off people’s IT before the employees knew they were going to be let go, and some were let go via a knock on the door. Organizations in which such inhuman treatment reigns continue rolling along—until the day they fail.

Imagine what could happen were we to unleash trust’s potential. As Stephen Covey says, trust is like a dividend, whereas low trust is like a tax.

We can do better. We need to restore trust in data instead of egoic opinions, heartfelt feelings instead of fear, action taken with integrity instead of from short-term expediency, relationships that are more than nominal, teams that draw out everyone’s creativity, organizationsthat can be believed in, and businesses that truly benefit communities instead of harming them.

It’s time to stop using people as a means to clean the balance sheet, instead laying people off only as a last resort after every other option has been exhausted. Research has shown a negative correlation between CEO pay and performance, so imagine what it would do to trust and performance were CEOs to publicly say they are going to sacrifice along with everyone else. At the same time, we need to have compassion for the burnout CEO who is doing their absolute best for their people.

The way we are going to solve some of our greatest challenges is by working more authentically together, which will greatly increase our effectiveness. To do this requires greater self-awareness, the ability to trust and be trusted, heartfelt commitment, ethical behavior, and clarity of purpose—20151027_CB_BellBreakfast_105each of which play a key role in sound decision making, innovation, engagement, and positive financial results.

We need to develop a regenerative economy—one in which shock absorbers are built into the organization so it can withstand and even thrive during downturns. For instance, organizations need to think regeneratively when it comes to profit and savings, seeing profit as a means to energize and sustain the future, not as a short-term windfall to be squandered. We urgently need to end our short-termism around profit generation, a move that would make a huge difference when difficult times arrive on our doorstep. We all want our organizations to be meaningful, interesting places to work, where we are each learning and bettering ourselves.  Let’s build on the mass of empirical evidence we have to this effect—indeed, on what we all also intuitively know to be true.

What an incredible week it was. Two successful book launches, and our book is already a #1 bestseller.  We are so grateful for all those who have supported our book and its important message. If you want to pick up a copy or e-copy of The Awakened Company, then click here. We have also launched an online store with sustainable products to support you in the awakening of your organization, team, community, our planet and YOU. Check it out here.

20151027_CB_BellBreakfast_05720151027_CB_BellBreakfast_02120151027_CB_BellBreakfast_01720151027_CB_BellBreakfast_08520151027_CB_BellBreakfast_030 20151027_CB_BellBreakfast_067

sold out

BluEra Business Book Launch Sold Out!

BluEra Business Book Launch Sold Out! 2560 2438 Catherine Bell



The Awakened Company’s business book launch hosted by BluEra this morning is sold out and with a waitlist.  WOWSERS.  Thank you all so much for your tremendous support! We are so excited about and grateful for the great reception that we’ve had for our book.


Here is a quote for your to start your day off from Craig Kielburger of Me to We: “Whether you are in a for profit, social enterprise or not for profit, how are you measuring your impact?”.



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…”
Tweet this

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.”
Tweet this

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.