An Interview with Conscious Company Media’s Vanessa Childers

An Interview with Conscious Company Media’s Vanessa Childers 1000 267 Catherine Bell

Conscious CompanyConscious Company Magazine

An Interview with Conscious Company’s, Vanessa Childers

I recently had the opportunity to interview the Editorial Director of Conscious Company Media’s, Vanessa Childers. Here is what she had to say about what gets her up in the morning, on awakening leadership and why she joined Conscious Company.

What would cause you to rise at 3 am (other than a trip)?

The most likely cause would be my puppy Harper Lee—but I wouldn’t groan at the thought of a 3 am wakeup call if I’d gotten a good amount of sleep the night before and if I had a good book and a hot cup of coffee to enjoy for an hour or two before starting my day.

What 3 practical tips would you give to leaders on how to awaken?

  1. Do the things that scare you, like confronting your deep-seated issues with a therapist or learning that skill you know you’ll be terrible at initially. The more emotional discomfort you go through (ideally voluntarily!) the more quickly awakening will happen, if you let it.
  2. Talk with your staff (or anyone you have a relationship with). Get to know them and what matters to them. Put your ego aside and listen to what they need and how you can serve them.
  3. Practice being accountable. This combines tips 1 and 2. Being accountable is a scary thing; it involves facing some ugly truths (which typically come to the surface when you earn your employees’ trust and learn about their challenges) and then choosing not to be defensive when you realize you’re responsible for causing (and fixing) those challenges.

Why did you join Conscious Company Media?

I previously was the Digital Editor for two home design and architecture magazines, and I loved working with such beautiful and creative content. After almost four years, I realized I wanted to challenge myself in new ways and become a part of positive impact on a grander scale. I also wanted to be part of a company that was fully aligned with conscious-business values. Conscious Company’s mission—and its incredible team—made the decision a no-brainer.


Tell Us!

What would cause you to rise at 3 am? Leave us a reply below!

About Conscious Company Media

Conscious Company Media is a community dedicated to doing business better. They believe that companies and business leaders have a crucial role to play in creating an environmentally sustainable, socially just, and spiritually meaningful human presence on this planet. Through their print magazine, stories, education, events, and membership community, they inspire and enable you to redefine success in business and create a better life for yourself and future generations.

About The Awakened Company

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.

leadership lessons

Leadership Lessons from Two-Time Olympian Shawnee Harle

Leadership Lessons from Two-Time Olympian Shawnee Harle 600 358 Catherine Bell

Leadership Lessons from Two-Time Olympian Shawnee Harle

leadership lessons

Leadership Lessons


Shawnee Harle has a Masters Degree in Coaching Studies and is a former two-time olympian as Assistant Coach for the Canadian Women’s Basketball Team. She brings her extensive leadership experience to her work as a corporate coach, leadership coach, life coach, mental toughness coach and motivational speaker with Winning Matters. Recently, she shared some of her leadership lessons with me.


1. How would you define an awakened leader?

Look in and Lead Yourself before you look out and Lead Others.  An awakened leader pays attention to what’s going on with her, what affect she has on the people around her and then makes course corrections where necessary.  When she is awake and paying attention, it allows her to make decisions that take her toward her Best Self. Decisions Decide Destiny.

2. What 3 practical tips would you give to a leader on how to awaken?

First, you must realize you are asleep and that’s the tricky part.  For me, when I am asleep, I am in Unconscious Incompetence, which means I am not conscious, not present, not paying attention.  When I’m not paying attention, it’s difficult to remember to pay attention.

Second, I set a reminder on my phone or my computer that wakes me up!  The reminder pokes me and helps get out of Unconscious Incompetence and into Conscious Competence.  It reminds me to be present and pay attention.

Third, I find myself moving in and out of awake and asleep throughout the day.  When I get busy, focused on a work project, over-tired, or over-stressed, it’s easier to be asleep and stay asleep. I set frequent reminders to poke me to wake up and I also put a sticky note on my computer and my bathroom mirror.  Staying awake isn’t as simple as it sounds.

3. You are a two time Olympian as an assistant coach – what is a better motivator love or fear or both?   Why?

Love, hands down. I understand that research shows motivation can be positive or negative. However, I have never worked with anyone, in sport or business, where fear has been a healthy motivator.  Fear might work in the short term, but I believe that fear as a motivator is disempowering.  Fear leads to avoidance behaviours and I don’t believe those are ever healthy.  Your Best Self can never shine under a blanket of fear.

4. Describe the mindset of some of the best athletes you have worked with and how can we transfer that over to the business world?

The best athletes I have ever worked with are not afraid to fail, not afraid to take a risk, not afraid to grow and stretch.  In fact, they understand that failure is the pre-requisite to growth.  Fail, fix, grow, learn, stretch, repeat.  Actually, I need to rephrase that.  They feel fear, but they do not let fear dictate their actions.  They acknowledge the fear rather than avoid it or try and fake it with false confidence.  They have a high tolerance for emotional discomfort and they understand that fear is proof they are in the Jungle, managing the spider and snakes.  No fear, no risk, no growth can only happen in the Zoo where it’s safe, comfortable and cozy.  “Without fear, there can be no courage.”

The best athletes I have ever worked with are people of outstanding character and they are winners, both on and off the court.  They understand that basketball, in and of itself, is shallow and empty and at the end of the day, nobody really cares how many points you scored or how many trophies you won. It’s connections with people that add depth and richness to their basketball experience. Basketball is simply a context for them to evolve and grow. These athletes do not let sport define them.  Basketball is what they do but it’s not who they are.  I guess you could say the best athletes I have ever worked with are awakened.

5. What does “winning” mean to you?

Winning means I am paying attention to being the best version of myself – my Best Self. Days when I am awake more than asleep are days I feel like I’m winning.  When I am challenging myself, tolerating emotional discomfort by stretching and trying something new or doing something differently than I’ve done it before, are days I feel like I am winning.  When I accept that feelings are not menu, I can’t pick and choose and the negative feelings have as much to teach me as the positive ones, on those days I feel like I am winning.  Best of all, when I get to share my knowledge and experiences with clients, teams, friends and family so we can all become more awakened, on those days, I feel like I’m standing on top of the podium.

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.


Three Keys to Awakening Well-Being in Organizations

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



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.”


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.


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.


“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.


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.


Awakened Leaders Vlog – ATB’s Lorne Rubis

Awakened Leaders Vlog – ATB’s Lorne Rubis 2560 1164 Catherine Bell

Our Interview with  Lorne Rubis, ATB’s Chief Evangelist

Our current guest on our Awakened Leaders Vlog Part 1 is Lorne Rubis, ATB Financial’s Chief Evangelist. This part 1 of 12 of our interview with Lorne.

In this interview, Lorne tells us his biggest career learning.

Lorne Rubis

About ATB Financial

ATB believes they can transform banking. Reimagine it, making banking work for people. They carry the outrageous belief that banking can change people’s lives for the better. Making their time richer and their aspirations closer.
They do things that other banks wouldn’t do. They are loyal to their customers, are relentlessly inventive and steadfastly geniune in their pursuit of Albertans’ greater good by using banking to CREATE HAPPINESS.
Happiness is their purpose.
Read more here.

About Lorne Rubis

As Chief Evangelist, Lorne Rubis, is responsible for leading change within ATB as the organization sets out to be number one in local markets, become THE place to work and further entrench itself in the hearts of Albertans.

What makes Lorne such a great match for ATB is that he doesn’t fit the mold of a traditional HR person. As a general manager, facilitator, consultant and entrepreneur, Lorne’s diverse career has focused on driving organizational change and performance improvement for public and private companies on a global level.   Lorne received an education degree from the University of Alberta (he even played Golden Bears Football) and started out his career as a teacher. He then completed a Masters of Science in Industrial and Labor Relations from the University of Oregon and went on to hold senior leadership roles in a number of tech companies in the US – and attention, hockey fans – a stint with the Los Angeles Kings.  Most recently, Lorne was the President and CEO of Ryzex, a mobile technology services company based in Washington and the United Kingdom.

His journey has sparked a passion for personal leadership and living life with character. He writes frequently about getting the most out of work and life situations through a focus on Respect, Abundance and Accountability – the three tenants of The Character Triangle, also the title of his book. Lorne loves working with people and is passionate about inspiring ATB associates to be even better.

He is also honored to be on the Advisory Board of The Thrive Center at Fullerton in Pasadena. The mission is to promote the concept and behavior of thriving, especially amongst youth.  Lorne and Kathleen, his wife/partner of 41 years, have three children and one grandchild. They spend their time between Edmonton, Alberta and Mercer Island, Washington.

Learn more about Lorne 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

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

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Turtle Bay

Awakening Turtle Bay – 3 Key Lessons on Transforming Culture

Awakening Turtle Bay – 3 Key Lessons on Transforming Culture 1433 870 Catherine Bell

Turtle Bay Resort is located on Oahu’s fabled North Shore and is focused on creating experiences for people that are worth being created into stories. The Resort has never ending health and wellness activities from kayaking with sea turtles to surfing to canoe surfing, shorkeling in the bay, hiking on some awesome trails, mountain biking, tennis, horses, outrigger canoe, and golf. Their entire business is focused on active lifestyle guests.

Turtle BayThis is a grass roots story of the revitalization and transformation of Turtle Bay Resort that provides three lessons for organizations undergoing a cultural reset in order to survive and thrive. The power of this transformation rests in ensuring the overall health of the entire community. Resort manager, Replay, utterly transformed a resort that was disengaged from the community and its staff, and that financially and culturally underperformed. In five short years, it created a new experience for guests, staff, and the community, became more sustainable, and embraced the culture and the history of the North Shore. The valuation of the hotel increased almost two-fold or $130 million during that time.

The cultural practices of the team at Turtle Bay and the transformation of the resort have been key players in the financial success of the resort. In The Awakened Company, I show through both research and tangible case studies why today’s business model is broken and how there is a better way to do business that leads to better leaders, better teams, better organizations, better communities, and ultimately a better planet. Companies like Replay and their incredible results at Turtle Bay are proof the new Awakened Company business model works and that the old business model needs to be ditched.

Some History on Turtle Bay Resort

Opened in 1972 as Del Webb’s Kuilima Resort Hotel and Country Club, the resort was viewed as “closed” to the local community, an exclusive club for tourists with a gated main entrance to keep locals out. During the ’80s and ‘90s, the hotel deteriorated significantly through lack of upkeep and capital investment.

In 1998 it was purchased by Oaktrees Property, who did a major renovation, adding meeting rooms and a conference centre, along with developing condos.  In 2006, Oaktrees arranged a large debt facility with a loan syndicate led by Credit Suisse.

Throughout this entire time, the exclusive and closed vibe continued. Locals weren’t welcomed, employees weren’t allowed to show their traditional tattoos, local customs weren’t permitted on the property, and Turtle Bayother restrictions were placed on employees. The local community viewed the hotel as an outsider that didn’t care about the island, its people, or local customs and tradition. Overall health of the team and community were not considered. Staff were disengaged and the corporate culture was poor. Because there was no focus on values, culture, staff, or community, poor financial results followed.

In 2010, the Great Recession was well underway, and the combination of hotel expansion just prior to the financial crisis, poor financial performance, and an unsustainable level of debt led to Oaktree’s defaulting on the debt and the lenders taking control of the resort.

The lender group appointed Replay as the Manager of the resort in 2010. Replay undertook a major rebranding and transformation of the culture and values of the resort. The result of this transformation:

  • A $45 million investment in the resort – from major renovations and transformation of a hotel where you did “things” to a resort where you have experiences, to improved sustainable practices such as the installation of a solar electricity plant on the roof of the main hotel (resulting in 1/3 of the electricity usage coming from renewable resources and significant savings).
  • An opening up of the resort – physically through the removal of the entrance gates, as well as psychologically through the welcoming of locals to the resort, the embracing of the history and culture of the North Shore, and engaging staff and the community in the development of the resort’s values and culture.
  • Obtaining approval for a 725-room expansion to the resort by working with the community, vs. the previous owners who had created an “us vs. them” mentality.
  • A $130 million increase in the valuation of the resort in 5 years.

Turtle BayHow was this transformation possible at such a moment in history? Many leaders of organizations that are currently struggling, performing poorly and unsustainably, tell me it’s too hard to change their organizations in tough financial times. When times are better, they say, they’ll look to become more sustainable, more engaging with their staff, more…

The story of Turtle Bay Resort and its complete transformation by Replay and the team at the resort says to these leaders that it’s when your company is struggling, performing poorly and unsustainably, that it’s most ripe for transformation. Turtle Bay

Three Key Lessons for Organizations Undergoing Cultural Transformation

I met recently with Danna Holck, Vice President and General Manager, and Noel Davis, Director of HR, to find out how Turtle Bay and Replay accomplished this incredible feat during tough financial times. Here are three key lessons for organizations undergoing a needed cultural transformation:

  1. Listen to your team and your community. Be concerned about their health.

Turtle Bay involved the local community and employees in their transformation. Leaders and managers wanted to hear people’s opinions on how to transform the total scene into one where people have unique onsite experiences every day. Listening creates trust, shows caring, generates support, and builds buy-in for the transformation.  Leaders listened, then acted where it made sense. The organizational structure of Turtle Bay is now relatively flat, so that anyone can make suggestions for improvement. This also allows for better and quicker decision making. Values were created by the employees as well as by the local community, including elders in the community. These are Turtle Bay’s values:

Turtle Bay

MANAWA Time, season, period of time.
ALOHA Affection, compassion, kindness, love, friendship, greeting.
KAMA’AINA Being authentically local, native born, a host, acquainted with, familiar.
HANAI Taking care of our families, treating guests and coworkers as family.
PONO Goodness, proper, moral, righteous.
MALAMA To care for.

I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to surf with Rocky, Bobby, and Rocky’s dog Hina. What an amazing experience. I could feel the embodiment of these values in my interactions with them, and also the
respect and responsibility embedded in Rocky. Rocky was initially against Turtle Bay and is now their Experiential Manager really, head of JOYFUL experiences!

Turtle Bay

The results of these values are seen in happier and more-engaged staff, a community that works with the resort instead of against it, happier guests because the joy of the staff is infectious, resulting in better guest experiences, and better financial performance. The health of the community is considered and this has a direct impact on guests.

  1. Commit

Turtle Bay is committed to training and seeing things through. It has low turnover and is a “best workplacTurtle Baye“. Along with its sustainable energy program, with over a third of its power needs coming from its roof-top solar plant, it has lowered cooling costs with a green-living roof.

I met with Manny Crawford, the Facilities Manager to tour the roof-top solar plant and green roof. Boy, does he love his job! Why? He feels valued, listened to, and knows management is committed to doing the right thing.

It also took the Ownership’s money, trust,  and unwavering commitment with significant risk to make the changes happen.

  1. Be Consistent

Turtle Bay believes one must be consistent in one’s actions when undergoing a major cultural transformation such as theirs. One example of this consistency is the reinforcement and sustaining (a key concept in The Awakened Company) of their values. When management notices a team member living Turtle Bay’s values, they are immediatelyTurtle Bay recognized, thanked, and given a pog (small token). Team members can redeem their pogs for rewards such as lunches and swag. This consistent positive reinforcement of values shows the team that they are valued—that they make a difference, and people are grateful for their efforts.

Who wouldn’t want to work for an organization where you are valued, you matter, and that creates joy? It’s no wonder a culture like this outperformed organizations with disengaged staff who aren’t valued. Where would you prefer to work?

Considering their focus is on lifestyle and active experiences on the North Shore, they are keeping their team in mind.

The team at Turtle Bay still have some “work ons,” which they are aware of, challenging themselves to improve every day. One example of how they work on themselves concerns complaints they received regarding the quality and consistency of their restaurant food. Their problem was that they didn’t have sufficient staff to handle times of high demand. Facing up to this issue, they made a recommendation to Replay, who listened to them and immediately agreed to hire more food managers so the resort could perform better for its guests. The result is happier staff who aren’t  overwhelmed, since they now have the capacity to handle busy times. Providing better food has resulted in guests whose overall satisfaction has increased.

Turtle Bay practices what is real and acknowledges people as human beings. “Aloha ” is one of their values. What I came to see during my stay at Turtle Bay is that Aloha is really a way of life, breath to breath, involving discovering the wonder of earth and recognizing that all is sacred and powerful.
Are you listening, committed, and consistent to your organization’s transformation? If your business is based on health and wellness, are you treating your people and community in a holistic and consistent way. Replay and Turtle Bay demonstrate that there is no time like the present to transform your organization if it’s struggling, performing poorly and unsustainable. Turtle Bay is an Awakened Company.


Catherine Bell is a Founder of BluEra and The Awakened Company, an award-winning executive search and team transformation company, a fastest growing company, and author of award-winning and best-selling book, The Awakened Company.  She has worked with Fortune 500 companies and entrepreneurs. She holds an MBA from Smith School of Business and a BA from the University of Western Ontario.

The Awakened Company is a movement.  You can find The Awakened Company on  FacebookTwitter, LinkedIn, and the blog  More information on Catherine Bell can be found here. Praise for The Awakened Company can be found here.


Conscious Business Leaders TV

Catherine Bell’s Interview on Conscious Business Leaders TV

Catherine Bell’s Interview on Conscious Business Leaders TV 2000 1000 Catherine Bell

Catherine Bell

Catherine Bell was recently interviewed on Conscious Business Leaders TV on the topic of Awakening Organizations. Drawing from her best-selling book, The Awakened Company, Catherine discusses a new, proven and better way of doing business that engages and inspires employees, builds strong leaders, teams, organizations and communities.

Conscious Business Leaders TV is a weekly meeting place for the global community conversation around what business could be if we normalized being all of who we are as humans, even at work. Join with leading voices in the movement toward conscious business — listen, comment or come on camera yourself.

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

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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.