LOHAS

Become a Guru in Just Two Weekends?

Wednesday, March 26, 2014 by

Every day we get sent emails proclaiming the latest discovery, teacher or workshop that we MUST do if we are to have lasting happiness and self-mastery. Each proclaims that if we follow their instructions then we will be free, transformed, changed for ever, joyful as never before, fulfilled, fully enlightened. We even received notice of a Guru Training program where we can become a guru in two weekends after which, the brochure assured us, we are guaranteed to receive endless adoration, wealth and fame, or our money back.

We were recently sent an invitation to a conference on Altered States of Consciousness: Enlightenment, Entheogens, Shamanism and Peak Experiences. There were forty-six headlined speakers, all of whom had endless credentials, books, teaching centers and followers. Subjects ranged from The Humpty Dumpty Trajectory: Cracking Open Consciousness, to How to Tell Your Friends From the Apes, Gender-Specific Altered States of Consciousness and, thankfully, The Miracle of Ordinary Awareness.

When we taught at the MindBodySpirit Festival in London England, speakers were offering topics as diverse as Attract Your Past-Life Soulmate NOW!, The Secret Tibetan Red Egg Cure, Discover Your Secret Chakras, and Learn What Planet You Are From. And that was just on the first day. Later on you could Teach Your DNA to Listen to Your Higher Mind or, if that didn’t work, at least you could Learn How to Bend Spoons.

It’s clear that we will try anything when we’re in need of emotional or spiritual support and guidance, making us susceptible and easily vulnerable to outside influences; that we’ll easily believe strongly persuasive people who say they can help save us.

There seem to be four main reasons for this:

1. Life does not easily satisfy our needs. We get something but always want more. From constantly wanting more materially and emotionally, we then apply the same need to spirituality: more teachers and techniques must be better than just one, surely this one will finally solve all those nagging difficulties in my life? Or maybe it's this one?

2. To a large extent religion has failed many of us. We crave more esoteric excitement that sitting in church allows us, more out-of-this-world explanations for why we’re dissatisfied or unhappy, more instant and lasting ways to find happiness than atoning for our sins. There must be more meaning to life than we have found, surely?

3. Like the musk deer in India that has a beautiful smell in its belly but searches throughout the forest for that smell, so we look for happiness outside ourselves. But we’ll always come up short as whatever we find always changes. This is the truth of impermanence: nothing lasts forever. Yet we continually search for that elusive promise of foreverness wherever we can.

4. We externalize our needs, projecting ‘the savior’ on whoever is the current teacher-of-the-month, believing others sooner than we believe ourselves due to not trusting our own judgement and wisdom. Even though, logically, we are the only ones who can save ourselves, we’d much rather someone else do it for us.

How do we find our way through such a maze? Many teachers may have something wonderful to offer us, but what can we really learn in an hour or two or even a weekend? When we dig for oil we have to dig deep to reach it; if we dig too many different holes we will never get to the source of the oil. In the same way, if we guru hop and workshop too much we will never get to the essence of the teachings.

This blog is a chance for you to do a reality check. Are you listening to your own wisdom or is someone else telling you the way it is? Can you stop and simply be still? Do you go guru-shopping or can you look within your own mind and heart for what you know to be true?

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Award-Winning Authors Ed and Deb of Be The Change, How Meditation can Transform You and the World, are mindfulness, meditation and yoga experts. Deb’s new novel: Merging: Women in Love  -- what happens when you fall in love with the least likely person of the least likely gender? – and she is the author of Your Body Speaks Your Mind, now in 19 languages. They have three meditation CDs. See more at EdandDebShapiro.com

5 Ways Meditation Makes You Kinder

Wednesday, March 19, 2014 by

My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness. The Dalai Lama

When we were on our honeymoon we had the joy to sit with the Dalai Lama at his residence in McLeod Ganj, India. He held our hands and spoke about how his religion is kindness. It made us wonder how the world would be a better place if we all were just a little bit kinder. Luckily, he shows us the way to such an ideal through his daily practice of meditation.     

Meditation connects us to our innate kindness, like that of a mother watching her new born and making sure all is well. This kindness is within us all, though we may be out of touch with it. Meditation is paying attention to what is happening within and around us, and it changes us because through it we widen our perspective from being me-centered to other-centered; we go from being only able to see ourselves and our own viewpoints to seeing a much bigger picture that contains everything through compassionate and kind eyes.

We open our heart to ourselves with tenderness, seeing ourselves just as we are, maybe for the first time, opening with a heart as big as the Universe. In the same way we open to all others, seeing them just as they are, without likes or dislikes prejudicing our view. Which immediately shows us that, fundamentally, there is no difference between us. Out of this arises a natural, impartial kindness.

Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. The Dalai Lama

1 Become a friend to yourself

It’s inevitable when we sit quietly with meditation as a companion that we will discover a new level of self-acknowledgment and self-friendship. We are kinder and more accepting of who we are, less concerned with superficial appearances or image.

2 Think of others equally

As we open to ourselves we become more aware that we are not alone here, that there is an intricate inter-dependence between all beings: we all want to be happy, and we are all doing our best to fulfill that. We see that no one is more important than another.

3 Be forgiving

As we see that all beings are striving to find happiness so we can be more tolerant, accepting, caring and forgiving of each other. We all make mistakes – if we didn’t then we would be like robots rather than humans. As we can forgive ourselves for mistakes, we can forgive others. Perfection is our ability to see our (or their) imperfections!

4 Do random acts

Kindness doesn’t need to be applauded. In fact, often the greatest act of kindness is that which goes unseen. A simple smile can sometimes be the greatest gift of all. Practice kindness wherever and however you can.

5 Pick yourself up every time you fall

Giving kindness includes giving it to ourselves. We are often hard on ourselves, finding fault, criticizing, or feeling embarrassed of perceived mistakes. Meditation creates an inner strength and confidence that enables us to get up over and over again. And if we get up just one time more than we fall then we can’t fail!

We have a photograph at home of Bishop Tutu with his hands held in prayer position. Underneath it are his words, Please make it fashionable to be compassionate. That photograph is many years old yet his words are even more relevant today. Is it not time to make compassion fashionable, to make kindness cool, to make consideration and care hot topics?

Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can't help them, at least don't hurt them. The Dalai Lama

 

Anytime Kindness

Whenever we get stressed we tend to close our hearts toward others. We get a ‘couldn’t care less’ attitude—nothing matters but our own issues. By developing a more loving and caring attitude, we find more joy and certainly less stress.

            Every time you feel rushed, irritated, annoyed or upset, sit quietly and silently repeat: May I be happy or May I be filled with loving kindness.

            If you can do this for one day then follow it the next day with: May you be well or May you be happy to each person you see or meet. It’s important not to tell them—just feel it in your heart. You can do this to people in an elevator, at work, in the street or at home.

            Silently repeat May you be filled with loving kindness when your partner or boss is upset or angry with you, or when someone is criticizing you. The more you do this, the more you’ll release the hook inside yourself so that anger cannot land.

            If a day feels easy, try a whole week. Let friendliness and kindness grow within you. Make it your goal to become a more loving and kinder person.                              

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Award-Winning Authors Ed and Deb of Be The Change, How Meditation can Transform You and the World, are mindfulness, meditation and yoga experts. Deb’s new novel: Merging: Women in Love  -- what happens when you fall in love with the least likely person of the least likely gender? – and she is the author of Your Body Speaks Your Mind, now in 19 languages. They have three meditation CDs. See more at EdandDebShapiro.com

The Way Of Mindfulness: Paul McCartney, Richard Gere, Deepak Chopra

Friday, February 28, 2014 by

Mindfulness is a hot buzzword at the moment, furthered by TIME Magazine having The Mindful Revolution on its front cover. But what does mindfulness look like in practice? What difference does it make on a day-to-day basis? How does it change our lives?

These questions, and others focused on what is needed for people to transit into more positive and aware times, inspired us to ask a number of leading luminaries, which resulted in our book, The Way Ahead: A Visionary Perspective For The New Millennium.

Initially our purpose was to ask how could we have a better world, but it soon became a treatise of how to live with awareness and spirituality, how to make our lives an expression of wholeness. It became an illustration of mindfulness in action.

Enjoy the voices of some of those luminaries:

Mindfulness is primarily being aware of ourselves, such as our thoughts and feelings. In the process we also become aware of our limitations. Deepak Chopra reminds us to go beyond ourselves in order to find ourselves when he says: “Remember, nothing you already know is going to free you. Getting beyond the mind’s boundaries is a more profound goal than the mind can grasp. If you begin this investigation into your deeper nature, you will find that real, lasting healing comes from just being yourself and watching what happens. If you have a sincere willingness, what will happen will be an inner unfolding; the tightly furled bud will open into a flower.”

Martin Luther King Jr. nominated the Vietnamese teacher Thich Nhat Hanh for the Nobel Peace Prize, but the real prize came in a very simple and direct way to make mindfulness a part of even the smallest of our interactions. Thich Nhat Hanh says: “Every time the telephone rings we all stop and breathe in and out, saying, ‘Listen, listen. This wonderful sound brings me back to my true self.’ We call it telephone meditation! It is very easy to practice telephone meditation. When you hear the telephone, just stay where you are and breathe in and out consciously and smile. When you hear the second sound, you can breathe in and out again and enjoy the sound of the telephone. If the other person has something very important to tell you, he or she will wait for at least three rings. When you hear the third ring you continue breathing and are serene, so when you answer the phone you are calm and smiling. This is good for you and for the person who is calling!”

Mindfulness affects everything we do, not just answering the telephone, and this includes what we eat. Awareness of our world transforms our world and our behavior in it, as Paul McCartney makes us aware of: “One day we were eating roast lamb. It was the lambing season so there were all these beautiful young lambs gamboling around the fields surrounding our house, running and playing together. We looked at the lambs playing and we looked at the lamb on our plates and we realized we were eating leg of lamb. We looked at them running around outside again and saw a leg of lamb running and playing. And that was it, the great turning point: if it has a face, don’t eat it!”

Mindfulness also extends us beyond ourselves into a recognition that we are not separate, not alone, but a part of everything, as Zen teacher Roshi Joan Halifax explains: “When we plant a tree, we are planting ourselves. Releasing dolphins back to the wild, we are ourselves returning home. Composting leftovers, we are being reborn as irises and apples. We can ‘think like a mountain’ and discover ourselves to be everywhere and in everything and know the activity of the world as not separate from who we are but rather of what we are.”

That awareness enables us to make deep and profound changes. Actor Richard Gere emphasizes how the disquieting state of the world is actually the very grist we can use to transform ourselves and our world: “The breakdown of the established social and political order over the last few years presents, ironically, an extraordinary opportunity to actualize the radical changes we all know must take place. If the cycles of conditioned violence and counter-violence can be avoided—or transformed—we may enter an age of responsibility and love for all beings.”

An age of responsibility and love is the greatest gift mindfulness gives us. And, as Jean Houston says, we are already there: “I see a change. It is vested in the greatest rise in expectations the world has ever seen. It is so far-reaching in its implications that one might call it evolution consciously entering into time, the evolutionary potential asserting itself. It needed a certain critical mass, a certain merging of complexity, crisis, and consciousness to awaken. Now it is happening.”

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Ed and Deb are the co-founders, of RevolutionaryMindfulness.com, with Brian Jones. Join to get our newsletter, free meditation downloads, community support, and learn to balance your nervous system. They are the authors of award winning Be The Change, How Meditation can Transform You and the World. Deb is the author of Merging: Women in Love. See more at RevolutionaryMindfulness.com and EdandDebShapiro.com

5 tips to get the most out of your Expo West trade show experience

Monday, February 24, 2014 by

EXPO is a tremendous opportunity for manufacturers to introduce their new items and brands to retailers and consumers.  Retailers are always on the lookout for cool new items to drive sustainable sales.  Manufacturers wanting to make a lasting impact should be prepared to do more than the thousands of other brands on the shelf.

Think of EXPO as a large retail store.  Instead of only potential customers shopping for your product you're also trying to attract retailers.  Of all the items in your category, how do you stand out against the competition?  Having a solid EXPO strategy can help you make a lasting impression with retailers, potential customers, and even food bloggers. 

Know your purpose:

Your booth looks great, your sales team is energetic and motivated, and you have plenty of samples to pass out but what is your purpose for being at Expo?  Is it to sell cases or is it to address’s a specific unmet need?  A lot of brands get so caught up in selling that they lose sight of their original purpose.  To me this is what the natural channel is really about.  It's about authenticity, helping consumers, and making a lasting impact.  What selling story do you want retailers to communicate on your behalf?  Your presentation at Expo should clearly communicate and educate retailers. 

Know your competition:

Most manufacturers can list their competitors but how many manufacturers are experts on their competitor’s products?  Knowing your competition helps you sell against them and differentiate your brand.  Retailers are not looking for another “me too” brand.  They want a strong brand to take a leadership role in the category - a brand that appeals to their customers. 

Everyone in your booth needs to be prepared to answer any question about a competitive product.  They should use that as an opportunity to help differentiate your brand against the competition.  For example yes, our competition is gluten-free but did you know that we are also non-GMO certified?

Know your target consumer:

Retailers manage literally hundreds of different categories and thousands of items.  They cannot be experts in everything.  It is up to brands to educate retailers on the category and help them sell more of your products.  This could be the greatest differentiator between you and your competition.  Set yourself apart by helping retailers meet their shopper’s needs.

Be an expert in your category:

A lot of small companies know very little about the categories they compete in.  Being an expert in your category includes more than just listing each of your competitors. It also includes understanding how your category is meeting retailer’s objectives:

•  Is the category up or down?

•  Is there enough holding power in the categories for the top brands?

•  How does the category increase foot traffic for the retailer?

•  How important is the category to other departments in the store?

A good way to become an expert in the category is to be prepared with a complete category review for each of the key retailers you plan to connect with in addition to the regions you sell in. Retailers will be extremely impressed that you've made an effort to understand your category at their store.  This creates a unique opportunity for you to highlight your brand and will help them grow sales.

Have a follow-up strategy:

Have a strategy in place to capture contact information, important conversations, and organize notes for follow-up after the show.  I'm amazed by how many exhibitors run out of business cards and sales literature before the end of the show.  I'm equally amazed by the lack of follow-up on the part of some brands.  After spending all the money, time, and energy to exhibit at EXPO this is a huge missed opportunity.  At the very least, exhibitors should thank people for coming to their booth.  Not only is this courteous but you never know when a contact might be in a position to grow your brand.   

See you there!

 

Organic and CPG Industry Strategic Advisor Daniel Lohman CPSA is an expert in the organic and natural CPG industry. With more than 25+ years experience, he is certified at the highest level of category management proficiency: Certified Professional Strategic Advisor.

Responsible for growing sales and teaching Category Management theory and principals while at Kimberly-Clark and Unilever. His extensive knowledge and expertise extends beyond that of a traditional Category Manager and has earned him recognition and a reputation throughout the industry as a thought leader.

 

Dan is a Natural Products EXPO speaker, is internationally published, writes for LOHAS, New Hope 360, The Natural Food Merchandiser, Supermarket News, and World Alliance for Retail Excellence and Standards.  Dan is the author of Strategic Solutions and Guide to Grow Your Natural Business and the author of the What You Need To Know blog at CMS4CPG.COM.

How Inefficiency Hurts Your Business for Sustainability

Saturday, February 22, 2014 by

In today's technologically driven world, there are many ways a business can become more efficient. This efficiency translates to greater net income as well as promoting a stronger future for humanity. Let's face it, without focusing on the continuation of humankind, there will be no customers in the future. With all of the innovative developments at our disposal, there are still many people that prefer to perform archaic principles in business that are not conducive to growth. In what ways can this inefficiency hurt your business for sustainability?

1. Wasting Time - One of the most valued commodities of any business is time. By not investing in ways to increase efficiency in the workplace, your business is losing money through wasting the one thing that cannot be recuperated. Instead of the pencil and pen ledger, software exists to allow you to reduce the time spent on record keeping exponentially. This means less paper is used, less time is wasted and more money remains in your bank accounts instead of paying staff to do the work that only requires a few clicks of the mouse.

2. Wasting Electricity - By not examining the electronics that are turned on all the time that don't need to be, you are wasting electricity. Not all computers and monitors need to be left on day-in and day-out. The only real appliance that should be left on is the server. That staff member you may have that is only at his or her desk once per week doesn't need the computer left on. This waste of electricity is damaging to your energy bill as well as hurting the rest of the community by taking energy that could be used elsewhere.

3. Wasting Paper - Did you know that nearly every aspect of any given business can be done digitally? Even receipts for purchases can be emailed instead of printed. Since tablets and smartphones can open most office documents, there is no real reason to have hard copies. Digital documents can be stored and backed up far easier than the printed counterparts - and will take up less physical space. The only real forms that may be needed are those that require personal initials or signatures such as real estate documents or contracts. Memos, correspondences and many other forms of printed material are no longer needed if you have the right alternatives. The financial savings alone from ink and paper should be more than enough incentive to look into efficient alternatives. 

4. Wasting Water - Faucets and toilets within the facility may be wasting water, but what about outside the business? Everyone likes to see greenery surrounding the headquarters or business establishment. However, is the water being put into keeping it green used wisely? There are still organizations out there that have sprinkler systems that operate when it's raining outside. There are products available now that can reduce the amount of time you spend watering the grass and flowers by up to 50-percent. This means you are wasting less water on the ambiance of your business while keeping more money in your bank.

As a business owner, you should be setting an example of professionalism. In a world where so many resources are dwindling rapidly, you need to realize that the business establishment greatly contributes to the loss of these resources. Look around your location and develop a strategy to become more sustainable for the environment and your profitability.

Ken Myers is a father, husband, and entrepreneur. He has combined his passion for helping families find in-home care with his experience to build a business. Learn more about him by visiting @KenneyMyers on Twitter.

10 Great Ways Mindfulness Turns Fear Into An Ally

Thursday, February 20, 2014 by

At first glance you might not put mindfulness and fear together, or think that one can counterbalance the other. But while mindfulness invites us to be present with fear rather than run from it, it also frees us from being stuck in fearful thoughts and feelings. Mindfulness allows fear to be, just as it, without diving in. It turns fear into an ally we can use to become courageous and fearless.

We all know what fear feels like, how it can appear as the enemy attacking when you are least aware or entering without being invited. It can arise as a natural response to physical danger but more often is self-created, like the fear of failure, not being good enough, being lonely, or of the future. We fear loving for fear of being rejected, being generous for fear of going without, or sharing our feelings for fear of appearing weak, and we’re easily dominated by insecurity and self-doubt.

The immediate effect of fear is to turn off our heartfelt feelings. Just for a moment, let your body take the stance of feeling fearful. What is your posture? Most people hunch their shoulders forward, fold their arms across their chests, or assume a similarly defensive position. In this self-protected place the heart goes out of reach and we can’t feel love or even friendliness. Try saying "I love you" with real meaning while your arms are folded firmly across your heart. Hard to do!

But where fear contracts and closes the heart, love expands and opens. In other words, love is letting go of fear. So now take the posture of love. Watch how your body responds, your arms reaching outward, accepting and inviting. Fear may still be there but love can embrace it; where fear blocks out love, love holds fear tenderly. With your arms stretched wide try saying, "I'm frightened" and really mean it. Hard to do!

Here are ten ways mindfulness both influences and transforms fear:

1.     Through mindfulness you make friends with yourself and your world – just as it is

2.     Friendship naturally extends greater kindness, compassion and love, which are the antidotes to fear

3.     Friendship is also the gateway to greater clarity, ease and tolerance

4.     Mindfulness turns off the stress response of your nervous system by activating the relaxation response of the parasympathetic nervous system; this enables you to stay focused and relaxed, no matter what is going on

5.     In a focused and present state you are better able to deal with whatever is happening than if you are preoccupied or distracted

6.     Fear takes you out of your body, limits your reactions, and brings your feelings to a standstill, while mindfulness keeps you centered and in touch with yourself

7.     Fear can make your breathing short and shallow, while mindfulness of breathing keeps the diaphragm open and breathing deep

8.     Mindfulness enables you to see that fear, or any other negative feeling, is a passing experience that comes and goes

9.      Fearless doesn’t mean denying fear; it’s not a state of being without fear but one of being with awareness

10.     Fearlessness is getting to know fear, name it, and take it by the hand so that it becomes your friend

Can you remember times you met fear and moved through it, times when fear arose but you kept going? Those are moments of fearlessness. Fear may close the heart, but courage comes out of heartfulness, out of releasing resistance. Fear may stop you from participating fully in life, but fearlessness gives you the courage to dive into the unknown.

Fear comes—breathe and let go; fear arises—replace it with love; fear knocks at the door—invite it in to share a cup of tea. In this way you become a fearless warrior of the heart, unshakable, confident, and joyful, with fear as your ally.

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Ed and Deb are the co-founders, with Brian Jones, of RevolutionaryMindfulness.com. Join to get our newsletter, free meditation downloads, community support, and learn to balance your nervous system. They are the authors of award winning Be The Change, How Meditation can Transform You and the World. Deb is also the author of Merging: Women in Love. See more at RevolutionaryMindfulness.com and EdandDebShapiro.com

The Next Economy

Monday, February 10, 2014 by

Those who follow my blog might have noticed substantial inactivity. Yes, I stopped posting articles, mainly out of despair. So much to say, what first, and how? Even if I wrote every day, we would not cover all the complexities of the self-destructive system that humans have created out of greed.

As the speed of natural devastation picks up and the response to the natural rampage becomes short,  obsolete, and mostly non-systemic many, who strive to keep this precious Earth alive with all its beauties, become speechless. But as a famous quote whose author I do not recall states "there is no time to be a pessimist", we must now, more than ever, reflect on our actions and their consequences. We must now rethink our way forward.

If the way forward is based on understanding our need for biological sustainability, since without biological sustainability there is no other sustainability, I let you ponder on this way forward for the outbursting population of 7 billion. 

Video by Tompkins Conservation, The Next Economy

Words of a long time environmentalist and conservationist, Doug Tompkins who, together with his wife Kris and a large team of people dedicated to preserving our nature, have embarked on a challenging path. They have been able to succeed, so why can't we all?

 

Described as “a tireless advocate of an ecological lifestyle and an absolute defender of nature”, Hana takes any opportunity to engage in sustainable living as a sustainability strategist, citizen as well as a consumer. Her ambitions go beyond motivating others through Hana's green living blog. Professionally her aim is to look at today’s environmental issues in a holistic way, through a systemic lens and to strive for long-term improvements rather than short-term fixes. She established Earth Matters, a collaborative consultancy to help others advance on issues of sustainability. Tweet @earthmatters2me

 

 

Social Media as Social Currency: Selling Through Social Influencing

Saturday, February 8, 2014 by

A 5 Step Guide to Inside – Out Influencer Social Media Marketing

Social influencing is the ability to influence behavior through your social & digital networks. A strong ability to influence your social network equals high social currency net worth, which doesn’t just translate into a high number of followers and engagements, rather it is of direct financial impact on your company’s bottom line and potential for long term success.  

Purchasing power is in the hands of people, and business is no longer B2B or B2C, rather business is S2S – soul to soul. Success in business is dependent on personal relationships. 92% of consumers around the world say they trust earned media, such as word-of-mouth and recommendations from friends and family*.

As the communication gab between brands and consumers have largely disappeared, and consumers can get access to any information about your company, and reviews on how other’s, whom they trust, experience shopping with you, your customers go social to find out about you, before they buy. And, they do not go to your website. They go to the key influencers talking about your business.

Social technologies offer effective & efficient ways to increase & engage your network both locally and globally, and it is of great value to most businesses to find the key to building social currency.  So, how do you crack this code to become a trustworthy social influencer?

Passion

Get beneath what you do & sell, and into the core of why you do what you do. Draw your audience towards you with your contagious passion for why you do what you do. If you are only focused on what you sell, the communication and connection with your audience will be too superficial to build social influencer standing.

If you grow and sell tea, then share all about why you are passionate about tea – perhaps it’s the fine flavor variations in tea from specific regions of the world; perhaps it’s the health benefits of herbal & green teas, or perhaps it’s the beauty of tea ceremony and the tradition of tea & slow living.  

Purpose

People are hungry for meaning & connection with other people, and purpose is a strong motivator in attracting a community of like-minded people, who share your values and can help bring your purpose-driven cause and business to life. Give your audience a way to connect and be part of your purpose. If you talk about a product on your company Facebook page, drive the context back to your purpose. Why is it that sharing this product with your followers is important. If the answer is ‘to sell more product’ you are not digging deep enough. Underneath the desire to sell more lies your true purpose.

Give

When you give from an authentic place - considering what the person in front of you needs or feels inspired about; because without a manipulating & self-serving hidden motive, we connect with people on a deeper level. If you keep this behavior consistent over time, you develop trust and loyalty with your audience & community. And, that’s what you need – people, who are loyal to you, who come back again and again, and, who also act as your ambassadors telling their friends about you. They will start doing this on their own, when you clear your attachment to a particular outcome and give to them from a clean place.

Trust

Trust is build over time, and is based on your consistent trustworthy behavior through all the touch-points between you and the people, who encounters your business – both internally & externally. This includes your website, all your social media profiles, any marketing materials, products, packaging, displays, written words, visual communication, how employees are treated – and most importantly, the behavior of everyone on your team, and how you and your team act in your local community and in the world at large. People buy from people they trust.

Evaluate your business on the below Trust Equation, so you can determine the current standing of your company’s trust building ability. From here you can create actionable efforts to increase the areas of weakness.

Credibility:  Your expertise as shared with your audiences. How knowledgeable are you in your field? Does your audiences see you as a credible expert? Do they listen to you?

Reliability:  Are you being consistent in frequency, tone of voice and visual feel in all touch-points? Do you follow through on delivering what you promise – every time?

Intimacy:  Your ability to make someone feel comfortable in opening up and being themselves with you.

Self-Orientation:  Where is your focus? The more you focus on the other, the more trustworthy you come across. If you are too self-oriented, you come across as low in trustworthiness.*

Plan

Random acts of social media do not work. If your goal is to increase your social influencer status, then you need to create a plan. But, before you plan, work through each of the above stages, and do your work. Observe yourself, your brand, your employees and all your communication touch-points thoroughly. Be honest with yourself. Identify your weaknesses, and create an action plan to improve these areas. Continue to observe, and fine tune behaviors again and over time. I recommend that you see this process of becoming better as a playful process of imperfection. There is no final perfection, but rather, this is a lifelong process of finetunement.

 

* Sources:

Nielsen: Global research study April 10, 2012

Jeff Bullas: The 10 Big Social Media Marketing Trends in 2014. Jan, 2014

Social Media Today: Is Self-Orientation Killing Your Trustworthiness by Charles Green

Top photo credit: marketingtango.com

 

 

Sandja Brügmann is founding partner & chief creative strategist at Refresh Agency, a specialized communications agency driving leadership transformation, international business, public relations and social media focused on the sustainable and social business lifestyle markets in the USA and Europe.

Refresh Agency service businesses on the leading edge of the sustainability and social-good areas globally including ITO EN, Matcha LOVE, Nisolo Shoes, Clementine Art, Sustainia, GoodBelly, Addis Creson (Better Place, Kashi), Chocolove, Neve Designs, Spier and TEDxCopenhagen spanning from Boulder, CO, New York, NY, Tokyo, Japan, Copenhagen, Denmark to Cape Town, South Africa.

Sandja was born and raised in sustainability-minded Denmark. A grounded island girl, who grew up on the beautiful island of Bornholm in the Baltic Sea. She is a certified yoga instructor, a Danish National Team Archery champion and former Olympic hopeful, a Dean’s Scholar at University of Colorado in Boulder, and she adores her daily lessons as a parent.

 

 

 

 

4 Ways Mindfulness Transforms Your Life (As It Did For the Seahawks!)

Wednesday, February 5, 2014 by

There’s an amazing epidemic sweeping America and it’s a healthy, vital and enriching one. In every walk of life people are hearing about the value and importance of mindfulness and meditation. For instance, the Seahawks include yoga and meditation in their training and they just won the Super Bowl!

Ohio congressman Tim Ryan, author of A Mindful Nation, calls mindfulness a “meditative practice that focuses on the present moment instead of worrying about the past or future.” He has helped land a $1 million grant in 2009 for Youngstown and Warren schools to teach mindfulness to elementary students. We interviewed Congressman Ryan in our E-conference and on our radio show, and his commitment to mindfulness and meditation is awe-inspiring.

Mindfulness – which is being present and aware – enables stress to be released, difficulties become workable, and true happiness become possible. Meditation is the training ground for mindfulness, as it teaches us how to focus our attention. But how does mindfulness shift our priorities and enable us to make friends with ourselves?

Here are some of the ways mindfulness and meditation can make your life more meaningful and enjoyable!

1. Stress Out, Relaxation In

It only takes a few minutes to chill out. As soon as we start paying attention, being aware and mindful of what is going on, then our whole physiology responds by calming the stress response and increasing the relaxation response, says our partner at RevolutionaryMindfulness.com, Brian Jones.

Meditation and medication are derived from the Latin word medicus: to care or to cure. Which means both meditation and mindfulness are, therefore, the most effective remedy for a busy and overworked mind.

Anytime you feel stress rising, heart closing, mind going into overwhelm, just bring your focus to your breathing and quietly repeat with each in- and out-breath: Breathing in, I calm the body and mind; breathing out, I smile. Becoming aware of the breath makes it easy to then be awareness to your body, thoughts, feelings, and your world.

2. Appreciating the Details

Mindfulness brings us into an awareness of all the small things – those that get missed when we are stressed, and which give life real meaning. Take a moment right now to appreciate the chair you are sitting on. Consider how the chair was made: the wood, cotton, wool, or other fibers, the trees and plants that were used, the earth that grew the trees, the sun and rain, the animals that maybe gave their lives, the people who prepared the materials, the place where the chair was made, the designer and carpenter and seamstress, the shop that sold it—all this just so you could be sitting here, now. Then extend that appreciation to everything and everyone, so you take nothing for granted.

3. From Self-centeredness to Other-centeredness

Mindfulness increases awareness of ourselves, which means we become aware of any self-centeredness, selfishness, and neurosis. We don’t often accept negative feelings too easily, we’re more likely to repress or disown them. But when denied they cause shame, depression, anger, and anxiety. Mindfulness invites us to openly meet these places, to see how selfishness, aversion and ignorance create endless dramas and fears.

Mindfulness also connects us to the stillness that is always there between our thoughts, behind the story, beneath the noise. And it enables us to be less focused on ourselves, more aware of others, and more aware of the interconnection between us.

4. Kindness Rocks

In a stressed state, we lose touch with inner peace, compassion and kindness; in a relaxed state, our mind is clear and we can connect with a deeper sense of purpose and altruism. Mindfulness awakens us to caring and kindness: how can we cause harm when we are aware that in the process we are also causing ourselves harm? Simply through the intent to cause less pain you can bring greater dignity to your world so that harm is replaced with kindness.

Every time you see or feel suffering, every time you make a mistake or say something stupid and are just about to put yourself down, every time you think of someone you are having a hard time with, every time you encounter the confusion and difficulty of being human, every time you see someone else struggling, upset or irritated, you can bring kindness and compassion. Breathing gently, silently repeat: May I be well, may I be happy, may I be filled with loving kindness; May they be well, may they be happy, may they be filled with loving kindness.

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Ed and Deb are the co-founders, with Brian Jones, of RevolutionaryMindfulness.com. Join to get our newsletter, free meditation downloads, community support, and learn to balance your nervous system. They are the authors of award winning Be The Change, How Meditation can Transform You and the World. See more at RevolutionaryMindfulness.com and EdandDebShapiro.com

Fire Your Manager. Hire A Leader.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014 by
If you want to create a truly modern company, managers can no longer act like 'managers.'  The manager defined the leaden archaic corporate hierarchy of the past. In that construct, there was little room for self-correction and ownership on the individual level. Rather than taking the driver's seat by delivering customer value or improving products, the old corporate model trained one to do a job as a single cog in the machine. 
 
The issue is that technology is creating bean-counters that micromanage jobs at arms'-length.  Taylor introduced ‘scientific management’ back in the late nineteenth century as a way of getting the American worker to do as they were told. It aimed for efficiency by standardizing and routinizing the techniques for completing each task involved with a given job. The effect resulted in deskilling workers and dehumanizing the workplace.
 
The twenty-first century has given rise to 'digital Taylorism.' This involves translating knowledge work into working knowledge through the extraction, codification and digitalization of knowledge into software that can be transmitted and manipulated by others. Digital Taylorism has increased the role and power of a manager by using technology to monitor workers and make sure they are employing tools and techniques at a satisfactory level.
 
With task management software tools to break down every given task into multiple increments, workers get limited to doing exactly as they are told and filling whatever quota of tasks at hand.  Already, 80% of the corporations in America have their employees under regular surveillance and apparently this number is growing.* These practices, which intend to increase efficiency and, at least theoretically, enable more self-accountability, often end up disempowering and over-systematizing jobs to the point where individuals are expected to work with a 'machine mind.'
 
Without allowing employees to understand and participate in the entire business operation, managers are then stuck with the assigning singular jobs and limited responsibilities to others. Over-systematizing jobs through these new technologies often lead to an extreme domination of managers over employees. Without allowing work accountability and self-adjustment, managers must fix the problems of each internal mistake themselves and likely only when seen at the customer or end-product level.  They enjoy having to correct and possibly reprimand employees, or even worse, serve as referee in an escalation point when problems and mistakes are tossed back and forth. Fun, right. My advise?  Fire you managers and rehire a leader.
 
Don’t allow for processes to over-ride common sense!
 
Managers assign tasks, correct employees, and serve as an escalation point for a problem. Leaders don't do this. Leaders improve participation and increase autonomy and accountability in everyone's work. This leads to people doing something not because they are told, but because they want to produce the best possible product or service.
 
Get rid of micromanagement and processes that stifle creative thinking and productivity.
 
Allow the ideas, goals, and accomplishments of the company to become the main focus... as they should be.  This construct leads to the bottom up approach of modern businesses. Rather than management sitting at the top of the corporate model, the client and customer product takes the main seat in the company. Here, what matters is that the work gets done--and done right so it's delivering value to your clients.
 
References
* Parenti, C. (2001). Big brother’s corporate cousin: high-tech workplace surveillance is the hallmark of a new digital Taylorism. The Nation, 273(5), 26-30.
 
Laura Pretsch is a business advisor, innovator, entrepreneur and lifestyle aficionado. Laura has dedicated her life to developing the tools and understanding to help others innovate and create better lives. Laura is the Co-Founder ‘The Brilliant Leadership Company’.
 
 
  
 

Super Bowl and TIME Magazine Both Focus on Mindfulness

Monday, January 27, 2014 by

Guess what, we all meditate! We may be unaware of this because we believe meditation means sitting still and closing our eyes. However, the moment we focus attention on one thing and bring the mind into a quiet place then we are meditating, which means it can be as much active as it is being still.

The most well-known forms of meditation are watching the flow of the breath or repeating a mantra, as these focus the mind. But it could just as easily be mindfully throwing a football or the stroke of a brush as you paint; most meditation traditions do walking meditation as well as sitting practice. This is meditation in action, which is mindfulness: awareness of the present moment.

“The Seahawks believe their kinder, gentler philosophy is the future of football,” says Alyssa Roenigk in ESPN The Magazine. So could mindfulness and meditation be a way to win the Super Bowl? The Seahawks obviously believe that it can. They are taught yoga and sitting meditation as a part of their training, as it’s difficult to be focused if they are distracted by a monkey mind jumping from thought to thought.

“Meditation is as important as lifting weights and being out here on the field for practice,” says Russell Okung of the Seahawks. “It’s about quieting your mind and getting into certain states where everything outside of you doesn’t matter in that moment. There are so many things telling you that you can’t do something, but you take those thoughts captive, take power over them and change them.”

Meditation focuses the mind in one place and this equally applies to the Denver Broncos, even if they may not knowingly meditate. In football, mindfulness is needed for the accuracy of a touch-down pass down the field, or the presence to know when to throw or when to run with the football: Payton Manning’s great passes are made mindfully, Knowshaun Moreno runs with awareness, Eric Decker receives in the moment!

We taught meditation to the Torquay United Football team in England, sitting in the men’s locker room. They were at the bottom of their league but won their next game, which meant they advanced to the next division. Filmed by the BBC on the 6:00pm evening news, the coach was convinced that the mindfulness training had enabled the players to stay positive, despite being in such a losing position.

As our partner, Brian Jones says: “Meditation is as much something that happens to us as, as something we do, like the “ah-ha” moment when we first learn to ride a bike. All of a sudden it just makes sense, becomes familiar, and comfortable. Meditation and mindfulness, like riding a bike, are about embodiment, self-mastery, and self-fulfillment.”

TIME Magazine agrees. The Feb 3rd issue focuses on mindfulness, the far-reaching effect it is having in all walks of life, and on Jon Kabat-Zinn, who brought mindfulness to hospitals and clinics, through his Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR).

“People come with a huge amount of pain and suffering, both physical and emotional,” says Kabat-Zinn in our Award Winning book, Be The Change. “Through the cultivation of mindfulness, they develop a more functional relationship with that suffering, they turn towards it, open to it, and actually befriend it to a degree rather than insisting that it stop, and in the process, the pain often transforms or even falls away… For the most part, they will tell you that they are more in touch with their own beauty than they may have been since they were children.”

Whether we sit in formal meditation with our eyes closed, go for a walk or throw a football, if we do it with awareness we are meditating. We can sit with our eyes closed but if our mind is scattered then there’s no stillness, while we can be running everywhere playing competitive sport but if our mind is focused and aware then we are being mindful. A clear and comprehensive training in mindfulness is vital, so it can become integral to every part of our life. Play to win: practice mindfulness! 

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Ed and Deb are the co-founders, with Brian Jones, of RevolutionaryMindfulness.com. Join to get our newsletter, free meditation downloads, community support, and learn to balance your nervous system. They are the authors of award winning Be The Change, How Meditation can Transform You and the World. See more at RevolutionaryMindfulness.com and EdandDebShapiro.com

Meditation Awakens Your Inner Joy

Wednesday, January 22, 2014 by

Within you is a fountain of joy, within you is an ocean of bliss!  Swami Sivananda

While in Greece we were invited to a local village dance. It was to be held in a nearby field, and we were fascinated to discover it started very late, about 11pm, lasting until the early hours of the morning. It was a beautiful moonlit night. The entire village was present: small children, lanky teenagers, grannies and old men clinging to walking sticks. What a wonderful sight! The violins played and the villagers danced. Joining together in circles or winding lines they danced, their voices merging together as they sang in response to the music. We were mesmerized, most especially when one of the teenagers, dressed in tight jeans with slicked back hair who had appeared completely disinterested, suddenly stepped into the middle and led one of the snake like dances around the field, his eyes alight with great joy and laughter.

Joy is a beautiful word! It describes it exactly: delight, smiles, radiance, happiness! We feel joy when a baby smiles, when the sun shines after a rain, when we fulfill a passion such as playing music or, as Deb’s mother remembers, hear a wild bird sing.

But there’s another, more profound and deeper joy, that arises when we meditate. This joy isn’t something that comes through ideal circumstances, but occurs at a time of quiet and stillness. It arises from within us, which means it’s always there, albeit untapped. Beneath layers of uncertainty, insecurity, doubt, guilt, shame or fear, there is a natural reservoir of unconditional happiness; we discover that who we truly are inside is pure joy.

I do this thing with the children where I say, ‘Breathing in, I calm my body; breathing out, I smile. Breathing in, I know this supreme moment; breathing out, I know it is a wonderful moment.’ When I do that with the children, they all jump for joy. It is very cool. Wavy Gravy from our Award Winning book: Be The Change

It is awesome, even mind blowing, to realize that our authentic self is joyful, compassionate, loving, forgiving; that this is who we really are, and that these qualities arise naturally when we are in deep stillness. Meditation has been researched extensively to show that it stimulates the part of our brain that responds compassionately to others, increasing kindness, generosity, and forgiveness, and that states are the outward expressions of our inner joy.

Yet how often are we aware that we meditate in order to be happier and more joyful? Who would have believed this connection and yet there it is! Do you ever soften, surrender, get gentle and tender with yourself? Or do you grit your teeth with impatience and only sit as long as you can without moving, despite shoulders aching or feet going to sleep? Do you take time to be gentle and kind to yourself so that joy can show its smiling face?

Joy is here, in every moment when we relax and breathe, available from the early morning to the middle of the night, no restrictions, no closing time, no sell-by date. Joy comes the moment you let go of resistance and open wide.

 

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Ed and Deb are the co-founders, with Brian Jones, of RevolutionaryMindfulness.com. Join to get our newsletter, free meditation downloads, community support, and learn to balance your nervous system. They are the authors of award winning Be The Change, How Meditation can Transform You and the World. See more at RevolutionaryMindfulness.com and EdandDebShapiro.com

Mindfulness Meditation Is The Direct Way To Happiness

Thursday, January 16, 2014 by

We often wonder what our lives would be like without meditation or mindfulness. We were talking with our partner, neuroscientist and yogi Brian Jones, about this recently who said, “With all the mass overstimulation and continuously heightened levels of stress it's easy to see why we’re all going crazy. The modern world demands so much of our attention that we forget who we truly are in our deepest sense.”

We’re sure you know what we mean: the demands and busyness of life can have a toll on anyone. So what to do? How to live in this world with sanity and ease? The wise yogis said that happiness is our birthright but where is this happiness found?

What, out of all the things we can get in this whole world, will give us the most happiness, joy, peace of mind, self-friendship, clarity, insight, presence, is totally free but invariably ignored? Yes, you got it, it’s meditation -- the most invaluable gift you could ever give yourself! We look everywhere for peace and spend a fortune thinking something will give us happiness while it is, and always will be, inside us. Not only that, but whatever we get we can lose, but what’s inside of us we have always! How outrageous!

Actor Ed Begley, Jr., from our award-winning book Be The Change, points out that: If stuff made you happy, there would be nothing but happy people living in Bel Air and unhappy people living in Fiji where they have nothing, but I have been to Fiji and there are plenty of happy people there. I have never seen a hearse with a luggage rack on top. We have got to get away from stuff and appreciate what is here.

Meditation is in the news. Any self-respecting business uses meditation and mindfulness to combat stress, major newspapers and magazines carry stories on the benefits of meditation with tips from famous film stars, and cross-legged yogis and Buddhist monks can be seen in adverts for everything from computers and credit cards to insurance.  

Respected Buddhist meditation teacher Mingyur Rinpoche asks: Who makes problems? We humans. And who is the controller of the human? The mind. And how to control the human mind? Through meditation. If you can control the pilot, then the pilot can control the plane.

Mindfulness is being aware of whatever arises in your mind and body, sensations, feelings and thoughts. It’s not about trying to change anything but non-judgmentally and gently accepting it as it is. However, anyone first coming to meditation can be met with a plethora of advice and techniques that may baffle or confuse: Where to go? What to do? Which is best? How to start? How to chose between TM, mantra recitation, kundalini, vipassana, insight, witness, breath awareness, shamata, visualization, MBSR, metta, and more?

The best way is to try them and see what works for you – we’re all different! It’s important to remember that a technique is only a way to something, it’s not the something itself. True meditation is spontaneous, natural, arising from within, while the technique is simply the learnt method that helps us have that experience. All techniques are designed to help calm the mind, bring our attention inward, and focus in just this present moment so that the experience of meditation occurs naturally.

Author and meditation teacher Sylvia Boorstein emphasizes that: The point of meditation is to keep the mind free of confusion. Meditation, past calming our nerves, past being good for our blood pressure, past allowing us to work out our own internal psychological dramas, which it does, past helping us to get along with our kin and our community, is a way of really deeply seeing the truth that the only way to ameliorate our own suffering and the suffering of the world is to keep our minds clear.

The equation, therefore, is simple: The more meditation becomes a part of your life, the more you change and evolve; the more you change and evolve, the more society is transformed and the world moves into a wiser and more loving place to be. And all you have to do for this chain of events to occur is to sit still!

 

Practice:

Start right now, where you are sitting as you read this. Do this for just 3-5 minutes.

Become aware of your body. Scan your body from head to toes, acknowledging how it feels, and where there is tension or ease.

Become aware of your feelings, thoughts, and any sensations.

Become aware of your breathing, and just watch your breath as it enters and leaves for a few moments.

Now take a deep breath and let it go.

 

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Ed and Deb are the co-founders, with Brian Jones, of RevolutionaryMindfulness.com. Join to get our newsletter, free meditation downloads, community support, and learn to balance your nervous system. They are the authors of award winning Be The Change, How Meditation can Transform You and the World. See more at RevolutionaryMindfulness.com and EdandDebShapiro.com

Getting the Top One Percent to Chip In

Wednesday, January 15, 2014 by

Greed. What is the purpose of collecting all the money you can if you can't take it with you when you pass away? I can understand wanting to live comfortably without having to stress over bills and debts. When you have so much money in the bank accounts that you could never realistically spend it in your lifetime, doesn't that make you a hoarder? It is said that the top 1-percent of the population now controls 39-percent of the world's wealth. All I can do is wonder, "Why?" Can't these people separate themselves from even a small portion of this money?

The "trickle-down effect" really didn't trickle down at all. Since most of these 1-percent have no interest in spending it, there is nothing to trickle down. Why not implement a few ideas to merely help those who have spent their money raising some of you 1-percent people to where you are? In fact, you might even make more money if you did. Investing in the future of humanity is probably the best investment you'll ever make.

1. Small Businesses - By investing $1.5 million in a small business and sticking the money into a savings account at 0.05-percent, the small business could pay its bills plus a single person making $25,000 per year while sustaining itself for 36.6 years. This is also considering that the small business doesn't make a single dime in revenue. If the small business makes money, then all the better. In fact, adding another person to the business making the same amount as the first would only decrease the business sustainability to 22.7 years. If the business manages to succeed and make money on it is own, then there is more money in your pocket as the investor.

2. Donations - Some don't like to give donations because they don't really know where the money is going and would rather not trust a stranger's word that it will get to those who are in need. If that's the case, then why not donate tangible goods? Aside from the fact that donations are tax-deductible, you can help others survive in order to keep your business running. No matter how you slice it up, it's the other 99-percent of the population that is keeping you rich. If they are unable to sustain themselves, they won't be able to sustain you.

3. Education - If you'd rather invest in something that will be beneficial to those who are in need, why not put it towards education? Although our school-system is sub-par in the United States, you could still put money towards teaching others how to sustain themselves. Grant it, there are many people in the world who are simply looking for a free ride and won't do anything to improve their situation. These people are a drain on society, but that isn't everyone that lives below the poverty line. Many of us are at this level through bad decisions and have been unable to climb out of the hole. Could you put your expertise and knowledge to help these people figure out a way to rise above that level? That is, without charging the $49.99 that you see on "get-rich-quick" websites?

It doesn't take a lot of money to change lives. When you control as much money as the 1-percent does, $25,000 can be nothing more than pocket change. Is it really that difficult to feed some of the money back into the populace? After all, most of these people are probably paying your way through life. It doesn't take much, just compassion for humanity.

Author Bio

Nancy Parker is a regular contributor to www.enannysource.com and she loves to write about wide range of subjects like health, Parenting, Child Care, Babysitting, nanny background check tips etc. You can reach her @ nancy.parker015 @ gmail.com

Giving not Getting in 2014! A New Approach to your New Years Resolutions.

Friday, January 10, 2014 by

whatcanIgive_pptx With the onset of the New Year we are constantly being bombarded with requests (emails, newsletters, articles, etc.,) to make our New Year’s Resolutions and set our intentions to receive what we wish for in 2014.

New Year’s Resolutions have been part of society since pre-Christian times beginning with the Babylonians who made promises to their gods at the start of each year that they would return borrowed objects and pay their debts. Later on this ritual was modified by the Romans who made promises to the god Janus, to be good to others. In the Medieval era, knights took the “Peacock Vow” at the end of the Christmas season each year to re-affirm their commitment to chivalry (Slate Magazines article: ‘Bring back the Peacock Vow”). The idea was a call for self-improvement.

According to a recent study by The University of Scranton, 49% of Americans make New Years Resolutions. Here are the most common ones:

New Years Resolutions:
47% – Self Improvement or education related resolutions
38% – Weight related resolutions
34% – Money related resolutions
31% – Relationship related resolutions

I support new years resolutions, but I would like to challenge the status quo that focuses on personal fulfillment and benefit.

Could we not change the question from: “What do I Want in 2014?” to “What am I able to Give in 2014?”. Why don’t we take a different approach this year, decide what we can give to others and ourselves, and come from a mindset of surplus rather than focusing on deficit. Some might argue that they can’t give what they don’t have. My response would be, “What comes first, the ckicken or the egg?”. By doing that we put ourselves in a more powerful postion of richness. Since most of my readers are in leadership positions this exercise becomes more effective as we share our intentions with our team and others around us.

Make a list of what you can give and contribute to. With giving, I don’t necessarily mean what we can give monetarily or materially. I mean what can we give from ourselves like attention, advice, time, support, and energy.

Here are some questions that will help:

What do you want to give to yourself ? (Yes, don’t forget that giving starts with giving to oneself.)

What do you want to give to your family and friends?

What do you want to contribute to your business?

What do you want to give to your clients?

What do you want to give to your employees or team members?

What do you want to give to the society or greater good?

We can use this opportunity to become better leaders by focusing on how we can benefit and improve the lives of others rather than just fulfilling our own needs. When applied diligently, it will be a recipe for happiness and fulfillment!

Happy New Year!

Sascha Bosio

Sascha Bosio is an expert for innovation and leadership, Sascha is also an entrepreneur and meditation/awareness trainer. As Founder of The Brilliant Leadership Company a firm for strategic innovation for the lifestyle industry, Sascha has made it his vision to help business owners to create a flow of sustainable innovation and business growth. http://www.brilliantleadership.net

 

LOHAS Asia Forum set to land in Hong Kong

Friday, January 10, 2014 by

With the success of the inaugural LOHAS Asia Forum in 2012, Hong Kong will be hosting this year’s conference on the 14th and 15th of February 2014 at the Hong Kong Exhibition and Convention Centre, Wan Chai.

The’ two-day LOHAS Asia Forum will bring together world-class health and sustainability speakers, innovative discussions and unparalleled networking opportunities for both businesses and entrepreneurs within the growing sustainable consumer market in Asia.

“We are seeing a huge growth in the number of consumers across Asia who are demanding better products and better behaviour from companies,” said Cissy Bullock, CEO of LOHASIA and co-organiser of the event. “These people are actively seeking out brands that share similar values and the Forum will help provide insight for companies wanting to take advantage of this opportunity.”

The Growing LOHAS Movement …

The socially responsible consumer is on the rise in Asia, with more and more people seeking to incorporate LOHAS values (lifestyles of health and sustainability) into their daily lives. As the region continues to urbanise and develop at a rapid pace, consumers are demanding better from the brands they buy – better products, better practices, better materials – as they seek to find balance between a higher standard of living and a lesser level of impact on the planet.

The LOHAS Asia Forum 2014, to be held at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, will explore this increasingly important consumer demographic and provide insight into how LOHAS businesses can best position themselves to take advantage of this rapidly developing market opportunity.

Important Visionaries …

Featured speakers at the LOHAS Asia Forum this year include:

  • Paul Wouters, Regional Manager for Ecover, one of the world’s pioneering LOHAS brands, who will discuss how companies can expand whilst still retaining their core values.
  • Cissy Bullock, CEO of LOHASIA, helping socially responsible businesses grow and connect, will be discussing the LOHAS movement and where businesses will be heading in the near future.
  • Tara Hirebet, Asia Pacific Head for Trendwatching.com, a leading global trends, insight and innovation firm, will share her insights on the future direction of the responsible consumer movement.
  • Richard Brubaker, founder of Collective Responsibility, will explore how business models are evolving in response to sustainability.

Speakers from across the region will share how the LOHAS opportunity is developing in their market, and panels of successful LOHAS entrepreneurs will share their experiences and insights in operating within this dynamic sector.

Background …

LOHAS Asia is in direct partnership with the USA-based LOHAS.com, which has been successfully organising LOHAS Forums for the past 17 years. The LOHAS Asia Forum 2014 (Hong Kong) will coincide with the 3rd annual Hong Kong LOHAS Expo, the biggest LOHAS industry tradeshow in the region.

The LOHAS Asia Forum website contains more information about the event, including daily programmes, featured speakers, networking opportunities and an easy online registration process: www.lohasasiaforum.com 

Creativity ≠ Innovation: Building Your System for Reliable Innovation

Friday, January 3, 2014 by

Buyers beware: Creativity alone does not ensure innovation. 

The World Database of Innovation initiative shows that more than half of the world’s 7,000+ innovation consultancies provide a creative process or “Invention Methodology”.  Because of this and some very good PR for processes like Design Thinking, the world has begun to equate the creative process with Innovation Management.  And while the creative process is very important, the initiative has found that it is only one piece of the puzzle; only one part of what it takes for a company to innovate.   

To make innovation or “future top-line growth” repeatable and reliable large companies must build a complete Innovation Management System that supports bringing new things through their organization and to the world. 

Before we get into this, let’s make sure we are on the same page with our preferred definitions:

  • Innovation: a thing that has already changed human behavior on a wide scale.  Usually, an innovation has added to a company’s top line, or has changed a societies belief.  It is distinct from and “Invention”.
  • Innovation Management: a complete system that builds a path through a human organization so that it can repeatedly create innovations and do so more reliably.
  • Why we care about innovation:  Companies care about innovation management for two reasons:  1) Survival – it should allow you to simply keep up with competition 2) The more inspiring goal: it creates an ability to create one’s future and reliably grow.

The World Database of Innovation (the "initiative") began 7 years ago with the mission to uncover an evidence base (statistics) to support or disprove the world’s many innovation practices.  The initiative studied thousands of the highest performing companies and found that they share a handful of processes, structures, people management approaches, belief systems, and cultures.  For companies that are facing growth/innovation problems, or for public organizations that want to more reliably create societal change, below is a overview of five pieces of the Innovation Management puzzle you will need to address to achieve repeatable market successes.  

Structure

The initiative found the highest correlations in this category: companies that had good innovation management structures had some of the highest top line growth.

First, the innovation function reported to the CEO directly and the CEO was found to truly own innovation, not just simply to be on board or bought in. 

Second, the innovation had dedicated (untouchable) funding.  Just as one invests money in funds and typically waits for the investments to mature, a company must invest in longer-term things and wait for maturity or pay the penalty (in several ways).  This is a hard one for public companies who give and rip away budgets sometimes on a quarterly basis.  The vast majority of an average company’s overhead goes into supporting old products, so the most important thing here is to choose what portion of revenue you’re going to invest to create your company’s future.    

Third, the most reliable innovators also treat innovation as a risk management exercise.  These firms tend to build regimented portfolio and pipeline structures than spanned from the birth to the death of market offerings.  The pipeline usually included some sort of stage gate approach with distinct on and off ramps for new and expiring products.  Fourth, we observed that when high performers consider new market opportunities, the first asked whether acquiring or building the solution was the best approach.

Fifth, few firms have a system to at indirect competition but 84% of history’s market upsets came from industry outsiders.  This related closely to arrogance that we talk about below but can be taken care of with a team or service that has a smart way of combing the world for indirect competitors.

Belief Systems

Belief Systems are perhaps the most interesting part of the puzzle and the correlations found were quite strong. 

Amongst fast growing companies, a high percentage shared the believe that the future is not something set in stone; that is something that can be shaped.  Society primarily things the opposite is true.  Companies like General Electric, and Google who actively work on describing the future scenario they want to exist, and then set in place a plan and structure to create it are actually the most successful.      

There is also a surprising commonality amongst growth leaders in their definition of innovation.  Their definitions all shared three things:  1) something about changing human behavior on a wide scale,  2) innovation was defined as transformative,  and 3)  it was stated that innovation does not include incremental improvement.  The study also found that many companies had a higher purpose stated in their innovation definition as well as their mission.

In relation to this last point, there is also strong data to show that companies with a noble mission and those that know themselves very well are the highest performers.  See our piece on Patagonia and look at Medtronic’s performance through the 1990’s and early 2000’s.

And finally, Arrogance: we found loose but very interesting correlations between arrogance of leadership and company failure.  This is hard to identify objectively but there are many many documented cases of publicly displayed arrogance of leadership leading to blindness leading to partial or complete failure of companies.

Process

As we stated at the beginning:  the creative process is an important part of the puzzle.  It is not everything and with out the support structures mentioned throughout, runs the risk of being a pointless investment.  But the things that have been invented have come to be by some surprising common steps and “Invention Methods” as the initiative calls the 152 distinct processes discovered to date.  There are also countless brands of each of these 152 processes that help create market successes more often that unstructured brainstorming. 

Talent and People

There are many aspects of recruiting, managing, resourcing, training, and enabling people that we found at high growth companies but they all seemed to boil down to one thing:  get out of people’s way.  And the opposite side of this same coin: enable people.  Study upon study has shown that people are inherently innovative.  Sometimes we just need a teachable skill, money, time, or the right reward/recognition to express it.

Culture

The initiative found that culture is an important enabler or deterrent for innovation.  But, there was no common culture amongst high growth companies.  This piece of the puzzle is truly a menu ranging from tough cut throat cultures that force innovators towards excellence, to kind, accepting, well resourced innovation teams that cultivate and help inventors throughout the company.   The most interesting commonality is the level of connectedness of employees and division, and knowledge management or we could say “connectedness to the past”.

In conclusion, reliable innovation takes an entire system.  Companies must select and adapt the pieces above to create an Innovation Management System that helps them discover opportunities, invest in a set of potential solutions, test and improve and filter these solutions, socialize the chosen solution, bring it to market, and kill the old solution. 

And to repeatedly control the market you're already in, to invent new markets, and to change human behavior on a wide scale also requires choosing how to tie theses pieces together into an aligned system:  an innovation engine that hums.  

The best of innovation engines do a few things for companies: mitigate risk on of a company’s investments in new things, greatly decrease the cost of innovation, increase the speed, and increase the success rate.  But most importantly for all of the LOHAS brands, they secure and help you shape your future so that you can continue to be there to improve our world.  

Know What Chemicals Are Safe

Saturday, December 28, 2013 by

UNACCEPTABLE LEVELS examines the results of the chemical revolution of the 1940s through the eyes of affable filmmaker Ed Brown, a father seeking to understand the world in which he and his wife are raising their children. To create this debut documentary, one man and his camera traveled extensively to find and interview top minds in the fields of science, advocacy, and law.  Weaving their testimonies into a compelling narrative, Brown presents us with the story of how the chemical revolution brought us to where we are, and of where, if we’re not vigilant, it may take us.

Over 80,000 chemicals flow through our system of commerce, and many are going straight into our bodies. Even our unborn children are affected. Due to this constant exposure, we have approximately 200 synthetic industrial chemicals interacting with our cells every single day. Until recently, modern science really didn’t understand what that could mean for all of us in the long run, but that is changing.

Globally, disease rates are on the rise. Theories about the causes abound, yet the issues are complex and often muddied by the maneuvering of political and corporate interests. To explore different facets of common chemical exposure, Unacceptable Levels, was made in consultation with experts in multiple fields and is guided by a father on a personal journey as he attempts to bring these issues to light for everyone. Its primary goal? To determine whether we can prevent disease before it strikes us.

Unacceptable Levels opens the door to conversations about the chemical burden our bodies carry so that we can make informed decisions now and in the future.  The film poses challenges to our companies, our government, and our society to do something about a nearly-unseen threat with the inspired knowledge that small changes can generate a massive impact.

If you're interested in hosting a screening, please contact Susan Cann.

"Unacceptable Levels" is a no-nonsense documentary that will challenge everything you think you know about health, safety, and environmental protection."  - Beth Buczynski, ecosalon

Revolutionary Mindfulness for a Stress-less Mind

Saturday, December 28, 2013 by

We were listening to a radio interview we did recently, talking about the profound benefits of meditation. Deb had said, “Mindfulness is revolutionary because it changes us simply by being fully present, completely aware of just this moment.”

Which is absolutely true, but being in the present moment can be slippery, elusive, we want to be in Hawaii, start planning a Christmas shopping list, relive a disagreement with our partner, get distracted by the sound of the mail man outside or an aching knee. The possibilities are endless – all the many ways the mind can do something, anything, other than being present.

On average we spend our time either living in what-could-have-been, what-might-have-been, or if-only, or in the expectation of what-could-be or what-might-be. But the truth is no matter how much we try, plan, plot, arrange, have things to do, leave the house at the same time each day, arrive at the office at the same time, pick up the kids on time, we can still never know what will happen in the next moment.

We used to live next to a glorious river in Devon, England and walked beside it each day. It was beautiful, but as much as it looked like the same river, even the same water, it was constantly changing—the water was never the same as even a second ago. Likewise, we may look the same but the cells in our body are forever forming, growing and dying; we are continually changing and renewing in every minute, we just aren’t aware of it.

Realizing the past is already gone and can never be relived, while the future is always ahead of us and consistently unknown, the only logical way to deal with this awareness is to be present with what is, whatever it is, as it is.

Contrary to common belief, it can be immensely liberating to actually have nothing going on, to discover that the entire universe is contained in this very moment, to realize that nothing more is required than to just be aware and present. Imagine, what a relief! Finally, we can live without expectation, prejudice or longing, or the desire for things to be different than they are.

Being present invites a deep sense of completion, that there really is nowhere else we need to be or go. It’s impossible to think of somewhere else as being better, for the grass is vividly green exactly where we are. At a seminar someone once asked Ed if he had ever experienced another dimension. Ed replied, "Have you experienced this one?"

Right now, pause for a moment and take a deep breath. As you breath out, notice how your body feels, the chair you are sitting on, and the room you are in. That's all. It only takes an instant to be present. Or, as a way of reminding yourself, put post-its in strategic places around your home (on your bathroom mirror, the fridge, the inside of the front door, etc) that say things like: NOW is the greatest moment, Be Here Now; Stop, smile and Breathe; Only this Moment Exists; There Is Just This, NOW!

It’s also essential that, as our partner neuroscientist Brian Jones teaches, you tune down your sympathetic nervous system (the flight and fight response) and tune into your parasympathetic nervous system (the rest and relaxation response). You can do this through breathing and mindfulness techniques; learn more at revolutionarymindfulness.com

 

Mindfully Meditating In the Moment

Mindfully meditating on the flow of the breath naturally brings us into the present while bringing our awareness inward, rather than being focused outward. The breath is just breathing, and yet it is never the same, each breath is completely different to the last one. You can simultaneously silently repeat, "I am here, I am now, I am present! I am here, I am now, I am present!"

 

Practice: Being and Breathing Meditation

Sit comfortably with your back straight, hands are in your lap, eyes are closed. Spend a few minutes settling your body, being aware of the room around you and the chair you are sitting on.

            Now bring your focus to your breathing, just watch the natural movement of air as you breathe in and out. Silently repeat, "Breathing in, breathing out."

            Stay with watching your breath. If your mind starts to drift just see your thoughts as birds in the sky and watch them fly away. Then come back to the breath.

            Anytime you get distracted, bored, or lost in thinking, just come back to the breath, to this moment now. Silently repeat, "I am here, I am now, I am present! I am here, I am now, I am present!"

You can do this for a few minutes or as long as you like. When you are ready, take a deep breath and let it go, open your eyes, and move gently.

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Ed and Deb are the co-founders, with Brian Jones, of RevolutionaryMindfulness.com. Join to get our newsletter, free meditation downloads, community support, and learn to balance your nervous system. They are the authors of award winning Be The Change, How Meditation can Transform You and the World. See more at RevolutionaryMindfulness.com and EdandDebShapiro.com

The True Santa Is Within Every One Of Us

Monday, December 23, 2013 by

With all the fuss over what color Santa is, we thought it was good to remind ourselves that Santa is neither black nor white, or pink or yellow for that matter, as he is way more than skin tone. Nor is the true Santa just a jolly guy in a red outfit; he is giving, sharing, caring and kindness, and these qualities are not limited to color. Rather, he’s a remarkable example of great wisdom and compassion that we can all learn from:

1.     He makes us do good and feel good. Now that's a big one, as many of us often act selfishly and greedily.

2.     He gives, endlessly, to everyone, all over the world, all at pretty much the same time. This indicates a truly generous heart, one that takes great joy in giving, without needing to receive.

3.     Yet he does not give blindly. Rather he judges what is the most appropriate gift for each. This shows great discernment, as giving needs wisdom in order to be of most benefit.

4.     He encourages rituals and invokes magic in every child's life: letter writing, stocking filling, decorations, parades, milk and cookies. Ritual is an essential part of honoring that which is greater than us, and magic is the beauty of the unknown.

5.     He listens to our pleas and requests and reads our letters. Meaning that he takes the time to hear us and pays attention, which we could all do a lot more of.

6.     He has great psychic powers: he flies in the sky with reindeer, descends chimneys without getting covered in soot, goes by many names and forms, and is extraordinarily elusive. Has anyone actually ever seen him? The lesson here is that we can all do more than we think we can: we can practice random acts of kindness quietly, simply, without bringing attention to ourselves.

7.     He knows where we live. In other words, he is inside every one of us.

8.     Most importantly, he lifts our spirits at the darkest time, bringing us laughter and joy, which is undoubtedly the greatest gift of all. No need to spread doom and gloom, no need to focus on what is wrong with ourselves or the world. By focusing on what is good we not only bring a lightness of spirit to others, but we also get to feel a lot better too.

Through giving to others, a la Santa, we get away from selfishness and neediness, and in the process see our own self-centeredness in greater perspective. It connects us to the basic goodness within, a quality of kindness that is easy to lose touch with. Giving—whether a smile, our time, a listening ear, food or material gifts—is profoundly joyful, both to the one who is receiving and the one who is giving. The essence of this is an open heart, a free mind, and a blissful spirit.

If you haven't any charity in your heart, you have the worst kind of heart trouble. Bob Hope

True generosity is giving without any thought of getting or receiving; it is unconditional, unattached, free to land wherever it will. Through giving and sharing in this way, we soon find that we do not lose anything; we do not have any less. Rather, we gain so much.

We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give. Winston Churchill

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Ed and Deb are the co-founders, with Brian Jones, of RevolutionaryMindfulness.com. Join to get our newsletter, free meditation downloads, community support, and learn to balance your nervous system. They are the authors of award winning Be The Change, How Meditation can Transform You and the World. See more at RevolutionaryMindfulness.com and EdandDebShapiro.com