Wednesday, November 29, 2006

World Wide Launch

On November 24th the world wide launch of Zentrepreneurism took place in Vancouver B.C. Canada. The idea that became a book has now become a global movement. To catch the zenergy and excitement of this event go to .

"First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win"- Gandhi

Thursday, June 01, 2006


Well, I am happy to report that the baby has given birth. After 1.5 years of labour, my first attempt at literary genius has resulted in the birth of Zentreprenuerism- A Twenty-first Century Guide to the New World of Business. The official launch will be June 20th at which time we will have a VIP reception and book signing at Cecil Green Park on the campus of the University of British Columbia. In that very same building some 26 years ago I was the resident Director of Alumni Fund Raising, so it's a full circle return to where it all began.

Many friends, colleagues, and business associates have been confirmed to attend. The media have also been invited through my publicist who is arranging an Alberta book tour in early August and a Toronto junket in September. For those of you who have been regular readers of this blog, my apologies for not being current in my postings, however as you can see I have been otherwise pre-occupied. As you know the original title of the book was to have been called "Buddha in the Board Room", however as catchy as the title was, it didn't resonate for me, given my limited knowledge of buddhism. Being the voice and messenger for Zentrepreneruism had a better feel to it and indeed came from a truer place. The book will be available on-line at our new website currently being developed at after June 20th. I will also post excerpts from the book here on this blog.

To give you some idea of the nature of the book, here are some highlights from the dust jacket book cover:

“We have a situation where we don’t trust our government or our capitalist system…the level of distrust right now is probably unparalleled since the 1930’s.

-Charles Lewis, Founder, Centre for Public Integrity.

People are expecting more from the companies they’re working for…more from the companies they’re doing business with and more from the companies they’re buying from”

-Sydney Finkelstein, professor of strategy and leadership, Dartmouth's Tuck School of Business


Not every generation is privileged to see the start of a future. We are — and in Zentrepreneurism, Allan Holender has acted as its revelator, its prophet, if you will.

We are used to thinking of prophets as heralds of a far-off future. But prophets simply crystallize what is ready to be born. The world of social and natural capitalism, the world of full-life living, the world of service coupled with entrepreneurial behavior that this book describes has been building for the past thirty years. Only now is it ready to shine forth in the full light of day.

With this revelation, the business world — and our personal lives — are destined to change.

There is little question that many of us today are seeking something beyond what the world has offered us to date. Whether your life reflects great success in your endeavors, or whether each day is a personal or professional struggle, work alone isn't enough for many of us now. Instead, we are looking for a whole-life experience, one where all the pieces come together. Work becomes love, love becomes living, and living is work. A life where our partners, our families, our businesses and our efforts merge into a single, harmonious whole — and where we measure our success in more ways than just the balance in our bank accounts.

Harmony requires as much from us as it gives us. We live harmoniously when our efforts lead to a more harmonious environment. Unsurprisingly, the pioneers who brought us simple messages about work/life balance and integration into a single whole have also pioneered humane environments that take as much care with the environment, with the community, and with the groups of people privileged to work together with product quality, service quality, and prudent fiscal management. Daily meditations, time spent with family and friends, and personal growth feature as prominently as do strong values, an insistence on excellence in every endeavor, a true accounting of materials and their impacts on the world around us, and attention to realizing a real profit from ethical efforts. These are a new breed of entrepreneurs — and they are the vanguard of a new world.

As a philosopher and a futurist, I was at first skeptical of Allan's zentrepreneurs . Perhaps that is part of acknowledging that I, too, am part of this wave of the future. I was certain that this New Age approach was a fad — sure to be tested and discarded when times turned tougher.

I no longer believe that any longer. Yes, many who claim to be enlightened capitalists will revert to hard-nosed behavior when tested. But the transition oulined in this book has legs; it will stand up to adversity. We are moving beyond simple remedies to more complex ways of dealing with the world — yes, even the hard right of neoconservativism is adapting slowly — and we are beginning to understand the fundamental connectedness of all the parts of our lives, our activities, our world.

Many of the zentrepreneurs do not actually practice Zen. Nor are they Buddhists, although the ideas of Gautama the Buddha permeate their thinking even as they are unaware of the connection. Some are devoted and dedicated Jews, Christians, Muslims — the list of the worlds’ faiths is long, and includes those who deny all faith. But throughout each of these seemingly disporate faiths runs a common thread of ideas and actions, approaches and ideals that is well illustrated by Buddhism, regardless of its form, from the Hinayana through to Zen.

Similarly, the many and growing number of Westerners — in North America, Australia, New Zealand, and Europe — who are adopting Buddhism and adapting in its forms to life in the West, are not necessarily Zentrepreneurs Those who find themselves walking this path need not apologize for such fellow travelers. But notions of a right livelihood are taking hold beyond both communities, for all of that.

Why are Eastern disciplines — Buddhism, Zen, Taoism — taking hold in the business world of the West?

The ideas of the East, with the concepts of balance and harmony as their foundation, are appealing to a Western world, which has spent many centuries driving hard toward its goals. Many business executives, after decades of hard work, suddenly turn around and realize that, while working so hard to be financially successful they have been missing out on enjoying life’s full potential. Others, observing their own business leaders, wonder if the pressures they withstood at work mean they, too, are working for an Enron — a company where employees were sacrificed to the driving ambition of those at the top.

Few Western business leaders become adherents of one or another of the Eastern faiths, although most of them have grown up in the West, especially in America. Most are fellow travelers, picking up on the spirit of the times by osmosis. But the search for balance and an integration of personal and home life, work life, planetary stability, and survival continues for all of them. In this book, Allan Holender reveals the stories of a number of these people, and the impact their new found practices have had on their lives, and their enterprises.

What makes Allan’s personal journey, also recounted in this book, extraordinary?

In many ways, Allan’s own story is every person's story. We are all taught by society to succeed, and to push to do so. One look at the junk mail folder every day shows the ever-increasing number of inducements to join successful programs, ways to get rich more quickly, and promises of glory. These programs are legion, and in the desire to improve ourselves- usually financially many of us take part in one or another of them. Even if we resist the siren call of instant riches, however, we dream of them — look at the people packing casinos, buying lottery tickets, and jumping from job to job just to get a raise.

In the quest for success, the real values in our lives can often be lost. Mere existence takes over. Coming to realize that …. and to seek out another way — is Allan's story. As the same realization dawns for more and more people in Western society, Allan's story becomes a symbol for everyone's story. That is why it is extraordinary.

What about you, the reader? What should you hope to take away from this book?

In the stories of the Zentrepreneurs, I found inspiration and challenge. You can do well and do good at the same time. You can have a life and a business together. As an employee, management, or the owner of a large organization, you can have these at any corporate level. In other words, although many of the Zentrepreneurs whose stories are told here have built their own businesses, that is not what is important. You may feel, if you are walking this road yourself, that you can only reach your personal vision and mission through the vehicle of your own firm. Others will, like Buddha himself, stay where they are, and let their actions in their cubicle begin to change the world.
It is not too late to live the fullest, richest life you can live!

Bruce A. Stewart,
Speaker, Author, Research Advisor and Consultant


I thought about writing a book two years ago because someone suggested that the title I picked was catchy, “Buddha in the Board Room”. At first the idea had some merit, but as I began to research Buddhism, and read every book I could find at the library, I soon found that taking a crash course on Buddhism didn’t quite resonate for me. So I began to explore the eight fold path of Buddhism and begin my own journey towards enlightenment. I soon realized that I was not coming from a total place of integrity. I did believe that I was spiritual and I did believe that I was on some sort of path, but I really wasn’t sure what that path was. I knew I wanted my life to be different, and I wanted to write about how in a simplistic way we could apply the eight fold path of the Buddha to the world of business and as a result how different our business and our lives could be, like the ten commandments of Zentrepreneurism.

I also began to realize how different our lives would be, because after all our business does affect our lives. So I decided to try one more experiment- I visited a Buddhist temple and met with one of the program staff. I felt a great sense of peace in the temple, but still did not feel at home. I think my greatest spiritual moments have come at the top of the mountains in Sedona, Arizona, or at the Mayan ruins at Chichen Itza near Cancun.

It was in that moment after leaving the Buddhist temple grounds, that I decided I could no longer live the illusion that I was going to be the Jew who became a Buddhist and instead I was going to write bout something I already believed in, a life I was already living and was passionate about. I also realized that being an expert on Zentrepreneurism did not fit either. Instead I did what I do best, gathered as much information as I could, read as many articles and books I could, interviewed as many people as I could, and then reported on these events in the book. I am a communicator, and so what better role to have as a first time author than to be the voice and messenger for Zentreprenuerism.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

What's Your Mission Statement

Structure is liberating: A monastary in the lowlands of South Carolina has some truly inspired ideas about work, life -- and compost.

By: Chuck Salter of Fast Company

It's morning rush hour in the egg house, and cartons of fresh produce are sliding off the conveyor belt faster than Augie Turak can pack them into boxes. Any minute now, the holding table will overflow with the fragile cargo. It's not the sort of predicament in which you would expect to find a software executive such as Turak. But then again, how many executives regularly take time off to work on a monastery chicken farm?

Just in the nick of time, one of the abbey's brothers quietly steps in and helps get the egg pile-up under control. The gesture reminds Turak, 47, president of North American operations for Israel-based MuTek Solutions Inc., a software-development-tools firm, of why he keeps coming back to Mepkin Abbey. "The attitude here is 'How can I help the community?,' not 'How can the community help me?' " he says.

A monastery may be the last place you'd expect to learn about running a fast company. And, in fact, the egg-house commotion aside, there's really nothing fast about life at Mepkin. The pace here is deliberate, the schedule is predictable, and the setting is remote. Located 45 miles outside of Charleston, South Carolina, the monastery sits on more than 3,000 acres of peaceful Berkeley County lowlands, amid stately live oaks draped in Spanish moss.

But a closer look reveals an operation that most corporate managers would envy -- one with motivated workers, a strong organizational culture, and no backstabbing. And talk about a track record: Mepkin is part of the Cistercian order, which was founded in France more than 900 years ago. Work is an integral part of these monks' faith. "It refreshes the body and mind for more-intense periods of prayer and contemplation," says Father Francis Kline, 51, Mepkin's abbot.

The self-supporting monastery has also racked up some impressive sales numbers: Its chicken farm generates annual revenues of more than $500,000, producing about 9 million eggs and 270 tons of compost a year. The rest of the operation includes guest houses for 1,000 or so annual retreatants, a 2,200-acre timber business, a Web site and gift shop, and a recently expanded botanical garden (which will open to the public by early next year). Mepkin's proceeds support local disadvantaged residents, in addition to covering the abbey's operating costs.

Not bad for two dozen monks (average age: 70) whose prayer regimen allows for just six hours of work a day. How do so few accomplish so much? By working with hardly any distractions, little politicking, and no out-of-control egos, says Brother Stan Gumula, 58, the abbey's business manager. Since the monks' trust in one another is unfailing, they are not afraid to admit to mistakes. A rule for the reverent: The sooner you can pinpoint a problem, the sooner it can get solved.

That's exactly the sort of trust and personal accountability that more businesses need, says Turak, who lives in Raleigh, North Carolina and visits Mepkin several times a year. Fearful of the consequences of their errors, workers often try to hide their mistakes -- a practice that eventually comes back to haunt them. "The monks understand that things don't always work out," observes Turak. "As they say, 'It's in the nature of eggs to break.' " That's the type of open atmosphere that Turak encourages among his sales crew at MuTek. "You feel secure enough to tell me about your mistake," he says, "and that only reaffirms my trust in you."
Of course, profit isn't the primary motive at Mepkin Abbey; serving God is. That mission is reinforced daily by tasks and rituals that are both sacred and mundane: the 3:20 AM church service, the Grand Silence from 8 PM to 8:30 AM, even the shoveling of chicken manure into compost piles. Everything that the monks do demonstrates their divine service and strengthens their community.

If the mission provides clarity, compassion is the key to the monks' harmony. "Even the just man falls seven times a day," says Brother Callistus Crichlow, 51, a former Wall Street computer technician. "If you believe that, you forgive others for their failings."
Commitment to such humble verities is what binds this eclectic group -- which includes a former clinical psychologist, a chef, a stage manager, and a fisherman -- and binds them for life. "It shouldn't work," says Father Kline. "The fact that we're here and that we're united says a lot about God."

Mepkin's ethos is one that overworked, IPO-hungry entrepreneurs would surely find eye-opening. "I think they may get a very different perspective on life and values other than making money," says Brother Gumula. "The monastery has a lot to teach simply by showing people the way we live."

The way the monks live also says a lot about how they treat their customers. Just now, Brother Gumula is on the phone with a woman from Florida, carefully answering her many questions about the proper use of compost on houseplants. It's a long conversation -- especially for a $7 order. (Ensuring quality and providing top-notch customer service often requires the patience of, well, a monk.) But Brother Gumula considers it time well spent. "It's not just that we want people back for another sale -- we do. But they deserve to open a carton of eggs and not find crushed eggs or manure smears. What would that say about this place?"

Although a company and a monastery are fundamentally different, the monks' sense of fairness and loyalty is good business and good for business, says Turak. And their perspective on work is healthy: "It is designed to provide us with food, clothing, and security, so we can do other things with our lives," he says. "That's something that the monks never lose sight of."

Chuck Salter ( is a Fast Company senior writer. Visit Mepkin Abbey on the Web (

Thursday, March 09, 2006


Right Reality: Rude Workplaces Are All the Rage

by David Batstone

You have heard of road rage - the behavior of unstable motorists who react to adversity on the roadway with all the aplomb of a toddler. How do you respond when similar rude and aggressive actions get played out at work?As job stress mounts, rude behavior at the workplace is becoming altogether too common. Sometimes the rage culture is set by a manager who chooses not to treat his or her employees with common respect.

I was a guest at a sales meeting not long ago where the manager berated his sales staff for missing their targets. "If your marriage is not in trouble, it's probably because you are not spending enough time on the road doing your job!" he yelled at top volume. While my jaw dropped to the ground at such naked disrespect, the members of the sales team shifted in their chairs uncomfortably.Rudeness can raise its ugly head at every level of an organization.

I worked in an office once where the administrative assistant to a manager - who performed mostly a secretarial role - terrorized the rest of the staff. She responded in such a belligerent way to most every request that we did everything possible to avoid her. I had to laugh at myself one day when I realized that I was doing part of her job; it was just easier to do it myself than prepare myself for an epic emotional battle over, say, photocopying.

No one likes a verbal lashing. But I find that the worst rudeness at work takes place over email. Workers at all levels take license to write things to their co-workers that they would hesitate to say face-to-face. The aggressiveness of a message typically amplifies over digital channels.No one should tolerate rudeness and disrespect at work. If tolerated, the enterprise will face a high cost in lower morale and productivity among the staff.

Christine Porath, a professor of management at the Marshall School of Business (USC), does research on the impact of rude behavior in the workplace. Over 90% of the nearly 3000 employees that Porath has surveyed claim experiencing incivility on the job. Of these, 50% report that they lost work time worrying about the incident, 50% contemplated changing jobs to avoid a reoccurence, and 25% cut back their efforts on the job.

Managers above all should take responsibility for nurturing a respectful culture. It starts with their own behavior, personally acknowledging employees who cross their path during the course of a day. They also set the tone in how they conduct work meetings and manage team projects. In concert with showing leadership, managers need to intervene whenever they see rudeness expressed on the job. A simple "We don't treat each other like that here" at times can get the message across. At other times a rude worker needs to be called in for an attitude adjustment.

Ongoing incivility cannot be tolerated

But it's not the managers task alone to be the nice police. The minders of the corporate culture can go over best practices with their colleagues that reduce work rage. Sure, it's partly a matter of convenience to write a worker an email rather than walk across the other side of the floor. But if the message involved personal matters, including conflict at work, it is much better to engage work peers in a face-to-face conversation. Email is wonderful for logistics and reporting, but it's lousy for respectful dialogue.If rude behavior is allowed to flourish at an enterprise, talented people who have self-respect will start heading for the door.

Professor Porath found that one in eight workers who were rudely treated by a co-worker left their jobs shortly thereafter. The only workers who stay in a rude workplace are the rage rovers.

Thursday, March 02, 2006


Ready to leave the company fold but don't want the door to hit you on the way out? Here's a guide to making a graceful exit.

From: Fast Company Issue 93 April 2005 Page 91 By: Michael A. Prospero

"I'm 40 years old, and I've worked in corporate America since I was 21," says Lisa Ellerton, who had climbed her way up through the insurance business until she was the worldwide operations leader for Royal & SunAlliance. One day, Ellerton asked her sister and her sister's friends why they didn't ever take time for themselves to go to the gym. The Orange County, California, denizens were all looking for something that was convenient but that didn't make them feel guilty for leaving their kids for the StairMaster.

In doing so, she joined the ranks of those who ditched the corporate life in favor of their own startup. Dropping out connotes '60s-ish notions of Timothy Leary and Easy Rider, but it's not quite that simple and doesn't come in convenient pill form. Making the transition from glass buildings, 401(k)s, and dental plans to a much more unpredictable but potentially more rewarding life involves planning, finesse, and a little luck. By the time Ellerton's first studio opens this summer, it will have been nearly three years since she envisioned it, most of that time spent working for the Man.

Tune in to ideas around you

Breaking out of the corporate grind starts with an idea, and the good news is that ideas abound in the work environment. Jason Finger and Paul Appelbaum's company started with a growling stomach. The two law-school buddies were regularly toiling away in their respective first-year associates' jobs and debating the merits of chicken lo mein versus pepperoni pizza when comparing the takeout options near their midtown Manhattan offices. Looking at the jumble of menus in their desks, and the hassle of remembering which client to bill, the two stumbled on the idea that would become SeamlessWeb Professional Solutions, an online food-delivery service for law firms, bankers, and so forth.

"We understood who the clients were, we understood who the users were," Finger says. During the cold January when he and Appelbaum were completing their plans, he couldn't help but smile every time an associate complained about venturing outside in the cold and rain for lunch, "because I knew that we could help people out with a real problem."

It was confidence in this idea -- or chutzpah -- that led Finger, just five months into his first job out of law school and $100,000 in debt, to leave a career in law behind. "A lot of entrepreneurs actually get their ideas for their business while working at a company," says Herminia Ibarra, a professor of organizational behavior at INSEAD and author of Working Identity: Unconventional Strategies for Reinventing Your Career (Harvard Business School Press, 2003). "They see a need that's not met." Finger has long since paid off his student loans -- and SeamlessWeb's 2004 revenue hit $50 million.

Take an idea out the door with you

Sometimes your corporate overlord hands you an exit strategy that's better than any severance package. Terry Moloney and Doug Dyer developed an idea for their employer that turned into their escape pod. Dyer, the vice president of wireless for Warner Bros. Online, hired Moloney to come up with content for the latest generation of high-speed, high-bandwidth mobile phones. "We thought, 'Why not put together a film concept that lends itself to small chunks?' " says Moloney. While the brass didn't express much interest, Moloney and Dyer didn't want their idea of original video content for mobile devices to die. Warner Bros. "wasn't playing in that space," says Moloney. "We decided, 'Let's just start this company.' " The two took their final bows at Warner in December, "and sort of took the concept with us," he says, starting MoPho last January. Opportunities for cherry-picking abound -- assuming, that is, that you know the difference between an orphaned idea and industrial espionage -- in the tech world, pharmaceuticals, and even consumer products. What would be a mere single for a big company can be a startup's home run.

Work nine to five -- then from five to two

Once you decide to make a move, there's inevitably a pause before you can follow your muse. Corporate dropouts concede that one of the most difficult things is to maintain the same level of enthusiasm for the job you're about to leave as the venture you're about to start. The little things, such as staying a bit later to finish a project or going out for drinks with coworkers, tend to fall by the wayside. Ian and Shep Murray, brothers who left the worlds of public relations and advertising to start a whimsical clothing company called Vineyard Vines, admit that clock-watching became the norm. "You work your job from nine to six, and all you want is for six o'clock to come so you can work on your business," he says. "That's when our day began."
Of course, it's not unnatural for achievers to wonder if they can pull off doing both the day job and the dream indefinitely. "Can we enjoy the security of six-figure-plus law-firm jobs and start a business on the side?" Finger asked himself. Ultimately, though, he realized that "the only way things get done is if you give it 100%. And if we tried to balance working at the law firm and the business, neither one would get a fair shake."

Corporate dropouts forget that the relationships they've built are part of an entire career story that they take with them. It's important they speak with their employer when going through the transition.

Turn on the warning lights

Dropouts also need to manage their exits carefully. "They sort of forget that these relationships they've built, the positions they've held, are part of an entire career story that they take with them," says Lisa MacKenzie, who left what was then Cunningham Communication in 1993 to start her own marketing firm. "So it's incredibly important for them to have a conversation with their employer when they're going through the transition."

Graceful exits aren't just a matter of honor -- or even of keeping doors open. They're good business. MoPho's Dyer keeps in touch with the people he used to work with because, he admits, his company could be using Warner Bros. content in the future. Plus, he adds, "You don't want to mess with the 900-pound gorilla." SeamlessWeb's Finger gave his law firm ample warning before he left, fully aware that his fledgling business idea depended on 900-pound gorillas like his employer as clients. Finger first presented his business plan to a senior partner as a friend's idea. Three months later, he again broached the subject, adding that he was thinking of leaving the firm. The soft sell worked, and he was able to circulate the plan in the firm, which ultimately became a beta client. In fact, the partner's initial enthusiasm was "one of the impetuses for us going through with it," says Finger.

Coworkers are a constituency that must be managed as well. Ellerton was already well into her fitness-club plan when she took a job with Arch Insurance Group in October 2003 to help overhaul its IT infrastructure, a post she accepted with the understanding that she planned to leave in a year's time to pursue her idea. But Ellerton "didn't advertise [her short horizon] within the company," she says. "I didn't offer it upfront, because what I was doing in the company was not incredibly popular." She knew that if she were viewed as a short-termer, her work might have been met with more resistance. "I still treat it today as if I'll be here for a career," she says.

Who are you?

Dropping out brings with it trepidation -- and not just with finances. "There's very much the identity that goes along with being part of a corporation, and that's a little scary to give up and wear workout clothes all day," says Ellerton. That's why it helps to have a partner. While Ellerton will be doing her yoga alone, SeamlessWeb's Finger and Appelbaum, MoPho's Dyer and Moloney, and the Murray brothers of Vineyard Vines all made tandem leaps. In the weeks leading up to their departure, Shep Murray would call Ian several times a day pretending he'd quit. When Shep actually gave notice, Ian understandably didn't believe him. When Shep finally did, though, Ian went straight to his boss and did the same. For the brothers, scraping by, even failing at their own thing, was no worse than toiling in quiet desperation. Says Ian: "There's always going to be a job out there if you're coherent and can put a sentence together."

Monday, February 27, 2006


Six Principles for 21st Century Leaders
By Prasad Kaipa

In my 15+ years of work with organizations and senior executives, I have found six principles, derived from spiritual literature, to be quite helpful in coaching executives to become successful in these times of great change. These six principles are interdependent and describe a cycle that when followed can help you develop new competencies and achieve higher levels of success.

The essence of these principles is self-knowledge. The more you practice the principles, the better you begin to know yourself.

Clarity of Intention

Intention is critical to achieving success. You may have an idea of the results you want and the direction you're heading when you take on a project, but most often you lack clarity about your goal, let alone knowledge of how to measure success if you achieve it.When the intention is not clear, attention drifts and leads to confusion. In such circumstances, you often end up compromising your own efforts and receive less than what you desire or even deserve. Without a crystal clear intention, you rarely experience a sense of accomplishment even if your more general intentions are fulfilled.To increase your clarity of intention, ask yourself the following questions:
What is it that I really want?
What evokes passion and joy in my heart?
How passionately do I feel about it?
What am I willing to give up (sacrifice) to achieve the desired goal?

If I have more than one intention, which one should I first attempt? These questions bring to the surface some of your assumptions and passion, helping you to prioritize your intentions (and hence your actions). Finally, exploring your intention creates a pathway to discovering your unique purpose in life. When you are aligned with what you want at head, heart and gut level, chances are your actions are also aligned, and you increase the likelihood of achieving the results you're seeking.

Constant practice helps you to stay focused on what you want until you get it.


Awareness is of two kinds: self-awareness and the awareness of the world around you. When you develop self-awareness – of both your competencies and weaknesses, you gain a better understanding of who you are and what you want, and equally important a clear picture of who you're not and what you don't want. Developing a deeper awareness of where others are coming from and remembering that you're also a player in creating the situation, you may be able to relax and become interested in others and their point of view.Awareness is dynamic. It is about continually being vigilant against complacency. You need to continually and dynamically reassess where you are with respect to where you were and where you want to go.There are four mental processes that act as enemies to awareness.

Personal Expectations and Standards

Everyone has their own set of standards and internal expectations. You pick them up from people whom you respect and like the most. Whatever their standards are, you attempt to live up to them even though your competencies and passion might not allow you to reach those expectations and meet those standards you unconsciously picked up. Only by becoming aware of those standards can you do something about them.

False / Incorrect Knowledge

You sometimes assume things about yourself and others that are plainly not true. Because you didn't face any challenges when you first assumed them, you sometimes take it for granted that they must be true. And if you get some proof that you might be right in one extreme condition, you may think that your assumptions are universally true. This is the source of your misidentified and incorrect knowledge. Once you have such knowledge, you rarely verify that in the real world and it becomes a block to awareness.

Wild Imagination (and attachment to it)

There is time for dreaming and fantasizing, and there is time for focusing and getting things done. Unfortunately, imagination can at times be so seductive that you're unwilling to accept that it is fantasy–not reality–and then it becomes a block to awareness.

Memory of Past Successes and Failures

Faulty memory can also trap you into believing that your memory is right and the new data is wrong. And often past successes are bigger blocks to awareness than past failures. Of course, failure is a stepping stone to success if you can learn from it, but it is not commonly done.

Developing and practicing awareness requires becoming mindful of your own thoughts, feelings and body sensations. They give you early warning signals if you pay attention. You can become aware of your own thought processes by using reflective or contemplative practices, writing a journal regularly and continual examination of your intentions. Most awareness is tacit, but you can learn to pay better attention to your body signals, pains and pleasures, and energy shifts. They tell you to slow down your actions and reflect on the meaning of those body signals. The more aware you are of yourself, the sharper your senses become in observing your surroundings.


While clarity of intention and awareness set you onto the path to success, empathy and compassion helps you to gain the support of others.Empathy is the foundation for emotional intelligence. By being kind and empathetic, you allow yourself to build lasting relationships with your colleagues, employees and customers. When the situation has conflicts and divisiveness, the attitudes of warmth and affection can diffuse the tension. At that point, it is possible to become open to the idea of further exploration for an amicable solution.The practice of empathy requires demonstrating openness, mutual respect and trust in your relationships. Deep listening–not just to the words but the meaning behind the words–is the foundation for an empathetic relationship. Sharing from the heart and feeling the pain of others nurtures relationships. Empathy begets more empathy and is the source of a creative partnership.


While empathy opens the door, appreciation welcomes you in. By appreciating and acknowledging others, you increase their state of happiness. They, in turn, reciprocate and contribute happiness back to you and others they touch. Appreciation is also about self-acceptance, as you can only appreciate others to the extent that you can appreciate yourself.

Self-acceptance accelerates the process of self-development. Unfortunately, most people rarely appreciate who they are and what they receive. Appreciation is not flattery, but rather a genuine acknowledgment of a person's contribution. Honest appreciation lets others know that you honor and respect who they are. It also boosts morale and amplifies what gave rise to that appreciation in the first place. Make it a ritual every day to find something positive that you have done or some contribution that you have made to others. Even if the work you have done has not yet produced the desired result, appreciate the steps you have taken so far. Similarly, appreciate what others do in their struggle to achieve the results they want. Be authentic when you give such feedback. Then you and the other person can discuss how to improve the efforts and get the desired results later on.

Stretching Beyond Your Own Limits

Your free will to take actions that stretch you beyond your comfort zone gives you the ability to change the course you're on. To do this, your intentions must be clear, active and flexible. In this stretch mode, you become immensely creative and passionate. Without such passion, you wouldn't even attempt to stretch in the first place.

Yes, stretching beyond your own perceived limits requires risk-taking, and people are naturally uncomfortable about taking risks and facing the possibility of failing. So-called 'failures' often create mental blocks and boundaries, most of which are self-imposed. By learning to stretch beyond your comfort zone, you begin to break through these mental barriers and discover your untapped potential. When you know that you're appreciated and not judged, you have an easier time to stretch beyond your limits.

To practice the principle of stretching the limits, find opportunities to learn and be vulnerable. Vulnerability does not mean being weak. It is about being in the state of not knowing and hence being open to learning. Your ability to learn is directly proportional to your ability to be vulnerable.The key is to be willing to fail and then ask questions instead of making assumptions. Practice telling the truth when you're not sure of what the implications may be.

Doing this serves to create an environment of nurturing and caring in which other people can also let their guard down and discover themselves to be bigger than they ever imagined.

Letting Go of What Doesn't Work

While the first five principles can get you to the edge of success, success eludes those who do not know when to let go and move on. By learning to let go of your old mindsets, you begin to discover new possibilities and new approaches. Letting go doesn't mean giving up; it means not worrying about the result while continuing to perform the action. That posture gives you the freedom to act in a relaxed yet focused manner and frees you to be more natural in order to bring out the best in yourself.

Letting go is also about flexibility and good judgment. When you know what to let go of and when to do so, you can take responsibility for what you can hold onto and for how long you must do so.The Cycle of the Six PrinciplesIntention provides the direction and focus for your actions. Awareness gives you the capacity and intelligence to go after your goal.

Empathy helps you to build partnerships with others, and appreciation is the key to motivation and productivity. Stretching beyond your perceived limits helps you to grow and meet challenges, and letting go of your attachments assures not only success but also accomplishment. And when you succeed in what you have undertaken, it is time to go back and clarify your intentions all over again as you set new goals. By practicing these six principles with self-awareness you can achieve not only success, but also self-discovery.

Prasad kaipa is the principal of The Kaipa Group, an executive leadership and business transformation consultancy.

Copyright © 2006 by Corporate Training Magazine Inc.All rights reserved.

"We promise according to our hopes, and perform according to our fears."-François de la Rochefoucauld, French writer, 1613-1680

Wednesday, February 15, 2006


Ping: A Frog in Search of a New Pond by Stuart Avery Gold

"While Ping's dreams got bigger, the pond got smaller."

In the tradition of Who Moved My Cheese? Here is a parable about change, overcoming obstacles, and making a leap of faith.

This simple, inspirational tale follows the journey of Ping, a frog in search of a new pond, preferably one good for long-distance jumping. Along the way he meets Owl, an insightful teacher who shares his wisdom, encouraging Ping to take an inner journey before pursuing his goal.

Ping represents everybody who has encountered a setback, needs to take a risk, or is struggling with the challenges of change -- that is to say, he is all of us. Owl is the mentor who helps him find meaning and leap to new heights. The adventure they embark on together is both engaging and revealing.


Excerpt from Ping: A Frog in Search of a New Pond


What matters is that you believe the following tale is true.

Personally, back at the beginning I had my doubts. And who wouldn't have some doubts when they first find out that the adventures described in these pages are, in point of fact, the transformative journey belonging to one of the pond's most enduring creatures . . . a frog.
Now for those of you who have just rolled your eyes, please don't be put off -- there is so much to learn. Despite the many bad things going on here on planet Earth, there are many good things happening too. And one of them is that there are still stories that can thrill the spirit and soar the soul.

This is one of those stories.

Long before you and long before me, long before there was the quicksilver of WiFi, broadband, streaming video, DVD, and VCR, long before there was television, movies, radio, and even books, there were stories that entertained, educated, motivated, and inspired. And while some stories passed down through the centuries were meant to soothe and calm and perhaps put the listener to sleep, this is a traveler's tale, meant to awaken the way within, showing the true purpose of the life journey is far more than a mere traveling to survive. Here is your invitation to leap at life's opportunities as shown through the heroic actions and revealing insights of one Ping the frog.

To verify this story I interviewed dozens of people, Asians and Westerners, Tibetan lamas and Zen masters, Burmese teachers and Taoist practitioners, cramming notebooks full before setting ink to paper. Some of the interviews took me to Japan, and some to China, and some to certain sages here in the United States. But alas, only a few knew Ping's remarkable tale, and fewer still could recount it from beginning to end. After all, this took place some time ago.

But the story still haunted me and I was still hopeful, so I spent many more months conducting research until, finally, blessedly, I was able to nail down an accurate record of the facts, which is how I can come to you vouching for this story's authenticity. And whether any of my efforts were worth it, is, of course, up to you to decide. After all, if history has taught us anything, it's that some stories are for telling. And some stories are for believing.

And the story of Ping the frog?

Well, that is a story forever . . .

Copyright © 2006 Stuart Avery Gold


For 1/10/06

From Iconoculture's Research Desk

What was top of mind for Americans in 2005? The word we were noodling on most? Tsunami? Nope; that was number 6. Filibuster? Number 4. Fact is, among the 7 million people who hit Merriam-Webster's online dictionary, the most sought-after word veered much closer to the heart of our national conscience. According to, we were most curious about "Integrity."

It's not the first time the daily news has sent Americans scrambling for definitions - in 2004, the most popular was "blog." But with integrity, we can't help wondering, were Americans really clueless about the word's meaning, or did they just need a refresher? Or perhaps they thought there were new shades of integrity for politicians, sports heroes and even the media? Contends Merriam Webster president John Morse, "I think the American people have isolated a very important issue for our society to be dealing with" (AP 12.10.05.)

We've seen the quest for integrity driving people's behaviors, too. In fact, it shows up in five of Iconoculture's Macrotrends. We've reported on ethics-seeking business leaders, professional sports teams, and even the CIA struggling to amp their organizational integrity, and move the needle on public perception. With this stir of I-word interest, we're not expecting mass recitations of a dictionary-perfect definition. But when it comes to evaluating people, companies, products, or whatever, we're betting most consumers know integrity when they see it.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006


The Top 10 Stories of 2006

By David Bathstone

You don't expect easy answers from the WAG. So I chose not to review the top stories of 2005. Any hack can do that. It's much more fun to feature what I project will be front page news in 2006. Ok now, look deep into the crystal ball...

1) More Boomers will stay on the job Fully 43% of the workforce is eligible to retire in the next ten years according to Business Week. But I anticipate that many boomers will want to stay engaged at work. In equal fashion, companies will beg boomers to delay their retirement as experienced managers and skilled workers become more scarce. Imagine...gray will be hip again.

2) Shareholders with a conscience will make waves General Motors could not ignore Kurt Kerkorian in 2005 when he took nearly 10% stake in GM and took target at its dysfunctions. With less toned muscles, expect a rising swell of social investors to use shareholder leverage to lobby management to make changes. Example: Green Century Capital Management, formed to put equity behind environmental ideals, owns shares of ConocoPhilips and ExxonMobil with the intention to keep management at the respective oil companies accountable.

3) The reason Y Companies will be eager to discover what drives 20-somethings today. It's not just how much generation Y spend, but how much they influence what other people spend - one in three consumer dollars according to one UK study. If I may cut to the chase, Generation Y cares about experiences, participation, and living for the Now. Delayed gratification does not resonate for a generation with an uncertain future.

4) White collar workers will tread water...and grow restive In 2005 corporate profits grew nearly 15 percent from the previous year. That is twice the pace of growth in compensation for employees. And what growth there has been in compensation has mostly concentrated at the top of the management food chain. Put simply, the salaries of most white collar workers are treading water, growing roughly at the same rate as inflation. While jobs were being cut, white collar workers kept quiet. As the economy grows, expect more boldness.

5) Corporate investment gets its groove back One financial theme dominated business over the past four years: cost-cutting. That trend will change in 2006. Capital spending will increase dramatically, especially in the areas of research-and-development and technology capacity. A survey of CFOs conducted by Barron's business review shows that 66% of CFOs plan to increase capital spending in 2006 by and average of 9% above 2005. Nearly half of the CFOs plan to increase their R&D investments. Caveat: Don't expect these investments to lead to a big jump in new jobs.

6) Healthcare benefits will stay sick More companies will demand that employees take control of their health care spending in much the same way employees took over management of their retirement funds. Healthy young people are ideally suited for these plans; of course, they are not the ones who usually need health care. I anticipate more corporate executives to join a growing movement of health care reform activists. Unfortunately lobbyists have bought the farm already, and the sheep won't say a bleating thing. Sadly, I expect nothing to change in 2006...only rising frustration.

7) Sweating out sweatshops Last April, Nike, Gap and Patagonia joined with five other clothing retailers and six grassroots anti-sweatshop groups to form the Joint Initiative on Corporate Accountability & Workers' Rights. The project establishes a single set of labor standards for apparel factories around the globe. Although a living minimal wage for each locale still may be far off, history is moving toward more universal guidelines. That trend will gain more momentum in 2006.

8) Ma Bell may have to live in a shoeTraditional telecom companies are in deep trouble. I am turning to the cable company for my high-speed internet access. I make most of my U.S. calls on cell phone, and I use Skype for my international calls. I may even get a Skype phone this year and then the cost of my calls will approach zero. I am THIS close to dropping phone service into my home. I don't see a glimmer of hope for the telcos.

9) Excessive executive pay...enough already Shareholder activists will target excess executive pay big time in 2006. Nearly 90 percent of institutional investors believe that U.S. executives are vastly overpaid, according to the survey results of a recent study by Watson Wyatt Worldwide. The final straw may be the latest exposé that many U.S. companies are secretly reimbursing executives for taxes they incur on salary, perks, and stock awards. Governing boards are starting to understand that executive greed damages employee morale and shareholder return. Expect a spate of boardroom conflicts.

Redefining retirementWritten by Carl Dierschow on 2006-01-04 17:56:39

Thanks for the great column, David, but I'd be even more courageous with your first prediction. I think we're on the verge of completely redefining the word "retirement". I see many older workers who have left full time employment, and now have shifted their focus to different kinds of contributions to society. If they need to work a bit to make some cash, fine, but that's no longer their focus. These people are incredibly valuable, but they're not "retired" in the traditional sense. They've learned that there's huge value (to themselves, and to others they care for) can come from following their passions. Which may well mean moving out of the traditional "workforce".

Everything ChinaWritten by Sarah Bell Haberman on 2006-01-04 11:51:47

In response to your top stories of 2006, I thought you would be interested in letting your readers know about this informative business radio series on China: American Public Media's "Marketplace" announced an ambitious series of live broadcasts from China Jan. 9-20, 2006, covering China through the stories of everyday Chinese citizens who each in their own way are influencing the global economy. Host Kai Ryssdal will present all three Marketplace shows with teams broadcasting from Shanghai, Chongqing (the world's largest city with 31 million people), and other locations throughout the country. Please contact me if you're interested in covering the broadcast, posting the information on your Web site and/or interviewing Ryssdal when he returns from China in late January. The following news release provides more information, including a summary of program topics. Sarah Bell Haberman (612-372-6441)

Employee OwnershipWritten by Wade Hudson on 2006-01-04 11:47:46

In the current Mother Jones Gar Alperovitz writes, "More people are now involved in some 11,500 companies wholly or substantially owned by employees than are members of unions in the private sector." I predict that this trend will continue, hopefully including firms that are controlled by employees on the basis of one person, one vote.

Friday, February 03, 2006


Good Company, Inc.: Bono's Red Revolution

Consumers with a conscience will soon have a new choice when looking for guilt-free shopping opportunities. American Express, Gap, Giorgio Armani and Converse are joining forces with Bono to sell their wares under the Product Red brand and dedicate some of the proceeds to fighting HIV/Aids in Africa. The initiative is expected to raise tens of millions in the next 18 months for programs targeted on women and children, but is also part of a revolution in marketing that other companies will study closely.

Product Red will be launched in the UK next month with an Amex credit card that contributes 1 per cent of what is spent up to $8,800 and 1.25 per cent on anything more. It will be followed by Gap T-shirts made in Lesotho, wraparound Emporio Armani sunglasses with a Red logo, Converse sports shoes made with African cloth and further products to be announced.

...Product Red [allows retailers] to bathe in the halo effect of Bono's star status and the satisfaction of doing good in Africa. And rather than spend millions on conventional advertising, the companies involved hope that customers will flock to them through the buzz generated by the campaign (including the free media coverage).

Wednesday, January 25, 2006



Press release from: Corporate Watchdog Radio

Corporate Watchdog Radio Launches Podcast

Already broadcast on radio stations from Alaska to Vermont, Corporate Watchdog Radio holds companies accountable for their social, environmental, and economic impacts

(CSRwire) Corporate Watchdog Radio (CWR), a half-hour show broadcast twice monthly, is a new hybrid radio show and podcast launched using both platforms simultaneously. Freely accessible on the internet, on broadcast radio, and through the iTunes Music Store, Corporate Watchdog Radio is designed for financial professionals, corporate social responsibility activists, and investors concerned about the social ethics and environmental impact of the corporations in their portfolios. CWR exposes corporate wrongdoing and applauds businesses that do the right thing.

The program investigates how corporate malfeasance can adversely impact the well-being of people and the planet, and commends companies making healthy financial returns by supporting social and environmental progress. With its lively dialogue and interview format, CWR teams journalist Bill Baue with environmental attorney and filmmaker Sanford Lewis. Baue and Lewis bring a wealth of investigative, legal, and reporting experience to the matter at hand. Lewis, a leading national expert on corporate disclosure to investors on environmental and social liabilities, has represented shareowners and activists for over 23 years, and has produced films on corporate accountability issues. Baue has covered socially responsible investing (SRI) and corporate social responsibility (CSR) for SocialFunds for half a decade.

Together, they analyze hot topics and breaking stories, and interview experts who are holding corporations accountable in traditional and innovative ways. On the latest show (available January 18) Lewis interviews Glenn Evers, a former DuPont scientist, and Attorney Alan Kluger, who is suing DuPont regarding Teflon. Evers, who worked for DuPont for more than 20 years, recently flagged concerns regarding health and environmental impacts of Dupont products used to coat fast food wrappers. Kluger has filed a $5 billion lawsuit against Dupont over the alleged toxicity of Teflon coated cookware. While the Wall Street Journal, MSNBC, and other mainstream media outlets have only skimmed the surface of this story, CWR distinguishes itself by offering in-depth exploration of impacts and implications--including the potential public health hazards the chemical PFOA poses in ubiquitous products such as paper wrapping for microwave popcorn, fast food, and pizza.

Lewis is himself a representative of DuPont Shareholders for Fair Value, a group of DuPont shareholders including Amalgamated Bank, United Steelworkers and others concerned about the financial impacts on DuPont of PFOA, the controversial chemical believed to be a breakdown byproduct of Teflon cookware and many DuPont stain- and grease-repellent treatments. Recent editions of CWR include interviews with Cristobal Bonifaz, lead lawyer in the ongoing lawsuit against ChevronTexaco for the environmental destruction of the Ecuadorian rainforest, and reports from Dow Chemical activist Diane Wilson, author of An Unreasonable Woman, just prior to her arrest at a Tom Delay fundraiser in Houston.

Corporate Watchdog Radio is produced for broadcast on Northampton, Massachusetts-based low power FM community station Valley Free Radio, a Pacifica network affiliate. Other radio stations broadcasting CWR include The Journey Radio webcasting from St. Louis, Missouri; WOOL-LP in Southern Vermont; WRCT in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; KWMD in Anchorage, Alaska; and WRFU in Urbana-Champaign, Illinois. Additional radio stations can pick up CWR from the Pacifica Audioport website or from the CWR website,

Visit the CWR website to subscribe to the low-traffic listserve for announcements when new programming is posted. The webcast and audio archive is available through the website, or as a podcast feed at and by searching Corporate Watchdog Media on the iTunes music store.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006



Introducing the Fast Company/Monitor Group Social Capitalist Award winners--25 entrepreneurs solving the world's toughest problems with creativity, ingenuity, and passion.
Because they can't stand a vacuum.

From: Issue 102 January 2006 By: Cheryl Dahle

The entrepreneurial mind abhors a vacuum. Market failures, unmet demand, even the maddening lure of a blank napkin--all beckon as explicit invitations to invent. What defines an entrepreneur (as well as an entrepreneurial organization) is that relentless problem-solving approach, not the specifics of the problem itself.

2006 Social Capitalist Awards

25 Entrepreneurs Who Are Changing the World

We typically associate such ingenuity with the transformation of problems into lucrative, shareholder-enriching companies. But the entrepreneurs you'll meet in this story are responding to a different sort of void. It could be the absence of medical diagnostic labs in the developing world, which is driving one organization to create a portable, disposable lab that fits on a plastic card. Or it's the empty shelves of a Nepalese children's library, which inspired another man to start an education juggernaut, building nearly as many new libraries each week as Starbucks opens latte-slinging storefronts.

These problems might exist outside the traditionally defined realm of business, but the solutions are elegant, creative, and entrepreneurial to their core. They're at the heart of the third annual Social Capitalist Awards, a joint effort by Fast Company and Monitor Group, the global consulting firm, to seek out and evaluate the cream of entrepreneurial organizations in the social sector.

Like their counterparts in the profit-driven world, our 25 winning organizations--winnowed from 278 nominations with the help of 43 experts--are masters at envisioning products and services that don't yet exist, marshaling resources, and crafting solutions that deeply affect their customers. The results these nonprofit organizations deliver hinge on business acumen and often reflect strategies that their for-profit brethren would do well to imitate.

Earl Martin Phalen, the founder of winner BELL (Building Educated Leaders for Life), came face-to-face with his inspiring vacuum while still a student at Harvard Law School. Phalen and several classmates volunteered for a mentoring program in Roxbury, Massachusetts. He remembers telling the kids, most of them from low-income African-American and Latino families, that anything was possible, including going to college. But when he and his law-school buddies sat down to help the students with homework, they realized the kids were years behind academically. "We left there really devastated," he says.

Phalen, an African-American born into the state's foster-care system, decided to do something about it. With a grant of $12,500 and a promise from his adoptive parents to cover his rent if he went broke, he launched BELL, a rigorous after-school and summer program for kindergarten through sixth grade, out of his Boston living room in 1992. Today, the organization serves about 7,000 kids in four cities. Eighty-two percent of them read at grade level or better, despite having started the program typically more than a year behind in reading skills. Phalen's key insight--the need for a tightly knit web of volunteer mentors, parents, tutors, and teachers to support kids--was derived from his own experience. "That drives me," he says. "To know that somebody [supported] me, and all of a sudden, it took my life from going to jail to going to Yale."

Our winners live in that opportunity gap, in the liminal space between jail and Yale. They know that they are always just one investor, or one good idea, or one great execution plan away from making a difference in a world measured in lives changed. (And they measure that difference with a rigor that would make a bean-counter proud.)

What follows is a look at the compelling solutions that organizations like BELL have invented, refined, and scaled to stunning effect, and the impact they produce on the ground for individuals and communities. Ultimately, these Social Capitalists offer a different model for harnessing creativity. They also offer a seed of hope that the world's most intractable social problems will yet find their match in the inexorable drive of the entrepreneur.

Fixing Failed Markets

Some of the world's direst needs for technological invention go unmet because the people who would benefit are poor. PATH, based in Seattle, confronts that market failure by driving low-cost technology for the developing world through partnerships with companies, governments, and other nonprofits. Not only a Social Capitalist winner, PATH was also selected by the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship, a partner in our competition, as an Outstanding Social Entrepreneur.

PATH's simple, life-saving solutions, such as clean birthing kits and disposable vaccination syringes that prevent reuse, belie the diligence and expertise required to produce these sorts of solutions routinely. In Zambia, where malaria causes 40% of deaths among children under age 5, PATH is part of a $35 million partnership to broaden use of simple malaria-prevention techniques such as insecticide-treated bed nets. "We think that if we can take the existing malaria-prevention tools to scale, we could reduce deaths by as much as 75% in the next three to five years," says PATH president Christopher Elias.
Then there is the "lab on a card" project, which promises one day to let health workers in poor nations diagnose the cause of a fever or diarrhea within minutes by injecting a few drops of bodily fluid into a credit-card-sized test kit. Originally funded for defense purposes to address bioterrorism, the technology is perfect for diagnosis in the developing world, which lacks labs with multimillion-dollar equipment and where patients typically can't wait overnight (or days) at a clinic for a diagnosis.

The card employs "microfluidics," which miniaturizes the necessary chemical reactions, making the process both faster and possible with tiny sample amounts. PATH has worked with a company called Micronics Inc., the University of Washington in Seattle, and Washington University in St. Louis to adapt the technology to illnesses common in the developing world and to redesign the card so it can withstand harsh storage and transport conditions. Field trials are expected within two years.

Across the globe, Phalen's BELL program is addressing a market failure of a different sort: a lack of consistent educational support for low-income kids in the United States. What makes the program so successful? Many students stick with it from kindergarten through sixth grade, getting seven years of mentoring, academic support, and exposure to positive role models during critical development years. Volunteer mentors, who include doctors, lawyers, and community leaders, reflect students' own cultural backgrounds. The program divides students into clusters of eight to maximize individual attention. And the screening process for teachers and tutors is extremely rigorous.

The results: All 20 of the students in BELL's first class went on to college. And on a personal level, there are stories like that of Robert Berryman II, a third grader at Mattahunt Middle School outside Boston. Robert has mild autism, as well as attention-deficit disorder and delayed speech skills. He entered the program at BELL two years ago--and in the time since, his father, Robert Sr., has noticed drastic changes.

"He's opened up more," Berryman says. "Before, he wouldn't talk. Now, you have to say, 'Robert, wait a minute please.' " Robert, wearing a bright white polo shirt and a grin, still has some speech troubles, but he is eager to answer questions, looking a visitor directly in the eye. "I like doing homework," he says, adding that his favorite school activity is tackling the narrative "story problems" in math class.

Berryman marvels as he watches his son. "Specialists, they say this isn't the same child," he says.

Crafting Elegant Solutions

Heifer International was founded in 1944 by a former relief worker who began sending milk cows overseas to give hungry people devastated by war a source of ongoing sustenance rather than a handout: "Not a cup, but a cow" was the idea. In the more than 60 years since, it has evolved into a powerful, integrated, and rapidly growing development model that promotes ecologically sound agricultural strategy, poverty alleviation, and gender equity in 50 countries by giving families livestock (or the means to buy it) and teaching them how to use that gift to enhance their livelihoods.

Key to Heifer's success is the requirement that each family "pass on the gift" by giving the offspring of an animal to another needy family. On average, that gift is passed on for more than six livestock generations, helping lift entire communities out of poverty, says Tom Peterson, Heifer's vice president of communications and marketing. "We visited a village in Mexico in the mid-1990s where Heifer had done some work a decade earlier," he recalls. "And this community was still passing on the gift. We met the man who had been given the original cow, and by then, he had 17 cows and a small dairy-farm business."

Before any project begins, or any animal or seed is donated, Heifer first requires a proposal from a group that already has organized for change. When floods caused by El Ni–o wiped out crops near the Portoviejo River valley in northwest Ecuador in 1998, Emilio Posligua Salvatierra and others from his community needed aid to rebuild. But the group had to conceive a plan and get the community to support it.

Posligua Salvatierra, then 25, admits that "at first, not everyone wanted to be involved. Many thought we were crazy." You can hardly blame them. The plan included unfamiliar ideas such as the implementation of "geomembranes," a woven mesh designed to prevent land erosion. Plus, as with all new projects, Heifer mandated that aid recipients agree to farm organically and commit to community improvement. Seven years later, though, Posligua Salvatierra's organization has grown to include 250 families and offers literacy programs and health seminars in addition to technical training on farming.

In nearby Cotacachi, Luis Alfredo Haro, 77, and his wife, Rosa, 63, have received Heifer loans and technical training to expand and improve their small farm. They have bought guinea pigs and materials to build a pen. In return they agreed to plant alfalfa to feed the animals, then use their manure for fertilizer. The guinea pigs are sold at the local market. The bargain has worked out well. The increase in crop yield is crucial in helping the Haros feed themselves, their daughter, and her 12 children. Rosa describes Heifer's role in her family's survival succinctly: "We never thought we could get this kind of help," she says. "If it weren't for Heifer, we'd have nothing at all."

Trafficking in books rather than livestock, First Book has built a similarly elegant model that has put more than 35 million children's books into kids' hands since its founding in 1992. Its technology-driven distribution channel uses donated warehouse space and exploits inefficiencies in the publishing industry to deliver cheap or free children's books to more than 15,000 community-based literacy programs, while delivering real value and even profits to its corporate partners.

The organization's most recent innovation is First Book Marketplace, a Web site that connects publishers to the buying power of its network of nonprofits. First Book arranges and purchases whole press runs of children's books, which it then sells at discounted rates--and earns between 20 and 50 cents per book sold. Publishers get both access to new consumers and guaranteed sales up front. "There's profit, the books are nonreturnable, and it gives us market penetration in a market that we hardly touched before," says Susan Katz, president and publisher of HarperCollins Children's Books, who says she anticipates selling several hundred thousand books through Marketplace each year. "What's not to like?"

First Book cofounder and president Kyle Zimmer expects that Marketplace will eventually generate 30% of her organization's total revenue. She's planning expansion on other fronts as well. First Book is reaching out to the rest of the 300,000 literacy groups not already in its network through an online registry in hopes of expanding its customer base. It's all about filling more of that void. "Eighty percent of preschools serving this population of children do not have age-appropriate books," Zimmer says. "It's a whole new pie in terms of consumer market for us to serve and connect with our corporate partners."

Tuning a Social Change Engine

If there is one thing social entrepreneurs know, it is the power of entrepreneurship to unleash human potential. New Community Corp. was founded in Newark, New Jersey, in the wake of the 1967 riots, which killed 23 people, caused $15 million in damages, and left the city's central ward in tatters. Originally focused just on providing low-income housing, New Community has extended its reach to virtually every aspect of life: education, housing development, job training, senior services--it even runs a popular jazz club. Teaming up with local businesses and universities, New Community is the city's ninth-largest private employer.

Homeless with a 4-year-old daughter in 1998, Renee Wilson, 44, initially came into New Community's fold through Harmony House, a transitional program providing shelter, job training, and child care. About three years ago, she became interested in nursing while reading up on diseases when a friend who was HIV-positive became progressively sicker. "That's when my heart really went out," she says. Starting off as a certified nursing assistant for New Community's nursing home, she realized she eventually wanted to become a registered nurse.
Now living in her own apartment with her daughter, Wilson admits that through the nursing program, she has become a different person. "I was a spoiled brat. I grew up in one of the best homes, went to college for two and a half years, but somewhere along the line, I got sideswiped. Thank God I made it back."

Accion international a founder of the microfinance movement, helps the poor become entrepreneurs. It has built a network of microlending institutions, many of which it founded. These self-sustaining lenders provide poor clients with loans as small as $100 to start businesses.

In Los Olivos, a suburb north of Lima, Peru, rapid change is under way. On a hot day in October, the sun beats down from a bleached-out sky. Unpaved roads are lined with cement block houses in various stages of construction. People build as they have money to buy supplies, so unfinished buildings stand as testaments to their ambition.

Edelmira Epifania, 55, is a resident of Los Olivos and a customer of Mibanco, a microfinance institution in ACCION's network with more than 135,000 active borrowers. She has worked all her life, often juggling more than one job. But it wasn't always enough to support her four children, and her husband's construction work wasn't always steady.

So she took out her first loan of 300 nuevo soles (less than $100) with Mibanco eight years ago to buy a food cart and supplies. During the day, she'd sell hamburgers and salchipapas (a dish of cut-up hot dogs mixed with potatoes) before heading to a night job at a hospital. Four and a half years later, she had saved enough money to buy a plot of land and start building a drugstore, Las Boticas 24 Horas. Why a drugstore? "There wasn't one around at the time," she says. "I wanted to be the first."

Today, Epifania runs Las Boticas 24 Horas with occasional help from her children. She sleeps in the back room, and there's a bell outside to signal when a customer comes calling, at whatever hour. Most of the money she earns goes into paying for the college education of her children.
Years ago, Epifania's father had his own cart, selling fruits and vegetables off the side of the road, and his income was barely enough to get by, let alone to send his children to college or own a business. Asked what her father, now deceased, would think about her owning a store, she blushes, her eyes dropping low, a wide smile breaking out.

When she looks up again, tears well up as she says, "He'd have been very happy."
Reporting by Alyssa Danigelis, Jena McGregor, Michael A. Prospero, and Jennifer Vilaga.

The Top 25 Groups That Are Changing the World

ACCION International
Calvert Social Investment Foundation
Citizen Schools
City Year
College Summit Inc.
First Book
Grameen Foundation USA
Heifer International
Housing Partnership Network
New Community Corp.
New Leaders for New Schools
Pioneer Human Services
Raising a Reader
Room to Read
Rubicon Programs Inc.
Teach for America
Transfair USA
Working Today -- Freelancers Union

Friday, January 13, 2006


Information on corporate social responsibility is readily available in print media (such as magazines, websites, and reports) but is much harder to find in audio, the medium that is gaining in relevance with the explosive growth of podcasting and satellite radio.

This week's releases feature an announcement by Business Ethics magazine about the launch of its new one-hour radio program called "Good Company" that broadcasts weekly on Sirius Satellite Radio channel 114. The show, hosted by the magazine's publisher and executive editor Michael Connor in conversation with CSR thought leaders, will feature an interview with Social Investment Forum (SIF) President Tim Smith and Interfaith Center for Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) Energy and Environment Program Director Leslie Lowe talking about shareowner advocacy this week starting on Thursday, January 12 from 7 to 8 pm Eastern Standard Time (see release for other air-times).

Speaking of shareowner advocacy, ICCR issued a release this past week on five shareowner resolutions ICCR members filed at Wal-Mart, which ICCR Executive Director Sister Pat Wolf characterizes as "a company in need of reform." These resolutions ask the company to address issues ranging from compensation disparity to sustainability reporting to toxic substances in its products to the impacts on public health systems due to the company's insufficient health care benefits.

NESEABuilding Energy Conference & Trade Show7-9 March, 2006,

BostonNESEA hosts Building Energy '06, the Northeast's premier conference and trade show for renewable energy and green building professionals and others eager to learn about "green" building techniques and products. Featuring in-depth workshops on a wide range of topics with leading architects, engineers, designers, product developers, builders, manufacturers, policy makers, planners, educators, utility executives, and green marketers. The trade show offers one-stop shopping for the latest green construction products and services. For more details, click here.

Ethical CorporationBusiness-NGO Partnerships Conference9-10 May, 2006, New York .

Over the two days, presentations from leading companies, NGOs and academics will focus on key strategies proven to build and manage successful Business-NGO partnerships. Participating organizations include Timberland, Visa, Shell, Merck, FedEx, Rainforest Alliance, PETA, Environmental Defense and many, many more! For more information click here.
Cause Marketing Forum Inc.Cause Marketing Forum13 June, 2006, New YorkAt this annual conference, business and nonprofit executives gather to explore how they can build stronger mutually beneficial alliances and celebrate the field's best work at the Cause Marketing Halo Awards. Learn from the experts at The Home Depot, KaBOOM!, Cone Inc., Procter & Gamble, Gifts in Kind International and many more. The year's best opportunity to obtain practical knowledge and develop valuable relationships with others dedicated to doing well by doing good. For more details, click here.