New Business Mindset grew out of my desire to explore what sets apart businesspeople who are fulfilled, happy and successful in their business lives from those who are less so. I realized as I reflected that the businesspeople I admired most were generally open, authentic, and in some measure risk-takers, and that a very large number of acquaintances from my business years were neither happy nor as successful as they would like, and were also in varying degrees closed-in. I had ideas and theories, but above all I wondered what this was about and wanted to explore.
So the radio show began. I came up with a list of folk I knew who I felt had something to contribute and invited them to come along and talk for 20 minutes in the studio. After a few shows I realized this was something special.
I don’t really know what I was expecting to happen. Maybe I thought I’d uncover lessons on authenticity that I could put forward as the quick fix for business success; maybe I thought I could put forward the conversations as models for others; maybe I thought I could be part of making a shift in corporate behavior. I suspect all of these were true, but I’m pretty sure that one of the most powerful consequences of the show did not occur to me: the impact that the show has had on me.
Early on I was led into a theses of the consequences of entering the now-traditional corporate culture, putting our heads down, and plowing through our work without engaging curiosity or intimacy. I found that my guests – people I regarded as interesting and “successful” – did not live this way, but rather looked at the world more openly and with much less fear. They were willing to put themselves out there and make themselves vulnerable. I found that they experienced others responding to their vulnerability and curiosity by moving closer and being willing to build trusting relationships. And out of those relationships my interviewees build business. They build financial success.
I also found that they built happiness, fulfillment, and those subjective measures of success which are based on much more than external accomplishments and making money. And along the way I found that they are fascinating, perceptive and self-reflective folk who have a great deal to teach me.
Every week Todd and I start with a reflection on one or two of our major take-aways from the previous show; and after each show is recorded, I write up the show notes to highlight some of the lessons of the conversation. Each week I am amazed that while there are recurring themes of intimacy and curiosity, these manifest in enormously diverse ways. Todd and I have come up with a long list of words – openness, risk-taking, transparent, etc. -that can be seen as subtly different perspectives, but it is in dynamic conversation where we don’t know what is coming next where we explore and shape and learn. Each week I leave the conversation enriched and with a greater sense of my place in the world.
A couple of years ago I moved down the path of consolidating the many faces of my life. Up to this point my roles as former-Zen Buddhist priest; business broker; training instructor and developer; interfaith leader; father; author; and tax credit specialist all had different faces, different online profiles, different business cards. I was forever shifting hats. Changing from this felt completely countercultural and quite strange. Though directionally this was where the New Business Mindset was leading me and felt “right”, letting clients and prospects know about my interfaith activities; shrinking my array of business activities; closing, consolidating and conforming my online profiles all felt risky. I had no idea where this would go.
On one very important dimension this resulted in reduced stress, greater sense of alignment and greater fulfillment. All aspects of my work and my life were headed in the same direction. I brought my spiritual and philosophical views transparently into my business world. I suspect I didn’t anticipate a big shift, since I was already leading a business life of high ethics, but knowing that anyone who spent even a couple of minutes looking me up online would see all of this must have changed the way I carried myself. As I moved into an integrated life, I know that my energy shifted.
As I moved into this space I developed the aspiration to be fully present in my business life; to listen deeply and develop skills at sensitive, intimate and perceptive conversation; and to put the outcome aside and focus on the relationship. In other words I developed the aspiration to live my spiritual practice to the full in my whole life. And as I look back on a year of the radio show, I realize that the conversations I’ve had with the wonderful guests who have been kind enough to come into the studio and share themselves have been transformative. My guests have been training me to live an authentic life, to integrate spirituality and business.
There is another consequence I’ve realized recently: I have become more successful financially. Last year I made a lot of money and this year is off to an even better start. I am finding that by participating in and imbibing deeply the lessons of the show, I have become a walking case study of the New Business Mindset. Of course I can’t see what that means to others, but for me it has led directly to greater happiness and fulfillment and, for reasons beyond my control and intent, to greater financial success.
In the same way that I have recently realized the real reason I engage in social justice work is that it forms part of my own spiritual practice (most recently in A Service Agency Awakening) , I now realize that the most amazing thing about the New Business Mindset show is that I started it with a view to educating others, but ended up instead transforming myself.
If you are interested in learning more about “A New Business Mindset,” a project that includes writings, courses, presentations and a podcast/radio show, visit the “A New Business Mindset” page of my website or sign up for the mailing list