business

The morning routines of high achievers

Paul Shread, Time Business: What do high achievers do before breakfast? Perhaps surprisingly, the focus doesn’t seem to be on work.

In her new book, “What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast,” author Laura Vanderkam found that many high achievers begin the day with physical, intellectual and spiritual pursuits. Starting the day with a productive or fulfilling activity can increase your energy level and alertness for the rest of the day, she notes.

Early mornings of the people Vanderkam profiles seem to be filled with activities like rising early, running, prayer, meditation, yoga, walking the dog and spending time with family, not …

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How meditation can give a huge boost to your career

Aimee Groth, Business Insider: We recently learned that Business Insider program director Arden Pennell is an avid meditator.

Since we’ve heard of all the amazing ways meditation can change your life — some CEOs swear by it — we asked Arden if she’d be willing to share how she has the discipline to meditate every morning for 45 minutes, and what it does for her productivity at the office.

She says meditation can be tough — and even grueling or simply boring — but she’ll never start a day without it.
Below is a lightly-edited transcript of our conversation:

ON WHY MEDITATION IS BETTER …

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14 executives who swear by meditation

Jhaneel Lockhart and Melanie Hicken, Business Insider: CEOs have stressful jobs, and some have taken to intense hobbies to find solace from the daily grind.

Some practice meditation—or even Transcendental Meditation, a mantra-based technique derived about 50 years ago from ancient Indian practices.
We’ve compiled a list of leaders who say that meditating gives them an edge in the competitive business world. Some have even built it into their company’s culture.

Hedge fund manager Ray Dalio uses Transcendental Meditation to check his ego

Dalio — founder and CEO of Bridgewater Associates, the world’s largest hedge fund — has built many of the TM principles …

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Entrepreneurs’ secret anti-stress weapon

Jessica Stillman, Inc.: A new study shows even small amounts of meditation relieve stress and boost health. No wonder many business bigwigs turn to it.

Science and religion are often at odds, but at least occasionally there is convergence. Buddhist monks and devoted yogis have long contended that meditation reduces stress. A recent study agrees, even if the practice is stripped of any particular spiritual belief.

The randomized, controlled study was carried about by a team including a Duke university psychologist and an Aetna executive among others and was recently published in Journal of Occupational Health Psychology. The research assigned 239 employees to either weekly …

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Transcendental billionaire

Naazneen Karmali, Forbes: Every day busloads of tourists arrive in Gorai, a seafront suburb of Mumbai, and head to Esselworld and Water Kingdom, two popular theme parks built by Indian billionaire Subhash Chandra’s Essel Group.

Since 2008 the traffic to Gorai has jumped several-fold. Around 10,000 of those people are seeking something other than a ride down a water slide. They are going to the giant golden pagoda. You can see it from miles around rising from the trees in a sharp fingerlike spire aimed at the clouds.

The people are going to the pagoda to sit in Vipassana, an ancient Buddhist meditation style seeing …

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Meditation may be the key to business leadership

The Harbus: What do Steve Jobs, Ray Dalio, Bill George, Marc Beinoff and Phil Jackson have in common? They are visionaries, have been known to lead and inspire teams, and have achieved significant success in their professional lives. They have one more thing in common – meditation. Could their focus on contemplative practices have something to do with their huge successes?

Suken Vakil & I (Nikita Singhal), both OG, are looking to answer that exact question, and we’ve designed an independent study under the guidance of Prof. Sandra Sucher, titled Meditation & Business Leadership.

How did we get interested? This past summer, I …

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Wildmind is moving!

On Feb 1, Wildmind is moving to a new office in a converted mill building on the Main Street of Newmarket, NH, right next to the waterfall that runs over the Macallan Dam.

The place is still a building site, as you can see below, but you can also appreciate how lovely it’s going to look.


Grab the picture with your mouse and drag to move around inside the panorama.

We’ll post further news and photographs as things progress.

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Entrepreneurs more likely to turn to prayer, meditation

Entrepreneurs are significantly more likely to pray several times a day or to meditate, says sociologist Kevin Dougherty, a co-author of the Baylor Religion Survey.

The survey can’t answer whether prayerful, peaceful folks are more likely to take a business risk or whether the stress of a start-up drives folks to their knees or to the lotus position, Dougherty says.

Either way, 34% of entrepreneurs say they frequently look up to the Lord, compared with 27% of non-entrepreneurs. Nearly as many, 32%, say they look inward in meditation while just 22% non-entrepreneurs say they practice any of the eight forms of meditation…

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Management as meditation

wildmind meditation news

Dominique Haijtema, Ode Magazine: Your mind is like a wild buffalo.” This comment from a Buddhist meditation leader in Sri Lanka struck a chord. When I first heard it years ago, though, it didn’t work for me to sit still and concentrate on my breathing. And today, I still can’t calm my head. The thoughts tumble over each other. Did I call back the client? Have the invoices been sent?

I sit in an uncomfortable chair in a beautiful classroom in Amsterdam’s center. It’s the first day of a 10-week course, “Resilience for Managers,” in which meditation exercises play an important role. The group of managers is diverse and comes from the business world and the government sector. The motivation for attending varies from problems with stress and tension to the desire to gain insight into a radical company reorganization.

Meditation and mindfulness are essential for management, says course teacher Rob Brandsma, founder of the Dutch Institute for Mindfulness and Management. “How you deal with your emotions and thoughts as a leader has a direct effect on employees and organization,” he explains. “By meditating, you learn how to deal with stress and take your mind off things. It has to do with discovering consciousness and performing activities, such as meetings or listening, with more attention, whereby you function less on automatic pilot.”

More and more businesses and managers are becoming interested in meditation, according to Brandsma. The word no longer conjures images of vagueness or flakiness, but is increasingly seen as a practical method for stress reduction. And that’s hardly a luxury in these times of recession, job insecurity and economic turmoil. Many employees and managers fear for their jobs, or for their company’s survival, and those who are still employed are confronted with increasing workloads and increasing stress levels.

Many view meditation as a way to keep calm, cool and collected in uncertain times. According to Time magazine, 10 million people meditate daily in the U.S. No hard figures exist on the number of businesses that offer meditation. However, organizations such as Google, Deutsche Bank, AOL Time Warner and Apple let workers meditate. Meditation’s role in maintaining physical and mental health is also increasingly backed up by scientific research. According to researchers at the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind-Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital, meditating regularly results in lower blood pressure and less insomnia. Using MRI scans, neuroscientists at Harvard Medical School found that meditation boosts the immune system, lowers heart rates and improves circulation. Golf star Tiger Woods and Los Angeles Lakers coach Phil Jackson claim meditation is partly responsible for their sporting accomplishments.

Interest in the practice in countries like Norway, Australia and the U.K. is picking up, too. According to research from the Identity Foundation, even in conservative Germany, 10 percent of managers consider it “body building for the brain”; whereas sports train the body, meditation trains the spirit. The cliché image of Indian hippies and incense persists, according to Susanne Hauptmann, a German meditation teacher and yoga instructor who works with businesses, but once people give mindfulness a try, they’re usually convinced. “The positive effects, like relaxation, are quickly noticeable,” she says. Managers in particular report that meditation helps them achieve greater insights and make better decisions.

The advantages of meditation for business are clear. In 2008, the University of Wisconsin reported meditation not only improved concentration, but fostered feelings of friendliness and empathy. In 1988, Bengt Gustavsson at the University of Stockholm proved it enhanced the cooperation and communication of management teams. Meditation’s role in stress reduction is crucial for companies, too, since stress-related absenteeism is a big cost to business. Researchers from the American Institute of Stress estimated that stress costs businesses in the U.S. $300 million a year due sick days and lost productivity.

Jack de Graaf, manager of safety, health and environment at the Dutch biopharmaceutical company Centocor in Leiden, is doing research with Leiden University on the effectiveness of employee sport and meditation programs. Centocor, which has about 1,000 employees, offers on-site sport and relaxation exercises, such as ­meditation. De Graaf’s research found that only the relaxation exercises had a positive effect on well-being and absenteeism. While the sports program was mainly useful for employees who were already fairly healthy, according to De Graaf, the program for mindfulness and meditation was popular among employees with stress-related complaints. “Meditation might be laughed about, but there was definitely interest, not only from managers but also from production workers,” De Graaf says. “If I have 1 percent fewer absences as a result [of meditation], then … as an organization you can’t say no to that.”

R.W. “Buck” Montgomery is a long-time believer in the business benefits of meditation. He instituted regular meditation sessions at his Detroit chemical manufacturing firm in 1983. Within three years, 52 of the company’s workers, from upper management to production line employees, were meditating 20 minutes before they came to work and 20 minutes in the afternoon on company time. Within three years, absenteeism fell by 85 percent, productivity rose by 120 percent, injuries dropped by 70 percent, sick days fell by 16 percent—and profit soared by 520 percent. “People enjoyed their work; they were more creative and more productive” as a result of the meditation breaks, Montgomery says. “I tell companies, ‘If you do this, you’ll get a return on your investment in one year.’

If the advantages of meditation are so evident, why isn’t my course for managers in Amsterdam sold out? Seven of us are participating; the organization had hoped for 14. Those taking part don’t want to give their names or titles either—not because of any negative connotations around meditating, but because they don’t want to be seen as having stress-related issues.

Brigitte van Baren understands their reticence. She’s a Zen master and founder of Inner Sense in Laren, a leafy town outside Amsterdam. Inner Sense offers leadership training in the Netherlands, Germany and England, with mindfulness a core part of the instruction. “‘Meditation’ is still a loaded word and is still too much ­associated with religion,” says Van Baren. “I prefer to speak of attention training, mindfulness and meaningfulness. Managers and businesses can deal better with these concepts. If you call it ‘learning to focus’ instead of meditation, it’s the same thing, but it sounds less flaky.”

In India, managers aren’t as shy about combining management and meditation. Meditation is, in fact, seen as an essential part of leadership. Apoorva Lochan, director of the recruitment and training firm Cerebral Solutions in New Delhi, meditates daily for 90 minutes, something he believes everybody should do. Meditation makes him less reactive and gives him a broader perspective, Lochan says. “I don’t let myself get as crazy from stress or negative results. I am more patient with my employees, but also with my children at home. Cutting back on meditation in times of stress is about the dumbest thing you can do. I am convinced that meditation is one of the best investments an organization’s leader can make.”

Nevertheless, Van Baren has noticed less investment in meditation during the recession. This ultimately backfires, she believes, because work pressure and the resulting stress increase even more. “Before a meeting, if managers first take a couple of minutes to be still and focus on what is most important to them,” she says, “they will get results faster.”

How managers deal with stress and tension, according to Van Baren, is determined by an organization’s culture. If a manager leads by example and regularly creates an atmosphere of quiet and rest, it has a direct effect on employees. It will still take time before meditating is as normal in a business setting as, say, drinking a cup of coffee, but Van Baren is optimistic: Meditation is “becoming increasingly normal and people have more of a need to be meaningfully busy and to have balance in their lives.”

Meditation isn’t an easy fix, though. It requires discipline to train yourself in silence and attention, especially for managers, who are focused on “doing” rather than “being” or “feeling.” Often it isn’t the work or colleagues who cause the stress, the ­Institute for Mindfulness and Management’s Brandsma observes; it’s our thoughts, ambitions and judgments. Work will always be stressful, so the trick is not so much to eliminate stress but to deal with it effectively and productively.

In a 2008 documentary produced by the Institute for Mindfulness and Management, Jon Kabat-Zinn, former director of the Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, explains it well. “You can’t stop the waves, but you can surf. Organizations are living organisms comprised of people who deserve and need real attention.”

Back in my mindfulness course in Amsterdam, we lie on our backs with our eyes closed, directing our attention to different parts of our bodies. Everyone seems to react differently to the exercises. Some people fall asleep; I become restless and feel the urge to move around.

There is no right or wrong way to meditate, according to Brandsma. “Try to observe without judging,” he says. “Look at which patterns you have discovered in order to deal with difficult situations. Many people are stuck in patterns in which they see no solutions, while sometimes they only have to take a step back or concentrate to understand what they’re about.”

During another exercise, we have to listen to someone for 10 minutes without interrupting, asking questions or reacting in any way. It proves challenging. We’re so accustomed to steering conversations and focusing on what we’ll get out of our encounters that we find it hard simply to listen to another person. Ten minutes of full, uninterrupted attention is difficult. “Everything must have to do with something or be of some use,” says one of the managers. “Just doing nothing is just not done. And so we often speak, work and live in a thoughtless way and miss many beautiful ­experiences.”

Of course, you can’t obligate managers to mediate, just as you can’t command someone to be spontaneous. The entire effect of meditation relies on willingness and openness. Mindfulness isn’t a recipe for instant problem solving, in professional or personal life. To relax, we need patience, trust and time, according to German meditation teacher Hauptmann. “Whoever thinks that meditation is a waste of time will never have the patience for it,” she says.

And what about that wild buffalo my Sri Lankan meditation teacher talked about? We can’t turn off the noise from our thoughts, according to Inner Sense’s Van Baren, but we can bind the wild beast. “More than anything, meditation has to do with the taming of our spirit.”

Dominique Haijtema still doesn’t meditate but is considering it as a way to minimize deadline stress.

Original article no longer available

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for stress reduction. And that’s hardly a luxury in these times of recession, job insecurity and economic turmoil. Many employees and managers fear for their jobs, or for their company’s survival, and those who are still employed are confronted with increasing workloads and increasing stress levels.

Many view meditation as a way to keep calm, cool and collected in uncertain times. According to Time magazine, 10 million people meditate daily in the U.S. No hard figures exist on the number of businesses that offer meditation. However, organizations such as Google, Deutsche Bank, AOL Time Warner and Apple let workers meditate. Meditation’s role in maintaining physical and mental health is also increasingly backed up by scientific research. According to researchers at the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind-Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital, meditating regularly results in lower blood pressure and less insomnia. Using MRI scans, neuroscientists at Harvard Medical School found that meditation boosts the immune system, lowers heart rates and improves circulation. Golf star Tiger Woods and Los Angeles Lakers coach Phil Jackson claim meditation is partly responsible for their sporting accomplishments.

Interest in the practice in countries like Norway, Australia and the U.K. is picking up, too. According to research from the Identity Foundation, even in conservative Germany, 10 percent of managers consider it “body building for the brain”; whereas sports train the body, meditation trains the spirit. The cliché image of Indian hippies and incense persists, according to Susanne Hauptmann, a German meditation teacher and yoga instructor who works with businesses, but once people give mindfulness a try, they’re usually convinced. “The positive effects, like relaxation, are quickly noticeable,” she says. Managers in particular report that meditation helps them achieve greater insights and make better decisions.

The advantages of meditation for business are clear. In 2008, the University of Wisconsin reported meditation not only improved concentration, but fostered feelings of friendliness and empathy. In 1988, Bengt Gustavsson at the University of Stockholm proved it enhanced the cooperation and communication of management teams. Meditation’s role in stress reduction is crucial for companies, too, since stress-related absenteeism is a big cost to business. Researchers from the American Institute of Stress estimated that stress costs businesses in the U.S. $300 million a year due sick days and lost productivity.

Jack de Graaf, manager of safety, health and environment at the Dutch biopharmaceutical company Centocor in Leiden, is doing research with Leiden University on the effectiveness of employee sport and meditation programs. Centocor, which has about 1,000 employees, offers on-site sport and relaxation exercises, such as ­meditation. De Graaf’s research found that only the relaxation exercises had a positive effect on well-being and absenteeism. While the sports program was mainly useful for employees who were already fairly healthy, according to De Graaf, the program for mindfulness and meditation was popular among employees with stress-related complaints. “Meditation might be laughed about, but there was definitely interest, not only from managers but also from production workers,” De Graaf says. “If I have 1 percent fewer absences as a result [of meditation], then … as an organization you can’t say no to that.”

R.W. “Buck” Montgomery is a long-time believer in the business benefits of meditation. He instituted regular meditation sessions at his Detroit chemical manufacturing firm in 1983. Within three years, 52 of the company’s workers, from upper management to production line employees, were meditating 20 minutes before they came to work and 20 minutes in the afternoon on company time. Within three years, absenteeism fell by 85 percent, productivity rose by 120 percent, injuries dropped by 70 percent, sick days fell by 16 percent—and profit soared by 520 percent. “People enjoyed their work; they were more creative and more productive” as a result of the meditation breaks, Montgomery says. “I tell companies, ‘If you do this, you’ll get a return on your investment in one year.’

If the advantages of meditation are so evident, why isn’t my course for managers in Amsterdam sold out? Seven of us are participating; the organization had hoped for 14. Those taking part don’t want to give their names or titles either—not because of any negative connotations around meditating, but because they don’t want to be seen as having stress-related issues.

Brigitte van Baren understands their reticence. She’s a Zen master and founder of Inner Sense in Laren, a leafy town outside Amsterdam. Inner Sense offers leadership training in the Netherlands, Germany and England, with mindfulness a core part of the instruction. “‘Meditation’ is still a loaded word and is still too much ­associated with religion,” says Van Baren. “I prefer to speak of attention training, mindfulness and meaningfulness. Managers and businesses can deal better with these concepts. If you call it ‘learning to focus’ instead of meditation, it’s the same thing, but it sounds less flaky.”

In India, managers aren’t as shy about combining management and meditation. Meditation is, in fact, seen as an essential part of leadership. Apoorva Lochan, director of the recruitment and training firm Cerebral Solutions in New Delhi, meditates daily for 90 minutes, something he believes everybody should do. Meditation makes him less reactive and gives him a broader perspective, Lochan says. “I don’t let myself get as crazy from stress or negative results. I am more patient with my employees, but also with my children at home. Cutting back on meditation in times of stress is about the dumbest thing you can do. I am convinced that meditation is one of the best investments an organization’s leader can make.”

Nevertheless, Van Baren has noticed less investment in meditation during the recession. This ultimately backfires, she believes, because work pressure and the resulting stress increase even more. “Before a meeting, if managers first take a couple of minutes to be still and focus on what is most important to them,” she says, “they will get results faster.”

How managers deal with stress and tension, according to Van Baren, is determined by an organization’s culture. If a manager leads by example and regularly creates an atmosphere of quiet and rest, it has a direct effect on employees. It will still take time before meditating is as normal in a business setting as, say, drinking a cup of coffee, but Van Baren is optimistic: Meditation is “becoming increasingly normal and people have more of a need to be meaningfully busy and to have balance in their lives.”

Meditation isn’t an easy fix, though. It requires discipline to train yourself in silence and attention, especially for managers, who are focused on “doing” rather than “being” or “feeling.” Often it isn’t the work or colleagues who cause the stress, the ­Institute for Mindfulness and Management’s Brandsma observes; it’s our thoughts, ambitions and judgments. Work will always be stressful, so the trick is not so much to eliminate stress but to deal with it effectively and productively.

In a 2008 documentary produced by the Institute for Mindfulness and Management, Jon Kabat-Zinn, former director of the Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, explains it well. “You can’t stop the waves, but you can surf. Organizations are living organisms comprised of people who deserve and need real attention.”

Back in my mindfulness course in Amsterdam, we lie on our backs with our eyes closed, directing our attention to different parts of our bodies. Everyone seems to react differently to the exercises. Some people fall asleep; I become restless and feel the urge to move around.

There is no right or wrong way to meditate, according to Brandsma. “Try to observe without judging,” he says. “Look at which patterns you have discovered in order to deal with difficult situations. Many people are stuck in patterns in which they see no solutions, while sometimes they only have to take a step back or concentrate to understand what they’re about.”

During another exercise, we have to listen to someone for 10 minutes without interrupting, asking questions or reacting in any way. It proves challenging. We’re so accustomed to steering conversations and focusing on what we’ll get out of our encounters that we find it hard simply to listen to another person. Ten minutes of full, uninterrupted attention is difficult. “Everything must have to do with something or be of some use,” says one of the managers. “Just doing nothing is just not done. And so we often speak, work and live in a thoughtless way and miss many beautiful ­experiences.”

Of course, you can’t obligate managers to mediate, just as you can’t command someone to be spontaneous. The entire effect of meditation relies on willingness and openness. Mindfulness isn’t a recipe for instant problem solving, in professional or personal life. To relax, we need patience, trust and time, according to German meditation teacher Hauptmann. “Whoever thinks that meditation is a waste of time will never have the patience for it,” she says.

And what about that wild buffalo my Sri Lankan meditation teacher talked about? We can’t turn off the noise from our thoughts, according to Inner Sense’s Van Baren, but we can bind the wild beast. “More than anything, meditation has to do with the taming of our spirit.”

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Why meditation has a place in business

Mindfulness is being championed by a growing number of high-powered firms, including Google.

Chances are that you’ll be interrupted before you finish reading this story, especially if you’re at work. It might be a phone call or a text message, a tweet or an e-mail. It might even be a real, live co-worker tugging at your sleeve. (Has it happened already? It’s OK. I’ll wait.) Studies suggest the average worker is interrupted once every 11 minutes; it takes on average about 25 minutes for that worker to get back on task. It’s just one of the everyday strains on the modern worker, and just one reason why some companies are incorporating meditation practices into the workplace, in a bid to preserve their employees’ productivity, never mind their mental health.

Increasingly applied in western psychology, the practice of mindfulness comes out of the Buddhist tradition of meditation, and is championed by a growing number of celebrities, athletes and executives. A report funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research defines mindfulness as “a kind of non-elaborative, nonjudgmental, present-centered awareness in which each thought, feeling, or sensation that arises in the attentional field is acknowledged and accepted as it is.”

If that sounds far out, its proponents insist it produces very tangible workplace benefits. “When we’re mindful, we’re able to work from a presence of mind that enables us to be effective and efficient,” says Maria Gonzalez, co-author of the new book The Mindful Investor. Her Toronto-based Argonauta Consulting trains executives in mindfulness techniques. She says the practice creates a greater calm, helping workers better manage stress (and with U.S. companies losing an estimated $200 billion annually on stress-related workforce issues like absenteeism and subpar performance, that can make a big difference to the bottom line). What’s more, it improves workers’ ability to concentrate and focus. “The workplace benefits are enormous,” says Gonzalez, whose clients include BMO Financial Group, Ontario’s Hydro One and the Conference Board of Canada. “There’s personal resilience, and the ability to sustain performance. You’re able to prioritize better, your time management is better. You have an enhanced ability to understand client needs. You’re also much more creative, and come up with better solutions.”

The highest-profile example of a company investing in workplace mindfulness remains Google. One of the search giants’ original employees, a software engineer named Chade-Meng Tan, has invested a portion of the loot he garnered from Google’s IPO to research the scientific basis of meditation’s benefits. “The short story was, I wanted to create the conditions for world peace in my lifetime,” Tan says of his efforts. In 2007, he created the Search Inside Yourself program under the sponsorship of Google University, the company’s in-house employee education apparatus. That program, which Tan estimates has served as many as 500 Googlers, led to his current role as Google’s head of personal growth.

Search Inside Yourself focused on developing workers’ emotional intelligence, and educating them about the scientific underpinnings of material that can seem a touch New Agey. It incorporated instruction on mindful breathing and listening techniques that would offer personal benefits for its students, but with an eye on improving the company’s bottom line.

“We do not just teach empathy and compassion practices,” says Tan, “we also relate them to the skillful exercise of team leadership and also use those practices as a foundation for developing business-relevant skills like conducting difficult conversations and developing trust in teams. The idea is to make the business and employees far more effective (and hopefully, more profitable) by developing emotional intelligence company-wide. ‘Spiritual wellness’ and happiness are just the unavoidable side-effects.”

Google has since created meditation spaces around its campuses, and employees have organized classes. Of course, most of the business world still needs convincing of the merits of mindfulness, but Tan is optimistic it will gain traction. He cites the example of HP, which years ago was considered an oddball company for its notion that treating employees very well could increase profitability. “Today, it’s taken for granted by everyone, at least in Silicon Valley,” Tan says. “Similarly, one day, there will be a company that will demonstrate that having employees practise deep mindfulness and compassion is very good for business, and eventually, it will be taken for granted everywhere. I hope that company is Google.”

[via Canadian Business Online]
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