Disconnect to reconnect

What would you do if money was no object? To almost nine out of ten adults the answer is ”something else”. While you might find this sad (I do) it is also proof of a great opportunity. Organisations and leaders who doesn’t see people as a commodity to be managed in order to grow money, but rather see money as the commodity in their mission to help grow people, and society, is a new trend in Silicon Valley.

At the Wisdom 2.0 conference, held this week in San Francisco, people from all around the world gathered to hear tech-industry leaders talk about awareness, wisdom, and compassion in business as a way to make the world a better place.

Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh is on a mission to revitalize downtown Las Vegas, pouring $350 million into completely transforming the city into a hub of entrepreneurship. Beside moving his company there he invest in local businesses, tech startups, education, arts and culture. And just like that entrepreneurs now want to move to downtown Las Vegas(!) Hsieh evaluates his investments ROC—return on community.

Brynn Harrington, Head of People Growth at Facebook shared one of the KPIs they track as ”I spend……% of time doing what I love”. At Facebook they refer to the workplace as an ”own your own career-environment”. Brynn ended her presentation by quoting Annie Dillard ”The way you spend your day is the way you spend your life”.

While this is Silicon Valley and every attendee is carrying (at least one) connected device, there is an understanding of the great paradox. Many speakers pointed out the fact that internet is “hi-jacking our attention” and therefore there is a growing thirst for authenticity. We must slow down our minds to cope with the speed, and we must turn off our devices every now and then to be fully aware of the present moment.

Karen May, VP People Development at Google told us about Google’s Corporate Mindfulness program, titled “Search Inside Yourself”. Over 1000 Google employees have been trained in the course on how to focus attention and create useful mental habits. Today Google offer meditation or yoga to start all meetings.

According to Arianna Huffington mindfulness is becoming mainstream. ”CEOs are coming out as meditators.” She pointed to examples like Bridgewater Associates’ Ray Dalio and Salesforce.com’s Marc Benioff, both of whom credit their success to regular meditation practice. “There were 27 meditation sessions at the Davos World Economic Forum, all of them sold-out,” Arianna said.
She told us about attending the funeral of a friend, noting that eulogies never mention what made us successful in worldly terms. “You’d never hear a eulogy like, ”Mary was amazing. She increased market share with 112%. She never ate lunch away from her desk. It is time to redefine success.”

Eckhart Tolle gave us a “meditative lecture” leading the 2000 attendees on a journey inward “It’s an amazing thing, this present moment, but it’s usually overlooked. Most of our attention is on the endless stream of thoughts”, he explained. “And most of it useless”

So maybe the question should be reversed. What would you do if money did matter? And maybe the answer then is disconnect from technology.
To reconnect with people.

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