More on following your passion

Scott Dinsmore of “” gives a down to earth, yet inspiring TED Talk on living on purpose here:  i’ve recently signed up and subscribed to several of Scott’s programs. One I am finding to be a particularly good value is called “Live Off Your Passion”. It is specifically designed to help those of us who have a hobby, small business or other “side hustle” activity that we dream of pursuing FULL TIME “someday”, but who find ourselves unable to quit our full time jobs just yet.  Enjoy the video, and if you feel moved to take the next step, you can purchase the practical, step by step program right here.

The MOOOCON Gathering:Fertile Soil for New Enterprises

In March I attended a business ideas and startups conference with about 50 other Seattle-area budding entrepreneurs. I came away energized, and made a handful of new contacts with whom I am now discussing one such project. Most important to me personally, I was able to influence my group to fold in sustainability and social responsibility as a necessary foundation for anything we may come up with. I owe a big thank you to the team of volunteers who organized the event, particularly Joe Hage, the moderator of the LinkedIn group “Linked Seattle” for running with the idea of a conference and getting it going in the first place. (You can look Joe up at There’s talk of a “MOOOCON 2” in the future, and I look forward to seeing what develops.

A Few Bits and Pieces

After a fairly long hiatus, I’m sharing several snippets in this post. First, I am working on a framework for a new initiative to propose public policy changes to address the twin issues of student loan debt and high unemployment/underemployment among recent college graduates. If I can be said to have a single crusade that is closest to my heart, it is to find ways to end the waste of human labor. I believe very deeply that there is a planetary ecology of individual human talents and giftedness. To my mind, all social change efforts come to fruition when proper balance is achieved there, by removing barriers to each person’s alignment with their highest and best purpose. Among Millennials who have recent college degrees, many have not obtained a first job. Others are underemployed (working part time, or in unrelated positions intended to be temporary).The combined percentage of these two groups hovers close to 50% of all recent graduates. At the same time, most are graduating with heavy debt loads that cannot be postponed for more than a few months, and can never be discharged in bankruptcy should the debtor fall behind in repayment. Once turned over to collections, interest charges skyrocket and begin to compound. This situation is unsustainable and unjust. I hope to create a framework for proposing some solutions.

Next, I’m looking forward to participating later this month in a workshop called “MOOOCON”. That’s short for “Making Our Own Opportunities Conference”, and it’s sponsored by The idea is to bring together interested people who want to brainstorm together to invent new professional opportunities, whether they are currently feeling a lack of challenge in their present career or are between jobs and looking. So far, about sixty people have signed up for this all day Saturday creative think fest. Some have been looking for work for a year, and I love the idea of people being inspired to take charge of their own futures by collaborating with others to create something better than that. Aside from obvious financial effects, long term unemployment is devastating emotionally and spiritually. This effort at self-empowerment has got to have a positive effect on folks after a sustained period of struggle. I have lobbied for the inclusion of a module exploring social enterprise, and will do more of that this coming week.

Lastly, the week’s news of the ban on telecommuting that Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer has issued has created an uproar. I agree with Wired Magazine that her heart is in the right place.http:// She is trying to create a cohesive culture in an organization that, by common consensus, does need some turning around. Most of the firestorm around her decision, though, has centered on the rightness or wrongness of the ban itself. I think if there has been a misstep, it has been in thinking she can singly perform such a heavy lift by fiat, without noticeably addressing the felt needs of her employees who do work from home. She will inevitably have to hear from them one way or another, and it is unfortunate that she chose to act in a way that appears heavy-handed, adding a PR nightmare to the task already at hand. Organizational change is no small thing, and it requires the buy-in of all stakeholders. Sometimes that can take a long time.


Why I posted the I AM video

There’s a message being pumped into the consciousness of every one of us who live in Western post-industrial societies. That message is one of dog-eat-dog competition. We are told that we should trust no one but ourselves to get what we need to survive, and that, at the core, we are genetically wired to fight one another off in pursuit of our survival needs.

I do not believe that to be true, and more and more research is revealing the opposite. The video I’ve posted explores the idea that we are actually predisposed to connect and cooperate with one another. There is solid research behind that idea.  Although the movie was released beforehand, the recent discovery of the Higgs-Bosun Particle, (i.e. the so-called “God Particle” found to be present in all matter in the known universe), adds an exciting new element to the discussion. I urge my readers to watch the film, and to reflect on what it might mean for you.

I Am…The Amazing Documentary About Human Connectedness

What Motivates Your Best Work?

If you currently work for someone else, does the thought of a raise, bonus or other financial incentive get you going in the morning? Are you excited by the idea of being recognized for your individual achievement with some tangible reward? If you work for yourself, are you excited about being the best in your business?

On the other hand, is it important to you to preserve sacred traditions with which you have been entrusted? Do you view your business associates as family? Do you value conducting business according to established standards?

These are just two examples of how one’s worldview affects business and work. There are many others. Depending on worldview, a manager might approach her employees a particular way, thinking it is the best way to do so. The employees, however, might not respond as expected because their own worldviews clash with hers.

The important lesson to draw is that human enterprise in this century covers a wide variety of worldviews. Effective communication depends on knowing what the core values are for each, and speaking to those values.  If I value collaboration, I will respond better to supervisory input that points out how my performance affects my team. It will do little good, on the other hand, to compare me to others who are set up as “my competition”.

Whether you are a business person, an employee managing up or down, or a member of any kind of group or team attempting to motivate and persuade others, it is great practice to understand the values and underlying assumptions of others.  I personally value a thoughtful, humane and respectful approach to and from other people, and I am undertaking to study and learn as much as I can about the worldviews that exist side by side in today’s workplace.  It is easy to miss the mark otherwise, with conflict arising as a result, but what a rewarding endeavor it could be for all of us.


Motivational Coaching Toward a Higher Purpose

I’ve run across my share of motivational speakers, workshops, and the like.  I almost always learn something worth taking with me and incorporating into my own life.  At the very least, it can be energizing to listen to someone who is excited about what they themselves are doing. Yet, at least here in the United States, the message is often coupled with an unbridled individualism. “Find your own north star!” they say. “Be your highest and best- blow away the competition!” “You will be able to come home and say, ‘honey, I absolutely crushed it today’.” 

It seems that this kind of thinking often accompanies specialization and sub-specialization. Being an expert in something is seen as the way to provide the most desireable lifestyle for me and mine. There seems to be no place reserved any more for the broadly educated generalist.

As President of Bennington College, Liz Coleman addressed this issue in her 2009 TED Talk. She expressed a deep concern that liberal arts education is ever more critical in our society. To paraphrase, she made the point that it is only through being broadly educated- only through a realization that we are part of a long history where deep questions are examined and re-examined and different conclusions reached- that we can face a future confident that democracy will be preserved. How else are we to know that no one individual has THE answer and all individuals are responsible to participate in the discussion?

This latter kind of thinking, and not the individualistic kind I first mentioned, is based on and encourages community. I think motivational talk and thinking are wonderful. Courage, commitment, excellence, productivity all can be their byproducts.  But I am disturbed by the lack of communal values expressed by the motivators. The message is basically “Learn from me, do what I do, think what I think, and you will be master of your own universe”. There is no mention of bringing others along (except, perhaps, family members who depend on the income), or of working toward the highest good OF THE GROUP, TRIBE, SOCIETY. I would love to see a new kind of motivational training that equips people who care about those things. Economic and political forces are afoot in the world that will eventually rip apart the things that hold civil society together, unless conscious workers engage in learning critical skills of group consensus, conflict resolution, and the other so called “Soft Skills”.  I wonder who can step forward to offer such training?


Is “Fair Trade” For U.S. Workers Too?

Reaching for my bag of coffee beans this morning, I took particular notice of the “Certified Fair Trade” sticker on the bag. It represents a coffee roaster who agrees to do business with coffee bean growers from developing countries according to certain standards. The growers are promised a fair return for their product and safe working conditions, making it possible for them to live a better life without creating dependency on aid programs.Empowering the farmers in such a manner creates hope, acknowledging their dignity and their contributions.

I was interested to see that the nonprofit agency behind the “Certified” sticker, Fair Trade USA, has a well-crafted statement of its Mission, Vision and Values that it applies to itself internally as well. I found it inspiring, and you can read the whole thing at My mention of it here comes from a hope I maintain, that we will hold ourselves to the very same standards here in the United States that the coffee farmers elsewhere are beginning to enjoy. American workers  deserve no less.

Starting With Why Part 2

I’ve been a full time worker more or less for the past three and a half decades. I’ve watched as information technology has made great strides, raising the bar for businesses in what is possible to produce quickly. In my opinion, this has been a mixed blessing for the people who operate the systems that produce the products, as more and more is expected of them while their rewards remain the same, or even shrink.

The language of marketing and production has come to dominate much of the way we relate to one another in the workplace. If you are not producing up to some standard you did not have a hand in creating, you are in jeopardy of losing your livelihood. This story is played out over and over again as I talk to friends about their jobs. And yet, should the whole setup implode, we have yet to come up with any reasonable alternative to a publicly-funded safety net for people who lose their jobs.

I got certified in Human Resources a couple of years ago because of concerns about these issues. I thought that I could help. I have come to realize that I can, but not in the ways I expected. I believe now that my legal training, time in seminary, and HR study all fit together.

With all due respect to the wonderful people I know who are HR professionals, HR is about one thing and one thing only: protecting the employer from litigation. Other purposes for the profession are articulated and given some air play when called for, but the legal liability issue so dominates the field that it has essentially taken over. In this litigious society, employees are seen as potential threats to the bottom line should things go awry. Polarization between owners and workers is often accepted as an inevitable reality, Unfortunately, if we hold to this view, the economic power is so skewed on one side that there can never be fairness without the voluntary goodwill of owners.

If someone must, I will speak for disenfrachised people every time. But I strongly sense that I  am called to frame the issues a different way. In a previous post I have called this “being a compassionate provocateur”. I will raise my voice to find a better way- beyond partisan language and beyond the frantic, desperate attempt at marketing oneself as a “winner” and not a “loser”. The occupations in which we spend ourselves and our time are not some Ayn Randian zero sum game; that is a bald faced lie. There is a place- a valuable place- for everyone on this planet to make a contribution to the greater good. Every time we do work that is in line with our own highest selves, we are advancing humankind. This is simply majestic, regardless of its economic impact.

If you believe that as I do, I look forward to shaping this message with you.

Starting With Why

Laurie Rosenfeld pointed out something valuable the other day.  As readers of this blog, what will you want to hear from me about why am I writing this? What is my motivation? What is my story? Why is it important to me that you hear it?I started this blog as a means of ensuring that the work you and I do is strongly connected to the passion and creativity we were born with. The title Beyond the Beehive is meant to encourage us to look beyond cubicle walls. The “office buzz” may hold keys to what’s really important, or it may be nothing more than a huge distraction from our real work.

What are your thoughts about your work? Do you feel aligned with your purpose? How does that affect you emotionally and spiritually? Let’s help each other tap into the best.

Forty some years ago, I remember having the clear thought that “the point” of my life was to find my intended purpose and fulfill it. Many wrong turns, blind alleys and locked doors later, I still do not question that there is an intention and a purpose.  In future posts I hope to share more about that. I am still very much on the journey and I hope I can offer something to help you on yours.

This is a blog about values- those I have clung to, and those I have ignored and failed to honor at times.  It is about helping people  find meaning and purpose in the work they do every day, using whatever tools are at our disposal.  And, although the Internet is a marvelous tool, my hope is that we use it not only to get information, but also to enable face to face, in-the-flesh conversation.  As Chris Brogan says, “Local will matter more and more”.