Mindfulness offers substantial benefits for both business and personal reasons. Innovation, creativity, improved communication and teamwork are among the many benefits of mindfulness. In this episode, author and mindfulness teacher, Susan Piver, shares her experience with us. 

Susan Piver is the New York Times bestselling author of eight books, including The Hard Questions, the award-winning How Not to Be Afraid of Your Own Life, and The Wisdom of a Broken Heart. Her most recent book is Start Here Now: An Open-Hearted Guide to the Path and Practice of Meditation.

Susan has an international reputation for being an exceptionally skillful meditation teacher. She teaches workshops and speaks on mindfulness, meaning, communication styles, relationships, and creativity. She has been a student of Buddhism since 1995, graduated from a Buddhist seminary in 2004 and was authorized to teach meditation in the Shambhala Buddhist lineage in 2005.

Known for her insight, clarity, and humor, Susan is as comfortable giving a 60-minute keynote to an audience of thousands as she is leading a day-long offsite for a small group. To audiences from London and San Francisco, Amsterdam and Toronto, and in interviews with Oprah, Ann Curry, Katie Couric, the New York Times, O Magazine, Redbook, and others, Susan’s mission is to teach everyone how to slow down, soften our hearts, sharpen our minds, and create a life of fearlessness and authenticity.

Transcript

Michael Krigsman:

(00:07) Welcome to episode number 163 of CXOTalk. I’m Michael Krigsman and today we are talking about mindfulness, and all the great things that mindfulness can bring in a business setting. And I’m speaking with my old friend, bestselling author, one of the top mindfulness teachers in the world, she travels the world talking about this, Susan Piver, Susan how are you today?

Susan Piver:

(00:40) I’m good Michael, I’m glad to see you.

Michael Krigsman:

(00:43) Well it’s great to see you to and thank you for inaugurating – I was going to say inaugurating episode number 163 of CXOTalk. Susan let’s begin by tell us about your background, you’ve written eight books, travel the world and talked about mindfulness so tell us what’s the common theme.

Susan Piver:

(01:05) Sure, well the common theme from my very first book was about asking questions before you get married, which was a long time ago, to my current book which is about how to start and sustain a meditation practice. The common theme is that all of my books are about something you do. There about a way to bring something that you may have thought was a good idea, very in principle and how to bring it into your life so that you can experience it and make it your own.

Michael Krigsman:

(01:41) So you’ve written eight books, and because I know you, you became a very very bestselling author and part of which was due to Oprah, so you have to tell us that story because it’s kind of interesting.

Susan Piver:

(01:58) Sure, yeah that was back when she had her daytime show on broadcast television, and I had written this book, The Hard Questions; 100 Essential Questions To Ask Before You Say I Do, because I was getting married and all the books were like dresses and flowers, and I couldn’t find anything that was about what I was interested in. So I just started writing these questions down to ask my then boyfriend who was kind enough to answer these questions with me.

(02:34) And then the book came out and kind of nothing happened and you know did okay and but I at the time had my own business. I was a book packager, so called which means combining a book with another form of media. And I was just sitting at my desk talking to a manufacturer in Hong Kong about paper stock, and my assistant said the Oprah show’s on the other line. So I was like, ‘I’ll call you back’. And I picked up and we talked about various things and they were thinking maybe we’ll do this, we might do this show, and it was like 10 minutes in when I realised this was a pre-interview.

(03:18) Anyway, long story short, I was on twice. The topic was a popular one and you know it was interesting…

Michael Krigsman:

(03:27) You were actually on the Oprah show?

Susan Piver:

(03:31) Twice yeah.

Michael Krigsman:

(03:33) Twice wow! That’s amazing, so anyway she made you a best seller?

Susan Piver:

(03:38) Yeah it was interesting; maybe your audience will find this interesting. There was lots of authors on the Oprah show and they didn’t all become bestselling authors. Just because they were on their people think, you go on that show and you become a bestselling author. And I did, not because I was a better guest or wrote a better book, but because the show focused on people doing my book rather than what I had to ‘say’ about what was in the book. So when you make something experiential like that for an audience, it just drives it home in a much more interesting way. So I think that’s why the book became such a strong seller and because it was such a strong seller I got to write other books and here we are today.

Michael Krigsman:

(04:18) Okay, so you are writing about mindfulness, you’re teaching mindfulness, and let’s begin, and there are a lot of practical implications of mindfulness for business what we want to talk about. So let’s begin, we hear this term mindfulness tossed out a lot

Michael Krigsman:

(00:07) Welcome to episode number 163 of CXOTalk. I’m Michael Krigsman and today we are talking about mindfulness, and all the great things that mindfulness can bring in a business setting. And I’m speaking with my old friend, bestselling author, one of the top mindfulness teachers in the world, she travels the world talking about this, Susan Piver, Susan how are you today?

Susan Piver:

(00:40) I’m good Michael, I’m glad to see you.

Michael Krigsman:

(00:43) Well it’s great to see you to and thank you for inaugurating – I was going to say inaugurating episode number 163 of CXOTalk. Susan let’s begin by tell us about your background, you’ve written eight books, travel the world and talked about mindfulness so tell us what’s the common theme.

Susan Piver:

(01:05) Sure, well the common theme from my very first book was about asking questions before you get married, which was a long time ago, to my current book which is about how to start and sustain a meditation practice. The common theme is that all of my books are about something you do. There about a way to bring something that you may have thought was a good idea, very in principle and how to bring it into your life so that you can experience it and make it your own.

Michael Krigsman:

(01:41) So you’ve written eight books, and because I know you, you became a very very bestselling author and part of which was due to Oprah, so you have to tell us that story because it’s kind of interesting.

Susan Piver:

(01:58) Sure, yeah that was back when she had her daytime show on broadcast television, and I had written this book, The Hard Questions; 100 Essential Questions To Ask Before You Say I Do, because I was getting married and all the books were like dresses and flowers, and I couldn’t find anything that was about what I was interested in. So I just started writing these questions down to ask my then boyfriend who was kind enough to answer these questions with me.

(02:34) And then the book came out and kind of nothing happened and you know did okay and but I at the time had my own business. I was a book packager, so called which means combining a book with another form of media. And I was just sitting at my desk talking to a manufacturer in Hong Kong about paper stock, and my assistant said the Oprah show’s on the other line. So I was like, ‘I’ll call you back’. And I picked up and we talked about various things and they were thinking maybe we’ll do this, we might do this show, and it was like 10 minutes in when I realised this was a pre-interview.

(03:18) Anyway, long story short, I was on twice. The topic was a popular one and you know it was interesting…

Michael Krigsman:

(03:27) You were actually on the Oprah show?

Susan Piver:

(03:31) Twice yeah.

Michael Krigsman:

(03:33) Twice wow! That’s amazing, so anyway she made you a best seller?

Susan Piver:

(03:38) Yeah it was interesting; maybe your audience will find this interesting. There was lots of authors on the Oprah show and they didn’t all become bestselling authors. Just because they were on their people think, you go on that show and you become a bestselling author. And I did, not because I was a better guest or wrote a better book, but because the show focused on people doing my book rather than what I had to ‘say’ about what was in the book. So when you make something experiential like that for an audience, it just drives it home in a much more interesting way. So I think that’s why the book became such a strong seller and because it was such a strong seller I got to write other books and here we are today.

Michael Krigsman:

(04:18) Okay, so you are writing about mindfulness, you’re teaching mindfulness, and let’s begin, and there are a lot of practical implications of mindfulness for business what we want to talk about. So let’s begin, we hear this term mindfulness tossed out a lot, and it’s kind of a fattish term but what has actually mean? What does mindfulness mean?

Susan Piver:

(04:39) That is a really good question, and you’re right people have all sorts of ideas about what it means. And we can offer a number of definitions, but let’s just go with this, mindfulness is the ability to place your attention where you would like it to go and then hold it there. And that can seem impossible in this day and age where so many things are calling for our attention and there’s a million screams and a million tasks and just a million advertisements, a million bits of information to parse. But actually we can have agency, over that thing in the inside that points here and there. We can actually choose where we would like it to go and hold their as I say, and he or she can control their attention, can control the world – maybe that’s a little bit of an overstatement, but not too much.

Michael Krigsman:

(05:38) So mindfulness is the ability to control your attention? Is that what you’re saying?

Susan Piver:

(05:44) It’s the ability to choose where to place your attention and where to hold your attention, that’s one way of looking at it.

Michael Krigsman:

(05:53) It’s a very simple thing to describe, mindfulness being where to having the ability to choose where to place your attention. But maybe elaborate on that because you know, in practical thinking we look at an object, we look at a situation, we’re in a meeting and we place our attention there, how is that different from mindfulness as you’re describing it.

Susan Piver:

(06:23) Well you’re in a meeting you say and you’re placing your attention they are, but are you really placing your attention there. Because what is most common for most of us is that our body is doing one thing, and our mind is doing something else. Your body’s sitting in a meeting, but your mind is thinking about what you want to say next, or your body is in a meeting and your mind is worried about whether you’re going to get your point across, or what you said 10 years ago, or whether you know, you have cancer or had for lunch. The mind and body’s split constantly.

(06:55) And when they synchronize as what it’s called in Western tradition, we relax, we expand, we are able to actually attend to what is happening, not what we think about what is happening. And we come into possession then of the second quality that is always paired with mindfulness, and that is called awareness.

(07:19) So, as we cultivate the ability to focus and be very precise and crisp with our attention something interestingly happens right alongside that, which is we see more clearly. We are able to see patterns we haven’t seen before. We have more insights. Our perceptions become sharper; that’s called awareness. So mindfulness and awareness are inseparable and often, of course now it’s just called mindfulness. And so that however only refers to 50% of the sort of treasure trove that you come into possession. When you practice meditation half is mindfulness, focus, the other half is awareness, you’re kind of your own brilliance comes to the fore.

Michael Krigsman:

(08:12) So mindfulness if we think about and correct me if I’m wrong, if we think about a business contacts, mindfulness means the focus on the meeting not thinking about, well what did I have for breakfast this morning and my foot hurts and what am I doing tonight. So that’s mindfulness, and when we have that kind of focus it allows us to have greater awareness of the present circumstances. Is that accurate what you’re describing?

Susan Piver:

(08:50) Yes, and it allows us to have awareness of things that we might not have even noticed otherwise. So as a meditation teacher, I have heard countless times from people who say there’s no way I can meditate, I can’t sit still, I have ADD. You know, most people are kidding but they are kind of aren’t kidding. I mean they haven’t been diagnosed but they feel they have ADD.

Michael Krigsman:

(09:13) Oh hey, I will raise my hand on that one okay, so please help me out here.

Susan Piver:

(09:19) The world has ADD and we live in the world. That is much more likely be true for most of us than you have a clinical diagnosis of ADD. Everything is cycling so fast, and then our business environments it is the utmost importance to be able to slow down – not because it feels better although it does, but because when we slow down we can manifest the qualities that seem to be most important in the current business environment, such as the ability to innovate.

(09:59) Nobody can speed through a meeting or an idea, or an email and also find what is innovative and unique and the thing they haven’t seen before. To see the things you haven’t seen before you have to slow down, you have to get off autopilot.

(10:27) Similarly you know, if the current business environment values not just the ability to innovate, but then the ability to iterate really fast, on the dot, that is almost synonymous with mindfulness. Without mindfulness, without the ability to focus, without the attention span you’re just going to keep shifting in the dark. And there are two other qualities that I would mention of the most importance of today’s business climate in the addition to the ability to innovate, and the ability to iterate is the ability to execute superfast, super clean.

(10:59) Everybody has to act like they are an entrepreneurial small business, and that means you have to work with other people and you have to be aware of what they’re doing, you have to sense how the environment changes. You have to be like an awareness Ninja to execute cleanly and accurately. And of course mindfulness – mindfulness awareness is another way of saying execute cleanly and crisply.

(11:27) And then the final thing I find mindfulness has tremendous consequence for is that way that most businesses now establish customer loyalty, this kind of boils my mind when I realise this is by having actual relationships with them that have human qualities, that aren’t just based on propaganda and you know trying to get them off the phone as fast as possible. Dial one for this and one for that, but to actually connect with human being, that is what creates customer loyalty in this world where word-of-mouth is king.

(12:13) And mindfulness or meditation is famously associated – not just with you know stress reduction and symptom reduction and illness and so on, but with compassion, with authenticity. With a sense of openness to others and you cannot, I don’t think treat customers the way we want to be treated now without that sense of openness and the willingness to actually care.

Michael Krigsman:

(12:48) Okay, wow! You have just laid a lot on us Susan. So, be a mindfulness Ninja, and if you are a mindfulness Ninja that implies you are focusing, paying attention, and caring. And therefore that implies that if you’re doing this in relation to your customers for example, but of course this would apply to the people that you work with as well, but were talking about customers you’re going to have better customer relationship because that sense of focusing, that sense of listening actually will come through and make a difference in those relationships with customers.

Susan Piver:

(13:34) Absolutely, absolutely. I fly around a lot as I know you do and this is just me but I always whenever possible I try to fly with JetBlue because one of their corporate values is kindness and humanity. I think they’re not being guessing about that. I mean you know like they’re singing Kumbaya and sitting around a campfire with me. But when I ask a question they look at me, when I feel like I’m nervous about something they attend to me. There’s just the basic human decency that is there and it is very different than other airlines.

(14:11) And I’ll add something else to the JetBlue shout out. Something else I would add to the list that we just described together, innovation, iteration, and so forth, and that is the ability to return to balance.

(14:27) We live in a crazy world. Things sometimes go your way, sometimes they don’t. Sometimes your ideas kill, sometimes they just tank. If you have a strong mindfulness practice, you have cultivated the ability to work with your own mind states in any extreme, and therefore know how to incorporate them and come back to a state of balance and open attentiveness. And not get lost in your hopes and your fears and your negative self-talk, or you’re positive self-talk but instead to let go constantly and return attention to the present. And the only place that things are happening are in the present so it’s very helpful.

Michael Krigsman:

(15:15) For everybody that’s watching I hope that you know we have a simultaneous Tweet chat going on on Twitter with pound#, somebody once accused me of not knowing Twitter because I said pounds, #CXOTalk . And we have a question from a top industry analyst in the software enterprise software business, Frank Scavo, who’s asking do you see a connection between mindfulness and ‘lateral thinking’ as taught by Edward De Bono. I’m not sure who Edward De Bono is but you might know, lateral thinking and mindfulness, creativity let’s bring that in.

Susan Piver:

(16:00) Well, hi Frank, what do you mean by lateral thinking. Does that mean the ability to think across multiple disciplines, the ability to think not just in your area of specialty I’m assuming that’s what it means, and I would say that yes mindfulness has tremendous application to live lateral thinking. That definition because it creates a mind that is flexible that is agile. It is very much akin to a body that is flexible.

(16:34) And so, in meditation, in mindfulness your focus is on the breath as in most practices, and went thoughts arise you don’t try to stop thinking, that’s the biggest misconception. No problem, you can think all you want. No need to stop thinking people! But when you notice you become distracted by thought, and you’ve lost the track of your breath you just let go, and come back to your breath.

(16:58) And every time you come back to your breath it’s like doing a curl, you know in the gym. It’s like you flex that muscle, you get lost in thought. You come back, another curl and so on. So, you create a mind that is strong and flexible as I say, and it’s not stuck on one point of view; one perspective. Because we’ve all worked with people, or had relationships with people that you can ask them a question 10 different ways, and they will always just give you the same answer that’s based in their single stationary point of view and you can’t get them to stretch their mind.

(17:37) Meditation is a mind stretching exercise, so I would say there is no doubt that it helps with lateral thinking because it makes you more flexible in your mental habits.

Michael Krigsman:

(17:50) And we have another question from Arsalan Khan, who asks can mindfulness itself lead to biases, and if so how do you deal with that.

Susan Piver:

(18:02) That’s a very interesting question, what’s the person’s name.

Michael Krigsman:

(18:04) Arsalan  Khan.

Susan Piver:

(18:06) Arsalan Khan, that’s a very interesting question, canmindfulness itself lead to biases? I would say no. Mindfulness in its pure form, it’s correct form, it’s ancient form does not in the sense that it doesn’t have a preference, which is I find very interesting as a puny human being I’m not capable of. But for the great you know mindfulness adepts it is said there is not a preference for pleasure or pain; it’s sort of seen as kind of equal.

(18:41) But of course we have great preferences, and so I would say if mindfulness is used to put across any particular rigid point of view then it is misnamed as mindfulness. And you know, it may uncover biases but that’s helpful, but I don’t think it leads to biases. But if you have, and the follow-up question to that it would be very interesting to hear what it is and if the answer was useful or not.

Michael Krigsman:

(19:11) So mindfulness then is the putting aside in a sense ones biases in order to – I was going to say being neutral, but it’s not really being neutral is it.

Susan Piver:

(19:27) No actually it’s the opposite of being neutral. It is the sense of putting aside ones biases because ones biases are most often an obstacle, an obscuration where you can’t actually see clearly. You don’t stop having biases because we just human beings. But you notice your biases and then you’re able to let them go, that is very powerful in itself.

(19:54) So then place attention on the present moment, which is just what’s happening right now is another way of saying what’s happening right now, and then you are not thinking about what you’re thinking about what’s happening. You are engaged, and it’s the opposite of neutral in that when you set aside your biases, which we use most often as protection for our vulnerability you’re exposed and you actually feel more.

(20:25) I remember once being quite surprised by this. I’ve been meditating now for over 20 years, and teaching meditation for eight years, and I remember being very surprised that rather than making me more you know implacable, it made me more sensitive. And I wondered what I was doing wrong until I asked my meditation teacher what was going on, and he said this was actually a sign of progress in the practice when you can feel more because you’re feeling those things anyway but use biases and prejudices and beliefs to actually protect ourselves from certain things. But when you stop protecting, that’s was called brave and then you can have the courage to execute your ideas which it really requires courage.

Michael Krigsman:

(21:25) And Constance D Wood, so again taking questions from Twitter with #CXOTalk, Constance D Wood asks what about multitasking.

Susan Piver:

(21:50) Hi Constance D Wood, multitasking is a fallacy. You can’t actually multitask, science has shown us this. However, we are all are accustomed to doing things you know, multiple things at a time. You’re cooking, you’re talking on the phone, your texting, you’re driving – don’t do that. But actually again research has shown that you’re not actually doing all of those things at once. You’re pinging your attention from one to the other at may be very very rapid pinging, but you are not doing multiple things at once. You’re doing multiple things concurrently very rapidly. So I hope that answers your question, there is no such thing as multitasking.

Michael Krigsman:

(22:38) Susan, now let’s talk about mindfulness in a corporate setting. And I know that there are a number of companies who are focused on the salesforce.com in their new office building I understand are building mindfulness rooms, and Google has embraced mindfulness. So talk about the harnessing of mindfulness is that even the right term in a corporate setting.

Susan Piver:

(23:10) Yes well this a really really really interesting question, and I hope it can be harnessed because it’s of utmost importance to be successful, and not just successful but satisfied. But this may be controversial, I have yet to see it harnessed well. I’ve seen a lot of corporations who are bringing in mindfulness programs. I was talking to one such company today, I won’t name, but a multinational corporation who is not quite sure why – and I’m paraphrasing here, that at an initial mindfulness session 150 people showed up. The second mindfulness session 30 people showed up. At the third mindfulness session like two people showed up and they sat there texting.

(24:07) You know, it’s not exactly accurate but the point is it just diminishes, so everyone can start a mindfulness practice in a corporate setting but very few can sustain a corporate mindfulness program and I really thought about that. I really thought about that because it’s not just corporations that have trouble sustaining a mindfulness program, no matter how powerful the research or how strongly the principles embrace it. It’s actually us; we human have trouble sustaining a mindfulness practice or a yoga practice, or an exercise or whatever you might want to do.

Michael Krigsman:

(24:48) Why?

Susan Piver:

(24:50) I’m fixing to tell you why. Like a month ago I was on a book tour and my book will come out this fall and it was about how to meditate, how to start a practice. And somebody said, and this question I’ve heard multiple – many times, why do I not do it, or I start out and I don’t do it, and what other tricks for actually keeping it going. And I was about to give my normal answer and it sort of struck me like a lightning bolt. It’s impossible that 100% of people lack discipline, and that's the percentage of people that ‘confessed’ to me that they have trouble maintaining their meditation practice. We think it’s because we lack self-discipline, or because we are not committed. And of course, sometimes we lack self-discipline, and sometimes we lack commitment, but I don’t think that’s the case for most of us. The mathematical ‘ah it is true for everyone’ it’s just very very small.

(25:48) So I think there are two qualities that are most often go missing from our personal and our corporate mindfulness programs and there is, they are the following;

(25:59) The first is a sense of community and I don’t mean Kumbaya, sitting around the fire community. I mean some sense of I am doing this with others, and whether you’re in your house, but sometimes you go to a meditation center, or you’re in a company of people and you’re embracing the principals together. And you’re meditating together because there is a sense of comradeship, and teamwork. And we all know that if you try to go into a room by yourself every day and do it it won’t work. But the second that you walk into a room where other people are doing it, of kind of gentle accountability is introduced, and it is very buoyant for the ones who practice, and this happens across-the-board. So most corporate mindfulness programs do not focus on the community aspect, maybe that’s not a great word in the corporate setting, but the sort of collegian aspect, the teamwork aspect, the we’re doing this shoulder to shoulder aspect.

(26:55) And the second quality is that often goes missing is because people are scared of this is what I call a path quality. And I think people are scared of this because it means that everyone is going to have to start wearing a turban and chanting ohm and stuff, but that is not what it means. When you practice meditation, this is pretty much guaranteed something starts to change within you. Your mind becomes more flexible. Your heart becomes softer. You have more ideas. That’s your path.

(27:28) Something begins to unfold, and some sense of guidance for that path, for that unfolding and a sense of connection to the principals that underlie that unfolding, which is different for everyone is very very important. Otherwise, I promise you you’ll go back to your meditation cushion or chair, after five or six times you will be like this is boring I’ve got too much to do. This is really hard, I can’t do it. I must be doing it wrong. It’s not for me. And that is almost always incorrect. Some sense of community and path are needed to sort of anchor the practice by just showing up and doing it. You know 2600 years of mindfulness wisdom will tell you that is not sufficient.

Michael Krigsman:

(28:19) Is it reasonable that companies can do this well, create that sense of community connection, and path. I mean after all companies are focused on their own interests, and so can you harness mindfulness in the service of corporate goals as opposed to for the benefit of the individual or maybe those are one and the same actually.

Susan Piver:    

(28:49)  I do think they’re one and the same and absolutely you can harness mindfulness with the benefit of the bottom line. And you know, if again we live in a world where the ability to innovate, execute and so on that’s required, then mindfulness is simply a tool in your professional arsenal. You can’t game human relationships, and human relationships are at the core of what is needed for teams to execute well, for customer loyalty to be established. I find it very wonderful that we’re in a state in our consumer’s culture where certain things that you used to be able to game like advertising and so forth. You can’t game them anymore. You have to offer something genuine. You have to create actual relationships, and as long as no one is pretending that this is because I want to help you become enlightened, or I want to teach you the values of non-attachment, nobody has to pretend anything like that.

(29:55) But if you just say this will help us execute. This will help us be more brilliant. This will help us go towards the fires more quickly and with less fear. And this will actually help us celebrate our successes in a genuine way that makes us feel that we are part of something. Because there’s one quality I think that sort of trumps every other quality that may be in a working environment, and I have talked to various companies that try to create culture, and culture is another very important concept in today’s business environment.

(30:33) But they try to create it by having ping-pong tables or snacks or you know things that are awesome. I like a good ping-pong game and I’m a big fan of snacks, but culture is actually created by a sense of human collection and the quality of feeling that one belongs to something that one admires. And that you cannot get with a ping-pong table.

(30:57) So have your ping-pong tables and so on, but real culture takes root in human relationships. And culture is absolutely necessary to the bottom line, at least for many many corporations out there but not all, but mindfulness can really help in these ways.

Michael Krigsman:

(31:18) Susan as I talked with CEOs on this show, CXOTalk the very best CEOs that I know talk about their employees because they recognise that employees who feel connected to the organization are the ones who are going to be the happiest, and are the ones who will feel the mission and therefore want to support their customers in the best possible way. Maybe you can give us a link between this concept of mindfulness, and what I’m describing about culture building that these great CEOs are just so relentlessly focused on.

Susan Piver:

(32:07) You know, that’s a really important question. You know I’ll just tell you a little story by means of answer. Back in the days I used to work in the music business when there was a music business, and I worked at this very sort of hip-hop label in New York City, and it was like the most amazing office, like it was designed incredibly. It was we had like the best gym in Manhattan it was in our office. When you got out the elevator you were like is this the world’s most you know fantastic cocktail party, or is this someone’s place of business because it was just very very cool.

(32:54) And we also all got – everybody who worked there, everybody got a 20 minute massage once a week, and we had like massage rooms in the office with massage tables and Enya was probably playing at that time but every time I walked by those massage rooms, I saw the same thing and that was nobody was in there. And we were all trying to palm off our massages on everyone else, because the culture said yes, we want you to relax. But the underlying vibe was you better get back to work, and it was for show.

(33:37) So nobody wanted to be seen relaxing. Nobody wanted to be seen you know being meditative or anything like that. So it’s one thing to say it, but it’s another thing to actually manifest in your heart – I hope I don’t sound to woo-woo by using these words. Actual caring for actual human beings, and that together you care about the bottom line and what you are accomplishing. Without that quality of caring is just going to feel fake.

(34:16) And mindfulness and caring are like this (crossed fingers), because the only reason that most of us don’t express the caring in our hearts for the people that we’re around is because we are afraid of them, and or we’re in an environment of fear. And mindfulness helps you navigate around fear to be genuine, and smart, and innovative and nobody by the way is going to be innovative in a culture of fear. Nobody is going to bring their ideas forward in a culture of fear. And mindfulness and fearlessness have for 2600 years been intimately associated. So I would say yes, they can be a correlated very very clearly in mind.

Michael Krigsman:

(35:04) So for companies who want to set up a mindfulness program, what do they need to be thinking about. And you know as I say that, at the same time it strikes me as an odd thing to say because what is a mindfulness program? Mindfulness is not a corporate thing, mindfulness starts from the individual, but companies can create the conditions out of which mindfulness can arise.

Susan Piver:

(35:35) Absolutely and for any company that thinks they want to do I would say first, very strongly, think about that. Do you really want to do that, or is this you know a flavor de jour that you think could be good. Think about that.

(35:54) And the second thing I would suggest to whoever would be responsible for bringing this program in, whether it’s a CEO or HR person, develop your own mindfulness practice. That is crucial. Then you will know whenever you speak, and as you guide other people into it and through it, you will be able to do so as a leader, and P.S. it will just be really good for you anyway.

Michael Krigsman:

(36:26) Good for you anyway, okay, and what advice do you have for individuals who want to become more mindful?

Susan Piver:

(36:38) I would say to those individuals yay, a wonderful inclination and learn to meditate. Mindfulness and meditation cannot be separated. Learn to meditate and learn it under the following circumstances, or according to the following list of rules.

(37:06) Try to find an actual meditation teacher, somebody who has been trained to teach it and is a good teacher, and has been authorized or graduated from whatever program they applied themselves to, to be able to call themselves a meditation teacher.

(37:26) You can go on YouTube, you can Google it, you can find, you can listen to these people. You don’t have to go directly to them for personal instruction, although that’s awesome if you can do that.

(37:38) Find a meditation teacher who is connected to a lineage that is more than 2600 years old; that’s my line in the sand. In other words, we do not want any new-age nonsense. We don’t want something that someone went into the room and made up. Although, you know the Buddha went into his room and made it up at some point, but then it was tested for 2600 years.

(38:02) So we want something that is rooted in something real. Nobody has to pretend to be a Buddhist or wear a turban or anything like that, but we want something that’s been tested seriously. And then try to bring the practice into your life in a very gentle way.

(38:21) Here’s what I request that you do not do. Do not say to yourself I am going to meditate every day for the rest of my life, because you won’t. And then you feel really bad. And then you won’t want to do it and then you feel even worse, so you really want want to do it. So just look at your schedule and think I could probably do this for 10 minutes a day Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and I’m going to try that for two weeks. And at the end of two weeks review that and decide I want more or I want less, or I want the same. But just take it very slowly.

(38:56) And then I’ll give you the advice that the Tibetan meditation master Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche gave to his students I heard, I was not there, when someone said what shall I do when I fall off the meditation wagon or whatever way the asked the question and what he said had a cuss word in it, but I’ll bleeped myself he said, ‘you should feel bad, really really bad for like nine seconds and then you’ve got to cut that out because that is useless and worse than useless’. So, if you just fail to do it just come back, and meditation by the way teaches that skill of what it means to come back without baggage.

Michael Krigsman:

(39:44) So the key then is consistency, or at least trying put it that way.

Susan Piver:

(39:51) Yes absolutely, five minutes a day is better than one hour once a week. So by consistency what we mean here is a little bit every day all most days, that’s very important. But most people who have a meditation practice, myself included go through times where it’s like Oh yes, it’s very easy or I haven’t practice for a few days or a few weeks. But then at some point you come back and that counts as consistency.

(40:20) So, you know mindfulness is getting a rap as a very intense, profound, and amazing self-improvement tool. And it is not a self-improvement tool, although it certainly will improve things, many many things and beyond what you can imagine but if we come to it as there’s a sense of something about me that I need to fix, then it’s like all the magic drains from the practice. It’s actually what we want to be consistent about is having a practice where we let ourselves off the hook for five or 10 minutes a day or some days and just extend the hand of friendship to ourselves. We’re not constantly working on ourselves, but every bit of you will respond very positively to that little break in how hard we’re each working.

Michael Krigsman:

(41:17) We only have a few minutes left, what we’re you saying that it’s not about trying to fix oneself, but when you say we need to be more focused, more attentive, more mindful and listening better. For most of us you could interpret that as you know we are trying to improve, so just elaborate a little bit on what you were just talking about, on what you were just saying.

Susan Piver:

(41:48) Sure, excellent question. So we want to be more creative, we want to be more innovative, we want to create a strong culture, we want to be able to execute quickly on our ideas. All of those things have one thing in common, my friends, and that is they are pre-educated on the ability to relax. None of those things happen when you beat yourself up, even the most wonderful things in our life, professional or personal, creativity and love, and insight; these are things that arise when we are relaxed. They’re not things that we can go out and get no matter how great your plan is. You can’t say today I’m going to go out and get a great idea. You have to relax.

(42:34) So, the practice of mindfulness then is very important that you let go of your efforting to become better at this or that, and instead relax with yourself as you are. Space opens up, and into that space comes – don’t take my word for this, try it yourself and see creativity, pattern recognition, ideas, and kindness toward our fellow humans.

Michael Krigsman:

(43:17) And so when we do that from a corporate standpoint we become better listeners to our peers, more innovative, and the whole team works together more cohesively.

Susan Piver:

(43:35) Absolutely, you all are looking at the same goal, and then you are navigating there together, and nobody gets too caught up in their ego, their personal contribution and whether things look good or bad for them – although everybody wants things to look good for them, and I hope everything will look good for you. But rather that you stay focused on the corporate mission. And without mindfulness the ability to stay focused on mission is very very difficult because quite naturally we focus instead only on ourselves and how good or bad we may be appearing, and then the mission becomes a best secondary and at worst just disappears altogether.

Michael Krigsman:

(44:28) Okay, well Susan Piver thank you so much. This has been a fascinating discussion and it’s gone by very quickly. Thank you for taking part, for taking the time to join us on episode number 163 of CXOTalk Susan.

Susan Piver:

(44:43) Michael it’s been my pleasure, thank you so much for inviting me.

Michael Krigsman:

(44:46) So you have been watching episode 163 of CXOTalk. We have been speaking with bestselling author and one of the top - it’s a strange thing to say mindfulness experts in the world on CXOTalk. Next week on Wednesday we are having a special show on Wednesday and that is with John Maeda, who is with Kleiner Perkins, a VC firm, he just released the design in tech report, he used to be the president of the Rhode Island School of Design, so that’s Wednesday and that will be fantastic. It will be really interesting.

(45:24) And then on Friday we are speaking with Matt Preschem, who is the Chief Marketing Officer for HCL Technologies a $7 billion company with 100,000 employees. And before we go please tell your friends about CXOTalk, I want to try to build up this great CXOTalk community further, subscribe to our newsletter, and just share CXOTalk with two other people, even one other person and I’ll buy you dinner. Well I’ll be grateful for sure. Thank you so much everybody, thank you to Susan Piver. Thank you for watching and we’ll see you next time.

Companies mentioned on today’s show

JetBlue            www.jetblue.com

Google             www.google.com

Salesforce       www.salesforce.com

Twitter            www.twitter.com

YouTube          www.youtube.com

 

Susan Piver:

Website           www.susanpiver.com

Books               www.amazon.com/Susan-Piver/e/B001IOHAXC

Twitter            https://twitter.com/spiver

Vimeo              https://vimeo.com/spiver