Mastering the Art of Living ~ the Leadership Principles of Burning Man

lamplightersMany of my friends and colleagues are returning from a week plus from the greatest interactive art installation show on Earth, Burning Man, Black Rock City, Nevada. Or as may be more accurately described in this beautiful video: an experiment in social living with some of the most creative beings in the world.

Like the creative chaos of a start-up or business with an open and innovative approach to client engagement and employee motivation Burning Man is a living laboratory of what IS possible when we allow ourselves to live  in awe and respect of  the pure creative expression of who we all are and what we are capable of.

 I didn’t get a ticket this year, and I needed  somehow to connect with the most recent experience in Black Rock City. So I’m posting these principles written by Larry in 2004. I still believe they are practiced by most who, are an inspiration to all, and can be applied to our lives and businesses back home, here, in the “real” world.



1. Radical Inclusion~ No prerequisites exist for participation

2. Gifting~ The Gift Economy- The value of a gift is unconditional.

3. Decommodification~In order to preserve the spirit of gifting, our community seeks to create social environments that are unmediated by commercial sponsorships, transactions, or advertising. We stand ready to protect our culture from such exploitation. We resist the substitution of consumption for participatory experience.

(Note: It’s true that the “economic culture” of Burning Man has changed since significantly over the past 10+ years, particularly with respect to decommodification and radical self-reliance. )

4. Radical Self-reliance~Encourages the individual to discover, exercise and rely on his or her inner resources.

5. Radical Self-expression arises from the unique gifts of the individual.

6. Communal Effort~Our community values creative cooperation and collaboration. We strive to produce, promote and protect social networks, public spaces, works of art, and methods of communication that support such interaction.

7. Civic Responsibility~We value civil society. Community members who organize events should assume responsibility for public welfare and endeavor to communicate civic responsibilities to participants. They must also assume responsibility for conducting events in accordance with local, state and federal laws.

8. Leaving No Trace~ Our community respects the environment. We are committed to leaving no physical trace of our activities wherever we gather. We clean up after ourselves and endeavor, whenever possible, to leave such places in a better state than when we found them.

9. Participation~Our community is committed to a radically participatory ethic. We believe that transformative change, whether in the individual or in society, can occur only through the medium of deeply personal participation. We achieve being through doing. Everyone is invited to work. Everyone is invited to play. We make the world real through actions that open the heart.

10. Immediacy~ Immediate experience is, in many ways, the most important touchstone of value in our culture. We seek to overcome barriers that stand between us and a recognition of our inner selves, the reality of those around us, participation in society, and contact with a natural world exceeding human powers.

The truth is that you will never understand Burning Man, until you experience it!

A master in the art of living draws no sharp distinction between theirBurning-Man-Livestream-2014-600x369 work and their play; their labor and their leisure; their mind and their body; their education and their recreation. They hardly know which is which. They simply pursue their vision of excellence through whatever they are doing, and leave others to determine whether they are working or playing. To themselves, they always appear to be doing both.” -Francoise Rene Auguste Chateaubriand

Are you ready for the 2020 Workplace?

The workplace of the future is being shaped by Web 2.0 with a collection of breakthrough social media technologies and by the Millennial Generation (those born between 1977-97). The convergence of these emerging workplace trends has created a generation of hyper connected workers who are placing increased pressure on companies to overhaul their approach to talent management.

What is the 2020 Global Workplace?workplace2020

1. It’s Global- with key countries in the brick part of the world: Brazil, Russia, India & China. The focus is on Increased Productivity, Collaboration, and  Speed of Innovation.

2. It’s Age Diverse: By the year 2020 there will be 5 generations working side by side rather than the 4 generations we see today. When you have 5 generations in the workplace, you need to understand what motivates your people, how they communicate, and how they actually see work and career in the broader spectrum on their life. Work life flexibility will replace work life balance.

3. It’s Hyper Connected: Young professionals prefer communicating via social media. Emerging trend is an increased creation for internal Social Networks for collaboration and communication with one’s peers around the world.

4. It’s Social: Recruiting will move from the college campus to social networks. Reputation capital will be the way one hires and promotes. New jobs will require a certain number of followers on Twitter, Linked in and other sites. Key Business Strategy question is : How is one using their social network to increase business and impact productivity?

5. It’s collaborative: Training will include On Line group mentoring where millenials can often mentor a senior executive. Corporate classrooms will exist on the i-pad creating their own versions of  3-D experiences. Your mobile device will become your classroom, your office and your information/resource hub.  Social Media literacy & training  in 2020 will be as common as diversity and ethics training is today. Diversity will become a business strategy rather than an HR imperative.

6. It’s transparent: Internal Communications: Most CEO’s should or will have their own blog. Crisis communication, marketing communication, and internal communication will start on a social network and elaborated upon through intranets. Corporate participation in social networks may be as critical in the 2020 Workplace as managing cash flow.  Social Networks will be the first point of contact where employees receive  information. The lines between marketing, training, & communications will blur.

The world of work is changing faster than ever.  The 2020 mindset requires thriving in a networked world incorporating abilities in social participation, thinking globally, ubiquitous life-long learning, and cross cultural fluency.  What is your talent management plan for the 2020 workplace?

Big thank you to Jean Meister, co-author of the 2020 Workplace, for the insights, research, and inspiration.




Lean In and Expand into 2014

With the  the new year upon us , you are probably already creating goals for what you you want to develop, manifest,  and accomplish in 2014.

However, before you create  your  2014 goals and resolutions,  take some time to write down your personal and professional accomplishments in 2013. 

Share these with a friend, family member, trusted colleague, or your coach.  Be sure to take the time to recognize how much you have achieved, and to offer acknowledgement and appreciation to all those who played a role in your success. 

To assist you in making 2014 the best year of your life, (personally and professionally), with a strong, focused, purposeful platform for the new year,  I’ve created a special offer for business owners, organizational leaders and anyone else needing to fine tune or recalibrate their compass.

I invite you to join:  Lean In with Me ~ with a  3 session strategic business consulting package where I will provide you with  laser focused consulting , resources, and co create your  action plan for 2014~


These potent SKYPE sessions include a pre-assessment questionaire where we will review:

  • your accomplishments in the past yearconsulting-who-what-where-why-how-300x199
  • your financial goals
  • client profiles
  • your overall operational infrastructure, office environment, and time management
  • your marketing message, web presence, and social networking

All for only $295 through the month of January. (that’s 40% off!)

By the end of your third session, you will have a solid action plan for 2014, along with the opportunity to continue working with me.   How does it get any better than this?!

Sign up today-  one-to-one Skype sessions begin the week of January 13.

May this be your year of wonderful expansion!

12 Tips for Staying Aligned in Uncertain Times

glowing-handsWinter Solstice is approaching, and another year comes to a close.

The Good News? It’s December,  2013- and we’re still here!

Many of us have found ourselves soaring in successful entrepreneurial ventures, new partnerships, or relocations, and while some  of us settling in after an adventurous and sometime challenging journey with life’s detours, curve balls, personal, professional shifts,  environmental change and climate destabilization.

The common themes I’ve seen this past year and as we move into the new year: Adjust, Realign and Launch! 

How about you?  What adjustments and realignments  have occurred in your life or business this past year? What still needs fine tuning (or perhaps a complete make over?). What’s your BIG dream?! 

I’m feeling ever so grateful as we enter these last few weeks of 2013, and ever so hopeful for a new year!~ 2014 is feeling EXPANSIVE, and it’s time for all of us to think big, be big, live big,  and bring forth what it is you are here to do on this planet, now, in this time!

Here are some of my personal tips for staying aligned in these time:

Shera’s Formula for Staying Aligned in Uncertain Times:

(you can focus on one of these per month, until it becomes a newly formed habit)

1. Drink lots of water- and first thing in the morning ~ add fresh lemon

2. Keep your diet as akaline as possible- (that means limit/eliminate: meat, coffee, alcohol, sugar). Eat live, organic foods. Invest in Superfoods. Check out

3. Maintain a daily practice: yoga, meditation, and movement-a 30-minute brisk walk in the morning has much more immediate benefits than years of therapy

4. Facilitate and Engage in Essential Dialogs. Join a women’s or men ‘s circle . True authenticity comes from uncompromised honesty while being witnessed in supportive containers.

5. Be curious and inclusive. Expand your sense of what community is or could be. Take time to look in someone’s eyes ..find out who and how they really are- move beyond “Great” or “I’m fine”. Remember our most fundamental spiritual need as human beings is the desire for authentic mutual recognition.

6. Perform what I call the “karmic root canals” often. Get to the absolute core of any limiting belief that is not the Truth of Who you Are. Use Access Consciousness, EFT, Heartmath, and all other tools you have available to you.

7. Practice Kindness, Be Vulnerable, Share Compassion- Steer Clear of Judgments, Criticism, & Gossip.

8. Actively listen twice as much as you speak. Ask yourself, “How can I serve this person?

9. Forgive yourself and others often.

10. Give stuff away! Share a lot, especially your heart. (Check out Elegant Organization at

11. Affirm feelings of gratitude everyday.

12. Breathe in Love . . .Breathe out Fear. Smile Inside. You’ll feel better.

What’s a customer centric business, anyway?

Dreamforce was overCustomer-Centric-Model-31 the top again this year. The message was clear:

At the core, every business function is marketing~ and every business needs to be customer centric.

So what is a customer centric business? Quite simply it’s  a paradigm shift from product-focused culture , to a customer-focused culture, where success is measured more by customer satisfaction rather than short-term profits from product sales.

In my consulting practice, I focus on employee engagement in building customer center cultures. If you  and  your people are engaged, your customers will be too! 

Let’s take a look at a few key leadership behaviors in a customer centric organization:

Make direct contact with customers, regularly. When leaders are truly committed to being more customer-centric, they will demand more voice-of-customer feedback. This might mean attending focus groups and research sessions personally, or interviewing customers directly.

Accumulate expertise in customer centricity. Leaders committed to more customer-oriented practices at a firm will do things like attending conferences and training sessions, benchmarking with customer-centric firms, and sharing best practices with other business units or affiliated companies.

Cross boundaries to generate enterprise-wide results. Leaders who are committed to more customer-centric practices will spend the time and effort necessary to break down organizational silos.  But even when these barriers persist, committed leaders will do their best to ensure that each customer has an experience that is consistent across all products and channels. Leaders who are committed to a customer-centric transformation will make it their business to sponsor cross-departmental initiatives aimed at eliminating inconsistencies and sharing best practices.

Measure success differently. Crossing boundaries can only be effective over the long term if new metrics and reward structures are also introduced. In a customer centric culture, the primary metric for success isn’t sales volume, it’s customer satisfaction!

Focus on incremental progress and “quick wins.” A large part of change management involves accumulating small successes, celebrating them, and building gradual organizational momentum toward the change required. Over time, small efforts, limited-scope projects, quick wins and even “near misses” all add to the momentum.

Communicating and living by customer-centric values. Does your executive team “walk the walk” or just “talk the talk” of customer-centricity? A committed leader finds opportunities to discuss with staff members how the company should treat certain types of customers, perhaps focusing on particular lifestyles, transaction patterns, or just simple demographics. a leader committed to customer centricity will also be committed to transparency and trustability – ensuring that the organization’s official policy is always to act in the customer’s interest, even when it might not yield the same level of short-term profit.

If you haven’t seen the new Salesforce platform yet, here’s a preview-

Imagine managing your entire business, workforce and customer needs from a mobile device.  Marc Benioff, CEO of Saleforce, stated  in this key note that he has been operating SalesForce for the past 6 months entirely from his mobile device. 

Listen to more of Marc Benioff’s keynote here:

What Improvisational Theater Teaches Leaders

One of the great loves in my  life has always been performing especially improv-theatreimprovisational theater and dance. 

I started studying music, voice, and acting at age 9,  and continue to use the skills and lessons learned in rehearsals, performances,  and on stage in my early days, in my daily and professional life as a teacher, coach, and speaker.

Several weeks ago, I needed an emotional  lift, and was invited to  improvisation workshop by  a true master who has been teaching and performing for over 40 years.  He called it Access Your Muse~ Healing Through Improvisation.  It could easily have been titled Access Your Wisdom~ Leadership Through Improvisation. 

I had a blast, and realized that the principles he shared with us and the experiential activities he led us through were powerful reflections of leadership and life mastery.

These are some of the basic principles in Improvisational Theater

Dare to Fail- In Improvisational Theater, since there is no script, actors take risks in every moment, following impulses and intuition. The same is true of leaders- we move forward fearlessly into uncharted territory, doing things that have never been done before.

Make the Other Person Look Good- In Improvisation, your intention is to make others look good on stage, so that they can shine and continue to access the pulse of creativity that is coming forth on the spot , in the moment.  True leaders build trust among their people by recognizing their contributions and efforts and focusing on their people’s strengths. When our people shine, organizations succeed.

Accept Endowments- A basic principle in Improvisation is to SAY YES- don’t block another’s movements, responses, words, or gestures; Rather you add to it, augment it, reinforce it, even if the “scene”  goes into another completely different direction.  As leaders, we say yes when we listen to our people and  encourage their creativity.  We give our people autonomy to be part of the solution. We don’t block, but rather, we say GO FOR IT!

Dare to Not Know-Embracing the unknown is essential for any improvisational actor, as it is for any organizational leader or entrepreneur.  We forge ahead with our vision, our plans, and our teams. We may make mistakes. For another perspective on the Practice of Not Knowing, click here.

Accept Offers-In theater, accepting an offer is an opportunity to practice the art of improvisation. As entrepreneurs and leaders, we continuously seek opportunities for new ventures, partnerships, and growth. 

Improvisational Theater in the workplace is a great value add to any leadership, communication, team development program.



Creating Cultures of Engagement- What motivates your people?

Like many organizational consultants and coaches, I’m passionate about motivating the human heart and activating the human spirit in order for teams and organizations to achieve BIG Goals.  


After 25 years of recruiting, training, mentoring large teams of volunteers as well as delivering hundreds of leadership workshops on Engaging Your People, here is what I have uncovered and re-discovered to be the Top Engagement Drivers.

Top Employee (and Volunteer)  Engagement Drivers:

Understanding what motivates your people – Take a look at Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs. You want to focus on levels 3, 4 and 5. 

Personal Development:  which includes autonomy,  creativity, and problem-solving,

Sense of Belonging- we all need to feel we have a place here.

Connection with a bigger cause and alignment with the organization’s  mission -

Create a sense of common purpose around the goals of the organization, the team, and the projects. It is your job as a leader to help align others’ personal mission with the bigger picture (cause/mission) of your organization.  Your people need to be able to answer WHY?  



Providing On-Going Feedback: Don’t wait for the antiquated annual performance reviews. Rather have on-going two-way feedback and dialog beyond standard meetings. Make your feedback sincere, specific, immediate, and personalized.

Peer Recognition-Find opportunities to recognize your people beyond management. One way to do this is by creating a company wide  social enterprise networking forum for collaborative solutions sharing, dialog, and peer recognition.

Make weekly “informal” check-ins part of your culture: Ask the people you lead and manage on a weekly basis:  How are you doing? How is the team doing?  How can I help?

Sustain sense of community and excitement- This is built into the mission. When your people adopt your cuasue

Build Trust- Who trusts you?  Who do you trust? How do you build and sustain TRUST?

Trust IS the number ONE engagement driver. Visit this link for a free assessment of your own personal TRUST score. 

I’ll be sharing more about TRUST as the #1 leadership competency in upcoming posts. In the meantime, visit this link for a free assessment of your own personal TRUST score. 



Creating Engagement: It’s not about the money, honey

With increasing opportunities and demand for top talent, employee disengagement is at an all time high, costing U.S. organizations over $300 B per year (according to Gallup’s conservative estimate).

The average cost of losing and replacing an employee is equal to 2-3 times their annual salary. Deloitte LLP states that one-third of working Americans say they will try to find a new job as the economy continues to improve
social enterprise

So how do you retain  and motivate your best people to contribute to your enterprises’ productivity with focus, creativity, and commitment.

It’s easier than you think. . .AND

It’s not about the money, honey!

Workplace research studies increasingly support that monetary rewards are NOT the number one driver for employee/volunteer engagement.

So what is?

It all starts with TRUST.

Want to know more? I’ll be posting more on Trust And Engagement later this week, so please do come back for a visit.

And for those of you in the San Francisco Bay Area, I will be presenting my “Creating Cultures of Engagement” workshop at the California Hispanic Chambers of Commerce State Wide Convention on Wednesday, Aug. 14.


Renewing Your Vision: Spring is Here!

Today is the Vernal Equinox~ a moment of perfect balance with an  equal amount of glowing-handsdaylight and nightsky.  Astronomers call it the most important day of the year.  As Spring begins to dawn in the Northern Hemisphere a new season is born, allowing the seed-possibilities of your dreams to be planted in the fertile soil of your imagination!

“Imagination is greater than knowledge”, said Einstein.  Our thoughts create our reality. Our words  are powerful tools of manifestation.

Now is the perfect time to revisit your 2013  goals, resolutions, vision boards, good intentions and determinations and ask yourself:

Am I on track?  Did you commit to a new exercise or self-care regime perhaps with an initial 90-day challenge? Or maybe  you decided to learn a new skill this year?  Did you enroll in the class?  How are you doing?  Recognize and congratulate yourself for your efforts thus far.

What Needs Adjustment?  Achieving our visions requires focus, commitment and often times  changing our beliefs or the ways we have been doing certain things in order for a shift to occur. What less than optimal habits and patterns are still holding you back from stepping up and playing full out this year?

Where do I need support?  Life responds to commitment  and action.   Change requires consistent action, effort, and focus. Consider joining (or even starting) a mastermind group, enroll in a course or hire a coach to help you see the blind spots, shift the limiting beliefs and take massive action this year.  Reach for the stars this spring!

Feeling a bit sluggish after a long winter?  Here are some Spring Renewal suggestions and simple practices that I offer my clients:

Do a cleanse. Eliminate sugar, wheat, dairy, coffee, alcohol and meat from your diet for 10-30 days. Why a cleanse? It releases toxins, allows for clearer thinking, refreshed energy, and better decision making.There are many products to help with cleansing, along with raw food and juice cleanses.   One of my favorites is The Master Cleanse, which I will be starting in a few days.

Your home:  I love helping clients organize their homes and offices.  Rearranging furniture with the seasons is a great and fun practice.  Recycle old magazines, files, and  papers. Empty a junk drawer, organize a closet. Donate clothes and shoes you no longer wear, utensils and appliances you no longer use, books you have read or won’t.  Give your home a deep cleaning

Your Office: Create new systems that are energizing, nor draining.  Start and end your day with a clean, paper-free desk surface. Use on-line calendars, task lists, and project managers.  Pay your bills on-line. Open your mail as it arrives. Get up from the computer every hour to walk, stretch, and breathe!

Your Business: Spring is a great time to give your website and social media profiles a facelift.  I love helping clients create a congruent message and social content. Did you launch that teleseminar or webinar, yet?

Your Relationships: Surround yourself with people who love and appreciate you- people who remind you of and reflect back your magnificence. In your communication with others, replace assumptions with inquiry, replace judgements with curiosity, and watch not only how good that feels, but how your connections deepen.  What can you do today to be a bright and inspiring light for others?

Your Daily Practices and Rituals: We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence is a habit. I find a combination of yoga and meditation  along with a morning green smoothie to  be an energizing,  life affirming way to start the day.  For others it’s a run, a vigorous walk,  a swim, Zumba class,  or a bike ride.  Whatever it is, engrain positive, life affirming practices into your life daily.  Make gratitude your daily practice. What are you thankful for today?

Plant your  garden:  I find growing food to be one of the most nurturing, nourishing, essential, (and ancient) human practices.  Grow some edibles in pots or raised beds, or start a community garden if you don’t have the space.

What are you doing to refresh your life, your home, your business this spring? Would you take a few moments and leave a comment below? 

Wishing you all a splendid new cycle!




Ushering in the New Era

12.12.12 – 12. 21. 12

We’ve all heard it by now. Something big, unprecedented in human history is occurring right now! You can call it a leap in evolutionary consciousness, a new era,  a major download, upgrade or reboot or a grand experiment.

All that was is no MORE!

Whatever you call it, we are all in a profound personal shift ushering in a deeper collective alignment. A way of being in with ourselves as leaders, in our businesses and communities, a new era of engagement, transparency, no more hiding who you are, your truth. You matter and so does everyone else!

Many of my friends and colleagues are engaged in events around the world to usher in this new era. Here are just a few:


12-21-12 events around the world celebrating this powerful time of transition and transformation: Barbara Marx Hubbard and Shift Networks

Chris Deckker’s’ in Byron Bay (where Barbara is premiering her “Theater of the Future”) at the Chichen Itza Pyramid in the Yucatan with a  live netcast hosted by Caroline Casey and Don Miguel Ruiz.

There are several synchronized meditations happening, including sunrise ceremony and global peace moment on the 21st at 11:11 a.m. GMT (3:10 a.m. PST), and the Unification moment at . 8:00 pm GMT (12 noon PST).To track the many events happening around the world, synchronized meditations and live netcasts, see index websites and

Happy New Era!


How to make the most of these next days:

Forgive, forgive, forgive yourself and all others for any thought or action that was not in alignment with the truth of who you are.

Utilize every day to its utmost. Meditate. Be present. Pay attention to your soul. Listen to your heart. Be courageous and creative and stay away from your mind.

Engage in non-attachment and make no comparisons to any other. Your life, conducted by you, is the architect of a new world, your new world. It requires complete detachment from it’s former one.

Eat lightly- cleanse and free your body from toxins, alcohol, caffeine.

And most of all Be the love that you are!  Your Presence is the Greatest Gift!