Tag Archives: mindfulness

‘Why can’t we be more like dogs?’- Lessons of compassion and mindfulness from dogs…

My kinda life blog- writing about how you can create more self-compassion in your life and some small actions you can take to increase your wellbeing.  My kinda life is a new project where I will share my daily or weekly, life insights with you.

The name and inspiration to start this came from my friend Nathanael Wolfe, all the way in Oakland, California, gratitude to you for directing me into purposeful action.

Self-compassion is extending compassion to one’s self in instances of perceived inadequacy, failure, or general suffering. Dr. Kristin Neff has defined self-compassion as being composed of three main components – self-kindness, common humanity, and mindfulness.”  My kinda life will bring these academic concepts alive and show you ways to apply them in your life.

I have been spending a lot of time pondering, wondering what is my purpose, what is the meaning of life, what is my passion, tough questions, not easy to answer.  This time I have created with space to be and decide my direction in life brings me joy that I have choices to work or not to work.  The work and life I lead connects to what I value.  For the last seven years I have been very interested in compassion and how to increase my own compassion (Compassion means “to suffer together.”) and enable others to become more compassionate.  There is a lot of research being collected showing the benefits to your wellbeing when you take a compassionate approach to life.  I was never really a big fan of too much empathy, you need empathy to understand others, too much and I found it draining, I also found this is the case for other people, intuitively i knew this from my observations of people that are too empathetic.  The good news is that you cannot have enough compassion and the more you have the happier you can be right now.

Why not spend a little time ‘working out’ with a little self-compassion a day, I love Chris Germer and his quote “A moment of self-compassion can change your entire day. A string of such moments can change the course of your life.”

Let’s get started, the first blog-

‘Why can’t we be more like dogs?’- Lessons of compassion and mindfulness from dogs…

FullSizeRender-3Yesterday sitting in a park close to where I live taking in the last rays of summer, although we are in autumn now. Watching the world around me and inside me. Seeing the sky and colours, with white lines like a painting. Watching people walking and running along the paths. Seeing all types of people. In the main park where the grass is the dogs are having the most fun, running to smell each other, wagging their tails. Bouncing here there and everywhere. Do they know something we do not know? The excitement to be there in that moment and see and smell each other.  Dog’s are having more fun than human beings in some of the most beautiful parts of nature.  Why can we not be a little more dog and less human?



Ok a crazy thought you might think and especially from me someone who is afraid of dogs because my mum was afraid.  I now understand more about dogs from the many people that love dogs, so I can watch them and understand what they are doing, when they are bouncing after a shit and wagging their tale when they are happy.  The dog’s I was watching were all different in their appearance, their shape, size and colour, yet they came together in union and togetherness.

Because they are authentic and do what they feel, they are easier to read than people who spend a lot of time pretending to be someone else and hence not very happy.

Lessons from dog’s you can test out today-

  • Smile to a stranger, say hello, greet them as you would your best friend,
  • Be present and pay attention for 1 minute to what somebody else is saying,
  • Silently wish someone else well, say may they be well, may they be happy,
  • What 1 activity can you do today with a little playfulness and joy just to be there in that moment?

Let me know how it goes…

With kindness to you today,



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Happiness, Laughter Yoga and Wake up London, Heart of London Sangha

To begin thank you again to all the people, who give me encouragement and inspiration to write this blog.  Sometimes I think I am lucky, I get to choose how I spend my time and where I put my energy.  Last week I was asked to volunteer at the Museum of Happiness, second event on ‘Exploring Happiness: An Afternoon of Talks, Workshops and More!’.  I  have been to quite a few workshops in my time.  One of my values is learning, so I can overdo it and go to lots of events.  These days I try to go to less events and try to do more by writing, and sharing my work with others instead.  So I debated going to this event on a Saturday.  I was asked by my friend Shamash one of the co-founder’s and author of 7 books, including the latest one  The Mindful Way through Stress .

10714399_10152725248900983_8866355716824582720_o I decided to go and I was surprised that about 60 people turned up, motivated and really wanting to be there.  I got to work with all the volunteers who were interesting and compassionate people, I was thankful to be part of the team.  I listened to the two main talks from TEDx speakers.  The first one was Susanna Halonen ‘Screw Finding Your Passion: Unlock It & Find Happiness at Work’.

She calls herself a happyologist, in the introduction of her book she says:

“ stop chasing your passion.  Instead look inwards and you will see that passion is right there, within you…you’ll notice that people have been engrained with the message that they must find their one and only passion.”  

She goes on to share the five keys that unlock the passionate way of being:

  1. Be the Authentic You
  2. Understand Your Why
  3. Master the Art of Learning
  4. Connect with Your Tribe
  5. Play with Your Strengths

These are the key points for being authentic-

  1. Identify what your values are, what is important to you and why.  Awareness and fully embracing your values is the first step to unlocking your passion. If you want to do this you can take the VIA Survey of Character Strengths.
  2. Have the courage to carry your values in your everyday life.
  3. Acknowledge that being the authentic you at work is what helps you to be your best performing, most passionate you.

If you want to explore this area further this is another interesting resource by Neil Crofts to help you explore What is my purpose?

The second TEDx speaker was Marisa Peer ‘The Happiness Code: Three secrets to make your brain work for you’ with internationally acclaimed  therapist, multiple bestselling author.  From her experience she shares a fundamental rule that all our emotional and personal problems come from us believing that we’re not ‘enough’ and she explains how to overcome it.  She teaches people to say ‘I am enough’ and get’s people to write this on their mirrors and put on their fridge doors.  She shares the stories where this has worked.  To find out more you can watch her TEDx talk-

I got to also meet Esteban there a friend of a friend Ben Rodrigas, who I met at the Wisdom2.0 conference in 2014.  Here I am with some face painting by Livi Lollipop with the wise Esteban.


Later in the week I was going to be running a post-lunch energiser with Julie Whitehead on

Laughter Yoga.  Last year I trained for two days to teach laughter yoga so I suggested it to TMSDI to have this as part of their yearly networking day.  They said yes, so we delivered a surprise Laughter Yoga session to the delegates.  Julie began by asking whether people have enough laughter in their life?  The room was silent and the answer was no.  So they were ready to give it a go.  We shared a little bit about laughter:

LAUGHTER – ho ho ha ha ha
Laughter releases endorphins, giving us the ‘feel good factor’, acts as aerobic exercise providing internal jogging, unleashes inhibitions, encourages better communication.  Great team building tool for colleagues. Helps boost our immune system which fights disease.  Tones muscles, improves respiration and circulation.  Encourages positive thinking and creativity.  Relaxes the whole body by reducing stress and tension. laughter yoga at TMSDI

We practiced quite a few laughter yoga exercises to encourage childlike playfulness, helping us all to let go and connect with the present moment.  There were 40 of us laughing together, there is something about the group energy that makes the laughter experience together even more special than when we laugh alone or with one other person.  We had an extra nice group, ready to give it a go and participate, it was a pleasure to be able to do this, so thank you to the wonderful Julie for saying yes and giving it a go to run the session with me.

This is a poem Julie shared at the end of our session:


“Smiling is infectious, you catch it like the flu.When someone smiled at me today, I started smiling too. I passed around the corner and someone saw my grin. When he smiled I realised I’d passed it on to him. I thought about that smile, then I realised it’s worth. A single smile just like mine, could travel round the earth. So, if you feel a smile begin don’t leave it undetected Let’s start an epidemic quick, and get the world infected!”

Also at the TMSDI network event was Dr Charles Margerison one of the founders of the Team Management Profile.  I have been accredited to use this team psychometric since 2006 and it is always great when you get to meet the creator.  I think his major role from the profile is a ‘creator-innovator’, the same as me.  His presentation was deep and thoughtful around the concept of existentialism and how we use our time.  He shared stories of people that had been successful, bringing to light ‘perception’, people that noticed something of more value than was already there.  For example, Heinz tomato ketchup was made from all the left over tomatoes that were going to be thrown away, Heinz found a different more valuable use for them.

Charles is an advocate of action learning.  He used to think you had to learn to act.  Professor Reginald Revans the originator of action learning said to him “why don’t you take some action and you will learn something.”  Most of the learning we acquire is from our experiences.  What new experiences can you have today, tomorrow, next week?  He ended his talk with saying:  “think about the right thing to do“, sometimes the right thing is not appreciated straight away or even during your lifetime.  He encouraged us all to be a little more daring and take some risks.  He is a unique character and really got into the laughter yoga exercises! maxresdefault

To close the day, I had been invited by Esteban to an evening talk in Covent Garden close by to where I was in Leicester Square.  I went to ‘ A Wake Up and Heart of London Sangha event for Mindful Entrepreneurs: Practising Together’.  This was facilitated by the two leads of the two groups Carol Wilkins and Joe Holtaway.  They both follow the teachings of Thich Nhat Han, a favourite teacher of mine. He encourages people to practice mindfulness meditation together through a sangha:

“In practicing together as a Sangha, as a community, our practice of mindfulness becomes more joyful, relaxed and steady. We are bells of mindfulness for each other, supporting and reminding each other along the path of practice. With the support of the community, we can practice to cultivate peace and joy within and around us, as a gift for all of those whom we love and care for. We can cultivate our solidity and freedom – solid in our deepest aspiration and free from our fears, misunderstandings and our suffering.”

I enjoyed the meditation together and it was interesting to hear about how people are running their business with mindfulness and some of the difficulties they are having and how as a group we could encourage and support each other.  This was the first meeting they had together, with a wish to continue.

Enjoy your weekend and leave any comments you have on my blog if you would like to.

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Reflections on Wisdom 2.0- a conference that opened my heart to connection and wisdom in the world

A year ago I was going to my first Wisdom 2.0 conference in 2014 on Valentine’s day.  I have to honestly say that this is the best conference I have attended.  2,000 people attended to come together to talk about wisdom, compassion, technology. IMG_2334 IMG_2377

At the conference you were surrounded and amongst some of the greats that started the mindfulness movement; for example Jon-Kabat Zinn, Sharon Salzberg and Krsiten Neff. At the time and while I was there people kept asking me what do you think of the conference, what have you got out of coming, will you come next year.  While I was there I was trying to be there, present in the moment.  Unable to answer these questions at the time.  I went open to what would emerge, with no real expectations.  A year later I am ready to share some of the moments that gave me great joy and sorrow.  As my favourite zen buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Han says ‘No mud, no lotus.’ During the conference I met so many people that blew me away with the work that they were doing.  Very young people developing apps to help homeless people to get food.  As a society we think of young people as being self-centred and only concerned with themselves and making money.  The connection with the people I met was a heart, to heart connection that I had not experienced before.  You meet some people on the first day and the next day they are your friend.  This is rare.  I had not met people before that were into consciousness and running their business with wisdom and compassion. On the final day we went out for lunch with a diverse group of people, some technology people, mindfulness experts, legal professionals.  During that lunch I met Justin Broglie from Philadelphia, as a group we had lunch together.  He was only 23 at the time, he achieved and did so much, he started the Penn Consciousness club at his university.  Some of us will never achieve as much as he did in his short life.  He connected deeply with me and shared wisdom with me, for that I am forever grateful as Justin is no longer with us. http://beingwithjustin.net  My only wish is I had spent longer talking with him. 1798056_10152246889641141_1107367765361770247_n After the conference I wanted to keep connected with the people I met from all over the world.  One way to do this was to use technology.  I started a google hangout in June 2014 where we could meet once a month online for an hour and guide each other in a meditation practice together.    This is a small group of people coming together as a community a sangha to share, learn and develop together from each others wisdom.  (https://plus.google.com/events/c3hs4up6eeba3v5evnm3f50rdts?authkey=CNby7bbx1-TfbA)

Just before the conference I went to the Compassion day of research at Facebook to meet Dacher Keltner a professor of psychology at University of California, Berkeley, and director of the Greater Good Science Centre.  We talked about his work on compassion with executives and also self-compassion and leadership.  His presence and sharing of knowledge with me was AWEinspiring! IMG_2225 During the conference there was a wisdompreneur’s party I went to, Californian style with a hot tub and swimming pool in the living room, a roof terrace with beautiful views of San Francisco.  Afterwards I joined the Facebook group for wisdompreneur’s and was interested in meeting people like this is London.  I started running meetup’s in July 2014 and now am the local liaison lead for wisdompreneur’s in london.  (http://www.wisdompreneurs.com)

I am now ready and in anticipation for Wisdom 2.0 2015 and all that it will bring and looking forward to meeting old friends and making new ones.  My intention is to practice being more present while I am there.  Also this year I want to make more video’s asking people about compassion and wisdom in life and work, learning more about the different ways people practice it?  How can we make it a part of our life and not an added extra?  How can we really be and find our real purpose and make deep connections with the people we meet in the digital age where we are constantly being distracted?

One way is to practice sitting still in silence, when was the last time you just sat and did nothing, focusing on your breath as if your life depended on it as Jon Kabat-Zinn often says?

See some of my short video highlights from Wisdom 2.0 2014 below-

James Doty from CCARE the most compassionate man I met at Wisdom 2.0-  Interview with Austin Hill Shaw at Wisdom 2.0-  Volunteer at Wisdom2.0 Shelly Smith from ‘living into grace’ that I gave my superwoman top away to-  IMG_2420

Suzukhi on the open mic  Oskar talking and hugging Brother David-  Meng from Google managing conflict mindfully-  Drumming at the end of the first day of the conference-

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What is mindfulness? And why more people are becoming interested in this practice – my mindful March experience

g055-tnh-mindfulness-is-a-source-of-happiness-09_largeIn the last couple of weeks, I have been practicing mindfulness during my daily life. I have been recently attending a weekly mindfulness group in Richmond, which has encouraged me to practice mindfulness during the two hour group meeting and in between the meetings.  They say when you set an intention and focus on a particular area, you become surrounded by information in that area.  This is certainly true in my case for mindfulness.  Glow at work ran a masterclass on Mindfulness at Work with Gary Born, where we gave some people an opportunity to practice mindfulness for the first time and explore ways to apply mindfulness to the workplace.  In the weekly mindfulness group I have been attending, the number of people interested in attending has doubled, which has resulted in another group being set up in Twickenham.  There definitely is more information out there for the general public on mindfulness and its application’s are being seen in Government, Schools, Prisons, Workplaces and Healthcare settings.  My week ended with a mindful birthday dinner with Maneesh who I connected with at the first Mindfulness at Work conference and Shamash who has written the Mindfulness for Dummies book; the applications are endless.

Jon Kabat-Zinn was in London and I was really excited to see him, with approximately a 1,000 other people.  The queue outside Friends House was similar to a concert queue, everybody eager to hear Jon speak about Mindfulness.  The evening with Jon Kabat-Zinn was sponsored by Action for Happiness.  Baron Layard shared that he recently took the first mindfulness course for parliamentarians from the Oxford Centre for Mindfulness.

Jon is famous for bringing mindfulness in a non-secular form, from the east to the west 30 years ago.  His definition of mindfulness is regularly quoted:

“Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way;

On purpose,

in the present moment, and


The setting was Friends House in London Euston, where all the chairs face each other and famous people like Gandhi have also spoken.  Jon wanted the evening to be about communication and connection. He said mindfulness has the potential to move the bell curve of world wellbeing. It allows us to have a wise relationship with suffering and happiness in the world.  Suffering and happiness are a part of life and mindfulness helps us to acknowledge and accept this.  Mindfulness gives us the tools, for example the focus on our breath, which we carry  everywhere we go and we can learn to use more consciously.  It grounds us into our present reality and gives us regular opportunities to practise mindfulness.  He said it is a muscle that cannot grow without a certain amount of resistance.  It involves a certain  amount of discipline and hard work.  The beauty is that we can use anything that arises in our lives to grow these muscles and allow it to shape and develop us.  It is important to recognise that it involves daily practice, similar to how we eat , brush our teeth and shower each and every day.  We can even use these daily activities to practice, it is as simple as saying to yourself I am eating, thinking about the process of eating, I am brushing my teeth, I am in the shower (your mind may have wandered to already being at work).  These daily mundane activities, can easily reconnect and train our minds to check in and practice mindfulness.

When you look at people meditating you may think they are wasting their time doing nothing when there are so many useful things they could be doing.  In reality it is a process of ‘non-doing’ (waking up, being present, not trying to get anywhere) that can help us in so many ways with our health and wellbeing.  In the last decade there have been 1,000’s of studies demonstrating the science behind the positive changes that occur in our brains when we meditate. For example, neuroscience findings show us the benefits of mindfulness for focus and concentration.  A lack of focus and concentration can really undermine your work performance.  Practicing mindfulness can improve your focus and concentration, even when in a busy or stressful environment.

  • Research into mindfulness in a work context suggests that mindfulness widens your attentional breadth, allowing you to be aware of a lot of things simultaneously (Dane, E, 2010).
  • A recent study conducted in the US Marine Crops investigated the impact of mindfulness training on working memory capacity.  The study suggests that mindfulness training may improve working memory in a stressful environment (Jha Ap et al, 2010).
  • Researchers at Harvard used MRI scans to look at the brains of people who had practised mindfulness meditation for many years, and found that areas of the brain associated with attention and sensory processing were thicker than in people who had never meditated. (Lazar S et al, 2005).

In all Asian languages the word for mind and heart is the same, the chinese character for ‘mindfulness’ combines the ideograms for presence and heart.  In the west we separate the two words and worlds.  The eastern definition is about attention, that you can call affectionate attention.


Jon came to mindfulness at 22; “Wow this is what I have been looking for my whole life. It’s a way of being, a technique, that involves practice and cultivation.”

He shared his daily practice with us, this involves taking his seat early in the morning,  to check in and cultivate the seeds for the day. He see’s it as a radical act of love not just a discipline. It is a time for ‘being’ and not ‘doing’. We live in a world of to do lists that are endless. And mindfulness helps us to stop and take a moment to get away from this never ending treadmill of actions and tasks, to focus on who we really are, providing insight to work on what is really important to us as human beings.

Endless words of wisdom from Jon on mindfulness:

– It’s a radical act of love and self compassion.

– It is much about nothing but it is just about everything.

– The thinking mind cannot understand it.

– You can turn the sound down and watch the thoughts – become transparent to your thoughts, they come and they go, like weather patterns

– You’re perfect already – when did you thank your liver for what’s it’s doing right now?

– There are many things we have to live to learn with.

– Do not take things personally, there is very little that is personal.

– Happiness and sorrow go together – they are intimately related and how the heart and mind are related.

photoThe best reason he says to meditate is that you feel integrated, we call ourselves human beings and we act more like human doings. If you want to create anxiety, just think about your emails or constant connection with your smartphone.  Maybe we need to apply this connection or obsession we have with being connected to the external world (I struggle without WiFi) to how we connect with ourselves, like GPS for the soul, how regularly do you check in with yourself?  Say where am I? Who am I with?  Am I paying attention? Is my breathing relaxed or stressed?  Just noticing your surroundings.

I will end with closing words from Jon: “Live life as if it really matters. Real meditation is how you live your life, moment to moment with huge self compassion.”

Written by Harpal Dhatt, CEO & Occupational Psychologist  @Glowatwork

More information on the science of mindfulness-

– The science is showing us when we mediate, we are becoming more compassionate and it is changing the structure of our brains.  There are 600 research studies into mindfulness on the mindfulnet website http://www.mindfulnet.org/page4.htm#RMINDFULNESS, they have also produced a business case for mindfulness document.  Mindfulness in the workplace case studies can also be viewed on the Mindfulnet website http://www.mindfulnet.org/page9.htm

– John Teasdale, the founder of Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy, has done a lot of work on how mindfulness transforms suffering. There is 1000’s of years of wisdom behind mindfulness, you do not have to be a Buddhist to do this. The Buddha was not even a Buddhist, it is a European term. It’s a practise open to all.


Action for Happiness-  http://www.actionforhappiness.org/about-us/an-evening-with-jon-kabat-zinn (watch video of an evening with Jon Kabat-Zinn)

Business case for mindfulness in the workplace http://www.mindfulnet.org/page35.htm

Dane, E. (2010)  Paying attention to mindfulness and its effect on task performance in the workplace.  Journal of Management.

Davidson, R, Kabat-Zinn, J et al (2003).  Alterations in Brain and Immune Function Produced by Mindfulness Meditation.

Jha Ap, Stanley EA, Kiyonaga A, Wong L, Gelfand, L. (2010)  Examining the protcetive effects of mindfulness training on working memory capacity and affective experience.  Emption 2010.

Hunter, J & McCormick, D (2008).  “Mindfulness in the Workplace:  An Exploratory Study”  Paper presented at the meeting of the 2008 Academy of Management Annual Meeting.  Anaheim, CA.

Lazer S et al. (2005) ‘Meditation experience is associated with increased cortical thickness’, Neuroreport 16 (17): 1893- 97

‘Citizens and Governance in a Knowledge Based Society’: Understanding and Responding to Societal Demands on Corporate Responsibility (RESPONSE)

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Glow at Work Masterclass- Mindfulness at Work- Gary Born – 21st March 2013

Gary Born’s ‘Mindfulness in the Workplace’ session was truly fantastic for three reasons. Firstly, the session did not involve bells, bare feet, sitting on the floor, or unknown and unexplained words (really make us feel like outsiders). While there’s nothing inherently wrong with the above, it’s exactly these more ‘exotic’ elements of mindfulness and meditation that can be off-putting or alienating for some of us. Indeed – as a woman from the workplace, being asked to sit cross-legged while wearing stockings and a skirt can create immediate embarrassment and awkwardness! Gary’s practical approach reminded us all that practising mindfulness can actually be integrated into our daily lives very naturally.
Secondly, the session involved several actual practices of mindfulness exercises. I felt more calm, present and centred after these. In fact – the real point of this focus on the breath hit me. Why the breath? Why are meditation and mindfulness exercises always talking about ‘the breath’? Well – the way I understand it is that that the breath is always there. The fact that it is always there is rather calming. It’s a constant presence in every minute of our lives. In fact, taking this a little further – we are always here. Odd as that sounds (!) – how often are we so involved in the emails on our screens, the PowerPoint slide we are battling with, and the voices of others all around us, that we forget that we are here, too? We are often ignored, avoided or simply de-prioritised in the busyness of life and work. Mindfulness, as I understand it, is about remembering that we are here, and that being aware of ourselves is valuable. In this way, we can develop greater self-awareness – a benefit to ourselves and others.

Thirdly, Gary showed us how mindfulness has really reached the consciousness of the western world in the last decade or so. Since the start of this century, research into mindfulness has increased exponentially, mindfulness-based therapies are now available on the NHS, and mainstream media have featured it frequently. Far from being something remote and exotic, mindfulness is becoming much more common, understood, and valued. This brings to mind two big messages for me. Firstly – how wonderful that mindfulness is now more commonly understood and accepted, with all that it can offer individuals and workplaces. Secondly – what other ideas, philosophies and approaches are we currently aware of but hiding for fear that they are ‘remote and exotic’? What value could those ideas bring to individuals and the workplace? In another decade, the world will have moved forward either way. We can take heart from the story of mindfulness; there are many valuable ideas yet to be brought to light. We just need the courage and awareness of them to do so. Mindfulness seems like a good place to start…


Thank you to Gary and Harpal for a fantastic session!

Lisa Pobereskin – lisa_pobereskin@hotmail.com

Lisa Pobereskin

Organisational Psychology MSc student at City University, Intern at Thompson Dunn, Business Psychology Consultancy

References & Further reading from the masterclass:

• Organisations that offer Mindfulness Training:

  • Oxford Mindfulness Centre – http://oxfordmindfulness.org
  • Mindfulness Works- http://www.mindfulness-works.com
  • Mindfulnet- http://www.mindfulnet.org
  • Workplace Prosperity- http://workplaceprosperity.com
  • The Mental Health Foundation- http://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/help-information/podcasts/ – http://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/our-work/training/be-mindful-online-mindfulness-course/ – http://bemindful.co.uk

• Books, articles and videos

  • Michael Chaskalson, The Mindful Workplace: Developing Resilient Individuals and Resonant Organizations with MBSR
  • Mark Williams and Danny Penman , Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Finding Peace in a Frantic World
  • Chade-Meng Tan, Search Inside Yourself: The Unexpected Path to Achieving Success, Happiness (and World Peace)
  • Jon Kabat-Zinn, Full Catastrophe Living
  • Jon Kabat-Zinn, Wherever you go, there you are
  • “Mindfulness,  Meditation,  Wellness  and  Their  Connection  to  Corporate   America’s  Bottom  Line”,  Huffington  Post,    18th  March  2013
  • Wisdom 2.0 (2012 videos): http://www.wisdom2summit.com/Videos
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