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Business Leaders Who Meditate: The Rise of Mindful Leadership

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Many successful business leaders who meditate have found mindfulness to be transformative, not only for themselves but also for their companies.  These leaders have gone on to introduce mindfulness practices within their organizations.  Read on to hear about their experiences and how mindfulness has benefited their businesses.

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JEFF WEINER • CEO, LinkedIn

Jeff Weiner spoke at the Wisdom 2.0 Conference about the importance of managing compassionately, something he calls his ‘first principle of management.’

He described how compassion requires slowing down and taking the time to truly listen to others and understanding where they’re coming from, caring about the struggles they’re facing, and the baggage they’re carrying.

Jeff Weiner
Steve Jobs

STEVE JOBS • Co-founder & CEO, Apple Inc.

Steve Jobs once famously said, “If you just sit and observe, you will see how restless your mind is. If you try to calm it, it only makes it worse, but over time it does calm, and when it does, there’s room to hear more subtle things – that’s when your intuition starts to blossom and you start to see things more clearly and be in the present more. Your mind just slows down, and you see a tremendous expanse in the moment. You see so much more than you could see before. It’s a discipline; you have to practice it.” Through this discipline, business leaders who meditate gain insight into heightened awareness, fostering clarity and a deeper understanding of the present moment.

EVAN WILLIAMS • Co-founder, Twitter

Evan, after launching Twitter, found his way back to mindfulness as a means to sustain high performance for himself and his employees. To facilitate this, the company provides free, guided meditation sessions in the office twice a week. Evan emphasizes the importance of making mindfulness accessible, stating, “I think you can make it easier to be mindful… If it’s on your calendar, and there’s a room over there to sit in, and there’s someone there to guide you, you’re 10,000 times more likely to do it.” This approach not only supports the well-being of employees but also underscores the value of mindfulness for business leaders who meditate.

Evan Williams
William Ford

WILLIAM FORD • Chairman, The Ford Motor Company

Ford is a staunch advocate of meditation in the business world. He expressed that during challenging times at the company, the practice of mindfulness was instrumental in sustaining him. Additionally, he disclosed that he sets an intention every morning to navigate his day with compassion. To effectively lead with compassion, he emphasizes the importance of first cultivating compassion for oneself through a loving-kindness (metta) meditation practice. This approach underscores the significance of mindfulness for business leaders who prioritize emotional intelligence and self-care.

PADMASHREE WARRIOR • The Chief Technology and Strategy Officer, Cisco Systems

Warrior, another business leader who meditates, incorporates nightly meditation sessions and dedicates her Saturdays to a ‘digital detox’. She explains, “Taking time to meditate and unplug helped me to manage it all. It’s almost like a reboot for your brain and your soul. It makes me so much calmer when I’m responding to e-mails later.” This practice not only rejuvenates her mind and spirit but also enhances her ability to handle work-related tasks with a greater sense of calm and clarity.

Padmashree
Nancy

NANCY SLOMOVITZ • CEO, Executive Management Associates

Slomowitz helped to lower her company’s healthcare costs by offering employees classes in Transcendental Meditation. She says, “The workplace environment soon grew from toxic to harmonious among other positive changes. And surprisingly, the company’s cost of healthcare insurance went down due to a reduction in sick claims.”

RUSSEL SIMMONS • Hip-hop Mogul

Simmons, among the business leaders who meditate, has been practicing Transcendental Meditation for a long time and serves on the advisory board for the David Lynch Foundation for Consciousness-Based Education and World Peace. In a Huffington Post blog, he emphasized, “You don’t have to believe in meditation for it to work. You just have to take the time to do it. The old truth is still true today, ‘God helps those who help themselves.’ My advice? Meditate.” Simmons’ advocacy underscores the practical benefits of meditation, irrespective of one’s beliefs, highlighting its relevance for individuals seeking to enhance their well-being and productivity.

Russel Simons
Robert Stiller

ROBERT STILLER • CEO, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Inc.

There is a dedicated meditation room at the Vermont headquarters of Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Inc., and CEO Stiller is a devoted practitioner. “If you have a meditation practice, you can be much more effective in a meeting,” he told Bloomberg in 2008. “Meditation helps develop your abilities to focus better and to accomplish your tasks.”

RICK RUBIN • Music Producer

Rubin was introduced to meditation at a young age of 14 years and to date, looks to meditation as a means of gaining insight into himself and the world.

“The more we can get in tune with the harmony of the planet, the more our art can benefit from that relationship,” says Rubin. He believes: “The more you understand silence, that’s where the balance comes from.”

Rick Rubin

SOLEDAD O’BRIEN • CEO, Starfish Media; CNN Anchor.

“I appreciate very much the opportunity to take the time to focus and meditate and it allows me to experience a state of deep rest that can be game-changing; and sometimes a lifesaver in a crazy world,” O’Brien said during a 2012 David Lynch Foundation forum. “It helps alleviate stress and pressure when you’re trying to balance life and being a mother.”

RAY DALIO • Founder & Co-CIO, Bridgewater Associates

In a 2012 conversation at the John Main Centre for Meditation and Inter-Religious Dialogue at Georgetown University, Dalio, among the business leaders who meditate, expressed that meditation has opened his mind and boosted his mental clarity. “Meditation has given me centeredness and creativity,” said Dalio. “It’s also given me peace and health.” His testimony highlights the transformative effects of meditation on both his professional and personal life, illustrating its value for business leaders seeking to optimize their cognitive abilities and overall well-being.

Ray Daylio
Marc Benioff

MARC BENIOFF • CEO, Salesforce.com

“One of the most important things that any of us can do when we’re getting ready to create something, and when we want to make the world better, is first and foremost to take a step back,” Benioff says.

“I enjoy meditation, which I’ve been doing for over a decade — probably to help relieve the stress I was going through when I was working at Oracle,” Benioff told the San Francisco Chronicle in 2005.

MARK BERTOLINI • CEO, Aetna

“Everyday I get up at 5:30 to do my practice because I know I’m headed into a chaotic world where I’m going to hear a lot of good and bad things, and I’m going to be challenged about my own worth.” Bertolini says.

He adds: “Unless I can bring myself to [a peaceful] environment steadily and mindfully, and be present in the moment– every opportunity I can, I can’t help the people around me either.”

Mark Bertolini
Larry Brilliant

LARRY BRILLIANT • CEO, Skoll Global Threats Fund & Former Director of Google

Brilliant spent two years during his 20s living in a Himalayan ashram and meditating, until his guru instructed him to join a World Health Organization team working to fight smallpox in New Delhi. In his 2013 commencement address at the Harvard School of Public Health, Brilliant emphasized the importance of peace of mind, wishing the graduates lives full of equanimity — a state of mental calm and composure.

ARIANNA HUFFINGTON • President & Editor-in-Chief, Huffington Post Media Group

In a 2011 Vogue feature, Huffington described early-morning yoga and meditation as two of her “joy triggers.” Now, Huffington has brought meditation into her company, offering weekly classes for AOL and Huffington Post employees. Huffington has spoken out on the benefits of mindfulness not just for individual health, but also for corporate bottom lines.

“Stress-reduction and mindfulness don’t just make us happier and healthier, they’re a proven competitive advantage for any business that wants one,” she wrote in a recent blog.

In conclusion, the testimonies of numerous business leaders who meditate highlight the profound impact of mindfulness and meditation on both personal well-being and professional success. From fostering compassion and creativity to enhancing mental clarity and emotional resilience, these leaders exemplify how incorporating mindfulness practices can lead to more effective leadership, improved workplace culture, and even tangible business outcomes such as reduced healthcare costs and increased productivity. By prioritizing self-awareness and mental well-being, business leaders who meditate are not only transforming their own lives but also paving the way for a more mindful and compassionate approach to leadership in the corporate world.

Arriana Huffington

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