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We are excited to welcome four new members to our team at the Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute! As you’ll see below, they each have unique gifts, passions and vision for the future and we’re lucky to have their wisdom and perspectives on our side as we look towards the future together.

 

Karen Doyle Grossman

Global Head of Operations

Tell us about your interest in Mindfulness and Emotional Intelligence, what led you to want to work with SIYLI?

When I was in my early twenties, I started working internationally in countries affected by conflict or significant economic volatility. I absolutely loved the impact of and creativity inherent in this work, but it was stressful and the hours were never-ending. I sought out a meditation class at the local community center and tried to sit on my own. It was hard and confusing without a teacher or a dedicated group. So I stuck to yoga classes. They were convenient and structured and accessible. 

Five years later, I began searching for a yoga teacher training program. I called the Institute of the Himalayan Tradition in St. Paul, MN, intrigued by their publications. A booming voice answered even before the first ring, “WELL, I have been waiting for you!!” No hello, no asking what I wanted, no customer service refrain. Just this delighted expression of glee and welcome. I couldn’t help but laugh and return his enthusiastic greeting. This is how I met my teacher. 

Dr. Justin O’Brien, Theresa King, and the other program directors asked us to remain skeptical. “Do not accept anything until you have directly experienced it yourselves,” they asserted. All of the practices and philosophical claims were ours to investigate. “You are scientists uncovering the mysteries of the body, which is inside the mind, which is inside all of consciousness. Don’t ever take what we say on faith. Direct experience is your best teacher,” they reminded us again and again. 

I’ve been studying the mysteries of these ancient practices ever since. At the same time, I am in a doctoral program in Adult Learning & Leadership at Teachers College, Columbia University. Delving into the intersections of neuroscience, adult development, and leadership has led me to reflect on the societal value of mindfulness and contemplative practices. I think this chance to help SIYLI and its new B-corp develop and scale is a remarkable opportunity to contribute to a much-needed acceleration of human development.

What do you like to do in your free time outside of work?

Outside of work, I love to hike, ski, do yoga, and play board games. I live in the Berkshire hills, which are old, gentle mountains on the Appalachian range. They are the perfect size for hiking up and down in a couple hours. I grew up outside of Washington, DC and it took a car ride, usually through traffic, to get to a hiking trail. So having many trails so close is amazing.

I have three children who are in high school. They are the best (in my obviously biased opinion). It was a real gift to hang out with them so much during the lockdown, and having had that time is making the prospect of their heading into their independent futures much easier.

What do you think the ideal future workplaces look like?

Great question. I think the ideal future workplace is global, distributed, and is running on the all-important currencies of trust and discernment. It is carbon neutral and populated by human beings who have learned not to be so anthropocentric. (My sense is that our species’ tendency to believe we are superior in all ways is one of the most unexamined, taken-for-granted assumptions today.)  The ideal workplace will employ fluid organizing and governance structures, ones that shift depending on the context and the problem at hand.  And, finally, the ideal workplace has periods of silence, when one can choose to stop taking in external stimuli to connect internally and renew from the inside out.

What does compassionate leadership mean to you?

Compassionate leadership, to me, sits at the intersection of love, truth, and prudence, the latter being the virtue of knowing the right thing to do, and doing it at just the right time. I think of truth as, ultimately, falling in love with reality. And I think of love as expansion. Imagine having the ability to expand one’s thinking, expand one’s mind, and expand one’s consciousness to embrace the whole of reality. It may not be a path that our current culture rewards, but it could save all that we hold dear. So I hope that we, at SIYLI and the new B-corp, can be a part of developing these capacities in the compassionate leaders of the future. How transformed would the world be if we had more leaders, at all levels and in all corners of society, who courageously exemplified these virtues?

 

Shivani Womack,

Certified Teacher Support Manager

Tell us about your interest in Mindfulness and Emotional Intelligence, what led you to want to work with SIYLI? 

When I discovered the SIYLI organization, the company really resonated with me because I truly believe in the transformative power of the work we are doing here in the Mindfulness and Emotional Intelligence space. To see the amazing community we have – the growing impact and global reach is so inspiring and uplifting.

In both my personal and professional life, I’ve experienced the benefits of developing my own well-being practice using mindfulness-based principles and emotional intelligence tools to be able to move through life with more ease, joy, intention and presence. Now and perhaps more than ever, there is no doubt that we need more connection, compassion, empathy and peace in our world. There is so much change and many challenges that we’ve all faced or will face at some point, so having the tools to be able to adapt and manage these shifts in a healthy way is so critical for humanity right now.  Ultimately, when we learn to embody these practices, it increases our self-awareness and our impact, because I believe real change starts from within and creates a ripple effect.

What do you like to do in your free time outside of work?

I enjoy all aspects of creating—I’m an artist, a graphic designer, a content producer and most recently the founder of 8THREAD, a personal growth and well-being company. In my free time, I’m likely doing any one of those things but I also love personal care downtime—resting, rejuvenating, meditating and being in nature.

What do you think the ideal future workplaces look like?

A collaborative environment that fosters holistic well-being and creates a supportive, flexible workplace that celebrates individuality, connection and the dynamic nature of human beings. A place where people feel safe to show up as their full self and are respected, valued and nurtured. A place that invests in the people and is driven by strong human values, compassion, empathy and kindness.

What does compassionate leadership mean to you?

I think compassionate leadership is about understanding the interconnectedness of all human beings and serving from that place while leaving space to witness and support the unfolding of the individual’s unique journey. I think it’s about tapping into the intelligence of both the heart and mind simultaneously, to be of service in the world.

 

Jackie McKechnie,

Global Head of Sales and Client Success

Tell us about your interest in Mindfulness and Emotional Intelligence, what led you to want to work with SIYLI? (Why do these topics matter to you/the world today?)

I  have been cultivating my personal mindfulness practice for many years and what began as a spiritual quest in my younger years merged with my professional pursuits about 15 years ago when I co-founded a Mission driven company that brought the power of technology to crisis intervention and suicide prevention in Human and Social Services (iCarol).

I leaned heavily on my mindfulness practice to lead the company. Our primary mission was supporting highly talented people who represented the front lines of support in Suicide prevention, domestic violence, problem gambling, child trafficking, addiction and substance abuse and many other human struggles. I was inspired by witnessing front-line workers and leaders of national helplines who taught me a whole new meaning of what self-care and compassionate leadership required, day in and day out.

After exiting that business, I spent a few years ‘going small’  and centered my life around my own personal mindfulness practice and coaching and consulting. Encouraged by the results with my one on one and small group work, I realized that I was eager to bring social and emotional intelligence to scale in the workplace, and I’m thrilled that I can do that in my new position at SIYLI and the new B-corp. 

What do you like to do in your free time outside of work?

I love to hike, do yoga and explore the natural beauty of my home in the Bay area and I am a sucker for fresh crab.  Traveling is another favorite hobby that allows me to spend time with friends and family around the world and I try to connect with them as often as possible. I have two amazing sons in High school who play baseball, enjoy skateboarding and I appreciate all the family time I get with them. Other hobbies include laughing at my husband’s bad jokes, volunteering with foster families, attending spirit rock retreats and seminars and reading.

What do you think the ideal future workplaces look like?

One sure thing about the future is that Hybrid workplaces are here to stay.  That factor alone will require a paradigm shift in how organizations address productivity, engagement and well-being, not to mention creating an added level of complexity in addressing EDI issues. Ideally, this means that there is a future workplace that has redefined the metrics for productivity and also has accountability and new metrics around what success means in well-being and EDI.  

 On a personal side, companies that figure out how to address the WHOLE person will be the ones who truly thrive.  What does this mean? Successful companies will allow for employees to create their own sense of empowerment, flexibility and balance in their lives.

The good news is that there are companies large and small who are experimenting with what all this means, and those who are winning are the ones who recognize that social and emotional intelligence are the building blocks for the cultural shift necessary to address workplace shortcomings.

At SIYLI, we have dozens of tools that we use to run our business that make us the highest performing team I have ever worked on.  Many of these tools are what we teach in our Search Inside Yourself and Adaptive Resilience trainings: simple micro-practices that work on the individual level like using a Minute to Arrive (a timed minute of silence), the 3 Breath practice (one breath to settle, one to find more ease in your body and one to focus on ‘what’s important now). 

Where the SIYLI workplace really starts to take off is by leveraging the capacity of each individual to contribute to the whole through group norms like rotating meeting ownership, celebration rounds, valuing personal connection and honesty, offering an ‘open seat’ in senior management meetings, and supporting each other by bringing in a member from another team to coach or even mediate a difficult conversation or high stakes decision ensuring these challenges are met with openness and trust.

Gosh! Imagine a world where we had a workplace metric for trust!

What does compassionate leadership mean to you?

‘Other-centered,’ ‘Human-Centered,’  ‘Compassionate Leadership,’- whatever term you’d like to use, putting other people ahead of themselves is the first job of a leader. To do that effectively you need to nurture great compassion, for those you lead as well as for yourself.

Mindfulness training is the foundation for maintaining strong and focussed leadership in times of high growth and under conditions of excessive stress.  Social and emotional intelligence techniques help executives to attend to their leadership tasks with perseverance, integrity, and resilience. 

I think these are the new tools of leadership and will redefine who sits in the decision-making roles of the future.

Grace Edmunds

Marketing Manager

Tell us about your interest in Mindfulness and Emotional Intelligence, what led you to want to work with SIYLI? 

My love of mindfulness began when I was in my teens and learned the basic principles of awareness training through yoga and meditation classes, long before I had the ability to fully appreciate the impact these practices were having and would continue to have on my life. What followed was a windy (and often bumpy!) road of curiosity, meaning-seeking, mistake-making, learning and a deepening in the skills that would eventually lead me to the SIYLI community.

I spent two years after college traveling, volunteering and learning more about mindfulness practices in India and Nepal and I returned to the US and worked as a community manager and began teaching mindfulness in organizations and exploring extended mindfulness retreat practice. At the Wisdom 2.0 Conference, I met former SIYLI staff member Steph Stern and had an instant curiosity to know more about the community she worked in. Following that meeting, and after having engaged in another year-long Mindfulness Teacher Training, I enrolled in SIYLI’s third cohort of SIY Teacher Training and was continually awestruck by the high quality of interactions and depth of connection I built with each of the community members I met. The grounded, research-based nature of the Search Inside Yourself program helped me to translate a practice that had changed me so deeply into an accessible framework for growth that anyone can connect to. It has been my great honor to teach these essential skills and deliver the SIY program around the world since becoming certified in 2018. It is an even greater joy to move into this next chapter with SIYLI and the new BCorps to serve the wider network and work towards our collective mission.

What do you like to do in your free time outside of work?

I live in the mountains of New Hampshire and my favorite activity these days is to walk into the forest with my dog, my husband, a thermos of water and some tea leaves and sit quietly with a warm cup of freshly prepared tea in the woods. I also love to travel, dance, explore various embodiment practices, teach mindfulness and embodiment, spend time with dear friends, take road trips to explore local hidden gems, and eat delicious food!

What do you think the ideal future workplaces look like?

The ideal future workplace is one with humanity; where its leaders show their power through vulnerability and its members feel safe and respected to show up as their whole self each day. The ideal future workplace is truly inclusive and each stakeholder and team member can be honest with themselves about their thoughts, emotions and opinions, and feel able to share that honesty with their team. I see the ideal future workplace as one where employees are excited to go to work on Monday (as I truly feel about working with SIYLI!) and where “work” is not divorced from “life” and we respect and honor the interplay of the complex nature of our whole human selves while collectively working towards goals that go beyond shareholder benefits, but work towards a truly regenerative approach. I feel deeply that SIYLI and the new B-corp will be a leader in this revolution of the workplace.

What does compassionate leadership mean to you?

Compassionate leaders care in an inclusive and genuine way. They look at the larger system of their organization and deeply consider its daily impact on all its stakeholders as well as local communities and the planet at large in order to move forward with an inclusive vision that serves the highest good. Compassionate leaders move closer when there is difficulty, conflict or confusion and seek to understand. I believe that compassion is a prerequisite for all leaders paving the path towards our vision for an ideal future workplace.