WHAT MINDFUL LEADERS SAY 2017-01-30T14:11:38+00:00

Leader Speak

Several successful leaders have themselves practised mindfulness, found it transforming and have gone on to introduce it to their companies. Read on as they talk about their experiences with mindfulness and how it has helped their companies.


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.


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

Jobs has been famously known to have 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.”


EVAN WILLIAMS   •   Co-founder, Twitter 

Evan says he came back to mindfulness after launching Twitter as a way to sustain high performance – both his own and that of his employees.

Twice a week, the company offers a free, guided meditation session in the office. He says, “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.”


WILLIAM FORD   •   Chairman, The Ford Motor Company 

Ford is a big proponent of meditation in the business world. He said that during difficult times at the company, the practice of mindfulness kept him going. Plus, he set an intention every morning to go through his day with compassion.

And to lead with compassion, he says he first learned to develop compassion for himself through a loving-kindness (metta) meditation practice.


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

Warrior meditates every night and spends her Saturdays doing a ‘digital detox’. She says, “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.”


NANCY SLOMOVITZ   •   CEO, Executive Management Associates 

Slomowitz helped to lower her company’s health care 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 actually went down due to a reduction in sick claims.”


RUSSEL SIMMONS   •   Hip-hop Mogul

Simmons has been practising Transcendental Meditation since a long while and he sits on the board of the advisors for the David Lynch Foundation for Consciousness-Based Education and World Peace. “You don’t have to believe in meditation for it to work,” he wrote in a Huffington Post blog. “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.”


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 himself 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 till 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.”


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 and relaxation that can be game-changing; and sometimes a life saver 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 said 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.”


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 in a steady and mindful way, and be present in the moment– every opportunity I can, I can’t help the people around me either.”


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.

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