A LITTLE OVER FIVE YEARS AGO my life shifted and all that I knew to be true was turned upside down in a way that opened the doors for radical transformation. So what does one do when life throws curve balls? I choose to step away from it all and be still. I was drawn to the Big Island of Hawaii where I spent time being still, listening and unraveling my life.
What came through was the unexpected “Give up everything and follow your heart” message loud and clear! My heart called me to leave my community on the Monterey Peninsula and move to Santa Barbara, California. This was a big leap of faith as I had built relationships and clients as a business consultant in Monterey for over 20 years and knew no one in Santa Barbara. In keeping with the entrepreneurial spirit that was inbred, along with a desire to explore new places, I packed up kids and shingle and headed to Santa Barbara.
For many years I have assisted Fortune 500 and Fortune 100 clients like Du Pont, The Gap, American Express and others with everything from marketing campaigns to product roll-outs and strategic planning. I enjoy the challenge, variety and creative process involved in being a consultant. Santa Barbara had a different direction in store, however, as I landed in the nonprofit capital of the country with more NGOs per capita than any other U.S. city. I let the market and needs of my clients merge with my desire to have greater impact in ways that nourished my soul.
Even my business name took on new meaning. As “The Inspired CEO” I realized that I, and other CEOs of major corporations, had the responsibility and influence to be Conscious Evolutionary Officers. To be aware, awake and respond to the needs of their employees and customers/clients and steward the evolutionary process. It’s a great honor to be placed in a CEO position and that power can be used for good and ways that aren’t so great. As I embraced my newly defined CEO responsibility I invited other CEOs to become conscious evolutionary officers and be aware of their ability to nurture, grow and develop their employees and clients. When viewed through that lens, opportunities to enhance someone’s life are revealed and it’s truly a win-win that affects the bottom line and life line.
I have been a long-time supporter of NGOs, serving on boards and training as a fundraising professional. What I saw happening with nonprofits was the donor chase and funder sprint that often meant the nonprofit used resources in ways that were counter-productive and left their mere existence in the balance. It occurred to me that I could be a different type of resource for nonprofits. I could take a more entrepreneurial approach, helping them find ways to create a product or service people would pay for, thus generating revenue to fund their programs.
One of my very first clients in Santa Barbara was the largest nonprofit with programs ranging from Headstart to senior nutrition. Their senior nutrition program was in the red every year, needing grant funding to sustain itself. They cooked meals from a central kitchen, which happened to be in an old hospital building surrounded by offices. I got the support from Home Depot for paint and twenty-three Young Leaders from the United Way to paint, stain chairs, and renovate the space to make it inviting to the public. With healthy menu changes, pricing restructuring, and marketing, the “Back Door Deli” is now a place you would want to have lunch, and its income supports the senior nutrition program. There are many organizations with opportunities within their own walls to generate a portion of their own income, increasing their sustainability.
It’s not always easy to get an organization to reorient from the way they have operated for years. Little did I know the resistance I would face by coming into some organizations and actually questioning whether the grants they were applying for were aligned with their missions. There were some nonprofits that got it, really got it, and I have the pleasure of now choosing whom I wish to work with and developing projects with people who are passionate about what they do. If their work doesn’t have some lasting positive impact, I’m not interested. Knowing that I have the ability to be a part of the solution wakes me up excited every day. There is no typical day, which I love. I do start every day with my DMO (Daily Method of Operation): reading, journaling, meditation and getting some exercise. I meet with clients at their offices and some of my favorite restaurants throughout Santa Barbara.
I have always been a creative and that actually translates well for the out-of-the-box solutions that are often required to make things work. I live and work from my feminine core, which serves the cultural shift I desire to be a part of. I like heart-centered business dealings that emphasize the best outcome for all over the bottom line. When there are choices to create connection, respect and compassion or be in ego, I’ll choose the path of love and greater good first and that lets me sleep really well at night. I have my absolute dream job and it changes with the dreams that are most alive for me in the moment.
After my last son graduated and I was officially an empty-nester I decided to do my work on a more global scale and I now lead business retreats all over the world. We have a lot of fun, do good, and get so much done while playing and working in beautiful places across the globe. My retreats are unusual in that we ask that participants show up with a willingness to listen without attachment or resistance to new ideas that the setting, other participants, or Spirit might reveal. Non-attachment and releasing the illusion of control offer the best outcomes and experiences while on a Business Bliss Retreat. Napoleon Hill had it right when he spoke of the “Master Mind”—the mind that is beyond the sum of the people in the room. It is POWERFUL when others bring their thoughts and energy around you, your business and projects. Even one person in support of your work can up-level all that you know to be true overnight.
Most people have a deep burning desire to do something with their lives. Some are living pieces of their dreams. I ‘m paid to lead others to where they want to go but often just don’t know the route. I ask a lot of questions and listen to what’s being said underneath the answers. Combining my skillset and knowledge-base with someone’s desire is an alchemical process. On the other side of the sometimes fiery process, gold does await for those willing to fully dive in.
I see my role as a global entrepreneur expanding and bridging the gap between countries as well as cities. I look forward to growing a tribe of social entrepreneurs who are heart-centered and changing the world in meaningful, respectful, positive-impact ways. I definitely plan on being all used up when I die. I would advise anyone who is thinking of trying something different to go for their dreams. Follow your bliss and live your passion. To do anything else is playing small and not honoring the precious life and unique jewel we each are. There are always solutions; most problems are worse in our thoughts than in our reality. So face the fears, thank them, and move forward with whatever it is you know you are put on this planet to do.