What’s Yoga Got To Do With It?

Here's my definition of legacy: "a conscious and meaningful contribution of your authentic gifts, talents and resources that adds value in a lasting way."

It’s not what comes to most people's minds, but think about it. Whether large or small, financial or not, isn't that what it comes down to? Okay, often it's not all that conscious since even people who don't think about it or design it directly, do create a legacy and are known and remembered for some contribution they’ve made … usually after the fact.

So, being conscious about it is a big shift that makes legacy more applicable to everyone – simply a part of daily life. If you were consciously making a contribution using your authentic gifts, talents and resources to add value to some part of the world, what would you be doing? It’s amazing how such unique expression can develop into significant, positive, lasting change. It just takes a little personal pioneering

Pioneering


One young pioneer pursuing this definition of legacy through her professional practice is Kristin Scheel. Like most young lawyers, Kristin started out in a pretty traditional fashion, earning her undergraduate degree in Economics from Texas A&M University and graduating at the top of her class from South Texas College of Law. She then racked up lots of experience as an associate in other law firms and work as in-house corporate commercial counsel.

What can happen from there is what I call the professional opportunity of a lifetime – the decision to hang out your own shingle and create your own professional practice. When that happens not only does the pioneer spirit kick in, but also an entrepreneurial one, which requires the development of business and other skills not taught in professional training.

For me, it was incorporating into my legal practice the notion of preventing legal problems. Many colleagues thought that was a crazy notion – why do something that would potentially limit the amount of work you could do for clients? But clients thought it was great – investing in legal services to put in place what you need to avoid big legal fees from major, but avoidable, problems. The pursuit gave me the opportunity to incorporate my values into professional practice, and to develop a profitable and sustainable business that continues though I’ve stepped away from active involvement.

In Kristin’s case, it’s about yoga. 

Kristin is a devoted yoga practitioner and teacher.  That doesn’t mean she gets clients on the mat doing various postures and breath work (though that might help in most situations)! What it means is that in her own professional practice, with its own philosophy and approaches to problems, she gets to incorporate her own brand of service.  And perhaps shift the way law is practiced and the way lawyers are perceived by the general public – a legacy feat in itself!

Integration

Kristin sees herself as an interdisciplinary collaborative practitioner providing services as both an attorney and mediator. Rather than compartmentalizing who she is from her work, she integrates it all: her experience as a corporate lawyer, litigation attorney, family law and divorce clinic volunteer,  yoga teacher, family member, seeker of knowledge and rich life experience, and nonprofit board member. She also brings significant training in communication as well as right-left brain balance and other philosophies from yoga to her work in addressing legal matters. 

She has built a private law firm in Houston, Texas designed to provide family law services, divorce and collaborative law mediation, as well as business law services and her vast experience in corporate law and commercial contracts for entrepreneurs and conscious business owners, and nonprofit organizations.  It is the goal of her professional practice to provide clients with ‘holistic legal services.’ It’s an expression of her own personally held core values to honor people and bring a peace-making approach to conflict resolution.

To that end, she brings a deep commitment to helping clients create solutions mindfully, creatively and with minimal court involvement, and with a focus on impacts to community – however that may be defined in a given situation. She has cultivated skills in deep listening, compassionate communication, responsiveness and creative option generation (things not taught in law school). Legal solutions then reflect clients’ needs and customized resolutions from exploration of a wealth of choices, and they align with the client’s life experiences and core values.  Her focus is to support their success and harmony not just in the immediate concern, but in the long run, allowing legal strategies to develop from a place of strength, alignment and responsiveness.

The result? She finds that approaching legal services in this way can save time and money, as well as priceless emotional stress.

A Foot In Both Worlds

Kristin maintains her mainstream involvements as a member of the Texas and Houston Bar associations. She’s also eagerly involved with organizations supporting the delivery of services in alternative ways, including the Collaborative Law Bar Association and Cutting Edge Law. To further support the expansion of approaches available to lawyers in practice, Kristin is also the founder of  the Houston Holistic Lawyers for Transformation.

So what’s yoga got to do with it?  In Kristin’s case, it’s got everything to do with it. It forms a foundational purpose for how to approach people and the world.  It defines who she is in all contexts of her life and work – and what she believes is possible in the way she serves and literally creates the world around her. These things provide a framework for decisions and actions – how she helps people find solutions to their challenges and how she builds her business.

It’s About Courage

It takes courage to be yourself – and be your best self – and then build your work around it.  But that work can change the world … and in this case enhance or change the direction of an entire profession. It’s legacy, consciously created at the level of daily work.

Are you ready to step out and be more of who you are, incorporate that into your business and attract the people who resonate with that and are looking for someone like you to work with? I’d love to explore what that would be like for you.  Join me for a complimentary breakthrough consultation – get on the schedule here and let’s see what develops!

Ready To Earn Your True Potential and Build Real Wealth?

Fully half of all Americans, both men and women, feel underpaid and believe that they are not paid as much as much as their peers in similar jobs.  A Gallup poll revealed that only 35% of men and 28% of women ever expect to get rich. And, well, just how would they do that if they’ve never learned what they need to learn about earning what they’re really worth, managing money and building wealth?

Many people seem magnetically drawn to get rich quick scams and make-a-million-dollar schemes. That’s probably because true financial mastery that leads to real wealth is a subject they were not exposed to in school or taught at home. And these schemes are tantalizing because they seem easy, until it appears there is real work involved: sometimes unsavory tasks, and things that may be distasteful to do. 

Basic wealth-building activities are relatively simple to master, not difficult to perform and, remarkably, quite often not even related how much one earns.  (Even people with high salaries fail to build wealth, and are essentially underearners.)  Many people never get to those activities, even if they know about them.  That’s because there is something more fundamental at play causing them to be “underearners” rather than high earners. 

What are underearners?  They’re those who earn less than their potential despite a need or desire to do otherwise – and they likewise fail to build real wealth. Thus, they don’t undertake those simple activities, or see real opportunities when they come along.  Rather, they stay in their “comfort zone” – which is really just familiar and predictable, and anything but comfortable when it comes to money.

Partly, that’s because engaging in activities to earn more and master one’s finances can seem uncomfortable – especially next to dazzling get rich quick promises that make it look like you’ll be riding in the latest model sports car, yacht or private plane in no time at all.  But just like exercise, real wealth-building just takes learning what to do and then building the muscle through practice. Getting over the discomfort is part of the equation – simply doing what needs to be done until it becomes uncomfortable not to do it.

Resisting that underlying discomfort is one thing that defines an underearner.  So does a lack of the following: knowing what one really wants, having a profit motive, understanding how much money one really needs for all they want, or knowing and believing in the worth of their knowledge and work.  These fundamentals, and possibly others, must be addressed as the “inner work” of wealth, before many will ever even begin the “outer work” consisting of the relatively simple activities involved in financial mastery and the journey toward financial independence.

 Truly, it is not a difficult journey, and underearning is a curable condition – as long as, like any other, its root cause is identified and the right remedies are applied.

We recently did an introductory course on these subjects called 5 Steps To A Richer Life and are giving it away to anyone interested in examining their own situation in more depth.  Click here to download a copy of the audio, do the exercises and see where you stand. 

Starting October 7th is our 5 week program – the last for 2010 called  Overcoming Underearning & Achieving Financial Mastery. It builds on the introductory work in the teleclass and provides additional resources and support for this journey.  We have some specials currently available, so if you’re interested go here to register.  We’d love to have you join us and get on the road to earning your potential (and more), becoming a financial master, and building real wealth.

We welcome you to do this work with us because we have a big goal:

  • We really want to help change the world for the better.  We see so many places where that is needed, and know that each person brings a gift to the world that only they can deliver.
  • We also know how hard that is to do if you are having financial struggles of any sort.
  • So we sincerely want to help as many people as possible change that, and make the transition from struggle to the sense of abundance and generosity that we know is supported by having money handled.

All the best to you!
Dolly & Eliza

Now We’re Getting Somewhere – Introducing The B-Corp

In the business world there’s been this tension between making money and doing good.  At least for an emerging group of leaders.  Sure, making money – being a viable enterprise – is exceedingly important.  It’s hard to be an ongoing enterprise, enduring for the long-term, without effective revenue generation and cash flow management no matter how you structure things. 

But more and more there are people who eschew (love that word!) the notion that business is only about profit.  It used to be that business was not just about making money – for oneself or one’s shareholders – but also about adding value and doing something good in the world: innovating new high-quality products that last longer than one season (or one year …), building infrastructure, caring for people when they are sick or injured …

Yet, in the world of corporate law, for-profit corporate officers can run into trouble if they engage in activity designed to do anything other than produce a profit, since their duty of loyalty is to the shareholders who funded the operation in hopes of getting the greatest return on their investment.  This, of course, has led to making  money as an end unto itself.  And that focus has led to a lot of people dissatisfied with the jobs they go to every day, just to earn a buck without much in the way of personal or professional satisfaction.

Many of us in business, particularly I’m happy to say the women entrepreneurs around the world, are starting to consider that such return might come in the form of value other than a dollar, euro, ruble or yen (insert your other favorite monetery currency here).  Those who consider themselves social entrepreneurs will be glad of this first: enter the Benefit Corporation which made its debut in the state of Maryland recently.

Rather than a primary focus on ‘shareholder value’ (which is creating as much money as possible for corporate owners) – the duty of those running a for profit corporation, the B Corp, like a true social enterprise, can lawfully focus on the needs of everyone connected to the company: shareholders, officers, staff, customers/clients, vendors, communities.  That’s a very different focus. So long as the public or social benefit that may serve as the mission of the enterprise is clearly stated in the corporation’s Articles of Incorporation (so investors know what that is and that their investment will not just be focused on money-making but rather value-making and money-making), then the officers and management of the company can legally seek to confer such benefits on people other than shareholders. 

Not only can they, but in doing so they must measure and report their beneficial results so that those efforts can be publically tracked.  Think of it as a hybrid of the for profit and non-profit corporation.  Click here to read an interesting example from the HuffingtonPost.com.

Seems a bit sad that we had to carve out a special legal definition for this.  But I’m glad Maryland broke ground with it. 

Actually, their law is based on the work of non-profit B Lab, a Pennsylvania company that certifies companies committed to social responsibility.  They provide an Impact Assessment for those who aspire to run socially responsible operations, help them save money and raise capital, and give them a forum to meet other kindred spirits in business. 

Jay Coen Gilbert, one of the co-founders of B Lab, feels there are more and more investors who want to invest their money in truly mission-driven companies.  He was quoted in Bloomberg-Businessweek recently saying: “I think it’s becoming increasingly not only acceptable but sought after by mainstream investors.”

That’s some good news for a change, eh?

Might your legacy project fit into a B-corp structure?  Seems like a good option for many who might need to raise capital to get their project going rather than having to rely on raising charitable donations.  We look forward to watching the development and stand ready to help you figure it all out.

Cheers, Dolly

181 Investors Managing $13+Trillion Call For Strong Climate Change Action

Going into the United Nations Climate Change Summit in Copenhagen, which begins this coming week, I am feeling a bit dismayed, despite the fact that more and more common sensical and educated folks (like the 181 investors referenced in the title) are displaying a willingness to come forward in the climate change discussion and call on world leaders to get a grip and begin to do something about it. 

I am dismayed because telling the truth seems to be such a hard thing to do – because people are afraid of what will happen if they do.  Yet, as we are taught (just maybe not taught well enough how to practice), honesty is still the best policy.  It lessens the need for “spin” and opens the door to debate – hopefully honest debate without conniving trickery.  Having practiced law, I can, unfortunately attest to the existence of both conniving tactics and trickery in what is supposed to be high level honest debate built on a foundation of professional integrity.  Anyone who reads or watches any news also knows that people often read and watch whatever supports their underlying beliefs and attempted assertions - rather than staying open to and dealing directly with the sometimes not so pleasant actual truth. 

I say all this because in the past couple weeks thousands of emails and files were hacked from scientists inside East Anglia University, the British keeper of global temperature records, revealing at best a fearful reluctance among them to reveal all their scientific data and their efforts to disguise data that give rise to questions about human caused global warming.  Presumably, they do such things to divert the attacks of critics – when it would just be better to put it out there and well … honestly debate.   See more on that story here. (The hackers, of course, are still unidentifed and at large, and following their actions have been others who have attempted to post outright false information online to persuade people further in their beliefs that there is no environmental problem going on and we should stop making such a potentially expensive fuss about it).

Genuinely concerned scientists and environmentally minded citizens like myself have recently had to divert their focused attention from environmental protection, to defending the need for environmental protection.  This is despite plenty of real evidence that humans have seriously degraded the planet – jeeze just go to your nearest water body and have a look at it: wanna swim in that?  how about taking a nice long drink? 

And why and how did we get here? It’s a result of fear – it always comes down to fear even if it parades as greed and arrogance – of telling the truth in the first instance. That results in back peddling, having to explain, being diverted from the real, important issues, and feeling like you have to justify.  And worse, having to work harder to get a clear message to people whose beliefs cause them to be grounded in denial and avoidance to begin with. 

Yet, the truth, however it comes out – and it generally does - eventually leads to some level of honest debate among truly open and concerned persons, even though spinmeisters know that creating diversions can delay that debate.  Hence the old saying “justice delayed is justice denied,” a problem that ultimately be avoided if we would just do a better job of practicing telling the truth and treating each other compassionately. 

And the truth is that pumping carbon in the form of carbon dioxide, and other greenhouse gasses, in to our atmosphere IS a problem and it needs to be corrected.  Even scientists who criticize alleged ”government by the few” or a handful of “elites” — like the members of the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) have been called – conclude that hidden and hacked emails or not, global climate change (a lot more than mere “warming”) is still a problem.  It is not a matter of how much carbon based fossil fuel is left in the ground and how we can exploit every last drop.  It is a matter of whether we should continue to pump that carbon into the atmosphere and poison our planet – or begin to move, as rapidly as possible, into production of clean energy alternatives and more effective conservation efforts. 

Not surprising as a result of the East Anglia email hacking debacle, I heard a report on the radio this morning that some religious leaders have started speaking out against efforts to address climate change, claiming that our creator endowed us with an earth that is resilient.  I have no qualms with them.  But best I’ve been taught, our creator also gave us free will, and that free will may be causing serious harm and deterioration to this garden and paradise we were given in the form of the earth.  I agree the earth is resilient and will be just fine – what I question is what will happen to life on earth (humans and other species, which are so very threatened and disappearing at alarming rates as a result of humans’ exercise of free will).  While I don’t completely agree with George Carlin’s suggestions in his “The Planet is Fine” comedy sketch that we should do nothing to address it, I do agree with his underlying premise.  We may destroy our species and life on the planet as we know it, but the earth itself will be fine.  But I have serious questions about what will happen to ‘we the people’ – so many of whom are failing miserably at living up to being made in God’s image and likeness.

Yet, from the business world we have some enlightened leaders:  Ceres (pr. “series”), is a U.S. network of investors, environmental organizations and public interest groups with a stated mission to integrate sustainability into capital markets for the health of the planet and its people.  They recently reported some seriously good news:  the world’s largest group of global investors has issued a joint call for U.S. and international policy makers to take strong action to address global climate change.  

What a pleasant experience to find such enlightened leadership within the financial industry – which often takes a bad rap for greedily focusing on profit over anything else.  Head of one of the investment group members recognized publically that the human cost of inaction is unthinkable, and called for the development of sustainable business practices.  Just goes to show, there are reputable, high integrity professionals in all industries (even as there are those gripped by fear and acting badly …).

And from the religious world come some enlightened leaders, too, who see global climate change as a possible threat to peace.  Religions for Peace is the world’s largest and most representative multi-religious coalition. In September, the organization participated in the sixty-fourth session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.  Their purpose was to help promote a binding global climate deal at the UN Climate Change conference this next week.  Hallelujah!

The upside?  Dismayed or not, I can always find some good news.  I’m so grateful for that.

Blondes Take Note: Volkswagen’s Really Do Have More Fun

And it’s a great key to leadership and social enterprise. 

We’ve become a two Vee-Dub family.  Partly that’s because they really are fun to drive, and economical.  Small, but lots of room, and great gas mileage.  And did I mention zippy?  Remember Fahrvergnügen?  (Then you’re older than I thought). 

German car manufacturer Volkwagen used the term in a 1990 advertising campaign, with the slogan “Fahrvergnügen: It’s what makes a car a Volkswagen.”  I “got it” immediately probably because my first car during high school in the ’70′s was my brother’s hand-me-down 1961 VW Karmann Ghia.  It looked pretty much like this one, except that it was originally really close to that cool ‘British racing green’ color like the old MG’s.  Anyway, it’s a word that in German means “driving enjoyment.”

I guess I’m taken by all that because joy is one of my values.  And it’s clear that it’s a value this company has embodied. Since the original Ghia, I’ve driven two VW buses (actually one that my father and I repurposed from the best parts of two into one, as one of my summer home vocational training programs - can you say “Bondo”?), a couple different Beetles, a Rabbit, two GTI’s and now the new (1997) Jetta my sweet husband just bought in VW solidarity.   

 Remember Turbonium?  I’ve had that, too, do now and wouldn’t be without it:  a ‘whole new element’ of extra fun.

But back to leadership and social enterprise.

One element of leadership is knowing your mission, built on some solid underlying value – one you can really get behind and that motivates others.  While the VW company has many we could identify, I’ll just focus on fun, because it’s one that is fundamental to their mission.  To which has been added social responsibility in a much more visible way.  VW has now created a program of positive social change devoted to the notion that fun may just be the best way to change people’s behavior for the better.  It’s called The Fun Theory - check out the site devoted to it to see how the company has incorporated a social enterprise element into its business operations.  Now that’s what I call positive leadership to power sustainable change.

As for why my husband just bought a new-to-us 1997 VW Jetta just about to roll over 100,000 miles, that’s a whole different story for another time.  But for me, while I am devoted to the notion that transportation should be economical and likewise am committed to keeping a low carbon footprint (a hint to that “other story”), I still value driving fun. Here’s my current ride:

Dolly's Vee-Dub

Dolly's Vee-Dub

And note that I’m ready to roll to Cuba as soon as travel restrictions are lifted:
Dolly's Tunnel Permit

Dolly's Tunnel Permit

 
 

People Want to Believe You Can Make Money And Make Sense – And It’s True

In fact, going into the future, it’ll probably be the best way to make money.  If we even need money – ah, the utopian dreams of my youth.  Consider …

There was the Agrarian Age – the age of farms and self-sufficiency.  Then the Industrial Age – assembly lines, mass production of goods, the throw away society, plastics, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, myriad forms of pollution, Global Climate Change … modern, progressive futurists we may think we are, we still live so very much in that age.  

Then came the Information Age – when we all began to have access to news and information from around the globe that we never had before, ushered in (oh so long ago now folks) when stories of the Viet Nam War were shown, graphically, on television.  War on TV for the first time – now sensationalized mayhem day in and day out on all major news stations – trying to keep us glued so as to sell us more and make us bigger consumers. 

Fortunately, during this era the internet was opened up to regular Josephines like us (yes, Al Gore DID do that – he didn’t invent it as the ridiculing comments would have it, but he did open up access to it for we the people.)  And baby look at what we know now. 

These past eras ushered in one where we have greeds like Bernie Madoff, and making money through mathematical formulas compounding penny size trades by the second and derivative securities concocted by the best and brightest from MIT and similar institutions of higher learning - instead of creating value added products and services to save the planet. But that’s another story.  Fortunately, these days of massive info access also ushered in greater transperancy in just about everything – from knowing much of the in’s and out’s of the fall of Enron and Worldcom and the big three auto makers (unfortunately too late to circumvent the harm their poor decisions wrought), to knowing all the ingredients in the products we purchase so can make better informed choices.

People are wondering what comes after the Information Age. 

Well, I think it is the Age of Integrity. I certainly hope it is.  As in, an age of wholenesss – we’re all one in this universe, so let’s pull this planet altogether and create from what’s best, what adds the most value to the most people, eliminate waste, become unconditionally constructive and compassionate, go back to being citizens rather than mere consumers to be marketed to and parted from our dollars, euros, yen, rubles, etc.  Integrity also as in ethical – doing the right thing for the right reasons and vowing to become ‘obedient to the unenforceable – doing what’s right because we all begin to develop a higher sense of consciousness and know it’s the right thing, not because someone’s going to punish you if you don’t.

If we can pull that off, we have a future.  In business there is (finally!!) a new push toward social entrepreneurship and conscious capitalism.  It’s been growing as a grassroots effort for some time, mainly on websites, blogs and in chat rooms around the world wide web.  These subjects are now being taught in some of the great university business programs  (it’s about time): the Harvard Social Enterprise Initiative, Stanford Center for Social Innovation, and Berkeley Center for Responsible Business, for example. 

As reported recently by Axiom News, people are eager for conscious capitalism focused businesses.  Word is getting out (geeze what has taken so long?) that people yearn for higher meaning and greater purpose in life and work than just financial results – elevating work to a spiritual practice, integrating the practical with the very personal.  Author and Professor at Boston’s Bentley University, Raj Sisodia understands this – and is teaching it.  His new book, Firms of Endearment: How World Class Companies Profit from Passion and Purpose makes the case.  

And none too soon.  What do you think?

Legacy projects are taking this form of social enterprise.  Whether as a corporate responsibility project cooperatively begun by existing business owners and their staff ,or a personally developed social change philanthropic project begun by individual social entrepreneurs – more and more people are doing this work.  It is my great pleasure to get to support them in consciously developing their projects, incorporating sound business, management and marketing principles for long term viability, and with an eye toward making a positive contribution.

What joy that is! So, if you, too, believe you can make money and make sense, how will you help usher in the Age of Integrity?  I’d love to know your thoughts and ideas, and how you’ll implement them!

Intentions & Motivations: What’s At the Heart of It?

Many legacies take the form of nonprofit businesses, which like any enterprise must be run in a business-like way. To me, whether the form of an enterprise is for profit or nonprofit – simply two different ways to structure a legal business entity engendering a much longer discussion — the business-like way to run them is with both head and heart.

Just as medicine is often as much an art as a science (unfortunately these days often way too controlled by accounting principles …), it seems there is a tremendous imbalance between head and heart.  And when heart loses out, so do we all.

In a recent article on the Planned Giving Design Center’s blog there was a discussion about the impact President Obama’s Tax Plan would have on the cost of charitable giving for wealthy donors.  Coming from the “head” view, the article made a lot of valid points, calculating the amount of tax benefit that might be lost and suggesting that this would dissuade wealthy donors from supporting charitable causes.  If that is truly the case, it is a cause for great sorrow to me.

One commenter to the article made an extremely valuable observation.  Fred Matthews heads Sound Development Strategies in Seattle, WA, a consulting organization that assists mid-size nonprofits.  His lovely observation in the discussion bears repeating, so I quote it in full here:

This discussion is a classic example of the difference between fundraising and philanthropy. Fundraising is a set of techniques and processes we use to implement philanthropy. Philanthropy is about creating change in our communities, our society and our world on behalf of those who are vulnerable and do not have the advantages many of us do.

When we start to confuse fundraising–and its associated tax benefits–with philanthropy, and do not focus first and foremost on the case for support of our nonprofit organizations (the change for the better in the lives of those less fortunate who share our planet) and donative intent, we have seriously lost our professional way.

Thanks again Fred.

Fundraising and Philanthropy.  Head and Heart.  Both are important.

Where is head and heart out of balance in your work in the world?  Would you like to put more heart into it? Profit is important, let’s be clear – enterprises with no money, whether a family or a company – can’t do much good in the world.  But how can revenue generation be better tied to the heart?

To me, the answer lies in holding the strong intention to do good work in the world with an underlying motivation to add value wherever possible.  What does that look like in what you do day to day?  How would you incorporate it into your legacy project?