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Neil Seligman

The Conscious Professional


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In this article, Neil Seligman, Founder of The Conscious Professional digests his experience of the Wisdom 2.0 Conference held in San Francisco this February and shares some of the key messages that can help businesses and professionals striving to be more conscious in 2014.


2000 delegates from all over the globe, 4 packed days of speakers, workshops, classes and intensives, a star-studded lineup of world-class wisdom teachers, authors, thought-leaders and visionaries of the conscious business movement, plus, the cream of the tech HR & L&D community.  In other words, this was a conference full of my heroes.

Here are some of my take-aways:

ARIANNA HUFFINGTON – “A critical mass has been reached…”

As we settle into our seats in the cavernous Marriott Marquis Conference Centre in downtown San Francisco, Arianna Huffington, Founder of The Huffington Post, strides on to the stage with a powerful ease and, "as it is Wisdom" invites us all to take a moment to pause and receive the next breath.  We do.  She then declares with a smile and a nod that whilst 2012 was the year that mindfulness became main-stream, 2013 was the year that CEO’s came out as long-time meditators!  She declares that a critical mass has now been reached in the conscious business movement.  The crowd erupts.

For me this is a powerful moment.  I have built a business based on ideas and philosophies, not long ago dismissed as wacky and weird.  In the audience we get a sense of the world waking up and being part of the process.  It feels good.

MEDITATIVE LECTURE WITH ECKHART TOLLE – “Sense the presence of the essence of who you are…”

If you ever get the chance to sit in a room with Eckhart Tolle you should take it.  Introduced as ‘probably the most present man on the planet’ Eckhart walked simply and humbly on to the stage acknowledging the resounding welcome and then settling into his seat and into his breath.  He then talked us through the 6 stages of entering into the present moment.

1)   Awareness of surroundings
2)   Acknowledgement of surroundings
3)   Appreciation for surroundings
4)   Sense of aliveness in the body
5)   Thoughts and space between
6)   Sense of self

If, by the way, you want to see what the body feels like to be alive close your eyes, raise your hands out in front of your head and answer Eckhart’s question: “How can I know, without moving or touching that my hands are still there?”.  Try it :)

TONY SHIEH – “It is not about return on investment it is about return on collisions…”

This was an unexpectedly impactful talk.  I wasn’t expecting the CEO of a clothing and shoe delivery company, to have such an incredibly visionary, conscious and creative approach to business.  I was very wrong.

There was something so immediately refreshing and heart-warming to the business priorities of Zappos.  Their number 1 priority is Community and they are doing incredible things to rejuvenate downtown Las Vegas where they are based (not the strip – but the non-tourist area of the city).  Their number 2 priority is their (work) Culture.  Yup, that’s right we are on number 2 and still no mention of profit!  Number 3 is Customer-Experience and number 4 is Clothing.  Cool right?  You are probably thinking this might be a nice place to work…?

Sticking with their heartening preoccupation with the letter C they choose to invest in:

1)   Collisions – (getting their staff to bump into each other and people outside the firm)
2)   Co-Learning, and
3)   Connectedness

What’s more, their business is measured in return on collisions (ROC) and return on luck (ROL)!  The overall aim is to accelerate serendipity in their community.  Beautiful right.

Zappos, as you can imagine, is a runaway financial success

The cool thing is that although I have never bought anything from Zappos, I am clearly now one of their brand advocates.  Clever eh?

(P.S. Having contacted Mr Shieh after the conference I have since been invited by Zappos to one of their Catalyst weeks in Las Vegas where I will be treated to 4 days of talks and networking opportunities.  I hope to share a talk on mindfulness with the other delegates.  There we have it – collisions, co-learning and connectedness in one!  Proof of the authenticity of their philosophy).

JOE GOODE – “Soften, open, release, pour, squelch, be messy…”

With a workshop title like ‘Movement for Humans’ there was no way I was going to miss out on this 8am class on one of the busiest days of the conference.

Joe Goode is a choreographer of brilliant contemporary dance.  He also teaches movement classes.  Not like the ones you go to where you stretch and strain and push and pull.  Not one of the yoga classes where you work your way closer to the front each week aiming to be teacher’s pet.  Not one of the ones where you judge your shortcomings and try to improve.  In this class you get to be with your body in a different way.  Pure acceptance.  Pure love.

We began with some gentle folding, touch and rocking.  Encouraged to ‘get messy’ we began to roll around the floor in a cascade of flesh released from trying.  Forbidden from adjusting our clothing to make ourselves presentable, our bodies became soft and poured from side to side, over, under, messy shapes, complete peace, acceptance, gratitude for the movement that was already there.

Despite the simplicity of this practice I found it revolutionary.  It was an utterly mindful practice imbued as it was with gratitude, presence, acceptance and love.

All teachers of physical disciplines should take a class with Joe Goode and translate some of his body-wisdom into their work.

JON KABAT ZINN – “The motivation for doing this is to not miss your life…”

Aptly nicknamed the Father of Mindfulness, Jon Kabat Zinn delivered a heartfelt and beautifully eloquent speech punctuated with reminders of the practice of mindfulness.  Here’s a few that stay with me:

1)   Mindfulness encourages a deep encounter with our own humanity.
2)   No place to go. Nothing to do. Nothing to attain.
3)   Meditation: It’s not what you think!
4)   You are looking for who is looking.
5)   In many Asian languages the word for mind and heart is the same.
6)   This is the best moment of your life.
7)   Just be who you already are.
8)   Take forward the spirit of the never-ending meditation...


Wisdom 2.0 is coming to Dublin in September this year for their first European event.  I am hoping to be involved in the program.  If you are interested in finding out more sign up for our newsletter and check out their website.

I for one will be back in San Francisco next year for Wisdom 2.0 2015.  Be great to see you there!

by Neil Seligman, Founder of The Conscious Professional

Corporate Mindfulness Solutions including
Mindfulness-Based Professional Effectiveness (MBPE)

Open Mindfulness Courses for Individuals in Central London
Conscious Executive Coaching

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