Danielle Harlan – Founder & CEO, Center for Advancing Leadership & Human Potential

danielle harlan

Danielle Harlan is the author of “The New Alpha: Join the Rising Movement of Influencers and Changemakers who are Redefining Leadership.” She’s also the Founder & CEO of the Center for Advancing Leadership & Human Potential. 

Growing up in a small oceanside town in California, Danielle’s perspective was slowly shaped by the conglomerate of open-minded, thoughtful people surrounding her, inviting her to question how she can go above and beyond individual success to truly benefit her community. Before pursuing a masters and PhD, Danielle worked for Teach for America and taught special education in a fairly under-resourced area of San Jose. She feels like she derived purpose and also gave back to her community through this area of strenuous, yet rewarding, work.

Danielle says leadership and human potential have been woven into everything she’s done, right down to her doctorate-level dissertation for a Stanford PhD in political science. After earning several degrees as the first person in her family to graduate from college, Danielle wrote and published her book, as well as founded The Center for Advancing Leadership and Human Potential. Danielle’s work as both an author and CEO focuses on what our responsibilities as human beings are to others. They also focus on how we can maximize our impact on others through leadership.

Show Highlights

  • 3:17 – Growing up
  • 5:56 – Teach for America: How Danielle decided to teach kids with special needs
  • 11:50 – Challenges with the curriculum when teaching
  • 14:20 – The Carnegie Foundation
  • 17:38 – Breaking away from that impactful work to pursue social science & leadership
  • 23:55 – Data from Gallup: getting better employment satisfaction scores & productivity
  • 25:16 – The “Traditional Alpha” leader
  • 29:00 – The three core focuses of “The New Alpha” book: personal excellence
  • 39:50 – How to best help a leader who’s accustomed to traditional leadership styles
  • 45:30 – The most selfish thing leaders can do
  • 48:00 – Prioritization of health, wellness and stress management in leadership roles
  • 59:00 – A Grateful Dead comparison in marketing
  • 1:05:50 – Danielle’s hidden talent

Show Links

Danielle Harlan Podcast Interview

Give us a sense of who you are as an individual, in addition to this great work you and your team are working on. 

I’m here actually in the bay area in California, but I grew up in a little coastal town called Big Sur. And it’s interesting because at the time I just thought, “Oh, it’s a beautiful place to grow up by the ocean and the redwoods and all that.”

But Big Sur is actually known as the seed of the human potential movement. There was a lot going on there in the ’60s and ’70s. But I grew up in that community of open-minded, thoughtful people. They really thought, “What are my roles and my responsibilities to my community?” It certainly shaped my perspectives as an adult in a deep way.

I went on to the University of Maryland on the east coast. I became the first person in my family to graduate from college. Anyone who’s had the opportunity to attend college can sort of attest to this, but it was a point in my life where I realized, “Wow, what an incredible amount of privilege to have this education, to be surrounded by so many amazing people and great organizations.”

That also really got me thinking about my responsibilities to others, now that I have this privilege.

And so through University of Maryland, I found out about Teach for America, became a special education teacher and then went on to grad school because I really wanted to better understand the issues. I did my doctorate and master’s degree at Stanford, and studied political science.

All of this seemed so random; at the time, I was just following gut instincts, but I think leadership and human potential were woven into everything that I did — even down to what my dissertation was on in political science — I looked at leadership on the Supreme Court, group decision-making, all of these things that at the time just seemed interesting and cool. But later, that research came into play in such deep ways: my leadership roles, and then also writing “The New Alpha” book and also founding the Center for Leadership & Human Potential. It revolved around how leadership can really help us maximize our impact in the world and solve the problems that we care most about.

At what point did the Teach for America pursuit come into play?

I remember sitting in the car with my mom in the early ’90s right when Teach for America was new. She said, Hey, I heard about this program for teachers. I honestly didn’t even think about that conversation until so many years later when I was in college, when there were Teach for America recruiters on campus.

The reason I connected with the ideas behind that organization and the reason I still do stems from being the first in my family to graduate from college. I saw how that experience gave me access to resources, jobs and a network that many people didn’t have. Many smart people didn’t have the opportunities I did, who were probably much more intelligent and competent than I was. Just because I have this college degree my world is forever different. And so I felt like I wanted to really pay it forward. I got a lot through great mentors and teachers and professors. Being able to give back gave me a sense of purpose and still does.

One of your first teaching gigs happened at a relatively under-resourced part of San Jose, and it involved teaching kindergarten students with special needs. So, why special needs? Why in an under-resourced area?

I remember when I was a special ed teacher full time, people were always like, “You must be a saint.”

I’ll tell you honestly that when I joined Teach for America I didn’t think I’d teach special ed. I had a really naive view of what special education was. Overall, I just assumed it was the most challenging and most intense. Technically, there are many categories of learning differences that fall into special education. So, when I got to San Jose, they said they assigned me to the English and Social Studies middle school. Every teacher’s dream, right?

But they actually said they have a really high need in special education. “Would you consider doing that?” My background wasn’t in education. The school district and Teach for America said they’d train me, and they could give me the skills and confidence needed to be successful. That is, if I was willing to do it.

Teach for America itself is a two-year commitment, and I knew I wasn’t going to be a full-time classroom teacher. I didn’t know that teaching would become a deep, integral part of myself as a human being and a leader. I thought, well, I have a limited amount of time in this experience. So I want to throw myself in in a way that I feel is going to make the biggest impact.

And it turns out that special education was a great choice and a great way to make that impact.

Also personally, I got so much more out of that experience than if I’d chosen something less challenging. Working with students with learning differences challenged me to find ways to help people reach their potential that didn’t follow the conventional path. All of them were so brilliant and so eager to learn and improve. It was just a deeply fulfilling experience. When I look back on my career and all the different things I’ve done and the impact I’ve had in different domains, certainly being a special ed teacher was one of the most meaningful and impactful aspects of my career.

Y Scouts, a leadership search firm, finds purpose-aligned and performance-proven leaders to help organizations achieve their missions faster. Ready to supercharge your leadership search and get the right person in your organization? Contact Y Scouts.

Aaron Hurst Podcast Interview – CEO of Imperative

aaron hurst

Today we’re interviewing Aaron Hurst, the co-founder & CEO of Imperative, and the author of The Purpose Economy. Aaron has been wired to challenge the status quo from a very early age. He sees opportunity and potential in every direction, and by his own admission is a bit of a troublemaker. During Aaron’s childhood, he moved around a lot and, as a result, he developed the important skill of pattern recognition, a trait that has served him well throughout his entrepreneurial efforts. Early in Aaron’s career, he founded the Taproot Foundation, a pro-bono community of professionals who volunteered their time and expertise to helping mission-driven nonprofits with the marketing, PR, and other important services they need to achieve maximum impact. This community blossomed into a $15 billion marketplace. 

Perhaps the most interesting takeaway was the power of purpose that emerged. Aaron would constantly hear about the sense of meaning the participants would feel from helping the nonprofit community. This theme continues today; Aaron and his team at Imperative focus on unlocking and measuring the power of purpose inside of organizations, not only for the organization, but helping the individual employees inside of organizations to connect their individual purpose to the purpose of the company. In 2014, Aaron published his book, The Purpose Economy, which predicts the next economic wave will be known as the Purpose Era.

Show Notes

  • 3:30 – Early memories from Aaron Hurst of entrepreneurship & innovation
  • 5:18 – The benefits of frequently relocating during childhood & becoming a global citizen
  • 7:50 – Buddhist upbringing & the idea of consciousness
  • 10:00 – Taproot Foundation
  • 13:08 – The gratification of doing pro-bono work outweighing that of the “paycheck job”
  • 14:35 – Labels on the economies of the human existence (agrarian, industrial, purpose economies) and how his work at Taproot led to Imperative
  • 16:27 – The biggest myths & truths around purpose
  • 19:18 – Cause versus purpose
  • 21:10 – The Imperative process
  • 26:01 – Is purpose a luxury?
  • 28:48 – Job crafting
  • 32:03 – Metropolitan areas trying to become the “next Silicon Valley
  • 34:26 – Book by Aaron Hurst, called “The Purpose Economy,” and his strategy for releasing it
  • 39:37 – His daughter’s education campaign for Congress on bullying

Show Links

Aaron Hurst Podcast Interview

You’ve essentially had entrepreneurial DNA flowing through you your whole life. Is there a particular memory you have from when you were young where you knew pursuing an entrepreneurial path, challenging the status quo and living on the edge of innovation was going to be the hallmark of who you are?

It’s funny — I don’t think anyone in my family even knew the word “entrepreneur.” It wasn’t something in my vernacular. I just always sort of saw myself as a troublemaker. I always saw the status quo and felt like a better way to do things existed. Also, I always started clubs — I probably had 10 different clubs in high school that I started. I had my own business in high school, and I saw opportunity everywhere. Although I wouldn’t have called it entrepreneurship at the time, in retrospect, it was. I remember being very much a futurist with a progressive mindset.

My dad always tells me this story — I think it was in junior high. We were walking by a small lake outside of our hometown, Boulder, Colorado. For whatever reason, I started talking about how we were eventually going to have water shortages and we should start pooling our money into buying fresh water sources. That way, we could still have a little bit of profit when water becomes scarce. Even then, I saw where the world was going and saw opportunity in that.

You moved around quite a bit during your childhood. You lived in quite a few different places — both in the states as well as abroad. As you look back on that, I can imagine it was challenging making friends and then having to uproot and move. What have been the positives of that?

It definitely was painful at times, but there were a lot of positives. We moved every few years. One, it really taught me pattern recognition. You started to see the same things emerge across different cultures, and you saw the actual similarities between people who called themselves “different.” It helped me learn how to quickly connect with new groups of people. It also taught me that we’re way more resilient and adaptable than a lot of people who were born and raised in one town and never go anywhere.

Since I graduated from college, I was in Chicago, then San Francisco, then Brooklyn and now Seattle. I believe in that old cliché: “Wherever you go, there you are.” And also realizing you don’t need to be fully rooted in any one area; you can really make the world your home. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I think it was great to be able to move around that much. There are certainly downsides. I have some level of jealousy of kids who lived in one place, who also had the same friends in kindergarten that they did in high school. But I think they miss something significant. I’m a big advocate for study abroad, for example, and other opportunities to get students to see themselves as a global citizen.

Did I read that you were raised Buddhist?

Yes, my parents were both Tibetan Buddhists, part of a Buddhist cult out of Boulder, Colorado. They moved to Halifax, Nova Scotia. I grew up going to a Buddhist elementary school in Boulder and then had heavy involvement up in Nova Scotia as well. It was a largely Jewish population of folks who had embraced Tibetan Buddhism. I struggle to even call it Buddhism, because I don’t think it was authentically of that culture. I think a lot of religion is culture, not just faith. While I don’t practice Buddhism and rejected that cult, I feel like a lot of my work since then was heavily influenced by that. Especially around the whole idea of consciousness, and seeing the world as those who are conscious and those who aren’t. Much of my career is trying to increase that sense of consciousness in the workplace.

You did something truly magical in creating a multi-billion dollar, pro-bono network of services for not-for-profit communities. What spurred the Taproot Foundation?

Taproot Foundation was my venture before Imperative. It started in 2001. Most good ideas are very simple ones. The idea was that nonprofits need the same marketing, tech, finance, HR, recruiting etc. services as companies, but they can’t afford them. Almost without exception. So they’re increasingly being left behind in a market where those services are what define successful organizations. We said, “How do we make pro-bono services prevalent in these other professions?”

It took about five years of really understanding intrinsic motivation as well as how to harness it. How do you actually get someone to complete a complex project? You can’t reward them with a promotion. That really led to the largest experiment that I know of in history on intrinsic motivation — really figuring out, over the course of thousands of complex projects, how you use that intrinsic motivation to inspire people and then get them to finish pro-bono work.

It was remarkable, because when I started Taproot, nonprofits basically said, “We don’t want pro-bono work. It never gets done.” By the time I left Taproot a dozen years later, it was a multi-billion dollar marketplace, we had affiliates all over the world. We had really proven that, once you understand intrinsic motivation, nonprofits really can count on pro-bono work. It got to the point where the amount of work was about four times what is done in terms of cash philanthropy in corporations. It had a massive impact on the nonprofit sector, and people’s identity as professionals.

You mentioned that roughly only 1/3 of the workforce is truly purpose-oriented. Is purpose a luxury that only certain people have access to?

We saw no correlation at all between income and purpose. We saw people in the highest-end jobs not purpose-oriented, as well as those in low-end jobs who have purpose. I think the whole idea that you have to have a certain amount of income is false. In some ways, it’s actually really patronizing. It created part of the problem — of leaders often believing, “I have certain jobs. There are certain people who can’t possibly worry about purpose.” That’s not how it works. You go into a Starbucks and see baristas who are working with purpose and those who aren’t. You see hospital janitors, who have the really challenging job of cleaning hospital rooms, and they still find purpose in that experience.

There’s the great book and work of Viktor Frankl, who was a slave at a concentration camp in Nazi Germany. He found meaning in that experience. We really do a disservice when we say that poor people can’t have purpose. It’s patronizing. It gives us an excuse to create jobs and management styles that are dehumanizing.

For Aaron Hurst and more Built On Purpose Podcast episodes, visit http://www.yscouts.com/podcast.

Y Scouts is a leadership search firm that finds purpose-aligned and performance-proven leaders to help organizations achieve their missions faster. Ready to supercharge your leadership search and get the right person in your organization? Contact Y Scouts.

Brett Hurt Podcast – Co-Founder & CEO of data.world

brett hurt

Today, we are interviewing Brett Hurt, the co-founder and CEO of data.world. To say Brett has accomplished a lot at a relatively young age would be an understatement. Brett has been a part of launching five start-ups, and, with the help of three co-founders, has just launched his sixth. Brett grew up in a household of entrepreneurs. His dad was the inventor of the first-ever halogen fishing light. At age seven, Brett received his first computer and began programming. This marked the beginning of a lifelong pursuit of Brett Hurt seeking to understand how things work.

Between ages 7 and 21, Brett spent close to 40 hours per week programming. He credits his parents, in particular his mom, with supporting him and helping him find his true passion. This passion led him to the co-founding of Bazaarvoice where he served as the President & CEO for 7 ½ years and the eventual IPO in 2012 — rated one of the top five IPOs in 2012 by the Wall Street Journal. Brett’s current project, data.world, squarely focuses on building the most meaningful, collaborative, and abundant data resource in the world. This episode with Brett Hurt is full of meaningful life lessons and a series of great stories everyone will appreciate.

Show Notes

  • 2:13 – Relevant & inspirational Abraham Lincoln quote
  • 3:30 – Brett talking about his background growing up in entrepreneurial household
  • 8:45 – Brett Hurt & his upbringing in programming and hard work
  • 15:34 – How Brett’s father turned down a big offer from Walmart
  • 21:40 – Talking about losing his parents and starting his own companies and making a lot of money
  • 26:14 – Talking about famous entrepreneurs/industrialists like Elon Musk
  • 29:51 – Talking about business through lens of Trump election
  • 35:22 – data.world
  • 41:46 – Impact the data.world will have on the way people find the organizations they may eventually work for.
  • 44:38 – data.world’s setup as a public benefit corporation
  • 50:20 – What’s the best way to engage with what is happening at data.world?
  • 54:33 – The key messages from Brett’s 2015 commencement speech at the University of Texas at Austin Master of Science in Technology Commercialization
  • 1:02:10 – The expected major increase in life expectancy & its impact on work

Show Links

Brett Hurt Podcast Interview

I want to start with a quote that I know will resonate with you. Abraham Lincoln once said, “There is just one way to bring up a child in the way he should go, and that is to travel that way yourself.” You were born into a family of entrepreneurs. Your dad was the inventor of the first halogen fishing light. What was it like growing up in a house of entrepreneurship?

It was incredibly cool, and I love that quote. When I started data.world, I put a blog post out on luckyseven.io, and I quoted Lincoln with that same quote. It was an incredible experience growing up in an entrepreneurial household. At the time, you don’t realize how much you’re actually learning by working with your parents. They also had furniture stores I would work at. They raised me to intuitively understand the customer. How to serve the customer, ask the customer questions about how they found us, have them navigate the store more efficiently. And also do the hard work, like sweeping the floors.

That hard labor, too, is something you never forget as a child. The thing I remember most was that my friends were kind of jealous of my parents. I didn’t entirely understand it, and I took it for granted because it was all I knew. As an adult, I realized that my friends were jealous that my parents truly enjoyed their work. They heard their parents complain about their jobs. That made a huge mark on me that, no matter what I do in life, I should do something I’m truly passionate about. Otherwise, why do it at all? There are so many programs that make fun of work. There’s “The Office,” there’s “Silicon Valley,” the movie “Office Space.” These are all great fun, but their real tragedy is that a lot of people look at their work in that way.

Especially given the fact that the data shows we end up spending ¾ of our adult lives at work. For it to be anything other than meaningful seems like an incredible waste of an opportunity.

It is, and you only live once. Why not make it count? We were put on this earth to hopefully do great things, and I find it a real tragedy that so many people hate their work. That’s no way to live, and it’s no way to bring up a child, either. Your children are paying attention. My “innate” entrepreneurial skills are innate because of the environment I grew up in. My parents were some of the most important mentors I’ve had entrepreneurially. I very much miss them.

Was there a certain point in your life where you knew you were destined to follow in their footsteps and be an entrepreneur? Was it gradual?

If I trace back to my early roots, I started programming when I was seven years old. My mom — when she first got me the Pawn game, she could tell I was really interested in how it worked. I wasn’t just content playing the game. I was maybe four years old then. How do electronics work? How does this magic come to life?

So, when I was seven, she read an article about the computer age arriving. Atari had come out with one of the first personal computers. She bought that for me because she thought it would make me interested in mathematics. My grandfather taught mathematics at UT Austin for over 35 years. My mom had majored in math as well as accounting. She thought this would really light me up. She was right, but she never anticipated how right she was. I then programmed over 40 hours a week from age seven to 21.

My mom had to have a superhuman discipline to keep everyone out of my way. The pressures of childhood — “You should be outside playing, you should be doing this activity and that activity.” My second-grade teacher took my mom aside one time and told her I was going to be a loser in life. She told her I would be hopelessly lost, and that all I did was play with computers and talk about computers. She was really concerned about me. That really offended my mom, and she didn’t tell me that story until I was an adult and was already successful. This passion for technology and how technology would change the world was really embedded from a very young age.

I’m forever thankful that my mom sat down with me and learned how to program with me and gave me that gift of finding my passion. It’s one of the most important jobs a parent has is to help a child find out their true passion in life, and then let them do it with no judgment, no matter what societal pressures come along. But then, having that childhood, I didn’t feel too comfortable interacting with lots of people.

I realized I wanted to go into business when I was in undergrad. I worked for Accenture full-time for my junior and senior year. The way I got that job was very karmic. At age 10, I helped an 18-year-old kid set up his first bulletin board system. He remembered that and called me as an adult. Later, I decided to become an entrepreneur. Deloy had this program where they would pay for your MBA, as long as you got into a top school. I launched four businesses while at the Warden School. Also, I worked regularly until three or four in the morning. I really established myself as an entrepreneur.

One lesson you learned early on from your dad involves a story about Walmart.

It’s an interesting story for quite a few reasons. I remember so fondly working on the fishing lights with my dad, and learning about direct marketing with him. When I was 10 years old, Walmart approached him to sell his products (all fishing-related) — in all the stores nationwide. He told them no, and I just couldn’t understand why he wouldn’t take the chance to become a really big company.

I was really angry at him. I remember he sat me down, looked me straight in the eye and said, “Son, you may realize the value of keeping life simple one day, or you may not. That’s your choice.” He just didn’t want to take on the growth of having big factories. He was comfortable. Someone later told me, “Brett, just because it was right for your parents doesn’t mean it’s right for you. You’re a different person, and you should honor the drive that you have.”

brett hurt

Even during the businesses that you have launched, you have always preached the importance of reflection time — even taking four, five, six, sometimes up to 10 weeks off for vacation throughout the year. Is that your dad’s lesson ringing through?

I incorporated that lesson in that way. It’s also non-negotiable that, no matter what I do in life, I must be there for our children’s most important moments. My parents, I realized as an adult, were really your classic lifestyle entrepreneurs. You look at Elon Musk for example, who is the founder of three companies simultaneously. They are all dramatically changing the world. I’m sitting in a Tesla right now as we have this conversation, which is my favorite car by far. He has had a pretty challenging personal life. He works very hard, and that’s what is right for him. Look how much he is changing the world. He’s the ultimate expression of an entrepreneur that can change the world.

I choose to have some limits. My limits are that, no matter what’s going on, I’ve got to be there for my children’s most important moments. I’ve been married 20 years. It’s a huge part of who I am. I have to have that reflection time, because that reflection time is what strengthens me as a leader. It helps me understand what I’ve learned and be able to apply that. People put massive pressure on themselves to say “I’m the CEO of a startup, and therefore I should work nonstop,” and they do not take time for themselves. Their marriage, friendships or their physical health could fall apart.

Hopefully all entrepreneurs are passionate about what they’re doing, but if they don’t take that time, I would argue that they could actually create a worse company. Companies are so often a reflection of the leaders at the top. They must have a mental balance, or you have a whole company running around like chickens with their heads cut off.

I want to read a quote: “If the universe of data were suddenly made available, it would unleash the creativity of problem-solvers to combine different data sets, public and private, to develop innovative solutions to innumerable challenges.” That said, what exactly is data.world?

data.world is basically a project that, in many ways, the world has been gearing up for. It’s a social network for people who love data, to be able to share the data sets they love so they can work more effectively on them with other people in the public as well as with their teams. At the end of the day, we’re creating the most meaningful, most abundant and the most collaborative data resource in history. That’s a very ambitious goal. We’re doing it as a public benefit corporation. The other nomenclature for this is a B Corp.

The reason I say that it’s been in the making for a long time: you need to get to the point where storage costs and processing costs have fallen to where you could build something this ambitious. You also need to get to the point in the world where there are a lot of examples of the power of collaboration. A great example is GitHub. It has over 14 million programmers from all around the world who are collaborating and sharing open source code. It became a force multiplier for people in the programming industry. If you’re a programmer, you’ll just share your GitHub profile with a potential employer to show your work.

I very much envision data.world being what my children use in college, and them asking me, “Dad, what was it like before data.world?” And I would explain you had to email people and submit data on a thumb drive and you couldn’t tell how people were working with the data and collaborating. But, as we get all this data in one place, it will create an enormous opportunity to solve the world’s problems — whether it’s poverty, climate change, cancer. You will be able to address any of that in data.world, and everyone can see how you addressed it and be able to create derivative work on top of it. It will accelerate all of our progress in humanity.

For more Built On Purpose Podcast episodes, visit http://yscouts.com/podcast/.

Y Scouts, a leadership search firm, finds purpose-aligned and performance-proven leaders to help organizations achieve their missions faster. Ready to supercharge your leadership search and get the right person in your organization? Contact Y Scouts.

Corey Michael Blake Podcast – CEO, Speaker, Storyteller

corey michael blake

Today, we’re interviewing Corey Michael Blake. It’s difficult to put a label on Corey — he’s many things: an entrepreneur, an actor, a director, a storyteller, a CEO, and an all-around great guy. I might add — I’m giving him the title of having the most contagious laugh of all time, something you’ll get a taste of during the podcast. Corey is a soulful human being, full of deep insights and someone who is constantly pushing himself to learn and grow.

He’s a student of the power of Vulnerability, and we dive into a tour of his life and the many experiences and lessons that have led him to where he is today. Corey’s guiding principle of life is to Lead with Love — a learned skill that requires consistent practice. Whether you’re a CEO looking to up-level your leadership, or you’re searching for a more meaningful existence at this thing we call life, this episode is loaded with authenticity and realness. Enjoy this episode featuring Corey Michael Blake.

Show Highlights

  • 3:50 – Reflecting on 2016
  • 7:00 – The game “Vulnerability Is Sexy”
  • 7:26 – Discussion on vulnerability
  • 11:26 – How the Meisner Technique in acting contributed to Corey’s sense of being present
  • 18:00 – Childhood moment where he felt a true connection to staying present
  • 20:42 – The experience of living and working as an actor in L.A.
  • 23:52 – Starting Writers of the Round Table and Round Table Companies
  • 26:52 – From The Barrio To The Boardroom: Meeting Robert Renteria
  • 34:12 – Creating children’s books and coloring books warning kids of gangs & drugs
  • 35:11 – Corey’s inspiration for novels marketed toward children
  • 38:32 – Round Table Companies
  • 44:25 – Love as a guiding principle
  • 51:10 – Values pasted to a wall versus living them
  • 55:20 – The power of the pause
  • 59:11 – Having a support system in experiencing life breakthroughs

Show Links

Corey Michael Blake Podcast Interview

You started the Vulnerability Is Sexy game in part through a KickStarter campaign?

Yes, we did a KickStarter campaign in 2013 that was successful. Then, we decided to launch this campaign to activate and excite our network and to at least know from a resonation standpoint what we were looking at. That proved successful.

Let’s talk about vulnerability, given that it is such a huge part of who you are and what you stand for. As you retrace your life as a student of vulnerability, is there a particular point where you recognized this was going to be a pursuit for you?

I look back at my time in L.A. I was in Los Angeles from 1996 until 2005, and I kind of shifted from acting being my priority to wanting to be a more prolific storyteller, and wanting to be more involved in the production. Really, I wanted to manage more of the process and support the level of quality that I was excited by. During that process, I created two storytelling companies prior to RTC. Both of them failed, and ultimately “imploded” because I made bad decisions in terms of who I got romantic with.

That period of my life was wrought with desperation and hunger and passion and pain and self-torture. It was a really dramatic time in my life. And during that time, I felt deeply connected to some of the people around me. The acting technique I was learning when I lived in L.A. was called the Meisner Technique, and it was about stripping away language and being with people in this energetic exchange. We would have 20-minute exchanges that would stay with me all week and live in my body. I got addicted to connection, and addicted to being in those moments where we feel so much — whether it is incredible love and attraction, or deep sadness triggered by an exercise. Being in those truthful moments, at that time, was life-giving to me.

So when you ask that question, I think it was that period when that addiction began and eventually blossomed into using it in a healthy way — with what I do now through the company.

During your time in L.A., you were in a really well-known Super Bowl ad for Mountain Dew, you were in the movie “Fight Club” — you’ve done some pretty cool things. Is the chaos of L.A. what most suspect it to be — with the politics and perceived superficial nature of L.A. and the acting community? What was your experience?

I don’t believe it is that for everyone, but I do believe it was very much that way for me. I had a strong hunger to be successful out there, and I brought my very competitive nature. As a result of that, when I look back at my time there, I describe it as this: I became what I thought L.A. wanted me to be in order to get where I thought I wanted to go. It was pulling me into the commercial world, and I certainly didn’t go to L.A. to be a commercial actor. But commercials pay really well, so I found myself building a career being a spokesperson for major brands.

It was exciting to audition for the work and to get the work — until it hit a point where it just wasn’t anymore. When I started producing and directing some projects, I found auditions to be a distraction. I found myself angry when I was stuck in traffic heading to an audition that was taking me away from what I really enjoyed — which was more control over my creativity. As an actor, I felt like a tool for other creative people. It was very disconnecting for me, and it was what started pushing me away from continuing in that regard. If I had gotten serious regular roles, or a major film, that might have changed — in which case I might have had more input.

I found that Wanted to be part of a project from start to finish, and that meant I had to change my direction.

Is that realization what led you to Writers of the Round Table and eventually Round Table Companies?

Not strategically. But if I look back on the path, I had been successful at commercials. I didn’t need a day job, because I got to study acting and rehearse a lot. I saw this 45-minute PBS documentary while I was in college on a guy named Harold Clurman, who started the Group Theatre in the 1930s. That went on to become Broadway, and then Hollywood. He described himself as a “generator.” He was not the best actor or the best director. But he was the person who brought the talent together to create art about what was important to speak of during the day. I had an epiphany moment in L.A. — that’s who I want to be.

So I invited nine of my other classmates to join me at Mammoth Lake in a lodge. Eight said yes. We went up there for a few days and started the first iteration of a storytelling company. It was such a stunning, loving experience that it became my new addiction. From there, we started making films and winning awards at film festivals. That led to the understanding that my work would need millions of dollars behind it in order to be seen. Or, I could ultimately create a lot of stuff that would sit on a shelf. That was eventually the reason to transition over to the writing world and to books — which became the impetus for Writers of the Round Table. On a much more modest budget, you can create something to go out into the world and start changing lives.

Is this where you ended up connecting with Robert Renteria? Talk about the From The Barrio To The Boardroom foundation.

I started Writers of the Round Table in a very practical way. I recognized that I was leaving L.A. Also, I was getting married and I needed to find a way to generate income that wasn’t tied to Los Angeles. Once, I think I was playing around on Craigslist and I was applying for writing jobs that looked creative. I found there were all kinds of writing jobs I could do, that I was curious about. Originally, I founded the business as a conduit between writers and businesspeople who needed quality writing. I wasn’t just an agent where I would find work for someone and say, “Good luck.” Instead, I became integrally involved.

Eventually, because of my L.A. background, my storytelling and my theater degree, Robert Renteria crossed my path. He was looking for someone to help him with his biography. At our initial meeting, when Robert talked about the life that he had lived and how he wanted to use that to inspire people, I got emotional when I talked to him about helping him paint that picture. We worked for a solid year and a half putting that first book together. That kicked off a new addiction of creating things that pushed people to make dramatic changes in their lives.

These graphic novel translations of popular books, and this idea of leveraging a pictorial version of stories to market in a new way — you’ve been very successful in that realm. What inspired you?

Around 2010 or so, we would have conversations with all our staff members and call it “dreaming time.” We wanted to know what we weren’t doing that we would love to do. Our creative director said he loved comic books, and he wanted to get us into that area. Lo and behold, as a result of that conversation, someone approached us about creating a nonfiction comic book series based on bestselling business books. We had some initial dialogue, but this person decided to go with someone else. But because our creative director expressed how valuable it would be to him, I fought for it. I told this person I respected his decision but we stayed in touch. I asked if he had feedback for our process.

A month later, he came back to us. We did three prototypes: Dale Carnegie’s “How To Win Friends And Influence People,” Dale Covey’s “Seven Habits,” and we did “Think & Grow Rich.” Eventually, we parted ways with the comic book company and created Round Table Comics. Suddenly, we were off to the races doing our own series. We’ve done a whole bunch of them for disabled children, helping kids to understand the disabilities they face.

How would you best describes what Round Table Companies is and does?

We’re an amazing, brilliant company, but we’re nontraditional. Nothing else quite like us exists in the world. We were born as a book-writing company; that was our first love. Helping people write the book they were born to write. We write very moving, emotional, page-turning books. Then, we built out a whole array of services for thought leaders. How do we support them and their brand identity? How do we support them in telling their story in different ways so people want to read the books?

I describe the book as going to bed with someone. When you first meet someone, you can’t invite them to bed — that’s an intense request. So how do we create an ecosystem around the thought leader so that people go through the whole stepladder. Flirting, talking, dating, getting into a relationship with the brand to the point where they then want to curl up with the book. Hopefully, by the end of the book, they feel like their life has changed as a result.

That blossomed into finding other creative ways we can support them. That grew into illustration, comic books, and graphic novels. Then, because we were attracting world-class, amazing, talented people — we realized we had access to incredible levels of genius, especially in the coaching world. We started hiring more coaches, and getting into the world of executive coaching — helping people to tell a new story. Then, it opened us to how storytelling can shift a culture. How can storytelling help amplify what a business stands for so that the world can truly see the essence of the company, and know if they want to be a customer or if they’re totally repelled?

For more Built On Purpose Podcast episodes, visit http://yscouts.com/podcast/.

Y Scouts is a leadership search firm that finds purpose-aligned and performance-proven leaders to help organizations achieve their missions faster. Ready to supercharge your leadership search and get the right person in your organization? Contact Y Scouts.

Y Scouts Featured In Forbes & Fortune

The New Year is upon us, and Y Scouts is all for celebrating — our very own Brian Mohr has recently been featured in Forbes as well as Fortune in two articles!

Take a look at some top tips for maximizing your LinkedIn profile, and read up on how Y Scouts expertly matches purpose-based leaders and companies.

Forbes: 4 Things Successful Leaders Need To Know About Their Own LinkedIn Profile

Let’s just call it evolution. Take a quick trip to the other side of town, the other side of the country, or even the other side of the world, and it quickly becomes evident that our lives have drastically evolved due to technology.  Gone are the days of walking into any old restaurant and hoping for the best meal. Today we ask our smart devices where we can find the best burritos.  Need a good Pilates class? We quickly check Yelp reviews.  And, instead of filing those business cards we collected in a drawer, we simply go back to the office to connect on LinkedIn. And, here lies the problem. Many of us, especially leaders who aren’t looking for a job, aren’t doing a very good job putting our best profile forward.

“Tacky photos, incomplete sentences, poor spelling or grammar, and a lack of effort placed on who you are and what you stand for vs. just focusing on what you’ve accomplished in your career, are a few turn-offs for our team,” says Brian Mohr, cofounder and managing director of executive search firmY Scouts, based in Scottsdale, Arizona. “LinkedIn reveals how people present themselves to the world of business.”

Mohr’s statements, as an executive recruiting professional, may not be all that surprising, until you consider the level of employee his firm is looking to recruit—the rock star leader who probably doesn’t have their next career move on their radar.

“People don’t clean up their resumes until they’re looking for new work,” adds Mohr. “But, the world has changed now. Companies aren’t recruiting people based on whether or not they need a job. They’re looking for the best people who align with their purpose.”

Read more tips for maximizing your LinkedIn potential here.

Fortune: The Difference Makers: Matching Purpose-Based Leaders and Companies

Around the turn of the 21st century, job boards like monster.com transformed job search by taking it online. Today, LinkedIn and other websites make it easier than ever for recruiters to find job candidates, and keyword search has automated much of what hiring managers do.

Yet Brian Mohr and Max Hansen  felt the technologies failed to recognize candidates’ increased appetite for work that lends a sense of meaning and purpose, and reflects their values. As a result, they built Y Scouts, a digital-centric recruiting platform that helps connect purpose-based leaders with like-minded companies. “We call this whole profession human resources, yet humanness is being removed almost every step of the way,” says Mohr. So in 2012, he and Hansen created this new category of executive search. “Profit is the outcome, not the goal,” says Mohr, now Y Scouts’ managing director. (Hansen is its CEO.) “But when you align people to something with a higher purpose, you end up creating a more profitable business.”

The Scottsdale, AZ-based firm — a Certified B Corporation — focuses greatly on a responsive digital platform that poses questions to candidates that help tease out their passions and values, such as, “If you could create your dream job right now, what would it be, and what kind of problems would you be solving?” These potential job candidates are initially not even told what company is hiring. Says Mohr: “We call it our covert search approach—the less we tell, the better!”

The concept has been successful, with Y Scouts doubling its growth every year since it launched. Its success has been predicated upon a number of technologies, including CRM software called Tracker. “Everything we do is in the cloud,” says Mohr.

As far as the future, Y Scouts is poised to scale its business with the launch of a data-based digital tool, developed with an organizational psychologist, that will allow it zero in even more effectively on purpose-based recruiting. “This new technology will create a diagnostic on a company’s DNA, and when we get that blueprint back, we’ll have candidates do a very similar DNA assessment,” says Mohr. “We believe it’s going to really accelerate the pace of uncovering what makes a company’s culture unique, and the flip side of how candidates align with it.”

Among those who appreciate this attitude is Lenovo, as a company championing “Difference Makers” who are making a positive difference in the world through technology. For Y Scouts, that means integrating new platforms that target Millennials every step of the way. “The world is changing. Millennials are starting to occupy a larger part of the workforce. Businesses must move quickly to recognize that if they don’t satisfy the head and the heart of their people, the best will go work somewhere else,” says Mohr.

Y Scouts is a leadership search firm that finds purpose-aligned and performance-proven leaders to help organizations achieve their missions faster. Ready to supercharge your leadership search and get the right person in your organization? Contact Y Scouts.

Why Work At Y Scouts?

why work at y scouts

Why work at Y Scouts? Take a look at some perks of working with our small but growing team in Scottsdale, Arizona. From our purpose-based mission to our camaraderie in the office, here’s why working at Y Scouts is a wonderful thing.

Why Work At Y Scouts?

Working With A Purpose-Driven Organization

It all starts with our purpose at Y Scouts and why we exist as an organization. You will love working at Y Scouts if the idea of transforming how people and companies are connecting to work that really matters is something that would matter to you. That’s at the most fundamental level. If the idea of changing the way people and companies are connecting in the employment space fails to excite you, then it doesn’t matter what we offer you—what job, salary, stock, bonus, etc. It starts with that firm foundation.

The “Hiring Laboratory” Of Y Scouts

The second thing is, do you enjoy being a part of a nimble, small, startup-minded entrepreneurial organization that’s constantly testing, experimenting and trying new things? Some people need structure. They need resources. They need clarity. We might say that we’re none of that. We know what our purpose is and what our mission is, but beyond that, we’re in a constant laboratory. Y Scouts is a hiring lab of sorts. And we’re constantly figuring out how to continue to do what we’re doing better.

Thus, some of the top benefits of working at Y Scouts include: the opportunity to create impact, to see the fruits of your work immediately, to have your voice heard from day one, to contribute right away, and to feel like you’re part of a family—a team.

Our Five Values

At Y Scouts, our mission is to transform how leaders and companies connect to work that matters. Branching off of that focus are our five core values: Authenticity, Gratitude, Perseverance, Relentless Learner, and Teamwork. Take a look at how our team approaches and embraces each of these Y Scouts values:

Our Office!

We’re right in the heart of sunny Old Town Scottsdale, which draws visitors from all over the world. Earlier in 2016, Y Scouts moved into our new office—”a home that can accommodate our growing team. We also wanted a new home that would foster a walkable environment. With our new office at Y Scouts, we want to encourage our team members to get outside, to be active, and to be able to walk to and from lunch and not have to get into a car every time you need to go somewhere. Old Town Scottsdale afforded us that opportunity,” according to Co-Founder & Managing Partner Brian Mohr. Since he and Max Hansen started Y Scouts in 2012, the team has grown and everyone loves the new digs in Scottsdale! Take a look at some photos of our beautiful office.

Do you have more questions regarding “Why work at Y Scouts?” Let us know!

Y Scouts is a leadership search firm that finds purpose-aligned and performance-proven leaders to help organizations achieve their missions faster. Ready to supercharge your leadership search and get the right person in your organization? Contact Y Scouts.

CEO Search Committee Best Practices

ceo search committee best practices

These CEO search committee best practices will help guide you toward a positive decision for your whole organization. Whether it means diversity of opinions, a solid interview process, an investment of time, or other factors—the pieces will come together to foster a sturdy, successful CEO search committee.

Follow these principles when a search committee looks for a CEO.

CEO Search Committee Best Practices

Great People

The committee has an important role. Thus, the first step is to ensure that those selected for the committee are truly invested and willing to dedicate their time, talents, and resources.

Diversity of Opinions

Make sure you have diversity on the committee—more specifically, diversity of thought.

You don’t want a bunch of ‘yes’ people following the lead of one person. Rather, you want to encourage a robust conversation around what each search committee member’s vision for success of the role looks like. Some of that may be very similar, but oftentimes, asking the right questions and allowing everybody an opportunity to share their perspective prove critical elements.

The diversity of thought on a search committee can lead to a phenomenal outcome, where you have peers who might see things a little bit differently. The power often lies within the differences. You can build a much more holistic position profile, and a better informed one, than if you were just taking the advice from one person.

Solid Interview Process

One of the best CEO search committee best practices involves the interview process. Once you start interviewing candidates, the search committee must very deliberately provide each member participating in the interview process a set of assigned questions. Each committee member should focus on a different aspect of the candidate, whether it be purpose, values alignment, expertise or leadership style.

Every search committee member should also have predetermined set of questions that they are armed and ready to ask so that the interview experience is well choreographed. Furthermore, those questions should be consistent for each candidate, so that everyone is measured by the same measuring stick.

Investment of Time

The time investment can have various interpretations. Often, if you are elected, nominated or you volunteer for the committee, nobody from the committee does the actual searching. They help set up the search, and then participate in the interview process once the team narrows down the final candidates.

It takes time to compile a thorough list of places to look for a new leader. Plus, it takes time to pinpoint the qualities to look for in a new CEO, and designing a method for how to seek out this candidate.

It may take a time investment of 1-3 hours on the front end to properly create the position profile. In the interview process, it could call for perhaps 90-minute to two-hour interviews per candidate. It depends on how many candidates they have lined up for interviews, which varies quite a bit.

All in all, you’re probably looking at an investment of a dozen hours or so from start to finish. This number is not unreasonable—but the CEO search committee best practices take consideration and a time commitment.

Negotiating Compensation

Typically, the search committee must have a strong feeling regarding what the proper compensation level for the candidate should be. Whether or not the search committee will take part in the actual negotiation depends upon several factors. Is there a search firm involved? Or does the company enlist their own recruiting department? Determining each person’s role in the process is one of the top CEO search committee best practices.

What other CEO search committee best practices would you add? Let us know!

Y Scouts, a leadership search firm, finds purpose-aligned and performance-proven leaders to help organizations achieve their missions faster. Ready to supercharge your leadership search and get the right person in your organization? Contact Y Scouts.

Great workspaces fuel productivity. Check out the new office at Y Scouts!

new office at y scouts

Y Scouts has moved into a new home in Old Town Scottsdale—a home that can accommodate our growing team. We also wanted a new home that would foster a walkable environment. With our new office at Y Scouts, we want to encourage our team members to get outside, to be active, and to be able to walk to and from lunch and not have to get into a car every time you need to go somewhere. Old Town Scottsdale afforded us that opportunity. Since Brian Mohr and Max Hansen started Y Scouts in 2012, the team has grown and everyone loves the new digs in Scottsdale!

Check out our new office at Y Scouts!

new office at y scouts

We’re a very purpose-driven organization, so we wanted to create an environment in which our team members can be the best versions of themselves and live a relatively healthy lifestyle. So having a new office at Y Scouts that fosters a walkable environment wherever you go is a cool thing. – Brian

new office at y scouts

I don’t know what I’d do had I not started Y Scouts. For me, the journey started in recruiting years ago. Those first thoughts of purpose and meaningful work started to come from, what could I sell that I believe in and that other people would believe in? It was the tagline, “What’s your why?” – Max

new office at y scouts

The one agreement Brian and I always have is that, whatever we do, we’re going to disrupt the staffing business forever. So right away, we got on the purpose-based recruiting. We were on the same page and still are, as far as the impact we want to have. – Max

new office at y scouts

There are really only two types of purpose-based companies in our minds. They either have a purpose in their culture and how they develop their people, and/or, they have a product or service that provides a positive impact in the world. We focus on either one or both of those. – Max

new office at y scouts

The goal is to help companies transform and continue to drive their culture in a positive direction. We want to transform how people and companies connect to work that matters. And leaving them better off than when they started, as far as how to recruit and how to find and align people to their culture. – Max

How does the new office at Y Scouts look? Let us know what you think!

[[ Photos by Emily Harding ]]

Y Scouts is a leadership search firm that finds purpose-aligned and performance-proven leaders to help organizations achieve their missions faster. Ready to supercharge your leadership search and get the right person in your organization? Contact Y Scouts.

Brian Mohr Appointed To The Board of Conscious Capitalism, Inc.

Brian Mohr, Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Y Scouts, has been appointed to the Board of Directors for Conscious Capitalism, Inc. The Board of Directors of Conscious Capitalism, Inc. announced the appointment of three new officers to the Board. Joining Brian as new appointments are James D. White, Chairman, President and CEO, Jamba Juice and Miki Agrawal, Co-Founder and CEO, THINX.

“We are thrilled to have James, Miki and Brian join us on the Board as Conscious Capitalism, Inc. continues to build its capacity in response to the growing demand of the marketplace,” noted Doug Rauch, CEO of Conscious Capitalism, Inc. “An increasing number of companies are recognizing the fiscal and social benefits of operating more consciously, and Conscious Capitalism, Inc. is ready to support this burgeoning revolution. James, Miki and Brian’s deep experience in successful entrepreneurship and conscious leadership, as well as their individual commitments to community building, make them a perfect match for our already strong leadership team.”

Read more

Y Scouts Cofounder Joins Arizona Chapter Of Conscious Capitalism Board Of Directors

Brian Mohr, co-founder and managing partner for Y Scouts, has recently accepted a seat on the board of directors for the Arizona chapter of Conscious Capitalism, an organization whose mission is to promote free enterprise capitalism as the norm for global human interaction.

“As globalization and interconnectedness continue to flourish, free enterprise capitalism as a foundational norm is, I think, ingenious,” says Mohr, a talent expert with a growing team at Y Scouts, a purpose-based leadership search firm that connects organizations with exceptional leaders.

“There is a large body of research showing that diverse groups of people can come together in harmony through business interest. Conscious Capitalism emphasizes the human element of the local and global economy.”

Y Scouts members are enthusiastic to be part of social enterprise efforts of Conscious Capitalism because the two groups share the same spirit of values, Mohr says. Among this spirit is the notion that work, business, economy and related activities should not be seen in a compartmentalized, fragmented shard of the human mosaic, he says.

“Many see money and work as a necessary evil in one’s life, but in the macro and micro levels, I think this is a flawed and unhelpful point of view,” he says. “Work gives us purpose, focus and yes, a way to earn a living. But if you find the right position, work provides a platform to follow your passion in life while providing something in return for others.”

The fact is business can and does make the world a better place. So, too, does following one’s passion as a job can make someone a more productive and happy person.

“Business and the right job actually empower us,” Mohr says.

Nonprofit Executive RecruiterAbout Brian Mohr
Brian Mohr is co-founder and managing partner for Y Scouts, a purpose-based leadership search firm that connects organizations with exceptional leaders. Y Scouts operates under the belief that people are the only real competitive advantage in business and the best employer/employee connections start by connecting through a shared sense of purpose and values. Previously, Mohr worked as a talent strategist and in leadership management for major corporations, including P.F. Chang’s China Bistro and Jobing.com. He is a graduate of the Advanced Executive Program at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.

Y Scouts is an executive search firm that helps nonprofits and social enterprises find exceptional leaders. Contact us if you are looking to find an exceptional leader. Or, to be considered for exceptional leadership opportunities with our clients, please take the first step by joining the Y Scouts Leadership Community.

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