We are the music makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers,
And sitting by desolate streams;—
World-losers and world-forsakers,
On whom the pale moon gleams:
Yet we are the movers and shakers
Of the world for ever, it seems.
This month I was lucky enough to be invited to join a gathering of business leaders and deep thinkers to ponder a few questions pertinent to life, the universe and everything. The four day Summit was a treat for the mind and heart so my body went along in spite of the altitude in Boulder Colorado and the long hours of sitting still. It helped that the cure for altitude sickness is the ritual eating of carbohydrate laden foods and that the nourishment provided was plentiful, delicious and healthy.
The pleasure of being immersed in the dynamic pool of possibilities, dreaming with so many big dreamers was a joy. Knowing that these dreamers had created change in the world on a massive scale in the face of convention sweetened the pot. (Yes, pot is legal in Boulder, but I digress)
Boulder is the only place I can imagine seeing people dressed up as GMO corn for Halloween and carrying signs protesting themselves. I spotted this costume while dining with the CEO of Whole Foods, John Mackey during a discussion of the merits of paper vs plastic bags. In the end, the costume and protest sign swung the argument towards paper as John had not found a source for NON -GMO, corn based, biodegradable plastic bags for his stores.
I vowed to invent them for him and he welcomed that development. As it turns out, there is a company already manufacturing these bags, so I gave him the link and he is on it. Look for the more sustainable option of biodegradable plastic in your local Whole Foods soon. (It might take a while to gear up, there are a lot of Whole Foods.)
Listening to the origin stories of so many admirable businesses, I was struck first by how each leader began with a mission that was greater than the product or service they were selling. Each one had a profound and larger connection to a concept of service that was not just a story devised to sell, it was a platform that could, and would, not be violated as their companies grew. In each case the principle posed obstacles to a traditional business model.
Tony Hsieh, CEO and founder of Zappos held to his principle of treating customers like royalty (and your new best friend) and extending the same perk to employees. What other company could get away with offering newly hired employees $2,000 to LEAVE after training and find few takers? These jobs do not pay all that well, people just want to be a part of the community he created. His culture of caring for the employee, the customer and the community is so successful and compelling that no job is too big to tackle. Zappos is currently transforming Las Vegas, that hub of superficiality and fun into a cultural resource and destination for millions.
Blake Mycoskie of Toms shoes began his business with the improbable idea to give away one pair of shoes for each sold. Try to pitch that idea on Shark Tank and see what happens! He has been wildly successful with this strategy and is now building plants to make shoes in the very countries where he gives them away, providing for many their first opportunity to work, support their families and contribute to their communities. His “one for one” strategy allows customers to participate in effective generosity while consuming.
None of these business leaders had the expertise to do what they did, ( although a degree from Harvard probably helped). They began with a dream, stuck to their principles, overcame the inevitable obstacles and continue to grow, thrive and set the mark high for the dreamers among us.
I came away from my four day retreat ready to advance and live more fully into the dream. DREAM, CREATE, TRANSFORM. Those words that stand for us at the LIGHTBLOCKS studio were dreamed up by the people who work here every day making our design and architecture partner’s dreams come true. They are an expression of our deep commitment to change in the world and to the people who create the spaces that foster that change. It is our dream to join and serve the greater creative conversation, the one that literally shapes our spaces and fosters joy.
I believe that words are creative, active components of manifesting the dream.
Jack Canfield (originator the of Chicken Soup for the Soul series) told me that goals spoken have a better chance of being realized, that goals written, even more. If you share your goal, the chances increase and if you report weekly on your progress to an accountability partner, well, you guessed it-it is even more likely that you will reach your goal. (There is a study that demonstrates this principle-google goals study-Dominican University, it’s pretty cool. )
With that in mind, I will be reporting in this space about transformations big and small that were born from dreams. I invite you to share yours with me.