Archive for the ‘Leadership’ Category

Well, something it seemed might never happen is happening — I am embracing goddess worship as part of my practice.  No, not part of my legal practice (as I haven’t one yet), but part of my personal practice that allows me to feel as strong and capable AND beautiful and shiny as I have the potential to be.

One sidebar before we go on: in light of the recent Game of Thrones epidemic, I imagine this post is pretty relatable to a lot of people, namely women. Heroines such as Daenerys and Sansa Stark are prime examples. Mine right now is Durga. She came to me through a recently published book by renowned meditation teacher and feminist scholar on yoga, Sally Kempton. She reveals Durga as a warrior for justice…

goddess_durga_slaying_demons_hc59It’s been a long time in coming I suppose.  For years my yoga practice would invoke occasional images of gods or goddesses from the Hindu pantheon.  And I’ve been able to stare at the ground or a wallpaper pattern or the sky, simultaneously feeling and seeing their aspects move and even appear to breath.  At first that ability scared me, but after enough tripping on mushrooms and spending hours on end in meditation it stopped bothering me.  It actually started to provide a sense of reassurance.  Like, okay cool, THAT is really how shit is working – my dumb-ass ego trip about being broke and having no direction in life is false.  Sweet…

Now I’m to the point where I can hold both aspects of truth in my consciousness — that is, the utter transmutability of our world and that finite limitations do arise or stay fixed when we allow our minds to limit what we desire.  I think goddess worship in particular has been intimidating to me because, besides the ego-trip of not wanting to be “that chick” it opens up possibilities for personal transformation that I was in a sense off the hook for before.  This is because visualizing the essential qualities of timeless human archetypes that have sustained cultures for millennia is a powerful, powerful tool.  Without tapping into this reservoir of knowledge (knowledge in a very felt sense) there is less for reason for me to be surprised by the limitations I set for myself.  By embracing this aspect of practice though, I allow myself no more excuses for actualizing the spiritual warrior I know myself, in a very fundamental way, to be.

Mitch Finch, a rising 2L, doing what he loves… Thanks for sharing 🙂

So I’m currently listening to a panel at a symposium being hosted at my law school this weekend.  It’s the second gathering of the Alliance for Experiential Learning in Law and I’m covering it for our school’s Law & Leadership Journal.

The current presenters are discussing their perspectives on experiential ed from other disciplines, from medicine to engineering to architecture.

One idea that’s come up from the architecture professor is that of studio time, and how in architecture school there is a blending of classes that teach theory and practice with the experience of being in a creative laboratory (a studio).  I love this idea because it’s how I approach my study of law.  See photo below, as it’s of my apt, which is essentially a studio space, where I can think and write, but also move around and play with multi-media materials for inspiration. IMG_0003

What’s interesting to me about this is an emphasis on the importance of creative problem-solving, a skill our presenter encourages before her students’ structural education comes in.  She believes that without the cultivation of creativity, the structural stuff, the more linear information (in law the doctrinal aspects) have no context for being applied in a meaningful, innovative way.

Another interesting area of overlap here has to do with the concept of design, and the almost sculptural way we could be perceiving our possibilities for practicing law — constructing new frameworks and building organizational capacities that support these structures, and that can be contained by these structures at the same time.  It’s about re-working what we’ve got by, in a sense, scaling to the outer-limits of our imaginations.

One more idea I love about this is the way such a model for studying law lends itself to collaboration, in that when we open ourselves up creatively we tend to find outlets for sharing information & perspective with others that might otherwise feel like info we need to keep for ourselves, or our clients.  Taking a more artistic approach to the study and practice of law seems to suggest we can find ways of communicating through these siloed ways of thinking and being in what people are realizing more and more, is an interconnected world.

PS Check out http://mwmoedinger.com if this post strikes your fancy…

http://www.amazon.com/Disruption-Revolution-Innovation-Entrepreneurship-Leadership/dp/0989823318/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1401103762&sr=8-1&keywords=disruption+revolution

Today’s post is a review of a book I’ve recently been soaking up, called Disruption Revolution: Innovation, Entrepreneurship & the New Rules of Leadership.  It was written by David Passiak, who was once a scholar of religion.  His focus then was on how emerging communications technologies tended to coincide with periods of religious, political and cultural/social innovation, from the “Great Awakenings” of the 1700s and 1800s catalyzed by innovations in the printing press, through the Civil Rights and Sixties counterculture movements accelerated by the mass adoption of radio, television, film and music (see https://www.disruptrev.com/author-david-passiak/).

Passiak left academia though to pursue a career in innovative technologies consulting, working for companies like Volkswagen and a number of start-ups.  He also founded a company called Social Meditate, an innovation and strategy consulting firm.

Disruption Revolution is a collection of interviews with a laundry list of successful leaders in the arena of tech innovation, from those who are more design-inclined to Harvard Business School professors and New Economy media moguls such as the editor of PandoDaily – a site reporting on the cutting edge of entrepreneurship.  These chapters provide perspective on the technology that’s driving changes in our business landscape, as well as on the mentalities and approaches that seem to bode best for innovators and entrepreneurs.

The book also contains an interview with Vincent Horn, an entrepreneur I recently spoke with myself about his site http://www.buddhistgeeks.com.  Horn’s interest, and the galvanizing force of BuddhistGeeks, is the intersection (or perhaps more accurately, overlap) between technology and mindfulness.  His thesis is, basically, that not only can we have both, but we must.  And he, along with his partner Emily Horn, have succeeded in building a community of thought on this subject, not just a platform for their own beliefs (visit the site to see what I mean…).

Another piece in the book that spoke to me featured a conversation with Jeremiah Owyang, an expert on the emerging collaborative economy.  His interest is in the big crowd companies (i.e. Zipcar, Airbnb, etc.) as opposed to smaller-scale, more private enterprises you might find out about upon researching sharing law (also known as the sharing economy).  The emphasis here is on the burgeoning prevalence of companies that seek to provide services to customers within the confines of people’s various financial situations.  The idea is, people are wanting less and less to ‘own’ things in a traditional sense (i.e. vacuums or even houses), both because the cost of these things is so expensive, and because of social media, they simply don’t need to.  “Sharing” rides or tools or places to stay for temporary or even extended periods of time is becoming more and more the substance of commerce.  Disruption Revolution explains this and contextualizes what it means for the future of entrepreneurship in our society moving forward.

One last tidbit I’ll share (pun intended) is how much I enjoyed the chapters on leadership, in which the ‘monsters in your head’ and the concept of “choosing yourself” in the process of negotiations are discussed.  The themes here revolve around being in touch with what has brought you to the place of decision-making you are at, being clear about why you are there, and being open and honest with even your competition in order to achieve the best results.  Game-playing in the New Economy, the experts are even telling us, is stupid.  Authenticity is key.  Being present with your own intentions and through that being aware of others’ intentions is essential.  And through all of that, tapping into your intuition to guide you in discerning the right moves for you and your business is perhaps what matters most.

As a law student, and as an entrepreneur, I’ve found this volume super interesting.  It flies in the face of much that we learn in school growing up, and certainly in the face of what we hear in the mainstream media about what makes for a successful leader and business person.  It’s not about assuming you are right, it’s about being able to question, and from there, deriving vision and confidence.  Then comes the translation of vision to others, the attraction of capital, and the capacity to make real what you see.

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So this is Jonathan Flack’s photo of himself & a friend practicing yoga amidst finals. Jonathan will be a 2L at NYU School of Law in the fall & we are very grateful for his contribution to HolisticToolKit.com 🙂 #turninglawschoolonitshead

This post has been given to us by Jules Toraby, an about-to-be 2L who’s determined to keep it real..  Check out his vid tutorial on Acro Yoga & let us know if you have a lesson or reflection on something that keeps you feeling real…

Income Tax.  Final Exam.  Yesterday.  9 am.

Per usual, got up around 6.  Fed & walked the dog.  Meditated a bit on all the tax-related thoughts swarming my brain (exam-specific ‘monkey mind’ if you will).

Packed a snack bag of bananas & peanut butter.  Water bottle.  And embarked on my half-mile journey to school, again per usual, on foot (helps me feel alive, think, and conserve gas not to mention parking money).

Surprise: at no point did I feel I needed coffee.  And oh, did I mention I’d been up late the night before playing music with friends?  I felt well-rested though in all regards.  Still felt tired in a sense, as the whole exam land seems to induce a sense of fatigue that is neither rational nor healthy, and I didn’t go to bed super-early.  But, my soul felt fed.  And somehow, the specter of caffein presented something more analogous to a threat to my system than a harbinger of greatness.  It felt unnecessary.  It felt like I would be going over and beyond the place I needed to be in order to take this test to my fullest, authentic ability (more on ‘authentic ability’ in a future post…).

coffee_cup_by_sammy15-d4jyg5l

So how did I do?  Won’t have any idea for weeks.  But let me tell you where I started from and why no coffee = awesome.  At the outset of my first year, (am finishing my second year of law school now), I had just detoxed from an eight year Adderall habit.  Yes, eight years.  Of a steadily increasing tolerance that gave me a lot of energy, that’s for damn sure, and a means to focus that I’d previously never known.

In short, I loved my Adderall.  And I’m glad I took it because it gave me a baseline for evaluating how strong my ability to concentrate and produce can be.  I also now understand the underbelly to focus though, when it becomes manic, or when it becomes something you are unable to turn off.  This is in general, and when it happens as a byproduct of drugs.  Because the truth (to me) is, regardless of whether it’s a substance aiding your focus/sapping your ability to chill, when you reach a certain space of “focus” you may need the ability to pull away, or ratchet down.  Now it’s hard enough when “natural” stress has gotten you there, but when you’ve got a substance inducing it, or exacerbating it, this task can become even more of a project, even more of a demon you don’t want to face.  And then things like coffee, or on the other end, even harder drugs, become all the more necessary.

So my decision to leave Adderall before law school rather than after was a hard one.  I knew I’d be shooting myself in the foot in some sense, but a voice also told me I would become stronger for having engaged in this battle without it.  What I’ve found is that by not being on it, I’ve had to work really hard to find my On switch, but I’ve also not handicapped myself from finding an Off switch.  In that sense, leaving Adderall has enabled me to find balance.

I’m not saying getting good grades would not be easier with Adderall.  God knows.  I yearn for that shit sometimes.  But I’m learning how to take that yearning for more and convert it into affirmation that what I have already and who I am at this moment is enough.

We’ll see how grades turn out.  But more than that, I can tell you right now how I feel — great.  That’s because regardless of what my exams say, I KNOW my ability to tap in as well as tap out are strong.  And this seems like a pretty sweet indicator of growth, which is what I am in school to facilitate in the first place.  And learning the law is something I want on top of that, not in exchange.

 

So there’s a book called Wild Law: A Manifesto for Earth Justice.  It was written by Cormac Cullinan, a leader of the ‘Wild Law’ movement, an offshoot (forgive the eco pun) of Earth Law, an even more well-known movement advocating for the rights of Nature.

Cormac’s conception of wild law is about observing and honoring the processes of Nature (yes, with a capital ‘n’) in our legal codes, but moreover, using these processes that naturally occur at every level of life on our planet, as models as far as how our own approaches to justice and governance in general might be able to work.

Cullinan is South African, but his work is applicable to any culture and society that wants to find ways of integrating “our” needs and those of “the environment.”  If you’re curious or inspired enough to hear more about wild and earth law, let me know – I’m psyched to write more about it!  But for now, I bring it up because it’s a way of contextualizing the experience I had this weekend.

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A handful of 1Ls and I have founded an Environment and Animal Law Society at our law school.  Part of our mission is to expand students’ awareness of not only environmental and animal rights issues on paper, but to provide an opportunity for people to connect with these issues in an embodied way.  We want to grow our knowledge and our capacity to act in a way that is grounded in the physical experience of these issues as they play out daily in our world.  This weekend we held our first event, which was a trip to the North Carolina Raptor Center.

The NC Raptor Center is renowned for the care it provides to so many trafficked and abused birds, but it’s also a fantastic spot for visiting to bolster your sense of connection to these creatures, and through that, become more enlightened as far as understanding the challenges they, and we as their stewards, face.  It’s a great place to enjoy Nature (again, with a capital ‘n’) and engage in volunteer work that’s gratifying.  It also literally gave us common ground on which we could stand to communicate about our views and ideas for change.

 

This is a memo I wrote for my Business Associations class this semester.  We don’t cover b or benefit corps in our curriculum…

I. ISSUE: Profit In Dollars For a Few Over Everything and Everyone Else  

 In corporation law, the conduct of corporations is governed by fiduciary duties that officers of a company owe to their shareholders. Traditionally, these duties revolve around maximizing monetary profit for shareholders and monetary profit for shareholders alone. Considerations of societal impact and/or environmental impact are not deemed reasonable factors in the decision-making of a company if monetary profit for shareholders will lessen, even a little bit. The problem with this is that legally, corporations must put profits for a few over the interests of the rest of society, and the planet.

Concepts such as a “triple bottom line” under this paradigm must remain a dream because officers of corporations may be found guilty of violating their fiduciary duties should they try to engage in business practices that value the interests of society or the environment at even minimal cost to their profit margins.

II. ANALYSIS: Alternatives to Traditional Corporation Filing Status as a Solution to Profit for a Few Over the Rest

  1. B Corps & FPCs – What Are They and How Can They Help?

B Corps are business entities that are certified by third parties specializing in evaluating whether or not companies meet various standards. These standards hinge on social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency.[1] Currently, more than 950 b corps exist in 32 countries and 60 industries.[2]

One issue that’s come up in the realm of b corps is that of ‘greenwashing,’ something that has happened in the whole foods industry. Greenwashing occurs when third parties, such as those responsible for certifying fair trade or organic business practices, create markets within markets whereby the integrity of their certifications become compromised due to overuse of their certifications for a profit. The irony of greenwashing in a b corp certification industry seems clear; this practice directly contradicts the purpose of corporations gaining a b status in the first place.[3]

There are, however, alternatives to the b corp alternative that exist. These include flexible purpose corporations, which is a filing status available to corporations based in California. The difference between an FPC and a traditional corporation is that the business can elect to give weight to factors such as societal and environmental impact when officers of an FPC are fulfilling their fiduciary duties.[4] The difference between an FPC and a b corp, however, is that with a b corp these considerations must shape the decisions of an organization.

The benefits to society and the planet are obvious in regard to these types of business entities. The benefits to the organizations themselves, however, are less obvious.

Tax breaks, which one might presume are available to these corporations, are not (at least currently). Instead, there is an element of community to this movement, and resources in terms of information and business support are provided to organizations that take these designations and certifications. The idea is that these businesses will be contributing in a sustainable way to the marketplace at large, and in so doing, will build and preserve sustainability for their enterprises as well. [5]

There is also an ideological underpinning to businesses deciding to join this movement. They are committing resources to a model of progress that runs counter to many of the principles that have traditionally undergirded the American financial market, and at this juncture in time, the global market as well.

Another option that serves many businesses even better than either the b corp or FPC models is the benefit corporation.

  1. Benefit Corporations – What Are They and How Do They Help?

Benefit Corporations accomplish what b corps do in terms of re-defining fiduciary duty and allowing for more social responsibility in corporate culture. However, these organizations are different because in the states where they are permitted, these businesses are required by law to uphold a duty of care beyond their bottom line. They are in essence compelled to respect a triple bottom line, and their officers are thus protected from liability should their profits fall below the maximum level they might otherwise reach.[6] (In contrast, b corps receive certification provided they function this way, but they are not legally bound to this new form of fiduciary duty.)

Currently, statutes in seven states permit benefit corporations, with legislation pending or in the process of being introduced in 11 states (North Carolina being one).[7] Companies such as Patagonia and Fast Co are examples of businesses that have taken advantage of this option.[8] To qualify, these firms must:

… have an explicit social or environmental mission, and a legally binding fiduciary responsibility to take into account the interests of workers, the community and the environment as well as [their] shareholders. [They] must also publish independently verified reports on its social and environmental impact alongside its financial results. Other than that, [they] can go about business as usual.[9]

III. CONCLUSION:

Benefit Corporations are gaining popularity in the marketplace because they both promote social responsibility and offer legal protection for companies that seek to act as stewards of our economy. B corps offer similar opportunities and protection, albeit not the same level. And flexible business corporations offer something along these lines as well.   Ultimately, these models offer alternatives to a concept of fiduciary duty that promotes recklessness and exploitation, and much to the surprise of the mainstream business community, they are rapidly picking up steam.

[1] http://www.bcorporation.net/what-are-b-corps

[2] Id.

[3] See http://www.benefitcorp.net/storage/documents/Benecit_Corporation_White_Paper_1_18_2013.pdf.

[4] http://www.hunton-law.com/journal/2012/11/30/contrasting-the-flexible-purpose-corporation.html

[5] Ben & Jerry’s, particularly to off-set the potential harm that may arise due to being bought out by Unilever, has acquired b-corp status in order to maintain some degree of control over its social and environmental impact . See http://www.forbes.com/sites/annefield/2012/10/22/ben-jerrys-poster-child-for-the-b-corp-movement-becomes-a-b-corp/.

[6] See http://benefitcorp.net/what-makes-benefit-corp-different/benefit-corp-vs-certified-b-corp.

[7] See http://www.bcorporation.net/become-a-b-corp/how-to-become-a-b-corp/legal-roadmap/corporation-legal-roadmap.

[8] See http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-01-04/patagonia-road-tests-new-sustainability-legal-status.html and http://www.fastcoexist.com/3024770/world-changing-ideas/a-public-company-will-become-a-benefit-corporation.

[9] http://www.economist.com/node/21542432

Please weigh in if you feel moved…