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Author Interview: LESS

Greetings dear reader! Every so often over the next few months I’ll be interviewing authors of business books, articles or leadership tools I recommend, all of whom are affiliated with Karlin Sloan & Company. We have an amazing network of world-class executive coaches and consultants, and I’ll be bringing you regular installments highlighting what they’re up to.

Let’s start with a short introduction – who are you and what’s important for us to know about you as an author and business leader?

When I was in college, at Rutgers in New Jersey, I realized I needed an additional 10 years of training.  (I guess I was a slow learner…)  I spent 10 years living at the San Francisco Zen Center, where the training was in deep inquiry, listening, suspending judgment, finding meaning through the practice of seeing more clearly, and incorporating meaning in daily life. While in management roles at Zen Center I discovered a passion for business.  I got an MBA degree from NYU then founded a calendar and greeting card company called Brush Dance that I ran for 15 years.  In 2004 I founded ZBA Associates, where I work as an executive coach and leadership consultant. I am a Board member of Social Venture Network, and I lead a weekly Zen meditation group in Mill Valley.  I have written two books, Z.B.A. Zen of Business Administration and LESS: Accomplishing More By Doing Less.

What is your latest book – LESS – about? In a nutshell, LESS is about antidotes to busyness and practices for a calmer, more productive life.  It is about the possibility of finding composure right in the midst of our busy lives, as a way to get more (of what matters) done.

What got you excited to write it? Who were you writing it for? The catalyst for writing LESS was seeing the religion of busyness, in those around me, and in myself.  Busyness was becoming cool.  I saw that it was not only leading to less productivity, it was making people less connected, and less happy.  I was writing the book for busy people – from business people to soccer moms.

What have you personally done Less of? I have been less afraid to learn new skills and to push the edges of my own comfort zone; the stuff that is easy to teach business leaders and much more challenging for me to actually do.

What makes a great business leader? There are lots of excellent books that describe the qualities of a great leader.  Perhaps the most important and most controversial part of leadership is – what is the leader actually accomplishing.  In what way is the leader benefitting others and not causing harm.

Based on your research and experience, what tips do you have for our Good Business audience? I’ve been thinking about a quote from Peter Senge: “The essence of Personal Mastery is learning how to generate and sustain creative tension in our lives.”   Creative tension is the gap between what we want and where we are now.  I think this is an important and grounding practice – getting clear about what we really want, and also getting clear and where we are now.  What is our calling; what is our reality?

What’s next for you? I’m working on a book about effectiveness; looking at effectiveness through the lens of our personal lives, our work lives, and our spiritual lives.

Thank you Marc!

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