Organized by: Michael Redd
My name is Michael Redd, father, business executive, and founder of Leadership Zen, LLC. I am a guy who thinks it's possible to change the world, and I am asking for your help to start a new social enterprise dedicated to doing just that, one life at a time.
Leadership Zen is a fully established LLC that is modeled after great for-profit social enterprises like Google.org. Our website, still under construction at leadershipzen.org goes into a great deal of explanation of what we do - or plan to do - but our philosophy is based on the idea that if we as individuals think differently, we will act differently. If we teach that to others, we create a catalyst for bringing positive social change to the world. That's why we're uniting under the hashtag #Cause Change.
Leadership Zen operates under three main arms, and donations will go to support the establishment of all of them:
- Publishing - we have established a website but our primary focus is on promoting the Leadership Zen philosophy and practice through the publishing of books and blogs. By creating awareness it will allow us to increase the frequency of our messaging, helping to establish a community of social activists who believe that big things are possible by harnessing individual power. More than can be achieved by over-reliance on government and other formal constructs.
- Social Enterprise - our intent is to invest in socially responsible enterprises that generate income to spur innovation, ideas, and spreading positive change. These enterprises will not be political, religious, or affiliated with any singular belief system other than the power of individuals to create change. Decisions on these investments will be handled by a Board, with the intent to advance our mission.
- Philanthropy - A portion of our original funding will seed the CauseChange Foundation which will focus on providing scholarships and grants to individuals and organizations that fit the vision and mission of Leadership Zen. Like our Social Enterprise investments, these gifts will be apolitical, non-religious, or affiliated with any singular belief system. Any funding above our goal will fund this arm of the organization.
A few of the financial challenges we are facing, and for which I ask your help:
- Further legal organization, including the formation of the CauseChange Foundation as a formal non-profit arm of the LLC
- Brand Establishment - building a movement takes more than a book, a blog, and one or two voices. We want to establish a strong Brand to attract volunteers to help build us for the long term
- Publishing costs - we have a book coming out this Fall! One of our aims is to establish a publishing entity that invites not only our own authors but others a place to print.
- Philanthropic Seeding - Establishing the Foundation to advance our mission.
100% of all funds will be used to build the brand and the Foundation to advance our means. While the website is under construction, I invite you to read the introduction from our forthcoming books to get a better sense of how we believe we can change the world, one life at a time. Thank you for your consideration of our cause!
Michael L. Redd
Excerpted from the upcoming book, Leadership Zen, by Michael L. Redd
I think the world is a most perfectly beautiful place. By definition it’s very existence speaks to great possibility - possibilities that exist not only within Nature, but also within ourselves. It is this potentiality in all of us that Leadership Zen will explore and grow.
For all the greatness that is our world, however, I also don’t think we always live in it very well. Mind you, this is not a condemnation of human behavior or morality, but rather an observation that we as a species seem to have become less civilized towards one another. As we evolved over time, we moved from simple, nomadic tribes of hunter-gatherers to small then larger communities of people whose aim in coming together was collective security and well-being. We farmed together, made clothes for each other, and traded goods and services that made the best of individual talents and filled our needs - all for the good of the community. That isn’t to say that everyone liked everyone; I am sure they had their own proclivities. But by and large there was a sense of combined fates with one another that promoted more civil behaviors.
I believe that we are slowly - yet ever more rapidly - losing that civility. Without discounting the very good intentioned people in the world, our public persona has become less…productive in terms of cultivating that mutual good that got us here in the first place. We fight more, on the battlefield and within the spectrum of our own ideas. We’ve turned into a world of “us” versus “them,” whether it’s the right versus the left, the have or the have nots, or a given race or religion against any other race or religion. We appear to be increasingly prone to dissecting the human race and finding ways to gain advantage over those who are not in our “club”.
At the same time, we have increasingly turned to violence - words and actions - to resolve disputes that used to be solved by debate. The incidence of school shootings has increased - hard to argue that no matter one’s politics. The rise of these types of events aren’t simply a matter of increased media focus it’s become a means of conflict resolution. Bullying has always been around, but Facebook and Twitter make it easier and more anonymous so that in some ways it has become more pervasive and, because of its reach, more devastating. People troll comment sections to berate others who do not share their view - again anonymously. Even the media has turned to using provocative headlines and language to fuel the imagination of potential readers to grab that extra click or that one more subscriber. Think how one no longer refutes a rumor, the have to “slam it.”
Finally, I have a growing concern that we have grown into a celebrity-obsessed society that rewards people less for their contributions and more because of their ability to simply be present. It is the phenomenon of “being famous just because one is famous,” and it belies the fact that many of these folks haven’t actually done much. Nevertheless we watch their shows, read the gossip, even in some cases send death threats when they have a romantic involvement or when we insult their talent. I don’t care how much you like a singer. That’s a little over the top.
That’s a mighty negative picture I’m painting here isn’t it? I will repeat what I said earlier in that I don’t think this is the underlying fabric of humanity or even society, so please don’t overreact to an author’s right to use dramatic effect to drive a point home. I do however believe that this is a disturbing trend in how we communicate and interact, and I also believe that social media and the the increase in message channels is making these behaviors and beliefs more obvious. The proverbial troll is often the loudest voice in the room, and is often the most celebrated. I believe this is chipping away at the progress we make and can make as a species. Reversing that trend is my very public goal in writing and promoting Leadership Zen.
Beyond societal effects, I believe this decline in civility is a root cause of individual discontent, whether it is a daily battle or just the sense that there could be more waiting out there. When the world is in constant tension, even when it seems like the norm, it tends to make it difficult to find a safe and productive haven for oneself. Sure, you can hide with the people who think exactly as you do, but truthfully, those people don’t usually exist. Even within similar thought spectrums, like politics for example, if you dig deep enough into the details you’ll find there’s often more disagreement there than agreement - as well there should be. We are all individuals and individual strength, influence and the power to be happy and fulfilled comes when we realize and actualize the uniqueness within each of us. That is the second stated goal of Leadership Zen, and as you’ll hopefully see, the two are endlessly entertained.
Leadership Zen doesn’t seek to end our indulgences in gossip and reality television, nor does it try to put an end to differences in philosophical, spiritual or political beliefs. Instead, it decreases our reliance on these things to create identities or labels for ourselves, which in turn builds a certain inner calm and strength that we can all benefit from. As you grow this quality, you also grow your ability to cause change, which is my personal ambition for you and for the world, and why I have dedicated myself to growing and educating in this thing I call Leadership Zen.
In case you think this is just another self-help book or another attempt to concoct a new flavor of the month in the leadership development space, let me put your fears to rest. While I think practicing the ideas within these pages will help you and make you a better leader and overall influencer, it is neither. The best way I can describe it is a primer for personal change, the building blocks to help you change how you think, which in turn affects how you act and the belief in your own capabilities. For me, a continuing veteran of this personal journey, it has given me a new perspective about life - my own and in general - which has made me happier, healthier, and more fulfilled than at any point I can recall since childhood. Thats the best endorsement I can offer, and I offer it to you as I invite you to begin your journey with Leadership Zen.
So relax, take a deep breath, and read on. I have tried to make this a lighter read, non-clinical and filled with examples and anecdotes to illustrate concept. I look forward to you joining the journey, and hopefully joining me in causing change in the world, one life at a time.