Richard St. John knew how he had found success -- through his marketing company, the St. John Group, which boasted clients like Nortel and BlackBerry/Research in Motion. But he couldn't get away from the question: Why him? He thinks of himself as an average guy, not talented at school, not terribly handsome or particularly lucky. So he spent more than a decade interviewing 500 people he defines as successful -- from architect Frank Gehry to non-celebrities successful in their own lives.
The resulting book, Spike's Guide to Success: Stupid, Ugly, Unlucky and RICH, has spawned a new avenue of success for St. John as a motivational speaker and talk-show star. His newest book is The 8 Traits Successful People Have in Common: 8 To Be Great.
"It's so great. It's such a boost of confidence. This book really gives you a lot of self-esteem about who you are, and that you really can be somebody."
Thomas Fischer, Habitat for Humanity




Jimmy Wales is an American Internet entrepreneur known for his role in the creation of Wikipedia, a free, open-content encyclopedia launched in 2001. He serves on the Board of Trustees of the Wikimedia Foundation, holding the board-appointed "community founder" seat. In 2004, he co-founded Wikia, a privately owned, free Web-hosting service, along with Angela Beesley.

Together with Larry Sanger and others, Wales helped lay the foundation for Wikipedia, which subsequently enjoyed rapid growth and popularity. As Wikipedia expanded and its public profile grew, Wales took on the role of the project's spokesman and promoter through speaking engagements and media appearances. Wales has been historically cited as the co-founder of Wikipedia but he disputes the "co-" designation, asserting that he is the sole founder of Wikipedia. Wales' work developing Wikipedia, which has become the world's largest encyclopedia, prompted Time magazine to name him in its 2006 list of the world's most influential people.

Born in Huntsville, Alabama, Wales attended a small private school, then a university preparation school, eventually attaining a bachelor's degree and master's degree in finance. During his graduate studies he taught at two universities.

Question: What is the power of getting information to the right place at the right time?

Jimmy Wales: Oh, it’s massive. I mean, it’s massive in lots of really tedious and boring ways, you know? A lot of ways that’re easily overlooked. You know, inside a lot of really large organizations, one of the problems they have is sort of pointless duplication of effort. So I just recently I met somebody at IBM who was just relating an anecdote that he had been working on a certain kind of project for, I don’t know, a year or something, and by pure random chance, he stumbled across someone who’s been doing exactly the same thing for a year. And IBM’s a huge, huge organization. It’s not surprising that kind of stuff happens. But it would’ve been really helpful if these two had met each other, you know, a year ago, because they could’ve split up the work, and gotten it done twice as fast, or they could’ve at least learned from each other, or one of them could’ve said, “Hey, you take it; I got something else I need to do.” And actually they met each other through a wiki, so that was pretty good, right? They actually through an internal wiki they were able to coordinate their efforts a lot better. I think those’re the kinds of things that don’t make headlines, you know? Just the idea that through information technology within an organization, there’s a lot more transparency and visibility as to who’s doing what. And that has huge business benefits. Huge social benefits, right? I mean, certainly in the grand scheme of things in the whole world, we’ve got a lot of problems that we need to solve, right? We need to do a lot of different things, and it’s just terrible if two people are wasting time doing the same thing as each other, right? Just makes no sense to anybody. The other person can be doing something else that’s useful. So I think it’s of massive importance.

Recorded on: 04/30/2008



Ruth Porat is the executive vice president and chief financial officer of Morgan Stanley, where she has worked for 22 years. She has advised in many of the firm's largest and high-profile IPOs, including eBay, Amazon.com and Blackstone Group. She also advised in the government bailouts of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and AIG. Before she rose to her current position, she served as vice chairman of investment banking and the global head of the company's financial institutions group.

Question: What did you learn from your bout with cancer?

Ruth Porat: Hearing you have cancer is one of the most terrifying phone calls that one I think one can get. And I think one of the questions is: "Well, what does it even mean?" I was fortunate. I had breast cancer. Breast cancer is much more manageable than other cancers, but the ability to speak with other women who had gone through it to give me a sense of "So what is next? What does it mean? What can I expect? How do I talk to my kids? How do I talk to my colleagues?" Once you’ve been through it things that seemed so frightening and terrifying. What is chemo? Am I going to be completely debilitated? Is it really manageable? I think you get a better sense of what it is and so I would... Unfortunately, too many of us are touched by cancer. I would say very important to reach out and get an understanding of it from those who have been through it. I think the next thing is be true to yourself. For me, going to work meant that I was in control of my life. The disease did not define me. And so in many respects work was a really important part of me being healthy. And one of my bosses, a fantastic leader of business, Joe Perella said: "If you want to come to Morgan Stanley and work while you’re going through chemo do it because it’s good for you. Don’t do it for Morgan Stanley. We just want you to get healthy."

I think as a leader letting your people know that you should get treated the way you want and go through this experience the way you want is very individual. I was lucky. I would... when I went through chemo it wasn’t that debilitating, and so I could make that choice and it was great. I was running. I was working. That worked for me. For others, it doesn’t. Be true to yourself. There is no one right answer. And those are probably the main things. I think the last point is for those who know people who have cancer you don’t quite know what to say: Anything positive that says you’re there is fantastic.

Recorded November 12, 2010
Interviewed by Victoria Brown



International Migration, Is important Religion to your life?, Religious Conflicts, Do we need to understand religion to understand the world?
The impact of religious faith is profound in a world where political, economic, and social spheres are increasingly interconnected. Intentional and sustained reflection on the crucial issues of faith and globalization can lead to the kind of reconciliation and peaceful coexistence that life in the 21st century demands.

Yale, in collaboration with the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, launched the Faith and Globalization Initiative in the Fall of 2008 as a three-year effort to conduct dialogue as a way of considering these essential issues. The website will explore a variety of topics and issues -in the classroom, in formal lectures and informal conversation, and through research, speeches, conferences, and the Internet.

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Happier and Healthier Employees Are More Productive And Loyal

Whenever "International Potluck Day" comes to Torrance, CA, the crowds at Phenomenex gather to dine and laugh. The delicious and exotic homemade dishes are a draw, but ultimately their associates go to celebrate what makes the company such a phenomenal workplace.

Representing almost 50 nationalities, the 477 employees of Phenomenex, named a Top Small Workplace in 2008, find a collective home in this supportive, driven and diverse organization. Founded in 1982, the company has seen great success in focusing on the fundamental components of globally adopted lab procedures, providing purification and analytical chemistry solutions for the life sciences and related industries.

When President and CEO Fasha Mahjoor first jumped into the chromatography business, he dove straight into distribution and marketing, citing superb service as his modus operandi. Beginning with one phone and a two-man operation, his approach was quite unusual for the industry, where more often an individual develops a new technology and considers marketing years later.

"A lot of my competitors at the time started seeing this company very quickly taking a lot of market share," Mahjoor recalls. "Hence, they started to think this company was somewhat aggressive. I take it as a compliment."

Fasha set out to create something unique, using his education in architecture and design to shape Phenomenex's character from the beginning. His vision was something "vastly different from your typical scientific community," he says. Consistently surprised at the "dark and tiring spaces" his team encountered at other organizations, Mahjoor insisted that Phenomenex develop an ambiance more friendly and conducive to the work process.

The chemical separation sciences represent a very competitive industry, and although Phenomenex has always focused on cutting-edge products, Mahjoor argues that their ability to attract, retain and develop talent stems not from a hip product line, but a distinctive culture. And it's not just scientists, but associates in packaging, marketing, management and operations that stay for years.

"That is what is keeping our people here and, I think, working twice as hard as employees working for our competition," he says.

Much of this is tied to a theme of self-actualization throughout Phenomenex. As highlighted by Corinna Jones, Marketing Manager, the company's corporate materials speak of the growth, prosperity and well-being of customers, employees and community as their foremost responsibility. But, she adds, "After nine years, I'm proud to work for Phenomenex because it is not only a mission statement; it is actually part of the company culture."

Jones is one of the many associates taking advantage of Phenomenex's varied programs for personal development and wellness. In addition to marathons for charity and all-company sporting events, access to the company gym and showers during lunch is a big plus for her.

"As a working mother, this is one of the few opportunities I have to take care of myself," she says. "In a considerable way, Phenomenex is responsible for my good health."

Winning Workplaces finds that among our Top Small Workplaces and in leading workplace research alike, happier and healthier employees are more productive and loyal. Ismail Rustamov, in the firm's Media and Technology Development area, says the company’s program even includes beach volleyball and chess. In his 15 years with Phenomenex, Rustamov admits he has not seen another company with such an extensive wellness program, and stresses that such an approach is great for both employee and organization.

"All these make Phenomenex a better place to work for by adding intangible benefits to all employees," he says.

The company's focus on personal actualization also extends into education, with "MyDevelopment" classes focused on areas like communication skills, time management, and decision making. And far from being aimed at simply creating better employees, they include more holistic issues such as personal finance. "Within the last two years I went through at least 14 classes," Rustamov says.

Mahjoor explains that the goal behind these programs is really to enrich each individual and strengthen their unique abilities, regardless of the department in which they serve. This even manifests itself in bold career moves such as Jones' switch from strict biochemistry to marketing.

Can these programs be replicated in other organizations? Mahjoor says yes, but the glue needed to make them work is a strong cultural identity, and that's something he sees far fewer firms getting right and using to their advantage.

"What most companies may have missed is not just providing the education, but providing a culture that literally invites this sort of behavior from employees," he says. "By design or accident, we have created a culture where most everyone is appreciative and wants to learn whatever they can, while at the same time having a lot of fun."

Whether it's public speaking workshops, triathlons, or pick-up games of cricket, Rustamov commends these programs for their capacity to inspire and boost camaraderie.

"During events like these, employees from different departments get to know each other better, and that in turn forges and strengthens horizontal interactions at work, making the company much stronger."

And when it comes time for the International Potluck again, you can bet he'll arrive with one of his favorite Azerbaijani dishes in hand. The grape-leaf dolma might be placed next to the Swedish pancakes Jones brings, and the crew will once again share new and old stories with associates entering their first season, or friends they've worked with for a decade or longer.

Company: Phenomenex
Web site: www.phenomenex.com
Industry: Technology
Location: Torrance, CA
Number of Employees: 477
Sales: $107 million



Timothy Schultz, VP of Administration of California-based organic rice farming operation Lundberg Family Farms, talks about how this third-generation family-owned business stays true to its founding value of respect for people, as well as the land.



Employee Wellness Magazine interviews Alan Walters, HR Director at Unilever UK & Ireland. To find out what the secrets are behind the success of their highly commended workplace health and wellbeing programme "Fit Business", which is currently being rolled across all 17 of their sites nationwide.



The pathway to a simple and effective solution may take some difficulties:::: what do you think?

Eric Berlow is an ecologist and network scientist who specializes in not specializing. He helped found, and directs, the University of California’s first environmental research center in Yosemite National Park. After radio-collaring wolves in Alaska and tending bar in Paris, he got his Ph.D. in marine ecology studying the interconnectedness of species in nature. As a research scientist with the USGS he focuses on building better links between science and management of protected mountain ecosystems.

Eric is helping apply network approaches to sustainable ecotourism development in the Arctic, and is co-owner of a green café in Oakland, California. He is currently spearheading ‘ecomimetic’ approaches to corporate sustainability by visualizing and modeling energy consumption through complex, interconnected supply chains.



Kim Smith
Co-Founder and CEO
New Schools Venture Fund

Kim Smith believes that extracurricular activities are essential. Funds are being cut currently because, in trying to achieve funding equity, everyone's funding was reduced instead of simply increasing funding to those who needed it. Fixing this is a matter of political will, she adds.

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Founder of the Whole Earth Catalog, cofounder of the Well and the Long Now Foundation, writer, editor and game designer, Stewart Brand has helped to define the collaborative, data-sharing, forward-thinking world we live in now.

Since the 1960s, he has maintained that -- given access to the information we need -- humanity can make the world a better place. One of his early accomplishments: helping to persuade NASA to release the first photo of the Earth from space. The iconic Big Blue Marble became the cover for his Whole Earth Catalog, a massive compendium of resources and facts he thought people might like to know. And we did: the 1972 edition sold 1.5 million copies. In 1987, he wrote The Media Lab: Inventing the Future at MIT; in 1994, How Buildings Learn.

Currently Brand is working with computer scientist Danny Hillis to build the Clock of the Long Now, a 10,000-year timepiece; his Long Now Foundation also runs a number of spinoff projects, including the Rosetta Project, cataloguing the world's languages, and the Long Bets website. He's also busy with the Global Business Network (part of the Monitor Group), helping businesses plan for the near and way-far future.



Bartz believes you will spend more time at work than in personal activities. If you are in management, one of your responsibilities is to make sure you care for your employees with compassion and interest in their lives.

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