Call it the new New Age. Fifteen years after Steve Jobs first extolled the beauty of a beginner's ability to think without preconceptions, the business world is more enamored than ever with ancient Eastern principles. As this L.A. conference helps attendees find inner peace, five business leaders share how they're bringing mindfulness — sati in Buddhist terms — back to the workplace.
Employees of the social-gaming developer might get poked. Schiermeyer hires acupuncturists to spend three days a week at the company's San Francisco headquarters to help his staff ward off illness and be more emotionally balanced. "If you treat your employee like an Olympic athlete," he says, "he will provide extraordinary value."
Jolly Good Fellow, Google
To develop emotional intelligence in the office, Tan, the tech giant's jolly good fellow (yes, that's his real title), recommends building a foundation of self-awareness by meditating all day long. "With every step, be aware; synchronize your movement with your breath," says the longtime Buddhist. "You can do it even when you go to the restroom."
Cofounder, the Engage Network
A good serenade can cure all bad moods, according to this marketing firm. To pull Manilov out of a funk, her staff surprised her with a flash-mob-style rendition of Paul McCartney's "Silly Love Songs." The method — Love Song Sneak Attack — is now a common stress reliever in the office. "When things suck," says Manilov, "we use games to bring us back to a sense of lightness."
Time management is so 10 years ago. As the leader of this California not-for-profit, which develops technology to help kids with chronic illnesses, Christen is more interested in energy management to optimize her staff's physical and spiritual states. HOGS, the Health and Other Good Stuff program, provides healthy refreshments at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. — times when people are most likely to reach for coffee.
Rose makes sure his employees take time to smell the flowers. The founder of this app-development firm (and former Digg CEO) has a special expense account that lets each employee buy $50 worth of blooms a month. "It's about realizing that beyond our world of writing code, there's a real world."
A version of this article appeared in the July/August 2011 issue of Fast Company magazine.