Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Interview with Paul Zelizer of Wisdompreneurs

Earlier today I had the honor to collaborate with Paul Zelizer of Wisdompreneurs on this interview. Paul considers himself the coyote, the trickster and he says his coyote archetype is what got him to where he is today. It's amazing to me the community he has built and being a new-comer to it I was happy to hear the philosophy from the top. 
Paul's blog is:

By Ty Hallock
You are the founder and the director of Wisdompreneurs.  Can you tell us about how this got started and what your mission is?

Wisdompreneurs is a global network of people interested in the intersection of Wisdom and Entrepreneurship. Our mission is to find creative ways to bring entrepreneurial skills to wisdom teachers (coaches/trainers/consultants/etc) and to bring easy to implement wisdom practices to the entrepreneurial world.

We got started when for Wisdom 2.0 2013 (, Soren Gordhammer (the founder and a friend of mine) asked me to lead a breakout session for the "gazillions of coaches we have at Wisdom 2.0". That breakout session was titled Wisdompreneurs: Deep Networking and Community Building for Coaches, Consultants and Trainers. 120 people attended.

We wanted to stay in touch so we created a Facebook group. Word spread very quickly and people have been asking for more than just a FB group.  We’ve created a dynamic executive team of 4 (Alison Raby in San Francisco, Jerome Braggs in Oklahoma City and Oge Okosieme in London) and are going through the process of creating the organizational infrastructure to begin offering the kinds of programs and services that we are being asked to.

What is the most exciting work you are doing with Wisdompreneurs?

The community is freaking awesome.  There can often be lots of isolation - both for wisdom teachers and for entrepreneurs.  The sharing and the collaborations that have been born are remarkable.  And we’re only 4 months old in any sort of intentional sense.  Very exciting!

You’ve been involved with Wisdom 2.0 and left that to start Wisdompreneurs, can you tell us quickly about Wisdom 2.0 and what it was like working with Soren Gordhamer?

Here's the description of Wisdom 2.0 from the Facebook page: "Wisdom 2.0 is a one-of-kind event that brings together people from a variety of disciplines, including technology leaders, Zen teachers, neuroscientists, and academics to explore how we can live with deeper meaning and wisdom in our technology-rich age." Speakers are folks like Marianne Williamson, Eckhart Tolle, Byron Katie, Jack Kornfield on the wisdom side. Tech/business speakers include the co-founders of Twitter, Jeff Weiner of LinkedIn, Arianna Huffington, Bill Ford of Ford Motor Company and many more.

It’s the most dynamic event I’ve ever been to.  We had 1800 people at Wisdom 2.0 2013.  And the conversations are incredibly exciting.  For instance, this year we had Bill Ford of the Ford Motor Company talking about how he feels that the lessons he learned from his 20+ year mentee relationship with Jack Kornfield (founder of are largely responsible for Ford being the only major US automaker that didn’t need a bailout a few years back.  Fantastic conversation to be present for!

I’ve known Soren Gordhammer, the founder of Wisdom 2.0, as friend for almost 10 years.  Wisdom 2.0 is only around 5 years old.  So I was there supporting Soren as a friend and colleague as Wisdom 2.0 was going through the birthing process.

I was Director of Social Media for Wisdom 2.0 for 15 months until September 2013. Before that, it was mutually supporting each other to reinvent ourselves (he supported me in starting my global coaching practice for wisdom based/spiritual entrepreneurs).  For instance, he was the one who introduced me to the deep uses of social media.  We were early adaptors of Twitter together.  Both of us have had many amazing experiences and great business opportunities due to social media.

What is the vision for Wisdompreneurs?  What is the potential of this organization?

Now, I’ve left Wisdom 2.0 because my passion and focus is growing Wisdompreneurs.  We have the opportunity to grow into one of the premier communities of practice for wisdom based ventures and teachers in the world.  And, to help entrepreneurs across the world - especially those with positive social intentions - to succeed at a much higher rate.

We have leading entrepreneurs - like Seth Godin in this post ( and Twitter co-founder Biz Stone in this post ( talking about what happens when startups don’t build a mindful culture.  They simply fail at a much higher rate.  We know that.  We have the understanding of neuroscience to predict it.

Yet, very few people are doing science based work with startups in this way.  Our community knows the research and best practices in this sector like few do.  With this foundation, we are ready to help a whole new generation of startups succeed, thrive and make the world a better place.

I want to say that there has never - in the history of humanity - been a better or more important time to be looking at the intersection of wisdom and entrepreneurship/business.  And, we’ve been asked by an amazing community of deeply caring humans to create an organization that’s able to birth initiatives that are larger in scope than any one person or organization’s programs or products.  Fundementally, it’s about leverage.  

You were telling me earlier that while working at Wisdom 2.0 you had a chance to hang out with Tony Hsieh of Zappos.  We were discussing mindfulness and you said he "uses frame of positive psychology".  Can you elaborate on that more?

In 2009, thanks to Twitter, Soren Gordhammer and I got to go to Zappos world headquarters to meet with Tony Hsieh and the Zappos leadership team about conscious business and social media.  It was an incredible experience for me - a game changing one in fact.   

Tony is incredibly passionate about what Jim Collins calls a ‘Type 5 Leader”.  Someone who has deep ambition for the greater good plus an embodied sense of humility.   

On the day we were there, they were literally handing out t-shirts thanking all their employees - they had just crossed the $1 Billion per year mark.  Yet everyone we spoke to - and we were allowed to wander the building without a guide and speak to anyone who wasn’t in a closed door meeting - went on and on about how Tony listens and how much he cares.  

I also got that sense about him.  And it comes through loud and clear in his book, Delivering Happiness.  The leadership team was incredibly passionate about ways to help their employees increase their happiness.  For instance, they had a coach that met with every employee each year to find ways to work on their “happiness goals”.  Not how to sell more shoes.  But how to be a happier person.

It was unlike any corporate experience I’ve ever had.  I’m using the past tense here because I’ve heard the culture has changed somewhat since they were bought out in 2010.  I don’t know that it’s the same now.

But Tony has brought this same mindful approach to his new passion based project - revitalizing the city of Las Vegas.  Amazing man!

How can Wisdom help Entrepreneurship?  

“The most powerful technology in the world is an optimized human nervous system.” That’s what I like to tell my clients.  Yet, in the process of starting - and maintaining -  businesses most people tend to focus on just about everything EXCEPT the nervous systems of the people.

As I mentioned above, we now have very strong data.  We have incredibly smart business people - like Arianna Huffington and Harvard Business School’s Bill George and the posts I talked about before that Seth Godin and Biz Stone have written - that are talking about the data.  

But the vast majority of people leading startups right now are not paying attention to what mindfulness can do for business.  It’s not some woo woo theory.  Google understands. That’s why they have their Search Inside Yourself program.  Yet, how many startup incubators or programs are REALLY talking about this?

Mindfulness practices increase our ability to be creative as well as our overall health and wellness.  They reduce conflict between team members, stress and anxiety as well as dissatisfaction and burnout   Here’s a research summary: ( )

Simply put, entrepreneurs who implement even very simple practices greatly increase their chances of success.  And success for entrepreneurs with a purpose that’s larger than themselves is what Wisdompreneurs is all about.  


  1. Great interview Ty. Yes, the Wisdompreneurs group is an amazing group of people. It's also very closely aligned with our efforts of bringing the Indigenous wisdoms to business.

  2. Wow, Glenn Gefficken is commenting on my blog. I'm so honored. Can we talk about your book on the next blog post?