I’ve been told that one of the most valuable services my work in the world provides is helping people gain clarity—exploring perspectives that help shift how something is perceived, related to, and/or managed. There are many influences—people, organizations, life lessons—that have supported the development of my capacity to serve others in this way; and it started early in my life.
There were three lifestyle experiences that are particularly relevant to building the foundation for my current work in the world.
The first significant influence was moving multiple times. In fact, by the age of 18, my family had moved 10 times. This included stays in the Midwest, the Northeast, Texas, and California. I also spent extensive time in the South visiting family friends. I found this disruption very difficult—I hated it actually. Never truly feeling like I could settle down, having to adjust to different lifestyles (like the difference between New York and Texas), leaving old friends and having to make new ones. While I struggled dealing with the all the moves at the time, reflecting back, I can see and appreciate how that “instability” was an educational opportunity that forced me to learn and acclimate to various cultures; to be observant to the subtle idiosyncrasies that exist within the different mindsets, and to be flexible in how I interpreted the World as opposed to holding a more rigid worldview on how things should be.
The second influence was my involvement in team sports and in martial arts/mindfulness. With team sports, basketball was my true love, though I played football in college and finished with a couple of failed professional tryouts. As sports were such a huge part of my life thru young adulthood, it’s difficult to name learnings in specific terms. I can say though that ideas such as grit, relentless pursuit, and deliberate practice are frames I have lived for many years—and those attributes (and mantras) seem particularly relevant and useful for current conditions in the world today.
As to marital arts, I began at the age of 6 because, so I was told, I needed to learn discipline and self-control. That is also when I was introduced to meditation. While I may have been a bit disgruntled at being forced to go, I would find the lessons learned invaluable—many of those principles I apply to this day. From 6-16, I maintained a 5-day a week practice; with my dad and I eventually opening up our own school. As with team sports, the learnings from martial arts were many, but developing my mental focus and bodily awareness at a young age is at the top of the list as having an enormous impact on my ability to navigate the many changing conditions I would face in my future.
The third influential condition growing up was being raised by my serial entrepreneur father. This was a factor in our moving around of course, and thus impactful. But perhaps more so was watching my dad spend countless hours in front of a computer, on the phone, or in a meeting—at all times of the day—trying to build a business from scratch. And here was perhaps the most impactful lesson—that building things that matter requires enormous effort. I would also learn that none of my dad’s success could have occurred without my mom taking care of the day to day so my sister and I, as well as my dad, could show up in the world in the best possible way (and she worked and went to school too!!). It is hard to live well and live fully without support, guidance, and love; and I was blessed in this regard.
This influence is so strong, I cannot recall a time in my professional life where I wasn’t involved with, working for, or consulting on a start-up business.
Living and Learning
After 3 years working in a high-end hospitality spot in Los Angeles, and after my first attempt at a start-up of my own, I was hired by an Executive Protection and Behavioral Assessment company (Galahad Protective Services) that was barely a year old at the time. It was with this company, and within the field of personal protection and risk assessment spanning 14 years, that my current reality began to take shape. The multitude of contexts and considerations that the security profession provides forced me, painfully at times, to develop and refine my ability to learn in new ways and pushed my skills development in areas such as communication, situational awareness (self, other, environment, contexts). body/mind maintenance and upkeep, psychology and the unconscious mind, interpersonal dynamics (especially on teams), and recognizing different mindsets among individuals and within and across communities and cultures.
Combined with a desire to be In Service to others, these skills were essential to performing at a high level in the security industry and as a leader of an organization. Fortunately for me, it has proven very beneficial to coaching/advising and Thanku Apparel as well.
To develop my skill and expertise, I dedicated years pursuing and attaining education in human behavior, security and risk assessment, social technologies, community development, leadership, health, and organizational design / culture. Subjects include but are not limited to:
- Dr. Don Beck and his Spiral Dynamics Integral system
- Christopher Cooke / 5 Deep Integral and the Spiral Dynamics Integral online assessment tool
- Dr. Linda Berens (Linda Berens Institute) and her Berens Core Approach
- Otto Scharmer (MIT) and the Theory U process
Learning the above opened my eyes to other interrelated topics, such as Systems Thinking, Design, Regenerative Economics, Doughnut Economics, Integral Cities, Archaeology, Anthropology, Agriculture, Agroecology, Philosophy, Nutrition, Physiology, Holotropic Breathwork, Indigenous Ways of Knowing, Cosmology, the works of Buckminster Fuller, Anthony Hodgson (H3Uni), Arthur M. Young, and A.H. Almaas.
Additionally, my work over the years has afforded me the opportunity to travel to 34 nations across 5 continents, where I could use my job as a “laboratory” for experimentation on practices and systems that supported human well-being and peace-of-mind regardless of context. Some of the conditions included an intense travel schedule (5 countries in 7 nights), 20-plus hour days, constant 24/7 availability, and the stress of holding someone else’s well-being in your hands. These experiences helped me see and refine my knowledge in real world situations, and as indicated, sometimes under extreme physical and psychological stress. I witnessed firsthand how the various human and environmental “systems” worked under a multitude of different conditions. This stretched my capacities to understand; accelerating my growth and my ability to integrate multiple perspectives.
Each of these learnings, independently and as an interconnected whole, informed and influenced my ability to understand myself and my Body/Mind system, how to consider and address the multitude of factors that shape the health and well-being of individuals and communities alike, and how to best help others using those learnings.
As I worked with professionals from diverse industries and within different cultural milieus, I was able to recognize that the process I was building applied to any industry. That is when two things happened: I left security and stepped into leadership coaching, and I had an experience during a meditation that would lead to the founding of Thanku Apparel.
After The Shift
I mention plenty about my coaching/advising on other pages so I will just say it took about 7 years to gain traction—a lot of hope and disappointment along the way—but I now dedicate most of my time and attention to that service. With that, I can speak briefly to Thanku Apparel and the shift to Elevated Denver; which will bring us fully up to date. I will try and keep it short and sweet.
There is so much I could say about Thanku Apparel and my feelings towards it. The original idea came while meditating in Maputo, Mozambique—and that vision has led to 15 years of every feeling you can have, coming full circle in some important ways these past two years. The basic idea behind Thanku Apparel was to use the supply chain process as a doorway that fosters stewardship (of ecosystem and relationships) and solutions (as determined by those in the community). I came up with the picture below to represent those three pillars illustrating they were foundational components (as a process and mindset) to achieve our purpose of co-creating a thriving ecosystem for all of life—which was the underlying intention of the company.
While clarifying some of the inner dynamics of the image above (using the Enneagram), I recognized two things: first, you can start at any point—doorway (thru an offering like apparel), stewardship (relationship building and learning context of place), or solutions; I didn’t have to launch the product first to get started having impact. The second, and perhaps more important learning, was that any offering could fit in this process—including coaching. I realized, in many ways, I had been living this dynamic for years.
Concurrently to refining the Thanku Apparel process, while living in Denver, I found myself involved in a start-up that had a similar intention—a thriving Denver—and many of the same process dynamics. The difference being instead of apparel, the initial offering was media production (podcast and documentaries). This distinction is important because it was the point when I started considering if I really wanted to do Thanku Apparel. While I have always loved the idea and process, I have never been a huge follower of apparel or fashion (anyone who knows me will verify this statement).
After 15 years of struggling to bring this to life, including a period early on where I lost my house and car (due to naivety and putting all my resources into Thanku Apparel), it was finally becoming apparent that apparel was not for me and I should stop forcing it (#slowlearner). Media Production with a social mission, however, was a completely different story; I have wanted to work in that space for almost two decades and was thrilled to have the opportunity.
So, as bittersweet as the realization was to end Thanku Apparel—having “spent” so much of myself on the journey—I walk away feeling enriched and grateful for all I have lived since 2006. I closed Thanku Apparel in September of 2021, feeling complete with the finality of that endeavor.
Regarding the production work in Denver, we completed a 10-part podcast series on homelessness in the Denver area in April of 2022–and I am very proud of our efforts. As I have relocated back to Los Angeles, it made sense for me to step away from a Founding role. I know the remaining members will continue to bring awareness on many issues and will have a powerful impact on the community.
Now that I have returned home, my focus turns to Southern California and the many issues waiting to be addressed. This work could include two frameworks that underpinned the production work in Denver: Doughnut Economics and the City Portrait. My hope is to engage with similar, and other, efforts here in Los Angeles. I am particularly interested in the deep history of this area, and the first peoples’ who inhabited and stewarded the ecosystem for generations.
The Next Horizon
Years ago, I thought the most effective way I could impact conditions for well-being and peace-of-mind was as an executive/leadership coach and advisor. If our leaders could see differently perhaps they would make different choices that would have a positive generational impact on people’s lives across the planet. While I still believe that’s important and true, and I most certainly will continue to engage in those conversations, building on projects like Denver, in my town and across the globe—sharing stories of living differently—represents the next exponential iteration of my work in the world.
I move onward with gratitude for the life I have lived, the life I have been afforded, the life I have created, and the life I have yet to live. I look forward to co-creating a world where all can thrive.
To be continued…