Mindful Thinking: A powerful tool that can change the world!

2014 AENC GA Symposium Luncheon Speaker Matt Tenney

ANEC was honored to have Matt Tenney as the 2014 Government Affairs Symposium’s Keynote lunch speaker on February 28 at the Sheraton Downtown Raleigh hotel. Matt, a former Marine, spoke to the audience about his approach on leadership and how leaders can increase employee engagement. You can learn more about these approaches in Matt’s new book, Serve To Be Great, which over 70 copies were given to members of the audience.

Matt’s goal, as a young 24-year-old Marine, was simple: achieve freedom thought financial success and the faster the better.  In the race for financial freedom, he took a few shortcuts along the way by forging government procurement documents worth $3 million dollars, and although he did not actually transfer the money, authorities discovered the anomaly and the FBI arrested him.  During his first 5 months spent in jail, 23 hours a day spent in solitary confinement,  he became depressed as he realized how much worry and fear his actions caused his family.

It is then that Matt started to practice Mindful Thinking: learning to live in the moment and not to be distracted by your own thoughts.  By focusing on what you are doing in the moment, Mindful Thinking allows your actions to be more enjoyable and rewarding.

Matt asked the audience how many hours a day we thought employees actually worked.  Five, six, four were shouted out from the crowd. We were all wrong!  On average, employees spend a whopping 2 hours a day doing actual work. Matt wondered by employees are not being engaged at work and he also he thought it did not have to be this way.

Over the years, Matt started a number of non-profits where he worked with under privileged kids as well as kids with cancer.  He taught them all the power of Mindful Thinking.   Always asking, how will I help others became his mantra.  Then he started to ask himself, what if businesses operate in this mindset.  After doing some research, he learned there were many companies that focused on giving back to their employees and the community.  He also found that these companies were enjoying great success on many levels even in this down economy.  Here is one example:

Next Jump, an online e-commerce company started in 1994, has taken the concept of caring about their employees to the next level, routinely asking them what would make their lives better.  Their motto: Better Me + Better You = Better Us.  One outcome that resulted from listening to the wants and needs of their employee’s was the free weekly laundry program.  Instead of spending hours every weekend at laundromats, they wanted to be free to do other things. The company assessed options and set up an onsite laundry facility. They even developed a saying: “My company gets my laundry, I get my weekends back.”

Employees can also donate their time coding for a non-profit for two paid weeks out of each year, it is called “Coding for a Cause.”  On average, Next Jump receives 18,000 resumes a year, but hires only 35 people.  Their current employees are routinely offered more money from competitors and routinely turn them down.  The result of this focus on employee happiness: an increase in engagement and a dramatic improved in retention.

So, how can you better serve others?  Listen first and listen more than the other person, both automatically put you in the mode to serve.   As a leader, speak last.  Keep your opinions to yourself.  Last, practicing Mindful Thinking will make you more mindful of others in general. The end-result is that your actions will play forward.

So ask yourself, what can happen if I do just one selfless act for another today?  How will it change the world?   Pretty powerful to think you can change the world with one selfless act!

To learn more about Matt Tenney, visit his website at: http://www.matttenney.com

Jacquelyn Manson  –JM Marketing & Events

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