cover image Mindful Work: How Meditation Is Changing Business from the Inside Out

Mindful Work: How Meditation Is Changing Business from the Inside Out

David Gelles. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $27 (288p) ISBN 978-0-544-22722-4

When Steve Jobs prefaced his 1981 keynote speech at Applefest with an impromptu meditation session, it was taken as another eccentricity of the celebrated tech savant. But today, as journalist Gelles reports in this spirited but surface-deep survey, the practice of inducing a state of mental clarity and compassion known as mindfulness has gone mainstream. For instance, General Mills now holds meditation sessions for senior management at its corporate headquarters. Gelles also interviews Bill Ford, ex-CEO and Ford family heir, who reveals that his leadership was informed by Buddhist ideas. Gelles, himself a practitioner, hopefully imagines a meditation-informed workplace producing more sustainable products and possibly even transforming capitalism itself. Yet there are disquieting moments, as when he describes a Google presentation titled the “Three Steps to Build Corporate Mindfulness the Google Way” that was crashed by protesters bearing an “Eviction-Free San Francisco” banner and taking issue with the way wealthy tech workers have displaced local residents. One can only dream of how Tom Wolfe would have tackled an opportunity so ripe for satire. Perhaps because Gelles is more disciple than objective observer on this issue, his entertaining account can’t quite determine whether corporate mindfulness is a fad, fraud, or true corporate revolution. Agent: Susanna Einstein, Einstein Thompson Agency. (Mar.)