If you attended last year’s NACD Global Board Leaders’ Summit, you already know that mushrooms really are the new plastic. When Ecovative President and CEO Eben Bayer told an audience of 1,200 directors how his company could change the future of packaging during last year’s Future Trends:Short Takes on Big Ideas, we’re not sure he even believed IKEA would be knocking on his door a mere six months later.
From future trends to big ideas, big data to getting your next board seat, leading through disruption to breaking through bias, the agenda for our largest event of the year is designed with one major thing in mind: keeping you—the director—relevant.
And speaking of relevancy, we’re excited to share our brand-new 2016 NACD Global Board Leaders’ Summit website—your fresh, everything-you-need-to-know-about-Summit headquarters. Before you check out it out, however, don’t miss this 2016 Summit Trailer:
We’ll see you in September!
2016 NACD Global Board Leaders’ Summit | CONVERGENCE
September 17-20, 2016
Marriott Marquis | Washington, DC
In Buddhism, mindfulness is a facet of meditation in which an individual focuses their attention on the thoughts, feelings, or sensations happening in the moment. In psychology, studies suggests that mindfulness improves an individual’s quality of life, boosting memory and reducing stress and anxiety, among other benefits. In business, the adoption of these techniques has shown to improve productivity—so much so, that even Fortune 50 companies and the U.S. military are integrating mindfulness practices into the workday. Mindfulness expert Janet Nima Taylor—an American Buddhist nun, author, and co-founder of meditation resource organization Serenity Pause—gave directors attending the 2014 NACD Board Leadership Conference a crash course in effective techniques and how to integrate meditation into a company’s daily operations.
Meditation has been an integral part of wellness for millennia, but it’s a practice that is just now finding wide acceptance in corporate culture—and it’s also a proven means of improving business. According to Taylor, there’s plenty of research that attests to how meditation induces physiological and mental changes that influence how you interact with yourself and the world around you. The key to mindfulness, she said, is to create a gap between stimulus and response. Research says that 90 percent of our day involves responding in habitual ways, but creating this gap allows people to consider alternatives and discover new ways of resolving problems. During her session, Taylor offered three practices that directors can easily integrate into their everyday lives, even while they’re on the go. “If you’re breathing, you have time,” Taylor said.
1. Concentration. Mindfulness is not about stopping thinking, but rather shifts in how we interact with our thoughts. Momentarily forget those top-of-mind concerns and be completely still. Breathe in and count to four. Breathe out, count to six. Physiologically, this exercise lowers blood pressure. Conversely, when people are stressed, they tend to take shallow breaths and their bodies become oxygen deprived. Taking a moment to get the oxygen flowing can impact how you’re able to make decisions because doing so calms the body’s “fight or flight” response along with its associated stress hormones. Concentration also affords an individual heightened awareness of oneself, which allows them to be more present in the moment. By extension, when board meetings get contentious, directors should take a moment to breathe and write down the words that describe how they’re feeling. This exercise forces people to better articulate themselves and moves them away from the desire to be competitive toward wanting to be cooperative despite differences in perspective and opinion.
2. Natural Awareness. In our technology-centric culture, Taylor observed, people tend to live in their heads, making it easy to lose track of what is happening in one’s body below the neck. A person needs to permit himself or herself to do absolutely nothing for five minutes and use their senses to become completely aware of what is happening throughout their body in that given moment. Culturally, people are wired to be continuously active, but research shows that people who set aside time to momentarily do nothing are far more productive than those who are always engaged.
3. Positive Imagery. The human mind has a highly active imagination. This capacity for flights of fancy can be used to an effective end. If faced with a source of stress, create a positive spin on that disruptive force and focus on that self-generated positive imagery. That focus will help neutralize the negative situation.
A study published in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology showed that employees who participated in a free 12-week mindfulness program showed a significant reduction in stress. Integrating these practices into a business environment starts with the tone at the top. From the boardroom down through the employee level, people can look to leaders’ involvement to signal that these practices are acceptable in the workplace.
“Using the power of your mind is a teachable skill,” Taylor said. For a business, these tools help people to become better empowered to work together. And with company leadership on board, the positive benefits of mindfulness can transcend the organization.
So how does the track system work? Whatever your interests–from social media and technology, to audit and regulatory issues, addressing emerging risks, and more–you’ll find educational sessions that meet your specific professional development needs. Just select your categories of interest, and you’ll see which of our many sessions align best with what you’re looking for.
There are 11 tracks to choose from, but there’s no need to commit to just one. You’ll note that some sessions may even fall under more than one category.
Risk – sessions include Cybersecurity and the Boardroom and Corporate Sustainability: The Board’s Role.
Compensation – sessions include The Unintended Consequences of Proxy Advisors and Shareholder Engagement: The New Normal.
Nominating and Governance – sessions include CEO Succession Planning and The Effective Chairman and Lead Director.
NACD Directorship 2020® – sessions include Geopolitical Risk and The Board’s Role in Innovation.
Future Trends – sessions include The Internet of Everything and Meet the Disruptors.
SocialMedia & Technology – sessions include Surviving Corporate Crisis in a Socially Networked World and Social Media: Regulatory and Practical Pitfalls.
Global – sessions include Trade and Business in North America and Translating Corporate Culture Across Borders.
Story Circle – sessions include The Mindfulness Revolution and Stories of Pushing Past Personal Limits.
Audit and Regulatory – sessions include Your 10-K and Proxy in the Age of Transparency and Inside the SEC: Anatomy of an Agency.
Private Company – sessions include How Family Owned Companies Use Boards for Critical Choices and The Challenges of a Private vs. Public Company.
Small-Cap Company – sessions include Growth Strategies for the Small-Cap Director and Building the Small-Cap Board.
These learning track program options and our peer-exchange roundtables will help you meet other directors who serve similar industries, organizations, and committees–and share your boardroom concerns.