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Business Advice from Mallika Chopra

TEDx San Diego TedXSanDiego’s Saturday event left me in awe of the amazing personal, professional and civic drive of speakers like Patricia Marquez, Lori Steele Contorer and Tererai Trent. The event also renewed my desire to pull back the layers of my life and get down to what makes me tick – as a person, a community member, a voter, a public relations professional and everything else that I am.

Mallika-Chopra-Head-Shot The most poignant moments of introspection came during Mallika Chopra’s talk. She advised the audience to focus through meditation, and I think those same self-reflecting measures can apply to business as well.

Chopra (yes, she’s related to that other Chopra, pioneer of new age medicine, Deepak Chopra) shared with the 1,500 TedX San Diego attendees a meditation tactic she has practiced since childhood. She challenged us to ask ourselves these three questions:

  1. Who am I?
  2. What do I want?
  3. How can I serve?

Give yourself a few minutes to think these through – they’re not exactly light-hearted inquisitions. After you’ve answered these questions on a personal level, consider these same questions applied to the business-consumer exchange.

Companies are facing what might be the most heightened interest in corporate social responsibility ever. Consumers care about how a product was made, where it was made, by whom it was made, how that person was treated, how much of a carbon footprint that product has, and how that product affects local and global economies. Many brands have been caught up in green-washing and pink-washing trends, which demonstrates just how lost most companies are at defining their corporate social responsibility actions to the public.

What if company leaders asked themselves Chopra’s questions? They would likely rediscover the essence of their brand. They would think through the potential gains of any changes in production, employment or marketing practices. They would also remember the audience they serve and the solution their product or service provides. Corporate social responsibility initiatives resulting from this deep thought are bound to be more applicable than a pink ribbon or green eco sign on packaging.

The flip-side can apply these same questions to consumers. As shoppers, we’re faced with countless decisions about how to spend our hard-earned dollars. Millennials have been said to be a generation disloyal to brands, and at the same time studies have shown that millennials care deeply about the social and environmental footprint of products. Consumers should ask themselves Chopra’s questions to remind themselves of how to best serve the greater good using their purchasing power.

Meditation is shown to have a myriad of benefits. While practiced mainly by individuals for personal reflection, I think businesses should also engage in meditation. So at your next strategic planning meeting or board retreat, ask yourself:

  1. Who am I?
  2. What do I want?
  3. How can I serve?
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