Jerry Wagner

Starting as a PhD. Statistician Jerry spent several years in Austin, Texas as Head of the Operations Research Group, College of Engineering at UT, starting software companies, and doing historical preservation. In 2001 he joined the Peter Kiewit Institute in Omaha, Nebraska where he started the BSc. Degree in IT Innovation. While there he was also a Gallup Senior Scientist specializing in data visualization. His interest in employee wellbeing started when their landmark book — Wellbeing: The Five Essential Elements – was published. He got hooked and went to Bellevue University to start the Institute for Employee Wellbeing. From there he started the nonprofit Institute for Inspired Organizational Cultures.

Why does the world need a work revolution? (In other words: the way we’re working isn’t working. Why not?)
I might change this question to “Why is the world experiencing a revolution?” The answer is that we are finally requiring to be treated as humans vs. machines.

How are you or your organization reinventing work in some way (big or small)?
By educating employees on how the workplace is rapidly changing by publishing surprising real examples.

Why do you do what you do?
Because it is the right thing to do and because it motivates me to get going every morning.

What kind of art (any kind) do you like and why? Any recommendations we should know about?
Native American. I have had connections with Native Americans now for 40 years and I love the people and their art.

What is one specific thing your company does that makes your culture unique and/or different?
The one thing I would mention is what we call Role Models for Whole Person Organizational Cultures. With this publication we want the world to become aware of the many organizations that are practicing Whole Person Cultures but are not yet in the mainstream news.

What is one discipline/industry totally different from your own that has inspired you? How does it impact your work?
I would say fine arts. I have no artistic ability myself but for much of my adult life I’ve been actively involved as an art collector, investor, and supporter. I love the art for its works but mostly I love the friendships with the artists.

What’s one tangible and concrete technique other organizations should use if they want to create a more human and/or meaningful place to work?
Have all employees take classes on the Psychology of Humanness in the workplace.

What is one surprising thing we should know about you?
I would not say this is something others should know. But it might be a surprise. I grew up on a farm in Nebraska. After high school my dream was to have the country’s best herd of Aberdeen Angus cattle. I did not go to college for 4 years and was getting started on the dream. Then I discovered college. At that time I admired our Vet who was about the only college educated person I knew. So I got to the University of Nebraska majoring in Pre-Vet. Instead of continuing the Vet pursuit after graduation I got a fellowship to pursue a MSc. nutrition and biochemistry. During that time I got hooked on Statistics. Back in those days there were only a few schools with a major or concentration Statistics. One was Iowa State and that’s where I went. Those cattle I had assembled were a big help in paying for my education.

What do you do for fun?
Work is fun for me. I have in the past been a serious American antique collector, Native American art collector, and architectural preservationist. Those were fun but I did them with the seriousness of being work. One example was assembling a compound of historic log cabins in Bastrop, Texas. That is now the Lower Colorado Conference Center. Another example was a project in Abiquiu, New Mexico to create a research and teaching center to preserve Native American customs and language.

Why have you changed vocations so many times?
I usually have a span of about 5 years of focused on a project, topic, or discipline. That is lousy for career building but it is just the way I am.

Where in the world are you?
At this moment I am near to Dallas, Texas but moving soon to New Mexico. I’ve spent a lot of time in the land of enchantment and want to return.

How can people connect with you?
To connect with me use email at

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