Kent Frazier

Kent Frazier is curious about why you work. He is a Managing Partner with Y Scouts, a purpose-based leadership search practice that is Changing Why the World Works, by connecting people and companies, on purpose. Kent believes that our work should be the fullest expression of our Unique Self and our genuine labor of love.

Why does the world need a work revolution? (In other words: the way we’re working isn’t working. Why not?)
The Bureau of Labor Statistics recent American Time Use Survey shows that adults between the ages of 25-54 spend the majority of time, 8.8 hours per day, working. The second largest segment of time we spend, 7.6 hours per day, is spent sleeping. All of the rest of the stuff that we do, the most cherished and pined for “life” part of our work-life balance conundrum — that no one can seem to figure out in today’s corporate leadership ranks — seems to be comprised of sports & leisure, household activities, eating & drinking, caring for others, and “other”.

The Gallup Organization annually measures the level of engagement of the US workforce. The 2013 survey results show that 70% of the US workforce is either not engaged or is actively disengaged in their work. They define being engaged in work as having a profound connection with your work.

Well maybe Gallup has raised the bar too high with this definition of engagement. I mean why would we ever want, let alone expect, to have a sense of profound connection with the part of our life where we spend the majority of our time? Well, that just wouldn’t be ‘work’ now, would it?

So let’s stop here for a moment — for a sanity check if you will. The data suggests that adults in the US spend the majority of our time working on things that are not engaging to us or we are actively disengaged — purposefully doing things other than what we’re supposed to be doing.

For those of you who think engagement and profound connection is all too “woo woo” and “airy fairy, Gallup estimates that the lack of engagement in the US workforce costs the US economy between $450-$550 BILLION dollars per year.

Oh, and we also happen to be the most in debt, obese, addicted, and over-medicated adult cohort in US history. So we got that going for us, which is nice.

How are you or your organization reinventing work in some way (big or small)?
We are fundamentally reframing the context in which we think about work from something we do in order to get a paycheck and the privileging of shareholder return to something that creates generative and sustaining contributions in the world. We are inviting organizations and leaders to aspire to something more. We are asking people to make a commitment to discover and take a stand for their life’s purpose and to use work as a means of expressing that purpose. We are inviting people and organizations to have the courage to step into their Big Self and stop colluding with the small system that is fundamentally broken and fully express who they are and what they care about, and take action, through work, to support their reason for being.

Why do you do what you do?
My life’s purpose is to help alleviate unnecessary human suffering. It greatly saddens me to watch countless people suffer everyday as they go to this thing called “work” where US adults spend the majority of our waking hours. The majority of our workforce is “doing time” versus being profoundly connected to how they spend their days. We are literally killing ourselves with stress and anxiety and abusing money, prescription medication, food, drugs & alcohol and other means to try to fill this part of ourselves that is devoid of meaning in how we spend our days. We have a choice in this matter. We can choose to not be victims of an outdated and uninspiring system that creates this unreal work-life disconnect.

What kind of art (any kind) do you like and why? Any recommendations we should know about?
For me, music is my favorite art form. It moves. It transcends language barriers. It is the language of the universe – sound waves assembled in harmonic variations that alter the way we feel. The creative expression of music is magical. My recommendation is to listen to as much diverse music as you can and notice how it affects you. Use it as a means to check in with your senses, emotions and states not as a means of escaping.

What is one specific thing your company does that makes your culture unique and/or different?
We care deeply about the individual and collective wellbeing of human beings and this shared purpose drives the choices we make around how we spend our most precious resources… our time, our creativity, our energy and our love… on behalf of all of us… to fundamentally Change Why the World Works. The decision that we make regarding our work is one of the most powerful decisions that we make — it is a decision that
can make or unmake a life.

What is one discipline/industry totally different from your own that has inspired you? How does it impact your work?
The information technology industry is fascinating. It has created an interdependent and interconnected global society bringing us closer together in many ways. Simultaneously, it has also created a “virtual layer” that has disrupted “real” human connection and interaction. Today, we more regularly send emails and text messages rather than making phone calls and meeting people face-to-face. We privilege speed and the transacting of information over the quality of connection and sharing in the human experience. The availability of information and data has changed the way we make decisions and take action that has moved us away from our inner compass, our intuition, and has privileged the objective domain of bits and bites. We are not simply information sharing machines transacting with one another. Technology has in many ways impeded the way people and organizations connect by creating an impenetrable maze of data filters that disembodies us from our humanness. We are more than our resumes. We are more than our test scores. We are more than our LinkedIn and Facebook profiles. These are but empty characterizations of a human being and hardly capture the creative life force and essence of a person.

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?
Figure out what you deeply care about and what makes you come alive and find others who share this same sense of purpose then take a stand for the future that you are committed to creating.

What piece of technology (other than your laptop/smartphone/tablet) could you not live without and why?
My guitar and my voice… Creating and playing music is therapeutic to me and are vehicles for the artistic expression of my soul.

How do you stay productive throughout your day?
I practice mindfulness and meditation throughout the day. I make sure that I take breaks to be outside. I make sure that I breathe deeply. I focus my attention across 4 dimensions:

  1. The quality of my intentions and actions
  2. Finding ease and relaxing in whatever I am doing
  3. Finding friendliness and compassion in whatever I am doing
  4. Leaving room for the mystery and being open to not knowing what may happen

What is “required reading” or “required viewing” for people who want to understand what makes you tick?

  1. What Is the Integral Movement?
  2. Conscious Capitalism Overview
  3. Marc Gafni on Unique Self 2012 – Part 1

Where in the world are you?
I live / work in Marin County – San Francisco Bay Area

How can people connect with you?
cell: 415-302-5144

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