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We hope that viewing the videos and ideas of the people and companies in this article inspires you to think even more deeply about what you can do to enhance your quality of life at work – and the lives of the people you serve. We know that we are all interconnected, so making things better where you are affects others. Remember, B.J. Gallagher’s advice: "When I finally stopped looking for what I could get and started looking for what I could give, everything changed."

About the Author
Caela Farren, Ph. D.
, is Founder and President of MasteryWorks, Inc., - a leading Career Development consulting organization offering innovative solutions to large and mid-size companies, including Baylor Health Care, Brown Forman, Northrop Grumman, Reebok, Bayer, Sprint, Sodexo, Sandia National Labs, and CapitalOne. MasteryWorks, Inc., provides enterprise web portals, training, consulting, e-Learning, and an assessment framework for employees and managers. For more than thirty-five years, Dr. Farren has been a passionate leader around complex issues redefining the workplace. She envisioned the current workplace climate fifteen years ago, when she published a cornerstone compendium on career development, “Who’s Running Your Career: Creating Stable Work in Unstable Times” (Bard Press, 1997). Through MasteryWorks, Inc., she oversees solutions that create the foundation for impact-filled “career conversations” - centered on increased contribution, performance, and fit. She is the leading authority of strategic approaches which consistently deliver employee engagement and retention goals for her clients. In her current series, “Facing Changes of the Next Decade,” Dr. Farren describes the most important characteristics of Sustainable Careers.

For more information, contact Tom Karl, Vice President, or call us at (703) 256-5712

in our Sustainable Careers series

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Building Sustainable Careers. . .
Improving the Quality of Life, Yours, Others and Your Organization - The 3rd Characteristic of a Sustainable Career
by Caela Farren, Ph.D., MasteryWorks, Inc.

“To be a success, enjoy doing your best while contributing to something beyond yourself.”
—Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi


The goal of business is to provide products and services that others need and want. The goal of business is [also] to serve and contribute to others' well-beingIntroduction
We spend 40, 50 or more hours each week working. Isn’t it critical that we feel we are making a difference in the quality of the lives of others? I know it is for me. I’m simply amazed and inspired by the thousands of people and hundreds of organizations that are committed to making the world a better place.

For example, Blake Mycoskie, the founder of Toms Shoes, built one of the fastest growing shoe companies in the world on the promise that "with every pair of shoes you purchase, Toms will give a pair of new shoes to a child in need." Customers buy his shoes to help make the world a better place. Toms has no trouble recruiting and keeping employees fully engaged. He points to the Deloitte and the separate Cone Communications’ studies which found nearly three-quarters of employed Americans would choose to work for a company that supports corporate social responsibility when deciding between two jobs. Mycoskie writes, "When people feel they are all working together to help others.... you will notice a change - [they] feel less sad, less stressed and more purposeful. This isn’t wishful thinking on my part. I have seen this happen over and over." Start Something That Matters, Blake Mycoskie, Spiegal & Grau, 2011, 185 pp.

Is your organization dedicated to improving the quality of life as well as the bottom-line? I hope it is because the meaning and dedication to your work, your physical health and mental well-being, your job satisfaction and pride of accomplishment are all directly linked to careers which improve the quality of life, - yours, others and your organization.

Increasing Productivity and Job Satisfaction

All of us want to believe we are improving the quality of life through our work; we want to feel we make a difference to others. When you help improve the life of others, productivity and job satisfaction also improve. Whether you work as a food server, a newspaper reporter, or biologist when you feel you’ve made a difference, there are strong feelings of accomplishment, commitment and satisfaction.

Adam Grant, while an organizational behavioral doctoral student at the University of Michigan, found "feeling your work has a positive impact on others makes a difference in job satisfaction and productivity." He studied a group of firefighters and found many hoped they could fight more fires so they could have a greater impact on people. Grant says, "We found that something as minor as showing people the client who benefited from the work made workers care more. Just seeing that person, not even talking to him, could make them care more about what they were doing. Even in a job like packing paper clips, if you understand how people are helped by what you do, how you make a difference to them, you will be motivated to care more about what you are doing." Making a Difference at Work, Psychology Today, By Hara Estroff Marano, published on July 22, 2004 - last reviewed on April 02, 2009

Business writer and lecturer, B. J. Gallagher, believes Los Angeles commercial real estate mogul, Chuck Chamberlain, owed his success to helping others become successful rather than simply making money on them. Chamberlain treated business prospects as neighbors. Without any agenda and willing to lend a helping hand, he would do his best to assist potential customers. People instinctively know when you’re trying to make money off them or you’re sincerely motivated to find a way to help them. When people know your goal is to help them achieve their success, you can build a relationship of trust and do great things together. Gallagher writes, "The goal of business is to provide products and services that others need and want. The goal of business is [also] to serve and contribute to others’ well-being. Money is the happy by-product. In our culture today, it’s easy to lose sight of the true goal of business and get seduced into pursuing only money. When I finally stopped looking for what I could get and started looking for what I could give, everything changed. Chuck [Chamberlain] taught me to build my business on a foundation of service and contribution."

Leadership and Culture
Creating a culture of service and contribution begins with leadership. When people work in a culture where they are part of something larger than themselves – something that’s aimed at improving the lives of others, they tend to become highly engaged and passionate about their work. Managers who continually engage in conversations with employees about how their work serves to improve the lives of customers, others and the organization, rarely need to worry about engagement or creativity.

Careers that improve the quality of life are sustainable because they move the world to a different paradigm required for a healthy and robust civilization. This may include providing better, faster and less expensive goods or streamlining, changing and enhancing work in your organization. Research suggests that our brains focus better on complex and interesting problems when we have freedom to brainstorm, research, discuss and search for answers to the problems. Cultures that foster an open, autonomous and flexible working environment see more breakthroughs and retain visionary and entrepreneurial people who work at the edges.

Leaders in organizations know that improving the quality of life for others is part of their social contract. MasteryWorks supports the initiative of two organizations - Starbucks and Opportunity Finance Network® (OFN) - to create Jobs in America by making a donation and also bringing their creative initiative to the forefront. The Create Jobs for USA program provides capital grants to select Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs). The CDFIs will provide loans to underserved community businesses, which include small businesses, microenterprises, nonprofit organizations, commercial real estate, and affordable housing. The goal of Create Jobs for USA is to bring people and communities together to create and sustain jobs throughout America.

The Create Jobs for USA program initially was seeded with a $5 million contribution from the Starbucks Foundation. People can support the initiative by making a donation to the Create Jobs for USA fund. Donations are accepted at company-operated U.S. Starbucks stores and online at For donations of $5 or more, donors will receive an American-made “Indivisible” wristband. To learn more, please view video.

Seth Godin points out that cultures focused on innovation and societal need are the dynamic for change. "Dreamers don’t have special genes," he says. "They find circumstances that amplify their dreams." Stop Stealing Dreams (What is School For?)," Seth Godin, Amazon, p. 45.

Amplify Your Dreams to Help Others
Dreamers are our future. People create novel solutions to address a human need they care deeply about in order to help others. They’ve masterminded ways to leverage their talent, gain access and build alliances with others concerned about similar problems and use technology to build their solutions to help others. For example, Katherine Bomkamp, a 20 year old college student, met young amputees at Walter Reed Hospital returning from war and felt the need to help them. She partnered with experts and invented a holistic prosthetic "pain free socket."

Dreamers come from all walks of life and all ages. Growing up in poverty and family illness, high school dropout, Tyler Eltringham, obtained his GED and was awarded an Obama college scholarship. As a freshman at Arizona State University, he founded OneShot, a nonprofit organization that arranges meningococcal meningitis vaccinations for college students and for each student vaccinated, his nonprofit donates a vaccine shot to the meningitis belt of Africa.

Some dreamers work in organizations, some study in organizations and others find themselves thrust into action by immediate need, like Paul Conneally. While working for the Red Cross, Conneally needed to find a solution to the overwhelming communication problems during the Haitian earthquake disaster. He was able to connect resources by developing mobile/SMS technology to bring disaster response needed in our hyper-connected world.
I like to go to to look at dreams being put into action. For those unfamiliar with, it’s a grassroots funding site to help raise capital for dreams to make a difference in the lives of others – from the ABC’s of building a global community to the XYZ’s of providing a zesty college healthful eatery. It’s an idea incubator that allows the viewer a chance to invest in some of most creative dreamers, like Marcin Jakerbowski’s Global Village Construction Kit, a project to create the tools to build global communities. and some University of Michigan students, who are launching “The Beet Box,” a campus food cart that provides healthful, nourishing food to foster health empowerment. See

Organizations that Improve the Quality of Life
Award winning furniture maker and leader in environmental stewardship, Herman Miller is dedicated to making a difference in the lives of employees and others. Take two minutes and view a great video on corporate social responsibility. While home prices in industrialized countries can run to well over $1,000 per square foot, MIT architects have designed a house for the poor in China and Africa that can be constructed for $1,000. See Helping returning servicemen and women, Veteran Entrepreneurial Transfer, Inc. has 13,000 business volunteers and mentors across the country to teach veterans how to become entrepreneurs and assist them in business.

Where Do You Stand?heading here YES NO
1. Does your organization reward and amplify your dreams - giving you space and support to turn dreams into a reality?    
2. Are you aware of the importance and benefits your work plays in improving the life of others?    
3. Does your work place foster idea time allowing you freedom to invent, innovate, and improve?    
4. Does your organization support important community or national projects geared to improving the quality of life of others?    
5. Do you have ideas or recommendations for products, services, or projects that will directly improve the quality of life of fellow employees or your customers?    
6. Does your manager support your ideas for enhancing the quality of life of fellow employees or your customers?    
7. Are you currently working on something to improve the quality of life of other employees or those your organization serves?    
8. Do you believe in your ideas enough to boldly take risks to turn your ideas into reality?    
9. Is there a forum or vehicle in your organization where your ideas can easily be voiced to those who can make such decisions?    
10. Is there an incubator program in your organization where new or innovative ideas can be prototyped, tested and evaluated?    


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