Whom Do You Seek?

No one is going to grant you permission. Or tell you you are ready. No one is going to tell you exactly what you can do to provide value. Or how to live a meaningful life. No one is going to demand that you passionately pursue your life’s work. No one is going to define your life’s work. No one is going to outline for you the thing or many things that you do as well or better than others. No one is going to get you a job. No one is going to fix the pain caused you.

Many people are going to help you. Many people are going to encourage you and support your ideas. They are going to laugh with you. They are going to agree with you when you are passionately expressing yourself. Many people are going to go along with you when you offer an idea or suggest an option.

A few are going to stand loyally beside you as you pave your circuitous path in life. A few are going to tell you when your idea is half-baked and tell you to work on it a bit longer. They will tell you ‘not yet.’ A few are going challenge your ideas which will help you to formulate them into better ones. A few are going to oppose you which will either cause you to pause or provide you the validation you need to be more convicted. A few are going to hurt you. Bad. Which will create some pain, fear, also courage and the ability to relate to others that a few have hurt. A few are going to love you more than you can imagine or that you knew you would experience which will make you uncomfortable, happy, and vulnerable. A few help you to define you. They help you stand out. A few help you find meaningful work.


Stop expecting no one to arrive. To offer anything. You don’t have time to wait for no one. It may appear to many people and a few that you might be holding out for no one. That you are unavailable.        No one is impossible for you to be with.

Make a list of many people. Create a circle of many people. Thank them and communicate regularly with them. They are your friends. Many people are also most like you. They sing ‘kum ba yah’ with you. They feed your ego.       Many people are the most easy for you to be with.

Embrace a few. Some literally and some not literally, but know them. Know clearly their perspectives from their perspective. Embrace them as those that are catalysts to your difference. They help you reconcile needs of others and you. A few are too busy, focused on others and inaccessible.       A few are the most difficult for you to be with.

Tomorrow who will you choose:  Impossible to be with? Easy to be with? or The most difficult to be with? How about each day after that? How many days, hours or moments might you have where you choose to be with a few?

How might the days you spend with a few affect your ability to influence your life and the value you can create for the world around you?

To Tidy. Vision, Why, Best Take-aways.

The Lifechanging Magic of  Tidying Up by Marie Kondo was the most influential book I read in 2015. 


Marie asks you to set a ‘vision’ for your process of tidying. Here is mine (shared mostly for me and my record:)

  • Zero house work to do – when I arrive home or on the weekends. 
  • Inviting living space of quality, meaning-filled items. 
  • Foster intellectual-based or quality interactions with others, including the dogs and cat.
  • Place for relaxing, for peace, for being present; a place of calm.
  • Chairs, books, plants, carpets; ease to just be. 


Marie asks you to answer ‘why’ you want to tidy your home and life? Some of this is similar to the vision: 

  • Zero work to always be doing. 
  • Free from pulling and procrastination that tidying creates and fulfills. 
  • Always ready to have people ‘in’ or invite folks over. 
  • Enjoy company of others because proud of surrounding environment.
  • Enjoy interaction with spouse and pets because clutter and pressure of mess is not present. 
  • Can relax because there is not a house to clean or tidy. 

Best Take-always

These are the best takes always from the book. Most of them are focused on preparing to tidy. 

  1. Consider the ‘things’ you truly cherish. The things that bring you joy. Those that speak to your heart. 
  2. I held onto things thinking that I was wasteful getting rid of them. 
  3. Make decisions by category, not ever by room. Put everything in that category in the same place on the floor. 
  4. You choose what to KEEP vs. what to THROW. This is a difficult one to remember. 
  5. Handle each and every item. Does it give you a thrill of pleasure when you hold it? If no, then you do not keep.
  6. There is a sequence of big categories – 1. Clothes, 2. Books, 3. Papers, 4. Miscellany, and 5. Mementos. 
  7. There is a sequence to sub-categories: Clothes – a) tops, b) bottoms, c) hanging (with the goal of reducing these to only dresses and suits!), d) socks, e) underwear; Books – a) general, b) practical, c) visual, d) magazines; Misc – a) bags, b) accessories, c) specific function items and d) shoes last. 
  8. Papers – there should be none or minimal need for papers; create a spot where they MUST be dealt with, one spot only; create a small vertical file for – a) currently in use, b) limited need, c) must be kept. 
  9. Greet your house. This seemed a little hokey to me at first but it creates a connection to your ‘things’ and forces acknowledgement of your connection and lack of to your home. If you are not connected, then there is a problem? So now I am all for making the inanimate, antimate! 

Parts of the book were a bit radical in expectations and points. However, I can appreciate that Marie has come from a lifetime of working with people in this realm of living life. So didn’t let that distract my ability to improve my own tendency, mostly learned, to be a saver and a nook user. 

The ingrained scripts of ‘you might need that someday’ or the feelings of emotions to things that I don’t really necessarily love but feel like I should, we’re all challenged by this process. We got rid of bags of clothes, boxes of books and many more boxes of other things. I don’t miss any of them

I do feel this is multiple phase process. I think it is good to give yourself permission to go back through your things and do this again. To practice being tidy. 

This has changed the way I think about other aspects of my life – not just my things but my decisions, my investment and use of time. There is a clear link to purpose and passion for living life. There is reconciliation of your past – the ways that your parents influenced you or that having certain things but maybe not others that you do now influences you. There is also the anxiety about the future and how decisions are made about purchases. 

My husband read this book right after I did. I appreciate his reminders of accountability and his support for decision-making that doesn’t harness us in things that make us messy. And at times, I do the same for him. 

What we surround ourselves with is at one time noted as a need or a desire or a comfort. When those things become a barrier to comfort, it is a good exercise to ‘liberate’ them to a new home and space. Consider where you get rid of things mindfully and then consider how they affect your quality of life, giving and space by holding onto them.

2016 Goals in Living this Life

Almost every year, I set resolutions. Or goals as I like to call them. It has been a productive and rewarding exercise for me for many years. The plethora of data about how written goals are realized, has been proven many times over in my experience.

Goals discussed with a close friend or in this case my life partner, are even more likely to be realized. Thankful that my partner Keerat was the initiator and the activator of goal setting. He decided to post his publicly. After a week of thought, I concur that this could be a valuable exercise. Since all goals have a range of completion or achievement, this might yield greater accomplishment.

  1. Launch a non-profit focused on human capital value. Build value through that organization – contracts, consulting, courses.
  2. Solidify LEAD the diff. Confirm marketplace demand for physician leadership. Viable business revenue for my business partner and I.
  3. Re-launch my mother’s salsa – Sandhills Salsa, through the food program at the sustainability school where I am adjunct faculty.
  4. Learn Western Dressage and initiate a program to take Mr. Lewis (pictured) into practice. Determine how to show nationally in 2017.
  5. Pick up the guitar again, learn 3 songs.
  6. Learn to play harmonica.
  7. Count calories daily.Weight-lifting with Keerat 3d/w.. Run 3d/w. Lose 7 lbs by Feb 15.
  8. Continue yoga practice every day. Practice meditation with yoga 3 days/w.

2015’s Most Memorable Moments

Lou Schuller via LA Fitness – his & hers weight training (continued from 2014)
Omaha – Steph biz = friends too
LEAD the difference – selection science beginnings
Palo Alto – Keerat biz

Hawaii Holiday (1st visit)
‘See a friend about a horse’ (and move it to a new home)

The Lemongrass Group – people passionate about public health + community innovation
NYC – Keerat biz

Moved horses to Sultan
Kori & Chris ‘officially’ unite – Los Angeles weekend
London, Norwich England – Brother-in-Law, Bikram grad school for writing

Portugal y Spain – El Camino de Santiago with Uppi & CK
Quercetin + L-Glutmine + Probiotic miracle cure for gut health
Birthday lunch with Roam Consulting – fine food, new friends including equine teachers

Vegas – Keerat biz
Dhann learns groundwork and how to carry a human
Innovation Design with Blue Earth Network for Pinchot University
Kim from Cleveland – she rocks
Lewis learns dressage fundamentals (now maybe he can teach me)
Palo Alto – Keerat Biz
Pinchot game-changers meets my Strategy in Biz and teaches me a thing or two too

Independence Day BBQ at Raven Ranch
San Fran – Keerat Biz
Macklemore helps Amazon celebrate 20 years at Century Link

Cuba – Steph Pinchot Faculty for People to People
Chile – Keerat Biz (this is becoming a year of Espanol refresher trips)
Imran unites with Shaheena, New Brunswick (why not see Keerat’s first college houses in the US?!)
Edmonds becomes our new address

Scotland – Keerat Biz
Salt Lake – Steph Biz…..Millennials, Purpose-based Leadership
Thank you Lynnwood for an easy place to plug into the Sound
Marie Kondo enlightens us with The Life Changing Joy of Tidying Up
Allergy testing at mid-life – none for me (intolerances however…. yes)

NYC – Keerat Biz
Moving home required moving caballos – not all pastures are created equal (2 more moves will follow)
Omaha & Iowa for holiday – friends, family, land check-in
NYC – Keerat Biz
Let the wellness begin – Massage, Acupuncture, Chiropractic

Our 10th Anniversary

Albuquerque – Shirley & Skiing
Christmas in Gordondo via Boutique air into the Nebraska Panhandle
Nephew Riley reminds us of the energy and curiosity of our youth
Our 5th year in Seattle. Guess we’ll stay another 5.

Music, McCall, Mannheim and Memories

I grew up listening to C.W. McCall. I also grew up listening to Mannheim Steamroller. In very unique ways they ‘take me back’ to the days of my youth.

“Ah, breaker one-nine, this here’s the Rubber Duck. You gotta copy on me, Pig Pen, c’mon? Ah, yeah, 10-4, Pig Pen, fer shure, fer shure. By golly, it’s clean clear to Flag Town, c’mon. Yeah, that’s a big 10-4 there, Pig Pen, yeah, we definitely got the front door, good buddy. Mercy sakes alive, looks like we got us a convoy.” C.W. McCall, Convoy

We used to sing along in the best raspy voices we could muster. All of his songs were catchy stories. 1975 was a year of simple ranch living and fun country songs.

While the style of music wasn’t always so rockin’ (with the exception of Elvis and there was a lot of Elvis) the volume of music was frequently rockin’. Mom wanted to hear it throughout the long, stucco ranch home. Dad just liked to feel the music pound into every part of him and the living room. This became especially easy with the invention of the cassette and eventually the compact disc. Finding a song on an LP or worse an 8-track and playing it was not a quick event and once you did get it playing, there was a commitment to hear the entire thing.

A year earlier another iconic style of music would come to define the weeks leading up to the Christmas holiday.’Joy to the World‘ had never been so modernized and maybe had never been so moving as it was when Mannheim Steamroller released their version. Mom loved their music. I can smell the baking dinner rolls, taste the ho


Mannheim Steamroller, Everett WA 2015

me made caramel and feel the warmth of our wood burning stove as Mannheim rolled through Christmas song after Christmas song – all defining the holiday for years to come.

It’s been 40 years since Mannheim introduced to a contemporary version of Christmas hymns.As a Nebraska ‘company’ they always play in Omaha on Christmas Eve. When I am far far away in western Nebraska’s Sandhills. Mannheim tours the country during the weeks leading up to Christmas. For the first time, I was able to go to a live concert in a town near our Seattle Suburb. And we did. To prepare my husband for what we were about to hear, I shared some information about Chip Davis. A fascinating career journey, Chip Davis worked with C.W. McCall. Well, he wrote the music and co-wrote some lyrics for this invented character that was part of an ad agency marketing jingle effort. This character became famous and took on a life of it’s own. The music Chip made to create these jingles and the music for Mannheim were going on at the same time. Yet were so opposing in style. Truly creative. While the concert this year was a bit of disappointment (Chip wasn’t there and the heavy promotional messaging took away from the purity and specialness of the music) I enjoyed seeing the orchestral musicians perform this music I grew up with.

It’s been 10 Christmas’ since Mom was with us. Frankly it isn’t really Christmas without her. She made Christmas. But we do have our memories. Our very very fond memories and ability to bring them up, reflect and connect. Through music, through each other.

Thank goodness my nephew will never have to live with music via an 8-track! He has parents that like music too. The access he has and the memories he is making through that music will also be those he can hold dear. As I have from mine.

Mindset Present – A Life Journey

“The time is now! We must act now! We are responsible to initiate, foster and develop the required paths to change, now!” This was my ‘purpose-based’ summation of my personal synthesis following a strategy group session focused on the future of Pinchot University. The session was brilliantly designed and facilitated by UJ and his team from the Blue Earth Network. My thoughts were influenced by a collective of people who all think very uniquely but who bring a shared interest in making the world of business and the world generally, better.

As I parked and walked in the Seattle Pioneer Square morning sun to begin day two of this second session, I was thinking about little. The little that was on my mind included a bit of concern about how I was going to ‘catch up’ after being in day-long sessions that were ‘volunteer’ in nature. Catch up with my obligations to business, house and other .

  “Good morning” said the kind-faced black man in a quiet voice as he crossed South Washington Street. I was waiting to cross Second Avenue to join the group at the 220&Change building.    I said “Good morning.”    “That is a very nice shirt and you have have your dress shoes packed in your bag I see. You are holding on to things. Have you read Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now?”    “What?” Quickly processing what his quiet voice had asked. “Oh yes, I have. But maybe it is time I read it again?!”  The walk light had already signaled and I scurried across the street.

I realized within the next hour of the likely non-coincidental connection of this kind man’s comments and my purpose-based discoveries from the day prior.

In an earlier 2-day session Sheri in our group had shared that in order to show more love, we have to be able to engage with humanity, to hug the homeless. That really made me think about how we draw invisible lines based on what we have or what others do not have. We form a class system. Keerat and I have supported homelessness, mental illness and related efforts for many years. However, we have supported the programs, in hopes and belief they support the individuals. Why not support the individuals directly? Why not engage in human-based and equal interaction of communication and sharing?

During this same period of time in Summer, Keerat attended an engagement hosted by the INSP (International Network of Street Papers.) Rex Holbein spoke about turning his shed into a workspace for a homeless man who liked to paint. And how that individual is now selling his art through Facebook. We carry high quality granola or protein bars with us and whenever we engage or are engaged by a homeless individual, we say hello, we smile, we offer one of our bars. Sometimes they are unhappy with this option. Most times they are gracious and say thank you. Mostly we are more aware of our opportunity to interact with another human. Humanly. On one busy street corner on a Friday, I received a hug just for saying hello and offering a smile.

I think I’ll read The Power of Now now. Maybe if we can slowly create greater mindfulness in our walking about the community, we will have more connections, more meaning in our lives and more non-coincidences.

November 1, 2009 – blog post in my draft folder

This Summer I read A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle. In starting the book I had to realize that I live little of my life truly present in the each and every moment. That I have spent my life, which is likely at it’s half-way point, analyzing the past, and obsessing about the future.

In practicing, and it is a practice like anything we attempt to wire into our daily living, I have experienced moments of true depth and connection in small things that I would have otherwise not noticed, let alone experienced.
It is my hope that with every day/week/year, I can be more and more present. Maybe this is what we all figure out, eventually, and then by the time we are 80, we are hanging out present in the most simple our life has been since childhood. With the simple goal of being more present, I am often not present by achieving or pushing to be “more” of something. …quite a challenge.

It’s the Who, Not the What

It was the Spring of 1999 and I was taking a break at work. I was planning a trip to Sedona Arizona. Additionally, I had just consolidated all outstanding college-related debt including canceling of all credit cards and was feeling ‘free’ – ready to redefine the trajectory of my somewhat mundane life. I was about to click ‘purchase’ when one of the executives requested a brief discussion in her office.

Three months, and much ‘how-are-you-providing-unique-value-to-our-country’ paperwork later, I was ready to relocate to our office in Sydney Australia. My new ‘Go-to’, or manager, would be Gale. I knew him a little bit but recall knowing that he was highly regarded and would be my main advisor in this consulting role in Gallup’s most recent acquisition. I would also have reporting responsibility to the country manager and regional leader. The most important thing I would learn in the first few months was who to go to for what. A true matrix.

After reminding my mother that my current life was more on hold than her perception of what this might be, Gale and I met in SFO to take me to a new city. We flew business class. Using his many millions of miles. He chuckled apologetically as we took off, noting that this would likely be my last company-sponsored business class ticket. It was also my first. I remember little about the details of our working 15+-hour journey from California. I recall more reflection and consideration, more about getting to know myself, the new consultant in a city center new to the company but not new to the current employees or customers. I wish I could find those notes or recall more details of his thoughts and how they helped me to know myself or realize I should.

This was pre-virtual work environments. But not pre-globalization. Gale was globalization. He built this sort of relationship with consultants and researchers on all continents. While we would meet in person only two times per year, Gale was always an email or a phone call away, no matter the time of day in Lincoln. I so looked forward to those breakfast meetings during my US visits; the opportunity to get input on my laundry list of hugely important items.

When it was time to acknowledge my expat duties were complete and return to the states, he said “Steph, I would like to give you a choice but we really need you in Seattle. Are you ok with Seattle?” Of course I was ok with Seattle, I trusted the who. While I would end up with a different city and a choice about that, I would always know from his human-first approach, that he was juggling the interests and talents of his humans, in cities all over the world, in balance of company strategy.

As the best example of mentoring leadership and humanity in business, I now reconcile all that Gale taught me and so many other consultants. Almost all of it was as an example to us, not as a manager of us. During the most stressful days of my career, I would be trusted. To navigate, to ask, to defer, to observe, to push, to fail, to learn, and to expect.

I attribute so many key lessons in leadership to working with Gale. Trust. Patience. Perspective. Discernment. Candor. Humor – even in the most serious of situations.

gale kay

Gale and Kay Muller at our wedding, November 2005.

In the most fundamental way, he also was my best teacher about the value a consultant provides to customers. Whether they be internal or external. He simply outlined his view of time and how we help customers according to insight and issues, always through a team.

As we celebrate his life and the peace that his suffering on earth is over, I wonder if he knew how much who he was helped so many become who they are. I hope to some degree he did. I feel so thankful for having such an incredible manager, mentor and friend during such significant milestones in my career. To him I imagine his guidance was meaningful but also part of his day-to-day normal way of interacting with others. It was who he was.

Kori & Chris

My friend Kori got married to her friend Chris on April 18th. She and Chris had the most unique wedding I have ever attended. Very centered on each other with a nice touch of celebratory experience for their family and friends. There was a time capsule, a luau, a whisky bar, and Hope wines, all on a rooftop in Los Angeles. We had our silhouettes cut as a keepsake (the couple of noses appreciates the celebration of what is!) It was a most special evening.

She is also my business partner. We have been trusted advisors, ideators, creators, learners and dreamers for nearly three years together. We are publishing our first book from a whitepaper of research we did on Purpose (and intentionally.) We are advancing the dialogue about how business succeeds when humans are authentically central in decision-making (e.g. no layoffs.)

Weddings remind those of us who are married about the specialness of our union. They create hopefulness and joy for the reason for the celebration, for what can now be. They create mindful moments of witness, toasts, and new memories.

Kori immerses herself in every moment and this was no different. I’m so thankful to be working with her, learning from her and loved that we could join in this union of friends who love one another.

Hugs from Mr. Lewis

This is a special horse. This is Mr. Lewis. When I first started working with him in December of 2010, he was still a wild stallion. I’ve spent a lot of time with him since then but he has always been a kind animal. Averaging 3 hours per week, he humors me with natural horsemanship, dressage basics and trail rides. Mr. Lewis loves people. He just likes hanging around us. It is quite common for him to just nuzzle you gently or brush his lip around face and hair, ever so gently. He teaches me to be present.


Mr. Lewis saying hello. Memorial Day 2015


Just hanging out in the paddock. Memorial Day 2015


Time for a long hug. Memorial Day 2015

Losing Your Mind


This week I started meditating. With commitment. In a subsequent post I’ll share more about why, ‘why now’ and the approach that I think will work for me to do so with discipline for personal commitment. What I know about bringing all I have learned into practice with intention, is that the mind can be such a force. A control over and for us. It creates our reality. It compels us to have emotions, make decisions, to demonstrate the full spectrum of our nature and nurturing.

Thanks to a recommendation from my brother-in-law of a book written by a student of the writing school in which he is enrolled, I am nearly finished with Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey. A first novel about a woman with Alzheimer’s and the story of her life which includes the story of her missing sister who disappeared when they were girls. The author moves back and forth from the forgetful, caregiver-dependant episodes of the narrator back to events in her childhood.

I was able to start the novel during our vacation these past few weeks, having given myself permission to read a novel. An exercise I know is good for my mind – to rest, to retreat a bit.  I was worried about sticking with the main character’s memory lapses but with her as the narrator and the intertwining of the story of her earlier life, it properly sucked me in. It was a great way to spend a few minutes here and there as we transitioned through different parts of our travels and places. I also began the non-fiction on meditation that would inform my new practice. Balance in genres, always.

During our return flight from Europe, I watched Still Alice. The only remaining 2015 Oscar Nominee yet to see. Yes, Julianne Moore truly deserved this one. It might have been that the book I’m reading that has connected me directly to the illness, or to lagging intestinal distress or the complete relax from being ‘away from it all’ on vacation, but I wept though most of the movie. What a compelling demonstration of the feeling of loss for this brilliant linguistic professor. The way in which the family covets moments of ‘her’ in their repeating interactions. In an early part of her diagnosis she tells her husband (played by Alec Baldwin), “I wish I had cancer. At least everyone gives you a pink ribbon day and rallies for you.” With cancer, there was a chance she could win.

Today in skimming the news, Flipboard shared a NYT times story “The Last Day of Her Life.” Again about a very accomplished woman named Sandy Bem who also had Alzheimer’s. A year ago, tomorrow, she took her own life. After living five years with the mind deteriorating disease.

This all reminds me of a volunteer role just after my undergraduate education and during a time of working odd jobs. I spent evenings with a woman with Alzheimer’s so her husband could go play cards with his friends. I did this because a close friend was also a companion volunteer to her. It was my first exposure to this mysterious and emotionally painful disease. I’m thankful for my friend’s influence as I realize now that brought perspective to me I would not have necessarily undertook. The woman would spend much of our two hours together preparing for her date with Carl. They were to go to a ball. She would lay out her gloves, her jewelry, her dress, the undergarments that she carefully selected. She would ask about her hair, her makeup, her nails. Every detail. Her recollection and descriptions connected me to an earlier time. A time nearly 40 years earlier. Every night I spent with her, her mind was living out her most treasured memories.

As I reflect through my own mindfulness and face the official record of turning another year older tomorrow, I am aware of how precious are the respective abilities of our minds. To think, reason, relate, connect, analyze, and decide. How complex all of this is and how we overcomplicate the complexity.  Another attribute of the mind.

Selfishly I can’t fathom having to deal with the disease in someone I love or myself. I only know friends who have. Having had a concussion 20 years ago, I hope my own hard head was able to heal correctly. I am thankful for the doctor who required a helmet for frequent roller-blading shortly after the injury. I’m more thankful for the courage to still get out (and that I didn’t fall.)

I consistently read the NFL-related news on concussions and consider not supporting the sport moving forward. A sport I was raised to love. Something I can chose to do. I can’t understand how so many get this disease who aren’t victims of severe brain injury. Why would we as a society support momentary pleasure in sporting events with a high likelihood to cause life-altering brain injury?

Additionally, I can mindfully support Alzheimer’s research and prevention as part of our annual giving. I look forward to continuing to bring knowledge to my mind about this disease. To learn. To share.

In what ways have you been affected by this disease? 

What organizations do you support? 

Tomorrow on my birthday, I am also going to celebrate Sandy Bem’s life. Her courage, her legacy to so many mindful things. And I’ll commit to meditation so I can be mindful about more.