Developing Focus

Developing Greater Focus through Breath & Meditation Practices

Friday, October 28th, 2011

Practical Skills

Manish Tandon CBS '2004 Head of Brand Marketing, eMusic

Science Commentary

Adam Galinsky and Michael Morris Professors, Management Division


Today's volatile, competitive, multitasking, 24/7 business environment leaves many executives with frazzled nerves and overloaded neural circuits. Surrounded by demands and distractions, it can be difficult to keep one's attention on task and one's emotions in check. While occasional stress can be adaptive in motivating action, chronic stress can derail one's career; elevated cortisol manifests in cognitive reactivity and moodiness and hypertension.

To enable leaders to stay focused and balanced, many organizations - from Google to the Marines - provide training in mindfulness practices. In essence these are exercise routines for the mind, involving controlled attention, breathing, and movement. Like yoga, these techniques originate from longstanding cultural traditions yet have been adapted for different settings. While many varieties exist and are taught on campus and nearby, this workshop introduces methods from the International Association for Human Values (IAHV) corporate program, used by IBM, Accenture, Citigroup and Coca Cola among many other firms. Our practice expert Manish Tandon (CBS '2004) heads Brand Marketing for music discovery and download destination, eMusic, and also works prominently as a trainer in IAHV techniques.

Studies have linked regular use of these techniques to reduced stress and anxiety and increased subjective well-being, optimism, and mental focus. In the past few years a research by physicians, psychologists and neuroscientists has probed how such effects work at a cognitive and physiological level. Professors Galinsky and Morris break down some of the key findings and their implications for the utility of these methods in developing leadership capabilities.

Science Reference

Holzel, B. et al. (2011). How does mindfulness meditation work? Proposing mechanisms of action from a conceptual and neural perspective. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 6, 537-559.

About the Speakers

Manish Tandon '04 heads Brand Marketing for eMusic, a digital music service for independent-minded music collectors. He also works prominently as a trainer using International Association for Human Values (IAHV) techniques, and is a co-director of the campaign at The Art of Living Foundation, where he teaches meditation courses.

Adam Galinsky is a visiting professor in the Management Division of Columbia Business School, and is the Morris and Alice Kaplan Professor of Ethics and Decision in Management at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. He received his Ph.D. from Princeton University in Social Psychology and his B.A from Harvard University. Professor Galinsky has published more than 130 scientific articles, chapters, and teaching cases in the fields of management and social psychology. His research and teaching focus on leadership, power, negotiations, decision-making, diversity, and ethics. More about Adam

Michael Morris is the Chavkin-Chang Professor of Leadership in the Management Division of Columbia Business School, and a Professor in the Psychology Department of Columbia University. He is a leading expert on relationships, conflict resolution, decision-making, and creativity, with a special interest in the role of culture. More about Michael