My guest is Puja Madan, an award-winning mindfulness and leadership consultant, author, and speaker. She is the founder of The Mindfulness Map, a consultancy dedicated to helping organizations improve their growth, teambuilding and social responsibility by incorporating evidence-based mindful leadership training.
Mindfulness Is Trending in Business
Like many of my guests, Puja moved to the United States from another country, and knows a great deal about making a smooth change or transition! When she lived in India, she worked for tech startups in a high-stress environment as a product manager: launching products, training others and staying current on tech. At the same time, in her personal life, she was an active seeker of meditation and mindfulness practices: seeking higher consciousness, traveling to learn from meditation teachers, practicing meditation and studying holistic health.
She juggled those two separate worlds for a while, torn in half. At the time, over 12 years ago, nobody was talking about mindfulness in the workplace. Yet she felt a need to meld her two worlds—to integrate the qualities of living consciously with mindfulness and intention—into business systems. She wanted to see a union of planning and being playful; setting milestones and being mindful about them; implementing plans while honoring intuition; and both having frameworks and flowing within those structures.
Coaching in a New Country
The conflict was actually making her physically sick, so she quit and moved to America. Immigrating alone was a huge change. When she first arrived, she studied nutrition in a health coaching program because she was so sick. The program had a mindfulness component in which she learned to look at the food we eat (fruits, veggies, meat) as secondary food. Primary food was exercise, meditation, primary relationships and work.
Work! Here was the concept again: you can either live to work or work to live.
So Puja began her work on an executive coaching level, bringing to business leaders many mindfulness and meditation techniques that would help them better focus on growing and scaling their business. She helped them enhance performance while creating a deeper, more meaningful relationship with their work. (That’s huge: I know that finding the right balance between being and doing has been one of my biggest challenges in both my business and personal life.)
Puja combined her strong business background with her deep immersion in mindfulness practices and decided it was time to bring that combination to business leaders. It took a few years to reach companies and learn where she could help shift the consciousness for them.
Are We Too Busy to Be Effective?
In America, Puja notices, there is a glorification of busy-ness. Americans want to work to live instead of living to work. Yet because the world copies what America does, Puja hopes to change the consciousness of businesses in America, creating a ripple effect across the world.
She and I come from different parts of the world, but I too have seen how America believes busyness is what makes us productive and successful, when, actually, it’s the opposite: busy-ness is draining. Instead, it’s the spiritual aspect of life—meaning, mindfulness and presence—that really give life and work meaning for both ourselves and our team members.
The Mindfulness Map
Puja’s Mindfulness Map is a 10-month evidence-based framework with tools that equip leaders to make more conscious choices. The immersive framework includes individual training, executive coaching, and online video training. The framework is customized based on a thorough needs assessment with company leadership to sequence the trainings most needed first. For instance, If the leadership team struggles with conflict resolution, which can cost a company a ton of money, they will offer the communication framework first.
The Mindfulness Map contains a wide suite of services. Puja is committed to constantly measuring outcome in the form of behavioral changes. Is leader performance improving? Innovation increasing? Her data analyst is a certified applied behavior analyst, and they use the Likert scale to do pre and post testing and get concrete numbers for percentage improvement. That data helps her decide what other training is necessary. Bottom line: companies can very clearly see the results of the Mindfulness Map training.
It’s amazing how easily you can boost productivity by being more present, paying better attention, changing your communication style or reducing the number of insignificant meetings you have. Like Puja, I once coached a company where productivity rose, more work was done, and the team finished a project six weeks ahead of schedule, allowing them to focus on marketing and their client’s needs: win-win. The company learned that this type of analysis was possible and allowed it to be more strategic—plus that the time spent in training was well worth it. Everyone felt more productive and be more intentional. That’s the value of coaching. I love that Puja offers one-on-one leadership coaching alongside the many-to-one trainings.
What Can Mindfulness Help?
Every company faces general challenges on which mindfulness can have a profound impact:
- Productivity is one of the biggest beneficiaries of mindfulness. Leaders who incorporate these practices make better decisions, focus better and prioritize better.
- Vision and leadership can be sharpened, where leaders need to ask: where are we going, are we anchored in our vision/mission, are we all on board, are we inspiring a shared vision with our team, are we demonstrating moral intelligence? Mindfulness has a huge affect on this.
- Resilience and agility. When leaders can’t manage their emotions productively and effectively, mindfulness gives them tools to quickly reset, recharge and regain positive views.
- Conflict resolution is another huge area. The Mindfulness Map process not only addresses conflict when it comes up, but teaches how to prevent it and avoid language that automatically creates defensiveness. Emotions can be managed, but that’s often an acquired skill that mindfulness can help with.
- Diversity, inclusion and gender equity. We each bring something different to the company; we are not equal but uniquely individual. Mindfulness techniques can increase participation, sensitivity and diversity practices.
- Innovation. By clearing the static, mindfulness can have huge impact here as well.
Coaches work to help people grow to become the people they want to become, build the salary they want and take the role they desire. I am impressed with the Mindfulness Map.
Puja’s Book Recommendation: The Four Agreements
Puja loves and often rereads The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom by Don Miguel Ruiz. In this small book, Ruiz talks about four contracts that are rooted, in Puja’s interpretation, in mindfulness. Following these simple steps—such as “be impeccable with your work” and “don’t take things personally”—can completely shift how we show up in the world as individuals and especially as leaders, she says. It’s an easy read, but those four profound precepts can remind us how to better show up for ourselves and those around us.
Puja’s Tool Recommendation for Mindful Leadership
There are many simple and deeper ways you can experience mindfulness. On her website (MindfulnessMap.com), you can download a free guide to seven different mindfulness techniques to start using immediately.
Mindfulness has two components, Puja says. One is being fully present, which you can achieve through taking a pause right now, checking in, becoming aware of your breath and body, and being here, fully able to hold space for yourself. Then from that quality of presence you can hold space for others.
The second component goes deeper, when you are ready. It is about exploring: How did you come to your perspectives and thought beliefs? How do you make the decisions you make? That is the deeper work of mindfulness. For companies it might be digging into organizational equality, diversity or vision.
You can engage on any level you prefer with mindfulness, and there’s no barrier to entry. I hope you feel confident enough to start exploring what mindful leadership could look like for yourself, your family, your teams and your company.
Find Puja at MindfulnessMap.com: Fill in the contact form with any questions you have.
Also find her on LinkedIn.