Attitudes towards work and the workplace through the theme of business

The first video is Google employee Chade Mang Tan’s short presentation titled ‘Everyday Compassion at Google’. It was an insightful and philosophically informed speech. Tan draws upon the wisdom of famous Buddhist monks like the Dalai Lama and Mathieu Ricard in decoding the keys to happiness. Based on FMRI scans on these long term meditators’ brains, Tan is able to show the neurobiological basis for happiness. More importantly, he illustrates that the practice of compassion meditation can effect such changes to the brain. Far from being an esoteric spiritual practice, compassion can actually prove to be an effective business tool. Using his first hand experiences from Google, Tan shows how the quality of compassion can help build strong team ethic and trust. In terms of effective leadership, too, compassion is of paramount importance. Many inspirational leaders across the world possess two important qualities – ambition for greater good and humility. Acquiring compassion as a personality trait actually helps develop both these requisites for being a great leader. And it is obvious that to create great organization, one need great leaders. I find this novel idea of linking Buddhist philosophy to business management quite fascinating. Upon reflection it makes a lot of sense too. To put Chade Meng Tan’s suggestions in common parlance, what is good for the community is also good for the self. So it makes a lot of sense to cultivate compassion and be a socially responsible agent in our everyday lives.

Sheikha Al Mayassa’s short presentation titled ‘Globalizing the Local; Localizing the Global’ offers an interesting take on ethnic identity. Speaking from her experience as a tradition-respecting Arab woman, Mayassa begins by stating how her full-flowing black robe is not a sign of oppression but one of choice. She says that she is comfortable wearing it and it makes her connect to her roots. She links this example to Thomas Friedman’s ideas in the book The World is Flat. In the book, Friedman asserts how ‘globalizing the local and localizing the global’ are concurrent phenomena in the era of globalization. Mayassa applies this idea to Arab art, especially those produced by the Arabic Diaspora. Instead of assimilating style and substance from local cultures, some famous contemporary Arab artists are promoting the uniqueness of their native culture through their works. To boot, it has reaped them success and recognition. In this fashion, it is consistent with Thomas Friedman’s ideas. There is also a feminist aspect to Mayassa’s views, for the artists she talks about are all women. These women believe that culture is a great connector and communicator, which they can use to create strong communal bonds. They can thus make their collective voice heard in male dominated societies, especially in the Middle-East.

The two videos studied for this exercise show two different methods of excellence in business. I was impressed with the ideas presented in both the talks. But in my personal view, the message of compassion is the more urgent one for the world today. With conflicts evident in every walk of life – be it public affairs, business or interpersonal relations, compassion is the need of the hour. The fact that compassion is ultimately good for the individual practicing it makes its adoption a non-brainer. I also liked Mayassa’s unique take on ethnic representation through art. Both the speakers brought wisdom, evidence and business logic to their talks, making them both highly relevant to the business world. However, I would rank Chade Mang Tan’s speech on the value of compassion in the business world higher than Mayassa’s presentation.


Chade-Meng Tan: Everyday compassion at Google, retrieved from <>

Sheikha Al Mayassa: Globalizing the local, localizing the global, retrieved from <>