Changing Work With Scott Shute & Nicholas Whitaker

10 Apr , 2024 podcasts

Changing Work With Scott Shute & Nicholas Whitaker

The Coca-Cola Compassion Lab | Scott Shute | Changing Work


In today’s fast-paced and competitive world, it has unfortunately become rare to find people who love their work. That is because we have made the workplace very difficult to be in. Our guest believes that when it comes to the world of work, we can create something better. In this insightful episode, Scott Shute and Nicholas Whitaker, founders of Changing Work Collective, share their personal journeys and the evolution of mindfulness and well-being initiatives in corporate settings like Google and LinkedIn. From overcoming personal challenges to fostering a culture of compassion and holistic well-being, they emphasize the crucial role of leadership support and cultural alignment in prioritizing employee well-being amidst corporate restructuring and budget constraints. Through their shared experiences and practices for personal growth, Scott and Nick highlight the transformative power of mindfulness, collaboration, and living authentically. Their inspiring conversation resonates with the importance of investing in the human element and prioritizing holistic well-being initiatives to cultivate thriving and resilient organizations.

Listen to the podcast here


Changing Work With Scott Shute & Nicholas Whitaker

Conscious Business As The Unlock For A Better World

I welcome two visionary leaders and friends who have decided that when it comes to the world of work, together we can create something better. The first of this dynamic duo is Scott Shute. He’s the Author of the Award-Winning book, The Full Body Yes, as well as a Keynote Speaker and Executive Coach helping leaders develop high-performing and conscious organizations.

His work has been featured in publication such as INC, Forbes, and Fast Company. An active advocate for customers and employees in the tech space for many years. Scott managed a team of over a thousand employees at LinkedIn as a Customer Operations VP before switching roles to combine his long-time passions with his practical leadership as head of mindfulness and compassion programs.

Next and equally dynamic is Nicholas Whitaker, an activist for the transformation of workplace culture. He combines over two decades of experience in tech, media, academia, and entrepreneurship. As a coach for midlife corporate professionals, his approach is underpinned by a focus on work-life harmony, curiosity, compassion, and purpose.

Destiny played its hand in uniting Scott and Nicholas, two very kindred spirits with a joint mission to reinvent the modern workplace. Together, they mentor aspiring entrepreneurs and leaders on how to lead with heart and build a thriving business grounded in conscious leadership principles. They created together the Changing Work Collective to unite the greatest minds and hearts in the industry in a movement to change work from the inside out. Whether you’re interested in these practices in the world of work or simply in your own life, you will find these two leaders have much wisdom to share. Please enjoy the conversation with the founders of changing work, Scott Shute and Nicholas Whitaker.

Scott and Nick, two of my most favorite people in the world and we get to have a show jam. I am super excited about this. Thank you for taking the time.

Thanks for having us.

It’s a pleasure.

Nicholas And Scott’s Origin Story

We have a lot of ground to cover and I promise to watch. watch the clock so that all construction workers coming back from our pre-call are able to re-enter the room. Let’s start at the very beginning with a little bit about both of you. Scott, you know this because we had a show conversation before, but I will give your what I call the formal bio in advance. When this is produced, that will happen at the beginning, but I’m more curious a little bit about your origin story. How did you get to where you are now? What are some of the things that drove you to this point? Nick, I’m going to start with you on this.

I appreciate it. That story goes back a long way. I’d say my earliest days of exploring mindfulness practice or spiritual practice of any kind probably took me all the way back to my high school days. I tell the story before a million different times, but there’s a Books-A-Million. I don’t know if you’re familiar with those. It’s like a big box store.

I was going to get a book for a girlfriend of mine at the time. At bookstores, a cult religion and philosophy section was basically all in one section. I was over there grabbing a book for her and lo and behold, I found these two other books that caught my eye. One of them was Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and the other one was Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind.

I was very interested in the motorcycle component back then. Not so much in the mindfulness component. I didn’t know what any of that meant at the time and it went right over my head. I picked that up. I was like, “This is interesting,” but didn’t grok it at a fundamental level. What I did find myself doing coming back over and over again to mindfulness practice and meditation practice is some of these things that I learned in these books and elsewhere around that time.

Any time I felt distress or was dealing with somewhat difficult childhood scenarios, I would go back to these practices over and over again. Fast forward many years later, when I found myself in slightly different scenarios dealing with stress, overwhelm, or discord. I would revert back to some of these same practices.

The seed had been planted on an early period. Over the years, I found more ways to get involved with these types of practices. I lived down the street from the Zen Buddhist Center in Brooklyn, New York, and got involved there. I had a buddy of mine that was at the Shambhala Center. He and I started going to the Shambhala Center together and deepening my practice a little bit further.

We got involved an initiative called the sitting project, where we’d sit in Times Square in Manhattan and meditate. Try to get other people to come along with us and sit and understand how mindfulness can be done anywhere. The big pivotal moment for me was getting involved with Google. I had the opportunity to help bring wisdom 2.0 into the New York City Google office.

That opened up my eyes to all these different possibilities of where mindfulness could take place within the workplace and what the intersections of career, mindfulness, and spiritual practice could be. From there, I got a little bit further into the GPOS program at Google, which is our meditation of mindfulness program. Over the many years that I was at Google, I’ve became more involved in that and ended up helping to scale that program to several thousand people worldwide during the pandemic.

Converted everything from this ragtag band of practitioners all the way around the world to a unified group of people that were tied together via community and online. We had a newsletter and train the trainer programs. That was roughly around the time that Scott and I started to connect a little bit in that realm then it went on from there.

That’s a pretty amazing path, Nick. What is so fascinating to me is how you were called to it young, even if you snuck in the back door through the motorcycle angle into it. For me, I would say I was very unaware of these practices until my late 20s and early 30s, then it was like this whole new world opened up. I would say back in high school, pretty much it didn’t go far beyond the boyfriend and the, “Where am I going to go to college?” I feel like you were ahead of your time and you were called into that. Look at what you’ve done since that time. It’s pretty amazing. Was there anything about your upbringing in your family other than maybe the challenges you referred to that you think pushed you in that direction?

I grew up in similar to Scott. I grew up in the middle of like nowhere. Not to say that Scott grew up in the middle of nowhere, but I did. You imagine like Amish, that’s generally speaking where I grew up in Central Pennsylvania. It was like me and three other people about eight miles apart from one another, which was like my friend group. I spent a lot of time alone.

I lived in a pretty violent household. A lot of my refugees was hanging out in my bedroom, which was in the attic of our house reading books, diving into philosophy, and diving inward. I was lucky to come across those books when I did because it could have gone a much different direction. If I didn’t have that outlet or those seeds planted in the early days and that curiosity that was fostered in the early days about what’s possible and what an expanded consciousness could be. Who knows where I would have ended up?

The fact that like those things had been planted in early days. It was something I could refer back to is what allowed me to grow over time. I’m glad that I was able or the universe, put me in the path of these different interventions, being literally right down the street from a Buddhist monastery and having an amount of closest colleagues like being deeply involved in the Shambhala Buddhist program in Manhattan. Those things and the random lightning strike of the wisdom 2.0 conference and being a part of that at Google. All those things lining up was like the universe kept tapping on my shoulder and saying, Pay attention.”

There’s no question about it. I do think it’s so interesting as we look back on our lives and we see how these various synchronicities have affected the path and where we go. Certainly, from your childhood, the more external chaos that we have to deal with, the more we are compelled to go inward to find a different way of being because you’re right. If you don’t, the other road is not a good road if you don’t find a new way to deal with that. It’s fascinating all the twists and turns that brought you to where you are now.

I appreciate that. Truth be told, I also did try a bunch of other things, too but those didn’t work so well. The fact that I kept coming back to the thing that was more nourishing and more fulfilling. That lit my soul up. I’m glad that I had the wherewithal to do that back then.

The Coca-Cola Compassion Lab | Scott Shute | Changing Work

Changing Work: I kept coming back to the thing that was more nourishing and fulfilling and that actually lit my soul up.


To that point, maybe we’ll get into this in our conversation, but I do think for a lot of us, we do try other things to numb out. There’s a million ways to do it and you find in that road like, “This is not working. It works for a very short period of time but it does not last.” Scott, what about you? Let’s talk about you and how you got to this point.

I had this interesting role. I was the head of Mindfulness and Compassion programs at LinkedIn. Maybe we’ll start there moving backwards. At LinkedIn, I’ve also had a career as an executive. I was the VP of Global Customer Operations during the super high growth time of LinkedIn. It was a big job. I had a huge team and there’s another part of me that has had a contemplation practice, a spiritual practice since I was thirteen. I’ve been leading those types of sessions since I was in college. It’s a huge part of my life that I never brought to work until I got to LinkedIn. To be honest, part of it was because I was older. At that time, I was in my mid-40s. I was comfortable in my own skin. I started by leading one meditation session in which there was one other person there.

I remember that story. You’re like, “Hi, welcome. This is a private session for you.”

I’m sure that dude was just as terrified as I was because I never saw him again, but it grew over time, and over years. People knew that I did it, so I did get invited to bigger things. The CFO would have an offsite, 400 people and I’d kick it off with a meditation. With a bunch of other volunteers, we created a mindfulness program. Long story short, I ended up turning that into a full-time job.

I convinced the CEO who was a proponent that I would operationalize compassion. He was out in the world talking about compassion. I’m an ops guy, so operationalize compassion and mainstream mindfulness. I did that role for a few years until COVID time. I wrote a book then got out in the world doing speaking, coaching, and consulting. Now, I’m partnering with Nick on trying to build something amazing and change work from the inside out.

It’s so amazing what you’re doing and we’re going to get into this deeply. I have to give you credit where credit’s due, and you know this, Scott. You and I met right around COVID time. We were introduced as people doing work in this space. You were the inspiration and the motivation for the Compassion Lab. I remember that first conversation with you being completely in awe that you had a job that was director of Mindfulness and Compassion.

Changes In Business From Then To Now

I was like, “That’s real? That happens?” Which is such a testament to the leadership at LinkedIn at the time. I was like, “If they can do it there, we can do it here.” You have been like a fabulous inspiration for this program. I wanted to thank you publicly for that. Let’s talk about how your past came together and a little bit about the work you’re doing now.

I want to toggle between current state and some of the observations that you’re seeing because LinkedIn and Google are two amazing organizations. I think technology companies tend to get credit on being more forward thinking on these types of things and everyone else is playing catch up. Before we get into what changing work is, what are observations on what has changed in business in the early days versus what you see now?

When I first stated this journey, it was probably 2016 or 2015. I was still in my operations role. I wanted to build a world-class mindfulness program and I didn’t know what that meant. I did a Google search, mindfulness at work. I found things at Google, SAP, Intel, eBay and others. I started reaching out to these different program leads to find out what they were up to. In fact, it got us all in the same room and pretty quickly realized that nobody was farther ahead than we were.

No one knew what they were doing. We were all trying to figure it out.

In the early days, I’d say Google with Chade-Meng Tan and the Search Inside Yourself was the first big one that got a lot of press. Almost every one of them were because a single individual stood up and raised their hand to say, “I want to do that,” and they were supported. As an example, Aetna had Andy. He was the chief mindfulness officer. They were even putting research dollars behind it because they believed that it was something that they could then productize for all the people they sold to.

There were 2 or 3 years where new programs and new individuals were starting. What I would say is, over time, almost all of those programs have shifted and changed. We’ve saw everybody wanted to do something. As individuals changed and budgets tightened, most companies said, “We’ll give everybody access to an app and we’ll call it good.” The main leaders moved away or in the case of Aetna, they got bought by CVS and as part of the corporate restructuring. CVS trying to save $350 million. The whole program got count.

What we’re seeing now is like even a few years ago because of the war for talent and of COVID, all leaders knew they need to do something to help with people’s mental well-being. Programs were expanding. Now, what we’re seeing, maybe because they can or maybe because who knows why or the players changed, they’re contracting. There’s still stuff there but oftentimes, it’s a tick in the box without as much oomph behind it as before.

The Coca-Cola Compassion Lab | Scott Shute | Changing Work

Changing Work: All leaders knew they really needed to do something to help with people’s mental well-being.


What I would say is it’s spotty. I’d say there’s more breadth but less depth if we look across the industry. There are more companies that have something but the something, if it’s just giving everybody access to an app and not telling them about it. That’s close to nothing. There’s lots of goodness out there and it’s based on the individuals in charge of it.

There’s a saying that an organization cannot go further than the consciousness of the leader. When you were in your role at LinkedIn, Jeff was very vocal about compassion as a part of what he believed and what he believed for his organization. The leadership dynamic is very important because otherwise, it becomes to what you articulated, an HR program like, “Here’s eight sessions of therapy and an app. It’s self-service and good luck. I hope this helps you.

You have no idea what’s happening after that. I know what we’re learning in the lab is the importance of the community aspect of it of people coming together to have conversations to know that they’re not alone, versus being in a solo journey with an app. It’s very interesting. Nick, what did you find at Google over this time frame because Google was a leader with gPause but that changed too over time.

There was two programs. There’s gPause as well as Search Inside Yourself. We’re complementary in a lot of ways. I always joke, to me, they seem to be like this feeder program for people to become disillusioned and leave the company after a period of time. Some of the most amazing people I’ve ever met in my entire life are part of those programs, heartfelt leaders. People that wanted to make a difference and saw the culture and the systems that were at play within the company during this particular period in time.

My tenure at Google was between 2010 and 2023. In particular, that period in time, I’d say between say 2012 to 2017 is where I started to see the most shift happen. It was in response to a lot of what was going on in the world. This was like during the Me Too movement and George Floyd. There’s all these things. All these hits that kept coming that the entire world was reckoning with.

The corporations were also trying to reckon with like, “What’s their position? Do they place a stake in the ground and take a stand? Do they respond to what’s happening in the world?” There was a lot that was happening around that period of time around mental health and well-being. There was a lot of rhetoric around that period of time of the need for mental health and well-being.

Mindfulness became an obvious go-to for that. We had these programs that already existed that had been built up over the several years. Interestingly enough, a lot of the people who have helped build those systems are also now members of our Changing Work Collective which we can probably get into later on.

What I started to notice was almost a commodification of these programs where to what Scott was saying what you were hinting to a little while ago. It became like an off-the-shelf thing that you could say, “We have this program if you’re struggling at work you’re having trouble with your mental health and your well-being. Join gPause and meditate for a minute. Take a mental health day.”

What I saw, it was more of a band-aid approach where it’s like, “We have this program.” Call it done instead of looking at the systemic issues that were at play that might be causing poor mental health outcomes, performance outcomes, and lack of engagement. It was very pocketed. It was different team by team and org by org.

My own personal experience, the team that I was on previous to my last team I was on. I had a budget, volunteers, and a runway to create well-being and mindfulness programs for the organization. This was a sales. All the orgs you would think that wouldn’t be necessarily in for that, this was one that was 100% in for. It had so much to do with the VP and the leadership that was fostering environments that this type of stuff was possible.

I switched to another team and that team did not at all value those programs. In fact, it was trying to offset and get rid of those programs and push them on to other teams so that they didn’t have to manage them. It was an interesting cultural shift that I was witnessing. It was a little bit of an identity crisis that the company was going through that was being represented in these types of programs of on one hand, they’re speaking about their values, the importance of the people and within these organizations and the need to take care of them.

On the other hand, the management leadership practices and the performance review practices were incongruent what they were speaking about. As the pandemic ramped up, it became very obvious that there was more need for this type of work. Me and a band of volunteers pulled together and systematized and processesized the entire gPause organization to serve people at scale. We did an amazing job over the course of two years, we reached more than 5,000 users with mindfulness meditation multiple days a week, multiple times per day, and multiple languages.

It was unheard of and all volunteer efforts. It was all what we call 120% work or 20 % work. As the pandemic continued on and budgets got constricted and priorities shifted, then the ability for us to do that to do that type of work started to wane as well. I remember very specifically, my manager at the time saying, “These 20% projects that you do are important. If you’re not able to focus as much on your main role, then those 20% programs are never going to be able to exist in the first place. We need you to focus on this like being counter role instead.”

I was doing that role. I was doing that role just fine, but it was the perception at hat extracurricular work was somehow taking away from the work that we were able to do in our day jobs that started to become more prevalent. That was essentially the downfall of the program. In early 2023, when we had about 12,000 people laid off across the company, a very large majority of those people were people that were doing mindfulness, meditation, mental health awareness groups, and other types of volunteer work around DEI.

Now those programs have been eviscerated. They exist still and there’s still people doing it. Thankfully, I still hear to this day, people reach out and say, “Thank you so much for the legacy that you left.” All the training we put into place and all the systems we put into place allowed for those programs to continue on even without us. It’s far fewer people now than it ever was and it’s not prioritized by leadership as far as I could tell.

It feels like a few steps forward, then we step back. There is a misunderstanding about the benefits because the scarcity mindset says, “If you’re doing this, it’s somehow taking away from this.” When it’s a passion project, we all know our capacity expands because we feel like we’re in service. It’s a whole different dynamic. The business world is struggling like, “Where does this sit? What does it mean? How do we make sure we don’t cross a line into therapy or places where people were not skilled to take them or to spiritual or any of these things where everyone wants to feel safe and comfortable within these guardrails that are still being established?

Operationalizing Mindfulness

I’m curious, Scott, you talked about operationalizing mindfulness. I’ve been to many seminars and groups. Arthur Brooks has been studying Mindfulness and Happiness at Harvard. There is deep research about how this type of conversation and support programs drives productivity. It’s not just a loose connect. It’s a real connect. I spoke with the researcher that of all the research she’s done and this is brand new stuff.

She’s showing that having well-being programming at work is even more important in decision criteria for certain talent than having sustainability or environmental and social programs, which you would have thought. All we heard was millennials and Gen Z need to know that you’re doing well. They need to know that this is embedded too and is emerging. How have you looked at this challenge of showing the value so that when the contraction begins, it’s not all just thrown out the door?

There’s so much in here. I go back to why do we do any of this? First of all, the easiest thing to be in the world is a cynical. This takes no talent at all. The cynic view is, “As a company, we offer these programs as a talent magnet when we need to. In this moment when nobody’s leaving the company, we don’t need to do it anymore.” That’s a cynic view. Here’s the thing, I like to think about the history of work to put this in perspective.

In the old days, building the pyramids, you had kings and slaves and work was not great for the people doing it. Fast forward to the Industrial Revolution in the 1800s, a factory full of people. Still, we as workers were viewed as replaceable but in the information economy, even if you’re a manufacturing company, most of your job is around information. Most of the IP sits with the people itself. There’s many companies that don’t have manufacturing at all. Their whole product is the data itself.

Employees are by far your biggest asset, your biggest resource. Even if you take the Black and White financial view. Now, if you were in a manufacturing environment and you had a machine that sat in the corner of the plant and generated 60% or 80% of your income. Everybody knew the value of that machine and that machine was not operating at 100%. Maybe it was operating at 80% or 60%.

There would be no discussion at all on, “Should we maintain the machine or should we provide it upgrades?” You would go do it. It would be self-evident but in this world, it’s us. It’s the people. People are that machine. Not to make it like that, but they’re the most valuable resource. We need to be investing in making that human be at its best, be at our best. You get into, “What do these programs do? Do they have ROI?”

Humans are the most valuable resource, so we need to be investing in making that human be at its best. Share on X

If you’re bought into the idea that, “We want to take care of our humans.” There’s this research. There’s tons of research on mindfulness and similar practices about driving creativity, driving better sleep, relationships and leadership. All of it, it’s all there already but, for me, I appreciate the stories even more. During COVID, this young woman was a salesperson, reached out to me just to say, “Thank you for the programs you’re offering at LinkedIn.” She said, “I’m screaming at my kids a lot less.”

She laughed and I laughed. It was one of those laughs where kidding but not kidding because we’ve both been there. All of us have been there. Remember the time when they shut down daycares everywhere? She was daycare. She was taking care of the house. She was doing all the meals and had a big number at work, which she was crushing, even in the middle of it. She said, “I’m screaming at my kids a lot less and I’m a better partner, a better mom and better at work. I’m a better version of myself.” I thought that is why we do the work. That’s all that we need to know. As a leader, that’s all you need to know. Can we help people?

Can we help people on that note? One of my questions that I gotten to, but you answered it so beautifully is stories of transformation from this work. For anyone reading, maybe they’re not in a workplace that has this or they’re trying to figure out how to get into some of these practices. We’ll talk about that more but the stories of transformation are the why. I want to open that up as well.

Nick, if you have a story like that because as the lab is being built, it’s a grassroots effort. Sometimes we get good participation and sometimes we don’t. You do have those moments where you think, “Why am I doing what I’m doing?” It does take that one person that sends the note over and says, “Thank you.” One day, we had someone say, “This is you have no idea how much I needed to hear this.” There’s an unknown ripple effect in.

If we pan out from dealing with stress and challenge, but if we pan out into this idea of greater consciousness, of seeing each other through different eyes, greater awareness, and greater patience. That’s world changing. That’s world changing type ripple effect. Nick, do you have any stories of transformation that you can share from your journey?

My own, first and foremost. These practices have literally saved my life. It took me from instability, mental illness, and crushing imposter syndrome to being fulfilled, passionate, liveful and wanting to make a difference in the world. For me, similar to Scott’s story, there’s always that imposter syndrome and that doubt of like, “Why are we doing this? Is this making an impact of any kind?”

When I was back at the company, I would get what they call kudos all the time. It’s basically like a little announcement from somebody who was impacted in some way by the work that you did and we sent to your manager. I would get dozens of these every time I’d present or I’d go to an event of some sort. What I was seeing time and time again is the word of mouth would start to kick into play.

I would be invited and basically brought around from team to team to talk about my own mental health journey, mindfulness, gPause and Search Inside Yourself. When I got laid off and never had anybody reach out and say, “That decade that you did for executive leadership, I can’t stop thinking about how amazing that was or that spreadsheet that you fill that or that process that you put together is so game-changing. Thank you so much for the work you did.”

No one ever reached out in that way. I’ve literally had hundreds of people reach out to me since I got laid off, since I started talking about my own stories, talked about mindfulness and meditation, and the impact that it had on my world. I’ve had so many people reach out and tell me. The story vary from like, “I’ve started dabbling with meditation and my life is better now,” to like, “You’ve literally saved my life. the things that you’re saying and the things that you’ve been sharing have taken me on a different course in a different direction. Thank you so much for being vulnerable, authentic, transparent and for doing this work.”

To me in hindsight, it’s like, all that effort, work that was being done, and that doubt was so incredibly worth it. At the beginning, the whole idea as to why I wanted to do this work in the first place is I wanted to pay it back to other people. I wanted to give other people the same boon that I had gained through my own journey, which was self-awareness and this mindfulness practice. It was the ability to center and ground myself in chaotic times.

If there’s anything that makes it worth doing this type of work, it’s hearing from other people that you’ve impacted them in some meaningful way. When you multiply that by a dozen or hundreds of people, it’s like whatever that was that just happened. That was exactly what had to happen and needed to happen. I was exactly where I needed to be all along the way.

The Coca-Cola Compassion Lab | Scott Shute | Changing Work

Changing Work: If there’s anything that makes it worth doing this type of work, it’s hearing from other people that you’ve impacted them in some meaningful way.


Changing Work Collective

You have been and are exactly where you need to be. I want to honor both of you. On LinkedIn, you’re both very vulnerable and open around your journey about your observations. You share fully who you are and invite people in to that conversation, which is such a cool thing. All this journey that both of you have been on, called to greater awareness at a young age, knowing that there was something more and exploring those unknown places have brought you to a collaboration. Share a little bit about this collaboration and what you’re up to.

I had left LinkedIn a couple of years ago and started out in the world promoting the book, doing speaking, coaching, and consulting with this mission of change work from the inside out. I pretty quickly realized like, “If my mission is to change work like for a 3.5 billion people at work. It’s going to take way more than me.” Through a series of conversations, Nick and I got together. We were talking about building a community.

It was serendipitously around the time that he was getting laid off. I was like, “It’s a great time to do something together.” We started this thing called Changing Work. The first phase of it is to help practitioners, that’s coaches or consultants or solopreneurs, who are doing the work of conscious business to help each of them be more successful because the truth is, most coaches want to be coaches. Most trainers want to be trainers.

They don’t want to worry about the business part of it. We’re trying to help them in lots of ways by providing them community, amplifying their work and knowledge about how to build a business. That’s phase one. In the middle of that, we have about 600 people in our community so far, mostly through word of mouth. The second phase is to curate the best practices from that community and make them available to business, to leaders like yourself, and leaders in business. That’s the next part of it. A project we’re working on now, we’re getting started. We’re going to write a book together.

Most coaches just want to be coaches. Most trainers just want to be trainers. They don't want to worry about the business part of it. Share on X

It’s fantastic. This is news to me. Do tell.

We hope to make it a series on conscious business and because conscious business is such a broad topic, we’re starting with conscious leadership and because conscious leadership is such a broad topic, we’re starting with self-awareness. Which is all the things that we do to be more aware of what’s going on inside ourselves. The idea is like 20 or 25 of us each write a chapter. You put it together, get it out more quickly and the power of our collective network gets it to more people than it would have by ourselves.

Something interesting, one of our friends inside the collective, he said, “This is what the Quakers do.” I had no idea. He went on to say, “The Quakers have this collective question and they write books together to explore their own understanding of the world or their own understanding of the divine and to continually advance it based on who they are in this point in time.” I thought, “That’s exactly what we’re doing. We’re expanding our own collective awareness or understanding of what it even means to be a conscious leader or to operate as a conscious business.” That’s one of the things that we’re up to. We’re super excited about it.

What I love about that is, I feel like this word’s becoming a buzzword but it is a co-creation where it’s not one person’s view of the world but like with the Quakers. Everyone is looking at it from their seat and their own life journey, and the facets of a diamond. All these different things come together into something more beautiful because it’s collective.

I was speaking earlier about the power of the community aspect in the lab. It is because we are on a solo journey in some respects. We need to understand what we need to work on and what our own inner work is. We’ve got that aspect, but when we bring that journey into community, there’s a different power. Nick, you mentioned imposter syndrome. We talk a lot about that in the lab.

Many people having this inner voice that says they’re not this or not that or not good enough, then you come together and you’re like, “You have that, too? Everyone has that bad roommate. I got this.” It’s like an exhale. It’s like a collective, “I’m not alone in this journey, so let’s tackle it together,” which is so awesome. That’s amazing.

Maybe, you’ll have a chapter in the book.

That is an invitation that I’m going to need to answer. I would love to add my brushstroke to the art to the painting.

That would be fantastic.

That would be lovely. What have you found? 600 people is impressive. That’s a lot of need. That’s where the world is going is how are we going to find our tribe of people to move things forward faster? What’s been your feedback from the members? How do you communicate with them? How’s that been going?

I could speak in a little bit. What excites me every morning and the shift from, you’ve probably heard this term, Sunday scaries, which I had quite a bit in my old role. It was anxious, intensity, and this lack of feeling of connection and belonging. Fewer than two months later, suddenly we start to spin up this community and it started very small. Scott was like 30 people on Slack, just putting it together bit by bit. All of a sudden, it expanded. It was 100 people then it was 300 people. Now, we’re at this larger community of 600 folks.

Time and time again, what I hear from people is it’s the sense of belonging. That they have that they have found their tribe. I hear this all the time. People voluntarily sharing about their experiences within the collective on social media, talking about the connections that they made and the partnerships that they’ve made.

I have one friend, Anya. She’s got a show also. She’s probably interviewed 30 people from the collective for the last several months. She’s doing it very quietly and doing her own thing. Every time I talk to somebody that has involved themselves within the collective and put their energy into it, what I hear time and time again is that they get so much back from it. Whether it’s being seen, having other folks that are struggling in the same areas that they are, destigmatizing their experience of struggle, and the encouragement that everybody gets like on a daily basis or text message back and forth with some various people in the collective.

They’ll share a link for me to share on LinkedIn because it’s not their exact domain. They’re like, “This is perfect for you. We’ll take a look and see how that tracks over time. We’ll help each other with each other’s LinkedIn posts and we’ll collaborate on different areas.” That’s the thing that’s been exciting to me. If you don’t find the community that you’re looking for, go build it yourself. That’s what we did.

If you don't find the community that you're looking for, go build it yourself. Share on X

To an individual, the people that are in the collective are some of the most heartfelt, open, compassionate, and most wanting to make a difference in the world type of people that you could possibly find. That’s a unique differentiator that I haven’t been able to find any other community that I’ve been a part of. That’s what excites me and what I hope that we can maintain regardless of how large we scale this thing.

Talk about being surrounded by people of goodwill and wanting to do good things. That’s such a positive vibration all the time to be surrounded by that. I would also say what’s so amazing for someone in my chair where I’m trying to bring content into the company. For me to vet random people, find them.

You’re doing all that for me and for other people who are doing work like I’m doing to bring more voices into the corporate arena because both of you are very familiar with the work we’re doing in the lab. I do my sessions, but people only want to hear so much from me. They know my vibe and what I do, but other people are going to bring their voice. That’s what makes the content more robust and more interesting, so I’m grateful for that.

Thanks. That’s at the crux of it for me. I won’t speak for Scott. Pretty sure we share a bit of a brain together. I never wanted to be the guru at the podium. I don’t want to be the authority. I want to be bringing together the best of the best and helping create more frictionless opportunities for both the practitioners, but also the business leaders to your point.

If you don’t have time to do all that vetting and verifying, you’re trusting your budget, staff’s time, and your attention to an unknown. If we can do all that work for you ahead of time, it’s the same work that we do for our practitioners. We have a service provider marketplace built in within the collective, so that if you need an editor or a show editor or a web designer or a copy editor, we’ve already pre-vetted those folks for people and taken a lot of the pain out of that.

Some of the programs and products that we’re launching later, including a business accelerator for conscious business, specifically targeted for solopreneurs. The whole idea behind that is to make it easier for folks to be able to do the work that they do best so that they can just shine. For me, that’s again, another unique differentiator of what we’re trying to do here.

From Attaining To Attuning

It’s beautiful and similar to the books. It’s a curation. I feel similar in the role that I do. You’re curating content from many different places so that there’s a lot of diversity to the message on what you’re sharing. Let me ask you this, if you think about all of the different experiences you’ve personally had from teachers you’ve learned from in addition to things you’re learning from the collective. For those reading who maybe aren’t necessarily running a program like this, but they do want to get better in their own lives. Are there certain practices? This is a whole journey, but are there certain things that you could just guide them towards if this is new to people who are reading?

If you don’t have a practice as an example and you’re just starting out. How I think about it is moving from attaining to attuning. Most of our life is spent attaining. We’re animals, we’re trying to survive, and we’re homo sapiens. We’re trying to get by in the world. What this work is generally, broadly, is attuning. Attuning to insert your model of the world, that deepest part of you, the quiet, and the divine, however you want to think about it.

The Coca-Cola Compassion Lab | Scott Shute | Changing Work

Changing Work: Move from attaining to attuning.


I always start somebody with why. Why do you want this? It’s like going to the gym. This is mental exercise or spiritual exercise but like physical exercise. If Nick convinces me to go to the gym with his trainer and we do push-ups until I throw up. I might do it because he invited me one day but the second day, it’s like, “Why are we doing this? This is hard. If I don’t have a clear goal, I’m not doing it.” The same thing is true like, why am I going to get up early and spend 20 or 30 minutes for me meditating outside? Why?

For some people, they want to reduce some of the pain they’re feeling. They want to reduce some of the scatter or the noise in their mind. For some people, they want to be a better person. They want to be a better mother or father or partner. Some people want enlightenment. All of those things are valid but knowing what you’re why is the important part then the practices. If you don’t have a practice, a good place I recommend to start is the app Insight Timer. Insight Timer is an app. There are something like 20,000 or 30,000 teachers on Insight Timer.

I’m a fan. It’s amazing. I love it.

You can find something. There’s something for everybody there. One of my quotes is, “The most powerful type of practice you can do is like scientifically proven, the most powerful type of practice. It’s the one you’ll do.”

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The physical exercise. It’s the same.

In other words, find something you like. Some people talk about how fish or taking a walk does the same thing. Maybe, it can if you do it right. If it’s attuning, like if I go out and I fish or I do landscape photography and I’m still trying to attain, catch the biggest fish, get the biggest picture, or the best picture, then I’m still not there. If you have a practice that attunes you to the best part of yourself, that’s what we double down on.

I love it, attainment to attunement. Nick, what about you with that question? Anything to add?

Arriving To What Is

My answer is not that different than Scott’s. Not surprising, but for me, it’s about arriving to what is. That in aggregate is so much about what all these practices are, at least for me. I can only speak from my own experience, like arriving to what’s happening. We spend so much of our time moving through life and not being present, trying to get to some destination, some outcome or some goal.

We lose on the way the process. From what I can tell, attuning, being aware of what the process is that’s happening within you at any time during your life is where the real magic is. That’s where the wisdom comes from. For me, whether it’s sitting mindfully, practicing meditation or riding a motorcycle. For me, it’s about being completely and utterly present in that moment. One of the beautiful things about a motorcycle is you have no option other than to be completely and utterly present in that moment.

If you aren’t, very serious repercussions occur very quickly. There’s a thing that happens in motorcycle riding as well for me. To me, it was connected with mindfulness and meditation. That’s what originally drew me to that Zen in the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance book and the concept. It comes from learning how to ride a motorcycle. If you imagine if you’re on a motorcycle and you’re say going 50 or 60 miles an hour and you hit a corner. If you look to the edge of the road and what you’re trying to do is avoid falling off the edge of that road or going over the end of the line.

If you bring your attention to that, that is exactly where you’re going to go. If you look ahead or to where you’re wanting to go, that’s the direction than the motorcycle will go. To me, mindfulness and meditation is a lot like that. When I meditate, journal, or I arrive to what is, it’s a vote towards where I want to be and where I want to go. Doing that over and over again builds resilience and a habit of just being present.

If you can do that with curiosity and with non-judgment, that’s the biggest one that’s always been hard for me, the non-judgment part. If you can build and cultivate those skills to arrive to what is, be curious about what’s happening and hold it in awareness without judgment, then you have a fighting chance of being able to say, “Is this nurturing for me or not? Is this what I want to be doing?” If not, then you can make choices. Without that curiosity and without that lack of judgment, we get all twisted up, get all caught up in our heads and get off track.

The Coca-Cola Compassion Lab | Scott Shute | Changing Work

Changing Work: Without that curiosity and without that lack of judgment, we get all twisted up, caught up in our heads, and get off track.


Reach Scott And Nick

That’s so wonderfully said, Nick. I appreciate that so much. What it brings up for me is the power of being aware. It is being aware because if you’re flying down the road on a motorcycle unaware, it’s a problem. That’s an obvious problem, but I don’t think we realize that it’s a problem in our lives if we’re flying through our lives unaware. We miss a lot when we’re not seeing what’s going on. I do have a couple of closing questions for you, but before I go to that, how do people find Changing Work or find you or you want to make sure they know because I know you’re on Insight Timer. Where can they get some of your personal wisdom or engage in Changing Work? is the place to go. We even have a special if you’re reading. We always do a month free because we want you to check it out and see if you love it. You can get a bonus month if you use the coupon code PODCAST24. There you go, there’s your incentive to go. You can find both of us, it’s Scott Shute and Nicholas Whitaker on LinkedIn. We’re pretty active on LinkedIn, so feel free to reach out to us there. If you want to meditate with me, come to Insight Timer. I have a bunch of recorded stuff there. I also do a live session every week or two. Come join us. Nick, anything for you?

You can find me on Insight Timer as well and also, I think, Scott, you mentioned that. I basically live on LinkedIn. If you open up LinkedIn and you haven’t seen my posts, I’m not sure what’s happening, but feel free to like. Add me. I’ll say hello. The best thing to do, honestly, is if you’re even remotely curious about what we’re up to, give it a 30 day shot. Maybe 60 days with the coupon. Low obligation and you can cancel anytime.

I would almost guarantee that if you are looking for a collection of other people or a collective of other people that are heart led and are trying to do big things in the world and try to change work from the inside out. There’s very few better places in what we’ve built. I invite people to come and be curious and poke around a little bit. Let us know what you’re looking for. If you don’t find what you’re looking for, let us know. We like to say we’re in permanent beta. We’re always trying to like adjust things and change things to maximize the way that we can impact the world.

Rapid Fire Questions

We are always creating. I know both of you are very open to feedback and voices on how you can keep creating more in this space. Are you game with a couple of rapid fire closing questions? I’m going to ask a question and we’ll go Scott then Nick. First question is, what would surprise people about you?

I’m an introvert. I spend most of my life on stage or doing shows or talking or performing in some way. The truth is, I’m an introvert. When I need to recharge, it’s by myself in nature.

I feel you. I’m right there with you.

I talk about this a lot. I talk about my own mental health journey and my own struggles with mental health over the years. A lot of people would be surprised at how much I moved through life in a state of hypervigilance and so much of the mindfulness meditation practice that I do is to counteract those more nervous system responses and those ancient responses that I’ve cultivated over my life.

It’s been a powerful self and technique, but there is still that hypervigilance that exists. What it is also it’s a superpower. It’s allowed me to be vulnerable in a way that most people aren’t able to be. It’s been able to allow me to connect with other people in ways that it can be very hard for a lot of folks, particularly men in America.

We are teachers because we need the teaching. Next question is, what brings you the greatest joy?

Connection, my loves, my kids, my wife, and my friends. Connection to the thing itself. Whatever you want to call it. That happens to me through music or through nature or something beautiful.

For me, it always will come down to being of service. That always is what gives me joy and lights me up. If I can know that I’m making a positive impact on other people’s lives and I can share in some way what I’ve been through in a way that helps other people, that does it for me every time.

Now this may be the same answer but it’s a slightly different angle. We talked about joy but what brings you peace?

The practice, nature, taking deep breaths and slow it down. It’s a cliche but the one deep breath. There’s such a power in that for me. It resets my nervous system. It allows me to say, “I don’t I don’t need to rush around.”

In these practices, the breath, people say, “It’s just so simple,” but there’s power in the simple. Nick, what about you with peace?

Honestly, it’s not too far off. For me, it’s a specific venue. It’s somewhere in the deserts of the American Southwest or possibly also Baja, Mexico now with my wife around a campfire, under the stars, with no devices and nothing to do for a couple of hours. That to me is my happy place and that’s where I’m always trying to get back to as often as I can. That is also what the mindfulness practice does for me. Oftentimes, you’ll find me right outside of my house, sitting in a little chair in my front yard meditating for half hour or twenty minutes in the morning. That, to me, is a little version of what I can get going far out into the wilderness with my wife.

I’m already more relaxed listening to your answers. I’m all chilled out. Last question, your definition of a life well-lived.

To Nick’s point earlier about being present, that’s a big part of it but there’s something in here about purpose. I’m still on the journey. One of my favorite quotes is from Rumi. He said, “Yesterday, I was clever and I tried to change the world. Today, I’m wise and I’m working on changing myself.” I got to tell you, I’m still trying to change the world and I’m working on being wise. I’m working on, “Just live and just love. That’s all you have to do. Be present and love. Maybe you’ll change the world when you be present and love like that.”

I think that is how the world has changed. I always get the credit to this quote wrong. I think it was Mother Teresa, but it might be someone else that says, “If we all swept our own front porch, the whole world would be clean, so we’re just sweeping our own front porch.” What about you, Nick, a life well lived.

I forget things easily, so I have to tattoo things on my body so that I don’t forget the important messages that I need in my life. I have two tattoos that are particularly meaningful in this regard. One of them is two words and I’m not a gambler just to preface of it. The words are all in. That’s a tattoo that I got as a promise to my wife, a commitment to us, our marriage and our relationship. If you’re not all in on life, what are you doing? That’s basically the philosophy behind it for me.

The other tattoo that I have is on my other arm, amor fati. It’s a term that was coined by Friedrich Nietzsche. Basically, my translation of it is essentially loving all of life, the good, the bad, everything in between. It’s not like a casual type of love. It’s almost an obsessive love like fully embracing everything. The two of those phrases together for me is essentially my framework for moving through life. It’s what allows me to have a life that’s well-lived. If I can get to my deathbed and say that I tried to adhere to those principles as often as I could, then I did a good job.

I would say so. Boom is right, Scott. You mentioned the deathbed. There’s lots of conversations about research at that end of life and people don’t say, “Bring me my diplomas. Show me the picture of the Porsche I drove.” Most of what comes up is what people didn’t do when they didn’t live for their own authenticity and the people, the relationships, the meaning and the purpose. It’s always about that. Let’s not wait till the end to get clear about being all in on this life.

I have to say thank you from my heart. Not just for the conversation but for how both of you have contributed to my journey and my growth for your friendship, for being in my tribe, wanting to change the world and being willing to do the hard work personally that it takes to start to change the world. I am just so grateful for both of you and what you’re doing in the world. Any closing comments as we end?

Thank you for creating space for this and for whoever’s reading.

Similar. Thank you for the opportunity and for all the work that you’re doing too, Katherine. It takes a village and a collective to do this work. None of us are silos doing this work alone. The fact that we’re out here all trying to make a difference and make a positive impact on the world is a beautiful thing, so thank you.

It’s a fun ride and it’s a fun thing to do together. Thank you again for your time. It was such a joy.


Important Links


About Scott Shute

The Coca-Cola Compassion Lab | Scott Shute | Changing WorkScott’s mission is to Change Work from the Inside Out by promoting and mainstreaming conscious business practices.

His latest venture, Changing Work, seeks to curate the best practices of conscious business and make them more widely available. Scott’s work has been featured in publications such as Inc., Forbes, and Fast Company, and podcasts such as Good Life Project.

He is the author of the award-winning book “The Full Body Yes”, as well as a keynote speaker, and works with executives to develop high-performing, conscious organizations.

An active advocate for customers and employees in the technology space for over 20 years, Scott managed a team of over 1,000 employees at LinkedIn as a customer operations VP before switching roles to combine his long-time passions with his practical leadership and operations skills as Head of Mindfulness and Compassion Programs.


About Nicholas Whitaker

The Coca-Cola Compassion Lab | Scott Shute | Changing WorkNicholas is an activist for the transformation of workplace culture, combining over two decades of experience in tech, media, academia, and entrepreneurship with a profound dedication to conscious leadership and business.

As co-founder of the Changing Work Collective, he is at the forefront of a movement advocating for the expansion of consciousness in the workplace.

As a coach for mid-life corporate professionals, his approach is underpinned by a focus on work-life harmony, curiosity, compassion, purpose, and intention.

His leadership is a testament to his passion for mentorship, mental health awareness, and his belief in the transformative power of collaborative, supportive communities.


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