Rose Puerto

Professor Rao, words cannot express my gratitude for what you have given me…your course ABSOLUTELY changed my life… I have been with my company (Marsh) nearly 8 years now and I’m certain that the longevity has to do with you and the course helping me SEE my work and my existence in a totally different perspective!…Just learning that there are many perspectives and I get to choose!!! So I chose the good one, the most beneficial one…this is a journey that goes on and on…I send much love

 

Matthew Weiss

Professor Rao’s teachings are transformational. Intrigued by the promise of a happier way of life I started doing the exercises with a small group of peers. It changed the way I view the world. Am more content and fulfilled, much happier and have tools to handle adversity. I highly recommend Professor Rao.

 

Manu Aannd

Thanks to CPM there are so many areas where I have experienced and am experiencing positive change. I have received tools that help me not sweat the small stuff and think more holistically about the big stuff. Thanks to the course and its amazing alumni network I have certainly become a more peaceful, patient, open and inclusive person. I know this sounds like a cliché but CPM has changed and moved me for the better.

 

Brandon Peele

I attribute 80% of my $120K MBA price tag to this one class…It changed my life in profound ways…Not many experiences have that power… Have a completely new outlook on life, happiness and self-worth…I am grateful that I have begun to rebuild my relationship with my mother as a consequence of the readings and teachings of this course…I will continue with the networking exercise forever…Am truly blessed and thankful for the cacophony of strange occurrences that led me to Columbia and to this course…Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

 

Dana Galin

Received countless powerful tools that support me in my commitment to living a fulfilling life…Thanks to CPM I am now part of a larger community of peers – intelligent, successful and motivated people who care about creating and living a life they love…met my business partner through CPM and the bonding is unbelievable on so many levels and her husband is a trusted and caring friend.

 

Aloke Roy

Have met some amazing people in this course…Today I think I have the feeling that magic and miracles are present and possible…This course helped me separate the “noise” of the unimportant from the important…For people like myself who are somewhat fearful, it seems liberating…I hope you all realize how much of a gift your life is.

 

Adam Klauber

CPM has been so much more than a class…want to thank Prof. Rao for unbelievable effort in reading assignments and making comments…you have created an amazing gift…CPM has served as a jumpstart for me to reconnect with my family…what I did now seems so simple but it eluded me for so long…look forward to many fulfilling interactions with class members in the future.

 

Jiri Pavlicek

My first exposure to Srikumar Rao changed my life. His program led directly to the launching of my company and my present career path. I am more fulfilled now, personally and professionally, than I ever dreamed possible.

 

Alan Gassman

Dr. Rao’s program affected every area of my life and greatly helped me in my business. I found it so useful that I took it again the next year and gained even more from it.

 

Andrew Potter

Every time I am at the top of my game I am using some concept I learned from Dr. Rao.

 

Dr. Asad Sadiq

I started to notice palpable changes in myself when I took Professor Rao’s course. The powerful exercises have a cumulative effect and I find that I am more effective as a psychiatrist and a better husband and father as a result. I have also used the principles I learned to help my patients. I recommend Professor Rao’s program highly and without hesitation.

 

Howard E Kaplan

Extremely grateful to be a part of such an extraordinary class…will never be able to say “Thank You” enough times and in enough ways…CPM turned my life from one of regrets into a life full of possibilities…it wasn’t just a weekend of motivation but a very long lasting fix…the path CPM helped me self-discover over three years ago has even just recently resulted in….

Doubling my businesses revenues even in a lousy economy Starting an amazing new business venture to work on my life long dreams Being asked to serve on a board of a major not-for-profit that involves one of my greatest passions Creating 30 new relationships over the last 6 months with leaders in two different fields Having my family tell me they have never been happier with our relationships Even the worst economy in 80 years couldn’t get in the way of what I discovered from CPM and Srikumar Rao…I have never been happier.

 

Neeraj Garg

There has been so much learning…the noise in my head on random topics has slowed down…days are more peaceful and productive…have powerful tools to use when I hit a stumbling block…the keys to my happiness rest with me…I am migrating from a life where patterns are predicated on past experiences and habits to a life where only possibilities exist. This is HUGE…the retreat experience was an incredible gift…CPM had a profound impact on me.

 

Marshall Goldsmith

Creativity and Personal Mastery (CPM) is a course that is clearly focused on the values, needs and future of its students. Many MBA courses focus on creating great technicians. CPM is helping to create great leaders and (even more important) to create great people. Dr. Rao’s course helps ensure that students have a clear view of who they are and what they want from life. CPM is a great step in helping graduates live a life that is both personally meaningful and makes a contribution to our world.

 

N. R. Narayana Murthy

I have had the rare privilege of speaking on “Business Ethics and the Infosys experience” at Prof. Rao’s course on “Creativity and Personal Mastery” at Columbia Business School, on March 15, 2004. My experience at Columbia was unique in several ways. First, I was stunned by the credibility of Prof. Rao in the minds of his students. I was struck by his scholarship, the lucidity and simplicity of his message, the power of his articulation, and of course his walking the talk, when it came to the values he propounded in his class. Second, I was highly impressed by the sincerity and depth of interaction I had with his students, on the ethical issues that we confront in the corporate environment. Professor Rao’s course is not just an ethics course; it is a forum for self-exploration. It forces corporate leaders to define their personal values and goals.

 

Morton H. Meyerson

I taught two classes for Professor Srikumar Rao at Columbia University. The only school where the students were close in quality was Yale, and after two classes at Columbia, I am most certain that Rao’s class is number one based on my exposure. I have read the syllabus and talked with Professor Rao and the students, and I believe this a one of the most important classes they will take. I am convinced that I would have been better if had been exposed to a course like this when I was in school. Whoever takes this class will have an amazing head start in their career. It was an honor to teach such bright and earnest students and be exposed to the teaching philosophy of Professor Rao.

 

Alex von Bidder

Creativity and Personal Mastery is incredibly powerful in changing students’ lives. Through the lessons learned from the course an impact is felt in the lives of their families, their future places of work and their communities. CPM invites its’ participants to go deep inside themselves to discover the spark of passion, the deep desire to make a difference in the world by contributing their unique talents and education in a positive way.

 

Josh Guttman

Huge success…exercises and tools gained from CPM are among the most valuable things I took away from Columbia Business School…got to know more people on a meaningful level through CPM than all the rest of my business school experience combined…retreat was the highlight…this type of sharing rarely occurs outside of extremely close and personal circles – if even there! – and certainly not in any business school environment I have experienced…certainly my most valuable course at Columbia and expect this to be one of the most valuable courses I will ever take…would like to extend a personal “Thank You” to Professor Rao

 

David D. Brown, IV

Professor Rao’s unique course helps students understand themselves, find their true purpose in life, and pursue it with serenity. Before I agreed to speak, I reviewed the class syllabus, which consists of an eclectic collection of readings and mind-broadening exercises. As a 46-year old lawyer, I was struck by how relevant it was to me: mixed in with ideas I had never even considered were lessons that I had only learned through years of hard knocks. I felt sorry that I had not been exposed to this material when I was starting out as an attorney. Professor Rao is an extraordinary and charismatic teacher. He has put together a course that is completely original and addresses an important need for Columbia’s students. I heartily support him as a candidate for the Presidential Teaching Award.

 

Belinda Ioni Rasmussen

Taking CPM was the best choice I ever made…took on a leadership role that my MBA enabled me to apply for but CPM enabled me to do…not a day passes without my profitably applying some lesson I learned from CPM…children apparently suffer less from having parents work away from home than from parents who are not present when they are home…CPM is helping me provide that presence…feel as if I have only just started this journey

 

Evan G. Galbraith

CPM is an experience I will always cherish…I knew it had the potential to be a life-changer and I made it so…the wonderful thing about it is you get out of it what you put in, guaranteed!… Revenues at CYBERCAFE (an Internet Cafe I own in Manhattan) improved dramatically, because my perspective about it transformed from “I take this for granted” to ” I am extremely privileged to own this business.”…CPM also prepared me psychologically for the deaths of both my father-in-law and father a year later, and helped me transform their combined estates into a multi million dollar real estate development business…On the family side, CPM reinforced the love and devotion I have for my wife and 2 children… making CPM part of my life has been a priceless investment

 

Amy Chou

Had high hopes and expectations and CPM easily exceeded them…every component of the class had an impact on me and several truly stood out…retreat was an experience like no other and a permanent mental screensaver for me…so powerful to realize that all the stress and pressure I felt were brought on by myself…this is not the end but the beginning of a new life journey…people around me can tell that I’m different…don’t ever want to go back to my old way of life

 

Chelsea Hamilton

In some ways I started the class as a skeptic…often needed to rationalize the concepts…amazed at how much I have grown and expanded…completely successful in my goal of learning tools to be happy…exercises have been life-changing…I see the world completely differently…I will always have a type A personality but I think I have the secrets to being a happy type A…my whole body feels calm and at peace…I walk with a spring in my step…I appreciate my eccentricities and those of the world around me…this class has been perfect…thank you

 

Samir Ghosh

What a journey and yet it feels like the trip is just beginning…the videos were priceless…the retreat really rocked…Admittedly I entered skeptical but this has truly been one of those life highlights I will never forget…received so many pragmatic, powerful tools for leading a happier, more fulfilled life…can better manage others and prioritize tasks…please, always feel free to reach out to me at any time

 

Ofonedu Goodwyn

Class was amazing…got from it exactly what I needed which includes a thirst to double up on my commitment the next go around…this is only the beginning…50+ MBAs and I developed into a close-knit family of truth-seeking expressive learners…deeply grateful for the talented, loving and sincere changemakers I have met through Professor Rao…this is an incredible time to be alive

 

James W. Kuhn

In my 41 years of teaching at the Graduate Business School, I have never been as impressed with any teacher as I have been with Professor Rao. The course syllabus presented both a lot of readings and exercises that I found most intriguing; further the assignments dealt with issues of business ethics, and the findings/research of behavioral economists, rather than only neo-orthodox economic theory. Srikumar’s presentations are low key but usually build, with the help of videos, or small group discussions, and artful PP presentations of key ideas, to stimulating, thought-provoking ideas. I believe that Professor Srikumar Rao is helping his business students learn how “to think greatly of their functions”.

 

Francis Mancini

In light of the recent exposures of questionable ethical practices both in the public and private sector industries, Professor Rao through his course challenges students to examine and enquire into their assumptions about the world they experience and the world they have an interest in creating via their careers. He provides an opportunity for revealing perspectives on what they are thinking and considering as they move toward very important career considerations. Clearly this is much more than what most hope to find in a traditional academic setting, but answers to the ideal we all aspire to in the University environment.

 

Baron Leacock

Genuine and sincere thanks to Professor Rao, the TAs and the members of this class. I’ll stop there because, quite frankly, words are inadequate to describe the nature of my gratitude…There was so much I liked, so much I benefited from…Every week Professor Rao had a few words of wisdom that inevitably stuck like glue…He just slipped these things in there and collectively they changed my life…limitless possibilities, endless excitement, these are the natural states of existence, not drudgery, not misery, not some finite line or direction seemingly imposed from without…One of my greatest joys these days is spreading the lessons I have learned from this class…I feel so good when I do that, I really do…To everyone: feel free to contact me at any time ever. I mean that. I know people say stuff like this all the time and never mean it. I mean it

In the years since I took Professor Rao’s course, a day hasn’t gone by where I haven’t utilized the teachings. On several occasions, I have used strategies learned in his course to obtain employment that perfectly suited my requirements at the time. The results can be so powerful as to appear uncanny. The exercises and supplemental readings he exposed us to have led me to enhanced performance on the job through greater concentration and less emotional attachment to outcomes, and have dramatically improved my relationships with my family and friends in noticeable ways. I have spread many of the lessons learned in the class over the years and have watched the people close to me deal more effectively with life-threatening illness and daunting career and other personal challenges. Prof Rao’s work has really helped to put my life on the fast track toward the vision of life as an enjoyable ride that I had always believed while growing up, but that I had trouble holding onto as childhood ended. I remain eternally and wordlessly grateful

 

Randy Shuken

All the exercises have blended together and now work in harmony…am in a much calmer, more natural space, particularly at work…fear is falling away…am more focused, even when extremely busy…CPM gave me tools that will serve me throughout my life…have seen changes in my relationships at work, with family and friends, all resulting in much more fulfilling engagement with more positive results…friends I have made in CPM are some of the closest I have ever made in my life with mutual trust and openness as the foundation…the tools and discipline of CPM set it apart from any other similar philosophy, course or seminar…change absolutely happens if exercises are done with discipline

 

Mike Kendzierski

Simply put, CPM changed my life…I understand the weight of my words and stand behind them 100%…prior to CPM I was really unhappy…not “depressed” unhappy, but unhappy in the sense that everything I thought was going to “make” me happy was false. I keep using the story of “look at all this stuff I have” and the accomplishments on my resume and I really thought that all these things would make me happy or give me a sense of worth and well-being. I could not have been more wrong!!

My close friend remarked how much more relaxed, calm and happy I seem from when she initially met me…CPM is the real deal. My only regret is not having taken it earlier in my life…retreat was phenomenal…made so many great connections…I simply cannot stop smiling now and enjoy making others smile…I know that I can do anything I set my sight on…am just so much happier enjoying the process of whatever I am spending time on…a final Thank You to Professor Rao and everyone in the class!

 

Joshua Klenoff

This is the only course that distances – by orders of magnitude – Columbia from other top business schools…Transformed and improved every aspect of my life – I met my wife because of what I learned in the course, started my company because of ideas it opened up… I had extended lunches, conversations or other get-togethers with 25 fellow participants during the program. I expect to keep in touch with every one of them for a very long time…I defined with extraordinary clarity my purpose in life, my career path and my major goals…I created the mental models that have already started to propel me along a trajectory of extraordinary fulfillment and success… I am amazed at how powerful the networking technique taught in CPM is…was able to establish friendly relations with top professionals in the country, persons who are normally unreachable.

 

Anu Sundaram

CPM is my best “miracle” ever…it is the beginning of a new journey…retreat was the highlight… have attended many retreats since and each one was amazing and gave me a sense of ultimate freedom…CPM took over my life because of the exercises…immensely powerful and life-transforming…feel reborn into a world of possibility…much happier and grateful about life…looooooooooved every minute of it and still do…really grateful to the universe for giving me this wonderful miracle and the ability to experience it

 

Sreedhar Reddy Kona

CPM didn’t just have a profound impact on my life, it created an internal revolution…Have a very short attention span but was completely spellbound and enthralled every minute of each day we met…retreat gave me a glimpse of a life of unconditional happiness…Do I have all the answers to my questions? Hell no…Am I on the path where those questions do not bother me any more? Absolutely…CPM helped me overcome fears, put them to rest or just kill them…Thank you Professor Rao, thank you all who made this possible, thank the oneness in all of us – in essence, THANK ONE.

 

Carol J. Morley

CPM had a monumental effect on my life…what a privilege to have taken this course and to continue to be able to live this way for the rest of my life…I now realize I have the power to shape life as I want it to be – completely on my terms, uniquely tailored to my purpose and goals…rarely feel stress any more and find each day full of laughter and fortuitous coincidences…gained clarity about my passion and started a new company with another CPM alum who is a dear friend…CPM changed my life…an enormous THANK YOU to Professor Rao for having the wisdom, vision and courage to teach this class.

 

Carol Morley

Professor Rao’s Creativity and Personal Mastery course has had a profound impact on my life. His work is nothing short of transformational. Since taking the course two years ago my life has become infinitely clearer, more enjoyable, far less stressful and altogether more meaningful. I encouraged my husband to take the course and our family life has become more fulfilling and our relationship stronger. I simply can’t overstate the value of the concepts and tools Rao teaches and the perspectives he offers. If you want to take a significant step toward living your best possible life in all dimensions, Professor Rao’s course is an absolute must.

 

Mariah Byrne

CPM alone was worth my entire MBA tuition. It was the singular most impactful personal development exercise I have ever had. I learnt techniques that I literally use every day in my professional and personal interactions. Normally I would have run away from the prospect of working in a country I have never been to, in a language I did not speak, for one of the most exclusive employers in the world in the worst recession of our lifetime – but thanks to CPM this is not only fine but also a dream come true.

My five closest friends in business school were all in the course and I have a network of deep friendships with alumni of the course all over the world. The course and the community helped me through very difficult personal life transition. I cannot overstate the impact of CPM on my life.

 

Jessica Vitalis

I regard CPM to be the highlight of my MBA experience…The course caused me to totally reevaluate my career path… I grew up believing the world was black and white, and Professor Rao taught me not only that nothing in the world is absolute, but also that the world is filled with color… I was introduced to a new way of looking at the world, and given a forum to express ideas I had always innately felt but never heard expressed… Additional benefits of the course are too numerous to list. They include my new commitment to running (as a result of the course I began training for the New York City Marathon), an avid interest in learning about quantum physics, a renewed exploration of my spirituality and more intimate relationships with many of my friends…from a professional perspective Professor Rao’s impact on my life was perhaps even more profound…through exercises in the course I finally gave myself permission to identify and finally follow my dreams of becoming a writer.

 

Murli Bhamidipati

Not sure of what I was getting into when I applied but have emerged a new person…course led me to examine fundamental beliefs that had become part of my DNA…exercises had a huge impact on the way I lived my life…impact on everything I did in every sphere of my life. It was remarkable…efficiency improved dramatically…was able to concentrate and focus on issues that would normally have fallen between cracks…tremendous feeling of camaraderie and friendship among alumni…am brimming with confidence and also filled with deep responsibility…lovely journey ahead as I integrate CPM lessons more fully into my life

 

Nicholas Wai

CPM literally took over my life and I loved it like that…feel like I am floating on air…never felt this way before and this is not an over-excited feeling but very contented, centered, confident and grateful…CPM helped me remove many layers of dirt, protective gear and societal and cultural inhibitions and set me free…most importantly I learned that Life will teach lessons and it is up to me whether I do this having fun or in constant misery…a few years after taking CPM I am moving into a totally new arena in a different country…probably would not have been so brave and determined if not for CPM

 

Mar Doncel-Luengo

What an intense and deeply felt trip…worry and stress were energy waste affecting my life constantly…just removing this constant pressure I was putting myself through has had significant impact…techniques I learned made an amazing difference in my ability to truly listen…massively affected the quality of relationships with those around me…at work, the quality of results achieved in meetings and one-on-one interactions has been remarkable…overwhelmed by possibilities and feel a mixture of privilege, duty and inner strength…feel constrained by language in expressing the extent of my gratitude…thank you Professor Rao and fellow travelers

 

Steven Hahn

CPM has aligned my journey in directions not conceived of a few months ago…there have been so many changes…the same issues are there but the nuances that surround them, the angles with which they are viewed, are significantly different…time together was too short, wish course were a bit longer…rapid-fire experiences created sensory overload – resonance from prior weeks bounding into this week’s exercise from unanticipated directions with unexpected consequences…wisdom of Professor Rao and all participants virtually ensured that progress was made on a regular basis…will continue with the exercises and am confident that transformation will continue to occur

 

Mark Rogers

I remember exactly how I felt before I took CPM…had a fulfilling job, loved my children, great friends, much to be grateful for and I felt empty…Questions like “is this it?” “What happens next?” “Will I be doing this over and over for the next 40 yeas?” were constant companions…this wasn’t idle speculation, this was serious disillusionment…I laughed for a week and am laughing now…as I practice mindfulness more it gets better and better…have discovered commitment…was looking for it my whole life and was about to give up the search…realized the precious gifts that could be gained by letting go of old ways of thinking…am still at the threshold of the journey and have bought an open ticket to the future

 

Gabrielle Blocher

I walk away with many, many tools and many, many lessons…life can be so joyful. The MOST joyful life possible…we are all alone, alone, alone in this world. No one understands precisely what happens in your head and sol and you don’t understand precisely what is going on in other’s…this was SO liberating for me…the Sunday of the retreat felt like the first day of the rest of my life because I was comfortable in my skin. I really was!…could look upon others with compassion beyond what I had ever experienced, could be kind with my boy friend in a way that I had never been…could speak to my mom in a way I never had…here I am with the potential for joy and the tools for a good life…Thank you

 

Meghna Majmudar

This course has been a true blessing…have learned so much…can think of my pre-CPM life as a dry field. Its good land but the potential has not been cultivated. With the work of this course I learned how to irrigate the land so it could be fertile. I learned about sunshine, wind and the nutrients in the soil. Then, through the exercise, journaling, conversations and deep thinking, seeds were planted…harvest is coming…deepened relationship with my sister and mother…CPM gave me confidence and resilience that enabled me to handle recent layoff with grace, flexibility and persistence

 

Joshua Spodek

Two years after taking CPM what I learned and experienced helps me make better decisions every day…course revealed a simple, effective way to look at life, gave us tools to apply it and gave experience doing so…you can live life passively, but that is not what life is about…the fun is in acting and doing where you are unstable, perpetually on the verge of failing…being dynamic IS the fun…now find conflict is easier to handle…anger, impatience, frustration, anxiety and stressful feelings diminished greatly

 

Nadya Peeva

Am happy beyond measure that I embarked on this adventure…without doubt one of the best decisions I have ever made…Have often wondered how I would have made it through the last three months without the understanding and confidence that came to me through CPM…have never before experienced such intense growth or recognized opportunities so clearly when they came disguised as challenges…retreat was without question a peak experience for me… CPM played an important role in broadening my mental constructs to encompass a greater sense of possibility for myself personally and for our collective future… I can´t thank Professor Rao enough for all the ways in which my life has become fuller and richer through being a part of the CPM community

 

Ekaterina Suvorova

Assignments, readings, postings, discussions, speakers, social events, cumulatively made a huge impact. It’s been two years since the course and most of it is still with me. I understand myself better and relationships with people have improved. And, most important of all, my best friend came to me through CPM. However little I believed in miracles during CPM, some of them really happened. Retreat was spontaneously perfect, I was stunned by the number of great ideas that came up to make this an unforgettable experience. We found many possibilities around us. Life is a journey to enjoy!

 

Rafael Mier

Difficult to summarize the many wonderful effects CPM has had on my life…don’t even know where to start because a lifetime of discovery happened in a very short time…feel closer to God…am more grateful, happier, less anxious…love my wife more…dwell less in negative thoughts…have embarked on computer music and rediscovered drums and percussion instruments…discovered so many books that are lifelong companions

 

Ritsu Saito

So much change in so little time…am now a big promoter of CPM in Japan…overcame my insecurity…now care less about being criticized…had let talent for drawing lapse, now started drawing seriously and still do it…currently leading special art workshop named Vision Forest…so wonderful to see creative juices flow…super one on one discussions with fellow participants…ideal job is always transforming

 

Avital Louria Hahn

Like Middle Eastern dance, CPM is a universe of its own, complete with a new posture, a new language, new tools, and the best part – a community of great people…For me CPM has been a time of intense growth as I learned these new moves…I am a different person today than the one who started in January…I am more optimistic, I get in touch with people more frequently, I am less judgmental, and my feelings of gratitude have grown more intense and consistent. When people ask how I am, I say “great” and truly mean it… The retreat was uplifting…I came out feeling connected with people in a way I had not connected before…Performing solo for the first time was awesome and empowering…I’ve had these bouts of unexplained happiness…I am grateful for the CPM experience and all the things I learned

 

Christian A. Bluemel

The course description promised me access to the potential of my mind to a degree that I was not able to realize before. I’m completely thrilled with the outcome…class discussions and exercises filled me with such a high level of energy that I was not only able to stay on top of the CPM coursework (which was a welcomed challenge in itself) and the work of all other classes, but also to engage more in helping my parents business back in Germany and to support a friend who is starting up a business…this higher energy level is just a symptom of a much deeper transformation I am going through…because of CPM I gained the ability to relate to others in a much stronger way than I was ever able to before…the retreat left me with a profound feeling of optimism for days afterward…My current job and my current high level of peace of mind are a direct result of the journey Prof. Rao’s course launched me on…Thank you.

 

Alan Iny

Came into class fully expecting it to be one of the most interesting and worthwhile experiences of my life and indeed it has been…seven years later the lessons are still with me and I use them every day…as a result of CPM I have realized so many things about my life and about myself…knew from the start this course would be only a first step along a path of self-discovery…it was a massive first step…have gained so much and the value increases with time and life experience…intend to continue along the path…what I have written is an insignificant expression of what I am received from this course

 

Melissa Creighton

Can’t believe how much I have changed and improved…realized I look for answers outside instead of in…knew this before but was never sure what to do about it…now I have some real tools to make a change…I am no longer a victim of my own life…never thought I could be close to persons in CPM or open up…I was so wrong!…feel like a baby because I am changing so much, so quickly, every day…now have the tools I need to grow as a performer…the confidence to enter new situations without fear or self doubt

 

Adam Morris

Kept a journal before start of CPM…was stuck in mud – always trying same things to get free and always getting same results…frustrated and feeling trapped and annoyed…had a breakthrough at the retreat…still not sure what it means to “not be okay” but “I am okay” is a significantly better reality…met my fiancé through the course and going through CPM together has added a completely new dimension to how we build our life together…Thank You Professor Rao for bringing me some focus and fodder for my personal journey…Thak You, Thank all of you for making this wonderful journey possible

 

Aparna Mukherjee

CPM opened my eyes and brain to the ideas that I’m realizing, esp in the face of adversity, best help me cope with how my life has unfolded in ways I couldn’t have imagined. The exercises are what I fall back on to recenter myself, and I find myself gaining something new when I pursue them again. The notion that I arrived at these precepts through the rigor of an MBA program is a surprise but seems entirely appropriate since they have so shaped how I now view work and its role in my life and the world. While I don’t often see other CPMers from my group, they are people I would rely on and trust without hesitation. Overall, it’s an alumni community with value that would be difficult to measure — priceless.

 

Carolyn Bush

This class led to so much self-growth that I shudder to think of my life unfolding without my having taken it.I came to peace with my body and my body image after many years of disordered eating habits and emotional turmoil surrounding the physical container of my person.has had a major impact on my emotional well-being and my relationship with the humanity I encounter on the streets and in my own home.I could not believe the magic that unfolded in small group settings among people who knew very little about each other.class has changed my life in so many ways.taught me to use my time on earth as a walk of constant selfgrowth. I often employ these ideas.

 

Carolina Uribe

CPM was without any doubt the best course I took at Columbia Business School and, for that matter, in life so far…truly wonderful experience…I must have been driving my non-CPM friends crazy…I am not the kind of person who can go through this type of experience without sharing it with others who are close…CPM has also been an opportunity for me to reconcile with many aspects of my religion, Catholicism…even though the course is not religious, it is undoubtedly a way to develop your spirituality…feel lucky to have been given the opportunity to become a 2 part of the CPM community…am truly committed to continuing in the ‘CPM path’ meaning the exploration and discovery of oneself, the pursuit of a truly happy life in every moment.

 

Charles Marcus

Transformational – that’s the word I recall hearing so often from friends who had experienced CPM…I feel the universe heard me when it steered me to CPM last December…exercises have been profoundly insightful, totally enthused about doing them all again…astonishingly powerful realization to know that you have all the tools, faculties, capabilities to control your own happiness and your own destiny…on Professor Rao’s suggestion I tried an exercise…the results have been amazing…I’m excited to ‘get on with things’ after school, and am especially looking forward to continuing the many friendships that have been initiated through this experience together.

 

Jennifer Bartlett

This is not just a three month course, it is a way of living…Without doubt it has been my favorite course at Business School…This course hasdelivered…Provided an opportunity for me to explore possibilities…It is amazing when you find your answers in the oddest of places…What makes this course work are the people – the current students, Professor Rao, the alumni and the guests…Ensuing environment is comfortable, committed, honest and confidential…People want to be here and are positive and realistic about life…Cannot fathom how I lived otherwise…Results far exceed effort.

 

Kate L. McSpadden

Course has had an enormous impact on me already…amazed at how much I have grown in such a short time…fundamentally changed the way I see myself and the world around me…had a number of personal breakthroughs over the last few months…has also been a time of great spiritual growth for me on a very personal level…loved this course from the moment I read the syllabus…now I love this course for the people it introduced me to…overwhelmed with gratitude for the grace of it all.

 

Murat Boss-Bicak

Literally the whole semester I was looking forward to 10.00 a.m. on Mondays and Fridays…not only because the class and the topics were amazing but also the wonderful people I met in class were there…there is a significant difference between the me who started the course and the me who finished it…am more open now, more adventurous, more connected with the world around me…sometimes you realize a crucial thing in your life and find a solution that changes your entire perspective for good…you can’t believe how simple the solution was…but, of course, it took years to come to that point…that’s exactly how I feel…it’s been wonderful.

 

Jim Lewellis

CPM was by far the most enjoyable and most beneficial course that I have taken at Columbia – or anywhere else for that matter…the happy things I am taking away from the course fall into three categories – instructor related, exercise related and community related…Professor Rao’s contagiously sunny presence made a huge difference for me…appreciated all of the exercises and will continue to apply them post CPM…extremely grateful I was able to meet such an amazing group of people…Would like to start a Boston-area CPM group…I hope we can all keep in touch indefinitely.

 

Constantine Valhouli

CPM was an amazing educational experience – and one which I wish was offered as early as high school…One of the most moving moments in class was when three students put up their resumes and pointed to the name-brand firms where they had worked before school…None of them would return to those firms because of the poor lifestyle those jobs entailed. That sums up the reflective and assertive spirit of the course. …it gives a chance to know classmates in a way that cannot be done in any other part of school – not field trips, not happy hours. I have had fascinating discussions with students and gotten to know more people through this class, more deeply, than through any other activity in school.

 

Christopher Dennis

It is with a somewhat sad heart I must say adieu to this great class…full of great learning, introspection and relation…connecting with so many people on such an intimate level was probably the greatest aspect of this class…it has been a wonderful ride…truly hope to continue the personal growth and development that has been spurred on by this class…my greatest worry is sustainability…extremely deep and heartfelt thanks to our guide on this journey, Professor Rao.

 

Lidia Kelly

Experience and teaching of the class continue to change my life…humongous chain effect on my life…No big “Eureka” moment, but ample moments when I would realize changes were occurring…”You are more diplomatic”, my husband said…”You seem to be so much more peaceful”, my best friend said…Class has returned a great dose of spontaneity to my life and brought back the ability to focus on things little and simple but beautiful and gratifying such as someone’s smile or a red leaf falling down from a tree on an autumn day…Incredible experience…Many memorable moments…Thank you, Professor Rao.

 

Kristen French

Creativity and Personal Mastery has been one of my most profound experiences at Columbia Business School. It was beyond what I had imagined or expected…Prof. Rao has created a course that tests limits, exposes boundaries and identifies preconceived mental models around which we build our lives…he provided us the skills with which to manage change, one of the most important challenges we, as future managers, will encounter. My classmates had ideas and perspectives that I had never considered before…through these conversations I developed friendships with other students based on trust and mutual respect…an amazing experience where I discovered others who sought to look beyond the expected to the extraordinary. This class taught me how to think outside of traditional parameters, to break my mental models and see beyond to the possibilities.

 

Sandra Navalli

CPM filled a major gap with other elements of the business school experience…fundamental issues described in the course syllabus are areas that I had not taken time to consider, and yet the implicit assumptions about these impact career and personal life…course provided a framework to challenge my thinking and ideas of how the world works, clarify my personal values and develop a clear vision for how I will lead my life. Self-awareness is the starting point of personal mastery, but the class went beyond this to demonstrate how to influence my mental state and thus the people around me. It challenged me to understand how I behave, think and act…Prof. Rao challenged us to question our initial assumptions and ways of looking at our choices and recognize how our perspective can be shaped by implicit assumptions as well as by the world around us…appreciated the diversity of students…had a number of lively discussions in and out of class…came across surprising insights.

 

Matthew Stubbs

I would like to stress today not any singular change that I have seen apparent in myself during this semester (and there have been many) but the development of the community this class has created…the thing that impressed me most was the deliberate development of community that Dr. Rao was fostering…the creation of a support network and group of people committed to each other’s growth and well being…I wish to commit to this community…Thank you all for all of your support…I feel privileged to have taken part in such a spectacular group.

 

Alexandra Marchosky

This class stands out as one of the highlights of my time at Columbia University…I learned a lot about myself and the world, made two great friends and at least ten solid acquaintances and had some of the most thoughtful, insightful conversations I had at Columbia…my greatest realization was how much power I have to shape and affect my reality, daily and in the long term. I feel so much better now than I did when I wrote my application for the course. I was walking around in the sun yesterday and just felt so much lighter and more content than I had at any time in the Fall…this class has reinforced my faith in the amazing possibilities that exist for the world and me…helped me regain some of the freedom, creativity and willingness to try new things that I had lost somewhere along the line. The greatest endorsement I can give for this class is that I am staying actively involved with it…I value it so much and think it is important enough that it remains a priority.

 

Adrain Oh

I became a happier, better person…regained my passion for the creative arts…grateful I traveled a small part of the river with a bunch of fun and like-minded people…the fact that I still practice some of the exercises is testament to their effectiveness…retreat was a totally unique experience in business school, or any school for that matter…I felt like I was young again…Can barely remember the last time I sat around with a group of friends talking about any and everything under the sun, and just connecting in an honest way.

 

Shad Azimi

I had high expectations of this class…I expected our affable professor to levitate above his podium and strike me with immense clarity that would surge through my veins like a bolt of lightning…but nothing happened…It was not until I accepted that enlightenment comes from within that I was able to benefit from the teachings of this class…all of the assignments, lectures and readings served as “catalyst mechanisms” to help develop my own personal frameworks for dealing with specific issues…CPM was the best class I took during my time at Columbia…It has given me the tools I need to be the person I want to be…Have met so many genuine people with similar value…the friendships have just begun…Thank you.

 

Karla Lightfoot

CPM has catapulted me into a completely different state of being…I feel I have acquired a pair of ‘super duper 3-D glasses’ that allow me to see the world from a completely cosmic and unlimited perspective…people are more human, colors are more vibrant,fragrances smell sweeter, food is more delectable, my smile is much, much brighter…overall sense of peace has pervaded my soul…received innumerable nuggets of wisdom from every aspect of this course…tremendous change for the better in the relationship with my Master’s advisor…quote be Cesare Pavis “We do not remember days – we remember moments”…I can’t begin to quantify the number of “moments” I had during CPM…thank you again, Prof. Rao.

 

Jean Chen

A feeling of acceptance, openness and fondness greeted me every morning I waltzed into the classroom…From the beginning CPM has been a mindexpander… Had the most uplifting revelation…that intoxicating feeling of being in love in its most abstract sense, so I know that boundless happiness does exist and is waiting for us…Thank you for allowing me into your lives and being interested in becoming part of mine…If you are around or not, please call, email, write or whatever. And don’t be surprised if I do so to you, just out of the blue. CPM has been too important to me to let go.

 

Jason Wilson

This was one of my favorite classes in business school…after a year and a half of sitting in classes where people talked to hear themselves speak and worried inordinately about grades it was good to be in an environment where people were open and cared about one another…the best parts of the class occurred when we met in small groups to discuss the exercises, films, lectures or whatever…the retreat was my favorite class event…I continue to do the exercises…while I still have fear, I also have more tools to address this fear.

 

Janera Soerel

Without a doubt the most effective course I have taken…Actually made me happy to have come to business school, which before this class I was not…I am changing my life’s course and will stay on purpose…Learned to trust my instincts and listen to myself…During the retreat I felt elated and had not felt so peaceful and happy in a very long time…No anxiety, not stress, just peace…I am happy that we are making the effort to create a community on which we can ‘fall back’ in the future.

 

Jaime Kern

While paying over $100K for business school this was the first course I was genuinely excited to take…many exercises in the class have been extraordinarily beneficial…Really feel that I have changed a great deal as a result of this course…Changes are all very subtle and all very significant…I now feel part of a family…I truly feel that if I email or call any member of the CPM class/alumni, today, tomorrow or in 35 years I will have a person to talk to who is deep and thoughtful and reflective and understanding…That is a really cool feeling…To Professor Rao and each of my classmates, thank you for this incredible experience.

 

Angela Moore

Altering the nature of the question I asked changed the tenor of my journal and of everything I did for the remainder of the class…the cumulative effect of the exercises was to knock me out of my me-centered universe…since then I’ve been much more proactive in approaching people and much less suspicious of people who approach me…several of my oldest friends have been shocked at the shift in my attitude…this change in my personal interactions will have made CPM the most valuable course I’ve ever taken.

 

Ann Strini

Especially want to thank Prof. Rao for compiling and creating such a wonderful master capstone class to my education…my thoughts here insufficiently illustrate my gratitude for having this course come into my world…I see noticeable changes in myself…have become a bit less ‘mecentered’ and, in the words of one friend, ‘grown up’…no need to carry around the guilt of others’ expectations…another big change is my resistance to blindly following MBA norms…thank you, thank you…please stay in touch and know that I will do the same for you.

 

Regina Woods

I’ve learned many lessons from CPM…thoughts about what others think of me no longer consume headspace…Thank you, Professor Rao…don’t waste time battering myself…am intentional and peaceful…experience flow while eating, reading, cooking, speaking and writing…feel extremely fulfilled because we took this journey together…if ever any of you need someone to talk to, someone to listen to or someone to walk through the park with, please call me…share your joys and sorrows…I will do the same.

 

Valeria Chapa-Garza

So much has been given to me by CPM that, at times, I felt a bit incapable of taking in so much good fortune…semester was filled with profound personal insights…a complete change in the way I see my future…Thank you for your time and the atmosphere of love that was always present when we were together…One of the best parts of CPM was the cosmic connections that were ignited as a result of the community that we all formed a part of…Thank you for making me a part of your lives, for inspiring me…these memory bites are a testament of the magical sense of connectedness that characterized CPM.

 

Amitabh Passi

Taking the course happened to be a great decision for me and has impacted my life on a day to day basis in tangible ways…developed an increased awareness of self which, in turn, has made me more focused, more productive and clearer about my interests… exercises helped me develop a better sense of the job I want, prioritize my daily activities constructively and maintain a more even emotional undertone. Another rewarding aspect of the course was the exposure to the diverse and highly accomplished student body… focus on group exercises encouraged weekly gatherings and very soon we were engaged in conversations on complex and personal issues about life…the highly personal nature of the discussions, accompanied by a weekend retreat, forged deep relationships. I made at least ten very close friends with whom I plan to stay in touch for many years.

 

Joanne H. Kim

Creativity and Personal Mastery has been a journey of personal revolution…difficult to specify all the things I have gotten out of the class…provided an invaluable space for me to feel strong about myself and my own intuitive sense…guest lectures gave me ammunition to counter many doubts stemming from two life-changing events. Made genuine connections to two specific individuals…I know that I will stay connected to them in the future…In so many other ways CPM has been a truly revolutionary class for me…I am excited by the possibilities of what my life will bring me and knowing I have a role to play in this destiny, I feel blessed. CPM had a lot to do with my coming to this realization.

 

Paulo Lima

My outlook on life has completely changed…I see myself on this journey and I have a confidence that I can avoid the pitfalls because I have come to know what is important to me…Through a myriad of ways the class exposes you to things you might otherwise miss…I feel I have only started in this process…I am comfortable with the unknown…I can tell from comments from classmates that I am a different person than 6 months ago…I feel I have taken the first step.

 

Yasmin Ibrahim

During my first couple of weeks at Columbia Business School I met a student who was taking a most peculiar class. He resolutely told me this would be – by far – the most important class of his graduate career. Although it would be a year before I would enroll in it, I knew I had found a class that would have a tremendous impact on me…assignments and discussions encouraged deep self-reflection and afforded me greater insights into myself and my values. I learnt what I really valued and what I was consumed with and how to change my reality…the more I write, the more I realize I have only begun to address how CPM has impacted me. Even though the course lasted for three months, it is clear my journey of self-discovery will last a lifetime.

 

Niovi Christopolou

When I attended CPM’s first class I was full of doubt…there was no structure, no set syllabus and I was not sure of what I should expect…Somehow this experience made me see things more clearly and gave me the opportunity to make terrific new friends…great break from my rigorous legal education…Experienced an incredible “creative flow”. Had so many creative ideas that I had to write them down in a separate notebook in order not to forget them…I would like my fellow CPM classmates to know that I will be there for them whenever they need to talk with somebody, exchange and test ideas, philosophize in general or just take a swim in the Aegean. Not sure where I will be ten years from now, but I know that I will make the time for each one of you, that I will listen and try to help.

 

Tonya D. Harris

Overall, I am immensely happy that I took this course…for my entire life, I have been grappling with what the hell I am doing on this planet…this class made me feel ‘not so alone’…goals were accomplished…more importantly, through CPM, I got so much more than I expected…never expected to graduate with tools to carry me through good times and bad…I don’t see the end of the semester as the end of the experience…I see it as the beginning…I do plan to be active in the CPM alumni community…would love to get together with others on a regular basis…please let me know if you are interested.

 

Geoff Carleton

Class has provided so many things that I have incorporated into my life…Accumulation of seemingly minor changes in how I view things and how I act has really changed my perspective…Brought me much closer to my true self and not some vision I had of how I should be acting…Most profound thing I will take from this semester is just how much you can change your life when you are able to look at things from a different perspective…Enjoyed so many of the exercises we did and found most of them added some benefit to my life…I laugh with joy when I think where I am now…Thank you my friends.

 

Katherine Calderwood

Have seen a significant impact on my life already…Some of the changes in my life this past term have been extraordinary…The POWER of this concept is what floors me…An environment of trust and friendship was created among us that really let me way a lot of things that I probably would not have volunteered in almost any other setting…Hope we can maintain our sense of community because I have gained so much from the experience to date…The universe is a wonderful place, and I am so glad that I could share this experience.

 

Debbie Ng

All through life I excelled academically and professionally…however, I realized I lacked the passion you find in people who are the best in their field…CPM was an outlet for me to explore this personal issue in depth with a peer group experiencing similar feelings of doubt and uncertainty…CPM has helped me be more open-minded about the options of life…has allowed me to explore fields I would normally not have considered…have learnt to nurture the spiritual side of my life so that every day I live is a meaningful day for me. CPM became a journey of self-discovery…realized how truly limiting I have been in my mindset…opened up the possibility that I can define my experiences rather than letting them define me…got to really ‘know’ my classmates…shared things with them I have not shared with the closest people in my life…I know I will keep in close contact with them …they are my support network.

 

Lisa Dubbe-Herbert

I am amazed at how much has passed, how much has happened and how much I have changed…I don’t think my value system has changed, but I know that the way I look at the world and the events and issues around me has…the class was like a roller-coaster for me…the early exercises and concepts we discussed shook my belief system to the core…very emotional and revelatory, and I left each class exhilarated…had never thought about this stuff and it was mind-blowing…one of the reasons the second half of the class wasn’t as eye-opening to me is that I am still working on the concepts from the beginning of class…going forward I want to get back on the roller-coaster with CPM…I want to continue exploring more of these issues…what we had will never be repeated and I am happy I was a part of it.

 

Erica Duignan

Class has been an amazing experience…feel really blessed to have had an opportunity to take it…when I started I was coming out of depression caused, I believe, by too many finance courses…class was a first step in helping learn how to start doing what I enjoy…as a mother, I feel the pressure to experience martyrdom for the sake of the family…often these ideals were like false idols…relationship with my husband has changed significantly…the retreat was definitely the highlight of the class experience…class was just the beginning of a journey.

 

Sandhya Gupta

Creativity and Personal Mastery readings stimulated much thought about the nature of one’s relationship to the universe and introduced me to a realm of reality I had never imagined…now, when I am feeling particularly angst-ridden I can return to a sense of something larger to which I am connected, a realm of possibility much greater than the narrow circumstances at hand. I benefited from the readings, discussions and exercises…much more able to snap out of negative moods, as well as appreciate the daily wonders of my environment…class made me appreciate how much I can increase absorption in other areas of my work and life simply by practice…productivity increased…took up activities I loved such as drawing and sketching but which I had left off.

 

Shirley Cohen-Mintz

Absolutely loved every time we got together in small groups to do exercises…everyone was very open and genuinely interested when addressing someone else’s issue…similar experience in the Open Space retreat in group settings that were significantly larger…why can’t I bring that trust into the outer world?…a few exercises turned out to be extremely powerful and when we had to perform them I either rejected them or did them without really realizing their value…I feel that I am in the beginning of a great journey…my challenge moving forward is keeping the CPM process alive in me.

 

Kevin Otero

I view Prof. Rao and CPM as intervening in my life at exactly the right moment…I measure the value of CPM in my life by how those closest to me view how I am feeling and living…friends have noticed a change in many aspects of my life…changes are due in large part to important selfdiscovery facilitated by CPM…over the course of the semester I found myself able to concentrate more easily and enjoying the majority of tasks I was completing…most important what I have gained from CPM is confidence…still have no idea where life will lead me…important difference is that I no longer fear the uncertainty…have supreme confidence in knowing who I am and what is important to me…feel very fortunate to have been a member of this class.

 

Bianca Bax

The most important lesson I learnt is to ‘take life as it comes’…I feel like I know better how to ‘deal’ with life in the most positive sense of the word…I want to be happy now and CPM has helped me realize that a great part of that is in my own hands…loved the early Friday exercise sessions…would come out feeling really happy and light and finding it really worthwhile…loved the open environment of CPM…CPM journey has made ‘me’ a tiny bit easier to live with, which is a truly great outcome…very much enjoyed the ride with all of you.

 

Mette Noehr Claushoej

What an amazing journey this class has been! From the many new faces inside myself that I have reached to the faces of new friends I have met – this class has been a transformational experience. Thank you, thank you, thank you and thank you again for teaching this class, for guiding us in how to find the personal answers to how to go about our individual quests for happiness.

 

Avi Lopchinsky

I had a great experience but course was somewhat of a letdown… Not sure if it was possible not to be let down after reading the syllabus and talking with alumni…Wow! I’ve gotten all the crap out of the way and now on to the fun stuff…I know I’ve made significant changes over the past few months and would hate for those to dissipate after some time. This is a big fear of mine and is a part of the reason that I went out of my way to ensure continuous CPM communication after graduation…I and I guess everyone else in the class owe a big thank you to Prof. Rao. It should be very comforting to know that you’ve made 80 people’s life better this semester. THANKS!!!

 

Frank Mancini

CPM was a great experience…appealed to my sense of exploration regarding leadership and creative approaches to problemsolving… combination of guest lecturers and thought provoking literature led me to explore unresolved questions about my own spirituality…opportunity was created for expanded conversations with other class members…several with whom I expect to maintain contact over time. There was knowledge content that was highly illuminating…informative, educational and provocative…experience was one of being included in a group interested in inquiry and discussion, regardless of opinion and an openness to have ideas challenged…this is not the norm in courses offered in professional schools…Prof. Rao has provided a wonderful opportunity.

 

Susan Rupa Amlani

I am truly thankful for this class and starting on this lifelong process of self-exploration…the retreat will hold a very special place for me…Reading postings on the discussion board had an instantly therapeutic effect on me and made me realize why CPM was so great after all…Learnt a great deal about myself during these exercises…I want to thank Professor Rao for his lectures and his invitation of the best series of class speakers that I have had in any class.

 

Chase Kaljian

CPM didn’t outpace my expectations, yet was still the best school course I have ever had…I went in expecting it to be great and can thankfully say that’s what I got…the immense reading assignments and workload seem to make more sense…the sheer workload makes me feel a little closer because it is a shared experience…the lessons from class will become a lifelong learning process so these strong bonds may help in unforeseen ways in decades hence…Who knows?…I hope to see you sometime and share a great big laugh.

 

Todd Zipper

Creativity and Personal Mastery is an atypical course but would rank in the top three in importance if not the top…few of us really question whether our talents meld with our careers…helped align my philosophy with my actions…was always living for tomorrow and acting according to expectations of others…now my goal of being happy comes first and everything else follows. Class is wonderful in its ability to attract people with differing view-points and give them a springboard to really take hold of their lives…is an ongoing class…I now have the tools to continue on my journey.

 

Reena Vaidya

Creativity and Personal Mastery helped me see beyond the social standards of ‘success’ and rediscover what it means to be personally successful…helped me realize I am in control of my life and it is my obligation to live a life that fulfills me…now have more courage to pursue my passions and be open to new possibilities. Class offered opportunity to engage with many persons I would never have met otherwise…differences contributed to some remarkable and memorable conversations that I will think about for some time to come…we may come to different answers and resolutions regarding these questions, but those answers will be richer because of the shared experience of this course.

 

Samar Alghanim

CPM has taught me not to settle when it comes to the principal parts of my life…daily life is imbued with new meaning and joy…each day I realize more beauty on a fundamental level…have a refreshed optimism and vitality directly attributable to something that awakened inside of me during your timeless course…retreat was an incredible experience…formed such close bonds during those two days…so great being in an atmosphere that fostered such trust and openness…thanks to the ideal job assignment I finally have focus.

 

Mark Kehoe

Course allowed me to appreciate just how self-limiting my mental dialog can be…I am better able to control how I think and how I can intentionally alter my mood…Some of the readings energized me, especially when the search for a job is like running a marathon in waist-high mud. Few courses at Columbia Business School addressed the issue of emotional intelligence and its importance in shaping a successful life…CPM made it explicitly clear that unless your goals are aligned with what you do, success will be difficult to achieve. Central message of CPM was the importance of helping society…we all share this world and have equal rights to it…am now much more interested in and intend to become more socially active in helping others.

 

Pelin Demirel

Creativity and Personal Mastery was an invaluable experience…most interesting and unforgettable class in my 19 years as a student…I now have more power, more control over my feelings and thoughts…realized how inefficiently I used to function and how much time and energy I used to waste…concentration increased enormously…followed exercise while studying for midterms and half-semester finals…spent less time studying and grades were much higher. Formed close friendships with thirteen classmates…class has ended but I still get together with classmates…conversations are very engaging and thought-provoking and people are much less judging…potential effect of the class is much more than described here…exercises, guest speakers and readings will keep on changing my life.

 

Edmund Lim

Creativity and Personal Mastery changed my life in profound ways…now have this incredible thirst for knowledge about life and truth…have a passion and desire to learn from famous minds…always check my emotions when they are getting out of control…CPM made me intricately aware of the nature of a ‘self’ in everyone that wants to exert its unique existence…I am now committed to being open and to discover the truth that mankind has a larger self beyond body and mind, a self that encompasses everyone into one larger unit of life.

 

Emiliya Zhivotovskiy

CPM has given me the tools to make profound changes in my life…from the minute I wake up, full of happiness and energy to when I go to sleep am overwhelmingly thankful…have made incredibly strong friends as a result of this course, would not have met them otherwise…have grown a lot as a result of CPM…readings in the packet could create substantial change in a person’s life on its own…within a short semester I have learned more about the world around me and about myself than in all my years as an undergraduate…thankful to be exposed to such knowledge and wisdom…CPM has become to me what Morpheus was to Neo. He said: “I can only show you the door. The rest is up to you.”

 

Dr Rosalind Wilson

Creativity and Personal Mastery – what is it?

A personal reflection by Dr Rosalind Wilson MBBS, MBA; Life Sciences Consultant and former global team leader at F. Hoffmann-La Roche pharmaceuticals*

To some extent CPM defies description as it means different things to different people. If we were to ask the 1,500 or so people who have experienced CPM and are now part of its alumni community, there would be dozens of responses and all of them would be valid. Nevertheless, in the following pages I have tried to explain what CPM represents to me and why, 4 years later, it remains the most valuable part of my MBA experience and the one thing that I use on a daily basis. CPM has had an incredible impact on my life – I appreciate the significance of this statement and stand behind it – and I would like nothing more than for community and business leaders in Australia to have the opportunity to explore CPM. I believe this experience would not only benefit individuals, but also the organisations, communities and society, of which we are all a part.

The easiest place to start is the logistics. CPM is a programme that runs over several weeks, comprising a series of discussions supplemented by audiovisual material, readings, small group breakout sessions, practical exercises, the keeping of an individual journal and a weekend retreat. The course was developed and is facilitated by Srikumar Rao, who has refined it over time to create an optimal learning environment. A key element is the adage that “you get out what you put in”, which means that while the basic framework enables participants to acquire a superficial understanding of the concepts discussed, deeper learning takes individual commitment and effort. This is not for the faint-hearted in terms of the level of commitment (or amount of “homework”) and, more importantly, openness to explore new ideas, and have some old and dearly-held ones of your own exposed, deconstructed and put back together again.

From its beginnings within the Honours programme at Long Island University the course has grown spectacularly, becoming one of the most popular at the Columbia Graduate School of Business before extending as far as the London Business School, the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley and into a format offered to the public and attended by executives of many well known companies including IBM, General Electric, Goldman Sachs, Johnson & Johnson, Morgan Stanley, McKinsey, Boston Consulting Group, American Express, MasterCard, L’Oreal, Google and Microsoft. A lot has been written about the course in the US and European media, a sample of which can be found at http://www.areyoureadytosucceed.com/articles.asp

So much for the mechanics, but what about the “core” of CPM, its essence, the thing that keeps it alive in the minds of so many of its alumni?

It’s common sense to most of us that a positive mental attitude is more likely than a negative one to lead to a successful or satisfactory outcome. CPM takes this idea far beyond anything most of us have considered – perhaps it’s never occurred to us to delve further, or we’ve been too busy “doing” to think about it. Simply put, but with massive implications, the experience of CPM is a chance to explore a different way of thinking about…everything. It’s both an opportunity and a challenge to step outside of the world you’ve occupied for the last [insert your age] years and at the very least, for a short while see it in a very different way; and if you choose, to radically change that world forever.

The concept that underpins CPM is that people are naturally and powerfully creative, not simply in the traditional sense of “artistic”, “good with their hands”, “good at building teams” or “able to think outside the box”, but rather that we are the creators of our own experience. There’s a causal link between what goes in inside our own head and what we experience in the world around us, but very few people are aware of either the existence or the strength of this link. The corollary of this is that very few people truly appreciate how much we can influence our experience. As a result, many people may feel as they go about their daily business that they are a small part of a large machine, at the mercy of random chance or even, sometimes, overt vindictiveness and the best they can do is try to control things as much as possible, or react as best they can when “stuff happens”. CPM shows you how to shift from this reactive view of the world – things happen and we respond – to a more proactive and creative one in which we are active participants, making choices that determine our experience. This doesn’t mean we are able to control our environment in order to achieve the things we want; however, it does mean that we can find a way to be passionate and strive for an outcome and yet, regardless of the final result, be fully satisfied. This is one of the (many) apparent paradoxes CPM practitioners encounter and if by this point you’ve stopped to think, or are struggling to understand, then you’ve already started down the path.

None of this is said lightly. I encountered CPM in the final term of my London Business School Executive MBA studies at London Business School, while I was studying part-time and working in a senior, general management role within a large international pharmaceutical company. I had 10 years of work experience, 8 of them in the same organization where I’d “risen through the ranks” to a position of significant responsibility, leading a team of highly intelligent people working to bring new medicines to market. It’s an intrinsically rewarding business, I was highly regarded as a competent leader and my company sponsored my MBA in recognition of my potential. I felt successful and largely satisfied with my place in the world: in fact, I was almost the only person in my class who wasn’t pursuing an MBA as a means to career change or advancement.

Nevertheless, through my experience of CPM I learned that most of what I accepted as the status quo was in fact highly subjective and flexible and that my capacity to be “competent”, “a leader”, “successful”, “satisfied” – even “happy” – was far greater than I had ever imagined, yet still within my reach. Through CPM I was able to:

  • Explore what concepts like success (or failure), leadership (or teamwork), satisfaction (or frustration) and happiness (or not) meant to me
  • Understand to what extent they were important to me, and why
  • Explore the link between this meaning and my perception of myself, and of my contribution to my team and organization
  • Understand how these links could be either constructive or self-defeating
  • Learn a different approach to create more constructive links and reduce self-defeating ones

So what?

At the start of the course Srikumar informed us in his typical understated way that this could be a life-changing experience if we chose it to be; the habits of a lifetime could be altered and New Year resolutions would no longer be necessary. A doctor by training, I received this with a degree of “healthy” scientific scepticism. I need evidence. My learning style is classified as Active Experimentation, which means I’ll try it once and if it works, I use it and if it doesn’t, I lose interest. I don’t read manuals. CPM stands out from the crowd of self-help books, leadership courses, personal development seminars, team-building activities and 360 degree feedback because the entire course is designed to be an experience. It’s an extended period of immersion through which participants gain their own insights and see the effect of putting the learning into practice, rather than a prescriptive list of guidelines or do’s and don’ts.

You get to try taking a different approach to the world and see the results for yourself, sometimes without even realising what’s happening until much later down the track. And it works – which is why I have thought about and put into practice my CPM experience every day since October 2005. The type of results I’m talking about include but are not limited to:

  • Significantly less stress and greater enjoyment of “work”
  • A sense of quiet confidence and calm in approaching complex tasks or challenges
  • A feeling of objectivity balanced with passion and drive, enabling greater clarity of decision-making
  • A feeling of greater freedom and choices, hence more willingness to take “risks” and the confidence to try different approaches to situations and relationships
  • A deep appreciation for the efforts and contribution of others
  • Greatly improved relationships at all levels within the organization
  • Receiving expressions of genuine appreciation from colleagues
  • Lasting changes – noticed and acknowledged by colleagues, friends and family
  • Becoming a more effective leader

Finally, the CPM experience has created a community of like-minded individuals drawn to participate in the programme and remain connected through the alumni group. There are over 1,500 alumni worldwide in industries ranging from journalism to management consulting. Being part of this community helps to keep the experience of CPM fresh after the initial work is over and it’s a privilege to have the sanctuary and support of fellow alums as we move forward on our individual paths. We’ve also learnt the power of knowing how to ask for help and how to offer it and we support each other in whatever way we can. It may sound extravagant, but the annual alumni retreat is like a reunion of old friends, even though we may have never met.

This, for me, is a powerful illustration of CPM in action: through the framework of CPM, we learn how to create the experience of forming genuine connections with others, which enables us to tap into the tremendous potential that exists when people work together towards a common goal.