Green Is Good Radio – Interview with Johann Berlin, CEO, TLEX

Interviewer

Welcome back to Green is Good and we’re so excited to have with us today Johann Berlin is the CEO of TLEX. Welcome to Green is Good, Johann.

Johann

Yeah, hello, thank you for having me.

Interviewer

Happy to have you and so Johann before we get talking about TLEX and for our listeners out there that want to find you at telex, they could go to wwwtlexprogram.com. Talk a little bit about Johann Berlin in your, in your journey in sustainability and how did you even get to this point.

Johann

Yeah, great I’d be happy to. So I think it was maybe 10 years ago, got very involved I decided I started my first startup when I was 21. And decided at a young age at 23 that I wanted to commit my energy and my life for to programs that were socially and environmentally conscious. And sort of moving the world forward in the right way versus just chasing profit and got involved in a lot of different things. Had an incredible privilege to have so many wonderful mentors. in those early days. Been on mayor, I was the youngest member of the mayor appointed commission in Fairfield, Iowa, where we came up with the community sustainability plan, looking at all areas of the community. I got exposed to so many different things. But I also, over the years, got incredibly frustrated with the pace of change and how long it takes. Especially stakeholder engaged change, where there’s lots of different pieces and perspectives that you have to sort of meet people where they are. And kind of reframe things again and again versus just talking in circles where people are totally on board. And what I came to, is that really change starts with the individual in mindsets. And so for the last five years, I’ve been solely committed to working with institutions on creating mind shift change and broadening perspectives. And there’s an analogy or a question that I always pose, which is what’s more important? In this case, let’s say a tree or the mind perceives the tree. I would argue that the tree is incredibly important. But it’s only important if the mind that perceives it values it sees its inherent value in nature. So really, that’s where the sort of evolution I took was more from a business point of view. Looking at how can we grow green enterprise and had some success doing that but then really realize this is a very much a people challenge and a mindset and consciousness challenge.

Interviewer

And so you founded TLEX what is TLEX? Our listeners can learn what TLEX is.

Johann

Yeah, so I didn’t actually found TLEX it was a part of a larger NGO with the International Association for Human Values who do leadership, environmental work. We’re partners with the UN ECOSOC, really using the model of leadership development. helping people of lift themselves, connect with others and move into purpose and service to do good work in the world. And so TLEX is actually the revenue generating arm of International Association for human values. And we are working within leading in large institutions, creating sort of mind shift changes, increasing social connection and really driving people to a greater purpose.

Interviewer

Wow, so here TLEX I’m on your website now for our listeners. Again, www.tlexprogram.com it’s transformational leadership for excellence. That’s wonderful and you’re the CEO. So how, you know how do people engage that really want to be mission based now? How do they engage with your great organization?

Johann

Well, so we work primarily with institutions.

Interviewer

Okay.

Johann

What I would recommend, so for example, various companies, government leaders and things of that sort. And if people are looking for ways to bring in programming to both open mindsets around these kinds of topics or other topics or challenges that they’re taking on. Increase the resilience and social connection within those organizations and then springboard them into action. We do a lot of different trainings and facilitation work with globally all around the world.

Interviewer

Wow, no, so you do this work, you know and how do you approach sustainability and making organizations move towards making sustainable changes and becoming making that part of their DNA.

Johann

Yeah, so I think I mean, one of the things that I learned early on in the sustainability movement is that it’sso multivariable and that it’s always changing right. So in many cases, your solution becomes your next problem. And or the ecosystem is changing whether it be the environment or the people living on the environment. And so what ultimately what we really focus on is cultivating awareness and consciousness giving people tools, through breath through meditation. So that they can increase their awareness and whenever we can increase our awareness and sensitivity. Ultimately, that allows us to tune in more both with ourselves but also with others and in nature. And then what that allows for is for us to adjust as things adjust it allows us to be present real time, because that’s really where the challenges are. And it’s also where the solutions are. A lot of times, you know, something works. And then we’re trying to recreate that box again and again. But maybe it’s outdated, maybe it only works in certain contexts. So how do we be present in sort of tuned into the needs of the environment and the needs of various sustainability movements, whether it’s on the human side or on the environmental side?

Interviewer

And so you’re consulting to larger organizations, fortune 100 companies, fortune 500 and also nonprofits and governmental entities as well.

Johann

Exactly, so we’re doing a lot of work with global leaders around the world. Where we’re trying to integrate in ethics work into what we’re doing. But one of the things that we realized is that leaders who want to create change, often they’re taking on tremendous challenges, which requires a lot of capacity and people who care tend to keep taking on more and more. So at the sort of heart of what we’re doing with them is saying “how can we foster your own resilience so that you can absorb those over the long haul?” And then also how can we engage others and then move in a more connected authentic space?

Interviewer

Is this becoming more than norm now? I mean, years ago, this used to be called like, you know, crunchy. This used to be, you know, California stuff, but are more companies now really getting excited about mindfulness and a 360 degree approach to a person and better leadership, which means a better work environment?

Johann

Absolutely and leading companies and leading brands, I mean, I think actually, if you look at leadership development of any kind of particularly in something as holistic as a goal of sustainability. If you don’t have this approach as part of it, considered very dated. And so like, for example, we have, we offered four credit courses at MIT Sloan and did a number of programs at Harvard Business School and Yale School of Management. So Absolutely, I mean, this is in the next generation of leadership. And it’s similar in the same way to sustainability. If you’re not present, you can’t be present to the dynamic to the interconnected world that we’re living in. So it’s really at the heart of that.

Interviewer

Well, you know, you get to see and meet a lot of people and you have tremendous visibility into the state of affairs of where things are going with regards to the social structure of our companies and our NGOs and governmental entities. What concerns you the most about today, the state of the world Johann and what are you most hopeful about in terms of, you know, what you’re doing and the adoption of your great work?

Johann

Look so that’s a great question I think just the sheer weight on people is what’s most concerning. And I think it’s a lot of times we think of companies as sort of the bad guys. But it’s also its everyday people. It’s people with kids, it’s people with jobs. And that goes all the way from the very top of those entities down to the bottom and tremendous stakeholder pressure on them. So I feel that almost a lot of the bad we see in the world or the negative choices is actually just a side effect of that pressure and just sort of the weight. And I also think a lot of people have kind of burnt out and maybe lose hope. What I find most promising is that people I find people to be inherently sincere about wanting the world to be a better place. And whenever they have tools to sort of one cope with the demands on them, but ideally through building, more individual resilience. Through building more heart connection and authentic kind of community that the resonance with moving toward more purpose driven initiatives it’s resounding and it’s really what people are looking for. So, more and more to your earlier question more and more people are looking for it. So that sort of tick upward in trend toward more individual consciousness and collective purpose driven work is very encouraging.

Interviewer

So if one of our listeners is at a big company or at an NGO or at a governmental entity and they want some training their mental clarity, social connection and inspiration they’re coming to you TLEX.

Johann

Yeah tlexprogram.com.

Interviewer

Yeah tlexprogram.com so you know how many years you’ve been running this Johann?

Johann

Four years, I’ve been running the North America division.

Interviewer

So talk a little bit about your success. What milestones are you the most proud of during those four years? And what are you the most grateful for in the work that you’re doing? Which is so important?

Johann

Yeah so what I’m most grateful for I’ll work in reverse is the people. I love working with people and I sincerely appreciate how much they’re willing to do to improve their lives, improve the outcomes of their companies, but also improve the outcomes for the worlds in many cases. So people are definitely what give me my energy every day. And to the first part of the question, do you mind repeating it?

Interviewer

Oh, the first part was just the I asked you what the second part was. What are you most grateful for? But first part was your milestones like what interesting milestones are you the most proud of when you go to bed at night and you think about the last four years?

Johann

Yeah so I think it’s making these sort of topics very relatable to people and teaching them through experience. Yeah, versus just telling them it’s one thing for me to say, you know, when you have more personal resilience you’re able to take on bigger challenges.

Interviewer

Yeah.

Johann

But another thing when people leave feeling that. And so I think just meeting people where they are making incredibly complex topics very relatable and integrating it in massive institutions around the world has been quite a challenge. But it’s also such an opportunity to really think about how we discuss these types of topics. And how can we leave our old perspective and figure out how to bridge those communication and interpersonal gaps that often get in the way of letting good work happen.

Interviewer

We’re down to the last two minutes Johann unfortunately, where do you want TLEX to be in the next five years, where can it go?

Johann

Yeah so from my side, I would love to see us working to continue working with global leaders around the world. And I think that’s really a key piece is that leaders see the benefit and these sorts of things. It’s easy to come up with system strategies and goals. But it’s incredibly difficult to come up with resilient high performing teams that can take on massive challenges. And so to continue that work but at a very global level, I think.

Interviewer

Gotcha, gotcha and for listeners out there that want to engage with TLEX, or learn more about it. They can go to www.tlexprogram.com t and then l-e-x program.com. Any final thoughts, Johann before we say goodbye today?

Johann

No, I think I just want to thank both of you for the wonderful work you’re doing and in promoting interesting seeing ideas and people and so very appreciative of your work and it was great to be with both of you.

Interviewer

Oh, that’s so nice thank Johann Berlin for sharing the TLEX program story with our listeners today you are truly making the world a better place and truly living proof that green is good.

Johann Berlin

Johann Berlin is a serial entrepreneur, international keynote speaker and leadership consultant specialized in human and organizational development, mental health and well-being, and sustainable business and investing. Johann is CEO of TLEX Institute, providing over 1 million digital users with evidence-based leadership, breathwork and emotional intelligence training. His clients include top business schools like Harvard Business Schools and Fortune 500 companies like Amazon and Microsoft. A leadership writer at Harvard Business Review, Forbes, Real Leaders and Huffington Post, Johann is also Consulting Chief Learning Officer for Cooper Investors, a $13 billion private equity fund where he is integrating values-based investing principles into the firm’s culture fund. He is also Consulting Chief Learning Officer at Total Brain where he develops mental health and well-being content for clinicians, large consumer groups, and organizations. Johann is a leading voice on human-centered leadership, founding the Future of Humans at Work conference and podcast. Previously, he served as CEO and co-founder of Sustainable CitySolutions and was SVP of Sustainability and Strategy for JDI. As a board member, executive advisor and community volunteer, Johann is passionate about social ventures dedicated to resilient schools, local economy, prisoner rehabilitation, and youth leadership. Johann's TEDx talk has been viewed over 100,000 times.

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