Salesforce co-founder and billionaire Marc Benioff has a long history with spiritual advisors and gurus.
So it shouldn’t be surprising to learn that Buddhist monks are staying at one of his two houses in San Francisco.
The monks are helping train Salesforce employees how to be less stressed out.
They even want Benioff to turn parts of Salesforce’s San Francisco headquarters into quiet “mindfulness” zones, Benioff told the New York Times’s Quentin Hardy:
It’s an anxious era. The antidote to anxiety is mindfulness. I resisted this idea, but I have these Buddhist monks staying at my other house in San Francisco. They came down to our office and led a session at our auditorium. They told me they’d been at Facebook and Google teaching mindfulness, relieving their suffering. Our level of stress was much better. … The monks also told me “we want to have a quiet floor.” I’m not sure about that — I’m negotiating with them, but we’re going to have mindfulness zones on the floors of our building, places where you can put your phone in a basket.
Benioff has been on a mission of late to help everyone find inner peace, not just his employees.
An entire keynote at Salesforce’s huge customer conference in San Francisco in September featured one meditation or mindfulness expert after another.
These included Dr. Rich Fernandez, the co-founder of Wisdom Labs; Chade-Meng Tan, a Google engineer turned famous Silicon Valley meditation guru; Dr. Tara Brach, author and mediation teacher; and even actress Goldie Hawn who founded the Hawn Foundation to teach stress-reducing meditation practices to children.
(Seriously, if you are in a stressed-out place, watch a mindfulness Dreamforce talk on YouTube.)
The pursuit of inner peace isn’t a new one for Benioff. He credits a trip to India in his 20s while still working at Oracle as the inspiration for his corporate philanthropy model. He calls it the 1-1-1 model, where companies give 1% of their employees’ time, 1% of their equity, and 1% of their products to charitable causes as a regular part of their business.
The story he tells: Benioff was a child programming genius who landed at Oracle at age 21, after working for a while at Apple for Steve Jobs. By age 25, he was one of the youngest executives ever at Oracle, earning a $US1 million. But that success left him feeling “empty,”
So, he and another Oracle exec took a trip to India where they spent an evening with a spiritual guru who told them, “Don’t forget to do something for other people.” And that’s what led to his “aha” moment about giving, he says.
Now it seems that he doesn’t just want to give money, he also wants to give people peaceful minds.