Sounds True is a multimedia publishing company founded in 1985 by Tami Simon, with the mission of disseminating spiritual wisdom. The company is based in Louisville, Colorado, near Boulder, Colorado.
Tami Simon, the founder of Sounds True, has found that spiritual practices have helped her develop her intuitive capacities, which she believes serves her well in her business:
“Intuition is basically my entire existence,” Tami states. She studies with a meditation teacher named Reggie Ray. Reggie’s teacher taught him how to “read the signs” and Reggie passed these teachings on to Tami. “It’s an art form and an indigenous survival skill. If you were on a hunt, you would watch for the tracks. That’s how we pick projects. We read the signs. How many people are talking about it? How many requests do we get for a particular author? And what are our inner feelings about the project? That’s very important, too.” The company “reads the signs” for internal issues as well. … One exercise that Tami finds useful for tapping into inspiration is a visualization exercise. She describes the process: “You visualize yourself going into the center of the Earth to tap into fresh waters and bring them to the surface. It’s weird; totally new ideas just emerge. The visualization calms down the chatty mind and creates the space for vision to come forward.”
Example for Silence
At Sounds True mployees can join a 15-minute group meditation or simply sit in silence at their desk for those minutes.
Five years ago, a colleague at Sounds True took it upon herself to organize an “Art Salon” on a Friday afternoon. Everyone was invited to share an artistic passion with his or her colleagues. Walls throughout the office were filled with photographs and paintings.
A small stage was erected for performance. Some chose to sing (some songs about life in the company were particular hits), others juggled or danced. It was so popular that the salon became an annual event. Tami Simon, the company founder, wasn’t involved in setting up the first salon, but she sees that it has become an important element in the company culture: "I realized these events are saying to people, “You get to be a whole person. This part of you, it may not fit to do it as part of your job every day. … But the fact that you can now juggle five balls is actually cool. And one Friday afternoon, we want to sit back and have a glass of wine and watch you do this and acknowledge this part of you.”
For reasons by now half-forgotten, someone suggested "Pajama Day" as a celebration of the arrival of spring. Everyone who wanted to join would share breakfast at the office … in pajamas. The handful that showed up had so much fun during breakfast that they decided to keep their pajamas on at work the rest of the day.
Since then, the event has taken place every year. Now 90 percent of the employees show up in pajamas, and a prize is given for the best outfit. (A matching set of pajamas for master and dog shared the prize once.)
It has become an event people look forward to and prepare for. In its own quirky way, “Pajama Day” is a storytelling event―every pair of pajamas represents a story waiting to say something about the person wearing them: What made you choose that outfit?
Wearing a professional mask at work is decidedly more difficult when everyone strolls around in funny sleepwear.
One of the things I’ve found out at Sounds True is in the first three months of employment a lot of the people don’t stay. … Sounds True, people want to get to know who you are, they want you to be real, they don’t want you to wear forty masks to work. It’s like―will the real person please stand up? There is this sense of authenticity; who we are when we are not at work is who we are when we are at work. That’s the kind of environment that’s here and of course we try to screen for this and let people know before they take the job, and a lot of people go “Oh I’m totally ready for that. I’m interested in that, that’s what I want.” But then they come in and may or may not be comfortable actually working in that kind of environment where people when they stop in the hallway and ask “How are you doing?” actually mean it! "How 'are' you doing?".
Listen to the interview by clicking hereː here
Sounds True has a three step appraisal process:
- In phase 1, employees reflect on their performance and aspirations based on a list of questions to trigger thinking.
- In phase 2, the practice starts with a minute of silence where colleagues are asked to hold the person receiving feedback in their hearts and try to let go of any form of judgement. Then, in turn, each person sits in front of their colleague and talks openly about what they most value in their colleague and reflect on one area where they think they could grow.
- Finally in phase 3, the employee and a colleague reflect on the feedback through a deeper conversation to learn and decide what happens next.
Feedback about how individuals can improve is given in the natural course of events throughout the year and not saved up for the annual appraisal.
Through careful selection of investors, Tami Simon has been able to bring in outside equity capital without sacrificing the company’s commitment to Teal practices and to multiple bottom lines. These investors are considered to be one of its key stakeholders: “We are committed to growing the long-term value of the business through careful planning and re-investing our profits into innovation and growth.”
In the early days, Tami Simon, the founder and CEO of http://www.soundstrue.com Sounds True, brought her dog along to the office. When the business expanded and employees were hired, it didn’t take long for some of them to ask if they too could bring their dogs to work. Tami couldn’t think of a reason to refuse. Today it is not rare for a meeting to take place with two or three dogs lying at people’s feet. Something special happens within the presence of dogs, colleagues noticed. Animals tend to ground us, to bring out the better sides of our nature. The simple practice of petting a dog tends to soothe us, to reconnect us to our body, and to calm down our spinning minds. And when it’s a colleague’s dog we pet, or a colleague that pets ours, we subtly build community. People found that the decision to open the company’s doors didn’t only allow in dogs, but more human life as well.
A number of years ago, a colleague at Sounds True took it upon herself to organize an “Art Salon” on a Friday afternoon. Everyone was invited to share some artistic passion with his or her colleagues. Walls throughout the office were filled with photographs and paintings. A small stage was erected for people to perform. Some colleagues chose to sing (some songs composed about life in the company were particular hits), others juggled or danced tango. People enjoyed themselves so much that the salon has turned into an annual event. Tami wasn’t involved in setting up the first salon, but she sees that it has become an important element in the company culture:
I realized these events are saying to people, “You get to be a whole person. This part of you, it may not fit to do it as part of your job every day. … But the fact that you can now juggle five balls is actually cool. And on a Friday afternoon, we want to sit back and have a glass of wine and watch you do this and acknowledge this part of you.” That is part of what I think makes people feel [that that] the wholeness of who they are is actually welcome. Because we do welcome it, we want to see it.
For Tami Simon, founder of Sounds True, purpose came before business:
I’m kind of a strange person in a certain way. I dropped out of college because I didn’t feel like I actually could be myself in an academic environment. … I felt that in the academic environment I was being asked to pose as somebody who had answers to questions when instead I had experiences that I wanted to explore more deeply. … I went into a deep internal process where I prayed extremely hard and the prayer had to do with being of service. … The way I was thinking as a 20-, 21-year-old college dropout was, “Could I please be given the opportunity to take the talents that I have and all the gifts that I have been given by a very supporting and loving family and terrific opportunities for higher education … and give back in some way?” … The prayer was, “God, I’m willing to do your work. Please show me what it is. Please just show me what it is.”
This phrase “willing to do your work” was very important to me because I didn’t want to be willful. I didn’t want to insist that it had to go my way. At the same time I didn’t want to be will-less where I was simply waiting in a coffee shop to be discovered. …
I feel like Sounds True, this business, came to me as a 21-, 22-year-old as a gift and as a kind of covenant with the universe, a kind of bond where I said, “I’ll serve you. I’ll work really hard,” and the other side of it was, “You’ll be supported, you’ll be shown, doors will open, you’ll meet the people, opportunities will happen.” It’s this sense of a cosmic agreement that … I could help distribute spiritual teachings from different wisdom traditions from around the world. And I could do it with sincerity and devotion. That was my outlook from the beginning. It was never really about me per se. I wanted to be myself, I wanted to be authentic, and I wanted to make a contribution.
Notes and references
Laloux, Frederic (2014-02-09). Reinventing Organizations: A Guide to Creating Organizations Inspired by the Next Stage of Human Consciousness (Kindle Locations 4413-4424). Nelson Parker. Kindle Edition. ↩︎
Laloux, Frederic. Reinventing Organizations. Nelson Parker (2014), page 183 ↩︎
Laloux, Frederic (2014-02-09). Reinventing Organizations: A Guide to Creating Organizations Inspired by the Next Stage of Human Consciousness (Kindle Locations 3182-3190). Nelson Parker. Kindle Edition. ↩︎
Laloux, Frederic (2014-02-09). Reinventing Organizations: A Guide to Creating Organizations Inspired by the Next Stage of Human Consciousness (Kindle Locations 3544-3553). Nelson Parker. Kindle Edition. ↩︎
Tami Simon, interviewed by Diederick Janse and Ewan Townhead, podcast series “Waking up the Workplace,” episode “Even Sages need a Business Plan,” April 14, 2011. ↩︎