• January 15, 2012

    Esaleaks would like to invite Community commentary on Esalen CEO Tricia McEntee’s video interview for the web site “Pebblestorm: Make money through enjoyment.”

    In the interview, part of a “Unique Genius Superhero” series which apparently matches McEntee’s recent “Superhero” theme for Staff Week, the CEO discusses how a weekend of salsa dancing and yoga, followed by a weekend of collage, led her to the discovery her life’s purpose. McEntee says that her final collage, shown here, now serves as a “litmus test” for every decision she makes and how she does her job.

    (click to enlarge)

    Cut from the pages of magazines, McEntee’s “vision board” intersperses new age vernacular like “deliciousness,” “sustainable living,” and “free spirited & fabulous!” with a symbolism consisting mainly of hearts, hands, plants, animals, rainbows and unicorns. The only philosophical content is a laser-printed set of platitudes which pay token service to Esalen philosophy but offer surprisingly little in the way of depth.

    Does the vision represented in McEntee’s sparse collage serve convincingly as a litmus test for the how the CEO conducts her job and makes her decisions? McEntee says, “I could hardly separate my own life purpose from what Esalen’s mission is in the world as I saw it.” How well does her life purpose collage reflect the worldwide Esalen community’s sense of the mission of the institute?

    All commentary is welcome. Full video and transcript follows:

    TM: Hi. I’m Tricia McEntee. I’m the new CEO of Esalen Institute, which the magnificent, magical retreat center on the coast of California in Big Sur. And our mission is all about human and social transformation in the world.

    Q: That’s great. So Tricia, recently, in the last year or so, you got really clear on your purpose. So I love to hear about just the process you went through to get clear on it.

    TM: Yeah, I was — yeah, it was a phenomenal process, actually my background is really in the business world of being a CPA and very kind of strictly left-brain business oriented, and I was here as the CFO, and I was really trying — you know, I’m passionate about the mission of Esalen, and I was in a place where I was trying to find how I could bring more of that into my work and my job, and I went on — I — it started with like this wonderful salsa dancing and yoga extravaganza workshop that I went to with my daughters in Puerto Rico and we just had a great time really opening up and playing together, and then I came back, and the very next week I got back I went to an inspirational leadership workshop here at Esalen, and that workshop really talked about mission and focus and purpose and I was — you know — it was, as well, kind of a very playful approach, kind of a more right side of the brain approach — and then I was preparing — shortly after that I was preparing for a pretty serious conversation with the Chairman of the Board, exploring ways that I could be more influential and how I could bring my passion more into my work, and as I was trying to prepare for that, I just started this — I basically made a vision board, or a collage, I didn’t really realize what I was — was it a planned process, I just started cutting out different things in magazines that just really spoke to me about my purpose and what really moved me in my life, and it — and I as I put it together I didn’t really know what I was putting together, I just started cutting and pasting and I couldn’t stop and it went on for a whole weekend and I barely slept or ate, and when I got it almost done I kinda stepped back and took a look at what I was creating and just — the purpose, my mission, my life’s mission, just, just came out — it was like a 30 second — a 60 second — moment, and I just knew, of all the pieces and pictures that I had cut out, what my purpose in life was, and it was such that I could hardly separate my own life purpose from what Esalen’s mission is in the world as I saw it. So it was a really “aha” moment for me, knowing that this is where I belonged in life. This is my calling and where I need to be. And it was a blast, it was great fun too.

    Q: How did you — so what is your purpose, your calling, your — I’ll focus the video on it while.

    TM: Okay. It’s “always stay connected to your heart, courageously respond to the call of leadership, humbly commit to a life of open exploration and growth, be a witness to the miraculous unfolding of spirit, and relish the journey, it will exceed your wildest dreams.”

    Q: [reading] “Yahoouo!”

    TM: [laughs] Yeah. “Yahoouo!”

    Q: Alright, so one last question which is, so now what are you doing with it?

    TM: Well, at this — about four months after I created this, the CEO position became available. It wasn’t even an open position at the time — I had no idea — and when it became available it was, again, my wildest imagination that I would be the one in this job, but here I am, it’s a year later, and I am using this [looking at collage] — basically, my mission statement — as a litmus test for pretty much every decision I make and the way I go about my job. And I’m having a great time doing it.

    Q: Hey, Tricia, thank you so much for your story, and also for just the work you’re doing here at Esalen. It’s really powerful.

    TM: Thank you very much.

    McEntee was promoted to CEO after a community-endorsed worldwide search for the position was scrapped by the Board, in favor of hiring the former CFO.

5 Responses to Vision board

  • Anonymous says:

    Since it’s inception, critics of Esalen have often branded it as anti-intellectual, something Michael Murphy has battled against…I find it hard pressed not to buy into that argument after watching the head of Esalen speak in that video. That’s not just anti-intellectual, it’s embarrassing and uncomfortable to watch.

  • Anonymous says:

    After gazing at that collage for a few minutes, here’s what strikes me:
    1) There’s no hint of the shadow, the dark side, of the other, or anything other than sweetness and light. Without a confrontation with the shadow, there is no individual. Without a confrontation with the monster, there is no hero. It’s all purely aspirational, without any hint of the realism and difficulty always present in accomplishing true change, be that personal or social.
    2) This person seems to have been invalidated consistently in her childhood and is still seeking validation. Her core self, I have to imagine, never having interacted with her, is hiding, not present on the surface, still skittish about coming out and getting rejected.
    3) Not an example of self-actualization, but someone who wants and doesn’t know how to find it. Wants to be a leader, not even to lead, but to have the social position of the leader. (As I grew up Mormon, I can say that this is typical of Mormon cultural aspiration.) True leaders don’t worry that they’re leading; they worry about the challenges that require a unified response from a social group, responses that leaders are uniquely skilled at bringing into being.

  • Anonymous says:

    when I watched this – rather then comment on what I see, I thought about how young and green I must have been when at Esalen in the 80′s – when I sit and realize that was over 20 years ago – I sit and wonder now, if it possible for Esalen to some day – have the growing wisdom to have a council of young blood ( the Mac and Rudi’s generation – the middle wise – the David Price’s and the older wise – the Chris Price, Nancy Lunney, Rick Tarnas’s ) guiding the place from the inside out –
    I just do not know what to make of the fact that the present work scholar generation does not know or barely knows who Dick Price is, that would be like going to Zen Center, Tassajara – and the young retreatants not knowing who Suzuki Roshi was :(

  • Anonymous says:

    This person seams well qualified to be a seminarian, she is surely searching for a way in the world, however she is clearly not of the caliber to lead Esalen. The decision of the Board to empower her to bring Esalen down to her level is frankly an embarrassing travesty.

  • Anonymous says:

    The problem at Esalen these days is not so much with Tricia, but with the Director of HR, Scott Stillinger. It would be interesting to do a piece on him.