Job Search

8 Ways to Find a Workplace
with Heart and Soul


Is it possible to work with caring, highly skilled communicators, who actually give a damn about doing the best work possible, and connecting with you in a meaningful way?

If this sounds like believing in Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, or unicorns — I understand. Many of us, myself included, have noble aspirations for doing good through our work. But we’ve been burned. In our quest to change the world in a positive way, we’ve been ridiculed, sidelined, and otherwise lead to believe that we’re chasing after pipe dreams.

Yet, more and more, the working world is evolving to allow us dreamers to contribute in the ways we truly desire, and to be surrounded by the kinds of people who share our aspirations.

So, if you’re a work idealist like me, how do you find an ideal place to work? You know, the kind environment where you get to feel the kind of love that so many people are craving at work?

Three Guiding Principles

  • Get personal
    Drop the the typical job seeker mode, and meet interesting people. Find opportunities to meet interesting, stellar people in casual ways, like going to a dinner party at a friend’s house. People who, like you, want to be conscious in their careers, like to get personal. Shake hands and make contact with real live people.
  • Hang out where the conscious people hang out
    As you implement principle 1 above, avoid going to conferences and meetings on topics that bore you to tears. If you want a job doing accounting at a super-cool, progressive company, but the thought of learning about Sarbanes-Oxley puts you to sleep, steer clear of conferences on that topic. Instead, go to cool conferences and meetings on topics that get you really jazzed, or where you sense “your tribe” of hobbyists or like-minded/like-hearted people would hang out.
  • Go smaller
    The smaller the company, the more relaxed and casual the culture can be. So as you’re looking for a great place to work, focus on small to medium-sized companies. Why? Stellar communicators rarely hang out in big corporations. They hate having to use too much of their precious life energy cutting through bureaucracy and fighting multiple layers of management. And the smaller the company, the more nimbly it can move and shift direction. That tends to make for happier employees, who can focus on what’s most important.

So, with those three principles in mind, here are eight ways to seek out your ideal (dare I say) touchy-feely, warm-hearted, good-natured co-workers. And the organizations where they reside. I’ve put these search methods in order — from most observational to most experiential approaches to find your new colleagues and professional home.

8 Ways to Find A Place to Work (and Co-Workers) with Heart + Soul

1. Look at lists of “best employers”
Most business journals in major US metropolitan areas publish lists of best employers, often by category. You can buy their “Book of Lists,” or better yet, read it in the reference section of your local library. These lists tend to be organized as “best places to work” by size of employer, and can also include categories like “healthiest places to work.”

2. Read company reviews allows past and current employees to rate and write about the cultures in their companies. You can look up companies you’re considering working for (and can even enter job titles you’re seeking and cities where you’d like to live) and see what people say about these organizations. Do take their reviews with the proverbial grain of salt. It’s a teensy-tinsy percentage of employees

3. Review the annual reports by the Great Place to Work Institute
Every year, the Great Place to Work Institute publishes a list of the 100 best companies to work for in Fortune Magazine. You can also find the report online. The Institute defines a great workplace as “one where employees trust the people they work for, have pride in the work they do, and enjoy the people they work with.” They use a proprietary model that looks at how defines how the relationships between managers and employees plays out in five dimensions: Credibility, Respect, Fairness, Pride and Camaraderie.

4. Find cool professionals by learning skills that matter to you
Let’s say you care deeply about communicating well at work. If you take a course, particularly a professional one, on communication skills, you’re likely to find other people who share your passion. For example, the Center for Non-Violent Communication (NVC) offers courses all over the world. Find a course or program that speaks to you, whatever it may be. When you take a class like this, get to know your classmates. Ask them out for lunch. Gather their business cards. Stay in touch. And who knows…one of them may become your future manager or co-worker.

5. Go to Meetups with cool titles about communication or other topics that matter to you
So, let’s say you really want to work with other people who communicate in a mindful, compassionate way. Visit and search for events where you can connect with others who share your concerns. You’ll probably need to attend a few meetings of any given Meetup before you build the trust to open up about work. But maybe not. When you do get to open up, ask about where people work.

Ask how they apply the skills they learn at the Meetup to their work. Boom! This generates ideas about where you, too, might work. I once attended a Meetup on the topic of compassion. I was stunned to find a whole array of fascinating people, including individuals from my former profession — management consulting. When I met them, it blew my previous perception that management consultants couldn’t be compassionate at work. In fact, meeting these people got me into a whole conversation about how management consulting has shifted in the past decade. When they told me about some of the projects they had done recently, I could see how their firm would have been attractive to me, had it existed when I finished my MBA.

What Meetups can you find on topics that interest you? Go ahead, look now. And sign up to attend. The people you meet may become your colleagues. Sweet.

6. Attend conferences like Wisdom 2.0, Conscious Capitalism, and The World Domination Summit
Three great conferences to find people who care about making business more humane: Wisdom 2.0, Conscious Capitalism, and The World Domination Summit.With speakers like Eckhart Tolle (author of The Power of Now), Arianna Huffington (founder of The Huffington Post), and Jon Kabat-Zinn (creator of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction), the Wisdom 2.0 conference (and its spinoffs) offers a great opportunity to connect with people who care about the intersection between ancient wisdom traditions and modern technology.

Companies like Google, Facebook, and Twitter send their people. Spend some time outside the big presentations, and take advantage of the networking opportunities.

The Conscious Capitalism conference, and its local city chapters, give you a venue for meeting people who care about infusing “consciousness” into business.

And the World Domination Summit is wildly fun event held in Portland, is super experiential, hyper connecting, and an opportunity to meet people who want to change the world through community, Each year, the Summit attempts to answer the question, “How do we live an extraordinary life in a conventional world?” The principles of the summit sincerely explore the triple pillars of community, adventure, and service. If you attend this July, contact me and let me know. I’ve got my ticket. I’d love to meet you there!

7. Hang out at personal growth retreat centers like Esalen, Omega, Hollyhock, and Kripalu
The Esalen Institute, the Omega Institute for Holistic Studies, Hollyhock, and the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health are personal growth retreat centers that are the hotbeds of personal development, with courses a wide array of enriching courses — delivered by teachers who tend not to be the button-down corporate trainer types, but instead might be called “New Agey.” You’ll find workshops on conscious capitalism and right livelihood, all the way to love, sex, and intimacy.

Fortunately or unfortunately, these venues are becoming more and more expensive. That means that they’re attracting people who can afford their high costs — and these tend to be corporate or entrepreneurial types with a penchant for nurturing their own personal growth. My very first time attending a workshop (entitled “Spiritual Massage”, no less!) at the Esalen Institute, I shyly entered one of their gorgeous hot tubs on the Pacific Ocean, only to meet a woman who was a fellow refugee from Accenture and a dynamic startup CEO.

I promise, if you keep your ears and eyes open, you’ll meet interesting professionals at these kinds of events. Strike up conversations about “heart and soul in business” or something like that, and you’re likely to get acquainted with your blend of professionals who “get real” with you. Then, ask them where they work, and grab coffee when you “get back to civilization.”

For example, I used this approach over Valentines Day weekend while at my fave personal growth retreat center, The Esalen Institute. I shared a room with a woman who was taking a workshop on leadership, while I was taking a workshop on finding true love. Turns out she works for the Great Place to Work Institute, and we’re meeting up soon to talk about what we both do and share resources and contacts. You can do the same.

8. Seek out your tribe at what your manager might call “hippy dippy” events
More and more, I find professional people getting in touch with their needs to get outdoors, move their bodies, and play. They care about being mindful. Sound like you?

If so, check out events like the Wanderlust Festivals, the Sat Nam Fests, the Yoga Journal Conference, or Burning Man. If these call to you, go! Yes, compared to your neat and tidy office with it’s predictable culture, these events may seem downright hippy dippy to you.

But I promise, if you keep your ears and eyes open, you’ll hear about the kind of work that your fellow event-goers do. And that work is bound to be enticing. Expect to have fun and have your mind opened.

These are great chances to let down your hair and show people your non-corporate funky side. Um, but avoid being in any incriminating or compromising photos that your current company would frown upon.

Have fun using these approaches to find your work tribe.

About the Author

Since 2001, Dr. Susan Bernstein has helped existing and emerging leaders navigate through change, uncertainty, and conflict so they thrive. Through her executive coaching, her clients gain strategic perspective and psychological insights to elevate their leadership, build stronger relationships, and make a greater impact in the world. Before launching her coaching practice, Susan held demanding leadership roles at Franklin-Covey, Intel, and Accenture. She earned an MBA at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business and a PhD in Somatic Psychology at the Santa Barbara Graduate Institute. You’ll find Susan’s thought leadership in Fast Company, The Huffington Post, Thrive Global, and Psychology Today. Connect with Susan at