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WORK PLACE OF THE FUTURE A New Conceptual Model To Redefine Work Life Balance by Mika Yagi Kim

“My professional inspiration has no separation from my personal inspiration” – Richard Branson How many of us have heard either through employers, colleagues, friends, companions and/or family of the term “Work Life Balance”? It seems that we continually attempt to create one for our lives through reading about it, speaking about it and/or sharing about it but in reality, unless there is truly a balance (a condition in which different elements are equal in proportions) where we “work” 182.5 days out of the year and we “life” the other 182.5 days out of the year, we are mathematically challenged to be in a state of equilibrium. The term itself is flawed, which may be one of the factors the new figures from Gallup’s 2013 State of the American Workplace Report suggests that over 52% admit to checking in physically, but out mentally in their jobs and in the meanwhile 18% are infecting others with their unhappiness. So rather than workplace strategists, economists, consultants, and workers alike continue using the term that is unattainable (as unattainable goals are a well known cause of depression), I propose that we use the term “WORK PLACE OF THE FUTURE”. Imagine a WORK PLACE OF THE FUTURE, where the boundary of work and life is blurred Imagine a WORK PLACE OF THE FUTURE, where work performance is evaluated based on a person’s happiness Imagine a WORK PLACE OF THE FUTURE, where we live Everyday a Friday In Jonathan Haidt’s book “The Happiness Hypothesis”, he identifies that people approach their work in one of three ways: 1) job, 2) career, or 3) calling. For those who see their work as a job, they do it solely for the money, have the “9-to-5” mentality of a clock-in and clock-out while dreaming about the weekend ahead. For those who see their work as a career, they do it with larger goals of advancement, promotion and prestige in mind and care enough about the work that they do it tirelessly to get the work done properly while at times wondering why they work so hard. For those who see their work as a calling, they do it because they see it as contributing to the greater good and it is intrinsically fulfilling. Those who see their work as a calling neither look forward to “quitting time” nor feel the desire to shout, “Thank God it’s Friday!” With that said, I’d like to ask you (as Bob Marley has so eloquently put in the lyrics to a song), do you “Love the Life you Live, Live the Life you Love”? In other words, have you found your calling? Shortly after achieving one of the major milestones in my life early this year, I began working with a life coach to do exactly that. One day, Executive/Life Coach, Karen Mozes asked me “Mika, if you were to speak at the next Ted Talks, what will the subject matter be about?” That week, I contemplated over the assignment and one day during my train commute to work (where I do some of the most profound brainstorming), of all topics I could have chosen (energy efficiency, high performance buildings, sustainability, philanthropy, effective collaboration just to name a few), I chose happiness, and more specifically, worker happiness. 2

Living Building Challenge Collaborative - Los Angeles

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, work is the highest average number of hours that we spend on one activity per work day in the United States. Yet, as Western societies have got richer, the people have become no happier. Because “work” is one of the domains contributing to one’s happiness, in my opinion, it is one of the more critical proportions of our creation or construction of happiness that I think deserves more focus. Since that session I had with Karen, I’ve been on a mission to dig deeper and to be curious of what it was about worker happiness that I was so intrigued about. As I began the journey with the focus on this topic, I was soon over flooded with information and resources. As Shawn Achor will say that the formula “success first, happiness second” is backwards and further states that happiness and optimism fuel performance and achievement. This finding became the starting point of my research. So, if success orbits around happiness and studies prove that happy workers have higher levels of productivity, produce higher sales, perform better in leadership positions, and receive higher performance ratings and higher pay, shouldn’t we put more focus on worker happiness than we currently do? One of the ways that we can start today is by choosing to change and mange our state of mind. Sonja Lyubomirsky, author of “The How of Happiness”, suggests that 50 percent of our genetic make-up determines the set point of our happiness with 10 percent explained by life circumstances and the remaining 40 percent of the key to happiness that lies in our daily intentional activities, in other words, what we do in our daily lives and how we think. Because 40 percent is the portion of our happiness that is within our power to change through how we act and how we think, below is a three step process of how you can begin today. Step 1) Take the Gross Happiness Index survey (see Transformational Action for the link) Step 2) Based on the results, prioritize the domains from highest to lowest based on your raw scores Step 3) Practice the strategies from the “How to of Happiness” outlined below for the bottom three domains to improve your overall satisfaction with life In closing, whether my current work with happiness is in fact part of my journey in finding my calling is still in its exploration phase but one thing is for certain. The clarity I have about my core values in life is in full alignment with the work I’m currently involved with and with that, I know I am one step closer to “Love the Life I Live, Live the Life I Love”. HAPPINESS FORMULA The “Secret to Happiness” is to enjoy the things as they are, without comparing them with anything better. Another is to find out which things really make us happy” – Richard Layard Happiness (the meaning and the purpose of life) = compassionate action + gratitude + giving

2013 Year End Bash


Satisfaction with Life (Includes Positive Affect & Mental Well-Being) This domain combines individuals’ subjective assessments of their contentment levels with respect to your outlook on life and our own feelings of happiness Strategy: Expressing Gratitude – put in writing to step outside your life and to reflect and ponder the things for which you are currently grateful from the mundane to the magnificent and attempt to do it with a partner with whom you can share your blessings list and who encourages you if you lose motivation. When at all possible, express gratitude directly to another with information on what he or she did for you and exactly how it affected your life Cultivate Optimism – think about what you expect your life to be one, five, or ten years from now. Visualize a future for yourself in which everything has turned out the way you’ve wanted. You have tried your best, worked hard, and achieved all your goals. Now write down what you imagine. The more you rehearse optimistic thoughts, the more “natural” they will become. Being optimistic involves a choice about how you see the world Practice Acts of Kindness – do more of something that doesn’t come naturally (i.e. offering a sincere greeting or “bless you” when someone sneezes) and commit to the one new, large or alternatively three to five small acts of kindness to perform regularly

Material Wellbeing This domain evaluates how much stress you feel about your personal finances, whether you have enough money to buy the things you want and how frequently you are living paycheck to paycheck Strategy: Give – determine precisely how, when and how often to commit to the practice of giving whether it is through a donation or the gift of time by volunteering, which is associated with diminished depressive symptoms and enhanced feelings of happiness, self-worth, mastery and personal control

Work This domain examines individual’s satisfaction with work and worker productivity. As people who strive for something personally significant are far happier than those who don’t have strong dreams or aspirations. We need to feel we are contributing to the wider society Strategy: Avoid Social Comparison – it has been said that whether an individual is happy with their income depends on how it compares with the norm. You can’t be envious and happy at the same time. Happiest people take pleasure in other people’s successes and show concern in the face of others’ failures and the happier the person is, the less attention the individual pays to how others around them is doing. Committing to Goals - identify the six goals in different categories to evaluate if there is a common thread that can be identified as a calling for your work -


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1. Intrinsic – goals that you pursue because they are inherently satisfying and meaningful to you (i.e. helping build a home for Habitat for Humanity) 2. Authentic – goals that are rooted in a person’s lifelong deeply held interests and core values (i.e. winning an athletic tournament) 3. Approach – goals that require an approach for a desirable outcome (i.e. making three new friends) as opposed to avoiding an undesirable outcome (i.e. prevent an argument with someone) 4. Harmonious – goals that complement one another (i.e. become a structural engineer and build bridges around the world to connect communities together) 5. Flexible and Appropriate – goals that are the “right tasks at the right time” (i.e. an empty nest to make time for world travel) 6. Activity – goals that are more happiness inducing: seeking to better your circumstances by taking up a new activity (i.e. studying for an exam to obtain a professional licensure) Once these goals are identified that are in fact meaningful to you, re-examine your life and priorities to help you gain clarity on what you consider important. Your calling may be embedded in one of the goals that you’ve listed. To make progress toward your goals, break them down using a three step process: 1. Prioritize the goals 2. Select a single goal and describe it in concrete terms to fully visualize the goal and commit to it 3. Develop an implementation plan (where, when and how actions that are taken) to carry out the goal

Time Balance This domain examines the balance between paid work, unpaid work and leisure is important for one’s wellbeing. Similarly, a flexible working life is vital for the wellbeing of individual workers and their families and communities Strategy: Increasing Flow Experiences – have you ever been so absorbed in what you are doing that you completely lost track of time? A happy life is characterized by flow (complete absorption in what one does) and experienced by those who have found their calling where work and leisure is melded in one for time balance. Begin by identifying what activities you’ve worked on before where there was a balance between skills and challenge (the sweet spot between boredom and anxiety) and train yourself to practice that flow in as many circumstances as possible

Community A community must possess strong relationships amongst its members and within families, hold socially constructive values, volunteer and donate time and/or money, and lastly be safe from violence and crime Strategy: Practice Acts of Kindness – do more of something that doesn’t come naturally (i.e. offering a sincere greeting or “bless you” when someone sneezes) and commit to the one new, large or alternatively three to five small acts of kindness to perform regularly (i.e. look people in the eye and smile, grow food in your garden and share it with your neighbors, etc) 2013 Year End Bash


Social Support This domain evaluates the level of social relationships through the individuals’ sense of belonging in a community. Of all the domains that affect happiness, your family life or other close relationships comes first. Strategy: Make Time – make it a regular practice to express appreciation or gratitude for particular behaviors and make every effort to schedule time together on a regular basis Communicate – convey feeling of affection and admiration from time to time in whatever way feels comfortable to you Be Supportive and Loyal – be helpful and supportive when it’s needed and affirm their successes. Instead of feeling envious, try to celebrate their successes by showing them genuine praise and admiration Manage Conflict – fight differently by involving acts during a disagreement that helps to deescalate tension and negativity as an attempt to resolve the conflict (i.e. “I see your point”) Hug – hugging is an excellent social relationship booster. Hugs can relieve stress, make you feel closer to someone and even diminish pain. Share an Inner Life – create shared goals and dreams while exploring new directions, taking risks and responsibilities together to pursue life dreams and interests

Health This domain examines the self reported health of the individual’s ability to perform functional activities of daily living without any restrictions, including current health and nutrition states Strategy: Physical Exercise – start slow, decide ahead of time on specific dates (choose a time to exercise to exercise during a time of day when you feel most energetic) for thirty minutes (and up the ante if you are already engaged in regular physical activity) and make it a routine Emotional Exercise – attempt to show the physical manifestations of happiness and you will come to feel it (at least in mild form). Smooth your brow, fashion a smile, open your hands. Your face (and body and voice), sends signals (feedback) to your brain, informing that you are experiencing a particular emotion Spiritual Exercise – those who meditate show a stronger immune response and have multiple positive effects on a person’s happiness and positive emotions on physiology, stress, cognitive abilities and physical health. Find a place that you can sit alone in a comfortable place, back straight, close your eyes and focus on breathing in and out

Governance This domain pertains to people’s subjective assessment of the local government’s efficiency in various areas. Strategy: Get Political – studies show that “the more developed the democratic institutions are the degree of local autonomy, the more satisfied people are with their lives”. Doing your part to increase participation in governance, and increasing ways for others to participate can increase your own sense of well-being 6

Living Building Challenge Collaborative - Los Angeles

Be Part of the Change – get involved in the thriving community, cities or other movement to more deeply connect to your community and the future well-being of all

Environment This domain attempts to measure the feelings of personal responsibility towards the environment. It is crucial to reinforce attitudes that will encourage people to adopt eco-friendly approaches and also to identify any deterioration in the current environmental views of the citizens Strategy: Living Buildings, Sites and Communities – create building projects at all scales that operates as cleanly, beautifully and efficiently as nature’s architecture Eat Local & Organic – food production has a large impact on our environment. When you can, buy locally or grown your own food in your yard. Expanding the capacity for local food can enhance the local economy and resilience

Education, Arts & Culture This domain combines the individual’s satisfaction with access to recreational, cultural and information educational activities and any discrimination one may experience in the community Strategy: Turn Off the TV – TV reduces social life as studies indicate that people have stopped playing more sports. It also contributes in some degree to the decline of family and community life and the increase in crime. Because television is so passive, it also reduces the measured creativity of people, both young and old Education – educate yourself about your own culture and about other cultures. Learn the history, myths, and superstitions. Exploration of other cultures can increase your appreciation of cultural activities by deepening your experience Get Creative – Being creative can increase your sense of well-being. Get creative through writing poetry, drawing, photography and any other forms of artistry

Mika Yagi Kim LFA, LEED AP BD+C, CEPE, CSBA, CGBP Founder and Ambassador Living Building Challenge Collaborative - Los Angeles

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SUPPORTING SPONSORS • Bentley Mills, Inc. • Verdani Partners 8

• Rainbow Environmental Services • Cinco Consulting Solutions

Living Building Challenge Collaborative - Los Angeles




2013 Year End Bash




“Happiness Per Person” Paradigm As The Market Value To Assess Economic Growth by Mika Yagi Kim

“What you measure affects what you do. If you don’t measure the right thing, you don’t do the right thing” – Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel Prize winner Due to launch in 2014 across all 88 cities in Los Angeles, the Collaborative in conjunction with its community partners will initiate the never attempted before effort to measure the happiness of the people. With the support from the Happiness Initiative (, a non-profit organization in partnership with the Gross National Happiness U.S., we will work together to administer the Gross Happiness Index (GNH) surveys to evaluate our current overall satisfaction with life. The WORK PLACE OF THE FUTURE project will mark the beginning of the happiness movement in Los Angeles where we will be able to assess the well-being of a community to leverage action to increase the happiness and the well-being of others. The goal of the WORK PLACE OF THE FUTURE project is to evaluate the subjective indicators of well-being, which reflects people’s own evaluations of their lives to be used as valid and useful information in guiding future policy decisions. The results of the subjective reports of well-being will be quite different than what is typically assessed and in return, it will provide a new and very different perspective on how populations and groups are flourishing. These subjective measures can also be helpful in determining how to improve goods, services, working conditions and the quality of communities. Studies show that well-being is important to most citizens in developed nations and it is now time to develop a systematic method to measure it where activities such as housework, hobbies and volunteer work are included in the national accounts of our economic value. Join me and the rest of the Los Angeles Collaborative alongside our partners to support this community transformation initiative by promoting the use of the GNH Index survey so that the research results can provide valuable information to government, businesses, and other organizations, as well as for individuals and families for a WORK PLACE OF THE FUTURE – a world in which we live Everyday a Friday.


Living Building Challenge Collaborative - Los Angeles


“Monday” A.M.

“Everyday a Friday!”


Happy “Sunday” P.M.

Wednesday Un-aroused

If you are currently a resident of Los Angeles, we invite you to take action by participating in the WORK PLACE OF THE FUTURE project, by taking the 12-14 minute survey today! Please select one of the paths that best describes you: 1.

Do you belong to a company and/or organization that has agreed to participate in the WORK PLACE OF THE FUTURE project to assess the group’s overall satisfaction with life?

If answered yes, take the survey below:


Do you work in a building certified under the LEED green building rating system but not currently participating at a company level as mentioned previously?

If answered yes, take the survey below:


If answered no to both questions above, take the survey below:

For more information, questions and/or ways to get involved with the WORK PLACE OF THE FUTURE project, please contact us at

2013 Year End Bash



GETTING LA TO ZERO VIDEO Taking A Closer Look At The Specific Challenges In Our City by Ryan Whitacre & Matthew Johnston

Ever wonder the what, why, and how of net zero buildings, sites, and communities? Stay tuned, as in 2014, the Living Building Challenge Collaborative - Los Angeles will release a short video of strategies on how we can get to zero in energy, water, and waste in Los Angeles.

Ryan Whitacre AIA, LEED AP BD+C, NCARB Creative Director Living Building Challenge Collaborative - Los Angeles


Living Building Challenge Collaborative - Los Angeles

GETTING LA TO ZERO COMPETITION A Design Competition For Local College Students by Matthew Johnston & Justin Di Palo

In each of three competition categories, building design, product innovation, and strategy innovation, students are invited to develop a presentation poster using compelling visualizations to describe how their projects can achieve and transcend the Living Building Challenge. For more information, please visit

Matthew Johnston LEED AP BD+C Resources Director Living Building Challenge Collaborative - Los Angeles

Justin Di Palo Education & Training Director Living Building Challenge Collaborative - Los Angeles

2013 Year End Bash



WHY BECOME INVOLVED WITH THE COLLABORATIVE? ELEKTRA GRANT: “The LA Collaborative shares an ecological view of the built environment; and aspires to see Living Buildings, Landscapes, and Neighborhoods realized in Los Angeles. I’m involved to help that happen.” JEFF LANDRETH: “Living Building Challenge...yes, please!” 14

Living Building Challenge Collaborative - Los Angeles

JUSTIN DI PALO: “I firmly believe in the possibility of the built environment and the natural environment living in harmony. That’s why I believe in and support the Living Building Challenge.” WILLIAM CORNELI: “Our program is aptly named the Living Building Challenge (implying that success will not be easy); and it’s exciting to be involved with a cause where success is not assured, but the benefits are undeniable.” DREW SHULA: “I’m here because I want my life to make an impact. Let’s get our buildings to zero everything - waste, energy, water, and indifference!” MATTHEW JOHNSTON: “I’m interested in creating regenerative, closed-loop building systems inspired by ecology, which emerge from discovery and innovation.” RYAN WHITACRE: “I love the Living Building Challenge because it forces us to re-evaluate our notions of what sustainable building means and our strategies on how to get there.” MIKA YAGI KIM: “Quite simply, to support the call for social justice. Let’s do this!” COLIN GARRATT: “I see my current role as part of a watershed moment for sustainability - Creating a Living Building in the world’s westernmost mega-city will change the way that people think about our global built environment.”

2013 Year End Bash





/Living Building Challenge Collaborative Los Angeles

/Living Building Challenge Collaborative Los Angeles

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The Living Building Challenge Los Angeles Collaborative is a community-based, in-person group that comes together for informal learning expe...

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