Mark Eckhardt

Thoughts On Cool Shit That Matters

ark is a Zen Priest who trains visionary leaders, launches social businesses, loves cycling, composing music and trying to make the world spin in the opposite way.

No breakthroughs for the better

This is an intense piece written by Leslie Gelb, president emeritus and board senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.  I find myself having reactions that place me on two extreme ends of the spectrum. On one side, the "believer" that I am insists that things will improve between now and 2030. On the other, I feel despair. Either way it is tough stuff worthy of our attention.

The world of 2030 will be an ugly place, littered with rebellion and repression. Societies will be deeply fragmented and overwhelmed by irreconcilable religious and political groups, by disparities in wealth, by ignorant citizenry and by states’ impotence to fix problems. This world will resemble today’s, only almost everything will be more difficult to manage and solve.

Advances in technology and science won’t save us. Technology will both decentralize power and increase the power of central authorities. Social media will be able to prompt mass demonstrations in public squares, even occasionally overturning governments as in Hosni Mubarak’s Egypt, but oligarchs and dictators will have the force and power to prevail as they did in Cairo. Almost certainly, science and politics won’t be up to checking global warming, which will soon overwhelm us.

Muslims will be the principal disruptive factor, whether in the Islamic world, where repression, bad governance and economic underperformance have sparked revolt, or abroad, where they are increasingly unhappy and distained by rulers and peoples. In America, blacks will become less tolerant of their marginalization, as will other persecuted minorities around the world. These groups will challenge authority, and authority will slam back with enough force to deeply wound, but not destroy, these rebellions.

A long period of worldwide economic stagnation and even decline will reinforce these trends. There will be sustained economic gulfs between rich and poor. And the rich will be increasingly willing to use government power to maintain their advantages.

Unfortunately, the next years will see a reversal of the hopes for better government and for effective democracies that loomed so large at the end of the Cold War.

Read more:

Unsexy Freedom

“The really important kind of freedom involves attention and awareness and discipline, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them over and over in myriad petty, unsexy ways every day.

That is real freedom. That is being educated, and understanding how to think. The alternative is unconsciousness, the default setting, the rat race, the constant gnawing sense of having had, and lost, some infinite thing.”

—David Foster Wallace

An End Of The Year Thanks!

To all the people who made 2013 possible....THANK YOU!

Malene + Emilia + Naya



Erik + Inge Frimann Jepsen

Christina Frimann Jepsen + Mike Martinussen

Mikkel + Sabine Bondesen

Dorthe + Richard Baker 

Dan + Lauri Burrier

Jean Ford

Alex + Ana Bogusky

Rob Schuham

John Bielenberg

Ryan Fiorentino

Kathleen Paylor

Tatyana Penalba

Decree Bjorkman

Romy Flint

Debbie Horn

Stefanie Hermsdorf

Emily Haynes

Ellie Altschuler

Dexter Dwight

Flavor | Max, Jonathan, and Ryan

Rafe Furst

Chance Barnett

Greg Galle

Liisa Juola

Caron Harte

Kae Erickson

Donna Graves

Milan Cronovich

Valerie Coleman

Tanner Marty

Luke Sniewski

Scott Prindle

Dave Schiff

Graham Furlong

Carmel Hagen 

Jeffrey Garland

Cyrus Clemenson

Carlos Olivares

Jen Collins

Mike Aruaz

Joe Turner

Kristian Bye

Marius Andresen

Brad O’sullivan

Hildy Gottlieb

Dimitri Petropilis

Paul Bazay

Alex Jessup 

The COMMON Community - representing 63 countries, and thousands of incredible people committed to doing shit that matters.




Make It Personal

If what you are doing isn't intended to touch the heart of another person, then how can you blame them for not buying your product or using your service.

For social entrepreneurs, this couldn't be more important. Push beyond the low hanging fruit of social impact, and making a difference in the world as your USP. Once you've baked that into your model don't dwell on that fact, check the box, and move on to finding something that people would move mountains for.

Josh Bronstein, Founder of Flint & Tinder hit the mark when he said, "I don't want you to buy a pair of our men's underwear because it was made in America and is socially responsible, I want you to buy our product because it is your favorite pair of premium men's underwear."

No rocket science here. Just make whatever you are doing personal. 


Thank You!..The Final Period to 2012

To all the people who made 2012 one of the most memorable 365 days I’ve ever had....THANK YOU!


Malene + Emilia + Naya



Erik + Inge Frimann Jepsen

Christina Frimann Jepsen

Mike Martinussen

Mikkel + Sabine Bondesen 

Dan + Lauri + Nick Burrier

Jean Ford

Alex + Ana Bogusky

Rob Schuham

John Bielenberg

Stefanie Hermsdorf

Ryan Fiorentino

Greg Galle

Liisa Juola

Cristina Turner


Al Gore

Lisa Berg

Joey Schlichter

Richard Demato

Alexander Kolpin

Shireen Piramoon


Fox Rothschild LLP

Ellie Altshuler

Jeffrey Kravitz

BC Bookkeeping

Michelle DelaBruere


Kae Erickson

Donna Graves

Milan Cronovich

Valerie Coleman

Stephanie Edmonson

COMMON Insurgents

Carmel Hagen 

Jeffrey Garland

Jesse Borrell

Jeff Oath

Isaac Karsen

Jeff Oath

Scott McDonald

Laura Carpenter

Katie Brennan

Ian Rand

  Michelle Bove

Keisha Banks

Adam Sandler

Michelle Lin

Johanne Lim

Alexandra Donati

Jon Chesley

Dennis Mancini

Amy Benziger

Amy siegel

Kristen Fox

Steve Reiss

Sarah Plotkin

Sarah Tabbush

Laura Houseman

Boo Fagan

Sarah Zobel

Monirul Kabir

Bob Strickland

Ayelet Baron

Cyrus Clemenson

Ronny Northrup

Michael Kritzer

Lana Volftsun

Tobias Wacker

Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic

Carlos Olivares

Jen Collins

The Center For Science In The Public Interest

Mike Jacobson

Jeff Cronin

George Hacker

The Real Bears


 The Wolfsonian Museum

Cathy Leff

Julian Gomez

The Butler Bros.

Adam Butler

Marty Butler 

Travis Wurges


Johanna Beyebach

John Winterkorn

Bright Products

Kristian bye

Marius Andresen

Kia Holmberg

Kjersti Fløgstad 

Fallen Whistles

Sean Carasso

Summit Series

Audrey Buchanan

Smokeproof Press

Brad O’sullivan

Arthur Karuletwa

John Weiss

Creating The Future

Hildy Gottlieb

Dimitri Petropilis

Jon Steeler

Michelle Morris

The COMMON Pitch Chile Team

All COMMON Pitch Applicants: NYC, SA, MKE, CHILE

All COMMON Pitch Finalists: NYC, SA, MKE, CHILE

All COMMON Pitch Sponsors

Pablo Rodriguez

Consuelo Muniz




Sustainability: Fad or the Real Thing?

The 2012 Sustainability Leaders Survey conducted by Globescan and SustainAbility of over 800 sustainabililty experts spanning 76 countires, revealed that:

"Overall perceptions of sustainability leadership declined or stalled across nearly all institutional actors in 2012; social entrperenuers continue to be regarded as the most effective."

What do the numbers tell us? Better yet where are they pointing us, and how are we to respond?

I don't have answers to these questions, but it does serve as a good reminder to pause and reflect.


To Become

Antoine de Saint-Exupery wrote, "To become a man is to be responsible; to be ashamed of miseries you did not cause.' I say this: To profess to be a healer, that is, to take the oath you take today, is to be responsible; to be ashamed of miseries that you did not cause. That is a heavy burden, and you did not ask for it.

- Donald M. Berwick, MD,MP - Graduate Address at Harvard Medical School-

You Are Not Confused; The World Is

A powerfully inspiring quote to fuel your desire to make the world a better place to be:

"You are not confused; the world is. You need not forget your purpose, even if the world does. Leaders are not leaders who permit pragmatics to quench purpose." - Donald M. Berwick, MD,MP - Graduate Address at Harvard Medical School-


For the full speech:


Designing for Experience

I have never been a huge Steve Jobs fan, but I do resonate with his words and thinking about designing for the customer experience.  

In my work this translates into Vision, or being clear about the impact that you aspire to have on people and the world.

Some reject these kinds of statements, citing that they are Woo Woo words and phrases that amount to nothing more than benign words on the walls of an organization.

Take a look, and decide if Job's approach could make a difference for you.

“One of the things I’ve always found is that you’ve got to start with the customer experience and work backwards to the technology. You can’t start with the technology and try to figure out where you’re going to try to sell it. I’ve made this mistake probably more than anybody else in this room, and I’ve got the scar tissue to prove it. As we have tried to come up with a strategy and a vision for Apple, it started with what incredible benefits could we give to the customer, where can we take the customer…” ~ Steve Jobs

Source: Richards, Kelli (2012-06-12). The Magic and Moxie of Apple - An Insider's View (Kindle Locations 194-198). All Access Group. Kindle Edition.