The Goal Clinic

The first members of the WOL Membership Network signed up this weekend, and it’s already an amazing mix of people.

Creating this new network opens up possibilities for individuals as well as companies of all sizes. Here’s one of the first things we’ll do together, and the kinds of people who will benefit from it.

The Goal Clinic

All the Circle methods, including WOL Mindfulness, begin with a goal of some kind. It helps you orient your activities throughout your Circle and tap into your intrinsic motivation.

But what should you choose? Though there are instructions in Week 1, I’ve seen how people benefit from getting some coaching to help them choose or refine their goal.

That’s what happens in the Goal Clinic. Before our new membership Circles even form, we will give people the chance to share their goals, listen to others, and explore tips and possibilities with me and others in the network. That will help them get off to a great start with a meaningful goal they can make progress towards.

We’ve been doing this with our biggest corporate customers, and now we can do it for everyone in the new network. Even better, we can offer ways for members with similar goals to continue to connect and exchange throughout their membership, expanding our chances for learning and growing together.

The Goal Clinic.001.jpeg

Five Kinds of Members

Some of our new members work for themselves and some in big organizations. Some joined as part of their personal development program at work and had their company support their membership. Here are five types of members we’ve seen so far.

Career Builders who want to develop their skills and access more opportunities.

Joining my first Working Out Loud Circle was one of the best decisions I made.

- Lea on her WOL Circle experience

The Curious who are looking to explore new topics and make new connections.

[WOL Mindfulness gave me] a maximum outcome with a minimum investment of time. It helped me to reduce stress and to realize how much good is happening in my life. My new habits have become an integral part of my everyday life.

- Melanie on her WOL Mindfulness experience

Supportive Managers who want to offer their staff personal development and coaching opportunities that are proven, cost-effective, and easy to administer.

Many are simply astonished by the number of opportunities that they were offered while applying their WOL practices.

The employees indicated that WOL has changed the way they approach and value others as well as the way they treat and value themselves." 

- Nadine Skerlavaj, “Why is WOL accepted by employees?” [Bachelor Thesis]

Small Company Executives who would like the kind of employee and culture programs that large companies have, so they too can foster a more agile, collaborative workplace. 

An ideal method to further develop our learning and working culture.

- Dürr Systems AG, sharing their WOL experience on LinkedIn

Working Out Loud can provide some of that “social glue” that enables organizations to move forward cohesively. Whether it’s a virtual team or one physically together.

- Shirley on joining a Circle as a new joiner

Progressive HR Professionals who are looking for new ways to help employees collaborate and feel connected, especially in a time where more people are working remotely. Some are even looking for cross-company networking.

We are 70 leaders on a journey towards better collaboration culture and decided everyone should start a Circle. 

- Sebastian Kolberg, Leading Digital Transformation & Change Projects, Bayer

The future of corporate learning is self-directed and social. WOL is an important part of our learning strategy.

- Laura Krsnik, Head of Global Learning, Merck KGaA

Can you relate to these roles and these quotes? Are you looking for new skills, opportunities, connections, or ideas? The WOL Membership Network makes it easier than ever to invest in yourself. 

Learn more at:

A dozen movements that inspire me

We’re in Week 9 in my WOL Circle, a week which helps you make your work visible, and one of the exercises is to write down a list of useful resources. It’s supposed to be a top ten list, but I couldn’t help myself and listed twelve.

Visible work can include a wide, wide range of things: what you’re doing, how you’re doing it, what you learned, mistakes you made, resources you found useful, people who helped or inspired you, and the list goes on. Yet it can be a challenge to know what to say. Maybe you’re afraid, for example, of making a mistake or coming across as a self-promoter. 

One way to bypass these concerns is to give credit to other people, and a simple example of that is a top ten list. “Your top ten” is a list of ten resources related to your goal that you find particularly useful or interesting—books, blogs, presentations, videos, people, etc. 

Everyone in my Circle committed to publish their list. Here’s mine.

My Top Ten

I chose people who developed a method or point of view and spread it widely. Some of these movements are about work and how we approach it. Some are about self-care and self-improvement. Some aim to help the planet and the people in it.

  1. Seth Godin – 

  2. Bill Burnett & Dave Evans -

  3. David Allen -

  4. Eric Ries - 

  5. Jon Kabat-Zinn - (Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction)

  6. Chade-Meng Tan - (Search Inside Yourself)

  7. James Doty - (Compassion & Altruism Research & Education)

  8. Marshall Rosenberg - (Non-Violent Communication)

  9. Bill Wilson - (Alcoholics Anonymous)

  10. Alex Scott - 

  11. Anne-Marie Imafidon – 

  12. Greta Thunberg - 

They are wildly different movements & leaders. Seth Godin writes daily blog posts for a million subscribers while Bill Wilson developed a method in 1935 for in-person meetings. (Alcoholics Anonymous now has over two million members and 120,000 groups world-wide.) Chade-Meng Tan developed “Search Inside Yourself” working at Google while Marshall Rosenberg developed Non-Violent Communication when he was resolving civil rights conflicts in the 1960s.

Yet, using different means, they all managed to spread their ideas, build global communities or networks of coaches (or both), and make a meaningful difference. There is much to learn from all of them.

Lessons & aspirations for the WOL movement

This week we held an online celebration of the WOL Community with 340+ participants stretched across the globe from Brazil to Germany to New Zealand. (Here’s a two-minute video trailer on YouTube.) At the heart of what the WOL Community does is to help people realize more of what they have to offer. Ademir in S?o Paolo describes the “WOL Spirit” as “generosity, empathy…helping each other even if you don’t know people.” If our community encourages and enables more people to contribute—“to do what they can with what they have”—we will have done well, especially in these times. Dave in Australia described it this way:

“Whatever we're good at is what the world needs us to be.

And then between all of us, we've got it all covered.”

The WOL Community isn’t as large as the movements I listed, but we are learning and growing. As Marshall Rosenberg wrote, “A big part of helping social change happen is connecting with other people who share a similar vision.” Who would you add to my top ten list that we could learn from? Who’s making a difference that inspires you to do something too?

Doing the best with what we have

It is extremely quiet in New York City. No restaurants or bars. No shops or gyms. No tourists. The parks department even removed the basketball hoops from the local court so people won’t play there. And yet, amidst all of this, we find new ways to connect.

Last week, for example, my son’s teacher created a “virtual recess” for her 4th-grade class in addition to the new distance learning they’re trying. My daughter’s piano teacher gave her a virtual lesson. This Thursday, instead of a big event in K?ln for the WOL Community & the new book, we will have a virtual celebration with almost 500 people registered. (You can sign up here.)

And then, there was the virtual yoga class.

With all the yoga studios closed, my friend Mindy Bacharach tried to come up with a new way to help people practice (and a new way to make a living). She figured out how to use Zoom, put up a web page, and decided to offer live classes by video. When she told me, it seemed like a nice idea, but would anyone show up? Would anyone pay?

Early Sunday morning, my wife rolled out two yoga mats and made it clear we would both be going to class. “We need to support Mindy,” she said. We joined the call early and noticed a few people already there, then more joined, and still more. We caught glimpses of apartments in New York and New Jersey, and also in Michigan and Florida. Even one in Berlin. More than sixty people were in the class, triple the number that normally attends in person.

Mindy calls the online class, “It’s not pretty but it’s yoga.” For sure, it wasn’t the same as what we were used to. But it wasn’t ugly, it was just a different kind of beautiful. 

Kids and dogs came in and out of view while Mindy called out adjustments and instructions. Some people used towels instead of yoga mats. “If you don’t have blocks, use soups cans,” Mindy encouraged us. “Do the best with what you have.”

And that, really, is all we can do. And it’s all we can ask of others. “Do the best with what you have.”

My friend turned a desperate situation into an opportunity to create something new, and she wound up reaching more people than she ever could before. Seeing sixty strangers come together, for themselves and for their friend and teacher, filled me with inspiration and hope. Even when a pandemic forces us to keep our distance, we are hungrier than ever to connect and belong.

I can’t wait till next Sunday.

Virtual Yoga: “A different kind of beautiful”

“I Work Out Loud”

When I see “WOL” in a person’s online profile (and now, increasingly, in job descriptions) I wonder “Why do they do that? What does Working Out Loud mean for them?”

It’s somehow more than just another skill or method. You can feel it when you’re at a WOL event or one of the 20+ meetups, or when you see the way WOL practitioners relate to others online. There’s a sense of curiosity, generosity, and kindness that pervade the community. 

Here’s what it means for me to say, “I Work Out Loud.” What does it mean for you?


I listen.

I care.

I empathize.

I help.

I contribute.

I experiment.

I make mistakes.

I learn.

I reflect.

I ask questions.

I improve.

I keep going.


I matter.

Together, we make a difference.


Note: You can experience some of this feeling at the next WOL event on March 26th, a virtual community conference with hundreds of participants around the world. Community members who are in the all-new edition of Working Out Loud will share their story live followed by a Q&A. You can register here.

“I WOL”: What does it mean for you?

March 26th! A special celebration & an all-new Working Out Loud

There may be over 1000 of us participating in this event, spread across as many of the 20 WOL meetups as we can organize and synchronize. I’ll be in K?ln, Germany, and my wife and two youngest children will be there with me. It will be unlike anything I’ve ever been a part of before.

We will be celebrating the community that turned WOL into a movement, and they will be the first ones to get the all-new edition of Working Out Loud.

The all-new  Working Out Loud . (Available in May. Click on the cover for pre-order information.) I’m grateful to Seth Godin for the nice words on the cover.

The all-new Working Out Loud. (Available in May. Click on the cover for pre-order information.) I’m grateful to Seth Godin for the nice words on the cover.

A special event

The idea for the multi-city event began with an email, asking if I could join a meetup in K?ln someday. After a few exchanges with Sebastian Kolberg, Holger Gelhausen, and Guido Perl, we thought to combine it with a kind of launch party for the new book. 

But how could we make the event more inclusive? Not just for people in one city but for the entire WOL community? That’s when we decided to use video to connect and interact with all the meetups for the first time ever.

The event on March 26th is made possible by the HRS Group, who have a beautiful space in K?ln. As a leading company in the hospitality industry that supports individual travelers as well as companies like Google, Siemens, and Toyota, they are the perfect host and sponsor. (Herzlichen Dank, Karina Leute!)

So far, there are 200+ people attending the event in person, and we’re working with the 20 WOL meetups to include as many people and cities as possible.

The all-new Working Out Loud

When I wrote the first version of Working Out Loud there were only a handful of Circles and the method consisted of only fours guides for the 12-week program. Since then, WOL Circles changed dramatically (v6 is out in a few months) and have spread to over 60 countries and hundreds of companies.

In addition to the updated method and exercises in Part III of the new book, there are new chapters on leadership and changing the culture of your company. There are also many, many more stories of the people and companies using WOL to make a difference for themselves and others, and a number of them will be a part of the event. 

The new edition is available for pre-order now, and will be available online and in bookstores on May 12th. (It’s so early now that the cover and interior on Amazon won’t be updated for a week or so, but I couldn’t wait to share it!) On March 26th, I will be privileged and happy to see the first pre-release copies in the hands of the community that made Working Out Loud much more than just a book.

Celebrating 19 WOL meetups

If you are ever looking for a group of kind, generous, curious people, you can find them at a Working Out Loud meetup. There are now 19 of them in 3 countries with new ones being formed. (You can find a complete list at

Some groups are more than 500 people and some are a few dozen. The meetings are in venues ranging from restaurants to bank branches to corporate innovation centers. Yet as different as they are, they all have a wonderful positive energy about them.

It takes work by dedicated volunteers to organize, promote, and facilitate the events. Why would anyone go through all the trouble? Barbara Hilgert from Hamburg said it was about a feeling. Frustrated at the way some companies worked, she said, “I had to learn quickly that sharing is not appreciated in many organizations…so I soon stopped sharing.” She knew she had more to offer but wasn’t sure how to contribute. 

That‘s why it was like a kind of revelation when I came across “Working Out Loud.“ Within this community and this framework knowledge sharing is appreciated, and it gives me and my work sense again.

I started the Meetup in order to give this outstanding feeling to many, many more people around me, give them the chance to get to know your method and start feeling as I do. 

It’s that feeling—of increased confidence, of empowerment, of being able to contribute—that motivates the meetup organizers. As Connie Wu in Shanghai said, “People are Working Out Loud not just because we’re fans of the method, but because we’re hungry for a taste of what work could be like.”

Work can be better. We deserve it, the world needs it, and the WOL meetups are helping many more people experience it. I am inspired by—and grateful for—all of them. 

A fantastric group at a WOL Meetup in Stuttgart, also known as #WOL0711 (for their local area code)

A fantastric group at a WOL Meetup in Stuttgart, also known as #WOL0711 (for their local area code)

WOL for Teams didn’t work, but this will

You might call it “WOL for Shared Purpose” or “WOL for Communities.” I like “WOL for Passion.” There’s no need for special materials or training. You can use the free WOL Circle Guides and start now. 

The idea is a result of a failed experiment with WOL for Teams. By applying what we learned, and making some small adjustments to Circles, I think we can help a wide range of communities and causes.

Why WOL for Teams failed

WOL for Teams, as you may have guessed from the name, is a WOL Circle in which the goal and relationship list are shared by everyone in the group, and so the method emphasizes the group over the individual. A modified set of Circle Guides includes other adaptations that flow from that. For example, the goals we suggested in Week 1 are different.

  • Raise awareness about what we do
  • Get feedback from stakeholders
  • Find and learn from others who do related work

Some of the exercises were different too. You would work on the team’s online presence instead of your own. The “Letter from Your Future Self” exercise became “The President’s Award” where you speak about how your team accomplished its goal. And so on.

In the pilot, two kinds of challenges led to us deeming it a failure. The first was procedural. Having a single relationship list in the group made it unclear who was supposed to do what with each person on the list. Would the whole team suddenly offer attention and appreciation to someone? That seemed odd. (The word “stalking” was used.) Also, some teams were larger, making the meetings hard to manage.

More insidious was that we explicitly undermined one of the most important elements of WOL: intrinsic motivation. While some people in the pilot may have truly cared about their team’s goal, it wasn’t enough for most people to spark their motivation to do things differently. The Circle meeting began to feel like yet another team meeting and, as a result, most pilot members stopped showing up.

WOL for Passion

WOL for Passion is subtly different. As in WOL Circles, you're still in a group of 4 - 5 people, and each individual still chooses an individual goal they care about. However, Circles are formed based on goals that are related. By grouping people based on the goal they choose, we preserve each member’s intrinsic motivation while creating possibilities for more interaction within the Circle.

The thematic goals can be anything one truly cares about. Maybe you're passionate about a work topic like autonomous vehicles or cryptocurrencies or the Internet of Things. Or maybe you care deeply about more general topics like innovation or diversity, or education or the environment. Whatever it is, you're likely to find people who share your interests in related online communities inside and outside your company. WOL for Passion would give you all a simple and structured way to contribute and connect.

Because your goals are related, you'll be able to share more resources within your Circle. And as more Circles form related to a given theme, resources could be curated within communities of practice. “Here’s a list of people related to the topic and useful resources. Here’s a sample Contribution Checklist.” All of that would enable WOL for Passion members to make progress more quickly.

In short, WOL for Passion accelerates connecting people and knowledge around a topic, tapping into each individual's intrinsic motivation to do so.

An example in Nebraska

I've been thinking about this idea since I first heard the results of the WOL for Teams pilot over a year ago. Recently, I saw a tweet from John Porter - aka the Urban Agriculture Guru - that pushed me to do something. John had been in a WOL Circle and found it helpful for developing and growing his business and personal relationships. He also cares deeply about urban agriculture and the many benefits of consuming locally-produced food. So he wanted to see if he could use WOL to connect urban food producers with other parts of the food eco-system.

“Our local food system is in its beginning phases here in Omaha, and I really think I can be a catalyst in helping connect the dots between producers and from producers to consumers, retailers, etc.  I’d love to build an informal network of producers so that I can better support this growth, and I think WOL would be a good tool to do this.”

John said there were already meet-ups, Facebook pages, and other efforts to connect people, but that nothing so far had formed a sense of community. 

“We post announcements - but nobody is contributing. I want to use WOL to build purpose for the community. I want to be able to build collaborations between them.”

So I asked John if he would be willing to do an experiment. He would form a few Circles of people with goals related to his, and I would help him along the way. He agreed.

What are you passionate about?

The exercises in Week 11 of the Circle Guides (“Imagine the possibilities”) are about this kind of community building. “As you aim higher, your purpose is no longer about you and what you alone might accomplish but what your tribe will accomplish together.” WOL for Passion builds on this, helping you find people who care about what you care about, build deep relationships with them, and connect and equip them to make progress towards related goals.

What about you? Is there something you care so much about that you want to create connections and possibilities related to it? Try your own experiment by forming WOL Circles of people with related goals. Experience what kind of a difference that can make. I'll be glad to help you, too.

An example of community-building: Nebraska local foods 

An example of community-building: Nebraska local foods 



“How do I make more of her?”

I was sitting in the hotel lobby, tired after having given a talk and two workshops, when she walked up to me.

“I’ve been looking for you,” she said. I recognized her from one of the tables at the front. She wanted to tell me about the women in one of her educational programs, and how ideas in my talk might help them.

The story she told me has stayed with me all week. I feel like it’s one of those times when the universe is nudging me to do something.

Helping mothers and their children

She works at a university, and has for a long time. She had been running a program to help mothers learn about nutrition for their children. They would talk about what’s in foods that people commonly feed their kids, and what to watch out for. They would introduce them to foods they might not be used to cooking with, like avocado and quinoa.

While many of the women found it helpful, some were particularly enthusiastic. They truly cared about the topic. So when she got funding for a related program and needed to hire people, one of her team members suggested they consider hiring women they were already helping.


Working with (and around) the system

This wasn’t the normal recruiting process. But the woman running the program had been doing this kind of thing for decades, and she knew how to work with the system. She hired them.

She started reading some of the texts and emails from one of the women. In the program, they would cook meals so they could all try the food themselves and learn how it was prepared. A?mother-turned-nutrition educator had been searching for recipes. She was exploring and creating ("What if we tried cranberries with that instead?") and was excited to share her ideas.?I could feel the administrator's?sense of wonder and hope as she read the exchanges. I could feel the mother's empowerment as she tapped into new ways she could contribute.?

Then she put down her phone, somewhat downcast, and said, “Normally, the system rejects this kind of thing.” In addition to rules about hiring, there were rules about which recipes they were allowed to use, about which communications channels to use.?But she said she had followed the rules for too long, and now she cared more about helping people, whatever it took. I could tell she was gratified to have helped one young woman, and also that she felt compelled to do more. That’s when she asked, “How do I make more of her?”

“What if?"

As I listened to what was being shared by email and text, I thought of Jane Bozarth’s book, “Show Your Work: The Payoffs and How-To’s of Working Out Loud,” in which she offered a wide and wonderful range of?examples of everyday people making their work visible. I started to ask some "What if?" questions.

What if all of the recipes and other ideas were more visible? Instead of being hidden in emails and texts, the mothers, teachers, and others who cared about the topic could interact, share, and learn in an online community, or even a simple Facebook group.

What if the program administrator wasn’t the one responsible for “making more of her”? The women in the program could use their visible contributions to make their own connections and find people as passionate about the topic as they were.?

What if you didn’t need to ask permission or make it part of the program at all, but empowered the women to set things up for themselves?

This. This is at the core of what I hope to do, to spread this kind of empowerment, one that enables people to take a bit more control over their lives. To enable people of any background or circumstances to learn, connect, and access opportunities they might never have known existed otherwise.

We shook hands as she said goodbye. “I’ll definitely contact you,” she said. I hope she does.

Where do you put priceless art?

My 11 year old social media adviser was pretty clear about what I needed to do. 

“Dad, you need an Instagram account.”

I was skeptical. I didn’t think of Working Out Loud as particularly visual, but then I remembered the wonderful photos people take of their circles. 

A circle selfie! I included this photo in the TEDx talk.

Displaying their books.

I believe this is Joyce Sullivan's garden. (She's featured in the book.)

The beautiful original artwork. 

This is in the book right after the introduction. It was drawn by Kazumi Koyama during one of my Early talks.

Even my own pictures of people, events, and working around the world.

In the Poets House in NYC, where I often write.

And thus was born the Working Out Loud account on Instagram (or “Insta” as my daughter refers to it). 

If you have an image you’d like to share with the community, send it to me via Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or email. I’ll post an image to my Insta each day.

Being part of a community that cares enough to create and share such images is priceless. 

Thank you.

"Before all of this happened, I was about to give up."

I remember when the first part of the story unfolded. There was a Humans of NY (HONY) photo of a young boy, and Brandon Stanton asked who influenced him the most.

“My principal, Ms. Lopez.”

“How has she influenced you?”

“When we get in trouble, she doesn’t suspend us. She calls us to her office and explains to us how society was built down around us. And she tells us that each time somebody fails out of school, a new jail cell gets built. And one time she made every student stand up, one at a time, and she told each one of us that we matter.”

“That’s nice,” I thought. “I wonder what that woman?is like.”

Over the next few weeks, I found out.

The school

Brandon photographed other teachers and administrators at the school, Mott Hall Bridges Academy, “a middle school in the under-served neighborhood of Brownsville, Brooklyn.”

They all seemed like such strong?people. People who were committed to their students and their community, to helping them excel, to making a difference. HONY fans got to meet Ms. Lopez.

A couple days back, I posted the portrait of a young man who described an influential principal in his life by the name of Ms. Lopez. Yesterday I was fortunate to meet Ms. Lopez at her school, Mott Hall Bridges Academy.

“This is a neighborhood that doesn’t necessarily expect much from our children, so at Mott Hall Bridges Academy we set our expectations very high. We don’t call the children ‘students,’ we call them ‘scholars.’ Our color is purple. Our scholars wear purple and so do our staff. Because purple is the color of royalty. I want my scholars to know that even if they live in a housing project, they are part of a royal lineage going back to great African kings and queens. They belong to a group of individuals who invented astronomy and math. And they belong to a group of individuals who have endured so much history and still overcome. When you tell people you’re from Brownsville, their face cringes up. But there are children here that need to know that they are expected to succeed.”

The power of community

Humans of NY launched a crowd-funding campaign to raise money for the school. One particular program was to send 6th-graders to visit Harvard, to show them where they could be if they wanted to be. The initial goal was $100,000.

The HONY community responded and contributed. Fans even sent flowers to Ms. Lopez.

The current total is $1.4 million. Ms. Lopez announced it at a school assembly.

"As a result of this fundraiser, the entire school will be going to visit Harvard. We’re all going to Harvard!"

The kids went nuts.

In addition to the Harvard program, all funds over $700,000 are going to a scholarship fund available to graduates of Motts Hall Bridges Academy. The fund is named after Vidal, the young boy whose voice started it all. He’s also going to be the first recipient.

"I have something to admit to all of you."

It’s such a beautiful story. Poor kids. Hardworking, committed teachers. Later on, the story inspired TV appearances and a visit with the President. But there was a poignant moment in Ms. Lopez’ talk at the school assembly.

“I have something to admit to all of you. Before all of this happened, I was about to give up. I was broken. I felt like typing my resignation. I told my mother: ‘Mom, I don’t think I can do it anymore. Because I don’t think my scholars care. And I don’t think they believe in themselves enough to care. I’m afraid they don’t think they’re good enough.’ And she told me to pray on it. But I told her, ‘I might be too angry to pray.’ And I know this is hard to believe, because you guys have never seen me break. But I was broken. It’s just like when you see your mom break down. You only see your mom cry when she’s been fighting so hard for you and she doesn’t think you care. That’s how I felt.

But then a couple nights later I was with my daughter at a Broadway show, and we were waiting for the show to start, and I started to get all these text messages from my teachers and former students. And then I saw Vidal’s face pop up on my screen. And my first thought was that something bad had happened. Because that’s normally the case around here when someone’s photo shows up unexpectedly. And the moment I realized that Vidal had said something nice about me, the usher came over and made me turn off my phone. When intermission came, my daughter said: ‘Mom, we’ve got to find out what’s happening.’ So we went and sat in the car. And I read what Vidal said, and I began to read the comments. And tears started coming down my face. Because even though I always tell you that you matter, up until that moment, I didn’t feel like I mattered.”

Who’s your Ms. Lopez? Your Vidal?

Her speech reminded me how little we know about the people who inspire and influence us. From a distance, they may seem happy and strong. Really, though, we have no idea.

But we all have doubts and fears. I certainly do. And a single voice can make a difference.?Just this week, as I was thinking about giving up writing for a while, I got a lovely note from someone I don't know well but who said how much she appreciates this blog?each Saturday. I was surprised and gratified, and her note made me think of all the people who influence me, and all the notes I could send to tell them that.

Is someone doing work that has influenced you? Let them know. Your voice can make a difference.