Amber Barnes: Provocateur, Facilitator and Champion of Growth. CEO of StartHuman.

The #ClimbYourOwnLadder community believes in imagining the world you want to create and taking active steps to create it. Women seeking a world of equality that values kindness, intuition, and innovation are the climbing their own ladder every day.

Amber Barnes, CEO of StartHuman, guides people and the organizations they create “towards outstanding business results in a way that works for and celebrates humanity.” Speaking to Amber made me think of this quote from Robert Browning: “Love, hope, fear, faith - these make humanity; These are its sign and note and character.”

Beautiful, right? How many times are we seen as cogs in a wheel? And when we are, how could we possibly maximize our potential? Amber envisions the workplace where we bring our whole selves, visible and truthful, and for which our best human ideas are put forward. The new way of working is built on the foundation of sustainability rather than burn out.

The research is undeniable that passionate, engaged people create innovative business results. Amber is not only climbing her own ladder, but she believes in empowering us all to do so to create better business results.

Amber Barnes, CEO of StartHuman. 

Amber Barnes, CEO of StartHuman. 

I’ve experienced the power and potential of healthy human interaction in the workplace and know first hand the positive implications on the hard and soft measures. It’s simple, but it isn’t easy. One day I was dreaming about a world where people left work filled up.... [w]here leaders and organizations as a whole took responsibility for the impact work has on people’s lives and therefore on children and communities as a whole. There’s a reciprocal relationship between fulfilled, passionate people, conscious companies, and business results. I wanted to show more people and organizations how to achieve that relationship.

What and who inspires you? Why?

I’m inspired by human growth and transformation. I’m inspired by people who are willing to challenge status quo without propagating separation, violence, and fear.

How do you incorporate playfulness in your life? What makes you laugh?

This is a struggle for me. One of my commitments for 2016 is incorporating more play into my life. Light-hearted stories, my dogs, cat videos, and statements from young kids.

What challenges you the most? How do you face challenges in your life?

Ignorance. I look for gentle ways to challenge status quo and facilitate dialogue about possibilities.

How are you playing big in your life? Why?

Openly sharing my view about people and the workplace. It’s a little dangerous to push against the status quo. People like comfort and there are many people and organization that profit from status quo. There’s a sense of loss that comes from challenging our assumptions and a great deal of personal responsibility that comes from doing this work.

Where are you playing small in your life? Why?

I’m not throwing my hat in the ring to share tools, resources, and knowledge in ways that could impact greater amounts of people. It’s like the starfish story… making a difference for one person at a time. It’s safer there and more predictable, but I know I’m capable of more. Why do any of us play small? Fear. Some people are ruthlessly mean and ignorant by choice. I’m working on resilience and getting to a place where I can feel the fear and do it anyways.

What rituals are a key part of your day/week and contribute your well-being?

I start each day with a writing activity called Morning Pages (from The Artist’s Way at Work) and a cup of green tea. I do Bikram Yoga several times a week and make time for running, meditation, and time outside my with labs, Guinness and Finn.

What does #ClimbYourOwnLadder mean to you?

It means being the C.E.O of my own life (Chief Experience Officer). My mantra for this is: I own my impact, I create my experiences, I choose my behaviors, and I always have a choice. A mentor used to remind me that we create our joys and our sorrows long before we experience them. Being the C.E.O of my own life honors that I’m 100% responsible for me. I can’t control other people or situations, but I always have control over my experience of people and situations.

Follow amber barnes @theamberbarnes and StartHuman @StartHuman on twitter