My recent interview with Bassam Tarazi was unlike any other before it in the history of my work for this site. Having met at a fundraising event, he and I had originally connected over our mutual history as writers and creative seekers. At our subsequent meeting for this article, we easily fell into casual conversation, which slowly evolved and naturally flowed to the topic at hand.
Bassam is the founder of Colipera – a name that sounds vaguely like some sort of deadly virus. This is by conscious choice. He’s in the business of sharing knowledge about getting and staying motivated, creative and productive, something he’s been busy making viral. His book, The Accountability Effect, The Book Your Excuses Don’t Want You to Read, is offered free online, and forms the basis for continued work with him via workshops and coaching.
Bassam’s ideas, while well grounded in the wisdom of the human potential movement of the last century, are informed by the rather recent perspective shift of the social media age that maintains that generosity of spirit goes further than secretive, competitive behavior. Open sharing and promotion of one another’s ideas foster a sense of open exchange – honesty and transparency are the order of the day. It’s a NEW new age, ushered in by the technological advances of electronic communications networks linking us all in ways we never could have dreamed of when talk of the Age of Aquarius first hit the scene.
For entrepreneurs, his ideas are not only useful, they are foundational to our success. Not only does he hit upon some of the basic tenets I’ve heard uttered by many of the successful CEO’s I’ve interviewed on these pages, but he frames them all in a philosophy marked by collaboration and mutual support. No longer is our individual success a closely guarded, private achievement. When we help one another to achieve our goals, we foster an atmosphere where everyone can up their game – our success, in a way, becomes viral… aaahhh, hence the virality of Colipera…
Colipera is a shortened acronym for Collective Inspiration Person Accountability. The idea had its roots in an experience Tarazi had while taking a writing workshop, in which he was forced to present new pieces of work every week for eight weeks. His intense desire NOT to be the guy in the group who came in with some excuse for not having done his share of the work motivated him to bring it, each week, without fail. He was inspired by this dynamic, and realized that we could create a world of collective inspiration by making ourselves vulnerable to one another in this structured fashion. And doesn’t that sound like the kind of virus you’d want to share?
Out of that experience, he wrote a kind of manifesto, which he called, the “Declaration of Interdependence.” It was the foundation for what became a four-week goal setting platform, involving 3-6 people at a time.
Here are some of the main points of his approach:
- When you get out of your head and articulate your ideas to someone else, they are reflected back to you with insights you would never have achieved on your own. (Hence the importance of creating a solid team, with whom you share common goals and a willingness to exchange.)
- When you make yourself accountable to others, you end up pushing yourself further than you would have if left to your own devices (e.g. inertia).
- Out of the vulnerability of sharing with others comes a mutual commitment to achieving your goals. In fact, it’s that willingness to be vulnerable that makes so many other things possible.
- Unexpected connections and outcomes are always possible when you bring together various people from different backgrounds and disciplines.
- All good work requires relentless patience.
As part of the work that developed out of the Declaration of Interdependence, Tarazi conducts goal-setting classes, corporate and group Colipera sessions, and one on one coaching through his 5-9 Maximization program. In addition to his free book, he launched an online course called: Ready. Set. Finish, and he recently co-created Magnet, a New York City based networking event that creates relationships and connects ideas.
An interesting fate for someone who started with a degree in mechanical engineering, then an MBA focusing on sustainability, and was even a nuclear engineer for a while. Prior to founding Colipera, Bassam was the Director of Operations for the multi-million dollar construction management firm, Omnibuild for four and a half years. He is also a co-founder of the Brooklyn-based Nomading Film Festival, a festival aimed at travelers who film their journeys. A veritable Renaissance man, Bassam has found a way to put his scientific training to good use, encouraging people to take accountability for their own success and their own happiness.
What does he like best about this business? Perhaps the immediacy of interaction and feedback: “In the personal and professional development world, if people aren’t reading my book and people aren’t e-mailing me or hiring me or saying thank you or literally telling me that what I’m saying is worthwhile… I know that it’s not, right?”
Judging by the feedback he’s gotten so far, including support from heavy hitters Seth Godin and Chris Guillebeau, Tarazi’s Colipera seems poised to start an epidemic.
Listen to the full interview here:
Deborah Oster Pannell is a writer who specializes in the arts, culture, special events and creative & innovative projects of all kinds. As Director of Communications for the tech start-up eventwist, she also manages their blog. Some of her favorite work is featured on modernlifeblogs.com, lizkingevents.com, and her own blog, shesaysyes.wordpress.com. Currently she is preparing to launch Project Mavens, a content branding firm. On Twitter @projectmaven.