Archive for the 'Civic Ventures' Category

Sep 13 2008

Positive Genomics

One of the more dramatic revolutions in academia over the past decade has been the advent of Positive Psychology.  Below is an interview I did at Stanford University with Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi at Civic Ventures’ 2006 Purpose Prize Summit (where I am a Sr. Fellow):

What interests me particularly, however, is the notion of what I’ll call positive genomics.  Is it possible to understand the genome in terms of the positive, life-affirming qualities that make us whole, resilient, and adaptive?  Can we find genetic contributors to Seligman and Peterson’ Character Strengths and Virtues? Rather than compiling endless taxonomies, can we find and understand what’s working?  Given the information explosion that we are undergoing, how do we even begin to discover this positive informationOne interesting study of the wellderly seems to be a step in the right direction:

The ‘Wellderly Study’ is a joint initiative between the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California, and scientists at the J. Craig Venter Institute in Rockville, Maryland. It hopes to investigate the genomes of 2,000 people aged 80 or more who take no significant medication and have never suffered from any serious disease.

“We are looking at a cohort that we think is harbouring major secrets. They have disease susceptibility genes, but they don’t get the diseases you would have expected. Something has protected them. We hope to find out what that is,” says study leader Eric Topol, who is director of genomic medicine at Scripps.”

And one of my favorite superstars of academia, Jon Haidt, has written on the emotions of elevation and awe, as well as some tantalizing pieces on the role of moral psychology and religion.

So, how do we bridge the information gap between the petabytes of genomic information inundating us to the notion of beauty, awe, and a a life well-lived?  I’m not quite sure at the moment, but it’s a wonderful question to be asking.  I am sure that we aren’t going to answer this question by breaking things and then looking for what fails.

I’m very open to hearing about other positive genomic research and efforts… mail me at if you have any suggestions, putting “Postive Genomics” in the subject line of your message.


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Aug 20 2008

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and the Flow of Goodness

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi is author of Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, is a leading thinker in the field of Positive Psychology. This interview was recorded at the Purpose Prize Summit at Stanford University Sept 8, 2006 by Tom Munnecke.
One of the world’s leading authorities on the psychology of creativity, Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi is the C.S. and D.J. Davidson Professor of Psychology at the Peter F. Drucker Graduate School of Management at Claremont Graduate University and Director of the Quality of Life Research Center. He is also emeritus professor of human development at the University of Chicago.

Csikszentmihalyi holds a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago where he later returned as a professor. He has been a visiting professor at several universities both in the US and abroad. His research has been supported by the US Public Health Service, the J. Paul Getty Trust, the Sloan Foundation, the W.T. Grant Foundation, the Hewlett Foundation, and the Spencer Foundation.

A former resident scholar at the Rockefeller Center at Bellagio, resident fellow at the Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences in Palo Alto, and senior Fullbright Fellow in Brazil and New Zealand, Dr. Csikszentmihalyi holds honorary doctor of science degrees from Colorado College and from Lake Forest College and a doctor of fine arts degree from the Rhode Island School of Design.

In addition to the hugely influential Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience (1990), he is the author of thirteen other books and some 225 research articles. His most recent book is Good Business: Leadership, Flow, and the Making of Meaning (2003).

This interview was recorded at the Purpose Prize Summit at Stanford University Sept 8, 2006 by Tom Munnecke.


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Oct 18 2006

2007 Purpose Prize nominations now open

Published by under Civic Ventures

Civic Ventures announced this week the opening of nominations for the 2007 Purpose Prize, a major initiative that invests in Americans over 60 who are leading a new age of social innovation.

The Purpose PrizeTM provides five awards of $100,000 and ten awards of $10,000 to people over 60 who are taking on society?s biggest challenges. It?s for those with the passion and creativity to discover new opportunities, the experience to come up with practical solutions, and the determination to make lasting change.

Winners in 2006 addressed problems such as intolerance, racial disparities in preventable deaths, job opportunities for the disabled, housing needs of the elderly poor, and the disrupted lives of children with a parent in jail.

Who will take the Prize in 2007?
Make your nomination now at
Nominations will close on February 1.

Send questions to


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Sep 05 2006

2006 Purpose Prize Winners Announced

Published by under Civic Ventures

The winners of the first-ever prizes a major new initiative to invest in Americans over 60 who are leading a new age of social innovation have been announced. The prize is managed by Civic Ventures (at which I am a senior fellow, but not directly related to the prize)

The winners reveal the wide variety of backgrounds and experiences that those over 60 bring to the task of solving some of society?s most pressing problems in what used to be called the retirement years.

?As the first of America?s 77 million baby boomers turn 60 this year, The Purpose Prize winners are doing what society least expects people over 60 to do: innovate,? said Marc Freedman, founder and President of Civic Ventures.

?These men and women ? some national figures, some local heroes ? disprove the notion that innovation is the province of the young and show us the essence of what?s possible in an aging society.?

The $100,000 winners – selected by a jury comprised of 21 leaders in business, politics, journalism, the arts, and the nonprofit sector – include: Continue Reading »


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Aug 29 2006

Encore Careers and Civic Ventures

Published by under Civic Ventures

I am pleased to say that I have been asked to be a Senior Fellow at Civic Ventures based in San Francisco. They operate the Purpose Prize that is presenting five $100,000 awards to folks who have started an “encore career.” I think that there is great potential to be tapped with folks who have made it through their first career, and are now interested in “going to work for their grandchildren.”

I look forward to helping Civic Ventures and others explore these paths…

From their web site:

An inspiring new group of role models for “engaged retirement” is emerging. Unwilling to stuff envelopes or go off quietly to the sidelines, these change-makers are taking matters into their own hands and fashioning a new vision of the second half of life, one in which the expertise and talent of a lifetime is refocused on finding solutions to challenges in our communities, our country, and the world. They are living proof that aging does not equal stagnation and decline, that later life is a time of innovation, productivity, and creativity as rich as the younger years. Yet, as a society, we have done little to elevate or underwrite the remarkable efforts of a new movement of individuals in their 60s, 70s, and beyond who constitute a lost continent of social entrepreneurship and leadership. This lack of recognition and investment reinforce the idea that the second half of life is a time of decline rather than a time of creativity, invention and contribution.


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