Meaningful Work

Creating Meaningful Work: What People Do and How It Impacts the World

Jeanette Luise Eberhardy
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In Creating Meaningful Work, seven individuals—activists, artists, and entrepreneurs— find new ways to integrate work and life. Their work takes the reader to Egypt, Sweden, Brazil, Norway, France, Japan, and the United States to participate in global summits, digital creative communities, and entrepreneurial movements for youth

Creating Meaningful Work begins in Alexandria, Egypt with Poonam Ahluwalia, founder of YES (Youth Employment Summit). As two thousand young people and government officials poured in from around the world for her first global summit, Ahluwalia learned a lesson in going beyond what she thought was possible. The year was 1998 and during the next decade she built networks in 55 countries where youth learned that “if they wanted to come to the table, they needed to participate.” Now she is creating YouthTrade, a youth entrepreneurial movement. Her first distribution partner is Whole Foods.

In 2010, at Ahluwalia’s sixth global summit in Sweden, I met Reinaldo Pamponet Filho, cofounder of ItsNoon, who is engaging more than 20,000 youth in creative work in Brazil. Very early in his career, Filho, who experienced success at Microsoft Brazil, paused to rethink his contribution to work and world. Through one experiment and then another, Filho has found a way to motivate many otherwise impoverished youth in a digital creative community, showing us that the unimaginable is possible.

In Sweden I also met Kristin Engvig, founder of Women’s International Network, who more than fifteen years ago felt we needed to bring the feminine perspective to the workplace. Today, Envig’s unique global summits integrate knowledge about business trends, professional development, social responsibility, and spirituality. Her summits are sponsored by major businesses and have moved to India and Japan. Why Japan, I asked? “Because they need to rebuild their country after the tsunami, and it will take generations to do this work.”

In Creating Meaningful Work, each individual experienced a personal crisis about work. Living through their own disenchantment, they reconstructed an approach that would impact the well-being of others. This creative nonfiction story on human courage is part profile, part memoir, and all truth. I found these activists during my own search for meaningful work and I have followed their progress for three years.

The first audience for this book includes members of the networks built by these activists and entrepreneurs. These groups will create the momentum for interest in Creating Meaningful Work. This book is also for every business school focused on entrepreneurship in an economy that needs to relearn lessons on thinking about impact, that is, caring enough to improve the social and environmental conditions in our world. And this book is for others who, in the middle of their lives, yearn for a deeper engagement with the abundance found in nature, better connections with their own communities, more meaningful work and richer lives. Given our current global challenges, the danger today is not acting, not addressing how alienated we feel from what makes us human—no matter how modest the gesture for the well-being of the next generation.

Creating Meaningful Work includes:
Founder and President of YES, Poonam Ahluwalia, who developed networks in 55 countries to engage youth leaders and government officials to solve education and work challenges. Now Ahluwalia is launching YouthTrade, a youth entrepreneurial movement, and her first distribution partner is Whole Foods.

Gunter Pauli, one of Ahluwali’s board members and founder of, who is using the knowledge of ecosystems discovered by scientists around the world to develop sustainable work systems for female heads of households in Zimbabwe and elsewhere.

Advocate of socially conscious business development, Raj Sisodia, coauthor of the best selling book Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business (with John MacKey, founder of Whole Foods).

Brazilian social entrepreneur Reinaldo Pamponet Filho, founder of the digital creative community,, a new model for education and work for youth in Brazil with 20,000 participating members. Now Filho prepares to introduce ItsNoon to Mexico and the United States.

Norwegian social entrepreneur Kristin Engvig, Founder of W.I.N. (Women’s International Network) who is bringing “a more feminine, global, and sustainable vision to work, communities, and life.” After touching more than 20,000 lives in Europe, Engvig introduces W.I.N. in India and Japan.

French experimental film maker Rose Lowder, raised in Peru, educated in England, and now filming organic farmers in France shows us how to see the world anew. Her creative work demonstrates that preparing for transformative thinking is a lifelong practice for the artist.

Dean of Intercultural/International Studies, Edmundo Norte, champion of empathic communications skills across cultures, and James Craig, retired Assistant Vice Chancellor from UCIrvine who supported my first attempts at meaningful work in a unique living/learning residence program for freshman students. Both Norte and Craig planted the first seeds for this book more than 30 years ago.