How To Eat an Elephant, Part 1 — reinventing Elephant in service to all beings

Via Cameron Burgess
on Aug 30, 2009
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Waylon Lewis, elephant journal

First is a series of blogs on re-visioning, re-strategizing and re-inventing in service to all.

~Cameron Burgess

elephant journal has been around for a while — almost eight years (I think). I first discovered them in 2003, when the magazine was still growing and being published. I have no idea how — it was a random trawling-around-on-the-net-at-2am-still-awake-from-the-late-afternoon-coffee-I’d-been-promising-myself-i-was-going-to-give-up kind of thing.

And then —


— a magazine about the mindful life. From what I could see, it wasn’t naff, either. I couldn’t find anything to do with Lemurians, or angel therapy, or which-star-system-you-were-seeded-on (not that there’s anything wrong with it, but those topics do have a tendency to make the average person’s eyes glaze over and hanker for an Orange Mocha Frappucino; either that or a gasoline fight).

elephant journal magazine gay civil rights cover

Here was a well-designed, well-articulated, well-reasoned mag, with a focus on Boulder (for sure) but with content and editorial that reached far beyond. He mailed me a copy, put me on his website, and I put him on mine. And that was pretty much the end of it.

elephant put Boulder on my map, and five years later I’m here by virtue of a capital-raising project in L.A. that fell over at the 11th hour. From concrete and smog…to mountains and fresh clean air.

So here I am, sitting at Chipotle, eyes watering from a little too much Tabasco (we have it in Australia, sure, but it’s not as ubiquitous as Vegemite — another Australian icon now owned by a U.S. multinational) talking about Life, The Universe and Everything, and it occurs to me that this guy Waylon, well, he’s actually a lot like me (although way more interesting).

Waylon Lewis, founder of

So we’ve seen each other around, we’ve hung out at the Farmer’s Market, had a couple of coffees together, and then I see a couple of comments on Facebook and Twitter that get my attention, and I quote:

Waylon Lewis feels defeated. So much work, a few missteps, what’s it all for? Mortgage? Serving all sentient beings? Ah, life is fun, sad, precious.


Crazy morning, stressed re $ …

So what to do? Well, it’s easy enough to shoot back a quick 140 along the lines of “I feel ya …”, but that would be kind of vacuous, and well-meaning as it might be, the road to hell is paved with good intentions (thanks Nonna for the wisdom).

So why not offer something of real value? Why not live-the-mindful-life myself by using what I know to support this person, this enterprise that really seems to be making quite a contribution, stimulating debate (and plenty of comments), inspiring community, and generally working pretty damn hard to ensure that the world we live in winds up in better shape then we inherited it?

Now if you know Waylon, you know he can be hard to pin down—and even something as simple as catching up for a coffee becomes fragmented because it seems every second person in town wants him to kiss their baby

So I tweet back:

Let’s have a focused conversation (no wandering) this week; check schedule here [link] & propose time.

Three tweets and six hours later (yes, I know, it would have been faster and easier to just pick up the phone) and I make my point:

Want to talk about working together in (semi) formal way to achieve business outcomes; what you need is what i do ($$).

Then nothing…  No phonecall, no email, no tweet, no smoke signals…


Just tumbleweed.

A quick connect at Green Drinks, and then a bump into each other at Trident, and I make my point clearer:

Dude! Wake up! I’m trying to help you!

So another veggie burrito at Chipotle (they’re pretty hard to go past), another conversation that almost gets pulled off track by two charming women he knows, another coffee after lunch at the Trident, and we agree that we really need to work together.

Waylon Lewis, reflection

But why was it so hard to get his attention? Why was it so difficult to get a response to an offer of assistance? Maybe it’s something to do with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. When we’re stuck in survival mode the world becomes a place where an outstretched hand looks as if it’s extended to take rather than give. I don’t really know.

Serving all sentient beings can be hard work — and the naïveté of business people everywhere — especially those who are striving to “make the world a better place” — is that they presume that just because the economy is strong, that means that they are doing well.

Not so — it’s when the music stops and the lights come on that you get to see where you really stand.

…Oh, and if you were wondering what the answer to the title question is, it’s:

one mouthful at a time.


Cameron Burgess

Cameron Burgess is a recent Australian addition to the Boulderverse.

He is the CEO of a group of companies incorporating uncompromise, icologi & wellnessconnect that provide commercialization, strategic development, marketing & digital services purely to the health and sustainability market.

Cameron is also a core-team member of w1sd0m – a global network that helps organize the flow of intellectual, social, human, & financial capital to strengthen Global Social Enterprise.

A speaker, workshop facilitator and agent provocateur, Cameron can be found on twitter @uncompromise


About Cameron Burgess

Cameron Burgess has been founding, catalysing and advising sustainable ventures for more than fifteen years; he is a sustainable venture strategist, founder of @uncompromise & @connect_well, co-founder of @w1sd0m_net, a speaker, facilitator, writer, agitator and fierce angel. Currently on Australia's East Coast, Cameron is a digital nomad and moves from location to location, country to country, based upon his own personal interest and the needs of his clients. If you'd like to find out more about Cameron, visit his website here


6 Responses to “How To Eat an Elephant, Part 1 — reinventing Elephant in service to all beings”

  1. Ok, I really enjoyed this for several reasons.

    One, I now have a little feel for the Boulder scene and where Elephant Journal is coming from.

    Two, as a retired entrepreneur, I always get excited about how to turn businesses around, especially if they are so socially meaningful as is Elephant Journal.

    So I'll be greatly looking forward to you future blogs in this series.

    Since you never get to the punch line in this one, I'm assuming this is an ongoing effort, and you're going to tell how it goes as it's going, right?

    Thanks for involving us in this quest.

    Bob Weisenberg

  2. Hi Bob,

    Yes, this series of posts will relate to the journey we are going through with Elephant.

    Waylon has been gracious in his willingness to be exposed through this process, and our belief is that simply seeing the way things can change for one organisation might support others in better understanding how to go through this process themselves (with or without assistance).

    Social enterprises (those whose primary goal is to 'make the world a better place') are faced with a unique set of challenges to ordinary pure-profit oriented projects. This series will expose those challenges in situ with elephant and demonstrate authentic, measurable and lasting methods for increasing the influence of these projects whilst simultaneously meeting the outcomes of the primary stakeholders.

  3. This is really interesting, cameron. Usually my past entrepreneurial life and my current Yoga life are pretty separate. Your process here with Elephant brings them together in a very interesting way for me.

    You're right, it is a tribute to Waylon that he is willing to engage in such a public airing of these usually private issues. And I agree that it could have a lot of value to everyone.

    I'll look forward to you future blogs and reports.

    Bob Weisenberg

  4. swati jr* says:

    this is real. and exciting. so powerful!! bless*

  5. heather crawford says:

    Cameron thanks for bringing elephant into my cybersphere, I love it!
    Looking forward to seeing what unfolds on your elephant journey.


  6. uncompromise says:

    nice to see elephant gaining more international support; Thanks Heather & Erica for the love from Australia. You'll find a lot to enjoy here at elephant