About Schuyler Brown
Growing up in Kentucky I learned what it’s like to live on the land. How it feels to be broke, but not poor. What the ancient Appalachian mountains have to teach us. How to saddle and ride a horse. How to chew tobacco and shoot a gun. How to sing around the campfire and make biscuits and square dance. I learned how to tell a good story, because some nights you’re the entertainment and people love a good story. In Kentucky, I learned to listen and to feel.
Of course, I didn’t know it as a kid but these essential skills would serve me well. Not because I frequently make biscuits or shoot guns or ride horses, but because I can work with my hands, I know the safety in responsibility, and I know how to respond with extreme sensitivity to other beings.
School taught me to play the game of life. I quickly learned what was expected of me and how to make people happy. I learned to climb ladders and navigate power structures. I was good at it. These are skills that still come in handy, but they no longer serve me or humanity. They’re for a simpler time.
What really interested me as I grew through adolescence and early adulthood was the quest for Spirit, mystery, the unknown, self-expression through writing and art. I was highly intuitive and empathic, but had no one to support the unfolding of these gifts. It wouldn’t be until much later that I’d begin to understand and revere the meaning of the numinous in life and how the culture devalues what it can’t measure or see.
Much of my dharma is around bringing *magic* back into the world. For me, and I believe many others, the loss of magic (we know it as children!) is a tragic blow to human imagination and ingenuity. We need it now more than ever as things escalate in complexity. We are entering an era where we can’t think our way through our problems anymore. We need higher and more subtle skills.
My interest in business started when I got my first job out of college. Until that moment, I’d wanted to have a career in the arts, but I moved to San Francisco and needed to make a decent living right away. So, I got a job with the branding agency, Landor Associates.
I was hooked. It was a wonderful time to work at Landor, a company at the height of its powers, well-run, with a healthy culture. I was surrounded by smart people and we were doing work for the world’s biggest brands. It all felt important. I realized how much money moved through the economy as a result of marketing, communications, branding. I felt the power of capitalism. I felt safe.
At Landor I started my career as a trendspotter. My intuitive skills coupled with my innate love of culture made me a crack strategist and accurate predictor of the tastes of the market. This led me to the east coast where I was hired by a real estate developer to improve the “coolness factor” of his malls around the country. That led me eventually to New York City where I was hired as a strategist and futurist at one of the largest ad agencies in the world. I enjoyed the high stakes, the travel, the fame...for a while.
The work I was doing was exciting, but absolutely soulless and worse: extractive, extravagant, shallow. It ate at me. By grace, I never let my spiritual interests die. In fact, the busier I got at work, the more I turned to yoga, meditation and Buddhist studies. I craved an antidote to the emptiness I felt as a result of what was supposed to be sustaining me: my so-called success!
At a certain point (in 2006, to be exact), the tension between my deepening spiritual life and my accelerating professional life came to a breaking point. I could no longer work so far out of alignment with my values, or justify spending most of my day working to sell harmful products. I became aware of and then obsessed with the severity of the climate crisis. I quit.
My previous definition of success was now in the rearview mirror. I could see the futility of so much of what I’d spent my time, imagination, and life force on; how much I’d compromised in the name of business. I could see all of this and felt a great deal of remorse for the harm I’d caused. And I couldn’t yet see the next step. Still, I had my integrity back. I had my Self.
I thought I might become a yoga teacher or spiritual teacher. I dove deep into the spiritual world. Studied one-on-one most days of the week with Mystical teachers, Buddhist teachers, Vedanta teachers, Tantra teachers. I learned Sanskrit so I could read the great books of India in the original language. I studied trauma and did shadow work, went on pilgrimage, suffered, witnessed the miraculous in everyday life, integrated my feminine dimension and learned to listen to my own inner guidance. I married and had a daughter. Motherhood was (and still is) it’s own spiritual path...
Through it all, I kept one foot in the business world. I think it somehow still made me feel safe, but also I knew I had work to do there. I thought I was alone in my conviction that work could and should be a place of growth and healing. But, soon I found like-minded people. I found a community of spiritual friends dedicated to the transformation of work.
The Art of Emergence
Which brings me to the current moment and the launch of The Art of Emergence.
My motivation is not to climb the ladder or shatter any glass ceilings. It’s to shatter the illusion of “reality,” the norms, and the ideas of status quo that are inherently out of balance, extractive and harmful to all living beings and the planet. My work now is to find and collaborate with leaders and people in positions of power who are ready to fundamentally change the way we do business and the way we treat each other when we’re at work. I want work to be a place of healing for all people; a place where individuals can individuate, develop, mature and express their fullest version of self.