Marc Lesser is a Zen priest as well as founder and former CEO of Brush Dance, a San Rafael, California-based greeting card company with 15 employees and $2.5 million in annual sales. He is also author of the recently released book Z.B.A.: Zen of Business Administration--How Zen Practice Can Transform Your Work and Your Life, which connects 21st-century entrepreneurs to ancient Eastern spirituality.
Lesser, 52, left Brush Dance in 2004 to start ZBA Associates, a Mill Valley, California, coaching and consulting firm, but he still uses tales of his tenure as CEO of Brush Dance to make points. For example, when he faced the dreaded task of laying off most of his employees in one day, he remained sensitive to employees' needs. They appreciated it, and he rehired some of them when conditions improved. Says Lesser, "There's always a kind of gift in situations that we'd do anything to avoid."