Sam Chase

Sam Chase, Lead Facilitator for RISE, designs and delivers programs in mindfulness, yoga, and resilience for organizations nationwide, and specializes in working with communities that serve in high-stress circumstances. After graduating first in his class at Vanderbilt with a major in economics, he won and then declined the Rhodes and Marshall scholarships, in favor of pursuing the work he continues today—exploring the science of the human mind and the factors of a flourishing life. He brings that study back to the business and educational world through his work with clients including UBS, Bloomberg, the United Nations, New York University, Columbia-Bassett Medical School, and the National Guard, where he created the yoga program for a pioneering resilience intervention led by researchers at Weill-Cornell Medical Center. Sam has trained more than 1000 yoga teachers around the country during the last decade, and his book Yoga & The Pursuit of Happiness weaves together Eastern contemplative traditions and Western scientific research. A Kripalu Yoga teacher and graduate of the Certificate in Positive Psychology, Sam holds a master’s degree from Harvard, where he was the national recipient of the Jacob K. Javits Fellowship. 

Fun fact: Sam can walk on hot coals.

Commentary from Sam about working with corporate leaders:

The concerns I hear from organizations and individuals include the “always on” culture, the drive to excel, the challenges of connecting with or counting on coworkers. I think it’s easy, and too common, to demonize these dynamics in the workplace without respecting the fact that many people are drawn to the sector for precisely these reasons: the work is exciting, the projects are often massive and complex, and the career path can be extremely fulfilling for those who can tread it skillfully. The concerns in the field are real, but they’re also intertwined with some of the most motivating and rewarding aspects of financial work.

Rather than letting the conversation devolve into criticism and complaints about long hours or office politics, my aim, through RISE, is to get clear and connected about why they’re motivated to do this work, what’s meaningful in it, and how they can find tools to make skillful choices as they navigate the inevitable challenges. The greatest hesitation I meet among corporate clients is a fear that if they take the time to take care of themselves, or even admit that there are challenges, they’re going to lose their edge. One client in a RISE session recently said to me, “I eat stress for breakfast.” My response was, “I’m not here to change what you eat for breakfast, I’m here to change the bottle of Pepto-Bismol you have to eat for lunch.” One of the most gratifying things about working in this sector is seeing the shift that comes when clients see that these tools make them sharper, not softer.

I also know that the people who gravitate toward this kind of work are often driven by data and evidence. It’s an attitude I have always shared—I only half-jokingly say that there’s a part of me that would never really give meditation a try until I had a double-blind peer-reviewed study to back it up. I see a lot of well-founded skepticism toward tools that often come with a lot of new-age window dressing and magical thinking. In RISE, we have a saying: “Data makes a doorway.” A large part of my personal work in RISE has been to bring some of the most rigorous scientific research into the program, and present it in a way that allows people to understand how these practices are relevant and accessible to them.

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