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Pilar Gerasimo

For anyone too young to remember, Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies was the title of Jim Collins’s first big business book. Published in 1994, and now considered a classic, it explored the common characteristics of enduringly great companies.

Collins explored the values and practices that allowed these organizations to flourish over the course of many decades, even as their competition faltered or treaded water.

More recently, other books have explored that territory from fresh perspectives. I particularly like a book called Firms of Endearment: How World-Class Companies Profit from Passion and Purpose, coauthored by Raj Sisodia, a well-respected business-school professor at Babson College and one of the visionaries behind the Conscious Capitalism movement.

In Firms of Endearment, Sisodia analyzes a collection of companies that have dramatically outperformed those profiled in Collins’s second big book, Good to Great, over a 15-year period. He concludes that much of what separates these beloved brands from their competition has to do with their passionate commitment, beyond mere profit seeking, to a deeper sense of purpose, and to changing the world for the better.

That’s an insight that Collins touched on in Built to Last but ignored in Good to Great, leading him to label Philip Morris as a “great” company on the basis of profitability, while largely ignoring its deplorable costs.

The inherent truth about anything “built to last,” of course, is that change is the only reliable constant. New insights and circumstances arrive, unbidden, and when they do, they inevitably surprise us. Big changes, in particular, trip our nervous-system alarms and throw us at least a little off our game.

Which is why books like Built to Last and Firms of Endearment strike such a chord with us. They broadcast a message that is not just true in business, but in all of life — namely, that tapping into our guiding sense of purpose can help us weather all kinds of change with grace and resilience.

That’s something we’ve been learning and relearning here at Experience Life since the day we launched the magazine.

The magazine’s team, processes, and editorial content have all morphed over time. But our central reason for being (to help people get healthier and happier even in the face of real obstacles) has remained constant.

During the course of the last year, in particular, the magazine has undergone all kinds of evolutions and shifts. In addition to my own voyage to New York City’s Huffington Post and back, a number of our team members went on their own change-intensive journeys. Some were faced with significant family crises and losses. Some struggled through crises and life-shifts of their own.

As I witnessed the equanimity and courage with which they faced these changes, and how they supported each other through challenging moments, I saw them actively demonstrating many aspects of Experience Life’s philosophy and principles. It was lovely to behold.

Over the past year, we’ve also had many exciting breakthroughs and unexpected blessings to celebrate. Some wonderfully talented new folks have joined our team (including managing editor Michael Dregni and staff writer Maggie Fazeli Fard). Others have developed new skill sets and grown into new positions (congrats to Casie Leigh Lukes on her new role as digital content specialist). And recently, David Schimke (who served as our editor in chief since my departure last May) decided to redirect his considerable journalistic talents toward some exciting new creative pursuits of his own.

I am deeply grateful to David for the intelligence and dedication he brought to the magazine. And I appreciate the space he and the whole team held for the magazine to continue delivering on its editorial mission, even as its founding editor (yours truly) went off to explore new horizons and eventually found her way home.

Since my new role has me busy steering a variety of exciting healthy-living initiatives in addition to Experience Life, we’ve already begun our search for a new top editor — someone who believes as profoundly as we do in the “no-gimmicks, no-hype” promise this magazine has always held sacred.

In the meantime, we hope you enjoy this issue. We’ve packed it full of timeless wisdom, right-now insights — and our own built-to-last commitment to helping you stay true to the healthy-living values that matter to you.

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