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Marc Lesser

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Marc Lesser
File:Marc Lesser 1952 –.jpg
Born (1952-09-16) September 16, 1952 (age 68)
ReligionZen Buddhism
SpouseLee Lesser
LineageShunryu Suzuki
EducationRutgers University
New York University
Senior posting
TeacherDairyu Michael Wenger
PredecessorDairyu Michael Wenger

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Marc Lesser is a CEO, Zen teacher, author, executive coach, and speaker. He co-founded the Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute (SIYLI) with Chade-Meng Tan and served as its first CEO. He is a Soto Zen priest, teaching and practicing in the lineage of Shunryu Suzuki.[1] He is a Dharma heir of Dairyu Michael Wenger, from whom he received Dharma transmission. [2]. He is founder and CEO of ZBA Associates LLC.[3]. He received a B.A. in psychology from Rutgers University and an MBA from New York University. He is the author of four books including "Seven Practices of a Mindful Leader: Lessons From Google and A Zen Monastery Kitchen."

Early life and education[edit]

Marc Lesser was born to a Jewish family. He studied at Rutgers University with a major in psychology. In 1973 he took a sabbatical and went to San Francisco Zen Center where he practiced for 10 years. He then earned an MBA at New York University.

Religious practice[edit]

Zen training, service and teaching[edit]

Marc Lesser entered San Francisco Zen Center in 1973 for one year and stayed ten years. He practices In 1983 he became of Tassajara. He was ordained as a Soto Zen priest by Zoketsu Norman Fischer and received Dharma transmission from Dairyu Michael Wenger. As a Dharma teacher, he integrates his Zen practice with his expertise in business and strategy as a special benefit to all in a work environment. When the mindfulness training developed for internal use for Google engineers by his teacher Zoketsu Norman Fischer, Chade-Meng Tan, Mirabai Bush, Daniel Goleman, and Jon Kabat-Zinn got outsourced, he co-founded the Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute (SIYLI) and served as its first CEO. He leads Mill Valley Zen] a meditation practice group open to everyone and gives regular Dharma Talks at San Francisco Zen Center. He organizes workshops at Green Gulch Farm Zen Center [4] and Spirit Rock Meditation Center[5] in Marin County, California.

Professional Work[edit]

Marc Lesser founded ZBA Associates LLC. "to improve the quality of life by integrating exemplary leadership and business practices with mindfulness and awareness practices."[6] and serves as its CEO. "Clients include Google, Twitter, The City of San Francisco, Stanford University, and Global Fund For Women." [7] When Chade-Meng Tan assembled a team to teach mindfulness at Google he asked "Marc Lesser, a zen teacher with an MBA and entrepreneurial experience"[8] to join. Together they taught classes to Google engineers.[9] In 2012 Search Inside Yourself "was established in 2012 as an independent nonprofit organization"[10], Marc Lesser became its co-founder[11] and served as its CEO until 2016.

Marc Lesser's work is focussed on mindfulness in organizations.[12]

Writing and speaking[edit]

Marc Lesser published multiple books integrating Zen knowledge with business practice and experience. He frequently keynotes at conferences on mindfulness and business around the world [13] [14] and teaches seminars at SIYLI.[15]


  • Lesser, Marc. Z.B.A. Zen of Business Administration; How Zen Practice Can Transform Your Work and Your Life. New World Library; 2005).
  • Lesser, Marc. Less: Accomplishing More by Doing Less. New World Library; 2009).
  • Lesser, Marc. Know Yourself, Forget Yourself: Five Truths to Transform Your Work, Relationships, and Everyday Life. New World Library; 2013).
  • Lesser, Marc. Seven Practices of a Mindful Leader: Lessons from Google and a Zen Monastery Kitchen. New World Library; forthcoming 2019).


  1. "Association for Talent Development: Career Insights From SIYLI CEO and Zen Teacher Marc Lesser".
  2. "Zen Deep Great Dragon (Zenen Dairyu)".
  3. "Marc Lesser".
  4. "Marc Lesser, guest teacher".
  5. "Visiting Teachers: Marc Lesser".
  6. "ZBA Associates – Leadership with Mindfulness and Emotional Intelligence". ZBA Associates. Retrieved 6 October 2018.
  7. "About Marc". Marc Lesser. Retrieved 6 October 2018.
  8. Vivian Giang (March 25, 2015). "THE FUTURE OF WORK: Inside Google's Insanely Popular Emotional-Intelligence Course". Fast Company.
  9. Caitlin Kelly (April 28, 2012). "O.K., Google, Take a Deep Breath". NYT. The New York Times. Retrieved 6 October 2018.
  10. "SIYLI About". SIYLI About. Retrieved 6 October 2018.
  11. "SIYLI Co-Founder Marc Lesser on why Mindfulness Matters in Business". SIYLI. Retrieved 6 October 2018.
  12. Margie Warrell (May 20, 2017). "Compassionate Leadership: A Mindful Call To Lead From Both Head And Heart". Forbes. Forbes. Retrieved 6 October 2018.
  13. "Greater Good Magazine".
  14. "Human Capital Institute".
  15. "Co-founder of SIYLI".

External links[edit]

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