Aug 22, 2018

Google’s former mindfulness guru steps down from nonprofit over ‘inappropriate behavior’


Think Progress 
August 21, 2018

Chade-Meng Tan speaks at the Asian Leadership Conferencein Seoul, South Korea, in March 2013. CREDIT: Chade-Meng Tan via Facebook

The founder of Google’s employee mindfulness program quietly resigned last month from a nonprofit he cofounded, citing “inappropriate behavior” from his past.

Chade-Meng Tan stepped down as chair of the Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute (SIYLI), which promotes mindfulness and emotional intelligence, at the board’s request after a third-party investigation into the unspecified behavior, the organization said in a statement on July 19.
The news is a dramatic turn for a man whose position at Google and ideas about building happier, more compassionate companies won him a best-selling book, Search Inside Yourself; a TED talk at the United Nations; appearances alongside the Dalai Lama and other Buddhist leaders; and a $7.5 million home in Santa Cruz, Calif.

“[Tan] fully cooperated with the investigation and has expressed remorse for his past conduct,” the statement read; “however, we hold everyone associated with the organization to the highest standards of professionalism.”
The behavior that triggered the investigation occurred before Tan cofounded SIYLI,  according to the statement.
Tan said in a blog post on his personal website, also published July 19, that he “spoke and acted with some people in ways” he thought were socially acceptable but now realizes were “disrespectful and hurtful.”
“To all I have caused hurt in the past in any way, and to those I have let down, I ask sincerely for your forgiveness,” Tan said in the statement.

Tan and the Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute both declined multiple requests for comment.
Tan joins a growing list of meditation and mindfulness teachers who’ve left their organizations under scandal. Sakyong Mipham stepped back from leading the Buddhist group Shambhala International last month pending an investigation into multiple allegations of sexual misconduct and sexual assault. Noah Levine took leave from the Buddhist community he leads, Against the Stream, in March under a similar cloud.
Tan cofounded SIYLI with Marc Lesser and Philippe Goldin after he left Google in October 2015. Google’s press team did not acknowledge multiple emails and voicemail messages requesting comment. Lesser told ThinkProgress he does not have more information on why Tan stepped down. Goldin referred a request for comment to SIYLI.
Reached for comment, six out of SIYLI’s ten board members either did not respond or referred ThinkProgress’ requests to the organization.

“The SIYLI board was informed every step of the way,” Monica Lee, a spokesperson for Thrive Global CEO and HuffPost founder Arianna Huffington, told ThinkProgress by email before referring a request for comment to SIYLI’s CEO, Rich Fernandez.
“Please contact Rich Fernandez, the CEO of SILYI for more information,” Richard Davidson, director of the Center for Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said in an email. “Thank you.”
“Thank you for your interest in SIYLI and Chade Meng-Tan [sic],” Rhona Magee, a professor of law at the University of San Francisco and a fellow at the Mind Life Institute, said by email. “Unfortunately, I don’t have anything to add to the explanatory statement that has been publicly released.”
Fernandez, the SIYLI CEO who previously led Google’s executive development team, declined to comment.

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