Nature and Mindfulness Find Common Ground

Mark Tercek, CEO of The Nature Conservancy and former Goldman Sachs investment banker, talks meditation, big business, and environmentalism—and how the three fit together.

Photographs by Eli Meir Kaplan. Illustrations by Harriet Russell

The Nature Conservancy, the largest nonprofit environmental organization in the world, works to save the planet in an unusual way: not by opposing the big business interests often seen as villains but by partnering with them and other sectors of society, encouraging corporate leaders, policy makers, and citizens to understand the essential value of nature and to protect it by making wiser business decisions. Thanks to its hallmark inclusive, collaborative approach, The Nature Conservancy has raised billions of dollars over its 65-year history and enlisted many unlikely advocates to the cause of environmentalism. In 2008, the nonprofit appointed a new President and CEO who might have seemed an unlikely choice himself: Goldman Sachs investment banker Mark Tercek. But Tercek quickly won the respect of environmentalists and vastly expanded the work of The Nature Conservancy around the world. He credits not only his great colleagues, business acumen, and profound love of nature but also the practice of mindfulness meditation. He spoke with author Peter Jaret about the challenges of his job and the ways mindfulness has helped him.

When did the practice of meditation start clicking for you? When I became CEO of The Nature Conservancy in mid-2008, it was a…

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About the author

Peter Jaret

Peter Jaret is a frequent contributor to National Geographic, The New York Times, Health, and dozens of other periodicals. He is coauthor of Impact: From The Frontlines of Global Health, and is a recipient of the AMA Award for journalism.