multi colored puzzle pieces

I’m a Nashville-based writer, talent strategist, and certified executive coach. On this website, I primarily write stories featuring a diverse group of professionals whose examples of applying mindfulness, learning agility, and storytelling will help you love your career and enhance your quality of life.

These nine “protagonists” face familiar pain points: nonstop change, accelerating economic and technological disruption, and the collective “noise” that grows louder each day. The impact, for these professionals and for many of us, has been confusion, distraction, and stress.

Until they begin to apply the aforementioned strengths of mindfulness, learning agility, and storytelling. Strengths that you can develop as well.

Please allow me to introduce your new friends and teachers, who each work out of the same large office complex that includes common areas such as a cafe, yoga studio, resource center, shared reception area, and lobby. In addition to developing their mindfulness, learning agility, and storytelling strengths, each protagonist has been exploring and applying the Enneagram, an ancient spiritual “road map” of nine different but interrelated “types” of personalities.

Our Central Protagonists

Arjun, 42, is an AI software engineer trying to keep up with his fast-growing virtual reality employer. A first generation Indian-American, he’s married with three teenage sons. Arjun’s current professional challenges include the speed at which his work and industry changes. Personally, he’s dealing with his desire to quit smoking, his search for a fun hobby, and his frustration regarding his sons’ attachment to their smartphones. Arjun has identified as Type 5w6 on the Enneagram, and tends to be perceptive and innovative but sometimes secretive and isolated.

Baris, 55, is a clinical psychologist who has started doing “walking therapy” with some of his clients. A native of Turkey, he’s divorced with a grown daughter and son. Baris’s current professional challenges include managing his client load and the time consuming nature of filing insurance paperwork. Personally, he’s dealing with high blood pressure and estrangement from his 23-year-old daughter Esma. Baris has identified as Type 2w3 on the Enneagram, and tends to be caring and generous but sometimes people-pleasing and possessive.

Catori, 45, is a freelance writer trying to find her voice and community. A full-blooded Native American, she’s single and has never been married. Catori’s current professional challenges including getting more substantive, higher paying work and finding her writing niche. Personally, she’s dealing with the lack of decent health insurance, prejudice toward her ethnicity, her brother’s alcoholism, and symptoms of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Catori has identified as Type 4w3 on the Enneagram, and tends to be very creative and expressive but sometimes withdrawn, self-absorbed, and temperamental.

Christopher, 37, is an over-worked CPA for a large accounting firm. Newly married, Christopher’s current professional challenges include not having enough support staff in the office and the firm’s partners constantly bending over backwards for big clients and creating additional work for everyone else. Personally, he’s dealing with wanting more quality time with his wife and the lingering shame and anger he feels regarding how he’s suffered in the face of white privilege. Christopher has identified as Type 9w1 on the Enneagram, and tends to be reassuring and agreeable but is sometimes rather complacent.

Jessica, 38, owns the yoga studio on the ground floor of the office complex. She’s married with an infant daughter. Jessica’s current professional challenges include marketing her studio and finding more teachers, including someone who can help handle the administrative duties. Personally, Jessica is dealing with little down time, an infant who’s often sick, and lifelong speech fluency challenges that no one else seems to notice anymore but her. Jessica has identified as Type 3w2 on the Enneagram, and tends to be very adaptive and pragmatic but can also be quite image-conscious.

Liliana, 28, is a brand strategist for a large chain of restaurants. She’s recently engaged and is a second-generation Mexican-American. Liliana’s current professional challenges include keeping up with constant changes in social media and search engine algorithms. Personally, she’s dealing with planning her wedding and family members who’ve been directly impacted by the country’s viewpoints and actions toward immigration and immigrants in general. Liliana has identified as Type 7w8 on the Enneagram, and is usually very fun-loving and verastile but can sometimes be distracted and scattered.

Tyler, 35, is a self-employed financial advisor and is married with two young daughters. Professionally, Tyler is working hard to build his own book of business after several years at a large brokerage firm. Personally, he’s under a lot of stress, wants more date nights with his wife, and is concerned that one of his daughters is showing symptoms of autism. Tyler has identified as Type 6w5 on the Enneagram and is generally very engaging and responsible but can also be anxious and suspicious of others.

Tiana, 29, is a sales manager for a large residential contractor. She’s single but actively dating. Tiana’s professional challenges include the long hours she works and the subtle (and not-so-subtle) attitudes and comments she endures within what’s still a very patriarchal and mostly-white profession. Personally, Tiana craves less stress and more energy to follow-through after going on first dates with guys who interest her. Tiana has identified as Type 8w7 on the Enneagram, and is generally confident and decisive but can be quite confrontational when frustrated with others.

Zhang Li, 41, is a family law attorney married to another female lawyer, with whom she has a 12-year-old son. A second-generation Chinese-American, Zhang Li’s current professional challenges include a back log of cases and dealing with deadbeat dads and entitled ex-wives. Personally, she’s upset that her son is getting bullied at school and frustrated by the lingering tension with Zhang Li’s birth family because of her sexuality. Zhang Li has identified as Type 1w2 on the Enneagram, and is generally purposeful and self-controlled but can be a perfectionist at work and home.

Supporting Characters

Our nine protagonists frequently interact with others who work in the office complex’s shared spaces, including:

  • Ana, 21, a full-time business major and part-time receptionist at the office complex, who has a boyfriend in law school.
  • Elizabeth, 71, the part-time coordinator of the office complex resource center and a retired high school teacher.
  • Emily, 28, a bi-sexual barista at the office complex café and a budding songwriter.
  • Ian, 50, the office complex property manager, divorced with two grown sons.
  • Taylor, 33, the food preparation supervisor at the café who has a live-in partner named Felix.
  • John (Yours Truly), 51, a writer, strategist, and executive coach who’s married with three daughters and two cats.

Context and Next Steps

The protagonists and supporting characters in these stories will teach you that you don’t have to settle for confusion, distraction, and stress. You’ll learn that you’re stronger than that, and capable of much more.

Want some context before jumping into the stories? Start with this post. And, as time permits, check out my books, and join our learning community to receive free, exclusive content via email each month with timely guidance on applying mindfulness, learning agility, and storytelling.

John M. DeMarco is a writer, strategist, and executive coach based in Nashville, Tennessee.
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