Neal Gorenflo

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Bio

Co-founder and publisher of Shareable Magazine, a nonprofit online magazine about sharing. Neal is also board member of the US Solidarity Economy Network, an innovation fellow with the city of San Francisco, and Strategy Fellow at FASresearch.


Long: "Neal Gorenflo is the publisher of Shareable.net, a nonprofit online magazine about sharing. A former market researcher, stock analyst, and Fortune 500 strategist, Neal is perhaps an unlikely voice for sharing. A revelation in 2004 inspired Neal to leave the corporate world to help people share through Internet startups, public events, and a circle of friends committed to the common good. Through this circle, Neal met those who would co-found Shareable.net with him. In addition to his work at Shareable, Neal serves on the board of nonprofits Independent Arts & Media and ForestEthics, and is a Strategy Fellow at FAS.research and a member of Stanford's Persuasive Technology Lab. He lives in Mountain View, California with his wife Andrea, a pediatrician, and son Jacob." (http://shareable.net/users/neal-gorenflo)

"Neal Gorenflo likes to share. The Mountain View, California, resident works out of a shared office space in San Francisco, editing the online magazine Shareable. He has no access to a car during the workweek; if he absolutely must drive, he checks to see what his neighbors have on Getaround, or he signs into the Bay Area’s City CarShare service. He started a tool lending library in his garage. And on a recent trip to New York, he stayed in an architect’s loft found via the sharing service Airbnb. “[The architect] built a cabin inside her loft, so I rented the cabin.” He prefers this to a cookie-cutter hotel room, plus he gets priceless nontouristy tips from the owner of the property.

About seven years ago, Neal became so disillusioned with the meaninglessness of his job at a shipping company, he quit to be more connected to his community. After bouncing around Internet start-ups that facilitated collaboration and sharing physical assets, he launched Shareable." (http://www.sunset.com/home/sharing-economy-00418000074416/page2.html)


Interview

by Naomi Seldin

"I asked Neal to share some of his thoughts here about what inspired him to launch Shareable and what it’s all about. Here’s our interview:

Q: You have an impressive bio, and you mention that you’re “perhaps an unlikely voice for sharing.” What inspired you to leave the corporate world behind?

Well, the short story is that I was not enjoying myself! I was not doing the work I was meant to do. And I noticed that the corporate lifestyle undermined my relationship to myself, to the people I loved most, and to a sense of place. I saw this happening to others as well.

After a year of travel, long hours and a lot of pointless work, I had a spiritual breakdown and breakthrough that reminded me how important relationships are to a good life.

My breakthrough happened in the most mundane of places: a parking lot.

My home for about six months in 2004.

I was staying the weekend in an airport hotel outside of Brussels on an extended business trip. I went for a jog in a nearby industrial park on a sunny summer day. I stopped in the empty parking lot of a warehouse. I was totally alone at one of the most important crossroads of the global economy — Brussels, home of the European Union — and I began to cry.

I realized that this was not the life I wanted, and also — and this made me really bawl — that millions of people are probably not digging it either. I had grokked the global economy, really felt it in my bones actually, and just felt a big NO. No bad relationships, overwork, purposelessness, and destruction of nature and community.

What was weird to me — the corporate strategist — was that this was not an intellectual decision. In the back of my mind, I knew these things already. I just hadn’t felt them in my bones until then. I had connected to something bigger than myself. And it became crystal clear what I had to do.


Q: OK, you said no to the corporate life. What did you say yes to?

I made a vow — right then and there in that parking lot — to do whatever I could to create a life of purpose, great relationships and real community. And to help others do the same.

Immediately after this, I went to my office, submitted my resignation and re-booked my reservations for the next flight home. I started working on sharing projects within days of touching down. I had no plan. I had something much more powerful: total commitment. I just dove in. I had absolutely no reservations about this decision at the time or to this day. It’s the best decision I’ve ever made." (http://blog.timesunion.com/simplerliving/shareable-building-new-social-networks/25718/)


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