To tell the story behind WorldBlu, I should tell you a bit about me, Traci Fenton, the founder of WorldBlu.
Ever since I was quite young, I have known that my purpose in life was to help people realize their full potential, to help them achieve a sense of what I like to call “masterful freedom” in their lives. But I long felt overwhelmed by this sense of purpose, because I wasn’t sure what form it would take or what would be my outlet for expressing it.
But that outlet slowly began to take shape during my senior year in college. At the beginning of that year, I was selected to be the executive director of my college’s student-run public affairs conference and designated to select the central topic for that year’s conference. There was strong support on the student executive board for focusing on democracy, but the topic didn’t interest me. In fact, I fervently contested the idea. Democracy was (in my mind at the time), a tired, out-dated subject; old, worn-out, boring – practically irrelevant. It was the stuff of governments and political processes, not cutting-edge conferences. But the advocates on student board persisted, and I reluctantly agreed.
However, democracy slowly came to life for me that year. I began to experience it with my heart, and not just my head. I learned that democracy wasn’t only about government and politics; it was about creating environments guided by freedom and meaning and accountability. I realized that democracy expects and inspires – even demands – the best in people. Democracy actually cultivates an environment in which people can realize their full potential. As I dove into my study of democracy, I saw how revolutionary and innovative it was, how it required from individuals authenticity and purposeful rebellion. It was everything I had always believed in. I was hooked.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but I still needed one more experience, one more push, before I was able to fully dedicate my life to cultivating democratic environments within organizations. That push came with my first job out of college, at a Fortune 500 company that was stifling, patronizing, and so familiar to too many of us. I lasted only four months in its toxic environment before I delivered to my boss a Jerry McGuire-like treatise of resignation. He wasn’t surprised. “I knew you wouldn’t let yourself be treated this way for very long,” he replied.
I then decided to focus my attention on furthering the WorldBlu Foundation (formerly the World Dynamics Foundation), a 501(c)3 non-profit think-tank I founded the spring of my senior year of college to explore how democracy could be applied in the business world. I recognized that I wanted to focus on organizational democracy – as distinct from political democracy – which was still a little-known management concept at the time. So I studied the classics, dialogued with leading thinkers on organizational development, attended conferences with democratic evolutionaries and revolutionaries, pursued a master’s degree in international development with a focus on business, and visited democratic companies all over the world. I became a democracy junkie. But I also felt like an artist, bringing together people and ideas from vastly different disciplines to paint a new picture of what business could be in an increasingly democratic age.
The years of research, searching, questioning, testing, discovery, and consulting led me to launch WorldBlu, Inc., in 2003, as a for-profit leadership and business design studio specializing in organizational democracy. We are now the leader in organizational democracy and freedom-centered leadership with a vision of building a more democratic world, one organization at a time. The WorldBlu Foundation is now the philanthropic arm of the WorldBlu Corporation.
And why the name WorldBlu? It came to me while I sat alone on a quiet beach in Florida in the spring of 2004. Sitting on the beach, pondering the essence of WorldBlu’s work, I was struck by the brilliance of the blue around me. The sky and ocean were enormous. There was something in all that blue that made me feel like anything was possible. I felt, at that moment, a dramatic sense of limitlessness and freedom. “If freedom was a color,” I reasoned, “it must be blue.” Our name captures our desire to design “blu” environments within companies all over the world, rooted in the principles of freedom, democracy, and possibility.
Welcome to our world, blu.
Founder + CEO