Creating Community, Consciousness, & Connectivity

In This Podcast
Show Notes
Markus Lehto
E 105

In This Podcast

  • Why we need to rethink our Anglo Saxon worldview
  • Creating Lifeworks Labs
  • Why seeking his own truth is his passion
  • Becoming an expert generalist
  • Redefining what the good life means
  • What decentralisation means
  • Why we need to break in order to grow
  • Cultivating serendipity
  • Why the world needs love

Markus Lehto is the co-founder of Joint Idea and Lifeworks Labs, as well as the co-founder of the global community Love Mafia.

Show Notes

Transforming Work Life to Life’s Work with Markus Lehto

If you need more out of life, or if you’re like Markus Lehto, disenchanted with the corporate system, perhaps now is the time to transform your work life into your life’s work. 

Markus cut his teeth in consulting, investment banking and real estate development, but he’s since taken a different path. Based in Istanbul, Markus is pursuing entrepreneurial ventures in design and architecture, investment, community building, learning and tech development. 

Living in a space where East meets West has enabled him to discover a completely different experience in terms of both lifestyle and given him a new way of approaching the world. 

“Coming to Istanbul really took me into the East and not just into the East, but into this liminal space where everything was open to question.”

The Anglo Saxon version of the world that we live by in the West is so very fact driven, but in Istanbul, Markus believes there’s always room to interpret things differently, to reconsider what we believe to be truth or facts. 

“It has been this beautiful unravelling process for me of really questioning everything and not seeing anything simply from one perspective, that there’s always at least two sides to a coin and maybe there’s no coin at all.”

He says living in Istanbul has been inspirational, a great teacher, a great lover and at times a brutal master. But it’s forced him into situations he would otherwise have never found himself – his life has fallen apart and been rebuilt several times, and just like Istanbul, a city constantly waxing and waning, he has felt he’s in the right place, what he’s experienced in life is core to the culture there. 

“It’s this idea that nothing is truly permanent, and nothing is the way that we truly think it is. It’s been a magnificent eye opener and heart opener for me.”

Joint Idea

Joint Idea was Markus’s way of creating a means to self manage and upgrade the way of working. It’s a co-creative, earn and learn community for talented, multidisciplinary people to connect around the pleasures in life such as music, art, food, play, and practice the evolution of work life. 

It’s a way to take pleasure in what you do, to create memories and business opportunities that enrich our lives, not dictate them. The aim of Joint Idea? ‘To unlock higher levels of consciousness and develop our exponential humanity.’

“Our time on this planet should be spent creating meaningful, artful, playful, and regenerative relationships with other loving human beings. By developing our capacities to operate beyond fear and to trust in the abundance of life, we can transform worklife to something that feels and behaves more like our life’s work.”

The original idea for Joint Life goes back over a decade when he was just starting out as an entrepreneur. Having spent the professional period of his life working for other people, managing intercultural teams with multiple different perspectives, where everyone came together at the right place, at the right time, with the right talent, and were all focused on being the best versions of themselves to get to the work done, was inspiring. He wanted to normalise this transdisciplinary way of working – to create a perfect collaborative environment. Not just a physical space, but a mental one too. 

“It ended up with in that first building around 40 or 50 people from different walks of life, different cultures, different disciplines, all being united by our values, which were love, curiosity, togetherness and curiosity. Doing stuff in a different way.”

That was the genesis of Lifeworks Labs.

“90% of people statistically, who are employed, wish they were somewhere else. The world of work, in that sense, is quite broken. And how do we switch from that kind of work life mindset, which is struggling at best and broken at worst, to a life work mindset?”

Our education system teaches us that that is how we become successful. But in order to break free of this belief system, you have to consciously become part of a community that enables you to live your life’s work, to realise your dreams and that your job isn’t your duty. 

The love mafia

“We’re living in a world dominated by fear and so much bad news. And these types of drivers don’t make us thrive, they just make us neurotic. A lot of the problems in the world of work come from them.”

This was the impetus for the Love Mafia. They wanted to create a new type of language and a new type of life ethos, which came from the heart. Tribe was too prescriptive with rules. The Mafia don’t have a contract or a charter, there’s no legal documentation to keep them together. It’s their tight knit social circle and their inherent being that keeps them together. 

“We put these two diametrically opposed concepts together to create something powerful. So that was the origin of this idea of the love mafia.” 

According to Markus, if we focus on bringing a new culture to business that enables people to express their humanity through their work, and be encouraged to do so, it can mean business becomes a source for good, rather than being a place that 90% of people wish they were somewhere else. 

“This idea that we’re regenerative by default, and if we can just unlearn all the things that we’ve been forced to learn. In this Anglo Saxon culture that we come from, it’s very didactic and prescribed and there hasn’t been a lot of room for creativity or alternative pathways in the world of business. And that needs to change.”

Rethinking business

This current world that we inhabit is governed by the idea that the winner takes it all. All of our efforts are being spent winning the contract or winning the prize or to be the first at something. And in the world of business this doesn’t result in good outcomes. 

Markus wants to redistribute the energies of the world, not in some Robin Hood type of way, but to find a way so we can take back control ourselves from the Google’s and the Facebooks of the world, where it’s truly decentralised and owned by us individually – it’s our basic human right after all. 

“I think the first thing that you need to do is realise that a company is simply an agreement between certain people who are maybe not even involved in the operation of that company. And it’s an illusion that’s at its core.”

We need to change the way we think, in that companies and businesses are collections of people on a mission together. We need to figure out how aligned that mission is amongst the people that are there? How much value there is. What’s the mission and is it valid? Is it virtuous? Is there a reason for the company to exist? 

“With the fallout that we’re seeing now from COVID and all the things yet to come, people will be thinking twice about the things that they buy and why they’re buying them.”

And as we need to change the way we think about business, we need to change the way we think about ourselves. Markus says he’s a Utopian, an expert generalist, like most of us are. 

“More of us will need to be expert generalists that can do a variety of things and be more adaptable to the massive changes that are happening in front of us to the point that we don’t even call ourselves this or that.”

That’s the key to getting into a space where we realise that we’re all in this together. We aren’t out fighting with each other. 

“We’re all crew on Spaceship Earth, we are on this shared planet.”

So what does he wish to innovate? Essentially Markus wants to rewrite the definition of what a good life is. 

“We all come from this idea that you study hard, you come to the front of your class, you get a good job and you work and then at somewhere around 65 years old you retire, and then you do your other stuff, you do your life part. That highly simplistic view of the world is at the core of a lot of the world’s problems.”

There needs to be a counternarrative to this, and that is the whole idea for Lifeworks Labs. Looking at your whole life as an unfolding of your life’s work into practice and becoming who you actually are through all stages of your life. And creating the structures and dynamic systems that encourage that to happen, rather than this idea of get rich and retire, keep your money in the bank and zone out of society. 

Light comes in through the cracks

But how do you achieve this? Markus says something has to come along to break you, this crack is where the light comes in. When something breaks you, you have a chance to have a new perspective on things. If you don’t break fully, you will never have the discomfort needed to shake you into a different level of awareness.

“The key is to find ways to believably break out of your comfort zone, to take a leap of faith and to demand yourself to do something different.”


Leadership comes from people who have done just this. Who have gone through life and broken and repaired themselves, who have come out stronger and more beautiful than before they were broken. 

“It’s at that moment where somebody can be truly an authentic leader because they’ve gone through their own life problems and somehow overcome them, and therefore, they shine a different light.”

Companies that want to survive need to find a solution to their own problems – maybe their services are no longer necessary – what purpose does a bank have if we don’t use cash? 

There’s very fundamental questions attached to a lot of industries right now. And if we look at the core of what these companies are, they’re resources that can be reshuffled into different things. And it all starts with an individual, with leaders being authentic. 

“We just need to put our heart into this and if we do that we don’t know what the outcome will be. But love regenerates and love never fails.”

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