"Dr. Meaning," Modern-Day Greek Philosopher, Political Scientist, Founder of the Global Meaning Institute, Best-Selling Author
Alex Pattakos, MPA, Ph.D. ("Aleko" or "Αλέκο" in Greek; his full name in Greek is Αλέξανδρος Νικόλαος Παττακός), is a political scientist, "Modern-Day Greek Philosopher," and internationally-recognized leader of the "Meaning Movement," who is focused on bringing meaning to work, the workplace, and into everyday life. He is a co-founder of The OPA! Way®, a new paradigm and approach to Living & Working with Meaning that is uniquely inspired by and based on Greek philosophy, mythology, and culture. As part of this global initiative, Aleko has co-authored with his primary business partner and spouse, Elaine Dundon, a new book, The OPA! Way: Finding Joy & Meaning in Everyday Life & Work, as well as founded the Global Meaning Institute. He believes passionately that each of us can find deeper meaning in our lives, including our work lives, each day, every day. As a pioneer and thought leader in the personal transformation area, he has worked globally to help people and organizations develop their full potential. Clients find his unique approach to be both inspirational and practical. Among his various publications, he is the author of the international best-selling book, Prisoners of Our Thoughts, available in 22 languages (including a Greek edition), and his writing has appeared in a wide variety of Greek-themed publications, such as The National Herald (ΕΘΝΙΚΟΣ ΚΗΡΥΞ), one of the leading Greek American newspapers in America for whom he has been a featured columnist, Greek America Magazine, for whom he wrote the cover story on Arianna Huffington (November/December 2011 issue), and OPA! Magazine, with whom his meaning-focused venture, The OPA! Way, is an official "OPA! Partner." Importantly, Aleko continues to explore his Greek heritage.
Being a proud Greek-American (of Cretan heritage), it can be said that my personal journey began somewhat “naturally” because of my in-bred passion for the study of democracy, government, and politics. From a very early age I was drawn to public service and to championing the rights of the structurally disadvantaged in society. A U.S. Army veteran (Vietnam Era), I found myself drawn into the “War on Poverty” as a community organizer, human services warrior, political campaign management consultant, and journalist. Because of a longstanding interest in health care, especially the oft-neglected and misunderstood field of mental health, I also found myself trained and working as a therapist and administrator with the chronically mentally ill and criminally “insane.” This experience was life-changing for me and was a catalyst for returning to the serious study of public policy and government in order to better understand and ideally influence the “politics” of mental health. Not content with being a political scientist locked in an ivory tower, I tried always to practice what I preached by linking practice with theory. Hence, in addition to becoming a full-time Professor of Political Science, including a graduate program head in Public Administration, I continued to immerse myself in the “real world” of policy issues and organizational development/management both with my students and independently as a consultant/advisor. I’ve been privileged to have worked internationally with all levels of government, including service to the White House under three Presidents in the United States. I’ve also served as an advisor to the commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and was one of the initial faculty evaluators for the Innovations in American Government Awards Program at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, among other professional responsibilities.
It was my interest in and passion for innovation, much like that of Elaine’s, that led me to move from matters of the brain/mind to those of the heart and spirit. Among the meaningful experiences that allowed me to manifest this transition in my life path was becoming the president of an international nonprofit association of people committed to elevating the human spirit in the workplace called Renaissance Business Associates (RBA). In 1995 as RBA President, I had the unique opportunity to lead one of the first major conferences in the still fledgling field of “Spirituality” in organizational and human resource development with thought leaders like Joan Borysenko, Tom Chappell, Peter Vaill, David Whyte, and many others. My interest in personal growth was fueled further when the world-renown psychiatrist, Dr. Viktor Frankl, personally encouraged me to write my book Prisoners of Our Thoughts. Published by Berrett-Koehler in hardcover in 2004, it was released in paperback with a new chapter in 2008, and in a second edition (revised and expanded) in 2010. Among its accolades, Prisoners of Our Thoughts was a ForeWord Reviews finalist for Self-Help Book of the Year, a national Top-10 bestseller in Spain, and has been translated into 22 languages (including a Greek edition) with more on the way. The book’s foreword was written by bestselling author, Dr. Stephen R. Covey. Because of my pioneering work in the area of Meaning throughout the world, I am now referred to as “Dr. Meaning” at industry conferences and in the media. But again, much like in the case of Elaine’s path to meaning in life and work, I entered another transitional stage when we discovered The OPA! Way®. Now, in addition to being able to integrate my innovation and meaning work with a unique twist that leverages my Greek heritage, this new philosophy and lifestyle/workstyle brand allows me to dedicate myself, more than ever before, to helping individuals and organizations achieve their highest potential and Live & Work with Meaning—The OPA! Way®.
One of my favorite quotes is from the ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus: “You never step twice into the same river.” (All things are in process, nothing stays still.) OPA!
Dr. Alex Pattakos delivers a meaning-focused TEDx talk, Everyone Say "OPA!", in Hong Kong, PRC, April 13, 2013. OPA!