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Research and Books


Dr. Cortez's Research

As a psychology- and liberal arts-educated professional, Dr. Cortez has developed a long-standing love affair with people and their life stories. She loves to know where people come from, the most salient moments of their lives, and what moves them to euphoria and tortures their soul – in short what deeply matters to them, especially at work.  When she began her human capital career in 1998 in Information Technology staffing, she added to that mix a keen ability to interview people about their lives and work, teasing out the most tender of details. She developed a fascination with how people choose their careers and experienced them.  So, when it was time during her doctoral studies to choose a dissertation topic, it was easy to land on the research question of: What is the relationship between meaning in work and personal identity for high-performing Information Technology managers?

For that dissertation project, Alise conducted qualitative research with 25 male and female Information Technology managers between the ages of 22-65 (average age 43) across the nation to learn how they experience their work and its relationship to their personal identities. Using a hermeneutical, phenomenological, interpretative description method, five “modes of engagement” emerged to describe the relationship participants experience between their work and personal identities.  Since graduation in 2005, she has shared these results in various workshops and presentations, and participants readily understand and relate to one of these five “Modes of Engagement” for themselves.

After several years of people asking, “These are interesting results, what’s next, and how do I apply this stuff at work?” Alise finally decided in March of 2012 to embark on a much bigger research design to further validate and develop what was discovered in the dissertation research.  She interviewed 115 men and women between the ages of 18 and 80, this time across 20 different industries that mostly fell into what Richard Florida terms “the creative class” — professionals, creative people, and service professionals. With this augmented data pool across diverse industries, this second research project yielded 15 “Modes of Engagement” (an expansion from the 5 previously found in the smaller data set and this time included the nuance of meaning type). Understanding the Mode of Engagement one is experiencing, in relation to the spectrum of possibility against the other 14 modes, gives individuals powerful access to self-awareness and insight of the kind and level of meaning they experience in work to begin taking steps to change that self-work relationship toward an alternative, preferred mode. Perhaps they are seeking more fulfillment or less demanding work that consumes their lives; or maybe, it’s time to begin discovering how to “Live My Purpose,” one of the 15 modes.

Thought Leadership and Articles
  • Modes of Engagement research results

  • Reverse Mentoring as a Key Component of Corporate Culture, Enterprise Transformation Results Blog, March 2017

  • This second research project yielded 15 “Modes of Engagement”

  • Cortez, A. & Lynch, O. (2015) Zones of engagement: Where meaning in work meets personal identity, International Journal of Human Resources Development and Management

  • Cortez, A., & Lynch, O. (2014) Methodological Explorations on the Relationship Between Meaning in Work and the Self, Leveraging Human Factors for Strategic Change – An Organizational Culture Perspective / Bloomsbury India

Purpose Ignited Chapter Workbooks and Videos

What kind of a difference could you make to each member of your team if you saw them not as who they are today, but who they could become? That is, who could they grow into and become – the person they cannot even see for themselves? Enhance your awareness of self and those around you by leveraging these videos and workbooks!

My Books

Launching Soon

The Great Revitalization - Pre-Order Now!

Life and work continue to evolve, and so must your leadership. Thriving in today’s business environment requires conscious, inspirational leadership, a fresh understanding of the world we find ourselves in, and a whole new playbook anchored in meaning and purpose. You need a set of strategies and applications that enable you to create an experience in your organization where your people give their best, feel fulfilled in their work and relationships, can work toward realizing their potential, and will persevere alongside you in service of the company’s mission.

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Coloring Life: How Loss Invites Us to Live More Vibrant Lives - Pre-Order Now!

You've lost someone you love…or maybe you're about to. Your whole life is changing, possibly turning upside down. How do you make sense of it? How do you get through the pain? This author shares her journey through her parental loss in the hope that you will find solace and enlightenment.  Death is a great teacher. Losing the ones we love the most can inspire us to treasure our relationships, expand our consciousness and live more fully.

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Passionately Striving in 'Why'

Living your purpose takes some real effort and is not for the faint of heart. It requires listening for that delicate whisper and heeding the urgent inner calling that directs you, often in the most inconvenient directions. Passionately Striving in Why is a triumphant collection of contributions from 25 women from around the world.

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Purpose Ignited

Transform your life, work and organization with a 7-point philosophy of work to inspire yourself and your people from the inside out. This book was written to turn you ON – to ignite you from the core of your being! The contents are designed to vitally inspire you to cultivate meaning, passion, and purpose in the everyday moments, unleashing the very best version of you, every day. And then, you will be compelled to bring it – and bring it strong - to everything you do to make the contribution worthy of your one, precious life. 

Launching Soon

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