There have been thousands of research studies around the benefits of, consciousness, and, mindfulness. That research is ongoing, it’s all about, mindfulness for stress reduction, mindfulness for depression or anxiety.
My guest today is Charlie Hartwell, a Change Agent and Operating Partner at Bridge Builders Collaborative. Today we are going to be speaking on the topic “Funding the Global Movement towards, Consciousness, and Awareness”.
Listen to the Interview
Charlie is a Change Agent who shepherds ideas, resources and talent to drive global sustainable growth. Passionate about transformation and innovation, he is a leader who ignites teams to accomplish remarkable results. Charlie is also a Harvard Business School graduate and has led various roles in 14 different industries over his career.
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Myrna – I know business school teaches you about business. Why did you settle on the, consciousness, and mental awareness, part of business?
Charlie – I have to say my wife got me into it. You’ll probably hear about my wife a lot on this interview. I describe her as the wisdom of our family. My wife has been in the, consciousness, and, spirituality, space for 40 years, in various roles. She was also involved with The Mind and Life Institute. The Mind and life Institute was founded by a Stanford MBA, a Chilean neuro scientist and the Dalai Lama and proves through science the benefits of contemplative practices like, mindfulness, consciousness, mental awareness, etc. The organization’s started 40 years ago and my wife became involved about 14 or 15 years ago. She introduced me to the organization and the investors who started Bridge Builders Collaborative. They wanted to understand the science behind, mindfulness, and mind training. They needed someone to go out and find out whether there were investments for, consciousness, and, mental awareness, so they hired me to do that work for them; that was about nine years ago.
Myrna – Okay that’s great! Okay so 40 years, that’s a long time to be in the, consciousness, space. Do you practice, mindfulness, yourself or are you just involved in the business aspect of it?
Charlie – I would say yes, I practice, mindfulness. I had my own experience, before starting this job. I might even call it my own awakening. It caused a deepening of my own, consciousness, and awareness.
There have been thousands of research studies around the benefits of, consciousness, and, mindfulness. That research is ongoing, it’s all about, mindfulness for stress reduction, mindfulness for depression or anxiety. Mindfulness, has been studied around the world by leading institutions, and that is when it got to a point where we thought there was enough validation, that’s really when entrepreneurs started to ask the question. How can we take this, mindfulness, and conscious awareness and create a company out of it, and help bring it to more people in the world?
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Myrna – Consciousness, and, mindfulness, are experiencing a Global Movement. I was listening to, Sadhguru, on the School of Greatness Podcast and he was discussing his book Inner Engineering. So I went out and purchased, Sadhguru’s, book Inner Engineering and this morning on my morning walk, I started listening to this book. Just the first chapter of Inner Engineering, blew me away. Sadhguru, talked about how he would go into a trance like state with his eyes open and sit there for hours. How he could feel his digestion! It was amazing.
Charlie why do you believe there’s a global movement towards, consciousness, and, spirituality? We talked about the benefits of, mindfulness, do you think that the East is coming to the West?
Charlie – First of all, I just want to say I love, Sadhguru. I owe him and I love the man very deeply. Secondly my own perspective, I don’t claim to be right on this; my own perspective is that there is such a level of stress and suffering in the world, that Eastern practices like Buddhism are filling a need. We have to reduce suffering, we have to reduce stress and anxiety, and, consciousness, and, mindfulness, are tools that are coming to help people in the United States and around the world. These, consciousness, tools help people to get more in touch with themselves. To help them to connect more deeply to themselves and hopefully help them live happier, healthier and more authentic lives.
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Myrna – That’s was the first part of, Sadhguru’s, book. How to find joy. Sadhguru, made the comment that in the olden days, people were stressed because they were hungry and it was all about survival; but once your belly is full, you should be happy because, that’s usually the survival part of life. Sadhguru, went on to say that now that our bellies are full and we are the most privileged people in history, we are more unhappy and stressed than our ancestors!
Charlie – That’s where programs about stress reduction and, mindfulness, come into play. It’s a great endeavor to fund more of these companies, so that a lot more people can have access to these tools. They won’t have to go to India, which is where the majority of these teachings originates, they can access these companies in the United States and that is where your company comes in.
Strategy for Funding Consciousness
Myrna – So, let’s talk about what your strategy is to invest in companies by helping them allow people to go deeper into, consciousness, and mental awareness. Tell us about your company and how you help investors.
Charlie – When we make an investment, we try to add value to those investments in several different ways, The first way is through what I would call counsel. My partners and business leaders, who have led in many different industries, have start-up experience or have invested in many companies; so they have the wisdom to provide the entrepreneur with help that entrepreneur be more successful.
The second thing we do is because we are so connected in the space, we’re the only investors that are solely focused on the, consciousness, and, mindfulness, space; so we know many of the world’s leading spiritual teachers. We also know many of the world’s scientists, we are also connected into the healthcare system. We’re connected to other entrepreneurs and investors, so we add connections that help make introductions that help the entrepreneurs in several different ways.
Thirdly, we’ve developed a really good reputation for being investors that not only care about making money; but we care about making an impact in the world. So, if we invest in someone, it adds to their credibility.
Finally our purpose is to provide capital or cash that helps the entrepreneur to hire people, do marketing campaigns, build platforms etc. but that’s the least important to us.
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Myrna – Well that’s great! So, coaching, counseling, you introduce them to the leading scientists, spiritual leaders like, Sadhguru, and then you provide cash. Nice, so how does someone find you? Or how do you go about selecting the companies that you want to invest in?
Charlie – People tend to find us because we’re known in this space. Our website is BB collaborative and we tend to use as a funnel and our screening process.
Nine Steps to Funding a Consciousness Business
- When somebody comes to me with a business idea, it’s normally because they’ve started their business.
- They’ve got their first customers.
- They’ve got revenue coming in the door and we provide the growth capital. That’s what I look for.
- Then we ask the question if our investors were to invest in this company, what is the impact that we can make on a global scale?
- Next what’s the science behind the product? We try to do an assessment, if the science is good or where are the holes in the science.
- We also look at the entrepreneur. do an assessment if the entrepreneur themselves is conscious, if the entrepreneur is vulnerable and is willing to do their own personal work, is willing to let go of ego.
- Are they skilled at running a business and being able to grow that business.
- Is the product differentiated? Is there a need for it?
- Lastly we look at if we invest in this product, How much potential money can we make from it? How can the company be sustainable? Can it provide returns on our capital? How much of a return can shareholder expect?
Myrna – I like what you said about wanting to know the science behind a project. Can you give me an example of one of your investments that would maybe fit this model?
Companies using Science to promote Global, Consciousness
Charlie – I’ll give you a few different examples. I’m on the board of Muse Guided Meditations. I am passionate about that company. We’ve been investors for seven years. A lot of people have heard of a company called Headspace. We were one of the early investors in Headspace. The company has done a great job of rebranding meditation and making it accessible to the modern world actually. Sadhguru, is on the platform.
It’s a global community of 7,000 spiritual teachers, musicians, scientists that meet on a platform community of sixteen million. About five hundred thousand people use it every day. What I like about this platform is that it’s all free. It’s free content. There are forty five thousand meditations that are available for free. You could subscribe if you want special features; but you never have to pay for the service and you can connect with the world’s leading spiritual teachers and find content that suits either your spiritual tradition or the specific teacher that you want. It’s a very diverse group of teachers, 44 teachers are teaching in 44 different language and it’s global.
I’ll just mention you know another company called ‘Happify’ which is kind of a behavioral health platform for, mindfulness, positive psychology, and cognitive behavioral therapy. It’s an app and they kind of gamified the experience. They’re actually going through the FDA process to become a digital therapeutic program; so that it can be prescribed by doctors and reimbursed by insurance companies. They are hoping to be able to treat actual conditions without taking as many drugs.
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Myrna – So that’s so that’s beautiful! I’m definitely going to try Headspace. I’m thinking that it’s almost the same thing as Muse. No?
Charlie – Muse is a hardware device where you could see your brainwaves. It allows you to basically see whether you’re in a calm or focused state. It connects to your phone. Headspace is more just like a meditation app, it doesn’t have a hardware component to it.
Myrna – As we wrap up the interview I’m curious to hear about how you started a non-profit in the slums or poverty-stricken areas of Nairobi Kenya that has served three to five million patients so far. Can you tell us about that? Is that also part of the Global, consciousness, and, spirituality, movement?
Charlie – So, in 1986 I’d gotten out of college, I was traveling around the world. I was kind of working weird jobs and in remote places and the last place that I landed was in Nairobi, where I worked as a social worker for like three months. I learned that I didn’t like Social Work at all. I wasn’t good at it, and yet I became passionate about the continent of Africa. I wanted to do something to help create change, I knew it wasn’t going to be through social work but, you know the best way I could think of to try to help people was to start a business. I had a co-founder, a Kenyan who I co-founded the organization with and one other guy that I went to college with, and we started this organization called Provide international. It started as a child feeding program then we started a business loan program for women entrepreneurs, not necessarily in the, consciousness, or, mindfulness, space.
Then we discovered that what the community was asking for was a health care organization; so we started a health care organization.
- They had the first maternity wards in any poverty-stricken areas of Africa that I know about, we had the first ambulance.
- We had one of only two ambulances in the entire country of Kenya.
- They had the first eye doctors and dentists in those areas. After 9 years, I decided to turn it over to the Kenyan, so they could run it themselves not have Americans overseeing them.
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I went back you 30 years later for the anniversary and they had seven centers, they treated millions of patients. They’d been very successful at helping to bring health care into the communities. I was proud of what they had accomplished.
Myrna – How can people find you to request funding?
Myrna – All right so, I don’t have anything more. I just wanted to thank you for coming on the show and expanding our, consciousness, on how we can possibly build our inner engineering with, mindfulness, and have a global impact in the world. We start by changing ourselves first so, once we change ourselves or we change internally, then we can contribute to the global movement towards spirituality.
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