Our team is really grateful we’re getting the summer to join together in person after a year and a half of working across different time zones. Natalie and Brittany are taking a sabbatical from their commitments in Beijing and Sarah has moved down to Charlottesville from NOVA to join Erin in a summer of structured company building. We have a variety of goals and dreams to accomplish this summer, but we’re so excited that we’re given the amazing opportunity to learn through valuable academic and experiential modules, receive feedback and mentorship and have access to a valuable co-working environment surrounded by the most supportive and driven peers. We, of course, are missing our third co-founder, Alyssa but she’s manning our Beijing operations in order to keep infusing much-needed mindfulness and healthy habits there.
Brittany and Sarah have some thoughts to share on the beginning of the program so far.
(@our new Yellow Door space in Belmont)
We’re all in this together.
It’s hard for me to believe I left Beijing only a short time ago to fully invest my time, energy and soul, in the growth and development of The Mind Body Project this summer. I’ve found such joy over the past 5 months facilitating and co-organizing our Beijing community events, but taking a pause from the vibrancy of China to dive back into an environment of learning and challenge at The University of Virginia’s i.lab (innovation lab) startup accelerator program at The Darden School of Business, called out to me so strongly, I knew I had to be there. I now see the beauty in a break from the go-go-go lifestyle I’ve led over the last year. Over the past two weeks, we’ve heard from a wide range of entrepreneur speakers across many industries, gotten a crash course in Pitching, Authenticity, Human Factor Engineering, a two-day workshop in Venture Design, and a week-long presentation and multi-venture collaborative project in Branding. We’re amongst 26 other start-ups ranging across the board all in different stages of life and company development, and diverse backgrounds and interests. The cohort has an overwhelming vibe of support, light-heartedness, and grit. One of our classmates– who’s helping vulnerable refugee populations– even took time out of his day to give us a step-by-step financial planning crash course and Excel Maximization presentation in order to save us from jumping too quickly to just purchase software programs. Sharing resources, lunches, attending each other’s fundraisers and fitness classes, sitting for ’bouts of meditation’ during the day has already brought about this “we’re all in this together” spirit, I’m feeling good about what’s to come.
Release in the form of tiny needles & the color yellow.
What has also made me smile: celebrating my birthday by trying something out of my comfort zone: Acupuncture followed by Chakra Opening Yoga at Common Ground Healing Arts, a non-profit wellness center committed to engaging with the whole community. Fear of sitting still in pain has stopped me before, but I’m pretty amazed by what the experience brought up, some surprising tears, a huge release of tension and a general sense of well-being over the following days. The chakra class focused on “yellow,” and though I need to do a bit more research on this particular spot on the body, my lower back felt incredibly opened afterward. These experiences a nice reminder to keep “leaning into” discomfort and to not avoid the unknown. The day rounded out with cooking a simple vegetarian coconut Thai curry (that fed us for days) and MBP Beijing facilitator video conference training. I’m grateful to those in my life for making this a birthday one I’ll never forget, with meaningful connections in my small tribe of dear ones.Fighting jet-lag and re-acclamation to the US has not been super easy-breezy but laughing, bending, downward-dogging, meditating, and going for long walks has been helpful. My first mantras for the summer, “Be open to the new.” and in relation to my time, energy, and connections: “Strive to go deeper, rather than wider. ”
Our first week was filled with guest speakers sharing their entrepreneurial stories and advice, and group projects testing out their theories. I could go into detail about all that, but I’m still trying to wrap my brain around it, so I’ll leave that on hold and tell you about our very first speaker. Rick Kulow is a renowned entrepreneur in the Food and Health Industries – he discovered and marketed Essential Fatty Acids -think fish oil pills. He told us entrepreneurial anecdotes and advice like, “Entrepreneurship is a life skill….You’re trying to influence the actions of people in the real world” and “Learn Accounting!” He dropped some fancy phrases like, “Always make sure you are extending your runway.” Interestingly, when asked what one thing he would have done differently in his career, he said, “Meditate more.” HA! How awesome was that for The Mind Body Project team to hear? In a room filled with really smart ideas that are almost all tangible products, he expressed a need for our product! Not something you can touch, but that you can feel, and hearing that made us feel pretty good.
I can only speak for myself when I say it’s been a bit of a roller coaster ride. Feelings of joyous pride in what we’re doing here, but also wondering how we are going to make the most of our time… The excitement of a new city – Charlottesville is awfully charming! It’s a little bit of a lot of different things! Some moments of self-doubt, but the dominant feeling is a good one – one that causes a chain reaction of other good feelings and emotions. Gratitude. My family and friends have shown me so much love and support as I’ve taken this leap of faith. They’ve shown me that they believe in what we’re doing and in me, and that makes this whole experience a lot less scary – so, thank you.