By: Sofia Gonzalez
When my colleague invited me to The Conscious Entrepreneur Summit https://consciousentrepreneur.us/ (TCES), I expected it to be an opportunity to learn some business skills, network a bit, and return to work the following Thursday to my normal program. I did not expect, however, for it to be sort of life changing. The weeks following the summit I thought about what I learned and experienced in that event hall. It even caused me to make some drastic changes to the way I was living my life and in turn my work.
In case you are wondering, The Conscious Entrepreneur Summit offered its first conference in May. According to the description on their website, the summit was “designed exclusively for ambitious entrepreneurs who understand that personal growth is the key to business growth.” (The Conscious Entrepreneur Summit Website. https://consciousentrepreneur.us/
When you hear entrepreneur, you may be inclined to think about tech-bros and girl-bosses. You know, the ones who glorify “the grind” and say things like “I’ll sleep when I’m dead.” This summit was not that. When I looked around the room I saw and spoke to people who truly cared about quality of life and wanted to shift to a sustainable way of working, i.e., a conscious entrepreneur. The keynote speakers were less concerned about teaching us ways to make lots of money and more concerned with ways that we and those around us feel the human experience.
Author and CEO of Reboot, Jerry Colonna, exemplified this. He took space and time right at the beginning of the first day to tell us how he was feeling. Colonna admitted to the frustration he felt after the mass shooting in Buffalo that appeared to be racially motivated. From his action, I learned that there’s always time to connect with others and to be authentic and honest about what we are feeling. This one moment helped shape my entire summit experience. I let my guard down, something I rarely do at work.
Another stand-out speaker from TCES was Dr. Srikumar Rao. Rao took us through a journey of human consciousness. Dr. Rao brought ideas from different religions around the world to share the importance of faith in our daily decisions as business leaders. Like Rao, every other speaker brought up the importance of slowing down and making moments in our busy lives to be still.
Speakers and sessions also dove into the modern problems that today’s entrepreneurs and leaders face. Conversations did not shy away from burn-out, mental health, and the other effects of a modern entrepreneur. Many of the attendees told me it was the first conference they had attended since the start of the pandemic. The lessons and takeaways about meditation and consciousness seemed that much more poignant due to the events of the past two and a half years.
Throughout the two-day experience the organizers modeled mindfulness practices by providing time to stretch, to breathe, to feel, to heal, and to remember that labor and spirituality have always been intertwined. We often put a wall between our work and our faith. TCES was a good example of how faith can transcend “religion” to serve our mission as human beings: to survive in a world that is constantly changing.