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Mindful Business Building with Charlie Hartwell

Insight Timer, Headspace and Happify are just a few of the companies that have been created in recent years to take part in a new movement around mental wellness, consciousness and spirituality. One of the people spearheading this type of mindful business building is Charlie Hartwell, managing partner of the Bridge Builders Collaborative. Hartwell is a change agent who shepherds ideas, resources and talent to drive global sustainable growth. As you’ll learn during my interview with him, Charlie is also passionate about transformation, innovation, and co-creating global movements.

On this episode of the Live. Love. Engage. podcast:

    • Charlie explains how the Bridge Builders Collaborative intends to bring about global change
    • Why it’s important for individuals to become more conscious of how we treat other people
    • Charlie talks about how he created music as part of his spiritual awakening
    • How we can bring about positive change in our local communities

Connect with Charlie
Bridge Builders Collaborative
ShiftIt Institute
LinkedIn
Medium

TRANSCRIPT

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TRANSCRIPT

Gloria Grace Rand
namaste, and welcome to live love, engage. I am Gloria grace rand. And today I am delighted to have a guest on the show someone who is really a mover and shaker in the world, which is kind of cool. His name is Charlie Hartwell and he is the managing partner of bridge builders collaborative, which is a group of highly successful investors who have been investing in start up companies in the space of mental wellness, consciousness and spirituality. In fact, companies like Pear Therapeutics, Insight Timer, which I have on my phone and I use every morning for my meditation, Headspace, Happify and others so he’s been involved in all sorts of different activities as well helping start a nonprofit in Kenya in 1986 that’s now served healthcare to several million patients. And he even founded the first for-profit expedition in US history to promote the Bancroft Arnesen Expedition, which was a historical 17,000 mile crossing of Antarctica by two women who became the first across the continent on foot. I can speak clearly. So I’m really excited to have have you on the show today. And I think we’ll get started right with talking a little bit more about this bridge builders collaborative you were involved in and, and really explain maybe a little bit more in detail about that. And what is that change you’re trying to bring about in the world through that organization?

Charlie Hartwell
So the bridge builders collaborative Well, first, Gloria, it’s great to be on the show. Thank you for having me. The bridge builders collaborative is a group of investors investing in startup companies in the space of how we kind of define mental wellness, consciousness and spirituality. And, you know, what we’re what we’re trying to do is to help provide a way for, you know, for invitations through startup company investing, to support entrepreneurs, who have concepts, ideas, companies, that are helping people to go deeper, deeper into the things that create, you know, mental health problems, deeper into understanding what you know what their purpose is, deeper into connecting with other people, deeper into connection actually with themselves. And you know, something greater than themselves as well. So we have been investing for the last nine years, and you know, have invested in some of the preeminent startup companies in the space of sort of mindfulness and contemplative practice. Now, we’ve kind of shifted our focus to really wanting to go find deeper ways for people to, you know, to connect, to provide opportunities for sort of waking up to, you know, to more authentic living and and greater mental health and wellness.

Gloria Grace Rand
Well, I definitely like that mission because I think it is so important and I’m kind of torn between two questions here. It’s like which which way to go? I mean, I think we’ll maybe we’ll just start with the first one. Actually, they kind of go together. I’ve been feeling that this whole pandemic that we’ve been involved in is sort of a, a wake up call. So to really all of humanity frankly, so is, I guess what I wanted to find out is why is it so important for us to do this? And do you think and how has maybe this COVID-19 issue maybe heightene your, heightened your mission to to help our planet really I mean to help us all.

Charlie Hartwell
Yeah, so two questions I’ll try to I’ll try to address both. And they are, they are very, they’re, they’re very linked. I can only speak to my own experience of waking up. And to many people that I’ve talked to about, you know, their experience. In almost every case, it it, you know, the suffering got to a level where it was no longer tolerable, and people then had a choice. And I’m not saying that’s in every case, but in my own experience, about 95% of the people that I talked to, and I’m, and I’m, I’ll admit to being stubborn for me, it took, you know, a tremendous amount of suffering and three forms of death for me to really wake up to my authentic self, from a… So, if you take a look at that from a collective standpoint, and you said this earlier, you know, this really is a wake up call and I’ll put COVID and Black Lives Matter and all of the injustice that is now before us, the way we’ve treated minorities, women, indigenous peoples, I mean, this is all, there’s so much collective suffering. So one way of, you know, one way of looking at this is it really is the wake up call that you’re talking about for society, to shift, become more conscious of how we try to treat other people, more respectful of others, etc. And then to your second question, you know, we’ve made 15 investments in this space and every company in our portfolio has seen opportunities because of this because whether it’s individual consumers or companies or insurers, or you know, just you know, different distribution systems are are looking for solutions to help with mental health to, you know, to sort of go deeper to provide invitations for people to maybe become more mindful, etc. So, you know, so unfortunately or fortunately, you know, as investors, this is actually a really good time for us. And, and also, because of this time, I would say there are more people thinking of new companies to start around this space. So, you know, so there’s there’s more room for innovation, because of all this.

Gloria Grace Rand
And I do think that’s true, because it is interesting. In just looking back in history, I was actually with my daughter recently, we were watching a show, I guess it had been on the History Channel, but it was about food companies that got started most of them around during the Great Depression. You know, like companies like Hershey and Mars and Kellogg’s and things like that. And I think it is when there is some sort of a crisis or something happens. There are some people who who will you use that to rise to the occasion I think and and become they get inspired, I guess and can come up with some great ideas. So I am optimistic that that this will be the case this time around as well. What actually though, prompted you to really kind of get into this space? What’s What’s your story? I mean, because you mentioned that you started awakening to your authentic self. So what and and you’ve had some experiences as well. So what prompted you to get involved?

Charlie Hartwell
Well, the answer to too many questions that you might ask me is, it’s it my wife got me into the space.

Gloria Grace Rand
Oh

Charlie Hartwell
my wife has the wisdom of you know, of my family of our family. And she had been a practitioner and involved in the space really for 40 years in various roles, and she became involved in something called the Mind and Life Institute, which was started by a Chilean neuroscientist, a Stanford MBA and the Dalai Lama 40 years ago, because the Dalai Lama sort of said, if we’re going to prove the benefits of contemplative practice, and prove what the Eastern heart knows, then we’re going to have to prove to the Western brain that those those things work. And he also he also said, If science doesn’t prove it, then then we’re going to have to change the practices. But so my wife is involved in this organization that was really that was really igniting a lot of interest and promoting the science around contemplative practice. And my, my, the three original bridge builder partners, were also involved in that organization. And they asked themselves whether or not the science of contemplative practice had gotten to a point where there would be anything to invest into to take that science and bring it to scale and application through, you know, through companies and they needed somebody to answer that question for them if there was anything to invest in, and nine years ago, they found me. They sort of said, Hey, you know, get, you know, here’s a question we have, can you go find if there’s anything to invest in? They gave me three months to do that. And, you know, nine years later, we’re, you know, we now are at nine partners and, and, you know, made 15 investments. And I’ve, I’ve probably looked at 1000 companies in, you know, in this space over that time.

Gloria Grace Rand
Wow, that’s amazing. Well, I’m happy that your wife got you into that. So that’s awesome. She sounds like she’s a very enlightened person. So

Charlie Hartwell
she is

Gloria Grace Rand
pretty cool. Well, one thing I in, in doing my research before the before the interview, and I wanted to learn more about you and learn more about bridge builders collaborative. I also came across something interesting in the fact that you have music videos on YouTube. So which I found surprising. It’s like okay, here I you know, I’m looking at your LinkedIn profile, and you’re this and you know, very, you know, investment person, and it’s like, and then you’re, you’re singing songs about religion that was like, wow, that’s, this is definitely a really interesting person I wanted to get to know a little bit more. So what prompted you to get into recording music? And in addition to everything else that you’re involved in?

Charlie Hartwell
So, appreciate that question. So in my own experience, of, you know, sort of waking up, what I found is that I had there was a voice inside of me that wanted to come out. I had been a harmonica player for many years, you know, played some guitar, but all of a sudden in my own process, like just, you know, songs kept, started coming. I wasn’t, they just, you know, they just sort of flowed through me, and then I found the singing voice that I never knew that I had. And so I produced you know, my, my first album called Crossing Over. And then I went on a spill, a spiritual pilgrimage to Peru that actually my wife before we were married, but she, she led and a whole album, just like popped out of nowhere. The songs just kept coming. So I recorded a second album called Pilgrimage. I’m somewhere in the somewhere during the midst of my third album, which is really all around the sacred feminin, I found bridge builders and all of a sudden, that became my music in the world. And the songs started stopped coming and I stopped recording, but I was expressing myself, you know, in a different way, actually through business. So, yeah, so you know, music to me that that music was just a form of creativity which is inside all of us, that expressed itself, you know, when I, when I gave myself permission to, to realize and to realize that I had these gifts and then to put them, you know, out into the world.

Gloria Grace Rand
That’s awesome. Do you? I will, I will say and well now how do I want to put this? Only because I I mean some of the circles that I travel in and and of course I have there is sort of this idea of that men don’t necessarily all the time embrace their creativity, let alone their spirituality. So have you found in doing any of this type of work, have you ever gotten any kind of pushback from people or are they just kind of like, you know, looking at you strangely, like why are you involved in this at all? Or are people becoming more and becoming more open minded about Spirituality because maybe people are just realizing we need a different way to operate in our world.

Charlie Hartwell
That’s a really interesting question. So when I, so when I woke, you know, so just in my own, you know, experience of, of waking up, being my authentic self, it actually, you know, on some level just changing, you know, changing my stories, no longer tolerating behavior that I had in the past. What I found is that the communities that I’ve been involved with, and I’ve sort of been collecting people since I was, you know, very young, and I grew up, you know, in a community outside of Minneapolis, in a, you know, in a prominent family. And I found in doing that, that community and my family system were, how do I say it? They didn’t like it. And, you know, and so many friendships that I had just kind of went away. I was kind of surprised, I guess in some respect that in, you know, and doing this more people didn’t, you know, didn’t sort of say, Oh my god, he looks happier, he looks younger, what’s happened? Because people would say that to me, like, you look, you know, you look 10 years younger.

Gloria Grace Rand
Yeah.

Charlie Hartwell
And at the same time, you know, people didn’t want to go to that place, you know, in that community and my family system didn’t want to explore it, and they treated me you know, really poorly and they treated my wife really poorly. And at the same time, what opened up then was from local community, to global community of people who are really trying to, you know, have done that work, are, you know, are on their journey are willing to be more vulnerable about it, etc. And so I feel it was really challenging for me to be treated in that way. And then I realized it’s this gift that opened up of this new global community that I’m involved with.

Gloria Grace Rand
Well that’s awesome. And I, I was I was sort of curious about that and had had a sneaking suspicion that could be the case. And I do think that perhaps now because we are sort of seeing the shift that maybe maybe some of those people come around eventually, but it is good that you decided not to let that stop you. Because I think sometimes that will, you know, some people might start backing off from that and go, “Oh, well, no, maybe I better maybe it’s not safe to really be my authentic self and I better conform.” But if I’m so glad that you were able to step out and and it opens you up to meeting all sorts of different people. So that’s great. One other thing I wanted to ask you about is because you talked about opening it up to like a global. Why is it important maybe to be able to start a global movement?And and it’s interesting because I actually just recently I was invited to participate in a peace movement. They’re looking for peace ambassadors. And so I signed up I’m like, Yeah, absolutely, I believe in that. But what’s, what’s your, what are your thoughts about the importance of creating and supporting global global movements?

Charlie Hartwell
The short answer is if we don’t, we won’t have a planet to live on.

Gloria Grace Rand
Yeah, that makes sense. Absolutely.

Charlie Hartwell
I think I can go deeper in that but and I and this brings me in to this other to this other piece. So you know, I’m in a white male body. And, and, and there’s a when I talk about, you know, for males to open up and to embrace their feminine side, this is where there’s a, you know, a tremendous amount of resistance. For me, that’s such a key component of who I am, and how I lead. And actually why, you know why I’m successful at what I do is because I embrace that. And if I take that to a much broader perspective, you know, so many of the things that that are creating such suffering in the world today are based on, you know, a white male patriarchal system that has dominated suppressed women, minorities, whatever, for millennia. And if we don’t wake up to that, and if we don’t look at that, and if we don’t change that, then truly, you know, what, what actually happens is our ability to create technologies to destroy the planet is ahead of our ability to change our consciousness. And if technology is, you know if we can create this disruptive technology, but don’t have the consciousness to know what to do with it, then we really face a very global crisis, which is, you know, not only for our species, but for so many other living beings on the planet.

Gloria Grace Rand
Yeah, absolutely. So I like that answer because that does make perfect sense that we really do. This is the only world we’ve got, you know, there’s lots of lots of science fiction shows that talk about oh, you know, we can we can build a spaceship and go to another planet, but I don’t see that happening in my lifetime. I’ve got this lovely bug that keeps flying in my face. It’s driving me crazy. So we really do need to take care of what’s you know, the plant that we’ve got and yeah, there’s been so many species that have been facing extinction and, and just the whole global warming, whether you believe it or not, I know. But whatever. It’s there’s still evidence of a shift and it’s good to be able to do start doing something about it. And I think I think sometimes though, also, sometimes people think that well, it’s just me. And like, I’ve heard people talk about like recycling, for instance, oh, recycling doesn’t make a difference. Because, you know, if my neighbor doesn’t do it, and I’m doing it, you know, but I, I think that we’ve got to start somewhere and even if it doesn’t have an effect right now, the fact that I do it and then maybe I’ll somebody else starts to do it, eventually, there will be this tipping effect, and that change will happen. What are your thoughts on something like that?

Charlie Hartwell
Yeah, I mean, I look at it. So I live in this, you know, sort of rural community. You know, 35 miles from Salt Lake City. And out here like, you know, I have to take my thing, I have to actually drive seven miles with my car full of stuff to recycle. And we’re trying to bring recycling, you know, to our community, and there and also, we’re trying to bring our next door neighbor gotta send to, you know, to composting. So we’re, you know, there’s only two people who are composting right now. And we found a service that will actually drive and, you know, and and compost. And from our perspective, if we can be the first and then invite others to do it and actually tell them why it’s worth paying for that to happen, then we can create a change, but if nobody starts, nobody invites, then it doesn’t happen. But I’ve lived in communities and I don’t know about your community where, you know, like, and we spent a couple like three winters in San Francisco, and everyone, you know, that like, there’s nothing almost nothing in the garbage cans, everything is in the recycling, and everything is in the organics and there are three you know, it’s just everyone is used to now having three different you know, sort of things that they put out on the street every week.

Gloria Grace Rand
Yeah, that’s awesome. Yeah. And, and that’s also why I know some people are Like, oh, we want to get back to normal. But there is no normal anyway, and I don’t want to get back to normal because, frankly, normal wasn’t working. And that’s what got us in the place we’re in today. That’s, that’s my belief. And I think a lot of other people sort of feeling that way too. So I hope instead that we can do something about, you know, finally addressing you know, like I said, that is systemic racism and things like that, but it’s going to take time, and I do think people have to be patient. I mean, I was having discussion with family members that still don’t really see well, you know why, no, racism isn’t isn’t a big deal. I’m like really, really, reall? Like, well, maybe just you’re not aware of it, but you, you don’t live that life. And so, why not? Because I was trying to share with them about I’ve been reading all sorts of people telling you about their stories and they’re perfectly normal human beings living in average, now they’ve got middle class incomes and yet they’re still being treated like second class citizens. So, anyway, sorry, I didn’t mean to go off on a tangent. What other maybe advice would you have for someone listening or watching this on YouTube about maybe even how to be how to be able to get involved in your organization or maybe, you know, interested in investing or or just getting involved in some sort of trying to make a change and to be able to have a positive impact on our world, what would be your best advice for someone?

Charlie Hartwell
The, you know, the first thing really, that I’d say is, what impact do you want to make in the world? And do you have the willingness to kind of go inward, to find that? Because I believe that just about every human being at some, you know, on some level wants to have positive impact and wants to be kind and wants to be compassionate. So my, you know, my encouragement is going inward and find out, you know what that is for you. If it you know, if it’s around mindfulness, if it’s around, you know, mental health or whatever, yeah, we have some companies for people to get involved with, but, you know, if it’s about music, then you know, then take the risk and play it. You know, take it up, if it’s about art, you know, creating art, then, you know, then doing that, if it’s about a start, you know, starting a business to help, you know, create some type of an impact, then, you know, then have the courage to do that. It’s really, if we all really go inward to find out what is the impact that we want to make in the world. Because Because for each person that’s different, then, you know, then I think we’ll find that we can co-create a, you know, a richer, more abundant, healthier world where there’s more equality and people are happier because they’re actually living to their purpose.

Gloria Grace Rand
Absolutely. Yeah. And that’s, that’s one of the reasons why I started this podcast, as I was inspired to start writing a book, and it really is about helping, I really want to be able to help people to you know, live more fully, to be able to engage with each other in a better way and to and to appreciate each other’s uniqueness. And, and so that’s, that’s my goal. Anyway, if someone wants to be able to find out more about your organization or find out more about you, what is the best way for people to be able to do that?

Charlie Hartwell
So there’s a couple of different ways. So the bridge builders collaborative website is called BB collaborative dot com. I do that work through through a company that my wife and I started called the Shiftit Institute, which is shifit dot com. We’re about igniting, igniting consciousness, inspiring human potential and creating paradigm shifts. So that’s one way. I’m on LinkedIn. And I also do a medium blog where I kind of talk about some of the topics and, you know, around mental health, consciousness, spirituality and feature things that are going on sort of in that world.

Gloria Grace Rand
Awesome. Well, I appreciate you taking time out of your schedule to be with us today and to share some information about bridge builders because I do think that’s an excellent organization and, and some also good reminders about how we can the importance of focusing in on looking within and figuring out what is it that we want to do that will not only make us happy but hopefully have a, help others along that same line. So thank you so much for being with us. I really appreciate it.

Charlie Hartwell
Gloria, thank you for having me on the show. Thank you for the work you do.

Gloria Grace Rand
Thank you. And, as always, everyone until next time, I hope you will make sure that you’re subscribed to the podcast and in the meantime, be sure that you are spending time on being able to live fully, love deeply and engage authentically.

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About the Author
Known as The Insightful Copywriter, Gloria Grace Rand is also an inspirational speaker, author and host of the Live. Love. Engage. podcast. Prior to launching her SEO Copywriting business in 2009, Gloria spent nearly two decades in television, most notably as writer and producer for the award-winning PBS financial news program, “Nightly Business Report.”

Gloria turned to writing as a way to communicate, since growing up with an alcoholic father and abusive mother taught her that it was safer to be seen and not heard. But not speaking her truth caused Gloria problems such as overeating, control issues, and an inability to fully trust people. After investing in coaching & personal development programs, and studying spiritual books like “A Course in Miracles,” Gloria healed her emotional wounds. Today, she helps entrepreneurs develop clarity, confidence and connection to the truth of who you are, so you can create a business that has more impact, influence and income!

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