Awakin call with Jared Levy on 2/20/16
Host: Amit Dungarani
Moderator: Birju Pandya
Guest Jared levy
Amit: Today our special guest speaker is none other over Jared Levy. He is someone that really embodies our theme. I am going to share a quite a bit about experience both in the social world as well as this idea of finding a teacher- a Guru. He is going to speak from his own personal experience. We also have Birju Pandya who is going to be our moderator today. So we are pretty excited about that.
Our theme this week is- "Every generation needs a teacher". The word guru has come to mean many things in our culture. It's often understood as "popular expert". Has been appropriated by tech and marketing companies to denote fun, friendly, know-it-all. But in its deeper meaning, Guru is someone who points the way to our own truth, asking us to search within and discover the love and compassion that is active and illuminated when we strip away the many layers of ego. We asked our callers and people that went through our blog to share their definition of Guru or examples of guys in their life and Birju, I thought you could start by sharing something from your life.
Birju: Thank you so much Amit. I am excited for this conversation today. Because, candidly, I feel I've had a tough relationship with the idea of Guru as a teacher in my life, especially if it is personified as a person. But I have been evolving that perspective. There is this question that I had before- Can I see teachers everywhere? Can I see myself as a teacher? Can I see people who may create some resistance in me as teachers? So that has been an interesting process. I think as part of that, one piece has been asking, can I see the idea of teacher personified in another person. So last week I was in conversation with a friend of mine. My friend got hurt and upset in an interaction. At that moment there is this question that came up. Probably not in that moment, but probably 10 minutes afterwards as I got my mind back about to see if it was possible that I wasn't completely 100% right. There is may be 1% that my friend was right or as my mind got a bit saner, maybe she was 100% right and I was the person who could benefit from her teaching in that moment. But, may be that the way she talked was different than what I would expect your standard Guru to do. In that way I experience the Gurus of the moment. But I feel like it's a rare gift to come across a person who embodies the idea of Guru so deeply. It's that part that really connects me to this caller. There is an opportunity for me to learn about this topic. Our guest today is Jared levy. Jared in recent history can be seen from multiple hats, from my understanding. On one side he is a social entrepreneur. On theater side, he is a practicing yogi in the world. He has got plenty of hats outside of that from Professor at the University of Colorado to Board member of several organizations. He is also running his own company. And he is here today to share with us his journey of personal transformation.
Thank you so much for joining us Jared.
Jared: Absolutely! Really nice to be here with you and everybody. Thanks for the warm introduction.
Birju: I'd love to dive right into it and just go straight to the space of what I call churning points. You were running a music company, not too long ago. What was your mind frame at that time?
Jared: Well, it's interesting. I think it was in a place of attachment. I came out of college and I was highly recruited by different Ad agencies. I ended up going on a trip to Costa Rica to figure out which Ad agency I wanted to be with. There I was talked into staying there and doing the marketing there. So I actually lived in Costa Rica for a year. I moved to LA to try to find my path, I think I got kind of gobbled up in that LA soup. I was in TV and films for a while and then moved to music. I've always had a real love for music as a fan and other things linked my life to musicians.20:22 When we started having some success, I think the ability to go to any clubs in La and see any musicians we wanted and kind of have the VIP music treatment in LA, I felt my ego, I guess, myself get pretty attached to that life style. I started making really good money in the music industry which was easy at that time. I think I was in a place of self-congratulation and having a lot of fun in LA music scene. I started though, I got to say, in my heart... In my head it felt right. My heart there was something off. When you know something is a little sour in your gut. There was this feeling going through with it, may be this wasn't the right place for me.
Birju: So you are in the space of sensible success and yet it felt like an itch you are looking to scratch. Where was that space in which you felt like, oh! This is a perspective I haven't seen before.
Jared: Good question. Perspective I haven't seen before... I think it was this. I came out of a music meeting where I was trying to get a young musician who I really believed in sign for the label. I put on my salesman hat and went in there and came out thinking I crushed the meeting and then went for a surf. I was sitting on my board and staring at the horizon. That's my typical meditation. There was literally a sick to my stomach kind of gut feeling that something needed to change. I knew how to be successful and like you said, of sensible success. But there was something that needed to change for me. To live into my Dharma, I guess. To be true to what I was meant to do on this planet. That was the feeling and what really woke me up... that was kind of tangible, palpable moment. I can still see that moment. But I was turned on by this conference, this community social venture network. I went down there and what I saw was that you could do really well and do good at the same time. That was the feeling that I knew I was missing; that sense of fulfillment and purpose in my work.
Birju: Can you share a bit more of social venture network? It is one the hats that you wear that I see?
Jared: Sure. It's been quite a journey there. Coming in as this wandering guy from the music industry, wasn't sure if I still wanted to be there. It was actually one of my best friends from college, University of Colorado, Boulder. His dad used to come into Boulder and we would all be partying up on the hill and he would be the cool dad that would come up and play music. He was always talking about this group of old Hippie businessmen that were going to change the world. He was always coming to Boulder and talking about it. He actually still is a part of social venture network and owns a great bean and rice chips company called "Bean Field's Chips". I am still very close with him. I was in his backyard and he told me that, this is 7 years after college, he said, “There is a community of social venture network you need to go. Your answers are there. I can't wait to drop you to this community." So I show up in San Diego, paying up a bunch of money to be there. I had never been with people like this before. I just didn't know that people like that existed. Literally, I had always divided the world into For-profit businesses and non-profit businesses. I didn't realize that you could really create a successful for- profit impact business. That was foreign to me at this time. I always thought about philanthropy. I was raised Jewish and raised Sadaka. Then it got into Buddhism and it turned into more like philanthropy. It was like, "Ok, I can make money over here and give money over here. That's how my impact is going to be."
Social venture network completely proved me wrong. It really was a group that was having serious impact on the world while doing really well as entrepreneurs. It started, to give a tiny bit of history about social venture network, not just my experience there, it started 30 years ago. Two guys, Wayne Silby, founder of Calvert fund, which is one of the most conscious, impacting vested mutual funds that you can get into, and Josh Mailman, who is kind of saint / angel kind of philanthropist. They are walking around in the woods and they are like, “I know we can have more impact than we are having right now." they write this letter and send it out 150- 200 most influential people in the world that they could think of. I think about 80 or 90 people cameo this ranch. They spent a few days there and some of the people like Ben Cohen from Ben and Jerry's, Anita Roddick from Body Shop, Ram Dass and others. They talked about how we should leverage our influence money and businesses to change the world. That was how Social Venture Network started years ago. Now it is unbelievable what has come out of that. Benefit corporations born out of it. American Sustainable Business Council, BALLE which is the Business Association of Local Living Economies, and I could go on and on. That's really, really amazing to me. It’s a very spiritual community. It's kind of a place you show up and don't talk about your successes, but you talk about your failures and you talk about some things you wouldn't want to share with someone you are trying to get a job with, you know. A major conversions spirituality, transparency and business, in a way that I have never seen before.
Birju: So, that's the place that I want to dive deeper into. Before I do that, the context of me specifically asking this question is - my own interface with SVN. One of the hats that I also wear is my work with RSS Social Finance. You may know that one of our newest team members is Deb Nelson, who used to run Social venture network.
Jared: Congratulations. She is Awesome.
Birju: Thank you. I have been very moved thus far. So dive into that spirit side of that coin. You alluded to, a little bit earlier, your own upbringing of different form of spirit traditions. I was wondering if you can share a bit more about the Jewish upbringing, Buddhist upbringing. How does that fit into your own emerging inquiry about, “what am I supposed to do here?
Jared: Yeah. Interesting question. I guess it's all, as Ram Dass says, in the moment. Be here now. At some point in this life I can say I was a reformed Jew, with Bar Mitzvah conferred. My wife actually converted to be a Jew. It was her idea and I love her for it, but it wasn't as important for me. I started out like that and I then in college got into Buddhism and philosophy. I kind of walked away from this idea pf Judaism. I mean, still very culturally Jewish, but wasn't really practicing. I love Shabbat. I love the idea of relaxation on Friday and Saturday and kicking back with family, but Buddhism felt more in line with my heart. And then through reading so much of Ram Dass, I really got pulled into the Hinduism. So I kind of always joke with some people around me that I am kind of a "Jewvidu". There is a Buddhist in me that just wants to be comfortable with the suffering in the world, there is a Hindu in me that wants to just love it away and there is a Jew in me that's got to do something about it. Right now, with the amount of suffering in the world, I see it as very symptomatic of people not being compassionate towards each other, themselves and the planet. It’s kind of the Jew that's winning out right now because, I feel like I have to do something for all this.
Birju: So you alluded to your connection with Ram Dass. I am wondering if you can a bit more about where that connection stems from and perhaps a little about Ram Dass as well.
Jared: Sure. I was attracted to Ram Dass when I was about 13. I started being interested in psychedelic at that point. I was more interested in that side of Ram Dass. I read the book "Be Here Now". It just really turned me on. The first part of the book was this story that really resonated with me. He was raised in this ambitious Jewish home with probably very loving but over nurturing Jewish mother and really successful Jewish dad, which I could relate to, in big way. In the middle of this, I have always been a visual art person. He has got all this psychedelic art in this book, that you can meditate on and it brings the story to life. The third part of the book is the Karma cook book: a cook book for karmic living. And it’s really kind of a how to book. No has really laid it out for me like that, so I really got pulled in fast. I had been gobbling up pretty much everything that he had written or any of his speeches and all of the stuff that he had done in his life time. I was coming out of music industry and moving into Gurus, fast forward now to now when I am about 26- 27. We did a really great job for a dear friend of mine, who found the music festival and yoga festival in LA and he said, "I want you to go have lunch with someone." He knew my love for Ram Dass and it was Raghu Markus, the executive director of Ram Dass's foundation. He has got an amazing podcast as well called "mind rolling", a really fantastic podcast. Raghu and I fell in love immediately at lunch and were talking and that's when I found out that Ram Dass actually held the spiritual heart of the social venture network for the first 15 years of it. All these worlds started colliding. Now, my business world which is really being turned on by social venture network is now coming together with my spiritual path with Ram Dass and it just started lighting up. The synchronicities couldn't be ignored. Like I said, it was more the psychedelic side of Ram Dass that I was attracted to. More recently, say the last 6-7 years, after going to India many times and visiting the ashram of his Guru, Neem Karoli Baba, and spending more time with Bhagavad Geeta and Ramayana, I have gotten way more into the Hindu side. I have always read those text as kind of, these are some fantastic stories that are ridiculous, just like the Bible. And I read his book, "Paths to God", which explains the Bhagavad Geeta in a way that applies the story to your inner work, your fight that all of us and the journey that all of us have in this life time. And it tied it all together for me. Now, I have gone way over to that side.
I could talk more about more about Ram Dass and his journey if you would like as well.
Birju: You mentioned that you had multiple trips to India over the last several years. As you move more towards the love practices, I don't know what you would call it, moving away from the psychedelic approach, what have been your insights that come from this new form of practice?
Jared: I think, one of the biggest is that it's about the journey not the destination. There are plenty of people in the west that are kind of looking for "enlightenment" and look at it as a destination across the river- “If I just meditate 20 min a day, I'm going to reach enlightenment if I wear my mala beads or robes or whatever.. " It's just not about that. It’s about the journey, it's about the practice. Spiritual work is all just pruning to make it so that as you are engaging in your daily life with your wife, your best friend, your employees, customers or whomever. That’s the work; that's the spiritual work; real spiritual work is how you show up. So for me that is one of the biggest insights. It wasn't as much a dichotomy as much as a convergence. That’s where my life had to lead. Also, some insights into concepts of medicine and poison for me. I have very hyperactive kids growing up and i definitely had anger inside of me. It’s easy to come out, like a short fuse. For practice and I still work on this all the time, I have been able to turn that poison into medicine with passion. Really with my clients and with people I work with it comes out. Every single person I'm there for, I'm really there, I'm really passionate about their work. It’s not sales pitch. I really do care. That's coming from a place that's just taking that energy and you are just flowing with it or spinning out in a more healthy way, like Thai Chi or something. Those are a few insights that I've had. But as I said, I am just practicing like the rest. It’s an ongoing journey.
Birju: So this word 'practice'.. I hear you say, practice is what you do day to day. It is what chopping wood and fetching water approach to life is. I am wondering beyond that do you have a practice? Something that enables you to bring yourself to that day to day interactions, perhaps with more intention than you would otherwise.
Jared: I do have a meditation practice. I do quite a bit of yoga, at least four days a week. I have a pretty disciplined schedule. I have got a lot of energy. I have to get that out, somehow or bring that passion to the work that I am doing. In my meditation practice, saying the name, Ram, That's what it comes down to. That's the teaching from the Neem Karoli Baba and from Shyam Sunder Das baba who is another realized being that I had the unbelievable blessing of spending time with him few months ago. I have a mala that I work with the name Ram. Neem Karoli Baba used to always talk about: "Sab Ek"- All is one. And it really comes back to source. Everything comes back to source. For me, it's a practice of getting back to source.
I sat in this wonderful workshop a few weeks ago, with this lady Sarah Marshank, who has a book and a workshop called "Selfistry". It was amazing! It kind of broke this world into three areas. We have got ourselves. Many people refer to as ego, but there are many selves in there. There is your mom's voice, your girlfriend's voice, all these different selves in there. Usually you are showing up as one of those selves. And really when you can take a breath, and with meditation, you can become a witness. You can start to witness that self. In Buddhism they call it-"spy consciousness". Sharon Salzberg is always talking about that. You step back and without judgment you can see that you are that self. you can be ok with that and just acknowledge it and be aware of it and then try to work on, 'how do you " tai chi" that poison into medicine with that self?" This is a really interesting practice. Then there is this third Self / Witness and then there is the Source. It’s One, Love, Ram, God, and Jesus, whatever you want to call your deity. My practice is moving more towards Source.
Birju: I'd love to jump in there Jared. I feel blessed to be able to have conversations with folks who can name this sort of thing, but rarely do they run their own companies. The companies are usually a part of the scene that are grounded in action. So here you are, telling me about source and witnessing and then you do stuff in the world, your Jewish side, if you will. So I am curious, when you think about impact, this whole world of impact, what does impact mean to you as somebody who has the perspective that you do?
Jared: Great question. Of course, now I'm finding a way to be at comfort with the guys putting the trees outside of my house. Let me find a different spot.
Impact to me: I break it down into couple of things. At first, when I started learning about this work, and really getting turned on through Social Venture Network and other venues, I thought impact is just: how do I make this world a better place? How do I alleviate suffering on the planet? That's unbelievable work. I mean, I have so many colleagues and visionaries that are doing unbelievable work in alleviating suffering on the planet. They are working in poverty, healthcare, hunger alleviation, and many other areas. The world is in a tough place right now. I think as I've spent more time, I wanted to get more to the root. So impact to me is that. We've got a lot of clients that are alleviating some of the symptomatic suffering that’s going on around the world. But really, as I said before, there is a base level, where for most humans, resting state is self-interest right now. If we can alter that resting state towards compassion, some of these symptoms are going to melt away. It’s not going to happen overnight. This is a long term plan. We really have to rethink how we are showing up as human beings in the societies and in companies. So to me, impact now has become- a) expand and raise money, help build community, donations and all those kind of things around these amazing non- profit foundations and companies that are alleviating suffering. b) Also how do I build compassion at much larger levels? How do you bring conscious content that can turn people on? How do you introduce them to teachers? What's the tip of the sphere kind of marketing that can introduce the most extreme like- " How do I get ISIS to listen to a Ram Dass and love everyone, meditation etc. That's probably reaching a little bit, but I think you understand my point. There are some projects working on now more in the realm of conscious content, to kind of start to water the roots a little bit, rather than prune the hedges and help grow the roots. We are really trying to go deep. There are some amazing networks we are involved with that. Unify is a good one. My pod network is a podcast network that has all these amazing teachers like, Krishna Dass, Roshi Joan Halifax, Sharon Salzberg, Jack Kornfield and Tara Brach. Now what we are going to move with that is - creating more content where - what are the access points to people that are under served in this area. lot of times we think underserved communities as, ***" That community may be not well developed or third world country.' We need to get in and develop work. I think underserved as.. Some of those countries are the most served, have the most spiritual, the best human beings that I have met on the planet. Really where the work needs to be done is here, you know.
Birju: Yeah! What is really poor?
Jared: Exactly. What is wealth?
Birju: You are referring to the work with your agency, Guru Media, is that right?
Jared: Yes. Guru Media Solutions. That's exactly what we do. But also on the board of social venture network, there is quite a bit of work there and being on Ram Dass's Board. Ram Dass is looked at on the planet as the Baba of spiritual teachers. He is 85 years old and is living out in Maui. Any one on this call, I would highly recommend to go to Maui. He has retreats twice a year. It’s just a life changing experience. I think there is one coming up in April.
With Guru, in terms of expanding my own impact, I could be a consultant and help a few visionaries, CEOs. But to truly have the impact that I would like to have, I needed to gather some likeminded souls, with skill sets that could help build community around some of these ideas. I have been extremely lucky with attracting amazing people, from big agency expats that got tired of working on Chevron or something like that. They said, “I’ll take a 10 % pay cut. I actually love what I do and make a difference on the planet." To me questions like that are not even questions. People get golden hand cuffs and you work really hard for your career and you are climbing through that bureaucratic structure and you are going to get to that next rung. I am always telling my friends when I talk to them: they are making crazy amount of money, working for big New York Agency and they are working 16 hour days. I say to them, “Look at your boss and look at your boss's boss and tell me that's the life you want. If it is, then stay with where you are at. Don't complain any more. If it’s not, then come work with me."
Birju: It so makes sense and yet, I have been seeing this field of socially minded business and what I hear you describe Social Venture Network starting out 30+ years ago, we are now talking about this behemoth that's got billions of dollars flowing in, its seen as a viable career path, not necessarily this thing that you are inquiring into as you go on your own journey of shift. I get the sense that, for you, the work in the world is very much an extension of the work that you are doing on yourself. And where is that found in the world of social venture now?
Jared: Well, it’s a great question. I think that, that was the original thought of Social Venture Network. It was two things; not only coming together to expand impact, kind of 1+1= 3 with these leaders. But how do we empower these leaders? How do we support them to go deeper in their practices? Not as business people but as humans. That's the real work that needs to be done. One of our clients, and I think that is how we got to know each other, is Dalai Lama fellows. They are doing amazing work and have developed a curriculum to take these aspiring next generation entrepreneurs and make them better humans first. Take them through the curriculum that helps with their practices, lays out a methodology and starts to build them from the ground up as compassionate leaders with ethics at the core of what they are doing. I mean there plenty of incubators out there right, as you know with what you do. Lot of incubators, they come in and say, “Oh! You need back office support. You need marketing. Ok, here, this guy is going to mentor you and he is an MBA and will help write you a business plan etc." And they totally skip over the heart, you know, the most important part of you are even starting that business. And that's just with incubators. Even back up to education, it’s nowhere to be found in our Universities and education system. So Dalai Lama fellows have been giving these scholarships and they take these leaders in and they are working on unbelievable projects around the world and they are now going to be moving into more like a Dalai Lama leadership institute. The fellows actually bring it to the world to larger corporations. Bringing that curriculum to help leaders in larger corporations and may be even to help infiltrate the educational system with compassion as focal point. To me this is where we are at and there are new communities that if you are lucky enough will change your life. For me, Social Venture Network changed my life.
You started of the call talking about the Gurus. In Hindu tradition, they say that, you might live thousands of lifetimes and then you get lucky enough to just see a picture of your Guru and it pulls you in. In that life time you are going to do some really significant work. The guru is going to help you along to rekindle your plateau and further your spiritual evolution. And I look at it in a similar way right now. It’s sad that it’s like that. Why would this not be the core of business? Why do we have to catch glimpses of these eclectic communities? You ask this question- You run business and I hear you talking about the Source: Of course, that's what it’s about. Business is just an exchange of value. Business when it comes down to it, is really love. That's how it's supposed to be showing up in the world. We've just turned it into something else. Just like what we've done with money. Anyways, I'll get off my soapbox for a minute.
Birju: This soapbox is welcome in this particular platform. It’s funny, from my perspective, there are so many reasons for us to be having a conversation. There are so many hats that you wear. There are so many places of expertise and insight, I feel like this particular conversation does not necessarily get the air time, especially at the exclusive level. These are the things you say behind closed doors- This is why I am really doing this work; this is what we are really up to; this is what's in my heart. Somehow, out in the open there is different ethos of what is shared. So I really appreciate you going there.
Jared: Absolutely! That is what you always get from me, I promise. As you were talking about, with Guru- I love how you started out that comment. That's a really nice monologue about Guru. This is a word that you and I, both have serious issues with. And I named my company because of that.
I woke up having a dream one night, and I named my company Guru 9 years ago. At first it was kind of funny thing because everyone was saying, oh! you are the social media Guru. You are the digital marketing Guru. So I named the company Guru Media Solutions. I remember, when I did my first logo exploration, the guy came back and everything had something like a dude meditating in a lotus position. I was like, “It is appropriate enough that we name it Guru. We don't need to go any further that way. You got to bring me back business. Make people think that they can actually work with us and not think that we are a bunch of hippies." So that was how it started and then what I found is this amazing, new meaning for it. We actually evolved our brand identity, which is some of the favorite work we do; we moved it from Guru Media solutions from Llc to- We are Guru. Traditionally the word Guru is - Guru self and spirit are the same thing. I see that with clients. I think my job is best done if I can help facilitate the answers out of the client. If they answer their own problems through our facilitation - maybe we make it pretty and maybe we bring good copy writing and different tactics to the table, but really at the heart, they created this business. We are working with Kevita right now, amazing sparkling probiotic drink, we are working on an aspirational tag line. I just said with the founder, who started mixing Kevitas in her garage. She is a nutritionist. There is a magic to that brand. Sitting with her and talking, they got all this debt, they paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for all these studies; that all great and need to be incorporated. But to me really it’s about the brand essence. It's about bringing that out of her. So really she is the Guru for her own brand. So, "we are Gurus is more of a collective wisdom. We thought of some great ways to bring it out in people and like I said, beautify and what not, but "we are gurus' is very literal for me.
Birju: So Jared, I want to dive deeper into that. This is something that's in the ethos of Servicespace, which is the group behind the Awakin calls. There is strong value system around how these esoteric terms like spirituality or consciousness- there is the rubber his the road component of them that is very micro, everyday mundane things like- small acts of kindness. Things like practices of gratitude. They are just minute. You wouldn't even notice it. A friend of mine says," They are hiding in plain sight." As you engage in these pinnacle of the mountain conversations in my mind - a lot of the people listening today, they would enjoy being in these kinds of calls, these kinds of places, but they are not necessarily in those positions and yet they want to bring that moment to moment kindness and moment to moment gratitude. How do you engage in that sort of behavior when you are, so to speak, at the top of the mountain?
Jared: Well, again, it's practice. I hate to just come back to it. But it is. I am not the best at it all the time, you know. I believe that marketing has gotten a bad name. I think that, really it's about digging in and understanding what is authentic to a brand? What do you exist? Why are you making this world a better place? And if you are not - I am not going to work with you probably or I will and help you find the way to make this world a better place. And so that's the only reason to me for business to exist. So I am having these high level conversations; that's a very heart centered place to start. It's not in the brain you know; as far as the insight in to my practice, it's just trying get back to being heart first and not so head forward. If I kept going the way I was going in the music industry, I'd be like a hunch back by the age of forty because my head is so forward. And I fall right back into it, because that's my resting state. I quickly understand, I guess a room, what a CEO or executive director, some visionary sees, five years down the road. They have got some vision. They haven't raised their first dollar, but they have some vision for a billion dollar company. They are telling me about that. Five years from now this is what it's going to be. And so it's really understanding - I have to be able to understand that and that passion coming from them to really do our job well. Or else, it's just window dressing. That's where I think some marketers aren't doing justice. They are finding ways to outsmart consumers; or they are finding ways to shout at consumers in all kinds of ways, digitally other means. But they are not necessarily finding- how is this business I'm working with, this visionary, how are they adding value to that person's life? That's the long term strategy. That's it right there. The hard part for the CEOs to get around is," I got to have this increase in quarterly profits for my next quarter for my shareholders." If you operate in that way, which is becoming a business from a sense of scarcity and not from a place of abundance, you will fail over the long-term. Coming at it from the other way, where you have this long-term vision and you are very true to the people you want to serve on this planet. How can you best serve them? Every decision you are making is not about- how do I cut a dollar out if manufacturing the product, but how do I better serve that person? How do I give them a better experience on this planet? If you solve that, you are going to really upset the investors in the near term and you are going to make a ton of consumers really happy in the long term. I think that' the future business. There are other people out there- had the pleasure of spending a weekend with Charles Eisenstein, who wrote "Sacred Economics". Unbelievable speaker! We are in a very hard time right now because we are living in this kind of a myth of a world where attachment to money and attachment to short term self-interests. To get to where we need to be, it’s going to get more uncomfortable before it gets comfortable. It’s going to take a lot of people with significant means to take chances. I don't see that as a chance. I see that as bettering society at large. This stuff can go deep; we can focus on a specific product of a specific brand or it can start to expand and turn into movement building that will change society. And that's the place we would really love to operate at. I these conversations, it’s usually around specific topics that businesses bring to life. We go back as an agency and we've got certain people who care copy writers, designers and web developers, media buyers and social media, and they have a certain expertise in areas to then bring that vision to life. And then they get fulfilled. They then think, " ok, my actual client is this visionary who wants to create his vision. How do I do my job best to bring value to the consumers and bring value ti the visionary?" So when all of them align, it becomes a value exchange. Again, at the end of the day, it comes back to what Ram Dass says- for me whatever he says is gold, but it comes back to love.
Birju: Ah! Thank you.
Amit: This is a wonderful dialogue. You are right. We don't often get to go to the next level of behind the closed door conversations, in terms of our incentives and our motives, when we are talking about things that we are passionate about, even just the things we are doing in our day to day live. So, I really appreciate this conversation.
Birju: I just wanted to touch on one of the pieces you just mentioned here, Jared. You mentioned the name Charles Eisenstein. From my stand point, this is where there has been some pushing and some questions come up for me. Once we connect the mindset of business with the mindset of spirit, at least from my perspective, there seems to be certain set of values that may not be common between the two. And consequently, there seems to be paradoxes that come up at the systems level. For instance, needing to fire people while holding a value of love. Or needing to charge people when you value unconditionality. Right? It’s the nature of the systems within business which are not divinely ordained. I'm curious how do you grapple with that perceived paradox?
Jared: It's a great question. Really hard one. I think, just to use a concrete example of for instance, letting people go and how you do that with love. To me if it’s not a symbiotic relationship for both people involved- For instance, I had someone who is coming up as a project manager. We didn't have the time to really mentor them. We hired them, brought them further along, but they really needed a lot of mentoring. Beautiful souls, really love them, but it wasn't the right place for them in our company. They would really be served by a larger company, a more hierarchical, vertically ingrained company rather than horizontal company like ours. In the other type of company they will be able to get the training that they need to make the jump in their lives and their career. I also will say, I have been blessed that, financially we haven't really had to make cuts. If we are making cuts, it’s because it’s not matching. They need an army at that time. The universe usually tells you when that the case. My wife knows much before than I do because her intuition is much better, as I find most women's are.
On sacred economics, the word that Charles Eisenstein talk about- we are talking about how do you get politicians to vote in public finance campaigning: a system that might ultimately get them fired, get them out of their jobs? How do you get wealth holders to bring in a system of sacred economics where they are sharing their wealth without a real tie to quarterly return on investment? We are at a juicy time right now around that and you guys at RSF are leading the charge. I love the work that you all do. I think you really are making some significant progress in that area around impact investing and how money is used with love. I do think there is more work to do, even to get a little more radical right now, I think we are in a tome for radical transformation on number of levels. I think money is one of them.
Amit : Jared, I was wondering of you could actually talk about the role that money actually plays in your life and how that transformed over time as your inner evolution has been moving along this path?
Jared: Well, I guess what it’s come to through practice is that, it comes from sense of abundance. I think that's a risky thing to say in a call like this and in a public way. But really to be transparent, my philosophy is that money is abundant and it delivers what you need. Now that's a very hard thing to say when I was coming back from India a few months ago, seeing that wide spread poverty. Personally former in my daily life that's how I operate. I try to gift to causes that we believe in and be very fair with people that work with us. I look at money for what it is: which is again, like business, just an exchange of value and not something to be idolized. I think with my earlier career in music, there was a little bit of attachment to that. I think there is a lot of what we consider success is tied up in money. If you can start to other- I'll go into my marketing speak right now, key performing indicators for your life and for your own success beyond money, you are going to have a lot happier life. People are chasing the dollar are not usually extremely happy. I am going to totally murder this- but there was a study done on couple hundred wealth holders, wealth ranging from 5million to half a billion dollars in net worth. They were asked the same questions, same survey. I think something like 90% of the people were not happy with where they were at. 90%! No matter if you were at 5 million or half a billion, you were not happy where you were at and they wanted to have 20% more than they had right now.
When I heard that study, I thought it was just fascinating.
Amit: Wow! Was there something in particular that helped shift your key performance indicators in your life? I know you started to dive into some of this earlier in your conversation with Birju making your transition from the music industry, but I'm curious if there was an "aha" moment where all of a sudden when you are looking at your wallet, everything sort of looks a little a bit different. A transaction is no more. I am giving you stuff but it's moving into something in the realm of love, as you were saying earlier as well.
Jared: Hey! I am still working on that! I think this is one of the biggest areas of attachment that I am working with in my life right now. As I referred to earlier, I met this Baba in India in the jungle. Very interesting guy. And I met someone a few months ago in a similar way. Both of these Babas were so unattached to material wealth or money. It startled me. It's unbelievable to see somebody like that. I never met anyone that unattached. There are people who say it this kind of thing, but to really live it and to live authentically for thirty forty years, that was really eye opening. I think I had a major evolution in my practice around attachment of money. There is definitely a shift for me when I started traveling the world. I think about fifteen years ago, when I really started traveling, being interested in more developing countries. When you come to face to face with some of the poverty the planet, it's hard not to look at your own life and understand how blessed you are. I think that was also a big jump for me. This is something, to be perfectly honest, I still struggle with and work with every day.
Amit: To make sure you are not so attached on the material side, what are some areas in our life that are part of these key performance indicators? I'm curious how you evaluate the progress of your life, the progress of our thought and progress of your wellbeing and that of your family over the years?
Jared: It hard to put a finger on these things, general sense of just fulfillment in life-it's kind of, how are the people around you doing? How are you helping them in their journeys? How am I helping my clients and the students that I work with and on the different Boards that I am on? How am I really showing up? Getting better on being easier on myself and others. Trying not to come with as much judgment. A lot of this actually qualitative. That’s how I am constantly thinking about how I am doing. How am I showing up for the people I love of rah people around me? How am I really expanding my impact on the planet? And do I feel aligned is I think a big one. It is that feeling when you are sitting in meditation. Are you really aligned with where you should be right now? My wife who I referred to a couple times- she's got an organization that teaches yoga and mindfulness to kids. It’s called "weeyogis". She is so aligned with what she is supposed to be doing. She is so good with kids. She makes some music albums and puts them out and they are like unbelievable to get kids into yoga and makes it really fun for them to get into it. I just watch her and so for me it's emulating some of that. Am I really enjoying what I am doing? Am I really having the impact that I want to have? Am I really helping people and am I showing up the way I want to show up?
Amit: Jared, I love those questions you are holding of yourself in terms of - Am I showing up the way I want to for people around me. And again am I in alignment? I think these are really, really important questions. Frankly it is nice ti have that check in with ourselves on a daily basis. Just because it’s so easy to get caught up in the day to day and forget the direction in which we are hoping to move or trying to move or even just having the universe pull us in a certain direction. I really appreciate that.
Kozo: Jared thank you for this wonderful conversation and for your service and the work that you do. I was really fascinated and I really resonated when you brought up the whole idea of poison and medicine. It reminds me of couple things. The Greek work Pharmakon: that means both poison and medicine. They are both the same. It also reminded me of compassion in that- we can't have compassion if there is no suffering. It others are not suffering, then we don't get the opportunity to express compassion. In your work, what you refer to as the Jewish side of trying to change things and make things better, I am sensing this push to the get to the tipping point of business and awakening co-exist. Where the world becomes a better place. It’s like, if we don't have the poison then we don't have the cure. If we don't have the darkness, we don't have the light. It reminds me of the hand sanitizers. People are crazy about hand sanitizers and killing every single germ on the body and that makes people more prone to illness. I am wondering about the Buddhist side of accepting the suffering and how does that balance with this want or need to annihilate or obliterate the suffering?
Jared: That's a very insightful question. I didn't know that word in Greek. Thanks for sharing that. Man, it’s interesting- you know the word Guru actually has so many meanings. One of the meanings is to move from dark to light. It's actually what our logo is based off of that concept. Can you have the light without dark? It's such a good question. I don't know that I have the answer for that on this call. But what a fun topic to ponder. I mean- Yes, I believe that there is a great service in letting someone do something kind for you. The best I usually feel in my life is when I'm feeling gratitude for giving. For me. Love pervades both of those things in a huge way. I mean to let someone truly give to you and of you not to be feeling guilty and all these kind of things for taking, but just really receive! There is a whole art to receiving. That's a kindness in itself, I think.
Yeah, there is lot of suffering on the planet right now. The short term person in me, the person that want to heal and fix- if I see someone hungry, I want to feed them. I work with this other non-profit. I am on the advisers for conscious alliance for hunger alleviation in America. It’s basically made of American reservation. They had given five million pounds of food to the people that are hungry and are for the poorest places of the country. It's really sad state of living. There is a part of me that says, should we be teaching how to create businesses that can then bring in wealth and food and money and things like that. You go out there- I went to Pine ridge you show up for Thanksgiving, you want to bring them a Turkey, you are not wanting to teach them how to do their arts and crafts and sell and things like that. It's a sad state in some areas. It's definitely a balance. The way the world is set up- This is what the whole Star Wars series is about. The dark and the light; I saw the last movie; I'm not a big fan of Star Wars but I was thinking, "God! This is such an amazing thing. The guy is such genius in coming up with this whole fantastical world." You watch that movie and the basis of that is: you cannot have the light without the dark. So thank you for the question. I'm leaving it open ended, but really insightful.
Kozo: you bring up movies. In our last Awakin circle Birju brought up the movie 'Inside out'; and I don't know if you have seen that; an amazing film.
Jared: I did. Great movie!
Kozo: Part of us knows sadness right? I think that movie really brought out that sadness a necessary and functional and to be embraced in certain ways. I have listened to the interview with the director and he said that when he did research on that, he researched on Paul Ekman. Paul Ekman thought that sadness actually brings people together. It’s the emotion that causes community. I was like, “Wow! Give me some more sadness."
It's just one of those things- I know it’s not a natural question. But I love that you brought up that whole thing poison and medicine
Jared: I love that you thought of Paul Ekman. I met him at the Dalai Lama's birthday this summer. Actually I am having a meeting with them this week to discuss how we might bring his work with some of the other funders and partners that we are working with. Definitely synchronized here on the call.
Kozo: Beautiful! Thank you so much, like I said for your service and the work that you do and just for sharing.
Amit: Great! We have an individual that just wrote in and said, "Please share my gratitude with Jared for this inspiring call and invite him to visit the Kindspring community online at Kindspring.org to experience heart first people making impact on our world through small acts of kindness." This comes from Michelle Rosen, a giver of love, a giver of good vibes and a giver of strength. So I am just passing on her positive vibes to you Jared.
Jared: thanks so much. I'll definitely check out. Sounds amazing.
Amit: It's interesting that you brought up your wife couple times through the call. I am curious if her journey has taken a similar path as yours? Has it converged similarly? Just curious to see how that worked out because sometimes, partners they move in a similar path and other times it looks they are going in different directions, even though ultimately they do end up converging. I’d love for you to share a little bit about that.
Jared: That's a great question. I think for me, the spiritual converging with the personal. I think more practice and spiritual work is done in union. We are like a double helix or something. We come out, we present together, she has become a huge part of social venture network. She does yoga for big conferences and all kinds of things like mindfulness sessions. She does yoga in the morning and she comes to the Ran Dass retreats. Like I said she converted to Judaism. We really come together. It’s funny because, my wife and I are every different. She is very musical, likes to explore the artistic side. I am more energetic. Where we come together is in our spirituality. I think for any couple my only advice is to find that place. To find a place where you can come together at the heart and around the spiritual side of your life rather than just the activities and things like that. It's been amazing to watch her grow with this organization. They are doing amazing work. Our country is so over prescribed on different drugs and things to calm kids down. I feel like that's done more for the parents than for the kids. She has found a way to really help with that base level of mindfulness; to equip kids at an early age with the tools and coping mechanisms to work through some the stresses that they are going to have. We do a lot of this work together. We really enjoy going to different workshops and seeing different teachers and learning. We are both seekers in that sense.
Amit: That's great! Thank you. Appreciate you sharing that.
Birju: If we were to flip the camera around Jared, the Servicespace as a whole is a community of many thousands of folks who hold I think similar intentions to where you are coming from. I am curious how we can be of service to you? What can we do to further your cause?
Jared: Tune in to some of these teachers that I mentioned. Different teachers speak to different people at different points in their journey. I think what gives me the most joy is to watch people like Ram Dass and the 'Love serve and Remember Foundation’ continue to grow. When I came in and started working with them 5/6 years ago, they were kind of figuring out how to show up digitally. Now they have these amazing communities and amazing podcasts, retreats like at said, I think just tuning into stuff like that and supporting organizations like that so they continue the work they do. If you are upcoming entrepreneur or interested in conscious business or triple bottom line business where people, profit, planet meet, Social venture network may be a great place to come to. As far as Guru, you can find us online at www.weareguru.com. You kind of get what we do with it and how it manifests in the word what we do. We build brands; we build websites; we build communities. That's about it. It's really nice to be with you all.
I do have one last request. I have a very dear friend right now who yesterday just found out that he has brain cancer. He is my age. He is 34 years old. I don't want to say his name hear. May everyone on the call could just take a 30 sec moment of silence to send some love, I'd really appreciate.
Amit: Absolutely. We actually close out our call with a minute of silence. It would be our honor to keep your friend in mind and many others that are out there dealing with such difficulty. We will hold this individual in our thought during this time.
Jared thank you so much for your time today and we are very appreciative of everything that you shared.
About Awakin Calls
Awakin Call is a weekly conference call that anyone from around the world can dial into. It is completely free, without any ads or solicitation. Each call features a unique theme and an inspiring guest speaker. Read more ...
Subscribe To Newsletter
To stay updated about guest announcements, fresh content, and other inspiring tidbits, subscribe below and we'll send you a weekly email.