Start living your great life now
Vishen Lakhiani – founder and CEO of Mindvalley
Reading time 15 min
The best introduction to what we bring to you is – the education of a man is never completed until he dies. Some of you will agree with, some of you will not. For those who doubt, be prepared to change your mind after you read what follows.
After we finish our education, we think we are ready for life and all the challenges that it throw in front of us. Eventually, we realise that we are not able to cope with the problems. We are missing knowledge, proper tools, appropriate methods that classical education has not taught us. Fortunately, proper ways and methods exist, and all of them are united in one place called Mindvalley.
Mindvalley is an education company known for its transformative online content and courses that have helped millions around the world. Their students are both, men and women. What makes them special is that they have programs for attendees from 3 years of age onwards.
One of their creative concepts is called Mindvalley University, a month-long transformational event that is organising every year in a different country. They bring world-class teachers in personal and business growth to teach how to achieve our highest potential and at the same time to be happier with life.
This year, Mindvalley University took place in Pula, Croatia and we got the opportunity to talk with the founder and CEO of Mindvalley, Vishen Lakhiani.
You are an entrepreneur, a speaker, an author. These are all labels assigned to the people to define them, but how you see yourself, how you define yourself?
• Firstly, anyone can write a book, being an author is not a big deal. Anyone can get on stage and speak, being a speaker is not a big deal. Anybody can be an entrepreneur, you can start a web logo business on “99designs” and make 5 dollars on month designing one logo and you are an entrepreneur. All of those terms are rubbish.
How I define myself is based on what I stand for. So, the biggest thing that I stand for is global unity. Everything we do at Mindvalley is about bringing people across the world together as one human species. What this means is that, if you look at the way we operate, our University has people from 70 different countries. Our team itself, the team that runs this company is from 54 different countries. I am an activist for global unity. That’s the number one thing I do. Other than Mindvalley my biggest project in the world is creating an Earth flag, a flag for the entire human species that I want to make more important than are our national flags. If you look at one of the greatest threats in the world today is global warming. It is an existential threat and the only way we can fix things like that is by coming together as one earth species.
If you look at what happened here in the former Yugoslavian states in the early nineties, that too was because of nationalism. It was people who spoke a relatively similar language and had a shared history going to war with each other because nationalist politicians created that nonsense. I was a photo-journalist in Croatia and Bosnia during that war and I wrote senior papers on it, I guess that’s one of the
reasons why I so believe in bringing cultures together. That’s the primary thing I do, I am an activist for global unity.
The second thing I do is, I happen to be an activist for transformational education. Taking the things that truly transform us as human beings and bringing into an education system that has so far forgotten to teach the stuff that really matters.
The funny thing is, if you are an expert in any field, the more you know, the more you realise how much you don’t know. There is even a scientific study of this, it is called the Dunning-Kruger effect.
You run the world’s leading personal growth company and we assume that you “grew up” and evolved together with your company. What do you think, how much options or space you have for your further progress?
• The funny thing is, if you are an expert in any field, the more you know, the more you realise how much you don’t know. There is even a scientific study of this, it is called the Dunning-Kruger effect. What it means is people who know a very little about the field, feel they know everything. When you go deeper, whether it is physics or math or personal growth, the deeper you go the more you understand how much you don’t know. So I can tell you, I have so much to grow and I have so many goals related to my growth. Because the deeper I go the more I unlock these different ideas and these different possibilities.
When I first got started, for example, it was about the meditation and I went really deep in meditation, then I realised when I meditate my mind is good but my body wasn’t good. So, I went really deep into fitness. Now I am going really deep in athletic training, and really deep into speed reading, and really deep into parenting, and really deep into leadership. The deeper you go the more you realise how much further you have to go. It is a never-ending quest, but the thing is there is a beauty in a process. I enjoy learning, I enjoy growing, and so as I am doing this I am having the time of my life. Mindvalley University doesn’t feel like work for me, it is actually a lot of fun.
We know that life is full of ups and downs, even for people who work on their personal growth and are on a high level of transformation. How do you deal with the downs, what is your easiest way to get back in a high vibration?
• I am really glad you asked that question, because no matter how deep you go into personal growth it doesn’t mean that you no longer have dark days and you no longer wake up feeling sad, or lonely, or depressed. It still happens. The thing is to gain enough sense of self-mastery when the life goes up and down, up and down. You have the right tools to take the ups and make them last longer, and to take the downs and make them last a little bit less. You don’t want to eliminate the downs because there is a lesson in the down.
In Eastern philosophy, the downs are called the Kensho moments, especially when you have prolonged down. Maybe you are depressed because you were injured and you ended up in the hospital, you are depressed, you are sad because someone broke your heart or business fails. Kensho moments are moments when you grow from pain, so what happens is you go through the pain, and through that pain you evolve. So what’s going on there, there is that, you are going through a down, but that down has a beauty and an elegance to it. It is helping you to evolve to the next stage of your life. For example, I went through a divorce that can be a down, but when you come out of the relationship you realise what you need to change about yourself and how you need to grow so your next relationship is better. I don’t fight the downs and neither should anyone, but rather you should know that there is often the beauty and elegance and a meaning within the down. When you can see that meaning you get to go to your next level, you get to gain the lesson from that.
Viktor Frankl, the great concentration camp survivor, who wrote the book “Man’s search for meaning” said, “when the meaning is given to suffering, it ceases to become suffering”. And that’s often what these downs are for. It is a suffering with a lesson embedded in it.
I don’t fight the downs and neither should anyone, but rather you should know that there is often the beauty and elegance and a meaning within the down. When you can see that meaning you get to go to your next level, you get to gain the lesson from that.
Do you have any technique or something when you are down to help you to grow faster?
• The best technique is the practice of meditation and introspection. Being able to go within, and to reflect on what you are going through in life to bring in the meditation if it recalls or transcendent practices into your life. I start every day with about 30 minutes of meditation and that’s one of the best ways to eliminate the downs. It is now being proven by science. When you do the right type of meditation your happiness levels go up, you have less down days. That’s is now validated by science which is why meditation is becoming so mainstream right now.
People who have the will to work on their personal growth are easy to engage in educational programs, but there are still a lot of the people who live in the world unconsciously on autopilot. How to motivate those people who do not have enough will for learning, growth, and development?
• If somebody doesn’t have the will for learning I don’t think it is up to us to motivate them. What often happens in life, though, and you see this all around, what often happens in life is a transformation, which is the act of growing, happens in two ways. All the learning theories, all the professors at the university that study transformation agrees on these two ways.
Transformation happens through gradual evolve meaning scheme over time. That’s the fancy way of saying that over time we gain wisdom through speaking to people, maybe through reading books, maybe through a wise mentor, that is slow. But a faster way of transformation is what is called a disorienting dilemma and that is suffering, it is painful, it is fast and it is when the life comes and knocks you over, and you emerge out of that with the desire to fix yourself or heal yourself.
A lot of people are coming to Mindvalley, and we have 10.3 million followers right now, the last I’ve checked. A lot of people find us because there were suicidal, or someone broke their heart, or they lost their job and they needed to find the answer. They were not necessarily the people who were active in learning. The life came and hit them by the side and they needed to find the answer. And once they discovered this idea of personal growth, they realised how beautiful it is and that became their passion. So that’s what’s happening to people all around the world. It is the grand waking up, and it happens to the individuals at the precise moment in their life. You may be at age 60, you may be 16, but people often go through that. Now, when you embrace personal growth your transformation became faster, you are not having to go through a distressing dilemma, you are not having to get slow evolve meaning over time. You are actively studying and transforming. The best students at Mindvalley spend an hour a day reading or listening to a podcast, or going through the Mindvalley quest, or attending seminars. They are constantly growing. They tend to have a really beautiful life that they are happy with.
There are people who mostly live downs in their life and they are not aware of how much this education and personal growth can help them. There are some situations that happen in our lives when we realise we need something to change. But there are still a lot of people who do not realise that they need to change and they live every day on the same patterns.
• And it is unfortunate they do, but that is the problem with the modern education system, it doesn’t give you the right tools. So, to get to these people what we are doing is we are currently developing new models for education that we are hoping to deploy in the schools around the world.
So the Mindvalley University that is happening here in Croatia, it is actually an education experiment. There are countless experiments happening on kids from age 3 to 6 in terms of education. Then education experiments are happening for kids 7 to 9, then 10 to 12, 13 onwards and then adults. We have 400 schools globally that have reached out to us to ask us to bring these ideas in the schools. As we discover what works, we deploy this in schools. But here, in Pula, at our location, is where a lot of these experiments are happening with educators, with students, with adults.
How to motivate young people to devote themselves to learning, rather than useless spending time on online gaming, or on social networks?
• Firstly, there is nothing wrong. A lot of people believe that is wrong for young people to be online one to two hours a day. I did that when I was young. There is no scientific evidence that says that your child going online is gonna be bad for them. Zero. So, parents have to stop forgetting about that. You know, every time when a new technology emerges the current generation which saw the shift in the technology will condemn it.
When writing emerged in ancient Greece, Socrates said: “Writing? Is going to be a disaster. How we are going to be able to remember things in our head if we can put it down on a paper?” And our generation, yours and my generation, now has this weird fear about technology. It is a bullshit fear. There are zero scientific studies.
I just interviewed Nir Eyal, a Stanford professor who wrote the book on habits (“Hooked: how to build habit-forming products”). There is no scientific evidence at all. In fact, kids learn a lot from these devices. It is helping them prepare for the future. So, parents shouldn’t have to worry about that. On top of that, it is good if your kid has a healthy practice of personal growth. Sports is personal growth, but you can make your kid have a better experience if they are educated in nutrition. Parenting is a personal growth process, but you should read books on parenting.
We need to encourage our children, and us like parents, we need to start with ourselves to understand the different dimensions of what it means to be human and innovate in these dimensions for ourselves. We need to study and grow a spiritual nature, mental abilities, physical abilities. We need to study how to eat, how to exercise and these things are not hard. Just, for example, you can follow the Mindvalley YouTube channel, Mindvalley talks, we have a hundred of talks and all of these topics are completely free. Or follow the Mindvalley podcasts completely free. These things are so easily accessible.
The best students at Mindvalley spend an hour a day reading or listening to a podcast or going through the Mindvalley quest, or attending seminars, they are constantly growing. They tend to have a really beautiful life that they are happy with.
Could you tell us which programs you run at Mindvalley for kids and teens? Could you give us a few specific topics or examples?
• Our most popular program for teenagers is called Superbrain. Now, Superbrain teaches people how to become a better learner. Schools force you to learn, but they don’t teach you how to learn. What if kids could read faster, remember more? What if kids easily could memorise the periodic table of elements, easily learn languages? Superbrain is a program that teaches that. We are seeing that in 80% of kids it leads to a great increase long after they have finished the program. School becomes easier for them.
With younger children, we are still developing programs online. That in the real world, we are experimenting here at Mindvalley University on a range of different programs. For example, the young kids at Mindvalley University here will learn everything from nutrition, how and what foods to eat, so they live healthy. They will learn about creative visualisation, how to use your mind to accelerate healing. Especially to accelerate healing of the skin, because many kids, of course, have pimples. So, a lot of different varieties of things have been taught to the kids here at the same time.
The kids are learning about each other. For example, we brought here a Syrian refugee, so that the children could learn how the people on the other side of the world live. This is a guy who had to leave Homs, the city of Homs in Syria when the city was bombed, and lived in a refugee camp and was put in prison. You get to understand how a person lives like that, so you got to develop great compassion in your heart. It is a very holistic approach.
Could you tell us about future plans related to educational development? Do you think to keep education online and at yearly events only, or perhaps consider the possibility of forming stationed schools in various countries that will have throughout the year different courses related to a lifelong education?
• The thing is, we have a 1000 people in Pula right now, going very deep. However, what people don’t know is that this is a tiny slice of Mindvalley. This year we will have 400.000 people online on our app going through 30-day programs, so almost half a million. We will scale that, pretty soon we will hit a million, and then the goal is to hit a billion. Most of our programs are online on the app.
What you see in Pula is about 1% of our audience that loves coming together in the real world, and to have the finances to allow them to do it.
Do you have any statistics or information about the success of the students or attendees after the events, or perhaps about their successful collaborations?
• Yes! So, one of the biggest ways, one of the biggest things we look at there is that, there are many teenagers over here who, after this event, they learned to start their own business. They collaborate with other students and they create a business.
For example, there was one kid who dreamed of starting his own shop to sell designed T-shirts, he loves graphic design. He was thinking about going to University and then learning business, so when he graduate at the University, he could create an online shop and start a brand to sell the designed
T-shirts. He was at Mindvalley University two years ago. One of the adults there who was teaching the class learned about his dream and the adult said: “why do you have to wait six years, why I do not teach you today how to open a Shopify store”. So he opened the store on shopify.com, which is an online retail platform, and by that weekend he has made his first sale and it changed the kid’s life. He was 16 years old. The kid said: “Look, I am still I am gonna go to the University but now at least I know I am going there as an entrepreneur and I will be even able to pay for the University myself.” He was so excited because his mind changed, he realises he doesn’t need a university degree to be successful. He can already follow his dream, he can already become an entrepreneur. The University degree is just optional, he is gonna do it anyway because he wants to learn. He is going to the University with a different mindset and that is the type of successes that we look for.
Our magazine is called Pleasure, it is about the beauty of life. There is one question we always ask people which we make an interview with: What means to you the word – Pleasure? Besides your children and the work you do, because we know that this is the most important thing for you.
• I feel a great pleasure when I am at events like that and I see the connection that is developing. The connection between the different people who have come from all across the world and are here. Like today, for example, after the classes end everyone is going to the beach. There’ll be several hundreds of people on the beach, adults, and children, and I love seeing all of these people connecting so deeply. That to me is a pleasure.