Malaysian-born educationalist, Vishen Lakhiani, on disrupting the disruptor

Vishen Lakhiani
Vishen Lakhiani

While every government, company and individual is facing off multiple challenges posed by the global the SARS-CoV2 or Covid-19 virus pandemic, one Malaysian-born educationalist is urging us to include human transformation as a vital element of our recovery.

At the time of writing, the Covid-19 outbreak is disrupting 204 countries and territories around the world, and resulted in more than 2 million recorded cases and surpassed 100,000 deaths. Economic and social impact estimates from different analysts such as the OECD are fuelling worldwide worries.

One emerging silver lining from the outbreak is a forced upturn in the adoption of digital tools, technologies, and services. This digital transformation surge could offer a vital avenue of survival for many economies.

During an exclusive wide-ranging interview with Vishen Lakhiani, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Mindvalley stressed that he founded the world’s largest online personal growth platform to help people achieve success by tapping their inner potential through ancient meditation practices.

When Vishen was caught by the Dotcom bubble bust of 2001 in Silicon Valley, he was forced to take a sales job, and found his sales commission rocketed by listening to his inner intuition, developed by meditation. Inspired by Nelson Mandela’s quote, ‘if you want to change the world, change education,’ he wanted to share this pathway to all-round success through education, amplified by digital means.

“My engineering background allowed me to view transformative learning in a highly analytical, replicable way – breaking down the process into components that others could easily learn and practice. I had a clear vision and insatiable drive for a more conscious and connected world and this drove Mindvalley to become the world’s largest curated personal growth platform online.”

After founding Mindvalley in 2004, he went on to develop a learning growth platform, Quest, in 2016. “”[The platform] creates 5x better results in human transformation by combining leading technology with great storytelling, brilliant teachers, learning theory and community interaction.”

Disrupting the Education system

While technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) are helping governments with simulations and modelling, Vishen fervently holds that human transformation will help build a longer lasting platform – in tandem with digital transformation – for personal and global survival.

Vishen’s vision of transformational education – ‘to inspire people, transform lives and raise human consciousness through empowering every part of the human mind, body and spirit – is one that isn’t taught in traditional education systems, he says.

Mindvalley’s mission is to raise human consciousness through personal education by disrupting the education system. transform a billion people by 2038.

“Right now, we have trials going on around the world, including the Finland education system, Taylor’s International School in Malaysia, Thompson Rivers University in Canada and Dynamite Studios in Australia,” he explains. “Current expansion plans include Maldives, Mexico, the United Arab Emirates and the United States over the next few years.”

Currently, Mindvalley is the world’s largest online personal growth platform with more than 12 million members worldwide, he says. His goal of making an impact on humanity drives Mindvalley closer to its mission: to touch a billion lives by 2038.

Asked why Vishen had chosen Malaysia as Mindvalley’a global base operations, he commented: “Originally, Mindvalley was founded in NYC, NY, in the United States. However, right after the unfortunate terrorist attacks of 9/11, travel became difficult, and so I chose to move our headquarters to my birthplace of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. This has allowed us to attract some of the most incredible talent from all over Asia, Europe and the Americas. We also have offices in Estonia, Miami, New York and California.”

Corporate resilience

Mindvalley’s solutions for the corporate sector – Mindvalley for Business – is the company’s most recent offering, which comprises an employee mentoring platform providing training and tools to support the three-billion-plus global labour pool; many of whom suffer from stress, low motivation and lack of vision.

Currently more than 60 leading employers such as Petronas, Deloitte, PwC, Cisco, Duracell, Exxon Mobil, and even government agencies such as Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) and MaGIC, have signed on to give employees access to Mindvalley for business content and programmes.

Mindvalley’s collaboration with local entities is aimed at enhancing their performance in key areas such as lifestyle, productivity, careers, and home life. The company has also engaged with MDEC’s Global Acceleration and Innovation Network (GAIN) programme – now known as Global Growth Acceleration, GGA], originally developed in 2015 to help Malaysian companies tell the stories to the world and unlock global opportunities .

“Meditation is one of the keys to success and I’m proud that over 2 million people (including celebrities and pro athletes) practice my “6 Phase Meditation” program which combines spirituality with science,” he adds.

Mindvalley courses are available in six languages (English, Italian, Russian, Spanish, French and Portuguese; German and Chinese coming in 2020)

“In 2019, Mindvalley was named one of the 10 coolest offices in the world by Inc. Magazine, we were named a WorldBlu certified workplace (freedom centric) four years in a row and won the A1A healthiest workplace award.”

Connecting people during Covid-19

Detailing his handling of maintaining Mindvalley during the various lockdowns to cope with the Covid-19 pandemic, Vishen says: “My first call to action was to take care of my team members. In 15 years running a business, I’ve never had to lay off employees. And I didn’t want to start. I quickly pivoted the company in a week to ensure we were in a stable state.”

Vishen Lakhiani and the Mindvalley team
Vishen Lakhiani and the Mindvalley Team

“This was not easy,” he admits. “I’m working hard to ensure that every single person of my 250 employee team has a secure job. And in turn I’ve asked everyone to put in 110%. That’s 100% is to ensure we can run as a business. And the 10% extra to serve our community. We will be going the extra mile to continue to serve our community in the coming weeks and months.”

While our employees are working from home, we wanted to make sure everyone felt connected and a sense of community, so our amazing team members organised several weekly virtual sessions.”

 These include group intention/tapping/coherence sessions, weekly campfire gatherings, 1-on-1 coaching therapy sessions and online sessions for some of Mindvalley’s most popular programs.

Tomorrow has arrived

Descibed by some as a nano-particle – the novel coronavirus – is disrupting human behaviour, and bringing out the best and the worst in many of us, including in administrations and companies around the world.

Aside from the practice of working from home, distributed business processes, flatter hierarchies and so forth, a period of questioning of many aspects of the way we used to live and work is underway.

Multilateral organisations with worse-than-expected performance may find themselves sidelined; indeed, many other aspects of life could change before human nature kicks in and we return to the world of yesterday.

Vishen’s advice to leaders especially in this stringent time of heavy scrutiny is simple: “Leaders should be focused on two things:

1: Clear messaging and communication. Explain why movement control is so important. People need to understand why they must flatten the curve and why they are being asked to stay at home to protect the front line – the doctors, the nurses and other medical professionals. They are the most important people in the country right now and we need to help them do their job effectively so we can end this pandemic.

2: There are two groups of people we need to be focused on: people working in the hospitals and on the frontline, and then everyone else. Right now, it’s time for everyone to stay at home and flatten the curve. We must protect these soldiers in this global pandemic war who are doing their best to save lives.”

On the bright side, as many commenters have pointed out – the future of work may have arrived, a little sooner than expected. The much-vaunted digital transformation has just received a powerful boost from the disruptor, Covid-19.

He also welcomes the surge in personal learning and transformation during lockdowns. “This period that we are all going through has the potential to be incredibly productive from a personal growth perspective. In fact, many companies, including us, are releasing free content online to help people cope mentally.”

Perhaps the key lesson he would like us to learn is empathy. “Empathy is our best hope at finding that middle ground and is what roots through glaring conflicts and finds hope. Empathy is what we ought to be searching for in our thought leaders, our world leaders, and in ourselves.”

“If there’s one thing this situation has done, is that it has shown us just how connected we are as a species,” Vishen concludes. “We think we’re divided by nations, clans and religions. But we’re really just cells in one unified human colossus. We can get sick together. And we can also heal together.”

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