19 Mystical and Practical Tools I Use Daily to Run My Business
Around this time two years ago, I started sending out a weekly newsletter I called "Holisticism" to a list of 100 people. I had NO idea why I was doing it, other than I felt that I didn't really have an option not to — it just felt right.
Today, Holisticism has 45,000+ members and has built software to help holistic wellness practitioners run their virtual businesses. And we have a lot more up our sleeves. But when I started this crazy journey, I didn't have a damn clue what I was doing. A lot of the time, I felt nuts.
I honestly cannot credit myself for Holisticism's modest success — that's been the work of our amazing community. But I think I can take a little bit of credit for not totally fucking it up along the way. My belief? Holisticism has survived, evolved, and grown because I used both analytical and intuitive thinking to make all of my business decisions.
You need both types of thinking to be in balance: Analytics and data help us see the bones of a problem. They give us tangible proof that we can make an educated guess with. And intuition and mysticism help us see the psychology behind our actions and encourage the "best possible outcome." All the soft stuff? That’s intuition.
Too much practicality and you'll lose touch with your inspiration — it's all spreadsheets and math. Too much mysticism and you'll be immobilized, head in the clouds and unbothered by important real-life stressors like time and money.
So, you need both sides to start a business. It's hard work, but it's also ... fun? Most of the time, it's fun :) Today, I wanted to show you how I used both sides to develop and execute the idea for Holisticism.
I laid out the exact methods — analytical and mystical — that I used in the two years since starting. The hope is that if you're thinking about starting something (anything!) it gives you a helpful framework to use to start digging into what you want to create in this world. And if you're not thinking about starting your own thing ... maybe you'll bookmark this now, and return to it in a few months when the time is right. If I can spare you from a little bit of the existential pain that it caused me to get here, then my work is complete!
And with that, let's scroll.
Six Months Pre-Launch
I've never seen any life transformation that didn't begin with the person in question finally getting tired of their own bullshit. - Elizabeth Gilbert
When I got my first job at a startup, I was smack in the middle of my twenties and had never worked a desk job. (Professional artist life, man). I’d been an intern at a marketing company in New York for a few months in a half-assed attempt to learn more about business, but I found the hardest part of the job was trying to stay awake once 2pm hit. Smooshed into a far-flung corner with no one to talk to, I didn’t learn much other than how to do research for pitching new clients. Seeing as I wasn’t that interested in becoming a marketer-for-hire, this held little weight for me. Honestly, I think I just stopped showing up after a while and no one noticed.
So when I got my first ~official~ job, I had extremely low self-confidence. I knew I could work hard, but I didn’t know if I was smart enough to keep up with the people around me. The idea that I might potentially be tested on my ability to make charts in Excel kept me up at night.
But I learned really quickly that basically everyone is faking it at pretty much every level of most organizations. That’s not necessarily a good thing, but it is comforting to know that you’re not the only one Googling how to do what your job requires on a daily basis.
Fast forward five years later, I’d proved my competency to myself. I was working as a Global Editorial Director for a wellness site and making about $70k. Parts of my job were fine — I enjoyed wellness, really liked writing and editing even though I hadn’t formally studied either, and appreciated the analytical side of running a business.
But I thought our business model was stupid, and that a lot of what we were making was crap. Unfortunately, I’d reached this conclusion at all of the jobs I’d worked at, which could just be a personal attitude problem. After a while, I’d sit at my desk and think, “Why am I wasting my life doing someone else’s work that doesn't matter to me?”
I’m no stranger to having a job that pays the bills so you can do what you love on your own time. That type of jobs is really important, actually, because it gives you a safe space to explore what ignites a spark in you while you’re comfortable. It’s so hard to try and figure out what your purpose is if you’re primarily worried about making rent. There's a hierarchy of needs that have to be addressed, and usually having a roof over your head and food on the table comes first.
But that wasn’t the position I was in. I’d saved plenty of money, and lived pretty comfortably if not frugally. The truth is, I didn’t know what my purpose was. I hadn’t felt like I was on purpose since I was a dancer, and after a while even that faded away. And I really wanted to stop listlessly changing jobs every two or three years out of boredom.
So I set out to get my mind right and finding the next step up, as opposed to the next lily pad to land on. The commitment to finding the next thing was REAL, and I put myself on a “Figure Shit Out” regimen of my own design. I spent about 4 hours a day and 30-ish hours a week (oh yes, I worked weekends), on Holisticism during this stage.
Here’s what worked for me, and eventually led me to start Holisticism.
Alongside my desk job, I did some freelance writing for wellness companies like lululemon, and I’d been given the assignment to read Gabby Bernstein’s book, “The Universe Has Your Back.” As a skeptical person, it was a title that I’d never have picked up on my own. But because I had to read it for work, I gave it a chance. Once I got past the first chapter, I devoured it. It was a perfect book for that stage of my life.
One of the recommendations Gabby gives is for Kirtan Kriya. I’d never heard of kundalini yoga or Kirtan Kriya before, but it was supposed to help you get downloads from the Universe and have more clarity around those messages. Listen, if you want the Universe to have your back, you gotta throw it a bone every now and then.
I found an 11-minute version of the kirya on Youtube and did it every single day for about 3 months. After a while, I’d start to get epiphanies during the meditation that I would write in a journal. One day, the word Holisticism popped into my brain.
This is when I also started meditating regularly for the first time in my life. Somehow I snagged a free trial at The DEN, a meditation studio in LA, and went to class every day for a few weeks. The guided meditations in a group helped me carve out time for practice and kept me in my integrity — no sneaking a peek at the phone to see how long was left on the clock. During this time, I started seeing colors and auras after meditating. Meditation also made me feel much more creative throughout my day, so I decided to keep it in my regimen.
Looked For Signs
Exactly what it sounds like. When you’re desperate for answers, you’ll take any little hint that gets thrown your way. I started to notice when I heard something three times, or when crazy coincidences would happen, or when I would get chills. Then, I’d try to learn more about that thing, so I could roll it around on my tongue and decide if it was right for me or not.
Worked On My Intuition
I read any book I could get my hands on, consulted intuitives, and started attending moon circles and cacao ceremonies and a whole host of other things. It’s funny — no one else ever told me exactly what to do. But I did start to view the next thing I started a little differently; I saw it as something that would be the next step in my life. Not necessarily a life-long career, but a launchpad for something else. That really eased the pressure for me to come up with “The THING” and just come up with something.
Timed Releases and Launches with Astrological Transits
OK, it sounds a little crazy, but I timed the launch of the first Holisticism newsletter with the stars. I honestly would have published it sooner, but it was a Venus Retrograde — not a good time to release a product that was supposed to bring women together. So I waited, which made me a feel kinda nuts or superstitious at the time, but in hindsight I am SO happy I held out and waited a few more weeks. A lot changed in the short time between when I was supposed to release the first newsletter and when I actually did.
I also checked out the natal chart of Holisticism on Astro-App.net by putting the launch day as its' "birthday." This was SO fun to do, and helped me see the areas of opportunity or blindspots of my new venture as well as where Holisticism could really shine.
As part of my day job, I had the idea to start writing a column about female wellness entrepreneurs. I started interviewing three or four women a week to write stories on them, and I got to ask really probing questions about purpose, clarity, and spirituality. Hearing someone’s origin story is always fascinating, but I started to pay attention to which questions I was most curious to get an answer to. I figured if I could follow my curiosity at least I wouldn’t be bored.
A pattern started to emerge in the answers I kept hearing: Lots of female entrepreneurs felt lonely, and like no one could relate to them … and many of them had spiritual or mystical practices, but didn’t want to share that side of their personality for fear of judgement.
In addition to keeping a running list of coincidences that kept popping up and phrases I kept hearing, I also started to track where I spent the most time in my day-to-day life.
This actually began when I started freelancing in addition to working full-time. Because I was working from home a few days a week, I realized I could get all my "real" work done by noon if I woke up and started working around 5:30/6a. That left time to do projects that were more exciting, paid better, and could potentially teach me something.
Because I was freelancing, I had to keep track of my hours. I started documenting where my time went — three hours of research on Carl Jung here, two hours spent interviewing a female founder who started a food stability non-profit here, ten hours on SEO optimizing a site there, three hours spent working with a client one-on-one, another hour meditating or going to a "woo" workshop in LA.
After a while, I started to see patterns. I liked learning about experiences from other people; I didn't like working with people one-on-one. I was bored with nutrition and holistic diets (I had become a certified holistic nutritionist a few years early); but holistic healing and herbalism was fascinating. In-person events were tiring; writing energized and delighted me.
When I whittled down the list, it looked like this:
Interests: alternative wellness, science, mysticism, history, entrepreneurship
Strengths: Writing, interpretation, empathy, relatability
Values: Anonymity, community, creativity, honesty
So, how could I bring all those things together?! Starting a blog sounded ... like not my thing. Instagram exhausted me. Anonymity and community, two dichotomous ideas, were really important to me. I wanted to be mostly anonymous so I could freely share my opinions without fear of repercussions, but I wanted to share my opinions because I knew I wasn't alone in the way I felt.
Finally, I landed on a weekly email newsletter. I'd heard the term tossed around a few times in my sphere, and I'd had plenty of experience writing newsletters and daily emails for all of the startups I worked at (and it had been my favorite part of my job). So, I committed to it.
Wrote Down Intentions, and Divorced Myself From The Outcome
After I decided I would make an email newsletter, I didn't really tell anyone. Honestly, I was mortified to put my name behind anything. Drawing attention to myself isn't really my thing — I didn't want to be a blogger or an influencer. I just wanted to make really good work that people would value, and I worried that if I told people what I was up to they'd scare me out of it.
I mulled the whole thing over in my mind for a while. After a few weeks, I decided that these were my intentions with Holisticism:
create an empowering, fun community to help people navigate the wellness world
send a weekly email to this group of people
maintain journalistic integrity; never write about "bikini bodies" ever EVER ever
be of service to my community
allow the project to tell me where to go — if it wanted to die a natural death, let it. If it wanted to be a side-project, let it. If it wanted to be my full-time job at some point, let it.
Celebrated My Follow Through
My best friend Kara inspired me on this one. When Kara launched her own nutrition consulting business, she threw herself a launch party. Her logic? The thing to celebrate was the fact that she'd actually DONE the damn thing — and that she was sharing it with the world.
I loved that. For me, the hardest part of launching Holisticism was putting myself out there and believing that I had something worth sharing with others. So, I celebrated by letting myself stop working on a Friday at 4p, going down to a beachside cafe, and getting myself a festive glass of rosé. Can I just tell you? No celebration has ever felt so good.
In My First Year Of Business
OK, so once you get the idea, the hard part is done! Right?
Nah brah. Not exactly. I will say, consistently executing on a vision is about 90% of the work. Just showing up every day is the tough stuff, especially when you first start because EVERYTHING IS CONSTANTLY IN FLUX! Your ideas, your vision, your mood, your optimism. Be comfortable with the fact that you will change your mind, and the best thing that you can do is become as fluid and open as possible.
Ask any entrepreneur and they'll tell you that starting a business is an excellent way to accelerate your own personal growth, for better or worse. I felt this so much, and I stand by the idea that allowing myself space to grow is what allowed my business to grow.
These practices helped me to continue to evolve and stay open during the hard (and fun!) times. For context, I spent about 12 hours a day (80-ish hours a week), working on Holisticism during this time.
Just keep showing up. I've sent a weekly email every Wednesday for the past two years. Sometimes I got amazing feedback, sometimes I heard crickets. Sometimes I almost didn't send it because I was so busy with other work ... sometimes it took me 10 hours to write ... sometimes I wanted to end the whole thing.
But in the end, something made me keep showing up, and I think it was that I didn't have the choice to end the thing — Holisticism was calling the shots, not me. Plus, keeping your promise to yourself is a really wonderful thing.
Get Feedback From People Way Smarter Than You
The most important and potentially most difficult thing to balance — getting feedback from intelligent people, and executing on that feedback when it feels correct for you. As the founder of a company, you know what's best for your company. But there's still a LOT you don't know, because duh you're human, and you can optimize your growth by learning from other people's mistakes.
Here's how I got feedback from people who were far more intelligent than me:
Asked my followers to do 10-minute phone calls with me to get their feedback on the platform. This yielded about 1500+ phone calls with the Holisticism community.
Took every meeting that someone suggested. Usually these came from PR or marketing people at big companies like Moon Juice, Well + Good, True Botanicals, etc. I learned from their techniques and the way they were looking at their market.
Applied to accelerator programs. I got into three accelerator programs in Los Angeles for tech companies, and ended up completing two. They were invaluable to my experience and I can confidently say I wouldn't be here today without them. (Shout out to Grid110 and StartupBoost!)
Sought out mentors. I asked two very smart people to be advisors in my company. They have a small equity stake in Holisticism in exchange for giving me guidance. We have monthly meetings where we discuss the business, where I can do better, and what I should be thinking about. Knowing they believe in me is extremely important.
Attended panels, listened to podcasts, read a million books. Yeah, #freeshit. There are SO MANY sources out there to learn about business. Start looking outside of your industry for feedback — you can learn a lot from people in other business ecosystems and apply their learnings to your business.
I stumbled upon the work of Robert A Johnson because I'm a huge Carl Jung stan. Johnson's work is so clutch for anyone trying to understand Jung's teachings in a practical way.
"Owning Your Own Shadow" by Robert Johnson is a must-read book, and certainly saved me from the perils of my own ego more than once in the first year of Holisticism. I'd done other online programs on shadow work, but I find this original source material to be the most effective because it really address the roots and psychology behind shadow work.
Honestly, I'm due for another re-reading :)
Daily Ego Checks
I would ask myself this question a MILLION times a day while trying to make decisions:
"Do you want this because it is truly what is best for you and your business? Or do you want this outcome because you think it will make you look good?"
Applies well to:
Instagram feeds :)
Kept My Day Job (for a while)
I didn't quit my job until 6 months after I started Holisticism, and after that I consulted with other companies for a year. This kept me in my authentic nature and prevented me from trying to monetize my business before I was ready. Eventually, I stopped consulting about 18 months after I started working on Holisticism because I had saved up a significant amount and had a bit of cushion to go without a paycheck. And, because I physically could not continue to wake up at work on Holisticism from 5a-10a every morning, go to work for someone else from 10-5p, and then come back and work on my own stuff from 7-10p.
Having a "day job" allowed my business to grow like an untamed garden — there was no pressure to make it anything. It could just be whatever it wanted to be.
Meditated and Minded My Own Damn Business
Every day :) Remembering the ego check helps you keep your head down and focus on yourself.
Last year I became a certified Akashic Records practitioner, and I found it extremely helpful to ask the Records about my business. I used to do it almost every day, and now I just check in when I need a little bit of guidance. That being said, I've used the Akashic Records:
to decide how to price a certain product
to make hiring decisions
to create our content calendar
to craft the best schedule to optimize my time for the week
Although I've never been particularly called to oracle cards, I started learning Tarot de Marseille earlier this year and I've found it to be incredibly informative in all my processes.
If I'm lacking inspiration, I'll pull cards to see where I can best use my energy on any given day.
Before meetings, I'll ask what kind of energy I need to bring to the situation in order to achieve the best possible outcome for all parties.
If I need to find something to write about (honestly, I do this a lot!), I'll pull a card and dig into what the imagery of that card says to me.
Cards are certainly not a divination tool, but they can be an amazing way to access the subconscious mind and mine our own brains for inspiration.
I started using herbs to support my creativity, mood, and brain function when I started Holisticism. Flower essences have also been extremely helpful to my personal process. Although I've taken herbalism courses, I'm not an herbalist, so I tend to try different things and see what makes me feel best. So far my favorites are:
Damiana - heart opening
Gotu Kola - stimulates third-eye and intuition
Cacao - energizing and grounding, heart opening
OK, I made that phrase up :) But! I think of my work schedule like my eating habits — I'd rather be fluid and responsive to how I feel, rather than stick to a rigid regimen that I feel like I'll never be able to keep up with.
For me, this means that I sit down every six-ish weeks to audit whether my workflow still works the way I want it to. Ideally, when I'm working I want to feel:
The minute one of those areas starts to slip, it's time for me to adjust my calendar blocks. For example, I'm usually excellent in the morning. I love waking up at 5:30a or 6a, making a coffee, and hopping on my computer to work within 15 minutes of rising. But I noticed that during the winter months, this became an extremely inefficient use of my time — making my coffee took longer and longer, everything I wrote was garbage, and I was soooooo unmotivated.
It's rare that I'm actually bored or uninspired with my work — I knew the slump was probably symptomatic of something else in my life.
So, I switched my flow up. I started working out the morning (weirdly, it became so much easier to jump out of bed to go to yoga or Pilates than to sit and bang away on my keyboard), and being a lot more lenient on myself around when I started my day. It gave me the fresh perspective I needed to rev my engine again.
At the end of the day, I believe that all we're trying to do is figure out and fulfill our purpose. Along the way, it's easy to get tripped up by ego, and knock yourself off that path of personal growth. But I really believe that when we're truly tapped into our intuition, we can't make a wrong or out-of-alignment choice. And as long as we're in alignment, we're on the path to success.