Why is this work so important?
I believe that we as individuals have lost touch with our health and wellbeing, and honestly, it’s no surprise. We live in a society that’s created an unsustainable and unhealthy pattern of living, where stress is viewed as a necessary by-product of success. We’re more stressed than ever before, our happiness levels are at a record all-time low, workplace cultures become synonymous with burnouts, our healthcare system is equipped to tackle disease rather than having a complete understanding of health, and inequality levels are on the rise. All of this is leading to a roster of chronic stresses that we experience on a daily basis. I believe that we’re in the middle of a stress epidemic, and it’s a silent killer.
Stress is not just terrible for our mental health, it’s also thought to be responsible for the six leading causes of death. As a result, we’re moving towards a society where the majority of deaths (70%) are caused by chronic diseases for which we have no cure, but could be preventable if we changed our lifestyle habits. And I believe our healthcare system isn’t equipped to tackle these complex diseases that require a complete understanding of our mind, our body, and the environment we live in. At Walking On Earth, we are creating this new model of health, where every individual is conscious of every action they take, from the food we eat to the things we put in our body, our every emotion, and every action. We want to create a world where we experience every step we take rather than float past it in an absent-minded, distracted way. A world where we understand the lifestyle choices we should be making to be in optimal health, and in turn, create a society that is more connected, fulfilled, and healthy.
I’ve always been fascinated by the power of technology to drive large scale social change. In my previous company, we were applying cutting edge AI technology to design and develop new medicines to treat disease. The more I learned about the healthcare industry, the more I realized just how disempowered we as individuals are when it comes to our health and wellbeing. So as an aspiring entrepreneur, and someone who’d witnessed the power of technology in addressing the challenges of modern-day life, I knew I had to do something to address this urgent need. I felt like in an age where we’ve used technology to completely transform all facets of our life, it seemed crazy that we were leaving the most important element behind. I believe that fundamentally we all deserve to be healthy, and I believe that through the power of technology, we can enable such an ideal to manifest.
What has been the most rewarding moment of your journey so far?
The most rewarding part has got to be the people that I met along the way. I’ve been so struck by their kindness and really inspired by their journeys.
What changemakers do you look up to and why?
My biggest inspiration is Thích Nhất Hạnh. He’s a zen Buddhist master, a poet, a peace activist, a writer – and that doesn’t even come close to summing up his greatness. He’s the inspiration behind the name Walking On Earth. He says that people often think of walking on air or walking on water as a miracle, but he believes that the true miracle is walking on earth. It’s something that we don’t even recognize, the green leaves, the blue sky, the white clouds – he says every day we’re engaged in this miracle. He’s really helped me understand that true success in life is to be present and be aware, and experience the joy in every step we take. That’s what I hope to help others achieve too through Walking On Earth – to make every step we take on this earth a miracle.
If you could save one species at the click of your fingers, what would it be?
I think it would have to be sea otters. They’re my favorite animal, I think they’re just so sweet and so funny. I love the way that they lie on their backs when they’re floating in the water and the way that they hold hands when they’re sleeping so that they don’t drift apart. I find their behaviors so fascinating, I could sit and watch them for hours. Sadly they are under threat, and in danger of extinction.
Why is it important for brands/companies to become more responsible?
I believe that companies absolutely have a responsibility and that change has to start from the workplace. We spend roughly one-third of our lives at work, and workplaces are the greatest cause of stress. It’s so severe that the World Health Organization officially recognizes burnout as a phenomenon due to chronic workplace stress. I believe that employers have a responsibility to prioritize their employees’ wellbeing, and that we have to create a workplace culture that’s synonymous with kindness, compassion, and care.
If you were stranded on a desert island, what is one thing you would want to have with you?
I think it would have to be my surfboard. I know it’s not the most practical but there are likely to be good waves, and I guess you could use a surfboard as a mode of transport.
What are some small changes people can make in their everyday lives to help save the environment (specifically, in your field)?
Ultimately, change has to start within. As you engage in spiritual practice, you cultivate a greater sense of awareness of yourself, of your surroundings, and of the impact of every action you take on the world around you. You realize the interconnectedness of it all. All it takes is 10 minutes every morning, and all you need is your breath. By focusing on your breath for 10 minutes each day, you go inward and you start to really introspect. You develop a greater sense of awareness, and with this awareness, you can learn how to live in harmony and how to be more connected with the world around you.