This week, the University of Colorado Boulder served as the site of the second annual Conscious Entrepreneur Summit, a conference promoting personal growth and wellness for business executives.
Started by Boulder entrepreneur Alex Raymond, the summit is Raymond’s response to watching his peers — and himself — struggle with mental health and burnout. One of his goals is to allow executives to be vulnerable leaders.
“Not everybody feels like they have permission to talk about it,” he said of these challenges. “They want to, but they don’t know how. They don’t have the vocabulary, or they’re unwilling to let their guard down.”
The solution, Raymond explained, was to create an opportunity for those conversations to be had through the Conscious Entrepreneur Summit.
“The idea was to give the tools and the resources to entrepreneurs who were willing to take that step of looking inside themselves or working on themselves,” he said. “We’re giving them a place to feel better about themselves.”
The three-day conference brought more than 200 guests to the University Memorial Center’s Glenn Miller Ballroom to hear speakers share stories and give advice to fellow entrepreneurs. Last year’s inaugural conference was held in Denver and had around half as many attendees, Raymond said.
At the summit’s conclusion on Thursday, executive wellness coach Kayla Lee talked about how she learned to have empathy for herself, not just for other people. Inviting guests to write a letter to their future selves exploring the type of conscious entrepreneurs they strive to be, Lee emphasized the importance of rest and reflection.
“My call to people is to rest,” she said. “Resting is about stillness, so you can come face-to-face with yourself. That’s really, really hard to do because most of us, we’re so busy (that) we don’t know ourselves.”
Boulder entrepreneur Lisa Reeves, who previously served on the Colorado Economic Development Commission, discussed the importance of business leaders being mindful and grounded in values.
“I have a bias toward the Rocky Mountain region,” Reeves told guests. “It’s all very much ‘give before you get,’ people connecting people to sources of money and talent, and building teams. I just love the environment here.”
Closing out the morning’s speakers was author and entrepreneur Keith Ferrazzi, who talked about the power of creating meaningful connections. Ferrazzi spoke candidly about the ways his connections have helped him throughout his life, from achieving financial success to shaping familial bonds.
“Be thoughtful and be generous to people who could be important to you,” he said. “The people that you robustly serve and then show up for as an authentic, lovely human … they’ll always be there for you, no matter where your mission in life goes.”
For future summits, Raymond said he’d like to stay in Boulder, even as the conference continues to bring in guests from across and even outside the U.S.
“Boulder has the brand around mindfulness, consciousness, all of that stuff,” he said. “We fit into that really well.”