Entrepreneur Fail: My Chance at Meeting Chopra

In December 2017 our business had closed, and I had lost all of my investments. I decided to continue my entrepreneurial quest and take Integrity back to a seed idea that needed a wellness influencer.  I received a flyer for the Integrative Healthcare Symposium in New York, February 2018, that said Dr. Deepak Chopra would be giving the keynote address.  How could I get my business plan to him and merge it with his wellness center?  It’s all about networking, right?!

 In my book, BridgeIT: The Integrative Approach to the Healthcare Crisis in the United States, I mention my friend Camille Leon, The President and Founder of The Holistic Chamber of Commerce (HCC).  She has chapters all over the United States and I was busy targeting the leaders of the wellness movement, so I thought I would look up Dr. Deepak Chopra.  He was not a member, but The Chopra Foundation funds The Chopra Library for Integrative Studies & Whole Health  and the Executive Director, Ryan Castle, was a member of HCC! So, I asked Camille to introduce us via email and she did!

I was able to set up a telephone meeting with Ryan for that following Monday.  I was so excited to finally talk with someone directly working with Dr. Chopra! That morning I was getting ready and I started to feel dizzy.  That was strange, but I pressed on with my tasks until my 12 pm phone call- I wanted to be on my A Game and be ready for the call. And then the fever hit…being as it was December and I am in Michigan, smack dab in the middle of flu season…here comes the sudden fever, stomachache (luckily no vomiting) but I did not want to miss that call! I cancelled the rest of my day and went back to bed, set my alarm for the call and pressed on.  

I don’t think he could tell that I was struggling that day as I asked him all about how he started ISHAR (Integrative Studies Historical Archive and Repository, now called The Library for Integrative Studies & Whole Health) and how Dr. Chopra found his work and now it is funded by the Chopra Foundation.  I asked him if he would be interested in hearing about my idea and how it could fund his program in a different way.  He sounded interested and asked if I could send him my business plan.  He agreed to sign a confidentiality agreement and I sent him the plan. At least my fever wasn’t so bad that I lost my legal knowledge.

On our next call, he said that the Chopra Center and the Chopra Foundation have looked for programs like this over the years and that he would talk to the board members to see if they were interested.  Not only was I shocked that he was willing to go to bat for us, but he actually READ MY BUSINESS PLAN! This was the furthest I had ever gotten with a possible wellness influencer… and I did it while sick in bed. The irony!

Ryan and I had many productive conversations about what a collaborative project might look like.  And I can’t thank him enough for his time.  I have never met someone who worked as hard as he does, so I appreciated the precious time he spent with me.  I was hoping to meet both Ryan and Dr. Chopra at the conference in February.  Ryan couldn’t attend, but I was sure to attend the book signing with Dr. Chopra and mentioned to him that I was talking with Ryan and might be meeting him soon.  His face lit up and he mentioned that was wonderful news.  

Ryan and I continued to talk over the next few months, and in order to get privacy from my kids, I would tell everyone that I had a meeting and I would go in my bedroom and sit on the floor. I see now how this situation lead to the only time that I have yelled at my husband in 25 years.  I was putting my (unknown self) out there and reaching out to these big players in the wellness community.  I felt like a quarterback running only Hail Mary’s in the game.  I felt so much pressure to make this one connection.   Now picture this, we have 4 bathrooms in our home, and during one of those meetings my husband chose to walk by one of those bathrooms, open our bedroom door, see me sitting on the floor intensely talking about our possible collaboration, go into the master bathroom…leave the door open…and pee. Not only did he pee, but he flushed the toilet! I was MORTIFIED!  I could not believe that he did that! Didn’t he know that this was important and that you can hear when someone flushes the toilet in the room!  I’m not kidding, my children have never seen me yell at my husband, but after that call…they left the room looking scared. 

In the end, Ryan did talk to a board member about Integrity, but the board was restructuring the funding for the Chopra Foundation and decided not to fund new projects at that time. I don’t really think the bathroom incident was the reason and I have decided to forgive my husband. 

 Lesson learned: reach out to the leaders and influencers and build a network.  And, if it’s important, lock the bedroom door.

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