“Each of us has a different calling. There is a reason we’re here. There is something we are meant to do. The question is, do you choose your calling or does your calling choose you?” This is the question posed by Vishen Lakhiani, the founder and CEO of Mindvalley. While that question may be more easily asked than answered, what is most important is that one’s calling, or quest, is found. Today, through Mindvalley, Vishen’s mission is to encourage people to live their best lives. To empower them to live healthier and happier lives and to unleash their full potential as humans. Mindvalley’s motto is “Be Extraordinary” and they introduce people to the tools and ideas necessary to help them realize all of their potential. However, first, Vishen had to figure out how to implement those tools and ideas himself.

Finding Hope

Vishen left Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where he was born and raised, in 1995 to attend the University of Michigan. There he majored in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and graduated with big dreams of making something of himself. After graduation he headed to Silicon Valley eager to prove exactly what he could do.

“My timing though, in a word, sucked,” said Vishen. It was now 2002 and the start-up company that Vishen had envisioned hadn’t come to life. The investors never came, the dot-com bubble had burst, and he’d lost all of his savings. “I was so broke I was basically renting a couch from a college student in Berkeley who figured out how to optimize his finances by renting out his least favorite piece of furniture. And when I got there the couch wasn’t even a three-seater couch, it was a two-seater so my legs kind of dangled off the edge when I slept every night.”

After sending his resume to every company he could, Vishen hoped that someone would give him a break. While that break did finally come, it wasn’t exactly all that Vishen had hoped for. “When this one company hired me it was a ‘dialing for dollars job.’ The economy was so bad there was no base salary. You’d pick up the phone and have to sell technology to lawyers, I was a Computer Engineer – I knew jack about sales,” explained Vishen. Determined to succeed, he even changed his name to Vincent Lakhiani and pretended to be Italian, hoping that this persona, Vincent the Italian, would be more favorable to the Texan lawyers he was trying to convince to buy the tech he had to sell.

“In that fearful state, in that desperation, I got online and I googled for hope. I can’t remember what I put into Google, maybe it was ‘hope,’ maybe it was, ‘how to make money,’ maybe it was ‘How to not get fired, ‘ or maybe it was ‘Why this life sucks so bad.’ But I found a class on meditation, and I flew to LA to take that class. Interestingly, when I showed up at that class, I was the only person who showed up. Now, I’m asking myself, ‘Did I really make the right decision, with my limited funds, buying a ticket to LA?'” Vishen took the class anyway, and while he didn’t know it at the time, the answer to that question of what this the right decision was a resounding yes. That one class shifted and shaped him. Back at work, he doubled his sales in one week. One month later, he’d doubled his sales again. In the wake of this success, Vishen dug deeper into exploring the ideas of wellbeing, personal growth, intuition and transforming himself. Within four months he’d been promoted three times and his boss was fascinated. “He kept asking me, ‘What are you doing?’ and I told him what I was doing and he said ‘That’s bullshit, but whatever you’re doing keep doing it anyway.'” At 26 Vishen was promoted to the Director of Sales in the company and he was sent out to lead the New York expansion.

Is Prosperity For Prosperity’s Sake Enough?

“I was earning more than I ever thought I could, I had money in my bank account, I was living in frigging New York, in Manhattan, with a great apartment, but I was miserable. Absolutely, frigging, miserable. And, I quit my job cold turkey.” Vishen had achieved everything that he’d been taught he should want. And yet, it didn’t seem to be enough. He wasn’t happy and he didn’t feel that his values were in alignment with his companies’ so the decision to leave was rather simple.

“We get trained from the time we’re teenagers that you need to get good grades, so you can get into a good college. Then work your ass off, maybe make partner working from 9-5. Continue saving money, so someday, you can retire and then enjoy the world. What if that isn’t the point of it all? What if all those little things are a means to an end? So I started asking myself, what is the end game? What are the end goals?”

This type of thinking isn’t being taught in schools. Instead, as we grow up we’re asked, “What do you want to be when your grow up?” Kids are trained to choose a career, not necessarily a life of enlightenment. Vishen believes the question of what you want to be is a dumb thing to ask a child. Instead, he believes the question that we should be asking is “What mark do you want to leave on the world?” He believes asking that question changes everything.

We’ve built a world where 54{cd266c1509fca34f59dc93da7daf12a6ee52c6401aabb2126e757d9de7c223fc} of Americans dislike their jobs. As a society we’re struggling with so many different things from weight, to relationship to self-esteem issues. However, no one seemed to be studying how to fix them. The course Vishen took on meditation had a huge impact on his life, some of the concepts he’d learned there he wished the school system had taught him at 12 years old. And yet, he couldn’t get the thought out of his head that no one else had showed up.

A New Mission To Change Education

As all of these thoughts swirled around Vishen’s mind, a quote from Nelson Mandela seemed to stand out among the rest, “If you want to change the world, change education.” With the desire to start something on his own, changing education is exactly what Vishen set out to do. With that, in 2003 Mindvalley was born, “with $700 and a beat-up laptop in Starbucks.”

After struggling to keep his US Visa, in 2004 Vishen made the decision to move back to Kuala Lumpur. Despite the fact that this was during the height of the “national brain drain” and before the statup ecosystem in Asia existed, Vishen believed that Mindvalley could be one of the best workplaces in Malaysia and he did everything he could to bring that mission to life. Today, Mindvalley is a 200-strong team that encompasses over 40 nationalities and has won multiple awards for company culture. It has earned a globally renowned reputation for being a leading edu-tech company and has been featured in media such as Forbes, The Huffington Post, BBC and Inc. Magazine.

Mindvalley specializes in “modern learning experiences and content, launching online academies and digital platforms that publish personal growth education in areas such as wellbeing, mindfulness, relationships, fitness, entrepreneurship and more.” The company’s mission is to revolutionize learning experience and education systems worldwide. One of the ways they accomplish this is through their signature A-Fest event.

According to Vishen, “A Fest is a curative community thousands of people apply to… we try to pick people to really fill this whole matrix of diversity. We want to expose enlightened ideas to as many people as possible. Typically we choose people who are in fields where they can help these ideas multiply. Someone who runs a school, a TV host from a foreign country, a journalist, a writer, an entrepreneur who employs thousands of people.” Twice a year in 5-star locations throughout the world, over 2000 people are invited from over 50 countries to receive powerful training, profound mind shifts, bio-hacking techniques, deep connections, incredible adventures and unique opportunities to multiply their impact and give back to humanity.

The Beautiful Destruction

Outside of Mindvalley, Vishen is an internationally recognized speaker on personal growth and transformation, a member of the Transformational Leadership Council, sits on the Innovation Board for the XPRIZE Foundation, and is a New York Times and USA Today Best-Selling Author® of the book, The Code of The Extraordinary Mind. In the book, one of the things Vishen talks about is the idea of finding your quest.

“And the quest is really your purpose, your mission. For decades people have been using different terms to describe it. Since this book is written for the current generation, I use the word quest because it’s a popular term that comes from computer games. In every computer game you have this hero, this archetype who has to go battle villains and then complete a quest. The question is, in life, what is that quest for you?”

Vishen found his own quest and now he consistently works to revolutionize the global education system by bringing new models of enhancing human potential to people everywhere. He is certainly a long way from the success he once dreamed of acquiring in Silicon Valley, and all the better for it.

“Sometimes you find your quest in an interesting way. It’s as if life comes down, kicks you on the butt and gets you to move into a completely different direction from what you expect. When this happens it’s painful, it feels as if your world is breaking down. But often that destruction of your way of life leads to something beautiful; in fact I call this phenomenon the beautiful destruction.” And it’s that beautiful destruction that Vishen wishes for everyone. Whether you choose your quest or your quest chooses you, the most important thing is that you follow that quest to wherever it may lead.

About the Author

Brittany Barocsi

Brittany Barocsi is a Senior Editor and Production Associate at the Dicks + Nanton Agency. With a love for the written word, she serves as the main editor for most of the company’s newsletters and magazines as well as a book editor and ghostwriter. Brittany graduated from Appalachian State University with a B.A. in English Literature and a B.S. in Communications, Public Relations.