Every person is a monument to the human spirit.
I have always believed that if you pursue something whole heartedly everything will work out. Yet here I was in the middle of the desert overwhelmed by the weight of my credit card debt, reeling from a co-founder blow out, and feeling like I had put everything on the line and failed.
I was in Black Rock City having one of those moments that only Burning Man can provide – an absolute moment of truth. I was broke and living in my car on the streets of San Francisco. The start up which I had poured my heart into for the last three years was on thin ice and had one remaining employee – me. I had no idea what I was going to do when I got back to San Francisco.
The theme of Burning Man that year was Rites of Passage. In many ways 2011 had felt like a rite of passage. The year started with me feeling broken hearted from a break up, losing $40,000 through a unpaid loan to a friend, and moving into my car to save money. Here I was, eight months later, still hanging on to what life remained in Heartbeat by the edge of my fingertips.
In his book, “Man’s Search for Meaning,” Viktor Frankl posits that a person’s sense of purpose is more important than any quality of life they may or may not enjoy. The meaning that we feel in our lives is the true determinant of quality. I would go further to say that following one’s heart, that which is most important to us, is what gives our lives true meaning.
That year in the desert I was having a crisis of meaning when a profound epiphany crossed my mind. I envisioned a world where human beings lived in harmony with one another – with no war and no poverty. A world where we treasure each other and embrace our humanity. As I experienced this flash of insight into the future of our planet, I felt from the bottom of my heart that what I imagined was actually possible.
I had never given peace much thought before that moment, yet here I came to believe that world peace is absolutely possible and attainable within my lifetime. By the end of Burning Man, I had set my mind on moving to New York City and finding a way to work on making the world a more peaceful place.
Coming back to San Francisco, I had a very clear sense of purpose and absolutely no sense of direction. My credit cards were all getting maxed out, I had failed at raising money for Heartbeat, and I wasn’t sure if I could figure out a way to align my startup with my new found aspiration. I think most of my friends thought that I had fallen off the deep end at Burning Man.
I spent a lot of time contemplating the concept of peace. What would it take for humanity to co-exist peacefully on this planet? I felt certain this was something more basic than humanitarian work, economic policy, or government treaties.
The conclusion that came to me was simple yet felt the most true. World peace starts with people doing what they love. When we truly love ourselves, we value our energy, and our time becomes more valuable than money. When our time is more valuable than money we’re only willing to do things motivated by love. And when we’re motivated for the right reasons, all of a sudden the reasons for engaging in negative behaviors dissolve. If every person on the planet could feel this way, the world would be a much better place.
In a previous incarnation, Heartbeat had been focused on providing marketing services to fitness professionals. Having interviewed dozens of independent professionals over the previous year, I suddenly realized that they were all saying the same thing: making a living doing what you love can be really hard. The practical aspects of being a one person business can mean a person has to spend a lot of time struggling to do things that have nothing to do with their true passion. Wouldn’t it be amazing if a company took this idea to heart and focused on empowering people to be successful doing what they love?
Heartbeat is just getting started with a very small piece of the puzzle. We’ve built a strong team and managed to raise money from amazing investors. We’re working with independent merchants to help them connect with local customers and community. As consumers, when we do business with people that love what they do we support an economy based on a more conscious and sustainable way of life. The transaction takes on more meaning, and the experience becomes just as important as the product. All of a sudden we’re not just buying something, we’re supporting a human being.
Love is a deep concept with many interpretations. I’ve come to settle on the definition that love is whatever brings us closer to peace. It is my belief that when we do what we love, we are more likely to be at peace with ourselves. When we are at peace with ourselves, we can be agents for peace in the world at large. Together we can heal the world one human being at a time.