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Mindful Talent Q&A

Alister and Michele are co-founders of the Mindful Talent Coaching Academy which has trained over 400 coaches worldwide.

They infuse their training with neuroscience, mindfulness, meditation and deep self-work. I can vouch for it!

Ali and Michele sat down in Mexico and Scotland respectively to muse on my questions. Their sense of purpose and impact shines throughout.

Give me some brief context. How did you meet and why did you decide to set up Mindful Talent together?

Michele: I first met Ali just over 5 years ago when he attended the face-to-face version of our coach training programme.

Ali turned up in the course with presence: he loved the learning and gave it his all. I was impressed with how he shined and I appreciated his words of wisdom at the end of the three month training programme when he suggested that I “Take this course online to reach more people across the globe”.

Until then, I had been running the programme for groups of twelve people, twice a year, since 2003. So Ali’s suggestion shook me a bit. I doubted that people could gain as much from the training if it was taken online: but I was proved wrong!

I believe that when the learner is ready, the teacher shows up… and Ali was my teacher in this situation. He had a big dream and big passion and I just knew intuitively that he would take this message to many more people that I could ever dream of.

We agreed to work together: try it out for six months to see how it went. And it was a great success.

What does each of you bring to the company?

Alister: Michele brings SO much wisdom, knowledge and experience related to coaching, community building, training, neuroscience and mindfulness. Her wealth of knowledge within the sector and her natural ability to hold space and deliver deep concepts in simple ways makes Michele a master trainer and coach. Her knowledge and ability is second to none in the world of coaching.

I brought my skills in business, entrepreneurship, my ability to see opportunities and potential and my deep deep desire to leave a positive imprint on ths world. I met Michele after participating in an Ayahuasca ceremony and my mind and heart had been opened up. I felt a calling to work with people and our planet, and so I felt guided on this path.

Our roles have evolved over time, when we first started out, we sepearted tasks and did everything ourselves. As our student numbers grew, we began to enrol former students as mentors and also other contributers in the form of contractors and specialists within technology, design, film making and editing, and social media. Our spouses also got involved and the four of us now make up our leadership team.

My role now focuses on the vision for the company, our strategy and sales and marketing, whilst also developing new courses and content.

Michele’s role is now focussed on training and development of our training teams and mentors, as well as working with me on shaping the vision for the company.

M: I brought knowledge, wisdom and capability in coaching, training, learning and community engagement to bear in the Academy as my core purpose.  Alister wrought the spark, the vision, the energy, the belief… that enabled us to take what we had and create the ripple effect that began with our first course.

What would you advise any co-founders starting out, knowing what you know now? Anything you wish you had done differently?

A: I would strongly suggest that co-founders hire external help in the form of coaches and facilitators to help guide them on the journey. Michele and I are fortunate that we are both incredible coaches, which is an advantage but we have also hired external, world-class coaches to support us at every stage of the journey. This is something I would strongly advise, to help you gain a broader perspective of the business and the partnership.

The only thing I wish we had done differently, was to hire a technology specialist 12-18 months earlier. Michele and I did most of this ourselves but this is neither of our biggest strengths. We made a hire during the 2020 pandemic, bringing in a specialist and it was one of the wisest decisions that we’ve made. The lesson is: hire people quickly in the areas you are less experienced in.

M: I would not offer advice other than to encourage people to be open, honest and authentically themselves . If the ingredients are a good mix the partnership will work. There is nothing I would have done differently. It has been an amazing ride… and still is.

If you were teaching a class on how to create the most productive, enjoyable co-founder relationship what would be your top tips?

A: Be vulnerable, be open, care for each other and build a relationship outside of a work context. Set your ego to one side and listen to each other with an open mind, an open heart and an open will.

The tree can only grow so high as the foundations go deep, so spend time nurturing the relationship and develop a set of values that you embody as co-founders.

We have built our business on shared values of love & compassion, connection, authenticity, belief in human potential, being of service, and connection. We live by these values and make all of our decisions based on these.

M: You be you and let them be them. Trust the magic… it just works.  I guess because we are both coaches, we were able to hold space for one another, to listen, support, care and love. We have become great friends and our families are connected too. I don’t imagine this is necessary for cofounders to enjoy their working relationship but it just happened to be the case for us. We were the right combination.

What does the future hold for Mindful Talent and yourselves?

A: We are in an exciting phase of emergence …

Our signature course The Transformational Coach is going from strength to strength and growing and our membership platform for coaches is going through a rebrand and transformation.

We’ve just launched our new course Insight, an on-demand course that takes students on a journey of self-discovery through neuroscience and mindfulness.

M: Yes, We have just launched our new course: Insight – that supports people to go deeper into self and consider what their contribution to the world can be if they really connect to their inner heart space.

We have a big vision to make a difference in the world: this is guiding our paths into new areas beyond just training coaches and supporting personal growth and development.

You’re both coaches – are there any patterns you see when supporting teams/founders?

A: The relationship between co-founders is often what will make or break an organisaton, and will usually determine the level of success or certainly the experience of the journey. Most co-founder relationships will strain or experience tension at points, and the ones that tend to flourish are those who spend time on the relationship itself.

What partnership do you really admire and why?

A: Ben & Jerry – these guys grew up together from early childhood and built a company that not only focussed on what they loved but that had a mission bigger than their product and that wasn’t only focussed on money. They had a desire to leave a positive impact on local communities and give back to the world in a hugely positive way.

M: Ant & Dec!  I know it’s a bit pedestrian but I’ve watched this pair since I was a lot younger and my kids were growing up and they still have ‘it’. The magic. The connection.

Finally given how busy the world feels now things are opening up again how do you switch off?

M: I am very cognisant of our need to slow down at times, to switch off. My main foundation, I would think, comes from the daily routines we spend connecting to source: for me, I have a daily prayer time, a time I call, ‘breathing with God’ seeking his guidance on how best I can serve each day.

A: Kriya yoga, meditation, reading, beach time (I live in Mexico) and spending time with my wife and daughter.