Investing In Human Flourishing

Cartoon collaboration with Liza Donnelly.

As published as part of the SheMoney newsletter on LinkedIn.

Welcome to SheMoney 2022! I hope your year is off to a lovely start so far. Of course, I have to acknowledge that we are still in the middle of a global pandemic, and therefore it may be hard to set intentions for a year full of peace, good health, prosperity, and perhaps even joy. That said, I invite you to do so anyway. And if you are like me, you could probably use some assistance. Thankfully, there are lots of tools, protocols, and digital therapeutics that are available to help, and most of these offerings are from relatively new companies. So how did these companies come to be and where are we going from here? Read on…

One of the reasons these resources exist in the world is because there are inspired investors who are tracking the science around the positive impact of contemplative practices. These investors have then supported the founders, and thereby the companies, that bring this science to life. In this first newsletter of SheMoney 2022, I want to highlight two investors who have developed and implemented an investment thesis that is truly changing lives for the better. They are investing in human flourishing, and I could not think of a more fantastic way to start the new year.

With that in mind, I’m thrilled to present Maureen Pelton and Charlie Hartwell. Our paths crossed a couple of years ago when they decided to move to Utah, and we were shortly thereafter introduced by mutual friends. Maureen is the Co-Founder of ShiftIt Institute (along with Charlie) and a pioneer in the field of embodiment, and Charlie is a change agent and Managing Director at Bridge Builders Collaborative (where Maureen is a partner). Not only are they married, but they have also blended their backgrounds to help ignite consciousness, inspire human potential, and create a paradigm shift. Their investment thesis started with a focus on the wellness of the individual as it relates to mindfulness, meditative practices, and mind-training to support human consciousness. Over the years, they have further developed a ‘going deeper’ approach. In this new phase of their work, together with the other partners at the Bridge Builders Collaborative, they are focusing on deeper levels of mental health, consciousness, and spirituality.

A photo of Charlie and Maureen looking directly into the camera.

Bridge Builders is an investment collaborative with eleven partners. When you visit their website, it welcomes you with this line: “From mind-training to deeper models of mental, social, spiritual well-being”. They invest in start-up companies that empower mental health, consciousness, and spirituality, and their first investment screen is Impact. As in, how will this company support (impact) a better planet? You can read more about their mission and criteria here, but let’s just say that their investment thesis has led them to invest in some of the most transformational companies of our time. Companies that are currently serving millions of people and supporting those people’s wellness journey. You can find a list of these companies here, but a few of their more well known examples include:

InsightTimer – A conscious community of 20M people, interacting with over 10,000 leading spiritual teachers in over 40 languages. The largest conscious community/library on the planet.

Pear Therapeutics – Recently IPOed, this is a whole new form of digital medicine, approved by the FDA (like software as a drug).

Muse – Muse is a brain-sensing headband that uses real-time biofeedback to help you refocus during the day and recover overnight.

Headspace – Headspace rebranded meditation and made it accessible to the masses, with over 60M downloads to date. And a multi billion dollar valuation.

The science, and their investment thesis, also led Maureen and Charlie into the world of psychedelics. Now, if you’re currently thinking, “Are you kidding me?!”, I was right there with you up until a couple of years ago. However, I have since learned, in part by reading the data put forth by MAPS (Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies), that these compounds and protocols may offer hope to millions of people who are suffering from depression, PTSD, eating disorders, and more. There are over 50 publicly traded companies in this space, and even an ETF. Maureen and Charlie, through Bridge Builders Collaborative, have invested in a few companies, but I should note that they also have deep concerns about the direction many of the companies in this space are taking. While there is certainly a lot of hope that research and investment in this area might revolutionize behavioral health, there are also a lot of risks.  Maureen and Charlie believe that in order for the psychedelic movement to reach its transformative potential, we need to combine the molecules with very well-trained psychedelic therapists, and insure that intention and set and setting of the experience is appropriate for the patient. Crucially, this needs to be combined with proper preparation and integration after a psychedelic assisted therapy session.

To this end, one of the companies they are excited about is Synthesis, “a global leader of the modern psychedelic movement, advancing scientific research, training and education to create access to safe, legal psychedelic experiences for integrative healing and expansion.” They are also excited about HighVibe Network, a blockchain based ecosystem designed to integrate immersive experiences, multidimensional learning, and personal development, and HealthRhythms, a mental health app that uses Machine Learning to translate daily activity into sophisticated insights that can predict bad outcomes before they occur.

In the interest of transparency, I am not an investor in any of the companies listed above. However, I am a consumer. As more of these companies do go public, being both an investor and a consumer is possible. It’s also always worth remembering that one of the best screens for a stock you might consider investing in is whether or not you would be a consumer of their products and/or services.

There is so much more to talk about with Maureen and Charlie, and thankfully, you can visit the ShiftIt Institute and listen to podcasts they have done on a variety of topics. You can also join me on LinkedIn Live to ask them questions directly. This conversation will take place on Thursday, January 20th at 12pm MT//2pm ET. Click here to join.

Headshots of Jacki, Charlie, and Maureen announcing the LinkedIn Live event.

Many people I speak with are skeptical about whether or not there is any good that can come out of capitalism. They likely find phrases like “conscious capitalism” and “investing for good” particularly cringeworthy. But I don’t. I believe that investment capital, intentionally deployed in private and public companies, can create a better world. Yes, it takes time, effort, knowledge, and money to do so, and not everyone has those resources to deploy. But what we all have is our purchasing power. We all buy products and services every day, and the bottom line is that these transactions make the companies that receive investment capital successful. Facebook, now MetaPlatforms Inc., has a market capitalization of nearly one trillion dollars because, in part, we all use Facebook. If Facebook did not have so many users, people, both individual and institutional investors, would be less willing to own the stock. It really is as simple as that.

Therefore, whether you have capital to invest directly in companies or not, I invite you to develop your own investment thesis that can be realized through how you make every day purchasing decisions. The more we understand that every time we buy something, anything, we are transferring power from our hands to another, the better chance we have of actually making the world a better place. Maureen and Charlie are shining examples of how to do just that.