Season 2, Episode 2: Show Notes.
In this episode, we speak with Tristan Gribbin, founder and CEO of the Icelandic meditation technology company Flow, which aims to help people to reach their flow state, overcome negative thoughts and achieve focus. Tristan shares some of the tools that she has used through the years to manage her stress, the importance of letting go, and what convinced her to integrate technology into her meditation practice. Tune in to hear how Tristan from this inspiring thought leader today! the surprising tool that makes meditation so powerful
Key Points From This Episode:
“For me, it’s been meditation. Since the year 2000, I’ve been super dedicated and super passionate about meditation. Not only meditating myself, but also sharing meditation with others.” — Tristan Elizabeth Gribbin [0:04:55]
“There’s a deep need. It’s a primal need to be able to just turn the mind off.” — Tristan Elizabeth Gribbin [0:08:45]
“The good news is that the negativity isn’t true. Is it like an illusion or a lie that we tell ourselves? It just matters about coming back to what’s true. The truth of the matter is, there’s a tremendous amount of energy and a tremendous amount of love.” — Tristan Elizabeth Gribbin [0:15:08]
Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:
[00:00:04] PC: Welcome to Good Vibes with VIVE. I’m your host, Pearly Chen. I’m an executive with global technology company, HTC. As a mother of three young girls, I’ve loved building and investing in profound immersive technologies that make a positive difference in people’s lives. Each week, I speak with founders at the forefront of VR, AR in the metaverse. All of them inspire me and some, I’ve been lucky enough to back as an investor. Tune in every week to hear some of the most inspiring closed-door conversations, and walk away informed, inspired, and full of good vibes.
[00:00:45] PC: Welcome to Good Vibes with VIVE. I am feeling at ease and peace this morning as I’m joined by my new friend, Tristan, all the way from Reykjavik. Where I had just returned from this beautifully serene, Goddess Energy trip where Tristan took me on this magical horseback riding tour into a valley surrounded by snow-capped mountains. It was really just the beautiful nature and us there was nothing else. During this type of environment and serendipity moments that you really get to introspect and make connections that may just end up lasting a lifetime.
I’m very excited to be joined by Tristan this morning. She is the founder and CEO of the Icelandic meditation technology company called Flow, coincidentally the same name as our newly released VR immersive glasses Vive Flow. I had no idea how it’s possible that I had not met Tristan, before we launched the Vive Flow. I’m glad that we’re catching up on that now and we’re getting to know each other with incredibly beautiful startup, the connection with that horseback riding trip and volcanic spy immersion in Iceland under the northern lights or what we call, put up in the northern lights upon us in the starry night.
Hello. Welcome, Tristan.
[00:02:15] TEG: Hi, Pearly. I’m so happy to be with you here right now. I’m so happy that we were able to take that dive into nature and into the immense beauty of Iceland. I spent my first three years in Iceland in that valley, living under these mountains with the horses and just the magic, the beauty, the fresh air, the vast untouched nature. That’s why I think it was a big part about why I do what I do today. I was very honored to bring you into this heartspace is, heartland of Iceland. Also, to see if we could catch those northern lights, which we didn’t see. But that means next time, we’ll do it again.
[00:02:56] PC: Absolutely. It was such a profound beautiful experience. It was such a treat. You were so generous with your time. I was in Iceland for attending this Women Political Leaders Conference where I was just immersed in this incredible energy of sisterhood, solidarity, of empower leading women. To end that trip with such a special journey into the valley that show me the personal stories of Tristan was something that I will never forget. I certainly hope to repeat in the near future.
Let’s talk about Flow today, Tristan, in case that wasn’t obvious. That’s what the conversation today will be about. I think the audience might be well familiar with the concept of flow or cognitive flow, which is colloquially known as in the zone. It is first coined by the famous psychologist, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi in the 1970s. It is a feeling of being immersed, energized, and fully engaged in the activity that seems fluid and effortless. I feel like that’s such a beautiful, beautiful description and his life’s work of coining this concept and creating tools for people to study into this optimal mental state, where people are at their happiest. Although as you know very well, flow is clearly a mental state that is accessible. Although flow is clearly a mental state that is accessible to anyone, achieving flow is incredibly difficult.
[00:04:36] TEG: It is difficult and especially in our modern times where we’re running around, we’re juggling so many things, our mind is so busy. It’s really doing when we’re – we get in the zone, we get into the flow, we go with the flow when we’re doing something that we really love to do, and that we’re good at doing and we’ve done repeatedly. For me, it’s been meditation. Since the year 2000, I’ve been super dedicated and super passionate about meditation. Not only meditating myself, but also sharing with meditation with others. Because when I went to my first nine-day retreat here in Iceland, in the heart of the nature here, I had this feeling like everybody wants this, everybody wants this feeling. That feeling of connectedness, that feeling of inner peace, that feeling of being really being yourself and being free to be yourself. That’s such a precious feeling and I became obsessed with how to get everyone to meditate, basically. Doesn’t everybody want this? Come on! Let’s go. Let’s go on retreat. Let’s meditate.
Interestingly, some of my friends joined me and some people are like, “No, that’s not my thing. I don’t know why you spend so much time doing that.” People didn’t quite get it in those early years. I think over time, it became more trendy. I mean, everyone’s meditating now, using an app or another, everyone’s doing something towards that goal. But it doesn’t mean that it’s still easy to get into the zone, into the flow in meditation, particularly. I think people get it when they’re horseback riding, or when they’re surfing, or skiing, or they’re doing something they love to do that they’ve been doing a lot in their lives, or maybe their writing. Whatever it is that people have to do. Maybe it’s walking their dog. They get into that moment, feeling that flow and that connectedness.
That’s what I hear from people, like I work with a lot of corporates and people say, “Well, I’ve tried meditation. It doesn’t work for me” or “It’s too hard. My monkey mind.” They say it’s hard to get there. But I say, but there is something you do in your life where you get that feeling. I know there’s something you do. They’re like, “Yeah, I go on my morning swim” or something that they do, where they get that, that vitamin pill. But we want to be able to access that feeling at any moment.
[00:06:51] PC: On demand. Any moment.
[00:06:53] TEG: On demand. We want that feeling. That’s why we created Flow.
[00:06:58] PC: I think everybody can relate here, because all of our mind chatters. It critiques, it frets, nags, it distracts whatever that we’re doing. This is where the Freudian calls the ego self and what Buddhists call the monkey mind that we’re very well aware of. But from a neuroscience perspective, it is called a default mode network, which is a group of brain regions that seem to show lower levels of activity when we’re engaged in a particular task like paying attention, doing something. But higher levels of activity when we’re awake and not involved in any specific mental exercise.
This default mode network, which is a default mode of thinking of our brain naturally wonders, daydreams, naturally increase all this is sense of self-reflection that seems to be distracting. It’s very important too, for us to seem to master the art of turning that self-reflective mind on and turning it in under control when we need a moment of quiet mind for our mental wellness. This is interesting, our research into this altered state economy where people try to quiet this monkey mind through all kinds of avenues. Here, we’re talking about meditation, which is fantastic, but others might do medication, different type of pet therapy, or magnetic bracelets, TV, binging, tobacco, gambling, psychedelics, what have you. Altogether, this is a $4 trillion of altered state economy. This is shocking. Worldwide, we spend more money trying to quiet our monkey mind than we do on maternity leave, humanitarian aid, K-12 education combined.
[00:08:41] TEG: That’s incredible. That shows you there’s a deep need. It’s a primal need to be able to just like, turn the mind off. I recently did a course, it’s called Mindvalley. Jim Kwik is like the world’s best brain coach. He said, “One of the things that you need to do for best brain health. Number one, a good brain diet. Number two, killing automatic negative thoughts.” I mean, that’s also besides distraction and constant social media, whatever, we’re just distracted by. It’s also negative thoughts that we have to be able to learn to control and eliminate. I think that’s this default piece that happens. People can sometimes very easily fall into some sort of a negativity, discouragement, or judgments or something. We’re dealing a lot with that in society. It’s very important for us as individuals to learn to control, and to manage those things, and to really push them away and focus on what matters. I think that’s where meditation becomes. Like it’s not a nice to-do. It’s like a must-do because we have to have – we have to nurture our mental wellbeing, so we can really grow and thrive, especially in our moment of stress.
[00:10:00] PC: Right. Flow is a secret to happiness, which is the research outcome of the psychologist, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. Then the opposite state of that flow could be the root of anxiety, and depression and untold human anguish. In fact, one in every four Americans today are now on psychiatric medicines. We might have to rethink all this collective overthinking, which is ultimately rooted in neuroscience, how the brain works. Of course, the famous French philosopher, Rene Descartes has famously said, “I think, therefore I am.” The self-reflective mind is so incredibly important for our individual, but also collective productivity for civilization, for society. But how we strike a balance between letting this default mode network, or this monkey mind wander, create, versus creating anxiety and anguish for ourselves becomes a very important topic.
[00:11:09] TEG: Yeah, it is so important. I’ve used a lot of tools through the years. Especially being a business founder, you deal with a lot of ups and downs and stress. Using for example, you said, Rene Descartes said, “I think, therefore I am.” Using a mantra, and making it up, this is what I’ve been doing and what I sometimes teach the corporates. Is that you use the words. What is it you want to attract yourself in this moment? In this moment, I want to be clear, I want to have clarity. I am clear. I am focused. I want to be focused. I want to be calm. I want to be clear. I want to be kind. I mean, I want to be loving. Whatever it is in the moment. Through the years, I’ve been making up mantras as they go and using them and using them sometimes at night before sleep, using them to start the day, in the morning meditation. Using them when I’m swimming or walking. You can use a mantra at any time.
I often invite people towards the end of the meditation to have a mantra like, it could be just focusing on the word gratitude and repeating the word gratitude.
[00:12:23] PC: Happy Thanksgiving.
[00:12:26] TEG: Yeah. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. It just happened. But gratitude and to be grateful for everything is a mind medicine. We can program ourselves to be in these states where being strong, being confident, being connected, being loving, being in the flow. You just have to repeat the words in our minds. That’s what Ram Dass talked about. He said, you create like a mind protection when you use a mantra, because you’re repeating the words, you’re repeating the energy you want to have, and you want to grow in yourself. Let’s say it’s gratitude, gratitude, gratitude, gratitude, gratitude. You feel the feeling and repeat the word and it grows in your mind. As you’re doing that, you’re protecting yourself from any negativity or anything else. You’re training your mind how to focus, it’s just as you’re using mantra.
[00:13:22] PC: Right. That’s such a good technique and suggestion. In creating a mantra that you repeatedly tell yourself and focusing your energy onto it. What will you ultimately repeatedly tell yourself will become true. That’s why negative thoughts are so detrimental, because if you keep repeating negative thoughts, they become true and they kill you from within. Whereas the opposite is true. If you keep repeating positive thoughts and mind medicine, then those positive effects will become true and manifest in your daily life. Maybe here is a good time to like insert a mantra meditation guided by Tristan.
[00:14:01] TEG: Okay. Good moment. I have a 90-second piece of a meditation we can put in here. It’s a really nice one. We can just pop that in.
[00:14:11] PC: Yeah. Perfect and amazing things can happen just like you’re saying when our monkey mind can stop yammering. We can be free from some of the nagging inner voice and the rest of the brain can just relax, and stretch out and explore new and creative ways and ideas of doing things. Performance of your focus activity can become that much more effortless, and relaxed, and time slowed down and creativity flumes as our brain is allowed to make new connections. I found it so helpful for me to intellectually understand the neuroscience-based on which our mind works and how meditation can become a useful daily tool to help us be happier and more productive members of the society. Because ultimately, if we all collectively can be happy and more productive, our future will be brighter.
[00:15:05] TEG: Absolutely, and it is going to be brighter. It is brighter. I mean, the good news is, is that the negativity isn’t true. Is it like an illusion or a lie that we tell ourselves? It just matters about coming back to what’s true. The truth of the matter is, there’s a tremendous amount of energy and a tremendous amount of love. There’s a tremendous amount of, I think it’s actually that positive energy that runs through everything, that we can tap into if we just allow ourselves to kind of get into that centered place. Sometimes to get there, you have to cross through some painful feelings, or some tears, or some pain or something. It’s not always easy, but it’s really rewarding. It is our natural state, like when we were kids.
You look at kids, and they’re just – they’re so free. Then as we grow up, we become more conditioned, and stiff and everything. I think in meditation, it’s good to let all the walls down and be in that state of just being. Then you feel, yeah, can feel like a kid again, and you can feel possibilities opening up. You can see new, creative potential. Because everything is there, everything. It’s so worthwhile.
[00:16:22] PC: Everything is there. Everything we need is there, within our reach and it’s all inside our minds. We make the time for ourselves to reach within. Yeah, I love this. The feeling of abundance, the concept of enough of how we have everything that we need within.
[00:16:40] TEG: Absolutely. It’s so much not about, let’s say, like a material perfection or having clearer bounty. It’s really about the abundance of just being alive, and feeling love and feeling connection. Then it’s like that’s where the wealth is.
[00:17:00] PC: Yeah. I felt a flow when we were horseback riding in the valley. I was trying to feel the Icelandic horses’ gaits that are unique to this, being clearly the five gaits of Icelandic horses where you feel smooth and kind of – from the very heavy jolt to a feeling of gliding, and flying and smooth flow. That was incredibly beautiful. That also helps me understand more about what you, Tristan, had been talking about and meditation is more than just sitting in silence with your eyes closed. It can take many different forms, including dancing, and screaming and being active. Tell us a little bit more about that and how to achieve that.
[00:17:47] TEG: Yeah. Thank you, Pearly. Absolutely, like that feeling kind of – we’re on the horses and the fifth gait, and the Icelandic horses is called tölt and if you feel like you’re in a magic carpet. It’s a beautiful example. Yeah, for me, meditation has been a lot about movement. When we created the Flow, we have these six modes. Starting with the breath, which is a fundamental starting point of every meditation practice. Starting with the breath, and deepening the breath, and becoming aware of the breath, and expanding the breath and maybe breathing and stretching. Going from breath to movement and allowing some gentle movement or even some dynamic movement to help you really connect in your body.
Then the let go part is really important, because often when we meditate, there’s something, there’s some irritation, there’s frustration, there’s some worry, there’s some negative thoughts, there’s something we need to let go of in order to connect deeper. pen to paper. Letting go in meditation is really important. We have some tools for that. It could be shaking, and these are not just modern tools, although they are very good for modern people. Meditation has been around for thousands of years of people have been doing a lot of movement in meditation and a lot of letting go. We’re just sort of really focusing on that part for the modern people. We need to let go. We actually really need to learn to let go more of the mental stress.
Shaking is really good in meditation because you just like shake off the worries, shake off the negativity and then you just feel more present in the moment. Or it could be the screaming, which is a deep release from deep belly because we often stuffed on our feelings. It’s good to let it out. When we’re doing that corporate workshops, this is actually the favorite part of our – the corporate clients is a big room full of people, people are breathing, people are maybe getting up and doing a bit of stretching, people are shaking off some stress. Then when we do the screaming, everybody laughs and then, there’s [inaudible 00:19:44] when I put my sweater, just screaming like this. Like –. It’s a very healthy release.
[00:19:57] PC: Whoa! And release, it is. I was just doing this let go meditation in front of the beautiful Alps here. But I remember that, yeah, the let go mode in the flow experience is one of volcanic eruption, which you and your filmmaking husband have captured in the very stunning of – who gets to be in the vicinity of a volcanic eruption and use that as a backdrop of your let go meditation. That was incredibly impressive and beautiful. Thanks to virtual reality, and talented filmmaking, and co-founders like yourself. Anybody can in the instant be transported to Iceland.
Now, we’re talking about Iceland, because Iceland is the source of my inspirations. It is such a land of wind, fire and ice, all the extreme conditions, immense untouched nature, a very natural way of living. Human and nature of becoming one. That’s sort of a feeling that I just felt in Sardinia this past weekend as well. Iceland, I’ve been visiting four times now in five years, I think we counted and I just can’t never get enough of it. Now, I’d love for you to tell the listeners your personal story of how you were brought to Iceland, and to really benefit from it and also finding desire to share this magic with everyone.
[00:21:27] TEG: Absolutely. When I first came to Iceland, it was 1995 and I was helping with a peace conference. It was pretty amazing introduction to Iceland, because I got to meet the president, whom you saw at your conference. I got to the president’s house, because we were traveling with dignitaries from Ireland. There was a boy from Russia, who was part of the Chernobyl Children’s Project. He was – anyway, it was incredible time, very heart-opening time for me. I got to meet some wonderful Icelanders, because I was helping to organize the peace conference. Basically, everybody jumped on board, all the artists, local artists, all the rock stars were involved. It was my job to call them up and get them on board.
Basically, in Iceland, it was amazing back in ’95. You just had a phone book. You don’t have that anymore, but everybody in Iceland was in the phonebook. You could just – okay, here’s the Prime Minister, give him a call. But it was an amazing experience. I came to Iceland, and I was just immediately fell in love with the land. I went to this area where I took you and I was so deeply moved by the atmosphere. I remember very distinctively, I stood on the place where the continental plates meet, the European plate meets the American plate. We went together-
[00:22:52] PC: Yes, where you can go diving.
[00:22:54] TEG: So exciting. Volcanic eruptions formed the land billions of years ago. But I stood there and I close my eyes, and I heard a voice say to me – before I was into meditation it said to me, “Center yourself, breathe.” It was a voice, a very clear voice and it wasn’t my voice. It was a voice from somewhere and it was very memorable. I wrote it in my journal, centering yourself, breathe. Well, I didn’t know that five years later, I’ll be in a 9-day meditation retreat that would change my whole life, but that happened. Then in the year 2000, I’ve just discovered the power of meditation. There’s something about meditating in Icelandic nature, where you can tap into that calm. There’s a lot of a lot of energy here and the power of Mother Nature is so vast and so untouched. It’s like no other place I’ve ever been on Earth. It’s just a – I think it’s very pure in a sense, small population and it’s also a peaceful place. There’s never been a military.
It’s a place where Reagan and Gorbachev held their peace talks. It has the feeling of the small society that are a democratic society where people talk and there’s a lot of healthy discussion. It feels like people have a voice. Sort of in many ways, I fell in love with this land. More and more people are falling in love. People like you. Many people are discovering it now. It’s become not so much a hidden gem anymore. It’s become more now, I think basically, because of social media, and Instagram and plenty of people sharing pictures and their experiences all around. When we started Flow, I thought, well, isn’t going to be amazing when you meditate in VR, and you share on social media. I just meditated on this glacier. You want to try it? I’m feeling grateful. I’m feeling happy or whatever. Feeling how you feel after your meditation and sharing that with your friends.
I think it’s going to help meditation go more viral than it is now because – I know it’s saying like, meditation isn’t so easy to tap into that deeper experience, the profound aha moment where like, “I want to do this for the rest of my life.” It took a 9-day retreat for me to get there. It’s not easy to get to that profound aha moment, like, I know that this can change my life, which is true. But to get there, you got to put yourself in the hot seat, you got to go to a retreat, you got to be practicing for many, many hours, you got to get into a flow state in your meditation, which requires no work, right? With the immersive tools, that’s where I think it’s a game changer. Because when people are teleported to Iceland in VR, there’s nothing around you, but just pure nature and then your mind actually naturally becomes calm. From there, you can meditate. The mind is calm, because it has an effect on you. Like you know it is when you’re standing by a waterfall, or when you’re standing by a volcano, like your worries are just gone.
There’s something so much bigger than you that’s right that’s so powerful. There’s nothing to do, but just be in awe. And then you can actually focus on what matters from your heart. That’s that feeling in meditation, and we can go deep enough to feel like you’re – so many ways to talk about it. But like, when you go very deep in meditation, there’s an energy that you feel, and it’s like you’re tracking to you the positive, the good vibes. You get the goosebumps and you’re full of energy. You can then – from that place, you can actually ask the questions of your life, like, what is my life really about? Or what is it that I want to do? What’s my big dream? What’s my goal? How do I solve this problem, this challenge I’m up against? You can think about it. You can pray about it. Whatever you need to do, you can contemplate, you can ask questions, and you can –
That’s the thing, the most you know, that’s the thing that that’s the most powerful part of meditation is when you’re able to focus your mind and be in a flow where you can access your higher intelligence and it will be very still, but very, very – it’s very awake and very aware, and your consciousness expands.
You’re talking earlier about breathing, moving and letting go and you can get to a calm place, from there, you can focus your mind. Then, those are the modes of flow. That’s the breathe, let go, calm and focus. Then the final mode is called restore, where you have a full body relaxation. You can relax every muscle of your body, and then have the power nap, or prepare for rest, or sleep and have that deep rest that fills you with good energy for your day or for your next thing that you’re doing.
[00:27:54] PC: What better place to do all of the above than Iceland? I remember going on these glacier expeditions, ice climbing in all these gears, and seeing the double arc rainbow on top of the glacier. It’s just like exactly like you said, there’s nothing to do but to be in awe. Very few people get to be privileged enough to access all these incredible experiences. I wish I was able to have that much more frequently than once every few years. Your team to capture all these incredible environments, and again like you said, it’s not just calm, it’s not just peace, it’s a lot of energy too. Whether it’s standing right next to the waterfall, incredible amount of energy or a still volcano, the lava lands, and the horses, the valley. There’s so much life and so much energy happening in this is Mother Nature. All of this is accessible, yet not so easily accessible.
For you to marry the technology and filmmaking are to capture this and to share this with people in a scalable way. What a wonderful idea. How did you stumble upon this? I know you were initially a skeptic as well, right? Coming from a meditation background, why wear a piece of headset? Why technology? It doesn’t make any sense. What was that moment of conversion from skeptic to believer?
[00:29:27] TEG: Yeah. I became a believer when – it was a very, I would say, a destiny moment, when I was in the accelerator program with Flow back in summer of 2016. I was invited to do a voiceover for a company called Sofar. and they created the Everest experience, which is in the Smithsonian. It’s an experience of climbing Mount Everest in VR.
[00:29:48] PC: Amazing experience.
[00:29:49] TEG: It’s kind of a run. You get to the top, and I was so blown away by the magnificence, the magnitude of being on the top of the earth, and it was so real. This crew had filmed everything, because it was the same crew that did the Everest movie. They filmed everything, really intensively, and then they took the film footage, and then they stitched it and they put some – you could sit there and watch the sunrise, and then you can watch the sunset. Then you can see the Milky Way, and it was just astounding. When I was there in VR, and it was the third week of our 10-week accelerator program, I just said, I just want to sit and meditate. I sat on the floor, and I was just hanging out there in the world in a comfortable room, not wind chapped, or oxygen deprived. But I was just – it was like being a yogi on the mountaintop and meditating. It was very free. I was really just completely overtaken and energized by the experience.
I came back to my team that day, and we had this moment, I said, “We are going to help millions of people learn meditation in virtual reality.” We actually all hugged and cried in that moment. Because it took that moment to actually get there, to be there. You don’t get there until you just have the experience and I just want to share it with the world.
[00:31:17] PC: I’m so glad that moment came to you, so that now we get to benefit from meditating in Iceland whenever we want to. I love this. Also, you’re capturing the beautiful nature of Iceland, but also producing these beautiful meditation experiences with Icelandic music, original music composed by Icelandic musicians. Tell us about that collaboration process and creative process.
[00:31:44] TEG: We’re very lucky with the creative team. Thank you, Pearly. We’re so lucky because we work with artists, like our filmmaking team have worked closely with. Sigur Rós, Ólafur Arnalds. We have GusGus, we have Monsters and Men, and [inaudible 00:32:00] and all of those artists are closely connected to our team. It’s not just we’re licensing their music, they actually support us with our mission. That was nice when we were interviewed by the BBC World News last summer, the Click Show and then the bass player from Sigur Rós talked about flow and how he felt it’s kind of like a cheat code for meditation. But also, that making music is his meditation. It was really cool that he spoke up for us.
Those songs have been in our meditations since I started meditating was always, always with music. It’s songs by Ólafur Arnalds, songs by Sigur Rós, songs by GusGus, songs by all these artists have been a part of our meditations and leading live meditation classes. It’s really wonderful that we have them in the apps as well. I think music is a very powerful key for meditation.
[00:32:59] PC: Tell us about your experience of bringing this Flow, your incredible meditation experiences to market. You’re not going directly to consumers just yet. Your strategy has been going through corporate wellness programs. Tell us about that.
[00:33:12] TEG: From the get-go, from 2016, we started working with companies, IT companies gaming companies. We had some different companies signing up for our Flow workshops. Back then, it was just a live workshop, taking them through six months flow, testing out the method. Then also, sharing with them what we developed. But we didn’t have a subscription program until 2019. We started to sign up companies to be subscribers. Before COVID, we had a great – we had a bunch of companies signing up. We started working with telecom companies, banks, energy companies, wide range of fashion companies, we had a wide range of companies. But then COVID hit us pretty hard, because then, people – we had the headset at work, and then people didn’t want to share headsets anymore. We had to she had to like pivot and change our business model.
We created the mobile app, we created the web portal, kind of built out the program more so it had more engagement. It wasn’t just one headset at work, it was actually much more possibilities. We kept quite a great group of loyal customers through the whole COVID experience. Now, we’re seeing that now that things are stabilizing, and that we’re gaining more customers and that – yeah, our B2B offering is very attractive. But what I also love about the HTC Vive Flow is, I see the possibility for every person in the organization to have their own headset. It’s not just a shared headset at the office, but it’s actually – you have it in your desk drawer, you have it in your gym bag, you have it with you and you have –
[00:34:55] PC: In your pocket.
[00:34:56] TEG: Exactly. I’m excited about that possibility. Yeah, our bread and butter for Flow has been subscription programs for companies. It’s been very fulfilling. I’m super excited about a program, a challenge that’s happening at PWC right now, all around the country. All the employees are involved in a meditation challenge. They’re counting up their minutes, and there’s 10 teams, so everybody is on the team. The team that gets the most minutes is going to win a trophy.
[00:35:26] PC: Nice. They win a trip to the glacier to meditate in person with Tristan. Just kidding, but –
[00:35:34] TEG: That’s a really good prize. That’s a great prize, I’m going to –
[00:35:37] PC: That’s a great prize, okay. Great. Signing up for the competition too. But I was curious about how you’ve observed the corporate customers change in terms of their approach in caring about employee’s mental wellness, thinking about offering a meditation program to their employees is not something that every company just naturally does. Somebody has to really care in a profound level of their staffs’ mental wellbeing and to put resources into organizing, and encouraging use and making sure that they are taking care of their mental health.
What has the customer engagement and customer journey been like, and how are companies changing or enhancing their approach to wellbeing at the workplace from your perspective?
[00:36:25] TEG: It’s true what you’re saying. There needs to be a champion in the company. That often the HR manager, and sometimes – what’s happening now, which is very encouraging, is that the HR managers are really becoming super aware that meditation is a great tool, a great way to help to mitigate stress, anxiety, depression, the burnout, the exhaustion. That meditation is a great tool, and that they need ways to engage the teams and tools, especially the teams that don’t have time, like the most busy teams, the most stressful part of the organization. They’re the ones that needed the most and those teams might be the ones that think they don’t have time for it.
The HR manager becomes a champion, and then they’re encouraging to say, “Okay. But we want you to do this at work.” That’s what we’re learning, is that meditating at work is a good value proposition for the companies, because they’re encouraging the employees to take 4, or 12, 16 minutes or something like that. Not so long, but it’s impactful. It’s not easy to get people to get onto a habit, so having a challenge, having gamified, gamifying in some way is very helpful. We know that. We know that the results are very real, that we have measurable results and that’s super exciting. Yeah. We’ve learned a ton from working with companies and we’re constantly trying to kind of up marking.
What we do is we send out weekly inspiration. It could be like suggesting some different sessions or be sure to use your tools and reminding people of the different tools or how to use the web portal, different things. Then, we also have notifications on the mobile app. That’s a big help or two. Because people do need a little gentle nudge or reminder. Just like my team takes 15 minutes to meditate every day. If it wasn’t for that, like allocated time, and because we made that decision, we made that commitment, we wouldn’t do it. The day just fills up. It’s so busy.
When there’s a champion at the office, or a group, even better, a group of people. Like at PWC, they have a wellness council now. That’s a really big trend. I mean, more and more companies are realizing we have to put a lot of energy and nurturing into the wellness of our employees. That’s a huge corporate wellness trend. It’s a really, really big wave that’s happening now. As you were saying earlier about the spending on what people do to help to calm the mind is getting in the – what did you say?
[00:39:00] PC: [Inaudible 00:39:00] Four trillion dollars altered state economy. It’s expensive and difficult to achieve the flow. That’s why it’s so incredible to see the trend of companies starting to pay more attention to people’s wellness. Not just physical wellness, but mental wellbeing. Mental wellbeing is a very critical part of a person’s health. It’s just health, right? It has been, I think historically neglected. We’re relatively neglected to compare to physical wellness. But it’s so important and it’s been possibly stigmatized, mental troubles, et cetera. But now, it’s so important with a lot of different spokesperson from prominent people speaking out about the importance of mental health. That’s where meditation can really play an important role if we all each dedicate little moments every day to meditate. With the help of the Flow experience all these audio guys, but even audiovisual guides like what you’re creating this Flow, the Icelandic nature, different tools of using your whole body to meditate. It makes it easier, hopefully for everyone to make that time and dedicate to it.
In fact, your experiences are mostly four minutes, eight minutes, right? Now, tell us about the flow experience on mobile and on VR headsets?
[00:40:19] TEG: The core, the core technology, both in the VR and the mobile web portal is all same. You can take a four-minute session or you can stack them together. You could do 4, 8, 12 or you could do an 8-minute session. You do either 4 or 8 minutes and stackable. You can make a playlist. We call it a session builder. You can build your own session, so you could do breathe, move, focus. Or you could do breathe, let go, calm. Or you could start with moving, and then go to focus and restore. You can mix how you want, depending how you feel. Then you can decide to have the music on and off, or the guidance on and off. You really can customize it for yourself. Some people might just want a nature boost and just be in nature, nature sounds, nothing else and do their own silent meditation. You can do that as well.
They’re very digestible pieces. Just the four-minute or eight-minute pieces that you can design as you like, and it’s really nice in that way. I think it’s really good. It’s a positive outcome in the recent couple of years that people recognize that stress is real, and everybody’s affected by it. There’s no taboo or stigma around it, that just everybody’s embracing the idea that it’s good to do things for yourself and for others. People you care about that are going to decrease the stress, and finding all kinds of healthy ways to work with it and work around it. This is a really, really powerful one.
[00:41:51] PC: Yeah and it’s powerful. We think about putting more mindfulness into creating and designing technology. Because technology is often seen as the culprit of a lot of modern life stress. Social media, it’s endless TV and different content of binge-watching, whatnot. Creating even more anxiety through the attachment or addiction to our smartphones and information. If we can put more mindfulness into designing technology products and technology experiences, which is the motivation behind Flow experiences and Vive Flow immersive classes. Then we may play a role in changing that and redefining how technology can become a solution versus a problem for a modern lifestyle. I love that.
To end though, I would like you to tell us in your own words, how your – you’ve had a very compelling life story traveling from all corners of the world to where you are now, bringing Icelandic nature to everyone for their meditation benefits. I would love for you to tell that life story to the listeners.
[00:43:00] PC: Thank you, Pearly. Well, I grew up in Northern California. My mom had lived around the world growing up. She was born in Peru with American parents, but lived in Switzerland, lived a year in Paris, and Sweden and lived in – also California. She came from an international family. My father was from England and I was born in Redwood City, California. Then when I was 15 months old, we moved to a house on Park Boulevard in Palo Alto. My parents got divorced. My mom put herself through Stanford as a single mom, really amazing, courageous lady. She ended up working at Stanford all her career. We stayed there in that one house until I was 15 years old, and we moved to Singapore for two years. Because my stepfather was an agricultural economist and we lived in Indonesia. He was working on rice studies. Really amazing two years.
I was at Singapore American High School, and that opened up the whole world for me. Actually, I think that’s when my passion for meditation really started because I read and reread books on Zen and on [inaudible 00:44:08] and different – I was just so hungry, thirsty for this knowledge. I was obsessed, and I was visiting temples and my dad was a meditator. Actually, he had taken me to my first meditation when I was four years old in San Francisco at Golden Gate Park, outdoor meditation. Funny thing about that, there’s a TV crew there that filmed my dad holding me. There was a bunch of people meditating on the grass. My grandparents, I went to visit my grandparents. I was five years old. On my fifth birthday, I arrived in Texas and they said, “Tris, we saw you on TV in a meditation.” Can you believable that?
[00:44:45] PC: No way.
[00:44:48] TEG: It’s unbelievable. That’s true. I hope one day that piece of footage will be unearthed and I will see that precious moment in my father’s arms. But he was a big influence on me. He gave me the book Siddartha to read when I was nine years. We were discussing God and meditation, all kinds of things when I was a child and he was very amazing. I didn’t really get fully immersed into, like let’s say, a lifelong practice meditation until the year 2000 when I went to the nine-day retreat in Iceland. I knew that I would be meditating for the rest of my life, and that, yeah, it would be a big part of my life. But I didn’t know I was going to do anything to do with technology until 2015.
But I was leading the meditations at a creativity summit here in Iceland on the West Coast under the mystical glacier of Snæfellsnes. I was with a group of people, very creative people. These guys showed up at this summit and they were talking about technology. Having been from Palo Alto, I was like, “Yeah. Yeah.”
[00:45:52] PC: Not my thing.
[00:45:54] TEG: Not my thing. I ran away from all that far away to become an artist. But then I heard the story, very compelling story of Bala Kamallakharan how he went from being a VIP in the banking world to being kind of like the father of the startup movement in Iceland, with a conference called Startup Iceland. He said to all the people at the creativity summit, he said, “You are all founders. You should come to the conference. I’ll give you a 50% discount.” He’s a businessman, no free passes. I bought the ticket for like 100 euros or something like that. I sat in the front row, and I was listening to like, Brad Feld, and [inaudible 00:46:38], and all these big influencers in the technology world. They were speaking in language that was totally over my head.
I sat there and I felt this fire in my belly. I’m like, I want to be on stage next year, pitching my revolutionary meditation app. That’s what happened the following year, I was on that stage, I gave a pitch, three-minute pitch, which is on the website for Startup Iceland conference, that pitch. It was amazing and I mentioned VR. At that moment, I wasn’t convinced, that was before I had the Everest realization. I said, “We’re going to incorporate virtual reality experiences.” I just mentioned it because I thought I needed to mention it. But I wasn’t fully invested.
When we had our first demo of Flow, after our simulator was over, I took my first demo version of Flow to a conference in Norway. I was still like, “Does this really work?” But then I witnessed people again, and again, and again trying it. One of the first quotes, I remember a CEO, he says – he tried it and he said, “I want this for my 26,000 employees.” I was like, “Okay. We can do that.” But it’s taken a while to be able to get into the position to be able to actually deliver, working with –
[00:48:03] PC: That’s an incredible story. How about your past life as an artist, as an actress and performer? How has that part of you melted into the current chapter of your life?
[00:48:13] TEG: Thank you for that, because that feels – sometimes it feels kind of far away. But all my daughters are artists. We’re a very artistic family. My husband’s a filmmaker. Somehow that artist's part is always there. I mean, I haven’t been doing any theater or much anything to do with film or theater. I mean, I actually decided to focus on spirituality in my family in the year 2004. But before that, I was really – I was in a theatre company in Ireland. Then when it came to Iceland, I was in the theater play that toured all over North America and Europe, as a woman who play about The Saga. The Saga of Gudrid Thorbjarnardóttir. She was an Icelandic pioneer woman who traveled all the way to North America, gave birth in the year 1000, so 500 years before Columbus. Then she walked all the way through Europe to meet the Pope in Rome and the statue of Gudrid in the Vatican to commemorate her first visit.
I had a very rich history as a theatre actress and some films. Actually, I did have –
[00:49:18] PC: The Braveheart.
[00:49:19] TEG: Yeah. It ended up on the cutting room floor, so I never became a famous Hollywood actress. But if I had done that, I wouldn’t be here talking with you, Pearly. I’m glad that I’m here.
[00:49:32] PC: Everything happens for a reason. The universe has been conspiring to make this chapter possible. Millions or billions of people around the world can benefit from the benefits of meditating in Icelandic nature, surrounded by music, fully immersed in feeling, and achieving a finding their flow. Thank you, Tristan for sharing your story with us today. Any final thoughts before we say bye?
[00:49:57] TEG: Gosh. I feel elevated by our conversation. I feel full of good vibes. I got goosebumps and talking about the destiny or the life’s journey. Thank you for allowing me to tell my story. I’m really grateful. Super grateful to have met you, so grateful to Dr. Wolf really for connecting us.
[00:50:19] PC: Yeah, thanks Walter.
[00:50:22] TEG: Pearly, you are just an amazing person. I was so touched when I met you, and felt like, yeah, somehow your ability to understand me as a person and just – yeah, you just touched my heart deeply, so thank you.
[00:50:40] PC: You too. The feeling is mutual. I can’t wait until our next reunion in Iceland.
[00:50:46] TEG: I can’t wait to go horseback riding.
[00:50:46] PC: Yeah. I can’t wait. Yes. Okay. I don’t feel like saying goodbye. My parents-in-law are waiting for lunch. I’m sure you are too. We have to break for lunch, but we’ll connect again soon. Thanks, Tristan. Have a beautiful rest of your day.
[00:51:06] TEG: You too. Bye. Thank you.
[00:51:07] PC: Bye.
[00:51:13] PC: Thank you for listening. Please subscribe and share this podcast with a colleague or friend that you think could use some good vibes. Learn more at vive.com and follow HTC Vive on social media. See you next week.