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087: Being Digitally Mindful with Colleen Hayes

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Technology is everywhere, all the time and that can make being digitally mindful increasingly difficult. Someone who has simplified this is Colleen Hayes and her app, Prezence.

Colleen is a Boston-based technology and mindfulness expert who specializes in being digitally mindful. She is an advocate for intentional breaks from technology as a source of finding balance, and created the Prezence APP to inspire authentic human connection both online and offline.

This is a fascinating topic, which begs the question of how did Prezence get its start? It began with yoga: Colleen’s first experience with being present and mindful happened during a yoga class. Her sisters took her along, and Colleen says she laughed throughout the class because it all seemed silly to her! But when it was over everything seemed brighter; she remembers saying Namaste to her fellow classmates and everyone looked so much clearer.

After that experience, she wanted more of the same and continued to come back to her yoga mat time after time after time, particularly when life got extra stressful. She loved the practice so much she provided cleaning duties at her studio in exchange for free classes, and the studio owner approached her a few times about becoming a yoga teacher. Eventually, Colleen agreed and signed up for teacher training.

About the time she finished her training, her mom was diagnosed with glioblastoma which is an incredibly debilitating form of cancer that is especially difficult to overcome. Colleen’s mom fought valiantly for 18 months, but ultimately lost her battle.

Throughout her mom’s fight, Colleen relied on mindfulness to keep herself sane and centered for her mom and the rest of their family. It truly cemented how powerful and important mindfulness is in every aspect of our lives.

About a year after her mom’s death, she left the corporate world and went to Bali where she witnessed what it means to be truly intentional with our time: people weren’t huddled over their phones at dinner, but instead were focused on the joy and the beauty they were experiencing in the moment. It was from experiences like that one which prompted her to create the Prezence app.

On today’s Awesome Health Podcast, Colleen and I talk about going from the party scene to the mindfulness/yoga/meditation world, and what the connections are between the two. She also tells us what a chi shower is, how yoga prepared her for the ups and downs and why boundaries and self-care are non-negotiables for her.

You’ll hear us delve into these fascinating topics and more when you join us for episode 87 of Awesome Health Podcast!

Episode Resources:

Read The Episode Transcript:

Wade Lightheart: Good morning, good afternoon and good evening. It's Wade T Lightheart with another episode of the Awesome Health Podcast from BiOptimizers and I am excited today. I was going to say pumped and excited and everything, but really I'm just kind of Zen and ready to talk with Colleen Hayes, who is a Boston based technology and mindfulness professional specializing in digital mindfulness. What is an exciting topic? Colleen is an advocate for intentional breaks from technology as a source of finding balance. She created Presence app to help inspire authentic human connection, both online and offline.

Wade Lightheart: Now Prezence is an app and a website which focuses on being mindful. Colleen explains how we could manage our health during this uncertain time, of course is all the COVID craziness. And you can find her speaking about mindful use of technology, teaching workshops in the greater Boston area, leading boxing and yoga classes. So first, she'll knock you out and then she'll bring you back to present to feel good about it. So at everybody fights in Boston, Boston has a great history of fighting. I'm not so sure about yoga, but we know about fighting. I'm actually close. I was grew up close to Boston in a place called new Brunswick Canada. So bottom line, she likes to read about entrepreneurship and working anywhere that has wifi calling. Welcome to the show.

Colleen Hayes: Thank you so much for having me Wade. It looks like wherever you are is probably quite warm and much warmer than where I am.

Wade Lightheart: You definitely are going to have to come out to the BioHome here in Venice beach, California. We are tricking it all out with all the hacks that people like to have. And it's great. So the next time you're out, please come out and enjoyI have my resident, Tony, who has the most advanced brain state readings ever recorded. He's somebody you'd would probably want to connect with. This phenomenal guy kind of unpacks the different frequencies that are going, but let's get into some of the things that I think is really important in today's world, because, you know, I've been a meditator for 20 years and I grew up in a non-digital world, extremely rural place, you know? And so I learned what silence was when I was a teenager and had, and as the digital age ushered in. I noticed that people who were born into the digital age, didn't not necessarily know what silence was. Didn't know what isolation was like, didn't know what disconnected or unplugged was like. And there's, I think a growing anxiety in particularly in younger people and also in older people that are just plugged in all the time with phones and internet and wifi. And they say, I know I gotta get mindful. And I tried to meditate, but my brain is rushing and my phone's going off of my watch is going off. And I come home and there's 500 emails and I really want to be present, but I'm struggling to do so. But you found a way to bridge the gap. So how did this all get started for you? What, like tell us the backstory of Prezence and your life and how you've related to this whole thing.

Colleen Hayes: So many things to share. So I'll try and keep it really brief. I think with most people mindfulness starts from yoga, right? So moving your body and just seeking out yoga typically as, you know, a place to feel good and strong and get more space in your body. I started practicing yoga when I was 16. My sisters brought me to a class. I laughed the entire time. I thought it was so weird. The entire experience was very bizarre yet at the end of the practice, I remember opening up my eyes when we were greeting each other and saying Namaste day and everything was brighter. And I was like, wow, I think I want to create this experience for myself over and over and over again. So I continued to come back to my mat for years. Particularly in times where I was struggling a lot, not really treating my body well or feeling emotionally like I had a lot going on.

Colleen Hayes: There aresome things so cleansing about focusing on your breath and connecting your breath to movement, which is exactly what the Asana practice allows us to do. And I got to a point where I developed a very regular practice in my early twenties, and I was actually trading cleaning in order to get free classes. So I would go and scrub the studio down, vacuum it, dust that, clean it from head to tail And I had so much pride in doing something what is typically in our society not associated with being a high income or high earning or high-potential job. I was getting so much out of it because it allowed me to experience this amazing practice. The studio manager came to me twice asking me to become a teacher just with my practice knowledge of movement and passion for it.

Colleen Hayes: And I decided to go for it. So I studied to become a teacher and loved sharing my yoga practice with people in that way. Right around the time that I graduated my teacher training, unfortunately, my mom was diagnosed with glioblastoma. So that's a type of brain cancer for those who are listening and don't know. And essentially based on wherever your tumors are, you can be robbed of your general like day to day function pretty quickly. So my mom deteriorated very quickly. She still kept a smile and a great attitude and fought really hard for 18 months, but that was one of the darkest and most challenging times in my life. I was expecting to have my mom for, you know, at least another 20 years. She was in her early sixties. Unfortunately, she put up a really great fight and couldn't make it through.

Colleen Hayes: We lost her four years ago, this November but throughout this entire time, the one thing I did to keep myself sane was sit in silence before sunrise or when I had a short break at the hospital, or whenever I could steal away from time at the office to just sit in a room, put on a mantra. My favorite healing mantra is called ramadasa. And I would just cry or smile or pray or really focus on whatever I could do to just stay with myself, stay with my family and be able to show up. So that's really where I developed my true mindfulness practice. Shortly after my mom passed away, like about a year, I decided to take a break from the corporate world and travel. So I went to Bali, some of the most spiritual places in the world.

Wade Lightheart: Oh my God. It's so great. Where did you stay in Bali?

Colleen Hayes: I stayed in Bingin and beach and Uluwatu too, and bounced around to like a few different places.

Wade Lightheart: I've spent some time in Ubud. Just kind of locked in there and I have a hard time getting out of the Ubud spiritual vortex.

Colleen Hayes: Seriously. It is a vortex and worth getting lost in and I can not wait until we can go back. I keep like refreshing the list of countries that Americans can travel to. I'm like, what in the hell can I get outta here and go to Bali for a month?

Wade Lightheart: I'm on that list too. So we're competing for flights.

Colleen Hayes: Like I literally check it once a week. I had all these amazing experiences during this time and I witnessed internationally how different things were than they were in the US. People weren't like doing this at the dinner table, like crouching over their phones, looking at Instagram or whatever. It just wasn't a thing. Especially if you go to places like Australia and New Zealand. In Sydney, you'll find plate people who are like super competitive and highly focused on their careers, but the majority of people are like truly that no worries mentality. They want to be in the moment in flow state, just experiencing whatever beauty is around them while after people connection, just really drunk in love with their moment on simply with the moment for what it is. And I was really inspired by that because at home, so many people I just saw them suffering because of their own anxiety or depression, or getting wrapped up in social media or feeling like they had to get this promotion. And I just thought what if we practiced presence and use mindfulness and really thoughtful clinicians who can help us create a clinically supportive mindfulness solution that helps people live in healthier relationship with technology. So I decided to create Prezence.

Wade Lightheart: Beautiful. And there's so many things to unpack there. And I just did an interview yesterday with a lady Jasmin Jenkins, who talks about how grief is an invitation and she talks about developing …lEt me see if I can remember

Colleen Hayes: The four invitations of grief. I just had Jasmin on our pep talks with Prezence. So they are to pause, she's going to be very proud of me, pause, breathe, feel and heal.

Wade Lightheart: Yeah, really brilliant, really brilliant. She also suffered through the tragedy of her mom passing away and then her brother passing away. Andi went through the same thing with my sister, who at the same time, when I was moved to this rural area where I first started developing presence enough, just out of isolation.

Wade Lightheart: My sister got cancer at that time, which led to my career both in bodybuilding and health and fitness, but also just developing the mindfulness and awareness. And for me, my mindfulness practice was working out in my garage. So I always, the, before Tai Lopez thought of working out in his garage or building his business, I was out training in my garage only. It was minus 40. It wasn't in the winter, but anyway on the East coast, how it is. I think I want to go here for a second in Prezence because so many people's backstory when it comes to yoga, when it comes to meditation and comes from mindfulness, oftentimes gets initiated in a sense of chaos. Either it gets pre initiated, but usually depth is found in the middle of crisis or in the middle of something traumatic event. I find that a fascinating when you had that experience with your mom, was something where you started. Did that increase the depth of your practice?

Colleen Hayes: A hundred percent. My mom and I were very different. So I was a very wild, young adult. I had different interests then…

Wade Lightheart: But does that mean? Why were you a very wild, young adult? Were you out shooting guns or doing drugs, or what what was the deal here?

Colleen Hayes: I was just a party animal. Every EDM show in Boston, I was there and I was chasing this elation that was clearly there in the moment of the experience, but perhaps may not have been there 12 hours later when I woke up the next morning.

Wade Lightheart: Oh, wait, I just have to interject because a lot of people don't know that that was the biggest initiation that preempted my journey into meditation and yoga. I was a wild party guy hitting the dance floor day and night and getting into that euphoric state where you're connected and in flow with everybody. And, you know, I really went deep into that world, which obviously is not sustainable. There's only so many sketchy Sundays and suicide Tuesdays that you can handle, or you got like, maybe I need to change my life here. And that was the initiation from my meditation practice. Interesting enough. And I used to go out party. So I used to go out partying on Saturday night and then I would take my friends to this kind of like serene, yoga, yoga component. As I always kind of coming down. I love that.

Colleen Hayes: Then master healing everybody.

Wade Lightheart: I'm literally coming to the meditation place with my fedora hat and my cape on and my shiny pants and my kind of like partied out friends that were coming in as well, and we'd go into meditation and I'd be like you got to get into this meditation thing. It's so cool. It's like really Zen and out here. And I'd be just sitting there vibing. And some of these people were like meditating for 30, 40 years. They were so Zen. And then I just remember this one lady turning to me one day after the event. And she says, you know, it really amazes me how deep you're getting in your meditation. But you know, little by little that the dance thing dropped off and the meditation started to expand. Did you experience the same?

Colleen Hayes: Yeah, totally. Right before my mom passed, I was planning on going this Yoga Tree tree with one of my best friends from a company I was working at the time. And I was really torn because I knew my mom could easily have passed away while I was gone. And I was like, do I go, do I stay? And I talked about it with my family, multiple family members really thought about it a lot. And I was like, I really think I need to have this experience. So I go in the Yoga tree, one of the teachers I had practiced with many times, and she's now a close friend and she works for us at Prezence as well. This retreat that I went on was full of so many little moments that were so much better than any concert or event or night out that I had been to.

Colleen Hayes: And I was like, this is the good stuff. These are the moments I want to be creating. These are the types of people I want to be surrounding myself with. And if I can experience this much joy and happiness and peace in a state where I'm simply breathing and practicing pranayama, what else is there in life? Cause I'm like super excited to find out what else is out there. Especially in spirituality. There's so many different things you can do. If you were a super big dance guy and a party guy, I highly recommend that you try chi shower sometime because chi shower, the feeling that you get during a chi shower is like, why better than any night out that you would ever experience?

Wade Lightheart: So you have to unpack what's a chi shower is.

Colleen Hayes: Okay. So there's a retreat that I always go on. We had one last year and told him that was called unplugged. And Catie Macken who's our chief mindfulness officer at Prezence. She always leads. She showers and there's this super tribal song. It's like drums and like a really energetic beat. And I don't know who it's by. I'll have to find it on Spotify and send it to you. But it's like seven minutes and you listen to the song and you just like move and dance and stomp your feet,do like ENT, tapping. You're getting your stuck energy out. And you just get this like amazing natural high, because your body is moving out energy that you don't need. And taking in is like incredible wave of new energy from the collective experience you're having with everybody around you. And you can do it by yourself too. Like, you don't have to be with this big group of people. Like you would be editor retreat, but this whole idea of a chi shower is simply to just like dance it out. And it's not like dance moves. It's just moving your body. It's kind of like ecstatic dance if you knew anything about that.

Wade Lightheart: I was a regular at ecstatic dance at the yoga barn in Bali.

Colleen Hayes: Yes. I have to go to that. I've seen it on social media and stuff like that. I would love to go sometime.
Wade Lightheart: We'll put that on the calendar when Bali opens up, right? We'll stand in line at there. And by the way, for those who haven't been to ecstatic dance at the yoga barn in Bali, it is one of the things that you need to put on your list and just spending a week there and being in that presence. So keep going, it's chi shower. I'm going to be hitting you up as soon as we're done this for that dance. Cause I love to dance and a lot of people don't recognize is that was a traditional practice as well. Of course, most people are familiar with Sufi dancing that would dance and get into these altered states, but it's also a big time practice throughout the Indian culture historically.

Wade Lightheart: And also sometimes when the ecstatic state of Kundalini energy rises through the body, there is oftentimes almost an uncontrollable aspect that you need to move or to dance or to these songs. And so a well-recognized in the Indian culture. I think some of us just have it in our soul and that's just the way it goes. And once you understand that, and I think a lot of people think of meditation or mindfulness as some, practice where you're sitting there and sitting like a stone and meditating connected with the cosmos and all that stuff. But it can also take an active in movement and joyous expression as well. So it doesn't have to be so rigid as a lot of people.

Colleen Hayes: Totally. Are you a Kundalini guy?
Wade Lightheart: Well, I think everybody's a Kundalini person. It's just a bit, whether you activate it. So once that has happened to you, I mean, I could forget it. It just changes your perception of reality permanently, and there's not much more you can do about it.

Colleen Hayes: Oh my God. I love practicing Kundalini. I try and do my meditations every day. I do the shorter versions because I can't sit there for 11 minutes and do every kriya but I do a shorter version of some of the breath work, the addiction, meditation, ego Eradicator and then energy clearing are the three ones I like to do every day. So it's nine minutes, breath work. You feel like a new person after, and it's like getting a shot of espresso simply by breathing. And you're like, wow, I can just give myself this energy. And that's really what life is all about. I think we're all here to go through different things, right? Some people would think we're crazy, right? Talking about Kundalini and chi showers and all of the things that we're talking about are so inaccessible to many beings because they're simply not ready to face those parts of themselves and sit with the discomfort to get to the new levels of consciousness or accessing different parts of ourselves that bring us this natural joy. I think in time, you know, hopefully every soul gets to move through all of these different things, but I'm happy for us that we are here for it and ready because so many people aren't weighed and it makes me so sad.

Wade Lightheart: Which leads us to our next thing is somehow you've taken your own personal practice and credit presence, but I want to go back to another piece though, before, because you talked about when you talked about cleaning the studio and finding joy in that, and I'm, there's two very influential people in my kind of awareness or spiritual practice. And the first one is Paramahansa Yogananda who wrote autobiography, yoga considered one of the greatest spiritual books of all time. And I haven't shared this on the podcast, but seeing that you're here, I'm going to, I'm going to have a little bit of a reveal here that haven't talked about. I've had some astounding nonlinear, spiritual experiences with Yogananda and the line of gurus that is illustrated in the book. And I recommend anyone who is considering a yoga practice or understanding Eastern mysticism and the practices that have been initiated for thousands years. Read that book as an introduction. It's not just a book about Yogananda's life, but it is actually an illustrative aspect of the challenges that come up for any person pursuing a yoga path and yoga meaning union.

Wade Lightheart: And when his teacher in the book and I'll give a little preliminary hits with cosmic consciousness and he has this expansive connection to the entire universe, these things that you read about samadhi and stuff like that, which is a universal. And when they get finished, he's in this overjoyed state and he touches his gross freedoms and his guru says, get up, you know, we're going to sweep the porch and then we're going to walk in the ganji because don't get too over drunk with ecstasy. There's much work for you to do. And he talked about Ash room and I spent time in that very Ash room where that experience happened when I was in India. And one of the things that I recognize with the monks, that despite their conscious practice of where they would go in their heads, they performed what seemed to be mundane, simple tasks, cleaning the Ash room, taking out the trash.

Wade Lightheart: These were oftentimes considered low level jobs, particularly in the caste society of India, which would be into the shudra class. And these were oftentimes Brahmans that were performing these tasks as a way of creating a routine and service, and then finding the joy. So the old, the old Zen philosophy of, Hey, before enlightenment chop wood, carry water after enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. And then later on, I got really into dr. David Hawkins work who wrote Power versus Force and the map of consciousness and an extraordinary array of navigating the world of form. And he was just an incredible ginormous genius on so many different levels. And I used to go to his lectures before he left the body and it's an amazing series of books and one of his things that he used to say, and here's the guy that ran the largest psychiatric practice in the United States, he, you know, was on every single board that you could possibly imagine. He had a house , the Hamptons and fit that and all these kinds of things that were just pretty wild and then left it all and ended up being this kind of mystic in Sedona, Arizona. And then eventually they discovered him wasting away on a couch. And then he wrote all these books and came out to frame and get it's really odd story, but he said, his dream was actually be a janitor.

Wade Lightheart: In one of the great cathedrals where he could just be inside the presence of that space every day and doing his humble service, cleaning the floors and taking out the trash and wiping the windows and just being in that space with the incense and the lights. And if they've been to the great cathedrals, it's very easy to get in that presence, all that, to say, you initiated this yoga practice and you're finding service in it. You go through a horrifically tragic experience with your mom. You cultivate a deeper sense of awareness in these initiations from kind of a party wild style lifestyle that we explore. And then you make this jump to presence. I'm curious to how that happened.

Colleen Hayes: Oh, very slowly. I think that one of the things that kids these days, I say kids, easy thing. I know I'm not, I'm still kind of a kid, but,uI feel like kids..

Wade Lightheart: You're old. I think you're an old soul, as they say. So let's just throw that one aside.

Colleen Hayes: They just want to jump. They want to get from like this, to that, or this job or this thing and achieve everything so quickly. And I grew up with really old school parents, you know, very Catholic Irish, you gotta do your job. Whenever I told my mom, I was applying to another company, I had been at my company for three and a half years. She was like, why would you leave your job? You have a good job. And that was the mentality. Like, you know, you have a good job you work at for your whole life and you stayed there as long as you can. And I think what's gotten me from Z to A, you know, I really think it's either A or Z to see wherever I am is the slow progress and the resilience, because I can't tell you how many times I've been told no.

Colleen Hayes: Or how many times I've felt like I lost or didn't get the prize or the funding or whatever it was. And one of the things I always hear from our investors from leaders I've worked with is like, you take feedback and you come right back to the moment and apply it. And you can't just want the nice car, the house, you know, the apartment on fifth Avenue. Like all those things we were just talking about, you have to be willing to put in the work. And I think what's been really hard about my journey, it's been full of so many late nights, early mornings, all right, can't sleep this weekend, working all weekend. I'm just gonna push through and do it. And now, you know, thankfully I have so many self care rituals. Like I'm able to deal with that a little bit better.

Colleen Hayes: You know, I don't have so much of that happening, but I have been willing to put in the work and ask for what I can do better, whether it's with a job, with a project, with an investor, with anything, and then go out and do that thing. And I think a lot of people quit. You know, a lot of people just said, let's party instead of let's stay in and work really hard to read a book or learn about this new breath work technique. I started to turn away from those easy choices towards the harder ones, which led me to stay really focused on my business. And I learned that the longterm pleasure is really about making those short term difficult choices and committing to them. I used to always be like the friend who would stay out late, or the friend who would go get pizza. Now I'm like, do I really want to get pizza? It probably not gonna make me feel so good the next day.

Colleen Hayes: I'd rather like stay in and work hard and wake up and work out. Like, I think it's those micro decisions and choices along the way, the ability to take feedback and apply it. And the ability to persist, despite the challenges at hand, whether small, like someone telling you no, and then having to find another investor or losing someone really close to you and your family, and then letting it be something that guides you rather than brings you down. Because so many people just keep on suffering when they lose somebody. And it's so sad because I would love for everybody to create something new or build something that changes somebody else's life or help themselves. And sometimes people just get stuck. So I know why I've just always tried to channel my energy into getting better every year, every quarter. And I think that's probably, I don't know if that answers your question, but that's how I bet.

Wade Lightheart: It leads into it. It leads into it because I think first off, thank you for sharing that, because I think that's such a relative message today. And, you know, like I grew up in a world that when I was a kid, we had to mark down in the Christmas catalog, which would come out in like September and I'd have to mark the little things that I might want for Christmas, because it was to be three months before it came to town. And today, we live in a world that, Hey man, if Amazon doesn't deliver this in 24 hours, like what's up with that. You know what I mean? What I love about the world is that there is an expectation or a thought process around businesses. How do we get this to somebody very quickly, but conversely, the process of building those systems and making it happen, or building a business or something that's sustainable is totally the opposite of that, which you've identified beautifully here.

Wade Lightheart: And then you talk about the little micro decisions adding up and piling up, and then the ability to overcome the inevitable obstacles, the challenges, the nose, the denials, the break and maybe how you thought things were going to happen and how they're going to happen. Or these people that saying, well, you haven't thought of this. And what about that? And you're not really equipped for this. And then coming back to it over and over and over again, until you keep refining that and getting where you want to go. My question is, do you feel that the challenges that you experienced within your yoga practice prepared you and gave you the fortitude to push through the regular part of your life? Isn't that really what the gift is?

Colleen Hayes: Oh my God. Yeah. A hundred percent. A practice I do with one of my teachers, Catie Macken, who's a part of presence. As I mentioned, she's our chief mindfulness officer is you take a yoga block and you press it over your head and you have to hold your arms completely straight,, usually they'll put on like dream on or stairway to heaven, or like some super long song that you're there long time. And this is just a small example of something, but I have never dropped the block. I always hold my arm straight. I never put it down. And when you can build this mental toughness within yourself to persevere, that's when you can build that in your strength to stay up one more hour, finish the projects and the email create the spreadsheet, whatever it is.

Colleen Hayes: So a hundred percentThank you for that softball. Cause it was great. It just like it, you made it, you connected a dot that I, I haven't connected yet. Whether it's sitting in meditation or holding a yoga block over your head at the end, it was really challenging. All of a sudden, a practice or in 110 degree room and not leaving while you're practicing. Like those things are what tear you apart and pull you back together again. And you see, you just come out so much stronger. And that is, I think part of my secret sauce, I guess.

Wade Lightheart: You bring up, this is such a great topic to get into because I think whether people are listening to Jocko Willink and the extreme levels of obstacles that people face in special forces and the get after it. And his, I love his whole segment. It's good, whatever goes on, like didn't get the gear. Didn't tech didn't work out, the mission failed got canceled. Like, didn't get the promotion, didn't get the funding, whatever. And he just like, his answer is everything good. And, and like, I mean, you go against this and you think of man, I would never want to go against this guy in anything, because whatever obstacle comes up, he just 100% not only accepts it and says, Hey, good, because some good is going to come out of that in the development of that.

Wade Lightheart: And I think doing difficult things, challenging oneself, the world has become so comfortable in easy. And I think a lot of people have become really soft, really soft and weak. I mean, if you think of our ancestors, they came over here in boats. I mean, just getting here might not make it right. You know, disease, and you're locked in a cabin and you're tossed on a boat across it. You don't even know how you get the land here. There's no whole foods, there's no road, there's no stores. You gotta like make a home and grow food. And maybe the crops get wiped out. And you women have babies with no medical people, no painkillers, whatever they're facing death, the child like death by childbirth was a common element to become a man. You had to like kill a wild animal with a stick.

Wade Lightheart: I'll think about these things that just the daily life active of our ancestors not even that long ago, like my grandfather went to work in a horse and wagon and yarded logs in the world. And it wasn't that long ago, that's what life was like. And here we are in these kind of soft worlds and everybody's out of shape and people like, Oh my God, I don't know if I can make it to class. I think that in order, no matter how technologically advanced we get that, if you do not develop a practice of doing hard things, you never have the confidence to deal with the hard things that come. Would you say that's a common element amongst kind of what I'd say that the digitally addicted population that we've become.

Colleen Hayes: Yeah, totally. I would say that the one positive thing. So there, I want to say this one positive thing for a second here, and then I want to come back to what you said about the ancestral piece. Cause you were literally reading my mind. It's pretty scary. So the one positive thing I do see is that people today are more comfortable getting mental health support. Whereas our previous generations were I'm not sad. What is being said, I'm not depressed. Like I'm gonna go to think about what they used to do with people who are mentally ill. They would send them to an institution and say goodbye. You're going to be, you know, not a person for the rest of your life. I would say it is amazing to see how willing people are to actually get support and work through their emotions.

Colleen Hayes: So they are sitting with their discomfort in that way. Yet people are so complacent, right? They're like, I don't need to run you run. I ran a half marathon with a friend last Friday. And I can't tell you how many people who I like casually mentioned that too, for whatever reason, I wasn't like trying to get praise or anything, but people were like, you ran 13.1 miles. And I was like, I did. And they were like, I would never do that. And I'm like, why? Why not? You feel so accomplished yet sucks. Like, it's not fun. I wasn't feeling great finished, but I felt amazing in the hours afterward just knowing that I had done something to train my body, make it stronger. And now I know that was probably my fourth time doing it. I was like, I can do this again.

Colleen Hayes: What if someone was chasing me for 13 miles? Like I want to be able to run. I just think so many people don't think about just like your body is really, really important thing to take care of and nurture. And that's just one part of it, right? It's like being willing to put in the work at your job or being willing to do something hard and suffer a little bit, can just make you so much tougher and stronger and think about all the people who are so successful, the fortune 500 CEOs and everybody who's ever been anybody in history, Steve Jobs, crazy meditation practice. Like you think that dude suffered every day. Absolutely because it made him better and stronger as leader.

Wade Lightheart: It gave out autobiography of a Yogi to everybody at his funeral, the one book he had on his iPhone. And I thought that was pretty fascinating with Steve jobs and you're right. Every CEO, every executive I know when we hang out together, it's not the successes that we talk about. It's the failures and the struggles. I mean, my cofounder and I, Matt and I, most people don't know, we never paid ourselves for 10 years. We always laugh, we work for pills. We've worked for the supplements that we paid.

Colleen Hayes: I really like that stuff by the way. Thank you.

Wade Lightheart: Thank you. It was 10 years before I won my first bodybuilding contest. I had no business being a body builder, but I was too stubborn or too stupid to know that. So you never know what that grind, like, even when you're not making progress, you're making progress. And sometimes that progress is internal. What other things have like, so we haven't gotten to the point of where you've taken all this incredible amount of experience and challenges and driving and go to, and decision making and all this stuff that you're embodying and embracing. And how did this all end up into Prezence and how did this company come about? How did you turn all of these things into something that was really making a difference in the world?

Colleen Hayes: Yeah, of course. So at a very practical level, my professional experience has been in marketing and sales technology and in the softwares and service world. I know what it takes to build a product promote it, make sure it gets in the hands of people that are going to buy it. And this is what I've been doing for the last eight years of my career, outside of Prezence. So I definitely had miles ahead of most people in that way. I had to create a business and run it and promote it. And very practically, I studied mindfulness, connected myself with the right people, sent uncomfortable emails to random strangers, just hoping that we would work together and have built an incredible team of people that are now so passionate about our mission to shift tech from a stressor to a source of strength.

Colleen Hayes: And it's been an incredible journey, right? So our product is evolving every single day. The mobile app was simply the first product that we launched and we now have an incredible corporate offering and different experiences we offer. So I think one of the most important things is we're building things that people are asking for, right? We're not just building a product to build a product. Like you knew that you could help people biohack their body by creating better digestive enzymes. Then we're out there or better magnesium that we're out there. Because if you're just building something for the sake of building it, it's not going to work. So I think I've always been really thoughtful about making sure I do tons of market research, get my hands on any study, or have as many conversations as I possibly can with potential users of our next product, and then build it based on what people ask for. I think what has made me dangerous as an entrepreneur is just having that great foundation that I created for myself within marketing sales and technology always knowing enough to be dangerous in each of those areas and then creating the right connections in order to bring Prezence to fruition, our first product, the iOS app, the Android app, working on right now and our corporate offering as well.

Wade Lightheart: So let's talk about your mission at Prezence, because I do believe that when you're building a company and you're trying to achieve something, the mission is really the driving point of everything and allows you to overcome whatever obstacles that are going to happen and the drive. What is the mission of Prezence and why did you create that company?

Colleen Hayes: Yes. So we are on a mission to shift technology from a stressor to a source of strength through digital mindfulness. The problem, you know, if you dissect it is that X is a stressor, the solution is that technology can actually be the strength and the why and the how behind that is digital mindfulness. Why digital? Because we're always connected. We're always on our phones and computers. If we can simply access the resources that we need at our fingertips while also building a mindful relationship with technology, we have meditations that help you recognize, ow do I deal with notification anxiety? And we walk you through a guided meditation to help you say, like, okay, when a notification pops up, it doesn't need to be answered right away so much. Like our technology has wired us to behave and act a certain way with it. We can rewire our brains to act differently. So we're providing all of the tools that are required to do that.

Wade Lightheart: That's so beautiful. And, you know, this brings me to another topic and it's kind of off, but I think it's really important to illustrate. I'm really deep into understanding the psychological implications of an increasing technological world. What I would say is oftentimes at a high level of connectivity, but a low level of resolution in thinking or processes about how information and disinformation is just kind of cycled through without any kind of granular components or deep dives. And you seeing that playing out in politics, you're saying that and play business, but there's a couple of areas that you seem to have navigated pretty well, but I'd like to get your insight on as a woman, because, you know, if we look in the last 60 years, there has been some major technological innovations. One is the technological innovation of birth control. So women for the first time in ever as biological organisms have the ability to control the birth cycle, which who knows how long it's going to take us to unpack that.

Wade Lightheart: We're in that process since the sixties that's happening and there's all sorts of changes that are happening between male, female relationships. This also allows you to be a woman as an executive and building a company and going through that and raising money and doing these things and building and CEO. So I'm interested about those two things, as well as the third thing, this component of now we have this what it is to be a human. You know what I mean? So we're now I love technology. I think it's great. And I love all the advantages of it, but I also don't want to lose myself as a man or as an executive or as someone who leverages technology to get our mission, to help people to be healthier.

Wade Lightheart: How have those three areas fused for you? As you unpack this, as you move forward in your business career, and you're doing all these things and you're running a company and you're doing all these kinds of things that are just really, really magnanimous. And I think a lot of women listeners that are listening to this are wondering like, how do you manage and juggle all this stuff? It's so inviting because, we've all heard of the hard driving male executive, that's locked in his tower of power and just blah, blah, blah, blah. You know, we see the movies and stuff. What's that like for you as a woman in the real world, like not all the BS that comes out there and all that garbage, but I'd like to know how you navigate those areas, because I think a lot of women want to know.

Colleen Hayes: I think a few different things. Number one, I would say is boundaries, right? So it's really important to know how to create and enforce boundaries that support you, your mental health, your career, the goals that you want to achieve. And some, for example are going to waste our time.They're going to be maybe considering working with us, but not actually ever going to make a decision. So being able to ask tough questions and be really direct while also having the feminine energy of being compassionate and sharing some feminine energy is like always a really lovely thing to be able to do. And I think when you can create that, manage that balance of masculine and feminine in business, it can be a very, very helpful super power. So I think, the first thing is boundaries just kind of knowing to ask the right questions, say no, when you have to say yes, when you can and continue to evolve, what your boundaries look like, that's super important.

Colleen Hayes: I'd also say, secondly, self care rituals help me show up. So I'm a non negotiable, like eight to nine hours of sleep person. And I don't know if you're into human design as well, but I am a projector. So within human design basically takes your astrological chart and then some different factors about you and helps you understand how you should be working. I am someone who requires quite a bit of rest. And when I am awake, I'm almost never resting. I'm always doing something, either working out or working or getting something done around my house. And I really feel that it is so important to have self care rituals that make you feel good. So whether it's taking a bath or meditating or practicing yoga, doing your Kundalini, I'm reading a book like all of these things, they don't always happen every single day in succession, but one of them will happen every day.

Colleen Hayes: And those self care rituals can help you preserve and protect yourself when you're faced with a situation where your femininity might be threatened or you're over using your masculine energy. And then lastly, I would say, leveraging your resources and connections is so critically important. My mom from a very young age was always like a connector. And I totally got that trait from her. I am someone who's networking with everybody talking with everybody, asking questions, asking how I can support people and trying my best to follow through with that. Because I think when you can show up for your network, they will show up for you organically. It's simply just how business works. And when you can build and leverage your network in a way that's strategic and helps you reach your goals, raise your amount of money. You're looking to raise and grow your business in a way that you want to. Those are probably the three things I would say are most important in our very like energetically charged world. It's been a journey. Like I haven't always been good at this.
Wade Lightheart: This is key learning points that you go in, like, you don't know where your boundaries are and sometimes till you go over that or break now, that's part of the human condition.

Colleen Hayes: Totally. And I think there's a lot of masculine energy. That's really negative out there in business. And I think it's changing people are being called out. I've had a couple of different interactions there out in the world that have been not so great and it's unfortunate, we learn so that we can have a boundary next time. And so that we can just kind of know the people we want to do business with and the people we don't want to do business with. So I think while everything is changing so rapidly just knowing how to care for you and show up for you, your team and your products and your customers, you can then channel that energy in a really positive way, even though it's changing so rapidly.

Wade Lightheart: You know, I think you illustrate a lot of really good points about bringing that feminine energy and the track record of female executives is extraordinary. And I think they're bringing elements into business that is leading the way for a lot of men to understand when to pull back from over aggressiveness or over driving this or whatever and finding empathy and what worked traditionally feminine characteristics. And we both have masculine and feminine within everybody. And I think there was a projection particularly in television and media for the last 50 or 60 years about what a CEO executive is supposed to be like. And now that women have entered those echelons of the world and are doing so well and bringing these feminine qualities. I attended a lecture with Jean Houston years ago, and she wrote a book called The Wizard of Us.

Wade Lightheart: And she talks about how in that book, she used the story of Dorothy and the Wizard of Us and how for the first time that was, she was a contemporary of Joseph Campbell and the hero's journey, which is essentially the historical aspects of the swashbuckling guy that runs off and wins the war after the dragon burns down the village and stands stridently upon the Hill with bloody sword and winning the girl and all that stuff. But the Wizard of Us, as she illustrated, it was using the feminine characteristics for the first time in the hero's journey. And Dorothy, even when she destroyed the witch, she was trying to put the fire out of the scarecrow and the, witch was like, Oh, you're just so nice. And it was destroyed by her nicest, her kindness, her desire to help her.

Wade Lightheart: And that's what drove the whole adventure. She illustrates it so beautifully about how we're now bringing the feminine into different aspects of business and into these executive functions and leveraging and demonstrating that these qualities are an essential component in an increasingly digital world. And that's why so many women executives are doing so well. And yet, so many women are still under the guise that they need to be, that kind of representation of what's illustrated as that male type executive that's been projected into there. What is your insights and advice or suggestions for women in particular who are entering into and want to do the things that you've been doing as an executive and want to find the balance in their health and their life, and build a great company, but not lose themselves as a woman? What are the things that you would like to share with people on that? Cause this is such a great topic.

Colleen Hayes: So an executive that I admire Gregg Renfrew, she is the founder of beauty counter and she does a lot of work on Capitol Hill about changing policy related to the products that we consume and ingredients that are in them and particularly related to skincare products. So I listened to Gregg in 2000, and by the way, you know, she has a super masculine kind of looking name. And I didn't know it was going to be a woman until we got to the talk. And she was a total badass. She was like, I forgot my makeup and I'm the CEO of beauty counter. And I'm supposed to be up here, like looking good with my makeup on. And I traveled from wherever she was living and here I am. And she said something that really stayed with me. She said, you can have it all, but not all at once.

Wade Lightheart: Oh, that's good.

Colleen Hayes: That's kind of been my philosophy, right? Because sometimes my friendships are my biggest priority and I'm seeing my friends all the time and that's amazing. And then other months of the year I'm just really focused on work. And I try to just find my stride in whatever season I'm in and know that another season is going to come around where I can have like more fun or more sleep or more tend to read. And so that's kind of my first piece of advice I would say. It's also say, secondly, like you are undoubtedly going to have to work twice as hard as many men will and executive positions, because when you walk into a room, people already discount your worth. And it's not because they're intentionally trying to do that. That's just, unfortunately the way that business is structured and it is changing and it will change and it will be different someday, but just be ready, especially if you're a female executive or a transgender executive people may discount you without you wanting them to sell, being prepared, to put in twice as much work, listen to twice as many knows.

Colleen Hayes: That doesn't mean you won't be twice as successful as anybody else out there. But just being ready to put in that work is so critical. And just remembering at the end of the day, this is all temporary, like as you, and I know we're, pretty into spiritual stuff like this, our body is temporary. We're hopefully going to go on to many different experiences as we work towards our enlightenment, if that's what you believe, and it is all temporary. So whether you're suffering through your first role as an executive, or trying to obtain that first executive position that you're dying to have just know that this experience and the fear and the discomfort and the wanting it so badly, but it not being exactly what you want is temporary and it will change. That's just the nature of life. I think with that, you just also have to try and enjoy your life because if we don't have joy and happiness and moments where we just get to be free, then what's it, what's it worth, is it really worth it to just give up your entire life if you're not going to enjoy it?

Wade Lightheart: When I was a personal trainer in Vancouver years ago, I had the great opportunity of training, many of the whose who in the executive world, then I coined a term, the golden handcuffs, because so many of them who were some of the most influential people in Canada at the time and had these built massive careers over 20 and 30 years and got to a place where they had the house and all the trappings of success and the right wife and the kids that were going the proper things and all these sort of things that were going on. And they would confide in me, it's like, I just want to go to like Indonesia and build a little wooden boat, or I wanted to take up carpentry, or I'd like to experiment with painting. And they had followed a philosophy and a track record.

Wade Lightheart: That was what they were supposed to do and put in all that work. And they had lost a joy in here. They were later in life and I always found it ironic. They're listening to this kind of like meditating, personal trainer who became their confidant to help them transform their life that they had become enslaved to. That's what I call the golden handcuffs of success. And it seems like you're bringing that awareness and mindfulness into the world as we navigate the digital world can. So can you talk about Prezence and who it's for and what it's intention for them to do is, and I think this is such an important tool for people to grasp the day. Can you kind of share that from rape from, as they say, the horses about the person that designed it and created it and have this extraordinary mission for people who are in the find themselves in the future?

Colleen Hayes: Yeah, of course our mobile application is for anybody who has a fun and anybody who wants to start and end their day mindfully, we have morning and evening pauses that are meant to help you begin and end each day with a slow breathing exercise or mantra or a reflection question that helps you do something productive on your phone rather than jumping onto Instagram, first thing in the morning. So we're kind of like your healthy alternate to doing other things on your phone. And this way for you to work on yourself, your mental health, your relationship to yourself, others in technology, just in a little, little square on your Apple or Android device. Anybody can really use Prezence. It's very accessible and our language is pretty appropriate for all ages too. So if a teenager or younger kid wanted to use it, it would be pretty accessible for them too.

Wade Lightheart: So beautiful. Before we wrap up and go to all your social media handles, I got a few rapid questions that I'd like to ask if you're up for it. Let's do it. Most influential person in your life?

Colleen Hayes: My mom,

Wade Lightheart: Favorite book?

Colleen Hayes: Silence by Thich Nhat Hanh.

Wade Lightheart: Favorite movie? You can say a couple of it.

Colleen Hayes: Back to the future. Father, the bride. Like silly classic, just like a feel good classic

Wade Lightheart: That's beautiful stuff. A favorite diet?

Colleen Hayes: Diet food. Well, your whole, all the foods are diet foods because they should all be part of your diet. Like healthy food do you mean?

Wade Lightheart: Yeah, like the food that you go to the most that you say, you know what? I would really not want to take this out of me.

Colleen Hayes: A salad, like a really delicious salad.

Wade Lightheart: I have this rainbow solid thing that I do all day.

Colleen Hayes: What is it? I need to hear more.

Wade Lightheart: It's just the most amount of colors I can put into a salad. So I call it a rainbow salad. I borrowed that from Bernard Jensen and I just loved that idea. I used to go to whole foods when we didn't have, or to Erewhon here in Venice. And I would make these ginormous salads. And every time I made one of these salads, somebody in line or the checkout person would go, that looks amazing, but it's been a staple of mine for like 15 years. Like, I mean, maybe no, probably longer than that 20 years. I just love salad. Favorite cheap food.

Colleen Hayes: Peanut butter cups.

Wade Lightheart: Okay. thing that you would like to see your life at the end, what if you were looking back at the last day of your life, what would you like to be known for?

Colleen Hayes: Making people feel seen.

Wade Lightheart: Very good. And where do you see yourself in the next 10 years?

Colleen Hayes: Living on the beach.

Wade Lightheart: Beautiful. I guess the last thing would be where can people find out more about you and for Prezence and what you're doing and how they can interact with this incredible technology that you've developed?

Colleen Hayes: So our Prezence, Instagram is at Prezence, app and Prezence is spelled with a Z. Our website is helloprezence.com. I'm working on my own website, which will probably be out sometime soon. So people can book me for speaking engagements, which I'm making awfully difficult right now. And then my social media is primarily Instagram collhayes. Two L's in coll.

Wade Lightheart: This has been a delightful interview. And I feel like there's more doors opened during it. And hopefully we can do a part two at some point in the future, and maybe you'll get to come out to Venice. We can share Kundalini experiences.

Colleen Hayes: I'm actually planning on coming to Palm Springs in November. So I'll probably come to LA either before or after.
Wade Lightheart: We need to make it, that we need to get that range. So for everyone else that was listening to us today on the Awesome Health Podcast. I want to encourage you. If you're suffering from digital overload, please check out Prezence. That's PREZENCE. Is that correct, Coleen? I got that, right.

Colleen Hayes: P R E Z E N C E.

Wade Lightheart: Yes, I'm Canadian. So I revealed my Zed versus Z.

Colleen Hayes: I love that!

Wade Lightheart: Bottom line, everybody. This has been an incredible episode with one of the up and coming stars of the executive world who have brought the feminine nature into the digital world and corporate executive to help you manage the overload from the digital world. And it's been an absolute delight to have her on the Awesome Health Podcast. We hope that she comes back and for all of you listening, we want to thank you for joining us, and we'll see you on the next episode of the Awesome Health Show with BiOptimizers. I'm Wade T Lightheart. Take care of presence, and we'll see you soon. Thanks so much.
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