A Wholehearted Guide Through the Mindful and Compassionate Entrepreneurial Journey

The Mindful Startup is a book for bold entrepreneurs, visionary startups, creative changemakers, and innovative troublemakers that takes you on a moment-by-moment journey toward a more human-centered approach to driving change.

The Mindful Startup takes you on a journey towards a more human approach to driving change. Gentle, smart and equipped with scientific insights, Malte Krohn guides you on this expedition of creating a more sustainable future from the present moment. Are you ready to kindly meet the dark side of entrepreneurial passion with mindfulness, compassion and your whole self?

While tackling the external challenge of developing ideas and creating a viable business, entrepreneurs are also dealing with tough “internal challenges”. Our world will need all the ideas out there to tackle the pressing issues that our society faces. We always relied on creative destroyers, innovative troublemakers and bold entrepreneurs to pave the way into a better future. Yet, society is not asking for a small favor. Startups are built by passion, but there is a catch – a dark side of it. Driving change can be tedious, stressful and it might take its toll on our mental health and well-being! Our minds are not designed for constant striving and we need to balance our ambitions with contentment. Our mental, physical and social well-being requires us to develop a better understanding of our own human experience, take self-responsibility and appreciate our own boundaries.

In this book, Malte Krohn shares some of the latest scientific findings, plus his own vision on how to successfully deal with all this and truly create the future from the present moment. To turn this book into a shared journey, each chapter includes exercises that might give you a nudge into your present moment or closer to your own path of mindful change. Moreover, five chapters include conversations with experts who share their own personal stories and wisdom.

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Excerpt from The Mindful Startup © Copyright 2023 Malte Krohn

Embarking on Our Journey

It was curiosity that got me here and you might be curious, too. Perfect, we are already in this together! “What is a mindful startup?”

— you might ask; and you would be right to do so! For now, I want to give you a head start by keeping this simple and straightforward. Eric Ries’ book The Lean Startup turned the world of entrepreneurs and ventures upside-down. In my opinion, it is still one of the most important startup books out there. So, why reinvent the wheel? Eric Ries suggests that a startup is a specific type of business venture. In his view, startups are human endeavors that can be characterized by two main criteria. First, they are created to develop and market new services or products. Second, they act under conditions of extreme uncertainty. His approach is widely applied in the startup world, so his criteria arguably serve their purpose. However, it does not touch on the mindfulness part. There are a few challenges for our society and entrepreneurs that, in my humble opinion, need some more attention: namely, the types of products and services that startups create and the way humans are involved in these ventures.

Eric Ries points it out quite bluntly himself – conditions of extreme uncertainty. Of course, we will have a much closer look at this environment later on. At this point, I want to propose that we consciously address these conditions and take better care of our changemakers. I envision a global entrepreneurial ecosystem that allows founders to mindfully navigate startups’ inherent conditions of extreme uncertainty in a way that allows them to take their whole selves on a fulfilling entrepreneurial journey. I would also like to see a global entrepreneurship community that supports more startups to deliver products and services that serve a socially or sustainability- driven purpose. I feel like we got so lost in hype about AI, machine learning and other technologies that we forgot a simple fact – the most crucial and complex technology any entrepreneur has to master is their own mind. I believe that this can only happen if changemakers venture into their journey with Entrepreneurial Mindfulness. The credit for this term belongs to Humera Fasihuddin, co-founder of the amazing University Innovation Fellows program (which will be mentioned many times, so you’d best get used to it).

Earlier the year, when I started to write this book, we had a conversation about the challenges of aspiring changemakers and she proposed an Entrepreneurial Mindfulness Meetup. While the event, which might or might not be held in Hamburg, is yet to be created, my mind was ignited by the term Entrepreneurial Mindfulness itself. Fast forward to today, I started my venture of making Entrepreneurial Mindfulness a “thing” and the school accepted it as a project, run by me as a so-called Faculty Innovation Fellow Candidate. The University Innovation Fellows program focuses on empowering students and, in turn, the two- year faculty program aims to support mentors to achieve this. For me, a substantial part of this project is to develop a solid proposition of what Entrepreneurial Mindfulness is and how it could become a thing.

And this book is my attempt to do just that. During the last few months, I read, I thought, I talked to people, I thought again, I systematically stopped thinking (i.e. I meditated) and, of course, I wrote down my ideas. I want to take you on this journey. I believe that sustainable change requires us to create the future from the present moment and to appreciate the wholeness of ourselves and our connectedness to anything and everything. And I believe that:

Entrepreneurial Mindfulness empowers changemakers to sustainably create the future from the present moment. It combines an entrepreneurial mindset with the ability to consciously envision a desirable future while mindfully acting in the present moment. A mode that I also refer to as “Being-while-Striving”. Furthermore, Entrepreneurial Mindfulness implies having the compassion to appreciate our planetary and our individual boundaries.

You are in the comfortable situation of being able to venture into this journey with a definition at hand. I did not! It emerged, and it evolved, I refined it and finally turned it into the three sentences above. In the remainder of this book, you will learn how to meet the dark side of entrepreneurial passion with mindfulness and compassion, get to know about all the facets of this definition and understand why I defined it this way. I bet you are curious now and want to learn more about the ideas behind Entrepreneurial Mindfulness.

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