Meet Harry and Melanie who run an online holistic health businessCreative Folk, Entrepreneurs | June 18, 2018
It all started with a goal to chat to entrepreneurs over 60. Then out of curiosity we decided to talk to entrepreneurs under 30. We believe these two very vast generations can learn and grow from each other.
This week we visit California and chat with Melanie McDaniel and Harry Sherwood from Consciously which is an online holistic health business.
Can you tell us a little about your business and what you do?
Our business is Consciously.org and we educate people in holistic health. At Consciously we believe in ‘experience education.’ Knowledge is meaningless if we don’t apply it. Experience is great if we are able to make sense of it and learn from what happened. Experience education at Consciously is about experiencing health for oneself as well as learning the science and theory behind each modality. We find people can make true changes to their health and lifestyles if they understand how to do it and why they are doing it. With this perspective, we offer 90-day programs in plant-based nutrition and meditation as well as other programs in natural healing modalities.
What motivated you to start your own business?
The name Consciously is inspired by the importance that we place on making each decision in life with a conscious awareness. Everything we do in life is based around choice. We choose to live a specific way. We choose to act a certain way. We choose to do everything that we do in life. Unfortunately, we also know there is a major problem with the health care industry today. There are so many cloaks and daggers when it comes to health and everyone seems to be teaching something different. The level of confusion that we saw from our clients was astounding, they truly didn’t know which way was up. So in order for us to help people, we needed to put choice back into their options. This motivated us to go beyond one-on-one coaching and create an online business where we can reach a much larger audience. We offer guidance in nutrition, meditation, and a few other healing modalities to teach people how to make conscious choices about their health, which causes a ripple effect impacting people in their circles of influence. We are dedicated to help people live life consciously and giving them back their ability to choose a life of health.
What were some of the struggles you faced when you first started?
The four stages of learning teaches us that before we take on starting anything new, we are usually in the ‘unconsciously incompetent’ phase, meaning we don’t know what we don’t know yet. This stage of naiveté lead us to believing that we would be able to put everything together in a short amount of time and that clients would roll in by the dozens once we were up and running. However, this was not the case. Building the website took almost twice as long as we thought it would and honing in on marketing strategies is always tricky. Split testing different parts of our marketing funnel wasn’t going well and choosing the right platforms to market on was also unclear to us. You can have the best product or program in the world, but if no one knows about it, it is very hard to flourish as a business.
What are some of the most important lessons you have learnt in life?
Harry – Life comes down to consciousness and energy… Our conscious awareness is in a constant dance with the energies of life (body, mind, environment, etc.). Learning to take part in that dance and to navigate how consciousness and energy interact is the secret to happiness and success. For instance, learning that we all have thoughts and emotions but we are not these things changes how we view the world and ourselves. Mindfulness and emotional intelligence are rooted in this principle, and without being self aware, we are left to navigate life with a severely limited view.
Melanie – Everything we do is a choice. We can recognise our choices or not, but we are always making them. Expanding our awareness beyond the little decisions we make everyday to the ways those choices impact others allows us to see our place in the world. It is hard for many people to think that something they buy today is supporting an industry that hurts children, or that what they eat has a monumental impact on our environment and fellow mankind. When we take our awareness to the next level we get to make choices from a conscious place and live in a way that we are at peace with. I am deeply grateful for all the small things in life that taught me to look beyond myself. I am even more profoundly appreciative to the lessons, hard and easy, that taught me to take responsibility for my part and not resign to sentiments such as, “That’s the way things are,” or “You have to.” Taking control of my life has lead me to impact the world in ways I couldn’t imagine and live a life I am proud of. It all starts with a choice…what will you choose today?
What do you like most about having your own business?
Harry – The freedom to create content around what is most in line with our values and the vulnerability that comes with it. Learning to live in a truly authentic place is a practice all of itself, but projecting that authenticity for the world to see in Consciously takes it to another level. I believe that we are being a disservice to others when we are not giving and being in alignment with ourselves. Therefore, the content and message that we bring to our followers and clients is serving them in the highest way when it represents that alignment. Consciously is both a reminder to be in my most authentic place as well as a gift. I also like setting our own schedules as well!
Melanie – Having my own business gives me more freedom that I thought I could have. I get to express myself in anyway I want to and when something needs to change, I am the deciding vote. I get to create what I want when I want and change the rules as I go. Being my own boss means I can help a friend without calling in sick to work, or take that trip I always wanted to and still make things happen. I don’t have a fear of being fired or wonder what would happen if I didn’t show up. I am the one I report to. That freedom allows me to be in my most authentic self and bring my brightest gifts to the world. The responsibility of being my own boss has taught me to hold myself accountable, how to grow, how to lead, and teaches more everyday. In this way I not only have the freedom to be who I am, I have the room to see who I can become.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Harry – Don’t waste your time in trying to please everyone. Build something that you are passionate about and that is authentic to you. The best way to attract people is to present something that you truly believe in and care about. You won’t be able to please everyone and it is a waste of time trying to. There are plenty of people in the world and not everyone needs to be your client. Reach the people who have been waiting for your help. Someone out there right now has been waiting for you to build what you are passionate about and help them reach their goals.
Melanie – Trust yourself. For most my life I let doubt cloud my judgment because I was taught to believe that someone else will always know more than me. I sought answers outside myself, tried to please people, and did all the things I ‘should.’ As an adult I have learned that no one will ever know what is best for me, only I know that. I am the one who knows whose opinions to trust, what to ask for, and what kind of people I want to be around. All the ‘should’s,’ ‘suppose to’s,’ and obligations fall away when you trust yourself. Younger Melanie, if ever in doubt, the only person who needs to be okay with your choices is you. Trust what you know, trust your intuition. If you act from that place everything will always work out…trust me, I’m you.
Who is an older person that you admire and why?
Harry – During my time living with monks and yogis in an ashram, I had a counselor that I will call Brother I (I’m not at liberty to share his name). He was the first one to help me integrate and understand practicing that all things are consciousness and energy. What he labels as the ‘witness’ is the part of ourselves that is always there, unchanging, that is simply aware of all other things (energy). As with our perspective with experience education, understanding this concept intellectually was severely limited. Brother helped apply these learnings in my meditations and bring this energy into my daily activities. The immense change these learnings brought to my life cannot be expressed in words. My perspective and understanding of things changed dramatically and true happiness, peace, and clarity came into my life. I am eternally grateful for his counsel in my life.
Melanie – I admire many older people. My teachers have influenced me from pre-school to my last year of college. Mentors have come in many different ways for many different reasons. My family elders have shaped me into who I am. I am not sure I could pick just one older person I admire. As I meet new people and see strangers on the street I am reminded of the lessons each person has to share. I think of all I have learned in my young life and marvel at how much a person older than me has to offer. My admiration moves from elder to elder as each one travels through my life teaching me new things in perfect time.
If you could jump into a time machine what era would you visit and why?
Harry – I would go to the early 1950’s to visit Paramahansa Yogananda. Yogananda founded Self-Realisation Fellowship and was one of the reasons that I started meditation. During his last few years of life (he died in 1952) the deep states of consciousness that he attainted were said to be incomprehensible to the human mind. I would love to sit in his presence and meditate with him during those years.
Melanie – I would visit the future. In this scenario I am staying away from the rabbit hole of space-time and assuming changing my actions today would have an impact on the future. If I were able to see what may come to pass and the state of certain issues, like the environment, happiness, and welfare of life, it would either give me comfort now knowing things would be okay, or guidance in what I could be changing now.
Anything else you would like to add?
Melanie – All of these questions are wonderful. They allow room for reflection and help someone really think about their life. Harry and I live in a world where we ask ourselves questions like these constantly. Our ever-present curiosity has helped us see who we are by challenging our beliefs, and in many cases forming new ones. We would not be who we are today in this life if we did not ponder so meticulously nearly everything we think and feel. Thank you for asking us reflection-provoking questions. You are doing a service to others simply by making them think. We hope you our answers have intrigued you and perhaps sparked another questions or two to help you live your life Consciously.