May 1, 2023

Wood: Arron Mansika’s mindful mission

It’s been more than two years since Arron Mansika stepped down as executive director of Naturally Boulder, the Boulder Chamber affiliate that celebrates and connects the natural-products industry.

Mansika co-founded the organization in 2005, helping to build it into an innovative trade group representing more than 1,000 companies. Success of Naturally Boulder has been emulated by chapters in other cities through Naturally Network, a national organization of interdependent Naturally affiliates promoting the natural and organic sector.

Naturally Boulder and its cohorts provide a wealth of information and guidance for natural-products companies, from fundraising to supply-chain issues, distribution networks to direct-to-consumer sales, packaging to marketing.

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But while much attention is given to those outer factors, Mansika now is encouraging entrepreneurs and business leaders to look inward as well.

Mansika, who earned a master’s degree in environmental leadership from Boulder’s Naropa University in 2004, recently founded Mindful Your Business, a consulting firm, to educate business leaders on trained awareness, promoting it as a business advantage and helping, he said, to fill an unmet need. (See more at www.mindfulyourbusiness.com .)

“We position brands to gain capital and to gain all this, you know, visibility. And then the entrepreneurs themselves were the ones often being the limiting factor in the success,” Mansika said of traditional industry-promotion efforts.

Companies in the natural and organic space typically start out with a mindful approach to their business and their employees, Mansika said, but financial pressures can cause them to lose sight of those values and focus exclusively on the bottom line.

And mergers and acquisitions — a common occurrence in the natural and organic space — can contribute to that drift in values, with new owners less focused on the greater — and the inner — good.

“I feel like the industry is experiencing industrial-sized mission drift,” Mansika said, “not just mission drift at the individual level — industrial-sized mission drift. The remedy is mindful business at scale.”

A mindful strategy is essential for business success, Mansika said, citing evidence that mindfulness not only helps attract and retain quality workers but also is a key lure for customers.

He cited two global companies — Whole Foods and Patagonia — as examples of diverging approaches. Whole Foods, which Amazon purchased for $13.7 billion in 2017, has shifted away from providing outlets for new, regional natural and organic companies as it focuses on cost efficiencies and a national approach.

Patagonia, on the other hand, is widely regarded as the poster child of mindfulness, promoting earth as its only shareholder, Mansika noted.

Mansika’s flagship program is titled “Essential Awareness for the Business Mind: Bootcamp & Forum,” through which he seeks to strengthen participants’ self-awareness, interpersonal awareness and market awareness.

Mindfulness is sometimes presented as something “light and fluffy” or “serious and heavy,” Mansika said.

“Why can’t it just be approached as a pragmatic business skill that you can actually train?” he said. “So that’s the model I developed, and I developed it to be very incremental.”

Mindful Your Business offers training for any industry, reflecting an increase in mindfulness in business overall.

“Executive mindfulness is on the rise across industries,” according to a 2022 article in Psychology Today by Camille Preston, noting that mindfulness “can decrease stress, mitigate burnout, improve collaborations, drive creativity, and foster stronger workplace cultures.”

Mindfulness training can save organizations money and improve the bottom line, Preston wrote, with investment in mindfulness training saving organizations money and improving the bottom line.

Eric Holsapple, a founder of LC Real Estate in Loveland, recently published “Profit with Presence: The 12 Pillars of Mindful Leadership.”

“If we can provide a path for business to promote social change with growth and profit potential, then CEOs and their stakeholders will listen,” Holsapple wrote.

It’s that approach that Mansika has undertaken, and not just through Mindful Your Business. He also serves part-time as executive director of the Regional Institute for Health & Environmental Leadership, a nonprofit that provides leadership training for health and environmental professionals, the academic community, and the public and private sectors. The organization includes the University of Denver and the University of Colorado’s Colorado School of Public Health as affiliates.

As for Mindful Your Business, Mansika has come full circle, recently providing mindfulness training to the Boulder Chamber itself.

Christopher Wood can be reached at 303-630-1942 or cwood@bizwest.com.

Christopher Wood
Christopher Wood is editor and publisher of BizWest, a regional business journal covering Boulder, Broomfield, Larimer and Weld counties. Wood co-founded the Northern Colorado Business Report in 1995 and served as publisher of the Boulder County Business Report until the two publications were merged to form BizWest in 2014. From 1990 to 1995, Wood served as reporter and managing editor of the Denver Business Journal. He is a Marine Corps veteran and a graduate of the University of Colorado Boulder. He has won numerous awards from the Colorado Press Association, Society of Professional Journalists and the Alliance of Area Business Publishers.
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