• Type to search or press enter for full results.
Type to search or press enter for full results.



Science and Monks Show That Wellness and Mindfulness Contribute to Healthier Living with Charlie Hartwell, Operating Partner, Bridge Builders Collaborative

Charlie Hartwell, Operating Partner

Science and Monks Show That Wellness and Mindfulness Contribute to Healthier Living

Helping patients take better control of healthcare situation through mind training solutions and contemplative practice


Science and Monks Show That Wellness and Mindfulness Contribute to Healthier Living with Charlie Hartwell, Operating Partner, Bridge Builders Collaborative

Science and Monks Show That Wellness and Mindfulness Contribute to Healthier Living with Charlie Hartwell, Operating Partner, Bridge Builders Collaborative

Thanks for tuning in to the Outcomes Rocket podcast where we chat with today’s most successful and inspiring health leaders. I want to personally invite you to our first inaugural Healthcare Thinkathon. It’s a conference that the Outcomes Rocket and the IU Center for Health Innovation and Implementation Sciences has teamed up on. We’re going to put together silo crushing practices just like we do here on the podcast except it’s going to be live with inspiring keynotes and panelists. To set the tone, we’re conducting a meeting where you can be part of drafting the blueprint for the future of healthcare. That’s right. You could be a founding member of this group of talented industry and practitioner leaders. Join me and 200 other inspiring health leaders for the first Inaugural Healthcare Thinkathon. It’s an event that you’re not going to want to miss. And since there’s only 200 tickets available you’re going to want to act soon. So how do you learn more? Just go to outcomesrocket.health/conference. For more details on how to attend that’s outcomesrocket.health/conference and you’ll be able to get all the info that you need on this amazing healthcare thinkathon. That’s outcomesrocket.health/conference.

Welcome back once again to the outcomes rocket podcast. Hey, I’m super excited to welcome today’s wonderful guest. His name is Charlie Hartwell. He’s a change agent, passionate about using his talents to create innovative, sustainable global change. A Harvard Business School graduate, Charlie’s helped use his leadership skills in 14 different industries to help build global movements and industries. He’s currently the Operating Partner of Bridge Builders Collaborative, a group of highly successful business people who’ve been the leading investors in the mine training space for the last seven years. He’s led teams organizations and brands to incredible results through collaborative and authentic leadership style that utilizes each person’s gifts to attain the stated goals. He uses practical wisdom developed through working in many different industries to bring fresh perspectives and models. And now he’s operating within healthcare. So I really want to give Charlie a warm welcome to the podcast and have him fill any of the details there in the bio that I may have missed. Charlie, welcome.

Hey Saul, it’s great to be on Outcomes Rocket podcast with you. I don’t have anything to fill in from what you said but I look forward to the discussion.

Awesome. Yeah me too. I’m really glad you carved out some time for us. Now tell me Charlie you’ve played in a lot of different industries. Why did you decide to get into the medical sector?

Actually I’m going to credit my wife for getting me into that sector.


Yeah she’s been a she’s a social scientist has been involved in integrative health care. She’s been practicing meditation yoga for 30 years and she got us involved in something called the Mind and Life Institute. Several years ago and then she introduced me to the Mind and Life community. That community really led a lot of the science behind things like mindfulness and other contemplative practices that the science behind all of that kind of coming into the mainstream. So she introduced me that community and through the connections I made there. I met partners. There were three at the outset who were forming the bridge builders collaborative. But that’s where I met them was in that community.

That’s pretty cool. And so the Mind and Life Institute sounds pretty interesting. What’s the focus there?

So thirty five years ago to land neuroscientist named Francisco Varella, a Stanford MBA. They may at a mangle and the Dalai Lama got together because the Dalai Lama knew that in order to prove what easterners already knew in their hearts is going to have to prove to Westerners through science. And he actually said you know had he not been the Dalai Lama he would have wanted to be a scientist. So he began to encourage people to do research around in their mind printing practices and you know the early years actually a lot of those scientists put their careers on the line studying crazy things like meditation or math. But then after 30 years 35 years you know another hundreds of studies every year. So the Mind and Life Institute is sort of a community of probably more than 10,000 scientists around the world that are studying contemplative practice and ethics and that’s where it’s got its start.

That is fascinating definitely something that that I’m going to check out Charlie and listeners the times are changing. Back then 30 years ago it was crazy it was like sort of hippy dippy thing to do. But I think now the whole wellness part and meditation has become more common place and maybe thanks to Mind and Life Institute and others doing these types of things. And Charlie it’s pretty cool that you met your partners there and now you guys are rocking and rolling with your business. Can you tell us about what you think a hot topic that needs to be on every medical leaders agenda and how you guys are tackling it?

Yeah. So I think that our society has looked at the health care system as a place to go to get solutions that are outside of yourself and what science is proving and what some of the companies that we’re involved with are proving that maybe some of the answers are actually inside of yourself and that maybe through changing thoughts and stories and through contemplative practice through different forms of brain training that actually we don’t need to look outside of ourselves for medical solutions. There are some things that we can just look inside of ourselves and actually begin to develop skills around mind training that will do things like decrease our stress or help. If we’re facing depression symptoms or anxiety or many other types of medical conditions so that I think is something that’s still kind of revolutionary to think that some of the answers to our health care problems are inside of ourselves versus outside.

That’s pretty interesting and Charlie you know I think at the beginning you highlighted this difference right. You brought about the idea that in the East people believe it in their heart but over here on the west we need to see it in their research. So a lot of that is maybe coming from this belief here is it intuition what is it that brings about these answers?

Well that’s a good question. I think the first thing that’s kind of what I’d say is sort of the gateway to all this is that in the medical system what I hear reported is that 70 percent of doctors visits really are around stress in the world that we live in where we continuously are bombarded by all different phones and the television and our computers and all of these different devices that actually we never get into a place where we can call our minds. So even you know taking 10 minutes a day and learning to sit in a quiet place and even just observe your thoughts can really help people to get into a place where they feel less stress throughout the day. So I think a lot of people think that’s pretty hard but it’s actually a pretty simple sort of first step to getting to take more control of your own healthcare situation.

I love it. So you guys are working with a lot of different companies. I think one of the ones that many of the listeners have heard of is news the brain sensing headband but there’s also a slew of other ones where you say the common denominator of all the companies that you guys work with is?

I’d say they all are Mind Training Solutions and they they go about it in different ways. So the companies each have their own unique method of trying to help people to connect more deeply to themselves so they can live happier healthier lives. You know we have everything from sort of behavioral health platforms to sort of knowledge memory platform to what I’d call sort of the Spotify of spirituality or consciousness to a company that’s gotten a lot of press recently which is Pear therapeutics. First FDA approved software dealing with and helping with addiction sort of software as drugs Behavioral Health platforms mindfulness apps. I mean I can go through them in more detail but we’ve invested in 10 different companies in this space over the last seven years and the common denominator is mind train.

It’s really great. And you know I actually I just started reading this book called Thrive by Arianna Huffington. Not sure if you’ve had a chance to dive into that one but she dives into sort of the idea of this third metric of success. We’ve driven so much by the first two metrics which is power and money. But the third one is wellness and she covers a lot of things here that you’re covering. Have you had a chance to read that one?

I have the book but I’ve spent time with Arianna. I just actually wrote a blog post about her commitment to sleep and her new book and the work they’re doing at Thrive global. And they’ve kind of followed and in some ways supported their business since they started because I really appreciate how Arianna has been a champion for this whole space and work with thrive global and kind of coming over from the Post. She’s really helping the whole space through her efforts to focus exactly on what you’re talking about is to you know really sort of begin to take control of our own wellness.

I think it’s powerful you know. And mine’s like yours Charlie and Arianna and I remember I was about four years ago. I was at the exponential medicine meeting. It’s a yearly meeting where innovation you know they talk a lot about innovation in health care and that was when I first opened up my eyes to meditation. They asked the room how many people in this room meditate and at that point four years ago I was definitely not I was one of those people that thought it was hippy dippy. I’m surrounded by all these super extremely successful people and I see about 85-90 percent of the hands go up Charlie. And I’m like: What am I missing? You know, I’m like there’s something here and not that it was. It’s all about like hey, success, success, success. But man like fulfillment. Right. And so I had to dig into it deeper and there was a guy that led a meditation session at that meeting and since then it’s become a big part of my day to day.

Now that’s great. So you do it on a daily basis or you do it like every morning or afternoon.

So typically what I do Charlie is in the mornings or at night whenever I can I don’t do both. I do one and I do anywhere between five and ten minutes of meditation.

OK. That’s great.

Yeah. It’s not long but what I tell people is that it’s long as you do it for a little bit and you get your mind just to relax and you breathe.

Yes. Pretty basic. Just focus on your breath. We do it like 27000 times a day or something and we do it without any awareness.

It’s amazing right. And we do it so often without awareness. And you know what. Actually Charlie you know we’re putting together a meeting in September and it’s called the healthcare thinkathon. And one of the things that I think would be cool is to actually get somebody to kickoff the meeting with a meditation session. Not sure anybody from the companies that you work with maybe interested in but that might be something that would be great to connect with you off line about.

I’m happy to do that. And you know what I’ve started doing so in my work I actually love going to conferences and leading panels and Google moderator for panels. Really what I’ve started doing is that every conference regardless of what the subject is, is asking the audience for permission to take a minute of silence to get into a zone. What I find

I love that.

Is that when we do that and when you’re asked permission and then people just kind of get more centered on the chair and they are more attentive their backs up straight and going through that minute. However each of them experiences it individually the whole hour changes or an hour and a half because people don’t go right back to their phones. They’re much more present in the room. The questions get better ,that people are engaged. So I have just started asking permission every time I lead a panel.

Charlie, I love that man. So I’m going to be going, I have a meeting in Philadelphia in a couple of days and I’ll be speaking there. I’m going to take this practice if you give me the green light.

It’s not my green light to give.

Listen, I’ll go and I will. I’m going to give you credit because I think it’s such a wonderful way to kick it off and and just to reach Sanner and I love what you said. You know people don’t go to their phones because they actually you gave them this gift of pausing.

Correct. That’s what I find. And they’re not even aware of it and they’re so accustomed to just sitting. If you want to be on your phone that’s totally fine. It’s cool. Leave the room and go do what you need to do and focus on that but just sit and be focused on two different things you’re not giving either one of those things the attention that it deserves.

Love it man. Now that’s so great. And it’s a big thing that we do here on the Outcomes Rocket, Charlie. You know we talk best practices and I think this is one that I’m going to take. But also the listeners, hey when’s the next time you have a group to address? Take Charlie’s practice and share it with the people that you’re out to influence, that you’re out to share with. And I think it’s one that will create a ripple effect of positive in your life and in the life of the people that that you lead here in care and beyond. Charlie in your journey your business journey your life journey, tell us about a setback that you’ve had and what you learned from that setback that maybe the listeners could get some pearls from.

So in 1998 I met the first woman who ever skied to the North Pole and the only woman who had skied to both the north and south poles. Her name was Anne Bancroft and she had a vision of being the first woman across the continent of Antarctica. She’d always done it as a non-profit model and spent years paying off debts as she went in and educated. You know some school kids you know through these expeditions and I met her and you know part of my background is as a consumer goods marketer. And when I heard her story and she wanted to go across Antarctica like it was one of the most emotionally professional moments of my career where I knew I wanted to support this through starting a business and marketing and helping people around the world through this metaphor of crossing Antarctica for a five foot four woman pulling 250 pound sleds for 7500 miles. Climbing sea level to 10000 feet you know crevasses and minus 20 degree below weather and she actually did it with a Norwegian woman named Liv Anderson. So the metaphor that I wanted to create was to empower girls and women around the world.


So I formed the first for profit expedition company in U.S. history to create a global campaign around this expedition and I formed an amazing team and the expeditions launched and the media started covering it and we were you know on CNN 14 times and on David Letterman and on the Today show I mean we got three billion media impressions and when they got back the business side of me said OK so you were called into the expedition. Now let’s do something more so I tried to build an education company from what we were doing. The mistake that I made was really not understanding what my calling was which was to make this expedition a very powerful global media campaign. And then I should have just gotten out. Instead I tried to push it to a place that I wanted it to go and we ended up the end of the women wanted to ski together to the north pole which is a very expensive endeavor and we’re trying to build an education company and a leadership company. And you couldn’t do two things at the same time so we shut the company down and really my experience of learning which was not an easy one as the company was shutting down was really listen to what your calling is and then get out of the way and don’t let your ego get involved and I think now that I’ve done that I know I need to push it here so I don’t know. That’s probably one of my great learning moments in business.

Now that’s pretty interesting. So how do you tell right. Because it’s hard to tell when you’re in the moment that you’ve taken it to where it is. Is it a gut feel? Is it something that you write out your exit strategy that you just commit to? How would you define that, Charlie?

Well probably different people experience it differently because we’re all built a little bit differently. For me if I just would have sat down and sort of said what is effortless and flowing which wasn’t building you know the leadership company and really reflecting back on what I was called to do I just didn’t take that time and really I never asked myself the question if this is what I had been called to do. So if I would have gone to that place I could have dealt dug into my just intuitive sense and said you know what you did what you were called to do. Now it’s time to do the next thing.

Gotcha. I get that. I get that. Yeah. Just being able to go back to your guiding principles ensuring that it’s in line with that and not going beyond.

Correct. You know and I had I looked at this if I look back at my first healthcare experience it was I started a nonprofit in the slums of Nairobi in Nairobi Kenya in 1988

That’s pretty cool.

And we built this organization and it became a health care organization. The first maternity wards ever I think in any slum that I know of in Africa had the first ambulance, the first doctors or dentists. We built this organization I think in the last 30 years it is served about 3-4 million people. But in the end there I knew that I was starting something and nine years after I started I turned it completely then my partner that I started with and I turned it completely over to the Kenyans. And I had no responsibilities. I just knew that it was theirs, not mine and they needed to take it where the medicos had actually been successful at doing this before I just let my ego get involved with the other business.

That’s awesome. What a great example and great contrast there, Charlie to another experience that you had that worked more in line with the way that you would have liked the previous one to go and and a great pearl of wisdom that you shared with us. How about the other side of the coin, Charlie? What’s one of your proudest health care leadership experiences that you’ve had to date?

So for me the work I’m doing in supporting my investment partners and doing this work with bridge builders and supporting the 10 investments that we’ve made I feel as though maximizing my gifts. I’m passionate about creating impact and building global movements so I’m able to do that. I think that the work that we’ve done has been sort of provided a bedrock in some senses for a whole new industry that’s cropping up that is going to have massive medical implications for the whole planet. And I’m just doing my part in the whole thing you know to co-lead this movement with a lot of other people and I think that we’re going to find that there’s some revolutions that happen that you know in health care and then the way organizations are run because of the work that the companies that we invest in are doing.

That’s awesome man. Definitely a lot to be proud of there and just centered and listeners, one of the things that you’ve probably gotten from Charlie at this point if you haven’t already is that he’s so centered and he’s in line with his mission and his why. And it’s something that I think is important for all of us to do as leaders in health care and leaders in general just be centered and take some time to understand why it is that you do what you do. And I think it’s just so key for us to make sure we keep that at the center. How about an exciting project that you’re working on today, Charlie I know you guys have invested in several companies. Anything in particular that sticks out as super exciting out of all the things that you’re working on.

Well since I’m a nonconformist I’m going to answer with a couple of them. So we support a company called happify health which is started by two former mill Israeli military guys whom I absolutely love together built a casual games company. Several years ago they built it. It was like POP3 casual games company in the world they sold it. They ask themselves what the heck did we just get people addicted to. Somebody told them about the science of positive psychology, mindfulness and cognitive behavioral therapy and they didn’t believe the science but they started researching it and they then got themselves convinced that that science was worthwhile to pursue. So they started a company called happify which was really to take their skills of building an engagement platform and taking the work of the leaders in those three areas and building a platform that’s a customized experience for people which is called Happify so they’re building a platform not to get people addicted to technology but really so that they are beginning to prove as an engagement platform that if you come to happify for 14 minutes a day three times a week over an eight week period you can see pretty significant results in multiple conditions and I’ll just take one being for people with mild or moderate depression like your depressive symptoms go down. So if you have moderate you might go down to a mild in eight weeks or if you’re mild you might get out of your depressive states. And this is to me really exciting because this is just your mind helping you to get out of that state. Another project that I am really excited about which was one of our most recent investments is called Insight Timer. Insight timer’s a platform. If you take a look at the meditation apps in the world today. There’s no meditation app that has as much meditation done on a daily basis as insight timer.


Million people download it. They have something like 260000 people using it every day a million two a month.

Why do you think that is?

Why do you think that it’s grown like that. Yeah because what they’ve done that I’m really intrigued about is they brought the wisdom leaders of the world they have 1900 teachers on their platform so you can go on the platform and just meditate using their timer. They have a great timer but then they have 1900 teachers that have provided content. If you look at all the meditation apps in the world most of them you know you get maybe 10 meditations and then you have to start paying for it on insight timer. You have 9000 free pieces of content and meditation you can use. They’re going to monetize through they just launched today, they launched courses by some of the leading experts in the world and you can rent or buy those and you know like Spotify you can get advanced features if you want to pay to 99 or 499 a month. But this content is always going to be free. And it’s global and the teachers are teaching in their language. So it’s a platform that really can spread globally through teaching locally. And you feel like you’re in a community of people because you get on there and you can see everyone in the world that’s meditating at the same time. And you can see people in your local area and you can see friends that you make on the platform and so I’m really excited to support that business and I love supporting all of our businesses. But those are two that I’m having a lot of fun with at the moment.

Super interesting Charlie. Glad you brought those up and listeners if you’re curious about the companies that Charlie and his team over at bridge builders collaborative are working on. Check them out. The website is bbcollaborative.com as in bridge builders bbcollaborative.com and you could check out their companies there. I think you’ll be very intrigued at the selection that they’ve made in these very impressive companies. Check them out. That’s bbcollaborative.com. Charlie, this has been fun getting close to the end here of our interview. Let’s pretend you and I are building a medical leadership course on what it takes to be successful in healthcare business. It’s the 101 of Charlie Hartwell. So we’ve got four questions here for you lightning round style followed by a favorite book that you recommend to the listeners. You ready?

I think so. Feel like I’m on a game show, right

And the first question.

There we go.

What’s the best way to improve health care outcomes?

Having compassion for patients and encouraging them to look for answers inside of themselves.

How do you stay relevant as an organization despite constant change?

If you’re always listening to your end users and your customers if you’re b2b2c you’re going to do just fine. If you listen to what they need and build according to what they need I think you’re going to be great.

What’s one area of focus that should drive everything in an organization?

I just wrote a piece on this in today’s world understanding what the mission of the organization is the vision of the organization and holding the leaders of the organization and yourself accountable to living by that mission and vision assuming that you agree with the mission and the vision or else you shouldn’t be there. I think that is incredibly important in today’s world.

Think that’s a wonderful message. What’s the biggest mistake or pitfall to avoid?

Probably not listening. I’m talking about this from sort of building companies in this space. Absolutely not listening to where the market is.

Wonderful. Yeah you know I reshared a report that showed that the number one reason startups and companies fail is because there’s a lack of market need.

Yeah they just think they know. I see that over time.

It’s unbelievable man. I mean I see this and I’m just thinking to myself man and then I’ve been guilty of it and I learned the hard way. And I think a lot of people do. But it’s just amazing how easy it is for us to fall in love with our own ideas and Charlie you hit the nail on the head twice one what they have to do is listen to the market and the end user. And the mistake you need to avoid listeners is just listen to the market.

And I’m going to go different than that.


I’m going to change my answers.

Let’s change it

Listening to what the people need not just listening to the market. But what is the need. Because a lot of things if you listen the market you wouldn’t necessarily know that something can be created because the market wouldn’t tell you that it needs to be created. But if you listen to what the need is of the end user then you can build something really spectacular around that.

And so how do you differentiate between the market and the end user, the need.

I think the market is kind of you have to understand how the market works to bring your product and solution then. But if you’re listening deeply to the needs of the consumers and then say Okay I understand the needs and that’s not being met. So let’s create something that and for most people that I work with it’s a personal thing that they this is kind of their life’s calling. These are the CEOs and start these companies that say you know I think that what I’m really passionate about meets what I’m hearing is an unmet need of consumers today.

Gotcha. Catch a good distinction, a very good distinction. Wonderful responses here on the syllabus. Charlie what would you say the favorite book that you recommend to the listeners as part of the syllabus is?

So I recommend that people read a book by a woman named Sharon Salzberg called Real Love. Sharon just came out with this book. She’s one of the leading leading wisdom teachers in the world. The book really talks about the importance of self-love. And I bring that up actually as a thing that I think is important for medicine. I know through my own experience that the more that you can come to love yourself, love all parts of yourself actually the healthier and happier you’re going to be in your life and the more fulfilled you’re going to be. And Sharon is an expert at that and a good friend. So that’s my book that I’m recommending.

Wonderful. What a great recommendation. Listeners don’t worry about writing any of this down. You could check out all of the show notes as well as a transcript of our discussion today just go to outcomesrocket.health/bridge that’s bridge as in bridge builders collaborative outcomesrocket.health/bridge and you could find all that including links to the book that Charlie recommended I link to Charlie’s company and all the companies that he’s working with. Charlie, this has been fun. I really appreciate the discussion before we conclude. I’d love if you could just share a closing thought with the listeners and then the best place where they could follow you or reach out to you.

Yes so I just started a medium blog about three or four months ago. So I do kind of a weekly blog post at Charlie Hartwell on medium just writing my insights into the what’s happening in the industry and I guess a closing thought for listeners is that if you just take the time and begin to set the intention around just spending more time connecting to yourself I think you’ll be amazed. And when you need it seek outside help along that journey. But in my own experience going down there and having the courage to do that which is hard to do in our society sometimes pays remarkable dividends to creating a better life.

What a great message Charlie and again this encouragement to our listeners to spend more time with themselves, loving themselves and being more mindful has been really welcomed discussion so I really want to thank you for spending time with us today and looking forward to following you and the things that you’re up to.

Well I’m looking forward to getting a note from you as to how the meditation goes as you leads at the conference.

Hey you’ll definitely hear back. So I appreciate you man.

All right Saul, thanks.


Thanks for tuning in to the outcomes rocket podcast. If you want the show notes, inspiration, transcripts and everything that we talk about on this episode just go to outcomesrocket.health. And again don’t forget to check out the amazing healthcare thinkathon where we could get together to form the blueprint for the future of healthcare. You can find more information on that and how to get involved in our theme which is implementation is innovation. Just go to outcomesrocket.health/conference that’s outcomesrocket.health/conference Be one of the 200 that will participate. Looking forward to seeing you there.

Automatically convert audio to text with Sonix

Recommended Book:

Real Love

Best Way to Contact Charlie:


Mentioned Links:






Episode Sponsor: