“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and day that you find out why.” Mark Twain
Three years ago I created the first QiTopia – a weekend getaway to celebrate health, movement, yoga, fitness, outdoor adventure, music and community.
I launched QiTopia at Mt. Princeton Hot Springs resort in Salida, Colorado after visiting the resort with a friend the year prior. I enjoyed my visit so much that wanted to come back with friends and students so they, too, could experience the beauty and energy of the resort. During my trip I had visions of yoga, various movement classes, music, community, hiking, hot springs, mountain views, star gazing…
Driving back after that first visit was the creation of QiTopia, and a year later the first QiTopia launched with over twenty five yoga and movement classes, twelve movement teachers, 70+ retreat guest, myself and my son, Max. Wow! It was a great weekend with a lot of mishaps and mistakes. Of course it was filled with mistakes. It was also filled with good energy, high spirits, warm sun, beautiful views, and amazing movement. But it was the mistakes of that year that I value the most.
You can’t figure out how to do anything by sitting around and thinking about your ideas. You have to act on impulse if you wish to make a difference and launch into the world of creation – especially when diving into the world of yoga and fitness retreats. You have to be willing to suck. Fake it until you make it, right? Yeah, well, that is a lot easier said than done. I don’t think you ever actually “make it”, but I do believe in the concept of faking it until you become it. Faking like you know what you’re doing until you become the leader/entrepreneur you are meant to become.
You can’t prepare for a retreat, you learn from the retreat. And for the past three years I have been faking it big time…
The first year was okay, filled with mistakes; but, in the end, the weather was sunny and the energy of the group was contagious. It was a great weekend. I made a lot of mistakes but it was still a lot of fun. The second year of QiTopia is another story. This is the retreat that knocked me down so hard I didn’t know if it was possible to ever stand again.
The second year destroyed my confidence and made me feel like giving up. Looking back as I write this, I can still feel the cringe of embarrassment of year two. More than one hundred people had registered for the retreat from all over Colorado, and even a few were coming from California and Boston. I couldn’t believe the buzz that QiTopia had received after year one, and I could not believe how many people committed to the QiTopia adventure, all of them ready for a weekend getaway filled with promises that I could not keep.
Then the blizzard…the blizzard that turned my world upside down and inside out. It was the final nail in my coffin.
I don’t mean to be dramatic but the events that followed in succession that year truly changed me in a lot of ways. Today I realize that I have changed for the better, and I can honestly say, as I look back over the events of the past year, that I am grateful for the destruction I experienced in 2014. I am not here to complain; instead, what I am here to do is to share my entrepreneur story of life and death, and then living again with other entrepreneurs and humanitarians around the globe. It is our stories that connect us. This is my story.
Having one hundred people counting on me for their weekend adventure, not only pumps me up, it also absolutely frightens me. On top of the fear that was pumping through my veins, I was preoccupied and busy preparing for my final battle against the State of Colorado. A battle that I would eventually win; yet, I still spent nine months fighting for the life of my studio and for all things just in the world of business.
The State claimed that my movement teachers were Employees vs Independent Contractors. There was no merit for the case, but it ended up being one of my toughest battles in all of my nine years as a business owner. My case is a very long story, another blog post eventually. For now, all we need is the timeline. I went to court on January 24th, 2014, the same day that I publicly announced the closing of Qi Functional Training Centers.
That 24th day in January will stay with me for the rest of my life as an anniversary of my death. I died that day. I can say that because I have never been the same Dawnelle since. I am different person today, and the only reason I can be someone new is because I allowed the death. I stopped resisting and leaned in. I accepted that life was changing and I was fully aware that my life as I knew it was over. I was about to become very uncomfortable.
I was in court for nine hours that day. The moment I stepped out of court and turned on my phone I was bombarded with hate emails and ugly Facebook post. In that moment, I died. I died of a broken heart and experienced a complete death of my identity.
Three days later I drove to Mt. Princeton for the second annual QiTopia. I had came in the day before my hundred guest arrived. Later that night, one of the worst blizzards in Colorado, since I have lived here, happened. Eighteen inches of snow. Icy roads. High wind advisories. I died. I didn’t have a weather clause. I had no idea how to handle this situation. Needless to say, a lot of the guest canceled and I was left with still having to pay for their rooms. This was a big mistake on my part. But that wasn’t even the worst of my problems. The guest that actually made it through the drive were stressed out, crazed and upset when they arrived. It took two full days for people to start to relax. It was not the best way to kick off a weekend of movement, adventure and community.
No one loved me that weekend. The students and teachers of Qi were hesitant around me and felt that I had let them down. The blizzard was awful. And, even worse, I continued to receive emails throughout the weekend that ripped my heart out of my chest. I was an emotional wreck. I felt so alone. More than seventy people there with me, yet I felt alone.
Driving home after that second year, I told myself that I was done. I was quitting QiTopia. I never wanted to put myself through that kind of embarrassment and failure ever again! But, as the saying goes…”never say never.”
The third year of QiTopia was AWESOME! I made a few adjustments, and even though we experienced another blizzard at the end of the weekend, and even though half of the guest missed the Sunday movement and yoga sessions because of the blizzard, we still had a truly great adventure weekend. Friendships were made, we had a handful of movement breakthroughs, Rob Drabkin and his soulful voice, hot springs, snow shoe hikes with Yogi Magee – overall, it was an amazing weekend!
That year, driving home, I told myself to never say never again. If I would have given up after the disastrous QiTopia of the year prior, if I didn’t try to fake it for one more year, I would not have the opportunity to announce the summer edition of QiTopia – a camping retreat for entrepreneurs. A weekend to shut off the sound: no social media, cell service, wifi, movies, music, audio books, TV, podcasts – an opportunity to tune out the noise of everyday life to tap into the empire mind of the entrepreneur brain.
A couple of weeks ago I spent two days at the Shambhala Mountain Center at Red Feather Lakes, Colorado doing just that – I shut off the sound, tuned out from the noise, and gave myself the chance at tapping into a higher part of my entrepreneur brain.
I planned my one person retreat after listening to the audio book Entrepreneur Revolution by Daniel Priestly. In chapter four, Daniel speaks of the three brains of the entrepreneur – the reptilian, the monkey and the empire builder. I have listened to this chapter over and over again, and with each rewind and start, I get more and more interested and fascinated by the entrepreneur brain.
With knowledge comes great power… Once it sank in, I couldn’t help but to start making changes in the way I operate my business. As Maya Angelou states it so beautifully… “Now that I know better, I do better.”
I began to look back over my almost ten year entrepreneur journey and became very aware of the times I had lived and operated in my reptile and monkey mind. Quickly I realized that I spent 2014 living reptilian, and then, sadly, I realized how much of 2015 has been spent monkeying around in my monkey mind.
Then, after feeling the dreadful memories of bad reactions, terminated friendships, wasted revenue and terrible business decisions of my entrepreneur journey, I was able to look back and realize how much time I had spent being an empire builder.
I would have not have gotten this far in business if I hadn’t explored and operated as an empire builder over the years. The time spent in my empire builder mind was when I was my most creative and courageous self. So courageous, that in March 2006, I opened Denver’s first fusion fitness and yoga studio. The first yoga studio to offer the the fusion of cycle and yoga. I started with five weekly classes: 30-minutes of cycle followed by 30-minutes of yoga. The perfect combination of cardiovascular endurance, strength and flexibility, with the added benefit of breath and stress reduction. The creation of cycle-yoga has led to many other fusion offerings such as QiCycle-Barre, QiCycle-POWER, QiCycle-FLOW, QiCycle30 + CORE and most recently the creation of QiFlow – a multi-approach to movement on the yoga mat focusing on rhythm, new movement, new results, and body knowledge.
During my empire builder moments, I have been lucky enough to create movement teacher trainings such as Qi Yoga, QiCycle, Barre, Power, and have trained and certified over 150 teachers who now teach at studios, or are studio owners themselves, all over Denver and Colorado including other major cities across the country.
I have helped teachers become the entrepreneurs they are today, and have given many of them their first opportunity at teaching various movement classes, workshops, programs, etc. I love living, working, breathing and operating in my empire builder brain. It’s during my time as an empire builder that I am able to create, build, transform and inspire.
“A mentor empowers a person to see a possible future, and believe it can be obtained.” Shawn Hitchcock
When I operate as an empire builder, I possess the possibility of changing the future for myself and others. I love building people. I love being an entrepreneur, and I embrace my path. My path is to bring out the entrepreneur in everyone around me. I started this path as movement teacher, but today I come to you as a mentor. I want to give you the chance to experience your empire builder mind.
Listening to the reader of Entrepreneur Revolution explain our inner empire builder mind made me realize that I needed to calm, nurture and move out of my reptilian and monkey mind of 2014/2015. The reader’s words woke me up. I had to enter my empire builder space again. It was time for me to go into creation mode and fill my idleness with passion. This is why I spent three days at Shambhala practicing the art of silence. This is why I gave up the noise of social media, emails, podcast, music, audio books, movies, TV…I tuned out and I turned in.
The only way to feel passion is to launch head first into the pool of vulnerability. I am not someone who thrives on being comfortable. Staying the same, making the same decisions, playing it safe – none of that makes sense to me. Life is bright and filled with energy when I take risks, especially the risk I take in business. I love being an entrepreneur, and after almost ten years of owning QiFlow, I now realize that standing on my own is not only liberating, it’s also necessary for my survival.
This past year has been hard, but today, as I write, I know that it was the hard path that I have been walking on recently that has led me directly into the world of entrepreneurship.
Even though I have owned my business for many years, I was never really that interested in how the business side was ran. I was, and will always be, passionate about creating movement and leading classes, but it’s the experience of this past year that has turned me into an actual business woman.
This past year, I have spent every free moment of my time diving into my business knowledge and financial IQ. I have watched every episode of Shark Tank and The Profit by Marcus Lemonis, studied deeply with entrepreneurs such as Peter Sage, Dan Pena, Brain Rose and Daniel Priestly through podcast and youtube videos, listened and absorbed the financial ideas in the book Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki, attended my first financial workshop, deepened my knowledge of stocks, commodities and investment portfolios through research, and I proceed to ask every single person I talk with questions about real estate investment and business models.
With great knowledge comes great responsibility… I feel it’s my responsibility to help create, support and mentor the entrepreneur spirit of others. My road has not been easy, but to be fair to myself, I have never had the pleasure of having a business mentor. I have one person, a major leader in real estate investment, neighborhood restructuring, creative and innovate business modeling; basically, an overall very powerful man that I watch from afar.
He is not my mentor but I have paid him rent for six years and have learned a lot about the business of being a business from him. Even though I don’t have the opportunity to ask him questions, I do respect him and embody him whenever I find myself in a tough business negotiation or conflict. I have learned a lot just by observing him. He is my greatest business influence, and one day I wish to become a business genius just like him.
Everyone needs a mentor. I haven’t received too much of that in my life, but what I finally understand and accept is that I was meant to struggle, and I was meant to figure it out on my own. I am also meant to share my story. I want my story to inspire, uplift, encourage, support and to be used to mentor others. I thought movement was my path, but it’s only the pathway to what I am becoming. I want to turn the world into entrepreneurs. I want everyone, including corporate leaders, to have passion running through their veins on a daily basis. This is what entrepreneurship means to me – passion, pure and simple passion.
The dots were not connected until I went on my silence retreat at the Shambhala center. I thought I was learning about business for my own needs, my own survival, but now that the dots have connected, I realize that there is a bigger reason for all of my ups and downs in business. With each piece of the puzzle revealing themselves along the way, I learned something amazing about myself. What I have learned, is that through it all, the ups and the downs, I have finally become a good business woman.
Now that I have finally become what I was always meant to be – a mentor, an empire builder, a movement teacher, a creator, a business woman, a person who helps people to believe in the impossible – I’ve been in business for almost ten years, but it’s only now that I feel that I am actually ready to be successful and influential. This is the story I want to share. It’s not easy, and not everyone believes, but I do. And at this moment that is all it takes for you to be successful. One person to believe in you. I am that one person.
After finishing this article, if you realize that you’ve been spending too much time living in your reptilian or monkey mind, then this trip is for you. Even if you’re not an entrepreneur, this retreat is for anyone who wishes to shut off the sound and tune out from the noise of our hectic lives for a couple of days.
This retreat is for you if you’re missing the pulse of passion and have a desire to tune out from the noise that surrounds you all day, every day. This retreat is for people who wish to make change in their lives so they can make greater change in other people’s lives. This is a weekend to exit your reptilian lifestyle and to break free from the idleness of your monkey mind. This retreat is for empire builders…
*The following information is taken directly from the book Entrepreneur Revolution by Daniel Priestly.*
The Empire Builder:
Here is the problem. The brain was built in such a way that the lower parts of the mind can shut down the higher parts. When people tune out from the noise, they give themselves a chance to access their inner empire builder. They tap into new ideas that could help people, and they discover vast resources they barely new existed.
This is why I am so excited about QiTopia Summer! A camping retreat for entrepreneurs to shut off the sound, tune out the noise and tap into the empire builder part of your brain.
QiTopia Summer is August 21-23rd, 2015 at Shambhala Mountain Center located just outside of Fort Collins. A beautiful, majestic two hour drive from Denver. The drive itself is worth your time and effort.
Join us for a weekend of movement, silent hikes, meditation, outdoor mentor and journal sessions, mobility training, good food, and good people. This is a camping retreat I think you will always remember.
Click sign up here for more information. Reserve your spot early.
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