My story

Hi, I’m Vishen…

And most people know me as:

The founder of Mindvalley
an award-winning education movement with over millions of students worldwide and growing fast.
The New York Times Bestselling author
of The Code of the Extraordinary Mind, now translated into 25+ languages.
The founder of A-Fest and Mindvalley University
two major event experiences in the field of personal transformation.
The creator of Mindvalley Quests
a new kind of online learning platform that produces 800% better completion rates than the industry average.
A speaker and activist
working to evolve the core systems that shape our lives - including education, work culture, politics, and wellbeing (you might have seen my exposé on Nestle, shared over 20M times).
Vishen in a red shirt

You see, I believe the human species is capable of extraordinary things. More than any other known species, we have a breathtaking ability to grow, create, explore, love, and solve challenges. The key to awakening this potential is UNITY. We need to come together - which is in fact our natural state. Yet instead of uniting us, many of the systems, institutions, and beliefs governing the world today are dividing us.

I’m a father of two, and I want my kids to grow up in a better world. I want them to inherit a borderless and awakened world. A world where divisive politics, corporate greed, and damaging Brules (Bullshit Rules) have finally disappeared in the face of humanity’s limitless potential for growth and co-creation.

I believe the solution to that world lies in raising human consciousness. Which means evolving the way people learn, grow, work, and co-create. Inspired by Mandela’s quote, “If you want to change the world, change education” I set out to start a new type of education company, one focused on unifying the world and teaching transformational education - the things that truly matter for the human race.

Mindvalley was born.

And today we’re a team of some 300 people from 54 countries working to build a new type of global education system that defies all the traditional rules of ‘education’.

My companies, my technology, my writing, and my speaking are all in service of this goal to elevate consciousness for 1 billion people by transforming the major systems that run the world.

Education. Work. Parenting. Spirituality. Politics. Citizenship.

Our relationship with the Earth.

Mindvalley HQ in Malaysia

Below you can explore some of the key events and experiences that shaped the person I am today. I hope my mission inspires you to keep pursuing your own.

The early years

I was born and raised in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I was an awkward kid with poor eyesight, bad skin and Aspergers; but worse than that was the Malaysian schooling system itself: there was no space for creativity or thinking outside the box.

I remember often being force-fed with Brules that even my most caring teachers tried to pass off as facts: like how to be successful, how to worship God, what a proper family should look like, why I shouldn’t trust people from foreign countries.

My schooling experience in Malaysia was in short, horrible. As a child I would hope to fall sick so I didn’t have to go that wretched government school I was enrolled in. This experience in my youth was instrumental in shaping one of my biggest missions today: to evolve education beyond the outdated models of the past, and envision a new system that empowers people to become the best versions of themselves.

After graduating from high school, I moved to the United States, where I studied computer engineering at the University of Michigan. I barely graduated as I realized that schooling just wasn’t for me.

I tried the regular path, it wasn’t for me

After graduating from University in 1999, I was offered an internship in Microsoft - which I took without hesitation. Looking back, I realize I chose computer engineering because I assumed it was the “safe “ and “responsible” way forward. But I was miserable at my job and quit after 11 weeks realizing that “jobs” much like education just didn’t suit me.

But one thing did. I was fascinated by the world. In college, I spent more time volunteering for the student organization AIESEC, that exchanged students across the world to create cross-cultural understanding. How wonderful it would be, I thought, if the world was more united.

So I decided to move to New York, where I joined AIESEC for a salary below the poverty line. I didn’t care. I was blown away by the beauty of this organization’s diversity - which I vowed to emulate in my own company, someday.

At 24, broke from working for a non-profit, I decided to move to Silicon Valley and try my hand at being an entrepreneur. My timing, in a word sucked. The dot-com bubble burst soon after and I lost everything. I was renting a couch from a college kid for $100 a month and driving a car with faulty brakes. Finally, due to some luck, I got a job. It was a sink-or-swim job with no basic pay; I had to earn commissions if I was going to eat, pay my bills, and survive.

Well, I barely survived. One night, depressed and feeling like a failure, I got on Google and searched for hope. I discovered a class on meditation.

As I became more invested in meditation, something amazing happened: I became the top performer at work, and my sales figures skyrocketed. I got promoted three times in four months, eventually becoming Director of Sales. I was using my mind in unique and different way.

“Why the #$%@ didn't schooling teach me this?” I wondered.

I was blown away at how meditation was changing my life. So I decided to take it to the next level and become a meditation instructor. This was the decision that would ultimately change everything for me - and even led to me creating my own form of meditation, known as the 6 Phase Meditation (which I made free to the world).

My love affair with personal transformation

Vishen writing his notes in the office

In 2004 I registered a little website to sell meditation CDs. It was called Mindvalley.

I believe that a person can only realize their fullest potential when they’re in a constant state of growth. And through my work with Mindvalley, transformation has become the primary driver of my life.

Mindvalley was barely successful - just a tiny company building websites for various authors in personal transformation. In my spare time I worked on several other startups with “more promise” than a tiny little meditation site. Most of these were in technology. One even went public. But I never gained much fulfilment from this.

Always. Persistently. Personal growth would tug at my heels.

But I kept ignoring this calling. You can’t change the world teaching personal growth I told myself.

The Universe has a funny way of slapping you back onto your path when you ignore your destiny. And this happened to me. Between 2010 and 2013 everything I was working on started collapsing.

Except that is - anything to do with transformation.

In 2010, I started a transformational festival called A-Fest.

Mindvalley party at A-Fest Portugal

Mindvalley A-Fest Portugal 2019

Group photo of attendees at Mindvalley A-Fest Jordan

Mindvalley A-Fest Jordan 2022

An investor called it “The stupidest idea I’ve ever heard”.

That same period I started a tech company that got a $2M investment from Intel Capital Ventures. 2 years later the tech venture was failing. A-Fest, the “stupid idea” kept growing.

One by one my other ventures failed. I lost faith in myself. I had trouble sleeping and frequent disagreements with business partners. But the only thing that succeeded was anything I touched that had to do with personal transformation. I decided to make this my focus.

In 2011 something happened to shake my world. Mindvalley was a self-running media company building sites for authors. I decided I wanted it to be more though. My business partner in Mindvalley of 7 years tried to kick me out. In turn I asked to buy him out. I had started the company, and he had joined later. He offered to sell his shares for a ridiculously high amount. I didn’t have the money so I offered him all profits for the next 3 years till I paid him off.

I now had to fight to save the company I started. By 2013 I consolidated all those various sites we were building for authors and started Mindvalley Academy. I also merged A-Fest with Mindvalley and now we had a live events component.

With all profits going to my ex-partner it was a struggle to survive. We had no investors and no profits. But by 2015 I owned my company again. By 2016 Mindvalley was still losing money. We were barely surviving. Then something clicked.

And when it clicked everything started taking off.

Vishen holding his book The 6 Phase Meditation Method

The 6 Phase Meditation Method

A collage of Vishen's books on the table

Vishen’s books

In May 2016, my book was published and instantly became a best-seller.

My second book, ‘The Buddha and the Badass’ will be launching in June 2020.

In August 2016, we launched Wildfit - our popular Health Transformation Program. In Oct 2016, we launched Mindvalley Quests, our industry-leading learning platform. In July 2017, we started Mindvalley University City Campus in Barcelona.

By July 2018, we were approaching 200,000 students enrolled on our online courses and 1100 people actually moving to a city (Tallinn, Estonia) for our one-month city campus. Not only that but people were so passionate about Mindvalley we were receiving hundreds of messages every day about lives we were changing.

In two short years between 2016 and 2018 the company transformed and grew exponentially. Mindvalley all of a sudden became one of the leading brands in human transformation.

People see us as an instant success. (Few knew the prior decade of struggle).

Today, Mindvalley is aiming to create the world’s most influential education movement on the planet. And in the process create the big rise in consciousness our species has ever experienced.

We’ve given ourselves till 2038 to make a major dent on every major aspect of human life.

Vishen & Mindvalley trainers

Vishen & Mindvalley trainers

Group photo of the Mindvalley team at A-Fest

Vishen and the Mindvalley team at A-Fest

We’ve given ourselves till 2038 to make a major dent on every major aspect of human life.

Before we colonize other planets. We need to fix our own. This is what drives us today.

A beautiful side effect of Mindvalley is that I get to be my own guinea pig.

I now get to work with some of the top teachers on the planet, in fields like meditation, intuition, consciousness, meta-learning, biohacking, longevity, and more. Through this work I am constantly upgrading my mind and body - in fact I look better, feel better, and get more done now in my forties than I did in my twenties.

I’m incredibly proud of how far Mindvalley has come today. We’ve grown into one of the world’s most progressive education movements, with a diverse team of 300 amazing people from 54 countries - including artists, developers, teachers, learning experts, videographers, authors, and more.

The Mindvalley experience is a unique combo of immersive online learning, authentic human connections, and magic moments of wonder and transformation. But my favorite aspect has got to be the real-world events: where all of Mindvalley’s best people and wisdom come together to push ourselves and humanity forward. That, and I really love costume parties. :-)

Mindvalley creates momentum for all my biggest goals in life, and I can’t imagine where I’d be without it. I love this company and all the people who make it possible.

Bringing humanity together

Vishen writing his notes in the office

My life has always been shaped by diversity. I was raised in a Hindu family, in a Muslim country. Growing up, I struggled to accept mainstream religion’s divisive claim to just one form of truth. By the time I was 19, I told my family I could no longer identify as a Hindu. I wanted to explore spirituality not through the confines of organized religion - but as a phenomenon with the power to reconnect us with our true nature, and bring us together instead of apart.

I later married an Estonian woman from the Lutheran faith - at a time when many people still struggled to accept the idea of interracial or inter-faith marriages.

But in 2003, - my ninth year in the United States - something unexpected happened: upon arriving at JFK airport, I was taken to a small room and told I had been added to a Muslim watchlist (similar to the one Trump enacted in 2017).

The reason? I was an immigrant from Malaysia, a primarily Muslim country. As a result, I couldn’t board a flight or get off a plane without being subjected to three-hour-long interviews. I even had to report in to the government every 28 days. I was living in a constant state of stress, dread, and anger - and before long Kristina and I reluctantly relocated ourselves and Mindvalley to Malaysia.

I remember one particularly emotional moment when Kristina and I wondered if our future kids - who’d be mixed race - would ever have to endure this hardship too. This painful experience triggered another of my biggest missions in life: to break down the unnecessary walls that divide humanity, so we can instead unite and co-create in our beautiful diversity.

Charles Darwin describes this idea surprisingly well in his 1872 book, The Descent of Man:

“As man advances in civilization, and small tribes are united into larger communities, the simplest reason would tell each individual that he ought to extend his social instincts and sympathy to all members of the same nation, though personally unknown to him.”

I intend to do my part in bringing humanity together in this way. This is why I speak up against divisive ideas and policies in the public sphere. I make diversity an integral part of Mindvalley’s employment policy.

There’s always time for family.

My wife Kristina and I have two children: Hayden and Eve Lakhiani. My family is the center of my universe, and although I’m a full-time entrepreneur and activist - I’m also committed to being a conscious and present husband and father.

My life and my work are a reflection of that commitment. One of the reasons I founded events like A-Fest and Mindvalley University City Campus is so I could immerse my family in life-changing experiences with amazing people. And enjoy living in different cities through the year.

I don’t believe in work-life balance, but rather work-life integration. My work is an opportunity for my kids to enjoy an extraordinary education, far beyond what I got as a child. And I hope to spread that opportunity to as many parents as possible in my lifetime.

Re-imagining education for the future

Humanity’s level of consciousness is shaped by our collective approach to education. This is why my single biggest goal today is to evolve the global education system.

Why? Because over the past few decades, technological and social progress have far outpaced the education system - which still operates on outdated industrial revolution-era models. People are still being programmed to operate like machines. Which is why many of us are now concerned that we’ll be replaced by machines.

Through Mindvalley and my personal work as a speaker and author, I’m exploring a new vision for the future of education. What would happen if instead of graduating at a young age, learning was lifelong? What if instead of being tied to a physical campus, people could learn anything from anywhere in the world? And what if instead of focusing on exams and rote learning, we could make learning genuinely fun and engaging?

Mindvalley University

Mindvalley University

Kids program at Mindvalley University

Kids program at Mindvalley University

I call this vision Transformational Education. And through online learning platforms like Mindvalley Quests, and annual events like Mindvalley University City Campus, I’m committed to spreading that vision across the globe - so everyone gets the opportunity to create a life of extraordinary growth and contribution.

And that goal is to transform the lives of 1 billion souls by 2038.

Book me to speak

Vishen on stage speaking

Every year I travel to various events across the globe, presenting talks on personal transformation, company culture, and unity. Speaking on stage is one of my most important platforms for raising consciousness. I’ve delivered keynotes with the likes of the Dalai Lama and Sir Richard Branson. For me, nothing quite compares to the exhilaration of being on stage, sharing an idea with the potential to elevate humanity.

Book me now

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