Sean’s Story

It sounds a little dramatic, but yoga saved my life. It set in motion a series of life-altering shifts that had me brutally examine what I ate, what I thought, and how I moved.

Considering my demeanor 8 years ago, it is a miracle my wife remained married to me. During any professional workday, I was often tense about one thing or another and was regularly confrontational. I have always worked hard and have been able to ensure that my employees were well compensated. But something was clearly way off. I was not happy.

Soon after I moved to Portland and met my wife, I tore both meniscuses in my knees, preventing me from walking up stairs without searing pain. Eventually, my mother convinced me to avoid any medical procedures and instead try yoga. Without much conviction, I followed her advice, purchasing a beginners’ disc by Rodney Yee. Within three months of daily practice, I could run for the train!

I then discovered the 108 Days Ultimate Yogi program by Travis Eliot. I loved it! I completed several rounds and felt the fittest I had been since competing in endurance mountain biking. I felt compelled to add a healthy diet to my physical regimen. I tried the Whole30 program (30 days without processed foods, sugars, and other irritants) and loved the clean guidelines. Whole30 became a way of life for me. I was challenged to find protein rich foods without additives for my family, including my youngest son. As I researched protein options I was struck by how much many of the available products were geared largely for “muscle heads,” how medicinal they all appeared, and the degree of elevated sugar levels they contained.

Feeling good about my progress on the physical and dietary front, I then turned to meditation. I was intent on discovering anything that could help calm my frenetic mind. After practicing yoga and meditation regularly my sister joined me on a yoga retreat. During one of the social outings, she told Travis, “My brother used to be intolerable, so whatever he is doing is working!” While I credit my wife for much of the positive changes I experienced, I know that the combination of yoga, meditation, and diet was the secret cocktail for my enhanced sense of well being, contentedness, and empathy.

After an intensive yoga practice, I like to hydrate and consume protein that helps with muscle tone and recovery. During a discussion with Travis and his wife, Lauren Eckstrom, the realization dawned that drinking a protein water post-workout would tick all the boxes!

Working at the crosshairs of climate change, I am alarmed at how modern agricultural is depleting soil health. Increasing levels of carbon emissions being absorbed by the planet’s plants and crops are causing a drop off in natural protein production. We are experiencing a crisis with the lack of real nutrition in our food chain. Certain crops referred to as commodities—wheat, corn, sorghum, barley, oats, cotton, rice, peanuts, soybeans, and oilseed—receive billions each year under the Farm Bill. Farmers are encouraged to grow these crops regardless of current supply, demand, environmental consequences, or ability to actually nourish Americans. While American diets should consist of a variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, meats, and dairy products, the heavily subsidized commodities have assumed an outsized role in most Americans’ diets, contributing to obesity levels (35.7% of adults over the age of 20 are clinically obese) and high blood sugar levels.

I have had the luxury of immersing myself in a number of industries; all connected somewhat by the thread of sustainability. I started a distribution company in Argentina for automatic pool cleaners that helped avoid pools being emptied every fortnight for cleaning. I then co-founded a sustainable glassware manufacturing company with facilities in South Africa, the United Kingdom, and the U.S.A. After selling the glass company, I moved to Oregon to lead an energy efficiency and sustainability start-up that grew to a team of 50 with 9 programs in 18 states. I enjoyed a stint as managing director for a software firm that sought to develop a go-to-market strategy to deliver triplebottom line climate risk impact predictive analytics to Fortune 1000 companies. Most recently, I have led the pivot of The Climate Trust to launch Climate Trust Capital, a carbon impact fund focused on investing in natural working lands to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions.

My journey on the path of wellness and mindfulness has nurtured a passionate interest in sustainable food, healthy proteins, and a balanced lifestyle. Serendipity has offered me the opportunity to co-found Mindful Proteins with Jacoba Gundle who I’ve worked with over the past few years, and who shares my passion for sustainable living and a healthy and active lifestyle. There are many things such a company could do but after years of starting or turning around businesses, I have learned (often painfully) one simple but powerful lesson: Do one thing well. Become reputed for that one thing and make an impact doing so.

For many, you will recognize that this is in fact the hedgehog approach that Jim Collins so eloquently shared in his epic book Good to Great. He is spot on! Once we have a viable beachhead product positioned and gaining traction, we will turn our attention to adding additional fabulous better-for-you products.

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