This week’s topic is: How to Mindfully Manage People with Ryland Engelhart
I am so excited to have a very special guest, Ryland Engelhart, who is an award-winning documentarian, an entrepreneur and activist, and co-founder of Cafe Gratitude and Kiss The Ground. Listen in as Ryland shares his business approach to maintaining a work and home atmosphere that marries consciousness with commerce, and so much more! This is a jam-packed interview so be sure to tune in!
- Ryland shares his business approach in maintaining a joyful, calm and spiritual presence…
- Creating a core mission without creating a mission statement…
- Staying present in your practice…
- How to overcome not enough-ness…
- We discuss parenting and how to manage our children’s struggles…
- Ways to marry consciousness with commerce…
- What the “game” is…
- What Kiss the Ground is all about and its mission…
About Ryland Engelhart
Ryland Engelhart is the Mission Fulfillment Officer and co-owner of Cafe Gratitude and Gracias Madre. He is a co-founder of Kiss The Ground, a non-profit that educates and advocates about the connection between soil, human, and planetary health.
He is also a co-creator of the award-winning, transformational documentary film, “May I Be Frank.” He is an entrepreneur and activist, using his restaurants as a platform to inspire more “gratitude” into our culture. He speaks on sacred commerce, tools for building community, and regeneration.
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Note: The following is the output of transcribing from an audio recording. Although the transcription is largely accurate, in some cases it is incomplete or inaccurate. This is due to inaudible passages or transcription errors. It is posted as an aid, but should not be treated as an authoritative record.
Kimberly: Hey Beauties. Welcome back to our Monday interview podcast. And I am so excited to be sitting next to our very special guest today, and my friend.
Ryland : Yes.
Kimberly: Ryland Engelhart, who is an award-winning documentarian, and entrepreneur and activist, co-founder of Café Gratitude and Kiss the Ground. And let me add, one of the most joyful, light, energy, happy people I’ve met.
Ryland : Thank you.
Fan Of The Week
Kimberly: Before we dive in, beauties, though, I just want to give a quick shout out to our fan of the week. This is sprouty_FW. She writes, “I have followed Kimberly since before she wrote her first book and have regularly listened to the podcast since the beginning. I partially credit her for helping me to overcome an eating disorder that I had for years. Honestly, her messages help me feel so much more calm and content. Thank you, Kimberly. The world needs more people like you.” Sprouty FW, thank you so much for being our fan of the week. Sending you a huge virtual hug. And as someone that has also suffered from eating disorders, I know how hard the path is to overcome them, so I give you a lot of credit, a lot of love for your strength in overcoming that. And please stay connected. Anything else I can do to support you, I’m here. We’re listening. So thank you so much for being part of the community.
Share The Podcast and Leave a Review on Itunes
Kimberly: And beauties, for your chance to also get shouted out as a fan of the week and for me to read your beautiful words, please just take a moment out of your day and leave us a review on iTunes, which is free and easy and just a great way to support the podcast and hopefully help other beauties like yourself find information that could really help their lives. And also, please make sure to subscribe. That way, you get that constant source of inspiration coming in. And it really helps for each other to support each other and to keep on track with this lifestyle, growing and evolving every day. So all that being said, I have our amazing Ryland sitting next to me. Ryland, thanks for coming up to Topanga, too, by the way.
Interview with Ryland Engelhart
Ryland : My pleasure. Actually, one of the things that I’ve always said about Topanga and why I’ve over the years wanted to move here was when you turn off of the PCH and you start going up Topanga Boulevard, the world kind of sloughs off.
Kimberly: Yes. Oh, I like that term.
Ryland : You really feel like, oh, the world and all the chaos and stress just, yeah, kind of falls away as you go deeper up the canyon. And you can really just start to attune to nature and peacefulness. Yeah, so I really-
Kimberly: It seems like your vibes.
Ryland : It’s definitely my vibe. I’ve been living in Venice for eight years, and it’s just a hop, skip and a jump down the way, but it’s a big difference.
Kimberly: That’s where we used to live. It is a different world. It’s amazing, 20 minutes can make a difference, a big difference. Is your day to day, more because you’re doing so much now … I want to hear all about Kiss the Ground and running the amazing Café Gratitude. Are you kind of running around all the time in different parts of LA? Or are you mostly in Venice? What’s your day to day vibe?
Ryland : Yeah. My day to day vibe is, we have an office. We have a management company that oversees all the restaurants called Love, Serve, Remember. And there’s an office on Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood. And so I go there, and that’s kind of headquarters. And then I make trips from there to different restaurants to meet with different managers, meet with new collaborators, chefs, and then just being in the restaurants. I work sometimes from the restaurants just so I can be in the space and champion the quality of being and the quality of service and food. And really, we’re a people centered business and we always have been. To be people centered, you have to show up where the people are and be present and connect.
Kimberly: I love that.
Ryland : And yeah, spend time.
Kimberly: Well, we had your parents on almost a year ago. And they wrote a business book about their business philosophy that had a huge impact on my business. And we do the clearings everything. And just, like you were talking about being, being versus creating a cold corporation where people don’t really know what’s going on in each other’s lives. So we spend time doing the clearing every day and connecting. And then they were always like, “Meet Ryland. Meet Ryland. He runs everything now. He’s amazing.” And now I’ve met you. It’s amazing to see the product, first of all, of such conscious people, but also to see that you are really injecting so much of your own energy into these businesses, which are about sustainable food and organic. And can you tell us a little bit about your approach to business? Because again, I know it’s instant alignment, but I love just hearing a little bit about. And you have so many, 800 employees, something like that.
Ryland : Probably about 650.
Ryland shares his business approach in maintaining a joyful, calm and spiritual presence
Kimberly: 650 employees, all these different restaurants. And obviously, when you’re trying to grow a business and maintain a business, things happen. And people make mistakes and there’s stuff that goes wrong. Just tell us a little bit about your business approach and how you maintain this joyful, calm, spiritual, being present while running a business. That’s a big question.
Ryland : It’s hard.
Kimberly: It is. Right? Lot of people.
Ryland : Oh, my God. People, people, people, people, personality, management. Yeah. It’s really, yeah, it’s definitely not for the faint of heart. Running restaurants is-
Kimberly: No joke.
Ryland : I think statistically it’s one of the most challenging businesses to be in. Seven out of 10 close within one year.
Ryland : So it’s very, very challenging, let alone doing it with a lot more vendors and a lot more discernment around what kind of ingredients should you bring in, versus just having the Sysco truck show up with one vendor that has all the kind of standard packaged foods that are not organic, or full of processed ingredients, not coming from a mindfully or some ethically sourced place. And so, yeah, really it comes down to I’m definitely standing on the shoulder of giants as far as my parents and what their vision was and what they set forth in the vision of Café Gratitude. But really, I think what has it even be possible to do what we’ve done is a deep, deep instillment. I think most business really, and we’ve heard this so much, but the bottom line really is the un-mess with able fact. We do, we serve the bottom line. We serve the ability to make more profit for our executives and for our shareholders. And that’s just not how we began. We began-
Kimberly: Completely differently.
Ryland : Yeah. Completely different. It’s not like we kind of was like, “Okay. Customers like that we talk about love, and we talk about positivity and gratitude. Oh, it’s a good business model to have organic,” selling organic ingredients to kind of put those up front. No, we literally started 15 years again from my parents sitting for a year kind of in meditative contemplation of what, if they could give something to the world, if they could create something and contribute something. What would that be? And that thing that they came up with was gratitude. How can we give more gratitude? How can we give the practice of gratitude? How can we give people the experience of belonging? How can we give people the experience of love, authentic love, and the healing experience of love?
Creating a core mission without creating a mission statement
Kimberly: So that was the core of the mission.
Ryland : That was the core of the mission, not creating a mission statement by some marketing company. Really, they wanted to interface with the general public and express love, express gratitude, express that our life is a picture of our mind. And I think-
Ryland : I was thinking about this one the way-
Ryland : Yeah. I was thinking about this on the way here. What’s the most powerful practice that I’ve maintained and fulfilled upon throughout my lifetime? And it really is the practice of being, that the practice of being is I have a choice of where my attention is in this present moment. And that’s my thoughts, my speech, my beliefs, my actions and my attitudes. And I have a choice, and I have dominion over where those five aspects of my awareness or consciousness are. And that creates the quality of my being and the experience of my life.
Staying present in your practice
Kimberly: And what do you do, Ryland, if fear comes in, or thoughts about the past, or what if this happens, about the future, or the past? How do you stay present in your practice?
Ryland : Yeah. So-
Kimberly: Because it sounds great. [crosstalk 00:10:51]. We all practice it. I feel that way in meditation. But then sometimes, especially as a busy mom, I know you’re a dad too, I just think, “Okay. Where’s Bubby? What’s going on?” Am I doing … The mind is so intense.
Ryland : Yeah. Totally.
Kimberly: And now you’re in my home, and you see how much yoga I surround myself with. And I do my practices. But I still have a crazy monkey mind.
Ryland : And not to say I don’t have a crazy monkey mind. I have an absolute crazy monkey mind. But I think, again, where I’ve made a little baby steps [crosstalk 00:11:30] is really in the recognition that there’s no cheese down the tunnel of fear, worry. And so there really is a practice of, okay, an assessment of that thought. And is it grounded? And distinguishing that it’s oftentimes not grounded. And then cultivating a new thought, which oftentimes really it’s not that complicated. It’s a creative thought of the future’s going to be better, good, or it’s going to be … It really is trusting that life is unfolding, and trusting that love wins, and trusting that the light does prevail. And those sound like big spiritual concepts. But it doesn’t live like … But just the kind of though that kind of ushers me over the chasm is some version of trusting that it will be okay. This too shall pass, that love will prevail, and that there is a blessing that I’m not seeing in this [inaudible 00:13:03]. There’s something opportunity to learn something, there’s to be present for something.
Kimberly: Ryland, did you grow up in a really … I mean, I imagine there’s a really conscious meditation based household. Ryland had a big advantage here because my parents were not meditators.
Ryland : Sometimes I have a little bit of shame, like-
Kimberly: Oh, my God. Well, karmically, you’re so blessed.
Ryland : No, I know. Literally, it feels like it’s like … Authentically, I’m like, “Wow.” I acknowledge I’m privileged. I’m white. I’m affluent. I’ve had good parent. But the amount of support and the amount of … Yeah. There’s an element of, wow. Can I remain humble enough and remain just grateful enough to acknowledge this incredible, that my parents and me, we’re best friends.
Kimberly: That’s so beautiful.
Ryland : It is.
Kimberly: And they let you be you.
Ryland : They do.
Kimberly: They accept you.
Ryland : Yeah. They’ve definitely championed me to be the me, be the who I am. And of course, showing up and supporting. Again, it’s not to say there’s been no challenges because there are. I mean, I think one of the biggest challenges in my childhood was just this experience of being learning disabled. I was in the resource room, which is the room where the down syndrome children, or the ESL children that are learning English for the first time, way later in life, and mentally disabled. And there I am, basically with that group as my colleagues and peers, and kind of just that psychological impression of I’m stupid.
Kimberly: Did you have dyslexia?
Ryland : Dyslexia and ADD. And so I graduated high school I think reading at a fifth grade level. Didn’t go to college. And there was a big story, a big reality that I don’t have what it takes to make it in the world. Yeah. My dad has this very … He was a very, very good businessman, Chinese but grew up in Japan, very, very kind of diligent, precise, dry businessman. Amazing man, helped my father become successful. But there was an element of him. And he said that you better put … What’s it called when you have a trust fund? You better put a trust fund for your kids because they’re not going to be able to make it on [crosstalk 00:16:21].
Kimberly: Oh, man.
Ryland : Talk about a burden to-
How to overcome not enough-ness
Kimberly: Yeah. How do you overcome that what I call not enough-ness? Which we all have in different forms. I’m not pretty enough. I’m not smart enough. I don’t have enough degrees. I’ve certainly gone through that. Again, we were talking earlier about the eating disorders. And there’s so much with women, our bodies, we’re not … Do more, do more. Fix it, fix it, versus the being-ness. How do you step into that? Again, I mean, there’s no magic button you press. But just the process of being okay with who we are, and not just okay, but celebrating this light and this uniqueness, what we call true beauty in our community, which is so much more than the surface. But it’s your essence. It’s your soul. It’s the unique spirit that only you have to give the world.
Ryland : Yes. Yes. Yeah. I think-
Kimberly: Because by society’s standards, you could, all those messages, oh my gosh, you’re in the special room. And you didn’t go to college, and all these things, even though you had a supportive family, we’re so susceptible to media and messages and peers. Aren’t we?
Ryland : Definitely. Yeah. I mean, I literally left, graduated high school with kind of a clear story that I would never be successful in business. I didn’t have the intellectual capacity to make it in the world. And I ended up moving, at 18 moving to Lake Tahoe to try to become a pro snowboarder because that was something I was good at. There was a moment where I distinguished that I basically distinguished what I was good at, or things I was interested in. And anything that I felt like I would fail, or I was inadequate to succeed in, I just bracketed off as not interested, or I don’t like that.
Kimberly: It was like a survival mechanism.
Ryland : Yeah, total survival mechanism. And then there was actually a moment of being able to distinguish. Oh, wow, I’ve labeled everything that I feel incompetent to do or try as I’m disinterested as a cover way to just-
Kimberly: Protect yourself.
Ryland : Protect myself.
Kimberly: And were your parents-
Ryland : You’ve got a little kale right here.
Kimberly: I love it. You know we’re friends when we can do that. I have kale probably all over me, Bubby’s breakfast, his pro pro he calls it, his hemp seed. So whenever I go out, sometimes people are like, “You have a lot of food on your shirt.” And I’m like, “Yes. I’m a mom.”
Ryland : I’m a mom.
We discuss parenting and how to manage our children’s struggles
Kimberly: Soon to have two. But going back to that for a second, Ryland. Because sometimes I think as a parent, I mean, it’s so hard to see your child struggle. What were your parents doing through that? Were they just letting you try snowboarding? Were they letting you go on your journey? Were they trying to guide you? I mean, your parents in particular, I’m interested. Your family is so fascinating.
Ryland : Yeah. So I definitely could see that it was a struggle for my dad. My dad’s dad is a professor, an English professor, so very, very intelligent. My dad’s very, very also intelligent, good writer, high level intellect. And so going through high school and I’d be writing papers, and he’d be grading or … It was definitely a point of suffering as a child’s relationship with their father of kind of, no, this is too long, run on. Just my writing was just not good, just grammatically not great, run on sentence, punctually not great. And he was definitely awesome at holding space. And clearly, I could feel disappointment. I could feel him wanting me to get it or feel like, no, doing this wrong. But I think overall, there was a … He showed up and he supported me through my challenge of learning disabilities and did a pretty good job of not leaving me feel judged or belittled by my capacity to learn.
Kimberly: That’s amazing.
Ryland : And actually, this is just there to say one of the most beautiful moments that I ever shared with my dad was when he, my mom had left him for another woman after 25 years of marriage.
Kimberly: Wait. Your mom left your biological dad for a relationship with a woman.
Ryland : That’s right.
Kimberly: Before Matthew.
Ryland : Before [inaudible 00:21:57] and Matthews got together.
Kimberly: Right, right. Okay.
Ryland : My stepmom.
Kimberly: Oh, okay. Okay.
Ryland : And they had in our hometown [inaudible 00:22:09], they were seen as the couple to be.
Ryland : They had a business together. And they danced together and they were publicly affectionate together. And they were successful. They went from rags to riches and all this. And then after 25 years, my mom left my dad. My dad, his attention and his adoration and his presence became distracted. And my mom wanted someone to be present and she found that. And it crushed my dad, and he completely lost his way. And at the time, he had moved … Because they had moved out to San Francisco right before this happened, and I was living there as well after I’d moved out from New York towards aspiring to be a pro snowboarder. And I found my dad on the rooftop of the building that we were living in. And he was just weeping and just dealing with the loss of my mother and their relationship and reflecting on just his mistake. And where was his attention? What was he making more important than that? And we put on Krishna Das.
Kimberly: The best.
Ryland : A Pilgrim’s Heart. And we listened to one of the songs and danced and chanted and just shared our devotion. And then we sat there. And he told me something that was so, so impactful, which was, he said, “Ryland, no matter what you do in your life, you can be a pro snowboarder, you can be a couch surfer, you can be a very successful business person, whatever you do, you’re already enough in my eyes.”
Ryland : You need to do no more to get my love and adoration. And that was an amazing moment of being let off the hook, such that I could live my life for my own aspirations and my own guides and intentions, versus trying to fill some false idea of what I thought he wanted me to be, and always trying to aspire to that thing that would probably be unattainable.
Kimberly: How old were you?
Ryland : I think I was 21 years old.
Kimberly: I mean, that’s probably the most impactful thing a parent can say to their child. I just love you for you. You’re enough. That’s it. Just be you.
Ryland : Yeah.
Ryland : You’ve already made it. You’re already there. You’re already enough.
Ryland : So yeah, I guess putting a tack or a moment in this moment and really sharing for the young fathers and mothers of the next generation and the gift of being able to give our children that permission and that acceptance that they are enough in our eyes. And may we get that they belong no matter what they do or don’t do.
Kimberly: I think it’s the most important thing. I think there’s so much power in that. And I think so much of the … I know for myself and everybody’s parents do the best that they can at the time. But I think about my whole life of being a perfectionist and striving, and then the eating disorders. There’s just so many different aspects of perfectionism came from trying to be enough for love, I think, because sometimes the message of unconditional love isn’t so clear. Again, parents always do their best. But there’s a lot of trauma, there’s a lot of wounds that come from that I think, that can show up later in our relationships. I’ve certainly had a lot of learning from my adult relationships that bring that out. And you think, “Oh, my gosh. A lot of this stuff is so deep.”
Ryland : Yeah. I’m definitely … I was in a transformational workshop in Phoenix this past weekend. And through that experience and then just coming back and having a friend. Our house is kind of like a revolving door of people coming over and hanging out in the living room and sharing story and connecting. And oftentimes, it goes deeper than the weather and the football score or something. And yeah, really just getting that. You talk to people in their 50s and 60s, and if we’re looking, we’re oftentimes still navigating, from my experience and my observation, yeah, the wounds and the traumas of our childhood. And just obviously, a lot of people dealing with addiction. And where did those habits come from? Yeah, it’s amazing and it really brings a sharp focus to the importance of parenthood in the early days. And really, how do we have our children get that they’re loved?
Kimberly: Oh, my gosh.
Ryland : And knowing that, again, it’s such a … I always want to be aware of how privileged my perspective is. I’ve definitely been called out for being kind of pompous in my, oh, our life’s a picture of our mind. And you can just change your mind about your circumstance. But that’s even a privileged idea. To even have that insight comes from a lineage of experience.
Ryland : It’s like, again, finding understanding that most people are doing what they’re doing because of the experiences and the possibilities and the circumstances that have … I, to really acknowledge, I could do the things that I think are the unthinkable things to do based on what I have been through.
Kimberly: Well, I think we’re coming into an age now with the exchange of information and these ideas and these teachers that despite my childhood, I didn’t have parents that were, for lack of a better term, I love my parents, they’re amazing. Yeah, but the consciousness, the meditation, the saying to me, “Whatever you do is enough.” I was always trying to get better grades and do enough for that love. But that’s part of my learning. And now it kind of propelled me to seek teachings, and particularly the yogic path, and to discover more. So sometimes you come to this learning and understanding with a so-called ideally loving childhood or not. But it’s all part of the different ways we come in. So to bring it back, Ryland.
Ryland : We went way-
How do you marry the consciousness with the commerce?
Kimberly: No, no. But it’s related. So when we know and we believe we’re enough, as we are, we’re being, we all have that true beauty inside of us, the light. But then now here you are managing 650 people. And you’re in a business, and there is still a bottom line to the business. So how do you reconcile being, it’s all enough, with I want to be successful? I want to create things in the world and I want this business to succeed. To get back to I think my original question about your business philosophy. How do you marry the consciousness with the commerce?
Ryland : Yeah.
Kimberly: There’s the practical part.
Ryland : Totally. And I’ll just say on some level, if there’s a code to be cracked in how to do that, I don’t know.
Kimberly: I love it. Yeah.
Ryland : Yeah, I do too. It is a humbling, very challenging, razor’s edge to walk because, yeah, there’s the idea of family, creating family inside of a work environment. And that sounds nice and mushy and good. But then there’s the unworkability of, you can’t fire your son. You don’t fire your son.
Ryland : And in a business, if someone can’t perform the job that they’re there to do, that’s a challenging pickle to be in. Yeah, that’s a challenging dynamic. So I mean one of the things that I think we’ve been successful at in that many people who’ve worked for Café Gratitude have said, this is one of the most amazing, or the most amazing place to work that I’ve ever worked. I’ve transformed. I’ve grown. I’ve learned so much, not just about how to be a server, bartender, but about my ability to elevate my awareness, or that I have an internal dialogue that’s not true, that what I hear, the voice chattering in my mind is not actually the truth. And I don’t have to [crosstalk 00:33:09].
Kimberly: Yes. You don’t have to believe all your thoughts.
Ryland : Yeah. And that a restaurant company could give people insights into, yeah, how to be in the world, more compassionate, more loving, more forgiving, more kind, more aware, and more connected to that my life is a picture of what my thoughts, speech, beliefs, actions and attitudes are focused on, and that we can in every moment change where that focus is. Our life is an altar, and we can put anything on the altar of our lives. And we can put right now, I have the opportunity to place my awareness on the beauty and the amazingness of this conversation and this environment around me, or that I’m failing on some deadline. And again, the circumstances could be the same. But where my awareness is supremely creates my experience. And how do we … And use gratitude as the lever to continuously shift our awareness. And actually, one of the principles of the workshop that I just did in Phoenix this past weekend was for biologically for things to evolve, there’s three components. There’s time. There’s recurrence and environment. And based on those three things, creates evolutionary-
Kimberly: So your recurrent thoughts or your recurrent attitude.
Ryland : Anything, any example of recurrent, anything that’s going to recur will evolve or devolve, you could say.
Kimberly: And what was the third one, attitude or environment?
Ryland : Environment.
Kimberly: So that’s-
Ryland : That’s the container.
Kimberly: Everything around it.
Ryland : Yeah.
Kimberly: Would that include the energy around it, the attitudes around it, the relationships. Okay.
Ryland : That’s right. That’s it. And so just simply that. And again, that really is the point of Café Gratitude, is we … And we actually have four insights that we created when we first opened the restaurant, which was create a sacred space, be an invitation, be in the game, and be the space for all of it. So create a sacred space, that’s the environment, that’s the restaurant. So it’s like, all right, this environment has a particular energy, an intention, a visual experience, music experience, art experience.
Kimberly: The curation of the food.
Ryland : And then be an invitation is like, “Hey, come check this out. This is good food, good service, amazing people, real human connection. We acknowledge you. We tell you that you are wonderful, and you’re beautiful. And you’re cool if you come in.” And we ask you a question of the day. What are you grateful for? Inviting you in to shifting your awareness. That’s the [inaudible 00:36:41]. And that’s the brilliant thing about the question: What are you grateful for? Because it actually nows us to the moment, it brings us. You go, “What am I grateful for? You mean right now?” Yeah. Okay. You have to then go, “What am I grateful. Okay. Let me assess.” I’m grateful for that I have really good gut health. So many people are struggling with things going on in their belly. I’m just grateful for the ability to digest food and that I have wellness in my stomach. And so again, we’ve given millions of people the opportunity to shift their awareness.
Kimberly: It’s beautiful. Right here, where a lot of people don’t live.
Ryland : Yeah. Again, as aspirational as I’m talking about, yeah, we mostly don’t. We don’t live there. But back to time, recurrence and environment, what is the recurrence? All right. Well, the recurrence is going to be the question. What are you grateful for?
Kimberly: And then the next one is be … What was it? Invitation.
Ryland : Oh, yes. So the four insights. So yeah, be an invitation, so we invite people into the restaurant and into the experience of invite people into gratitude. What are you grateful for? And then the third one is be in the game.
What the “game” is
Kimberly: What’s the game?
Ryland : The game is-
Ryland : The game is life. The game is we’re creating a life called the grateful view of life. And Café Gratitude, that’s our game. And the question becomes: Are we living examples of practicing what we preach? Are we being-
Ryland : Yeah. Are we being authentic? Are we being truly grateful human beings? Are we being loving, present? And so you can’t … I mean, you can, but if you’re not in the game of what you’re selling, you’re not going to be selling it for that long. So it really is like: Can we be an authentic example of this lifestyle that we’re promoting and that we’re saying is great? Come on in, check it out. So be in the game. And then be the space for all of it, meaning some people will love you, and some will throw flowers and some will throw rotten tomatoes. And so yeah, and just be okay with that that’s all coming. And can you acknowledge that that’s all coming?
Kimberly: All the sides. And that doesn’t sway you. You know your truth.
Ryland : Exactly. Yeah. Can you be the space for all of it? Knowing that the greatest intentions in the world have been hung up on a cross.
Kimberly: It’s true.
Ryland : Love, the embodiment of love, we crucified. And we could say that like a historical, Biblical story, or we could say that like our cynicism that goes, “You.” Someone does something beautiful and we kill that. We kill that innocence and that beauty with our cynicism.
Kimberly: Cynicism, sarcasm. The be in the game one I think is the most interesting. So I always talk about 80/20 because even though we promote a healthy lifestyle, I’m certainly not perfect. And I eat french fries sometimes and pretzels. And so I think that again, there’s not this … I talk about perfectly imperfect. That was my last book, this idea that we’re trying and none of us are going to be perfect. And sometimes I used to get really used to kind of just get in my mind. What’s going on? When I would meet authors are teachers, and them in person was very different than what they would write in their books. Right? The message was not aligned, but they knew this idea is the right way, but they weren’t living it.
Kimberly: So again, I’m going to ask you the tough questions, Ryland, that I kind of contemplate myself. Where does the line go with in authenticity, or in the game? Or I guess maybe it’s that vulnerability saying, “Hey.” Like Deepak, who was my co-author of my last book, sometimes people ask him questions. I’ve been with him in person. And he’ll say, “I don’t know. I’m not God.” He literally acknowledges, I don’t know. Right? So there’s that humbleness. Sometimes people put up the façade like you know everything, here I am. But they’re not living it.
Ryland : Totally. Yeah.
Kimberly: It’s tough. Maybe it’s more of a feeling. There isn’t a right definition.
Ryland : Yeah. I mean, I think that we all have been caught perpetrating perfection or perpetrating-
Kimberly: Ideal. Yeah.
Ryland : High and mighty. And I think where we connect is where we actually let down the drawbridge and we say, “See my imperfect. See my brokenness. See my struggle. See my false perfection. See the ugliness of my pride.” And our willingness, and again, sometimes it feels not safe to do that. And again, I think the most extraordinary leaders are those who can publicly … I remember Michael Beckwith saying something beautiful, which was, “Being a minister is like learning in public.” And so yeah, I think the most extraordinary and admirable leaders are people who continue to let the world know, let their following know that I’m just a mere man or woman walking my path, trying to share the wisdom that’s been gifted to me, such that it can be helpful for another. It’s such an interesting thing. Right? We want to be leaders. We want to be important. We want to be on the stage. We want to have the spotlight on us.
Ryland : But really, the where our hearts are touched and where we’re moved is when we simply have … The win in the experience is when we’re able to give something to another and see that thing being reciprocated and useful, and that the other that’s being contributed to, that thing that they’re getting, they actually get that they have it. It’s not from you. It’s interesting. And again, I get stuck in this quandary of false aspiration of trying to build my personal brand. But it’s like really the whole thing is being of service, contributing to others, making a difference, lifting another up. And ultimately, that has nothing to do with you being, having some platform of-
What Kiss the Ground is all about and its mission
Kimberly: Yeah. Well, it’s the obsession with the likes and all that aspect of it, which is sort of why I’m … Now tell us about your passion project, Kiss the Ground, which is about … Well, tell us what it’s about. It’s about the collective. It’s about the whole. It’s about nature. It’s about connection. This feels like the next evolution for Ryland.
Ryland : It is. It really is. It’s the whisper that I heard in my heart that …
Kimberly: When you meditated on what you want to give the world now.
Ryland : It wasn’t so specific or I set out to meditate on it. It was literally I was in New Zealand. I went to New Zealand to lead a course or a seminar course at a conference on sacred commerce, the business philosophy of Café Gratitude. And I went there, and I kind of went there a little bit with some California arrogance of, oh, yeah, Café Gratitude. We’re such a sustainable business and mindfulness and spirituality woven in. And that was great. I did my class and it was great. But what I got on that trip was a complete, complete new view of life. It was a complete epiphany experience. And I think I want to back up in that.
Ryland : I’ve always been struggling because I was always around artists, musicians, chefs, writers, poets. And I never really had my … What’s my gift? What’s my thing that I can give people that has me experience purpose and service? And the thing that had come to me years before this trip to New Zealand was your life is about being love. And even the cynicism in my own mind was like, “Be love. What do you mean? What does that really do?” Just eat that to pieces. How’s that really going to help? How’s that going to make you money? What’s the look like? That sounds like some woo woo nonsense. But the whisper and the experience and the reflection of that conversation or that awareness of your life is for being love. And that’s what we’re all looking for. We’re all looking for this connection to the indwelling presence of love, and then the ability to serve and be compelled and take actions from that indwelling presence of love.
Ryland : And really, that had become my calling in life. And even though I was clear about that, and I got that tattooed on my arm. It says, “Be love,” on my arm. And that was the practice of, okay, I’m going to forget. I’m going to have amnesia, who I am and what my life’s about, and I’m going to write it on my arm like a memento so I remember. Oh, my life is about being love when I get lost. And so fast forward back to New Zealand. Even though that had made sense and I had really taken that on as a life practice of: Can I encounter everyone I encounter with the practice of being love? And that being love is always a choice no matter what the world or my circumstance that I’m navigating or dealing with are.
Ryland : But there was still an aspect of: How can I really mobilize that? What is the mobilized action of that intention and of that way of being? And so there I am in New Zealand. I’m sitting in the audience of a panel discussion called: Can Human Beings Sustain Themselves on Planet Earth? And five out of the six expert scientists are saying no.
Kimberly: We’re doomed.
Ryland : We’re doomed. We’re doomed. It’s dire. Even what people tell us is a skewed view because most of the NGOs, the nonprofits, it’s not a good environment to raise money if people are hopeless. And so there’s even a skewed view from that perspective. And it was a daunting, shocking, tear filled moment. And then the last guy who spoke was a guy by the name of Graeme Sait. And he was sort of a soil expert. He trained farmers in how to do biological, what he called biological agriculture. And basically, he shared a story about how humus could save the world. And humus is hume, Earth, so humility, humor, human, and humus are all from the Latin root, which means hume, of and for the earth, or close to the earth and living close to the earth. Human beings, we’ve gotten away from being human beings, meaning that we’ve gotten away from living close to the earth.
Ryland : But what he said was that there’s actually a way that we can reverse global warming, that we can reverse climate change, that we can actually take the carbon that’s in the atmosphere that’s causing global warming, and that we can draw that carbon down back into the ground.
Kimberly: And fix it.
Ryland : And we can make that problem into a solution, and that we can repair our land.
Kimberly: Through the soil, through healthy soil.
Ryland : Through healthy soil, and that we can actually deploy every plant, grass, or every tree on the planet to really work with nature and draw that carbon down to bring us back below pre industrial levels of carbon in the atmosphere, stabilizing the climate.
Kimberly: What scale are we talking?
Ryland : That’s what he said. Again, the ah-ha moment was for the first time in my life, even though I’d been in the organic food business selling and preaching about organic food and [crosstalk 00:52:56].
Kimberly: Yeah. For years.
Ryland : People and the planet. I didn’t really get. I just, oh, it’s less chemicals. Oh, it’s more natural. Oh, it’s better for us. It’s better. But I didn’t really get the biological process of nature and soil and microorganisms and photosynthesis, and how carbon cycles. And what he said is that there’s not more carbon on planet Earth now than there was five million years ago. It’s just there’s an imbalance, or it’s been displaced. And he explained that 500 million years ago, that there was tons, there was way more greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. And we actually, it was an unlivable, uninhabitable planet. There was actually no plants on land. There was only plants in the ocean. And actually, when plants came out of the ocean onto land and they started to build their bodies, those plants started to build their bodies out of carbon in the atmosphere, and they processed that carbon into their bodies.
Ryland : That’s the carbon that makes the plant matter. And as they drew that carbon down and they actually sequestered that carbon into their bodies and also into the soil, that’s actually what made the planet the livable, habitable Garden of Eden that we’ve gotten to evolve inside of, on top of, inside of. And that it’s not about the idea that we can work with nature to heal and regenerate the planet is simply just aligning ourselves with being an organism that is part of this bigger biological organism that is Earth, that is life. You think about nature, there’s all these little, everything from the microorganism, to the birds, to the bats, to the bees, to the fungi, the mushrooms-
Kimberly: There’s a synergy.
Ryland : There’s this interconnected, there’s this inter being-ness that’s happy, that’s processing life. There’s this continuous decomposition and re-composition. And that actually, nature is a regenerative system that we as human beings, when we took ourselves out of nature, and we said that we have dominion over nature, that we control nature, versus we’re a part of nature, we then broke that circle. And in turn created all this imbalance and destruction.
Kimberly: And health problems.
Ryland : Yeah. Exactly. It goes, you can go in or out with the kaleidoscope to see the damage at a small level or a [crosstalk 00:56:03].
Ryland : But basically, for the first time, what I saw was that human beings could actually be a beneficial presence on the planet that could actually heal the brokenness that we created.
Kimberly: Even with the incredible population density that we have now.
Ryland : That’s right.
Kimberly: Even with that.
Ryland : That’s right.
Ryland : Because there’s been examples of, let’s say the big island in Hawaii. I think there was, on the big island, there was a million people living on the big island pre … Excuse me if my numbers are slightly off. And basically 100% of the food was being completely generated-
Kimberly: I’ve heard that, yes, big island.
Ryland : From they had this beautiful term and way of perceiving all the valleys and the rivers that were coming from the top of the mountain down to the ocean. And they were kind of these watersheds, and they had this system to really understand that if upstream and downstream is all connected. And how do we have this system continue to perpetuate life, more life as time goes on, versus destruction and less life? And so they were feeding that whole community, that million people on that island for a long period of time. I don’t know what the years are. And continued to proliferate and have more people, but having the ability to create more sustenance, more abundance from the earth. And again, through a relationship with the land that understood the reciprocity of our relationship to nature. And so again-
Kimberly: So Kiss the Ground.
Ryland : Yeah, Kiss the Ground.
Ryland : Kiss the Ground was born out of this realization that we as human beings can regenerate and heal the earth and that we can reverse climate change. And it really starts with a new paradigm of thinking in our relationship to who we are and how we manage land or how we interact with land, with the earth.
Kimberly: And so it’s beyond just organic, supporting organic.
Ryland : Organic agriculture in its inception was a beautiful version of regenerative agriculture. But as time has gone on and it’s become very popular, and industry wanted to be able to participate in that market share, the regulations became much more diluted and to where now it’s really a list of things that you can’t do that will make it inorganic if there’s conventional pesticides, or herbicides, or hormones, or pharmaceuticals used in the system. So again, it’s a list of what you can’t do versus a list of what you could do or should do to actually have the soil thrive and be healthy.
Kimberly: I see.
Ryland : And so again, it’s the difference between organic kind of sustained something, where regenerative agriculture is really about regenerating something and continually provides inputs and a reciprocity where the system gets healthier over time, versus depleted over time.
Kimberly: So is Kiss the Ground giving funding to farmers? Is it teaching it?
Ryland : So we’ve been primarily an education and advocacy nonprofit. And our mission is inspiring global participation, inspiring participation in global regeneration starting with soil. And so what we’ve been doing since the beginning is we’ve been creating educational media and assets, like infographics and curriculums to educate people on the potential and the process and the pathway of how we can regenerate our soil, how we can regenerate our farms, how we can regenerate our land.
Kimberly: What can everyday people do, like anyone listening to this? A couple things.
Ryland : Great. Absolutely. So the easiest thing is we have to … If I just tell you to go do something, if I just go tell you to compost, you have no context for that, so you won’t do it. I just know because I’ve had the experiences.
Kimberly: You’re like, “What do I do?”
Ryland : You have to get more educated so that you become touched, or what I say, you’ve become stung by the sting of awareness or the sting of awakening. You become woke to, wow, there’s a possibility here that I need to continue to follow this thread forward and start [crosstalk 01:01:29].
Kimberly: Love that analogy.
Ryland : Forward.
Ryland : So essentially, what you’ve heard right now, maybe you’d be interested. Oh, this guy’s kind of cool. He seems passionate about what he’s doing. But I don’t think people have enough awareness to where they do anything substantial yet. So people need to become more aware and more educated before then they have autonomy and the ability to on their own volition take actions. So essentially right now you can go to kisstheground.com.
Ryland : Our Instagram, Kiss the Ground. And we have a leadership training program where we train you to become an educated and really proficient speaker and educator on regenerative agriculture. And so it’s a six week program. Really, this speaks to anyone. If you’re a farmer, if you’re a concerned mother, if you’re a millennial who’s like, “I’m being handed a dying planet. What can I do?”
Kimberly: If you’re a grandmother, anybody.
Ryland : Really, to me, the most exciting activism of this moment is the vision and the movement of regeneration, and really that human beings found purpose in this lifetime, where we saw that we could actively participate in the healing and the regeneration of our land because healthy land makes healthy, prosperous, purpose filled human beings.
Kimberly: And heals these climate change problems.
Ryland : That’s right. That’s right. So again, back to simple activities. So go check out kisstheground.com.
Kimberly: Yeah. Get more education.
Ryland : Take our speaker training course. I know you have a course on commune. We also have a course on commune where you can do a six day or six session course.
Kimberly: Amazing. Ours hasn’t launched yet. But what’s yours called on commune?
Ryland : It’s called Soil, A Climate Solution.
Kimberly: With Finian.
Ryland : Finian Makepeace. And then I just did one on a new platform called Live it Up, which is basically the first text message platform to receive daily lessons or actions on how you can enhance your wisdom. And so there’s all different [crosstalk 01:04:02].
Kimberly: Like little bite sized.
Ryland : Yeah. You get a text message.
Kimberly: I love that. We’ll link to that in the show notes.
Ryland : Yeah. Live it Up. And so I’m one of the wisdom keepers for regeneration, so it’s called A Pathway Towards Regeneration. It’s a 21 day challenge.
Ryland : I challenge you to participate in regenerative activities and learnings. And then we have a feature length film coming out.
Kimberly: And what’s it called?
Ryland : It’s called Kiss the Ground.
Kimberly: Amazing. Where is it going to be? Where can we watch it?
Ryland : It’s the vision that we’re intending that I’m just going to speak this into existence because I’m a creative being.
Kimberly: You are. Power, Ryland, bringing it. Right here. Right on the Feel Good Podcast.
Ryland : I’m feeling into the possibilities.
Ryland : I’m not just saying it. I feel this happening.
Kimberly: It’s coming.
Ryland : So yeah, that we’re going to premiere on Earth Day at Tribecca Film Festival. That is our intention. We’ve submitted. We’ve gotten some feedback from them, so it’s still a very big opening. That could be the case. And so that film is, yeah, that’s done. And it really tells the story of how we can work with nature itself to heal and regenerate the planet. And it also, at a very practical level, it’s speaking to farmer prosperity. It’s really about the state of the people who are growing the food to feed the planet, their level of prosperity, their level of quality of life is quite low. I think the number one suicide profession is farmers.
Kimberly: Yes, I’ve heard that. It’s very, very sad.
Ryland : So again, I sometimes speak on my West Coast bubble of privilege and speak kind of this high and mighty gospel about regeneration and soil. But at a very practical level, what we’re teaching, and again, I didn’t get into our three programs, I kind of was saying what people could do. But basically, we have three primary programs. We create media and educational content for people to watch, so you can understand, learn this idea better, so you can have full awareness. And then we have a whole series of online trainings, so how you can do this at your home, how you can be an advocate for this movement. And that’s called the leadership program, making leaders out of this movement.
Ryland : And then the third one is our farmland program. And that is funding farmers scholarship and educational program over a three year period to where they could make a transition. And they get soil testing at year one and year three to see their progress. And allowing for them not only to have the education, but also the consultancy through that three year period to get through those roadblocks, or those challenges that will come up.
Kimberly: I love that.
Ryland : And so that’s really our goal is to have this movie come out and really have it be like there was the moment of an inconvenient truth came on the horizon of human consciousness. And there was the moment when the Kiss the Ground film came on the horizon of human consciousness. And we saw a solution to a dire problem that we’re all going to have to reckon with, and that we’re all-
Kimberly: Yeah. It’s true.
Ryland : Speaking back to the idea of that without being brought to our knees and having a moment of pain, there’s not a full retrospection of life and a full retrospection of our mistakes and a full retrospection of where we missed the mark. And when this, there’s a lot of in the spirituality and new age movements, there’s a lot of conversations and talk about the awakening and the transcendence, and going from the Piscean Age into the Aquarian Age, and what this awakening and consciousness is going to be. And the one thing that I’ve been thinking recently is that we’ve never had a global reckoning of bringing us to our knees. We’ve never been collectively humbled by, we’ve made a collective mistake, and that we’re all going to have to reckon with, and will impact and affect all of our children.
Kimberly: Yes. And we have to come together now.
Ryland : That’s right.
Kimberly: To fix this, otherwise, we all suffer.
Ryland : That’s right. And all generations, all people moving forward will be part of that suffering. And so maybe the great awakening actually is that … Paul Hawkins says this, I think inspired from Byron Katie, that climate change is not happening to us. It’s happening for us, for us to sincerely wake up to our broken relationship with each other and with the earth. And by this being brought to our knees, maybe, just maybe we’ll wake up in time to start making new choices and work towards the regeneration of our planet.
Kimberly: Beautiful. Well, Ryland, thank you so much for sharing about this. I am certainly inspired to learn more and get more involved with Kiss the Ground.
Ryland : I’d be honored.
Kimberly: I think it’s so amazing and empowering to say, “Yes, we can fix this,” not the doom and gloom, but actually, we can all come together and take these steps and learn more. Come together.
Ryland : That was what was so inspiring and impactful in that moment that I had the revelation of this possibility, was I saw for the first time in my life there was something we could do to actually heal the problems and the damage that we’ve done. Up until that point, life was just about doing less harm and minimizing our damage. But I didn’t actually get how human impact could actually be this proliferation of expanded life and expanded [crosstalk 01:10:41].
Kimberly: Benefit, it’s amazing.
Ryland : And really, in the human health, wellness space, really this idea of how human beings could play a role as a beneficial bacteria on this planet, versus a virus, that we could be a probiotic for the planet.
Kimberly: I love that analogy. Our probiotics are soil based.
Ryland : That’s right. I remember.
Kimberly: Yeah. I gave you some.
Ryland : I haven’t gotten to try it. Actually, I used your cream this morning. It was very-
Kimberly: Oh, good.
Ryland : Very nice. I liked it.
Kimberly: Well, the idea with the probiotics is too, we used to live so closely connected to the earth. We used to eat some soil every day. And that’s where we got our gut health from. So anyways, you and I share such a similar perspective in that way. I’m excited to learn more because I don’t know as much about soil regeneration yet. But, beauties, please check out more about Kiss the Ground. We are going to link to everything in the show notes.
Ryland : Amazing.
Kimberly: So if you head over-
Ryland : How long was that? It seemed like … How long have we been going?
Kimberly: We’ve been going for over an hour, which is-
Ryland : Awesome.
Kimberly: We had a lot to talk about. It was an awesome podcast.
Ryland : I feel like I didn’t get into the nuts and bolts of Café Gratitude.
Kimberly: No, no. I think the beauty of this is sharing from our hearts, from the energy. And there are all the resources there we can direct people to. We’ll direct them to the Sacred Commerce book as well, and the Café Gratitude. So Ryland, thank you so much for being here with us today. I could talk to you forever. We’ll have you back for sure. I’m going to check out some more in the meantime. And can’t wait for the film to come out. Beauties, thank you so much for tuning in. Again, please check out the resources. We’re so excited about this. We’re excited to come together more. And of course, we’re always here to support you. So over on the website, there’s lots of recipes and meditations and all sorts of resources. We’re also on social media, which is @_kimberlysnyder. And we will be back here Thursday for our next Q and A. So until then, take great care, and sending you lots of love.
Ryland : Thank you, everyone. It’s been a joy to share my heart and all my ideas with you. And I hope they make a difference.
Kimberly: Beautiful. Bye.