Reeva Misra is the founder & CEO at Walking on Earth, a holistic health platform on a mission to elevate human happiness.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
I started off in the world of research, focusing on multisensory development, how our brain develops the ability to perceive the world around us. I developed a deep passion for understanding the relationship between our brain, body and environment.
I then shifted to focus on the power of technology to cause large scale impact. I have worked in leadership roles for high growth tech startups across various fields: education, healthcare, and development, with my last role as VP Strategy at BenevolentAI.
While I was at Benevolent, I realised that the majority of diseases in society, over 70%, are chronic, with no cure and the only way to address them is through prevention. Through changing our lifestyle habits to be healthier and prevent the onset of disease.
I’ve had my fair share of stress and have personally experienced the positive impact of holistic and preventative health treatments on my life.
This led me to found Walking on Earth, to combine my passions in brain science, technology and holistic health, to empower individuals to take control of their health through their everyday actions and in turn create a healthier and happier society.
Walking on Earth is a science based platform to address workplace stress. We create bespoke holistic health programs for companies consisting of live talks, workshops and classes with world leading experts in stress management, sleep hygiene, nutrition and mind based practises.
2) What does a day in your life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
My role is so varied and I can’t stick to a routine so it’s really hard to describe a typical workday! I’ll describe one of my favourite work days from last week as an example. I woke up at 6am, did a short 10 minute meditation practice, and went for a surf as the sun was rising. I picked up a fresh orange juice on the way home, took a quick shower and opened my laptop at 9am.
I usually have a pretty busy calendar full of internal and external meetings so to allow for deep work and productivity, I put a few things in place: blocking half a day each week for no meetings, blocking set times each day for emails and trying to not check emails the rest of the time, having wellbeing hours, setting meetings to 15, 25 or 50 minutes to allow for breaks in between for a 5 minute stretch or walk and making sure all meetings have a clear agenda, actions and any pre-reading is sent ahead of time.
I try to get out for a 15 minute walk at sunset, work a bit more and have time in the evening to cook dinner and read before bed.
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
We have a hybrid working environment. We’re in the office 2 days a week and have a 3 month allowance per year to be fully remote. We came up with this policy following surveys and interviews with the team, who really enjoy the time we spend together but also relish the opportunity to work in different environments.
For me, it’s a policy that allows me to thrive. It means we don’t take either for granted. When we meet in person, we spend time developing personal connections that you can’t get over zoom, and we brainstorm strategic ideas. When we’re remote, I prioritise being somewhere quiet in nature where I can feel connected and energised.
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
This is a topic really close to my heart. Ultimately it comes down to why I started Walking on Earth. For me, I grew up through a very type A education and career path, studying at the top institutions, Oxford & Yale, and working for high growth startups/ scale ups, environments known for their high stress and poor mental health.
My holistic health background and yoga teacher training has allowed me to actually thrive in those environments. By placing an understanding of holistic health at the core of what I do, it allowed me to focus, set boundaries, and have confidence, and ultimately perform at my best potential. I realised it was a hidden superpower. A superpower that I would like to share. And that’s what I hope to help individuals achieve through Walking on Earth.
The first aspect is selecting the right people to join the team – we are a close knit team of high achievers, dreamers, all bound by our passion to bring holistic health to the world. We want to create the best team that walks this earth!
We have numerous policies to propagate a healthy working culture but I think it really comes down to how we treat each other day to day. Treating each other with respect, compassion, being vulnerable together, and really bringing it down to the human level.
We also run weekly holistic health sessions, Good News Friday meetings, unlimited holistic health days, annual retreats, wellbeing themes each month, a spiritual guide and private wellbeing sessions.
These moments allow us to come together and connect on a deeper level. We had our first annual company retreat and were really conscious about making it different to an offsite, coming out of it more energised than we went in. We meditated together, dreamt big and most importantly spent time having fun. I think it’s so important to make sure you’re constantly enjoying the journey and finding joy in the everyday moments at work.
5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
When the pandemic first hit we were all forced to hit pause, something truly unthinkable. We were forced to slow down, and this provided me time to go inward, reflecting on the things that are important in my life, how I’m spending my time and whether the actions I take are truly leading to my happiness and the happiness of those around me – the team, my friends and family.
I have made a commitment to spend much more time in nature. I decided to move to the sea for lockdown and was fortunate to be able to pursue my passion in surfing. I surfed 4 times a week, went on long walks along the sea and most importantly was surrounded by a strong community of friends. I realised how important being active in nature and strong relationships are for my happiness and health.
6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
I am always totally blown away by the words of Zen Buddhist master, poet and peace activist Thich Nhat Hanh. He is the inspiration behind the name, Walking On Earth. He says, the real miracle is not to walk on water or to walk on air but to walk on Earth.
Everyday we are engaged in a miracle which we don’t recognise: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves. He taught me that the greatest success in life is to be present and to experience the joy in living. To walk in such a way that you become fully alive. And that is what I hope to help others achieve through Walking on Earth. To make every step we make on this earth a miracle.
Another book that’s influenced how I lead at Walking on Earth is Let My People Go Surfing by Chouinard. It’s the Patagonia founder’s autobiography on his journey running Patagonia. He broke the mould and always strived to do things differently, placing his values at the centre of every decision.
7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?
The Walking on Earth app (of course!), my surfboard, and Superhuman (an email app that allows me to stay on top of my inbox).
8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
The time for effective leadership has never been more important. It’s time for business leaders to think and act boldly. We need to take lessons from the pandemic about business norms, make changes, and make sure these persist. It’s very easy to slip back into old habits and forget the important lessons the pandemic has taught us.
Keep communication constant, rethink biases and build community, such as asking team members about their family and personal life, and checking in on their mental health.
Leaders also face the greatest strain – the job of a CEO/senior exec is a huge toll in any situation but the last couple of years has taken it to a new level. It’s really important for leaders to put their own wellbeing first as that’s setting the example for everyone around them. When they do, they see the benefits to not just to them but the whole community in terms of health, performance, decision making and creativity.
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