Business and Mindfulness with Max Schneider

Reading Time: 15 Minutes

In this episode with Max Schneider he shares how a surf trip to Costa Rica transformed his life and career.

Takeaways We Learned from Max…

Balance Intensity with Rest

When you continue to push and you continue to push, you eventually hit that point that it does break.” Remember, balance is key. Integrate rest into your routine to maintain your drive without burning out.

Reconnect with Your True Self

Many professionals lose touch with who they are. Take time to rediscover yourself beyond your job title. Your well-being and authenticity are your greatest assets.

Embrace Boredom for Growth

The brain does need rest. Allow yourself moments of boredom. These periods are essential for self-reflection and growth, enabling you to respond consciously rather than react impulsively.

Model Self-Care from the Top

True change in organizational culture starts at the top. Leaders, prioritize your well-being and model that behavior for your teams. Authentic leadership begins with self-care.

Invest in Meaningful Wellness Initiatives

Beyond gym memberships, companies can offer tools like breathwork and mindfulness activities. These initiatives provide deeper, more transformative benefits for employees.

Create Safe Spaces for Authenticity

Encourage your team to show up as their true selves. Authenticity fosters a supportive and innovative work environment where everyone can thrive.

Protect Time for Wellness

Organizations dedicating work hours to wellness study groups. Carve out time during the workday for employees to focus on their well-being. This investment pays off in enhanced productivity and morale.

Lead Yourself First

 Before you can lead others effectively, ensure you are taking care of your own well-being. Self-leadership is the foundation of authentic and impactful leadership.

Listen to Your Business

Treat your business like a living entity. Pay attention to feedback from clients, financial shifts, and internal dynamics. Let the business guide you to success.

Transformative Experiences Matter

Immersive retreats and off sites that incorporate movement, mindfulness, and conversation can deeply rejuvenate high-achieving professionals, helping them reconnect with themselves and their colleagues in meaningful ways.

About Max Schneider

After a decade in consulting, Max was totally burnt out. The long hours, back-to-back-to-back meetings, and high stress took a heavy toll. He started experiencing anxiety attacks and felt like a shell of his former self.

To help untangle his brain, Max and his wife took a month-long surf and yoga trip to Costa Rica. It was an incredible experience, providing the space to slow down and focus on himself in a way he hadn’t in a long time.

As soon as he returned, Max was inspired to create this type of experience for other high-achieving professionals. Through mindfulness retreats and mindfulness offsites, Max helps high-achieving professionals connect with themselves and others in profound and meaningful ways.

Read the Transcript

Katie: Hello and welcome to the Deliberate Leaders podcast. I am Katie Carpenter, Executive Health and Wellness Coach here at Deliberate Directions. So today’s podcast is about bridging the gap between business and mindfulness. Our guest today is Max Schneider. Max spent a decade in the consulting industry, where he found himself feeling burnout. Struggling with anxiety and feeling depleted, he sought solace in a transformative surfing yoga trip to Costa Rica with his wife. And this experience provided Max this space to slow down and focus on himself in a way he hadn’t in a long time, sparking a mission to provide similar rejuvenation to other high achieving professionals. Max’s story is one of profound transformation. His approach is grounded in the belief that investing in the well being of individuals ultimately leads to greater organizational success.

After experiencing burnout firsthand, he took a leap of faith and embarked on a journey to Costa Rica, where the idea for Sand and Salt Escapes was born. His background in consulting coupled with a deep commitment to mindfulness has allowed him to curate transformative experiences for individuals and organizations across the nation. Max focuses on providing high achieving professionals with the space and support, they need to prioritize their well being through immersive retreats, and off sites. Max helps participants unwind, reconnect with themselves and find synergy with their peers in settings beyond the ordinary. That sounds amazing. Welcome to the podcast, Max.

Max: Thanks so much for having me, Katie, you bet.

Katie: Would you take a minute and please share a little bit about yourself and your journey to Salt and Sand Escapes?

Max: Thank you. Yeah, and it was born out of, as you mentioned, my own experience.

Where I like a lot of people listening to this, just commit 100% to everything that I do. And that became a bit of a challenge for me when I didn’t understand how to really balance out that intensity and that commitment with the idea of rest.

And when you continue to push and you continue to push and you continue to push, you eventually hit that point that it does break. So yeah, I’m in between getting shingles, having anxiety attacks at airports, on calls. And just really feeling like a shell of a human being I realized I had totally lost touch with who I was so. But what else recognize is it people this isn’t a unique experience.

Unfortunately, so many people in particularly the corporate world have these ebbs and flows to their careers in their lives where you lose a bit of touch with who you are. So what I wanted to do was help people to be not like catch them before they got to the point that I was at curled up in a ball in my living room, not sure if I was having a heart attack or what was going on.

And the tools that we use for that are movement, mindfulness and conversation. So that’s been a very meaningful journey for me just to be able to get back in and bring something that think is so missing in the corporate world, and really just help people see themselves as human beings, rather than as titles and learn how to take care of themselves in this world that is 24/7 with inundation of pressure obligations.

Everything else that we experienced a basis. I

Katie: Love that so much. Did you say I want to repeat that movement, mindfulness and conversation?

Max: Yes. Those are the three pillars of everything that we do.

Katie: Beautiful. I think when you talk about rest, and receiving through rest is just, I mean, it’s the truth about how to receive from all your work because you have to slow down and rest for a moment to receive from all that doing, right. Absolutely. When people start to settle into rest a little bit, this topic comes up about like, oh, it’s kind of boring. And what like, tell me a little bit about what have they been taught about boredom? And why is it an enemy?

Max: Oh my gosh, yeah.

We have this perception that boredom is the To me, everything in our day to day lives just teaches us to not be bored whether we can pull out our phone, we got a five minute break, just pull out Instagram, we scroll, Instagram, we’ve got podcasts that we can listen to, on the walk to the drive to and from work, we have TV that’s always on, we just are always engaging our brain in some way, shape, or form.

And the brain does need rest, we’re taught that I mean, how many times you’ve heard somebody say something like, oh, I don’t want to be alone with my own thoughts, like, that’s what we need, though, to connect with ourselves to slow down and actually understand the way that we’re experiencing life.

There’s a lot of ways that you can start integrating intentional rest and boredom into your life. And it does take a little bit of work and limited effort. But anything that’s meaningful doesn’t come easy.

Things do take work, and there’s a lot of us it actually is work to not do anything. Yeah,

Katie: Yeah, it is. And, and I think that you just described a process of process of letting allowing that boredom, quote, unquote, to be this process of exploring ourselves, and what those thoughts are in that thought process about things and about our relationships. So yeah,

Max: It is it’s a, it’s a beautiful process.

It’s the process of getting to know who we are a process of getting to listen to our bodies, the process of getting to observe our thoughts, a process of getting to understand our emotions, and where they come from. But by doing that kind of work and allowing that boredom to surface in that exploration, we find ourselves in a place where we’re no longer just reacting to things, but we’re actually consciously responding.

And that’s a massive shift. That I think is a lot, very challenging thing for a lot of us to make.

Katie: Yeah, yeah. And we have to slow down to do that consciously, right? So since we are talking about leadership here, and leaders within this, and these companies, what are companies getting, right? Because we talk so much about what they’re getting wrong, and how we need to do it better. But what are we getting right about the way that we take care of our employees? 

Max: Yeah, I think there’s a lot of things that organizations are doing that are starting to move in the right direction there. COVID just shifted our relationship with work entirely it then think in a couple of different ways. One, it made us realize how much of our time we actually spend on work. And to because it started bleeding into every element of our life, when we just are working from home constantly. It was just like this space that it started to take over and you become much more aware of that you can’t escape it. It’s just all there at home. And too, I think we also started to get a much better appreciation of how to take care of ourselves as individuals.

And when you take those two things together and realize that we’re spending 4050 6080 hours a week work. And at the same time, we need to take care of ourselves differently. There I think became this expectation from employees looking up at leadership and looking up at their organizations and saying, how are you going to help me not take care of myself and develop just as a professional, but also as an individual. So I think there’s a lot of things that some companies are doing right in that way where, I mean, you’re seeing things like gym memberships, discounted gym memberships, healthier food in the kitchens, but a lot of stuffs becoming table stakes, frankly, and it’s not really shifting a lot of behavior, you’re helping the people who are already going to have a gym membership, just get a discounted gym membership, but people who wanted to eat healthier food, like they’re already going to do it. They’re just not like just need this stuff, it’s in the kitchen instead.

And I think that there’s a this shift it’s starting to make. And there’s a lot of organizations that are at the leading edge of this, of understanding that there’s a lot of other tools out there to help people take care of themselves. I know, for example, you’ve got familiarity with breathwork.

Breathwork is an amazing tool for us to be able to actually very intentionally change our co2 and co2 levels feed ourselves in a different way, move the energy in our body in a different way that can open up a lot.

And you’re seeing organizations like Google, for example, out of their Chelsea office, they’re offering breathwork. And so you’re starting to see some organizations moving in this direction of providing true meaningful experiences that are going to help like unlock and shift things in people rather than just rewarding individuals are already doing things that are taking care of themselves.

Katie: They’re rewarding them for or facilitating rather that rest that permission to take this rest to slow down. It’s not about what you do. It’s about being more right instead of doing more. Yeah,

Max: and yeah, and even getting to the point where you realize like, oh, just turning on Netflix and sitting on the couch that evening. does not rest. That’s like you’re physically resting your body. But mentally you’re getting inundated with imagery. You’re getting inundated with different concepts that your brain still thinking about these things. If you’re not actually turning off, so you’re starting to think see some organizations that are understanding that understanding the role that they have within the lives of their employees and making investments to help them learn how to take care of themselves as people, which then in turn helps also productivity in the way they show up in work and the way they engage in nutrition within organizations.

Katie: Yes, I was just going to ask you about how do we make sure that ROA on mindfulness, right, you know, what’s what are they kind of getting back? And what is this doing to cultivate a more capacity and quality of a person and of those employees? And then a culture? Yes, it’s, it’s, it’s beautiful. 

Max: It is, yeah, interesting, from a cultural perspective to that those types of behaviors.

And you mentioned giving people permission to rest, that starts at the top, when you have executives who are not modeling that behavior, the that’s the first place that we have to start with this, which is why a lot of our work that we do in the corporate space is working with executive teams.

Because we’ve all been there before, as individual contributors, admin, as mid level managers, we’re trying to make change, you’re trying to like shift things. But everybody’s looking up and going, well, the top of the house isn’t do anything about this, like they’re modeling the opposite behavior. So like, how are we actually supposed to create space for this? So that element of it of starting at the top of the House working with the executives, and then modeling that behavior, I think is what gives that permission that you mentioned before, so people can take care of themselves?

Katie: Yeah. And like, as part of your, you know, what you described in the beginning is conversation, just having that conversation, is we don’t even realize sometimes that people are waiting for permission, right? And just over communicating in a way where it’s like, let’s talk about this and communicate about what’s allowed and what you might not consciously be wanting permission for. But you have it, right. Yeah,

Max: absolutely. Like, what’s the impact that it has on human, your manager who’s on vacation is sending emails at 7am or 7pm. And you’re seeing that, like, that’s not even like a subconscious thing that’s being communicated. That’s a very conscious thing that you realize, like, Okay, well, when I’m on vacation, I expected to show up in the same way and still be connected or can actually have that downtime. But yeah, you talked about the communication happens. So either overtly or sometimes through many behaviors that are well intentioned, because they want to help keep the team moving. But at the same time, there is a whole other side to that behavior.

Katie: Yeah, yeah. Well, that’s a good question I want to ask you, then let’s put this out there. It’s like how can leaders create change at the team and individual low levels? Right, let’s give some examples of if they’re like looking or grasping at things that they can integrate? What are some good examples?

Max: Yeah, I think the most important thing is, we first have to learn how to lead ourselves in this work. And until we have a grasp of that, and what that looks like, for us as an individual, for us as a leader within an organization. That’s where the work begins. So that requires first just a really strong look in the mirror and understanding more about like your daily rhythms. How are you building in rest on more of like, a longer term on a yearly basis? What are you doing to protect that time? What are the different mindfulness habits that you have? What are the different things from like an exercise perspective, from a nutrition perspective? How are you taking care of yourself, and that’s the place that it has to start first. But when we work with organizations that are doing this well, and who have leaders who are doing those types of things, what client did we worked with last year we’re working with again this year.

They’re called thought tiam. They are a consultancy based in Chicago, and they have set up like wellness study groups where they get it, like during work hours, they protect time for these small groups to be able to get together. And they have like a wellness wheel, where they’re talking about different areas within that and using that as a space to be able to have conversations about life and connect with each other as human beings. But that’s one really awesome example of an organization that, you know, firsthand, is actually dedicating work hours to this, which I think then continues to give that permission for people to show up as themselves and be themselves

Katie: So authentically, it gives people that that space to show up authentically, right is you are more than, like what you are what you do at work, right? There’s depth to that and authenticity. And when authenticity is welcomed, oh man, it changes everything.

Max: It does. Yeah, that’s I love what you’re saying there because at the core of everything we do, we’re human beings. We layer on these other titles we layer on it, whether it’s scenery As president, whether that’s our role in our family as like a parent or a sibling, as a partner, whether that’s our role in the community, we look at ourselves oftentimes to this role, or this lens of what am I titles, but all of those titles are just getting layered onto who you are as a human being. So when we’re talking about getting in touch with ourselves and understanding who we are, it’s a subtle way, all of those external things, and first take a look inside and spend some time exploring and discovering who we are as human beings. Yep.

Katie: Taking time for that rest or that boredom, as you would say, right? Yeah, sitting with that, well, how do your retreats facilitate that? For professionals and teams?

Max: Yeah, so the very first thing on that front is, we take care of everything for individuals, for teams, so they can just show up and not worry about something because every time there’s an offsite, like, there’s so many logistics that you have to plan for. There’s all of these things. So we have a team who manages all of that same thing for when we run retreats for individuals, like from the moment you book to the moment you leave, we will take care of everything for you. So you don’t have to think about anything besides yourself. And then we incorporate in movement, mindfulness and conversation. So depending upon if it’s an off site, depending upon the teams have needs, we tailor everything.

So you might do different forms of movement, whether we’re in Costa Rica, whether we’re in the States, and some are like Palm Springs, we take advantage get outside, whether that’s surfing, whether that’s hiking, whether that’s more exercise classes, helping people understand more about the relationship with their body. And then the afternoons we do mindfulness classes. So we do things like breath work, things like sound bath, things like yoga, things like meditation, painting, just mindful activities that oftentimes people haven’t tried before. And there’s so much value in that newness and getting to explore yourself in a different way than usual. And we also facilitate conversations. So again, depending upon the group, depending upon the needs and what’s surfacing, we always tell her those conversations differently, we have a facilitated activities that help people, one just understand mindfulness and then to be able to slow down and connect with themselves through some deep reflection, and connect with their colleagues and others in a very deep and meaningful way that continues well beyond the retreats, and the sites. And we do it all. It’s stunning locations, like gorgeous, gorgeous villas and estates in Palm Springs and in Asara, Costa Rica.

Katie: That just sounds amazing. And like such important work, what you facilitate is such important work. It’s just helping people kind of feel safe in those spaces, or just letting go a little enough to settle in. So I have a question for you. I have two questions for you. So if there are some leaders listening to this right now, what would be their number one takeaway that you would want them to understand more deeply and take away from today, in this conversation?

Max: Yes. The ability to lead and understand yourself is paramount before showing up and doing that for others. When especially when we were talking about things related to well being, there’s no getting around that people will see right through the BS, if you’re trying to do it without having spent some time working on yourself first. And then like you’re the word used before, authenticity, that’s a pretty tough way to leave when people don’t view us through that lens. So that is the most important thing is how understanding how are you taking care of yourself and prioritizing you and your own rest, before you show up and try to lead your team in that regard.

Katie: So important, so important. And then I guess this is actually the same thing, but you have anything to add as far as leadership tips, like a one leadership tip, because you are a business owner, and you know, you have the courage to kind of step out of your usual industry that you know, knew and were an expert in and created like this whole new industry for yourself or career. And what would you say is the biggest leadership takeaway for you in that process?

Max: The biggest thing for me has been learning how to listen to the business, and let the business tell me what it needs to be. So I think it’s actually really parallel to mindfulness where within mindfulness and meditation, you’re going to have learned that you experienced the world through your body that your mind interprets it, but the body is the vehicle through which we experience the world and if we slow down and learn how to listen to it, we can learn a lot about life. And the same thing applies to running a business where we experience being an entrepreneur being a leader through the business, so for me that ability to slow down and listen to the business, and not just jam what I think that it should be, but pay attention to what our clients saying what our guests saying, what how are the financials shifting, and just really listening to the business has been one of the most impactful and influential mindsets that I’ve had. It’s allowed us to have the success we’ve had up to this point.

Katie: Max, that’s incredible. That is actually very revealing that answer as to you are an expert in your field and that you integrated mindfulness into all that you do, including business, which is admirable. That’s awesome. Thank you. Yeah, thank you so much for being on the podcast today. So will you tell me really quick, where can people find out more about you and your immersive retreats and offsites? Yes,

Max: you can go to sand and salt That’s our website. We have a lot of information about retreats and the off sites that we run for executive and intact teams. You can also reach out to me directly. My name is Max. So my email is max at sand and salt. Okay,

Katie: Thank you so much, Max. It was great talking with you today.

Max: Thank you for having me, Katie. I appreciate it.

I'm Allison Dunn,

Your Business Executive Coach

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