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NL: Hi everyone. My name is Natalie Ledwell and this is the Inspiration Show. Today on the show I have a very special guest who I met only about a month ago at a Transformational Leadership Council meeting and she’s going to be talking with us today about a new book that she has coming out called “Belong”, and also about how to build community and connection in a world that seems to be more disconnected than ever before. So before I introduce my special guest, I just want to remind you that once the show is finished, don’t forget to click the link below this video so you can download the free ebook version of my bestselling book, “Never In Your Wildest Dreams.” So please let me introduce my special guest Radha Agrawal. How are you Radha?
RA: I’m so great Natalie. It’s wonderful to be here. Thank you for having me.
NL: It’s wonderful to see you here. I was very taken and captivated by your presentation at TLC which is why I’ve invited you on the show. And your new book, “Belong”, is really all about how we can create connection and community. But before we get in to talking about that, why don’t we talk a little bit about your background and your story and how you got to this point.
RA: Absolutely. So I’ve been building communities for my entire career. And it started out enterprises that I started with my sister to try to solve different problems. So one of them was I started an underwear company with my sister called Thinx to solve our menstruation issues to really help women manage their menstruation, their periods. I started a children’s nutrition education company called Super Sprouts to help mothers, teachers, parents, really teach their kids the joys of eating their vegetables. And then most recently, with Daybreaker, I realized that we are in a crisis of isolation. Where we’re really in a crisis of disconnection and I really wanted to create a space where people could connect, people could self express, can meet each other without alcohol, without substances and truly find community. You know, for me, my story started at 30 years-old, where I looked myself in the mirror and I realized Oh gosh, I don’t belong. And I realized that I’d spent my 20s in sports bars watching sports I didn’t care about, drinking beer I didn’t want to drink, and hanging out with people who didn’t inspire me because I was radiating an energy that attracted all the wrong people. So when I turned 30, and by the way this can happen at so many impacted points in our lives, when we go to college, we start a new job, when we move to a new city, we can look ourselves in the mirror and realize Oh my gosh, I don’t know who my people are, or I’m having to start all over again, and it’s scary every single time. So I wrote this book because I realized that we are pretty paralyzed and the people are going in to themselves more and more and getting trapped inside themselves and I mean depression and anxiety and isolation and I want to give people the tools to generously go out and give their energy. I mean this book really provides the sort of very simple tools. (inaudible) So yes, the book is a step-by-step guide that gives you all of the tools for just how to do that in your personal life. And if you want to build a community at scale, a large scale community like we did with Daybreaker, you know almost half a million people strong, this gives you the tools for how to do that too.
NL: Yeah. So let’s talk about Daybreaker because as an ex-nightclub owner, actually getting up in the morning to rather than staying out to the morning, dancing is a new concept. So tell us a little bit about Daybreaker and the purpose behind this. It’s not just a dance party in the morning right?
RA: Absolutely. So actually I was also a night club owner as well in New York City and you know, as a 35 year-old woman at the time I was single. 35, you know, an entrepreneur, building my businesses and having no where to go to let my hair down because I still love dancing, I still love sort of having a social space to go to but you know, at 35 I didn’t want to deal with the bouncers, spilt drinks, just belligerently drunk people trying to make out with you while you’re just trying to dance and let go and it was an unsafe environment and a very uninspiring environment with the most part going out at night. And of course because you’re going out at night, you’re sometimes exhausted because you’re coming from a full day of work or you might have gotten in to a fight with your boyfriend or partner or boss or whatever it is. And so people are coming to night life with very different energy levels. Whereas the morning, which is when we got the idea started was what if we did it in a time where our energy is all kind of the same, we all came from the same place, our beds. What if we replace the mean bouncers with a hugging community. What if we replace the alcohol with green juice, coffee and tea, ended it in a time where we’re most optimistic and joyful the morning. It was an experiment, you know, it was never meant to be more than just a social experiment. It turns out, I mean it, we sold out and it exploded immediately. People were like so taken by this idea that they could actually have fun without alcohol, without drugs, that they could connect with each other meaningfully, they could dance to joyful music in a safe environment. And now we’re in 23 cities around the world with a community of half a million people and we’re not stopping anytime soon and it’s been incredible to see just how this movement has spread by word of mouth, no marketing, no investors, just through community members wanting to bring it to their city, to grow it to their cities and it’s grown exponentially that way.
NL: Yeah. So what are the insights that you learned from running the Daybreaker parties that you actually applied here in the book?
RA: Absolutely. So I get emails all the time from community members asking, sharing with me, I want to start a community, how did you build Daybreaker, and I’d have all these coffees and these teas and lunches with so many different community members and I’ve realized that 1 hour lunch meeting was never enough to share all of our trade secrets. So after the elections, I was like, maybe it’s time I should share all of our secrets. So I was very driven by that experience and I wanted to really just share, here’s how you build intentional thoughtful community and so some of the insights that I share in the book is exactly how we built Daybreaker from zero to half a million people. How we think about designing human experiences, experience design. How we sort of think about our brain chemistry as we go to events. Or as we go to human experiences like what are people actually experiencing in their brain, what brain chemicals are they releasing that makes the experience meaningful and memorable and shareable. So so much of how we design human experiences requires a lot of intention and thought and all of that I put in the book.
NL: Right. Absolutely. So what do you see as the benefits of being able to create a community like this?
RA: Oh my gosh. I mean again, here’s 3 crazy stats for you. One in four americans have zero friends to confide in and this number has tripled in the last 30 years. Right, so one benefit is to create an environment people can meet each other and connect and I have thousands and thousands of messages, instagram posts, social media letters from community members sharing how they met their bestfriend, they found their lover, they found their business partner, they found their tribe at Daybreaker. So step one is you can actually change people’s lives dramatically including your own. It changed my life in the most incredible ways. The second thing is about a study that shared that weak social ties, having poor connection, is harmful to your physical health as being an alcoholic and twice as harmful as obesity. And so actually having human to human connections, interactions, is vital for our health and wellness. So that’s a big core value at Daybreaker is to provide (inaudible) to ourselves and to the world at large. And lastly, it’s this idea that when we think of having fun right now in this country, there’s a co-depedence between having fun and drugs and alcohol. In order for me to have fun, I need to have a drink in my hand and or I need to be hopped up on some new designer drug. And one of the things when you design human experiences is that when you gather people, you’re helping them release their natural highs, what I call your dose, your dopamine, your oxytocin, your seratonin and your endorphins in a natural way. So lots of scientific benefits.
NL: Right. So who do you think will benefit most from reading “Belong”?
RA: Oh my gosh. Anyone who’s asking themselves where the heck do I find my people. I just moved to a new city. I just got divorced. I just had a heart break. I just started school. I just built my first business and I don’t know how to build a community on my first business. I’m a musician and an artist, how to be able to care about my music. Every single human can take something away from a book about belonging because it is a true thread that lasts all of our lives. I really believe that every single negative influence in our life from gun violence to terrorism to political strife to suicide ladders down to our lack of belonging. So we all need to belong, we can all take so many ways. As an individual you read this book and you’ll be given tools, very step by step, hand held tools for exactly what to do to find your tribe. And then the second thing is if you are building a large scale community, I go in to much more detail and exactly about Daybreaker and I divulge all of our secrets in this book as well. So that anybody who wants to create their own community can have the blueprint as well.
NL: So can you share like so great stories of people within your community that really touched your heart because of what you’ve been able to create?
RA: Oh my gosh, where do I begin. Yes, one of the ones that sticks very close to my heart is a guy, is a gentleman came up to me after Daybreaker and he said “Daybreaker, I’ve been coming here. This is my 7th time coming and the level of inclusivity and acceptance that I feel here has given me the courage to come out to my family. So this morning after Daybreaker, I picked up the phone and I called my parents and told them I’m gay”. And he cried on my shoulder and I just remember saying to him “Thank you for having the courage. Thank you for coming here and experiencing this level of connection and connectivity and for waking up and saying yes”. I mean 90% of these transformational moments are happening from people who are just saying yes to doing things and not being afraid and caught inside of their own stories. So much of community building and making friends comes with courage. You have to be courageous to constantly putting yourself out there because there’s so much around self-help today that takes you inside of yourself and of course that’s beautiful to a point but so often we get caught in ourselves, trapped inside our personal development and self-improvement that we forget that actually the key to happiness and health and wellness and longevity in life is to be making friends and creating community. And that when we work on ourselves, it’s actually to work with ourselves to find inner peace so that we are radiating the authentic version of ourselves so that we can actually attract people who fill us up. So we are feeling so connected to ourselves so authentically in who we are that we are now attracting the people who give us wings and that’s what happened to me. I was reflecting a version of myself that I thought my parents wanted, I thought society wanted, I thought my investors masculine world wanted, and then all of a sudden I realized, wait a minute, this is not who I am. I started radiating the feminine strength that I have. I started radiating the authentic version of who I am and all of a sudden the dream friends just started appearing out of nowhere. And that just what happens. But it starts with you. But then the generosity is where to go out and find these friends and then again, it’s generosity of energy and the courage to do it. Generosity and courage.
NL: And I completely understand how difficult that is. I mean, I moved from my hometown, like a country town in Australia to Sydney when I was 18 and didn’t know a soul. And then I moved from Sydney to San Diego when I was 40 and then I used to live in San Diego to L.A. and of course you’re moving in to these huge cities which is what I love about how you do the Daybreaker in big cities. Because I think more than anywhere else, this is the place where we truly need that connection. I love how you have the hug lines on the way in. And how you really encourage connection at the events themselves. Because we do, we will in a digital age. We live in an age where social media and the amount of friends we have in social media, it sort of equates to how we see ourselves and it equates to our self worth. So being able to do something like this really helps to flip that coin so that we can actually have true connection which life is all about.
RA: That’s it. That’s it. You know it takes 80 hours to make a real friend, to call somebody a friend. Whereas it takes one second to like someone’s photo. So it’s a very interesting thing to think about it takes patience too to make a friend. To be able to follow up with them so I have a whole chapter on my book on 10 foolproof ways to nurture your community. Because maybe you might meet somebody somewhere but then how do you nurture that friendship over time. Right. How do you keep that friendship going and that’s one thing that people don’t know how to do. And one of the things I talked about on that chapter is of course the biggest gift that we can give to our friend is our presence and our gift of listening or gift of attention. To put our phones down at lunch table, to put our phones down when we’re together and just be, I put my phone on airplane mode when I’m with my good friends to really connect with them meaningfully. I’ve deleted Facebook from my phone as well. Lots of tips and tricks I have in my book as well of how I’ve set up my life and created boundaries for myself so that I’m not distracted by this slot machine that is our cellphones. Our cellphones are these digital slot machines that we carry in our pocket and these app developers have figured out that the “ding” is an addictive sound that makes you want to go and look at your phone. It takes 15 minutes they say to go from being distracted back in to flow state. So it’s a very beautiful device in your pocket that gives you access to unlimited knowledge. Unlimited access to other humans. But it also requires that we define and create boundaries for ourselves and right now it’s like giving a 5 year old keys to Maserati without giving them any instruction on how to drive a car. So it’s really on each and every one of us to educate each other, educate ourselves, define our own boundaries, create a contract for ourselves. What I, my partner and I, created a contract, a love contract even that says “Twice a week we’re going to have sex and once a week we’re going to clean the house” and you know we’ve really created these boundaries for ourselves and it sounds prescriptive but in today’s world, when it comes to all the distractions that exist, we have to commit to that for ourselves. In that way we can give to each other even more meaningfully and authentically.
NL: No, I agree. And I love how you put this book together and honestly, if you are watching this show and you’re feeling a little disconnected, you know you’ve gone through a transition. You know, whether that is a transition in work or where you live or your kids are going to college or whatever that is. “Belong” is going to be an amazing book to really help you find your community, find people that have similarities to you. Find where you belong and really can create a life of love and connection. So Radha thank you so much for being with me today. I’ve really enjoyed chatting with you.
RA: Oh Natalie, it’s been so fun and I wish you, I feel like the fact that you had the courage to go from Sydney to San Diego at 40, start all over, that’s the kind of stuff, that’s why I wrote this book, it’s for you. It for all of those community members who have the courage to move to a new city but then they land and like “Oh right, I have to start the friend thing, how do I do it?” And so your courage to do that, to be an explorer of the world makes your life richer and then now to have friendships at every level of these new moments in life is even more exciting and meaningful.
NL: So where can we send people to connect with you and get their hands on the book?
RA: So you can connect with me, I’m on Instagram always answering questions, Love.radha. And to learn about the book, it’s at belongbook.com and if you want to come dance with us at Daybreaker, we’re launching San Diego actually in a few weeks. We’re in 15 US cities, we’re 23 cities around the world. So you can go on daybreaker.com, you can find your city in the drop down menu, put your email address in and you will start getting our secret invitations. Because we don’t do any advertising, it’s all word of mouth.
NL: That’s wonderful. Well, thanks again Radha and congratulations on the book and everything that you’re doing. You’re a rockstar! It’s great to (inaudible)
RA: (inaudible) Natalie, you’re the best.
NL: Awesome. So guys I encourage you to please help us get the word out and share this video. You can do that by clicking the Facebook and the Twitter share buttons on this page. Also, don’t forget to click the banner or the link below this video so you can go straight through to Radha’s website. Find out more about her and get your hands on the book. And after all of that is over, don’t forget to click the link below that so you can download the free ebook version of my bestselling book, Never In Your Wildest Dreams. So until next time, remember to live large, choose courageously, and love without limits. We’ll see you soon.