We had the good fortune of connecting with Leticia Gonzalez-Reyes and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Leticia, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
For four years I worked with entrepreneurs dedicating their lives towards a world that cares about a balance of power and that leans toward social and environmental justice. And although being immersed in this community of self-identified “social entrepreneurs” was eye-opening, my biggest take away was unexpected. I realized that it doesn’t matter how impactful your business is for the world, if when you go back home you continue being your own worst boss and don’t have patience for your family or gratitude for your team, you are taking one step forward and two steps back. I deeply believe that we will only see the change we want to see in the world when all of us change how we treat ourselves and our surroundings. When we shift our mindset to a more empathetic and compassionate one, it doesn’t matter if you have an incredibly impactful business or job, you can only give as much love to the world as you have for yourself. This realization is what ultimately led me to co-found 109 World. Today, I am the co-founder and CEO of 109 World — a 501(c)3 public charity dedicated to changing the norm we are seeing in the world of people’s dissatisfaction and unhappiness with their lives and jobs. 109 does that by designing and hosting retreats & workshops around the world to help individuals and companies live more mindful, fulfilling and environmentally-friendly lives.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
109 World is a non-profit organization dedicated to hosting retreats and workshops around the world to help individuals and companies live more mindful, fulfilling and environmentally-friendly lives. On every 109 retreat we partner with local grassroots organizations who are positively impacting their communities and environments. Volunteering with them gives us the opportunity to put our hands in the soil, break bread together, and truly gain perspective and clarity of our place in the world. Mahatma Gandhi described travel as ‘The Language of Peace.’ To experience different realities fosters compassion, awareness and understanding of one another and yourself. At 109 we deeply believe that travel, if designed with intention and in collaboration with the local community, can be a powerful force for good. Another big component of our experiences is mindfulness. On every interaction you have with 109, either a retreat, workshop, or virtual event, we offer real and tangible tools to help individuals improve their way of living, their relationship with themselves and therefore their relationship with their surroundings. At 109 we’ve learned that you can only give as much love to the world as you have for yourself. In five years we have supported over 400 alumni in adopting more sustainable and mindful ways of living and offered them the opportunity to give back to this beautiful world in a variety of ways from volunteering with clean drinking water projects, women and girls right to education, animal welfare, refugee crisis, food security and disaster relief. We have partnered with over a dozen incredible local grassroots organizations impacting their local communities and environments across 11 countries. And in just two years, through our mindfulness and volunteer retreats, we have built the largest sea turtle sanctuary in Mexico; raised funds for an orphanage in Thailand; funded, built and installed rainwater harvesting systems after the hurricanes in Puerto Rico; transformed a little cafe in Marrakech into a school for the local community (for boys AND girls), and raised funds to ensure girls were educated on their rights.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
This would be an itinerary for a best friend’s visit (I hope this convinces some of my best friends in Brazil to come visit! lol) *Day 1 Brunch at Leaf Vegetarian Restaurant in Boulder Hike Chautauqua Drinks & Dinner at Kitchen Upstairs *Day 2 Get coffee at Trident Booksellers & Cafe Walk Pearl Street and around area to check out used bookstores and thrift stores Get a 100% organic, cold-pressed juice from Wonder Dinner at Jaipur Indian Restaurant *Day 3 Get coffee & sandwich from BoxCar and Cured Hike Sanitas Dinner at Pizzaria Locale *Day 4 Order food and snacks from Nude Foods Market Go hiking and camping Angel’s Way *Day 5 Take a yoga class at The Little Yoga Studio Breakfast at Woodgrain Bagels Go for a walk and hang out at boulder creek Dinner at River and Woods
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Starting 109 and making sure it continues to move forward has been a fascinating roller coaster of emotions with some awesome highs and some tremendously difficult lows, but one thing that has truly helped me through the ups and downs these past five years is to connect with some great hearts and minds and here’s what I learned from them and will forever take with me: From my healer: It’s ok to live someone else’s dream only if you are conscious about that. But remember, time is limited, so do you really want to use it living someone else’s life? From a mentor: Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions be louder than your own inner voice. That happens more often than we think, so pay close attention to the people around you. From my family: Follow your heart and intuition – they are your faster intelligence and somehow already know what you truly need to do. From my fiancé: Sometimes, you just need to suck it up. From my former boss: Stop doubting yourself, work extra hard and make it happen. From my yoga studies: The reason for leadership is to serve, not dominate, to produce more leaders, and not more followers. From a board member: Everyone has an ego and sometimes egos get in the way of the impact you want to see in the world… to create lasting change be prepared to shed your own. From a grassroots partner: Take time to know the way before you decide to show the way. From fellow entrepreneurs: Winners never quit and quitters never win. From my soul: Never forget, you got this.
Photographers: Soda/Lime and Rebecca Slaughter,