(So)(Co) Sit Down with Jesse Israel


I'm excited to share this week's (So)(Co) Sit Down with you! In January, my friend Zena invited me to something called Medi Club and I decided to join her. Little did I know, this group was going to change my life, create a new community for me and be something I looked forward to on a monthly basis. This club was founded by Jesse Israel. By the second Medi Club, Jesse was already calling me 'Harp' and going in for a big hug. I knew this was a special guy. He's created a community where modern meditators can come together on a monthly basis to share a meditation and talk about things that many people often don't speak about outside of this group.

Jesse's contagious energy attracts some incredible movers and shakers in New York City towards the communities he builds. I'm honored to be a part of Medi Club and to be building The Big Quiet with Jesse and other incredible leaders. 



How do you spend your days?

I spend my days building communities, experiences and businesses around human connection. I’m currently exploring this with projects like the Cyclones social bicycling club, the Big Quiet mass meditation movement, the Medi Club group meditation and discussion community and by advising and consulting for startups at the intersection of community, mindfulness and technology. I also spend my days listening to a significant amount of R&B, tirelessly searching for NY’s best burrito and by asking what it means to be a man today.

What are three things you are grateful for?

  1. The health of my family and friends
  2. The freedom to do what I love
  3. Sunshine

Explain your lifestyle in 5 words or less.

Challenge, grow, appreciate, repeat.

If you were to attend a potluck dinner, what would you bring?

Strawberries and whipped cream!

If you could gift everyone you meet with one book, what would it be and why?

Daring Greatly by Brene Brown. It helped me understand the importance of cultivating courage through vulnerability -- one of the most important ways to really feel alive.

What is the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?

I sit for 20 minutes in quiet.

If you could change one thing in your daily routine, what would it be? What would it take for you to make that change?

I’d like to make more time to read. To make that happen, I need to literally put it in my calendar.

What does being healthy mean to you?

Choosing to have a positive mindset in the way I live life and love others.

Have you ever been faced with health concerns that pushed you to change your lifestyle? Explain.

Four years into running my previous company, Cantora, I found myself overwhelmed by anxiety and disconnected from my work. I changed my lifestyle by learning meditation and bringing a practice into my daily routine. It helped strip anxiety out of my body and mind, and shifted my awareness around how I wanted to spend my time in the workplace.

What song can immediately change your mood in the best way possible?

Time After Time by Chet Baker.

What is one piece of advice someone has given you that shifted your way of thinking?

“The trick is being able to smile about whatever life puts in front of you.” - Bob Israel

What article of clothing/outfit do you feel most empowered wearing?

My “COMMITMENT TO EXCELLENCE” black snapback hat.

Complete this sentence: “In order to be happy, I need to….”

Stay connected to gratitude!

What do you have going on in your life that you’d like to share with the (So)(Co) Community?

I’ve been organizing a community for young modern people to share meditation and discussion. It’s called Medi Club.

Jesse Israel is an accomplished entrepreneur and community builder. His current passion is creating experiences and businesses around human connection. 

According to the Wall Street Journal, Jesse is "rebranding meditation for Millenials." He's the organizer of Medi Club - a collective of young entrepreneurs and self starters that share meditation and open discussion as a common thread. He's also the co-creator of the Big Quiet - the mass meditation movement that hosts large social gatherings in unique places, including the largest official meditation in Central Park history. 

He's the founder of the Cyclones - a social bicycling club with thousands of members amongst riding chapters in NYC, LA and SF, and the Cyclones Bike Share program - a crowd-powered initiative that has implemented bike share programs for students and women in over ten different rural areas of Tanzania.

Jesse is a co-founder of Cantora - a record label turned technology venture studio. While at the company (2005-2014), Jesse signed bands such as MGMT and Bear Hands, and worked alongside talent as diverse as Wu Tang Clan's GZA to Frank Sinatra's estate. Jesse spearheaded Cantora's technology fund, which TIME magazine called "a music-culture-cool tech fund that doesn’t lack for ambition."

Jesse sits on the arts committee board of SummerStage NYC and has been an advisor to companies like Slang, Biobeats, Signal 360 and Maderas Village.

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