Gino Borges:

Thank you all for joining us today on The Journey of Impact: A Virtual Fireside Chat Series. This is Gino Borges, your host. The Journey of Impact Series is here to tell a different story of impact. While we naturally address some of the landmarks of the journey, this series is designed to create space for the uncovering of emotional, mental, and spiritual challenges and successes along the path of impact. It is less about the outcomes or results of our actions, but rather the human components of what it feels like to operate in the impact world, illumining one’s inner journey. Today I’d like to welcome Rachel Gerrol, a catalyst-at-large working at the intersection of social entrepreneurship, community building, and philanthropy. She is Co-founder and CEO of Nexus, the leading international network of next-gen philanthropists and impact investors with over 6,000 members from over 70 countries, representing families with a combined net worth of over $650 billion. Rachel also co-founded the Survivor Initiative to raise awareness and funds for Holocaust survivors living below the poverty line in New York City and in Washington DC. Welcome, Rachel.

Rachel Gerrol:

Thank you. I’m so excited to be here. I love the work you’re doing to help us chip away at that veneer that entrepreneurs need to be perfect and shiny pennies all the time, to be honest about our journeys, the good, the bad, the ugly, and the moments that make us stronger.

Gino Borges:

Tell me how you view yourself as CEO of Nexus. I know there’s a deep internal serial entrepreneur to you, a serial starter. How does that manifest, leading an organization and having this entrepreneurial drive?

Rachel Gerrol:

People ask me what I do all the time. I don’t carry business cards. I’m in the business of making people’s dreams come true and making people’s dreams come true faster. Every Nexus member that I meet (You become an access member by attending an extra summit. There’s no membership fee.), I ask two questions: what’s your passion and how can I help? My goal is to not let them know what my passion is because I thrive and get my kicks out of being in the helper role. I will meet five people in the same day. One whose passion is [combating] human trafficking, one whose passion is cleaning the oceans, one whose passion is impact investing, one whose passion is removing plastic straws from stadiums. They all are different. But, I can think of ten people each one should be connected to, a book they should read, a conference to attend, an article they should be featured in, et cetera. I feel that all day I get my entrepreneurial-itch scratched because I’m in the business of making other people’s dreams come true faster. I created an ecosystem where I want everyone to do that; I want everyone to see themselves as a potential accelerator to someone else’s social impact.

Gino Borges:

How is that done? That sounds like a nice intention, but on a daily basis, how is that occurring for you and how is that occurring for other people?

Rachel Gerrol:

We do a summit every month in a different continent all over the world. My favorite exercise we do at our summits is where we get together in groups of ten. Everybody gets two minutes to say what is their project and what are they working on and where could they use help. They just can’t ask for money. In the beginning, I always say, if you’re looking for money, raise your hand. And, everyone does. I say, great, we’ve gotten that out of the way. We all know you want money. Now, let’s think with our creativity hats on. My favorite exercise: these ten people in a circle person speaks for two minutes, this is my project. This is where I need help. This is what I’m working on. And, for one minute, everyone writes on a card a way that they can help them. “When you’re coming to pitch in San Francisco, you can stay at my house.” “If you’re looking to scale your initiative into Columbia, I know a nonprofit you should partner with.” “If you’re thinking about going big, you should read, ‘Let’s Scale’ and then I’ll introduce you to Reid Hoffman.” Any way you can help. There’s always a way to help, even if it’s, I will share the work that you’re doing on my social media. People leave that exercise with ten index cards of ways that their idea’s going to be helped immediately, in concrete ways, not fluffy. I’ll follow up with you one day with my stack of business cards. That’s a part of our events. We also do lunches. The Nexus office is where people come together and they share their passions. We figure out how we can connect them to each other and other people in the ecosystem, in the world.

We have summits on six continents. We also have a member on our team, Lana Fern, who is our Director of Global Community Strategy. Her active role is to go into anyone’s Facebook posts where it says, here’s what I’m working on. Can you connect me to people who are working in Madagascar on caring for lemurs? She’ll write people’s names there so that they get connected. We model this all day, every day, in our every interaction. Our office in New York often has members drop by as they’re on their way walking somewhere else. They drop in and say, “Hey guys, how are you doing? I’m working on something. Who should I be connecting with?” They call us less and drop in more. It’s like that old gentleman totality. If you walk in the door, we’ve got great ideas for you. If you call, they might say, we’re on a call. But we’ve got enough people on the team that somebody will sit down with you and model how can we be better brothers and sisters towards making the world we want happen now.

Gino Borges:

Where was the genesis? I get the impression that you’ve had this “helper” gene since day one. Lead us through that early stage of life where you realized that connecting people and celebrating people’s projects became a large organization that’s mobilizing thousands of people who have a disproportionate amount of influence on the world, seemingly just because of their financial wealth.

Rachel Gerrol:

I’ll give you two answers. I’ll go real personal and deep for you. Then, I’ll give you the standard answer because I know what you’re looking for on this conversation is for us to not just give what you hear on a regular stage. The personal answer is that I come very proudly from a long line of seven year United Church of Christ ministers and missionaries. My grandparents were born in Indonesia and China. They wanted to help people find sustainable ways to have faith and to give them money to start farms, et cetera. I also come from an engineering family. If there wasn’t a possibility for dialogue across religions and cultures, I wouldn’t be here. I’ve always seen myself as a person who is meant to and uniquely positioned to hold space for all beliefs, all practices and backgrounds and find a way for them to figure out not the hurdles, but through some analyses, where there are commonalities and how can they help each other.

That’s my personal answer. Coming from the “helper” gene and how Nexus got started, I was working for an amazing woman, Nancy Ruben, the ambassador to the UN for human rights. We together saw the amazing power that the UN has, but it is slow. There are a lot of meetings about meetings, the meetings that are going to happen in September, which are big meetings where they make decisions that then take a year to be enacted. Once there is a resolution, it’s still left to the country to decide how much really they’re going to comply. In that work with her seeing where the UN is most effective, it’s most effective post-disaster, post-conflict in dropping in food and medical supplies. But during conflict, we all know Rwanda people were being killed by machetes by their neighbors. UN peacekeepers were there, but if they can’t keep peace, then they just say we failed today. They don’t actually go in and stop conflict. I had an idea with my co-founder, Jonah, that we would reserve a room at the UN, which was a chief skill of mine at the time. We would cold call the Forbes 500 list and say you’re each invited to send one member of your family to represent the next generation of great influence. It should be a person under 40, and we don’t care if they’ve had a social impact background before or not because they’re here to learn about all the ways they can think about helping. We included two-thirds ultra-high net worth and one-third already successfully recognized social entrepreneurs, people who had already received success and would be ready should they find themselves in the position where their entrepreneurial endeavor was going to be catalyzed. We took a wild shot and made a free summit. We had a day at the UN, and 350 people showed up. We looked around like this is Rachel and Jonah at the UN, and… no one else is here. Why did these people come? We quickly realized as entrepreneurs do that you have to fake it til you make it. So we said, “Welcome to our first ever annual summit,” which was never intended to have a second. People sat by country. We’d have a Royal from a certain country sitting next to someone whose village had saved money for them to have their first pair of shoes ever to be at that summit. They talked all day together, and they learned about what’s happening in the slums or what’s happening with women’s rights. These people would never have reason to meet in their own country. They never had a reason to meet on a plane from their country because they sat in different classes. But, we put no affiliations on your name tags and we put no country that you’re from. We put no HRH if you’re a Royal. We say that every currency is a currency of philanthropy. You’re here because you’re uniquely positioned to help. Your job, your investigative journey, is to figure out how you can help. But, you’re not allowed to solicit. No one can ask anyone for money. Because of that, we removed that uncomfortability from the room and made everyone just see that their goal is to figure out how can they help.

We found out by the end that $10 million have been donated from people to people, not because people asked, but because people got really excited. People ended up getting married, getting engaged, and having babies from that first event. They have been moving in with each other as roommates. There’s was a Nexus house in New York for awhile. They got in a line at the end of the day. Usually, you know, I thought that they were coming to thank us. But, no. They were coming to say this was really great, but there aren’t enough people from Africa here. This is really wonderful, but Australia is really underrepresented. You’ve got the standard families, but not the ones who are up and coming. So I said, okay, I think I better quit my job. I see what’s happening. We’ve given birth to a movement, but you are all the people I know and you’re all the richest people who took my call. So I now need you to invite your networks if this is going to be a movement. Now, nine years later, we’ve done 40 summits around the world with heads of state all over. I still get chills when I get a call from a head of state and I think, why are they calling me? I was just the secretary at the UN. But, then I realized that Nexus doesn’t mean Nexus. It means “us.” Nexus is the spirit of how do we help each other. Governments want help just the same way that individuals do and entrepreneurs do.

Gino Borges:

Do you come from a family of wealth?

Rachel Gerrol:

I come from a father who was a graduate student when I was born and eventually became a psychologist. It’s amazing to be the child psychologist and be sane. My mother was a dancer, a modern dancer who then became a stay at home mom. I have had the great privilege of having a second family which is the ambassador that I worked for, Nancy Ruben and her husband, Miles Ruben. I started working with them right out of college. They do have a great foundation, are incredibly philanthropic and well-connected in almost every country. I worked for them for eight years in every capacity you could imagine and learned so much about how to be responsible and how to be effective in using your influence, your stature, your name, your title, and your role and your connections. I realized that the wealth was the least most influential thing that they could do. They’d have an event for a politician, they would call musicians to do a concert for a cause. They decided to break stigma around mental health and host “Breaking the Stigma” award dinners. These types of things made much bigger news when Miles Rubin started the first ever electric car in ten years and invested in all the technologies of it, which were then adopted by other companies. Those were made way more powerful than writing checks. Through them, I learned that influence and connections can be way stronger accelerators than capital itself.

Gino Borges:

Where’s the current challenges for you right now on a day to day basis? You are running a large organization with a lot of different people all over the globe. What’s the last moment where you thought this is actually much harder than I expected and I really don’t know where to go with this?

Rachel Gerrol:

I’m really lucky. This isn’t a cop out, but if I made a five year plan for Nexus, we probably would have hosted five summits. But instead, I believe in responsive leadership. People might ask what’s Nexus doing; they’re doing something different every year. That’s true, and that’s because we’re growing at an organic rate based on the interests, the needs, and the demands of our members. I’m really glad I didn’t make a five year plan because we would have hosted five summits instead of 40. It is really interesting to surrender fully to listening to our working group leaders. We’ve worked in groups on different issues and where they want to go and what they want to do. How do we support them and our regional leaders to host our summits in different countries around the world? What did they want their themes to be? My job is to listen and learn from them. So I don’t ever say, oh, today was so hard. I’m so stuck. I’d say, wow, I wonder how on earth we’re going to get this done. Then, we all come together and do it.

I wondered very hard how we were going to get our members safe in Ecuador during the midst of a national emergency last week where we had tanks and tear gas in the street and people who’ve been shut out of their buildings and we were sheltering in place. I didn’t know how we were going to leave that room. People hadn’t been fed or had water for 11 hours, but we made it. David Deitz on my team rode in a trunk. I road in a car on the floor of the back seat where your feet go, under someone’s feet. But, we all made it. It’s interesting. When we look at our working groups, on human trafficking or unequal justice. They try to rally our heirs to hotel fortunes and are trying to look at divestment from financial institutions to support private prisons and support the detention centers. These are not things that I wake up thinking about, but I get a phone call and they say Nexus needs to get on this. We need to create a letter for shareholder activism. We need to create a way to remove single-use plastics from all the stadiums. Then, we go into our database, and we find out 66 Nexus member families own stadiums in the US. If they all were to remove single use plastics, we’d be making a huge difference. Let’s try to get single-use plastics out of the Superbowl. That’s what our members said to us. It’s not so much what do I think the greatest challenge is. It’s that every day there’s numbers of new ideas, but they help each other. They form coalitions and task forces. They show up in ways that I could never have dreamed. So it’s hard, but it’s ever changing. The hard part is just figuring out what do we prioritize. The answer so far has been everything. One day maybe we’ll need to have a better priority scale. But I’ll tell you a story. At the end of August, a Nexus member named Rupert whose family owned 80% of the land in Grand Bahama wrote our Facebook page and saying, “Help. My prime minister is saying that no support in foreign aid is needed, but I’m two-thirds underwater. Our port and our airport is destroyed. We have 2300 people missing. And, Nexus members, do you have helicopters, yachts or private planes? Can you land despite the prime minister? Are you willing to come in spite of him saying it’s a no fly zone?” We sent over 50 yachts. Our members sent five Black Hawk helicopters to do search and rescue to save people out of the rubble. Back and forth, we sent 50 yachts and 20 planes full of supplies, medical supplies, generators, water, et cetera. If you would’ve asked me the day before, does Nexus do disaster relief? I would’ve said “no.” So, hard is funny word, but [it’s] is a good one. We were completely responsive. We change with the needs of our members, and it’s the greatest joy just watching them step up for each other. When the Bahamas incident happened, I was in Mexico visiting a Nexus member, and I was watching it unfold. I sprinkled a little fairy dust to make a few phone calls for people, but 85% of it was our team, our members, and our COO, managing seaplanes and sea pilots, and it’s not her job, telling them when and where they could land so that they weren’t just all circling and running down fuel. We really just spring into action to support any of our members. We believe that by modeling that others will do so for each other.

Gino Borges:

Your genesis really began with the idea that there’s a certain amount of inertia within the system that can’t respond in real time or really misses the opportunity. All systems have a certain amount of inertia and invested stakeholders who don’t want it to move any quicker, who have a financial ideological for whatever reason, political reasons for it to pump the brakes. Let’s bring it back to the States where there’s an enormous amount of partisan tension. These are not neutral issues all the time that Nexus takes up. There’s vested interest. For example, there’s the plastic industry that’s definitely not interested in shrinking their plastic footprint. They hire lobbyists to beat down city council and state ordinances. How do you typically deal with that inevitable industrial pushback on these particular issues?

Rachel Gerrol:

I think people underestimate the power of connection and love to combat all of the dinosaur industries that don’t want to move, or move super slowly. There’s no better phone call that a grandparent has ever received who’s the CEO of a company that bears their name than their grandchild’s saying, “Hi grandpa, how are you doing? I recently learned that we’re using 180 million pounds of plastics in our stadium. This goes against everything I want to see for the future of the world. And, it means that in 20 years there’ll be more plastic in the ocean than water. This stadium bears our name and I’m not proud of it. I want to work with you, with Nexus and with Accenture and with the alternatives that they found. Let’s do this together, grandpa, you and me. Let’s make our name mean something. Let’s make our legacy real and let’s make money while we do it.”

Nexus is a sound way to incentivize you to make money when you use alternative supply sticks. Let’s take Mercedes Benz Stadium as an example. It would have taken decades probably to push the changes through Atlanta stadiums or Miami’s Hardrock stadium. It would have taken decades to push through the ownership levels to the team levels to the general managers, to the suppliers, to Aramark, to everyone else. We just have people call to say all you want is to make your legacy one of positivity for the family and I want to do it with you in an authentic, creative way. We can leapfrog past all the bureaucracy through love and positivity. We’ve seen it with hotels that are no longer privately held that are publicly traded companies but that bear the name of the hotel family. We’ve seen the family member call their parents or grandparents and say I’m not proud of the number of trafficking cases that happened in our hotels last year. I know that we don’t have anything to do with it, but our foundation could offer an incentive to housekeeping staff to report a suspicion of trafficking. If our foundation is doing that and then report it, the hotel company benefits. Their stock will go up and then we can release our conscience because it bears our name. We see what you’re saying, the bureaucracy and the lobbying. And, we work to overcome that through non-traditional ways in working through families and then using the pressure of it. If three hotel heirs say that to their families, we’re in the queue. The fourth one says, “Dad, I can’t go back and say our family wasn’t the one who was going to do it. That’s a story waiting to happen. Someone’s going to call the NY Times.” Using social pressure as a generation to work up through the generations, there is no grandpa or parent on earth with $5 in their pocket or $500 millions who didn’t want a call from their kids saying I want your legacy and our work to mean something for generations. I see it all. I see the bureaucracy, and I see that we can just make it all disappear and go outside of it. I’m sure people who are in titles of CEO or CFO or whoever else are wondering, where did this idea come from and why is it a priority? But, they’re not my priority.

Gino Borges:

That’s a very thoughtful approach. What are you seeing with the under 40 crowd in terms of how they want to live in the world? How are they living in the world relative to previous generations, specifically Nexus members?

Rachel Gerrol:

I’m going to say something controversial. This could get picked up probably. I went for a long time where I was waking up every morning and saying gratitude for Donald Trump. I didn’t vote for Donald Trump. I have a lot of opinions about Donald Trump, but I saw people of a generation of influence and means for the first time realize that it was on them to have a stake in the game. They marched in the streets. I said to Nexus members, if you think that marching the streets was the best you could do to make change, then I’m glad you did it. But, if you know that you can reach out to a family member who is a CEO or a Senator or a governor or a major journalist, you have an additional responsibility now, and you can raise awareness about all sorts of issues that matter to you, that matter to women’s rights, immigrant rights, redistricting and getting prisoners the right to vote, whatever it is. These are not my causes. These are members who were saying, I care about these things. And I said, you have the opportunity to change them. You were sitting on the sidelines under a wonderful new president that you felt held your best interest in heart. We’re going to go through ebbs and flows over the next 80 years together. We’re all going to live, I believe, now to 120. We’re all biohacking and getting STEM cells to make sure of it. So, we, as a generation of great means and influence, and Nexus have the opportunity to have more power and influence than any president that comes and goes for eight years. It’s time to step into that power and it’s time to start asking your parents. What do you want for your birthday? Do you want a Birkin bag or Ferrari? You say, “No, I want to see the actual pay rate of men and women in the same jobs in our company.” I want you to use your birthday. I want you to use Christmas. Instead of saying, I want to go on a ski holiday, I want you to say, for Christmas, I want to find out the top five holdings in our foundation and see if we can change them to be holdings that are not supporting tobacco or big pharma or any holding them might be supporting and empowering detention centers. We are getting our members really excited about their influence. And, it’s not the capital yet. Yes, they live in nice houses and have access to flying in first class, but they don’t yet have the big purse strings. But, I tell them, do not wait. You have the influence now and use it because as you use your influence, you’ll grow into people and your family trusting you to actually have a say in your foundation and your assets. Even more so than seeing our members using their purchasing power, they’re starting to recognize that every dollar they spend is a vote: vote for Patagonia or vote for fast fashion, a vote for a local farmer’s market or vote for a giant supermarket chain. They’re thinking about every choice they make, what they wear, what they buy, how they fly and how they travel, if they use Airbnb, if they use Zipcar or Uber versus owning cars, if they’re buying electric cars. The idea of living your values is one that is completely integrated into this generation now for people of means and influence. A day goes by that they’re making a decision to spend money or time on a company that they don’t feel embodies their values. It’s very inspiring actually.

Gino Borges:

It’s super inspiring because a lot of people can’t find hope for agency within the current systems for a variety of reasons. You’re really activating network power and love. When people are privately communed with, they really do want to do the right things regardless of their political labeling. We all want to live honorable lives and yet capital corporatization and politics can actually put a veil in front of making those decisions. It’s as if we’re living one life internally, and yet externally, there’s these forces that are very complicated. If you just dealt with that force, you can get wrangled up in the mess. On the other hand, we know that that force will naturally move if we start with the force of love networking for us and raising the threshold of what people can do. A march is great, but if you know a journalist of the New York times, if you know a us Senator from Connecticut, all of a sudden that’s much more powerful. Whenever you are able to use those dynamics, essentially what you’re doing is using the tools of the outer world to play off themselves a little bit. I love that because most people just go in the outer world, get tangled up in the web, and then feel defeated.

Rachel Gerrol:

That’s a beautiful summation, and you’re totally right. We challenge people but in ways that they want to rise to them. We’ve never met someone who said, I don’t know what I can do. Actually, I take that back. When we had our first summit, we had a group of savvy princesses who came to me. One of them said it’s so beautiful that you thought you would think of me, but in truth, it’s our brothers and cousins who are going to be the ones who will be able to make the biggest difference in their country because they will have access to the financial capital and the political capital that we don’t have. I asked, well, what kinds of capital do you have? That was not unexpected response. They were giving me a very honest, thoughtful comment. They said, well, a lot of people follow us on Instagram. A lot of people know what we’re up to. We’re trendsetters. Well, what can you use with that? They said, Rachel, you don’t understand the region. Women don’t have the right to drive or the right to vote. This is 2011 and a number of those princesses have now gone to the base camp at Mount Everest. They climbed, and it got tons of press. Shortly thereafter, women got the right to vote in Saudi. Not only the right to vote, but the right to run for office. There were about 38,000 women who ran for office that year in 2015, and in 2017, women got the right to drive. You can see and you can trace this yourself with stories and Instagram of princesses who were driving. If you can ascend the base camp of Everest, it’s hard to say you couldn’t drive. You’re doing a thing most men haven’t done. Even when people think that they might not be in the right position or they might not be the best person to make change in their family or their country, I tell them, maybe you’re not the best person. But, what is your influence? We all have influence. I ask people sometimes to tell me who has someone who listens to them, whether it’s your kid or your neighbor or your dad or your mentee or your social media followers. Who is anyone who listens to you? If you have anyone listens to you, you can make a difference. You have to decide what you stand for and you have to use that influence because there are people listening whether or not you know it. If you’re just posting to get this credit card or this is what I wore on Sunday, that’s great. But sprinkle in a little bit of the news of the past two weeks: that people in China are being harvested for their organs. Get the news out there. You don’t have to take a stand and ask people to take an action, but get the news out there. But, I also love asking people to take action that’s not money related. I love anything you can do to change the world without spending a dollar. It’s my favorite currency: every other currency than money, and I’m not talking about blockchain. For instance, my favorite app is called Charity Miles. If you don’t download it, I’ll give you a dollar to download. With Charity Miles, you download the app for a dollar and every time you walk, run or bike anywhere, you open up the app, scroll through to pick the nonprofit that you like (there’s about 30 and there ain’t one you don’t gotta like), and you put it in your pocket when you walk to work. Then you push stop and if you don’t push stop, it knows that you stopped. I’ve tried that. I’ve tried getting in a car before and it’s like you can’t run that fast. But I can donate money to the nonprofit that you chose just because you walked, ran, or biked somewhere. The idea that anyone can use their own two feet to make a difference on their regular day without having to have the day for a march, a marathon, or an Ironman for a cause that they care about is exactly how I want people thinking all the time. What am I already doing? Birthdays, for example. I often ask people in crowds, raise your hand if you have a birthday, which is the best question to ask because if you don’t raise your hand, you’re just not listening. If you have a birthday, donate your birthday to a cause. If you walk to work, use Charity Miles. These are the easiest things we can do that make a difference when you add it up in a massive way, and that take very little effort.

Gino Borges:

Do you see Nexus contributing to a postnationalist world to some extent? The world is so intertwined and yet the outer world, the political world and even the industrialized world, puts up a lot of fences. We have a whole language around these fences, but Nexus seems to play a role of softening the edges around Nation States towards a more postnationalist type of citizenry.

Rachel Gerrol:

That’s probably true. I don’t think it was our original intent. We hosted our first events with the UN, so we want to bring people together. The preamble of the United Nations does not say “We the Nations.” It says “We the People.” That’s really what we are focused on. We, the people, need to heal the Amazon. We, the people, need to break stigma around mental health. We, the people, need to empower women to have rights over their bodies. That’s what we focus on. If the byproduct of that is that people start to see themselves as global citizens, I celebrate it. But, I also am proud to be an American because of what America was founded for, just in the way that a lot of people are proud to be of a certain culture or heritage, even if they’re not pleased with the way that their government is making laws. America was founded with a statue in the harbor that says, “bring me your poor huddled masses, yearning to breathe free.” I want to live in a country where people can breathe free and without fear. But when that isn’t the case, I do think that the more we can see how we can be bonded together across these invisible Nation States can strengthen us. Today is world mental health day, October 10. At Nexus, we are hosting 15 salons across 15 different countries to break stigma around mental health because the number one thing killing people under 30 is mental health and suicide. There are countries in which they wrote back and said, “we can’t hold a world mental health salon because mental health isn’t a problem in our country that’s recognized.” There are no psychologists in two African countries because there’s no such thing as depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder in post-conflict countries. I was thought, “Okay, that’s interesting. So what do you want to call your salon? Do you want to call it wellbeing?” This salon needs to happen. So, we are pushing for people to work together across borders and to help scale initiatives more significantly. We’ve seen this past success in certain regions spread into other regions. But, I don’t think that we’re saying front and center, we want you to adopt a global citizenship over your national identity. Our vision statement at Nexus is we imagine an adjusted, sustainable world governed by the proposition that we’re all in this together. That does imply some level of all the hats that we wear of nationalism, capitalism, political party affiliation, religion, and family name. If we’re all in this together, let’s just all drop the hats, and hold each other’s hands. I do believe we try to model that a lot, and it could be seen in many different ways, but the more and more people embodying “we’re all in this together,” the more they will start to realize that their neighbor is their friend and there’s neighbor on neighbor conflict and violence in the West just as much as there is between countries. To even think that nationalism or partisanship is the root of the problem is a problem. I’m working at a level that’s a soul-level deeper than the problems that we’re seeing. There are symptoms of broken people, and we’re looking for wholeness and community. People who’ve risen to power in different countries have been able to be elected because promises they made alone if people weren’t already feeling broken and abandoned and unseen.

Gino Borges:

It’s really a question of conduct more than capital at times. How do you maintain those values of wholeness and personal resiliency when you’re having honest conversations with yourself? What kind of practice do you have to check the tyranny of busy-ness and the tyranny of activity for the sake of activity and the tyranny of quoting numbers and statistics? You’re still one woman in the middle of New York and walking the streets with some mind chatter going on, What about your own wellness?

Rachel Gerrol:

That’s a great question. My husband would say, I’m very not good at it. I’m not checking the phone because I don’t see a difference between work and life. My greatest joy is people texting me saying, who can you introduce me to who cares about such and such issue? Or, I’m coming to town and who should I meet? I really don’t see it as work. I didn’t get paid by Nexus for the first three or four years, and I didn’t care because I felt I was on earth to do this work. When you’re living your purpose, you don’t see those lines. The problem is that the people close to you do. My husband is a huge successful tech entrepreneur with offices in three countries and travels on its own circuit. He will say, when we’re together, can the people on the phone not be at the dinner with us? I have to learn those boundaries because they’re not innate to me. It’s my greatest joy when the phone rings. It’s someone who has something I can help them with. That’s my instinct. How do I balance those that I love, who do have strong boundaries and work life balance, when I don’t feel the need for those boundaries because they don’t stress me and I enjoy it? It’s as though Santa Claus gives me a new package, every time I get a new email. I love it. I have to think very strongly about it. There’s a Jewish tradition called Musar, where you make an intention to keep it for a month. My intention was recently, “there is no one more important in my phone than the person I’m with right now.” I’m not always great at it, but when I say, Oh, Musar, it comes to me and then I do it. My grandma, a 99-year old minister, was one of the first-ever ordained female ministers in the US. She died last month. At every funeral I sat in (I just went to funeral three this weekend because women are all over the world are loving and celebrating her), the thing that I remember that everyone says is not all the things that she did and she did many, many, many things. It’s that they said whenever you are with June, she made you feel like you’re the only important person in the world. I want to try as much as I can to make whoever I’m sitting with, meeting with, whether it’s my sister, my brother, my father, my husband, Nexus member, or my team to make them feel that because these people, after someone has passed away at three separate funerals, everyone got up and said that was the thing they remembered most. Not that she published a CD at the age of 90 playing Chopin, not that she walked with Martin Luther King or whatever else she did. It was amazing they remembered how she made them feel; that they were the most important person in the room whenever she saw them. The most important lesson, and if I can get better at it, is going to be how I will keep her legacy living on. Gratitude is a big piece of that, but I’m not someone who exercises or does meditation or washes my clothes as often as I should. I’m on planes and trains every week. I’m very small and lucky. I’m very lucky to be just about five feet tall. I’m built for our economy, and I see all these things as positive. I can sleep on any moving vehicle, and I can also stay awake if I need to do work. I am very, very blessed and just counting blessings keeps you young and happy.

Gino Borges:

Yeah, I agree. That was a nice story about your grandmother.

Rachel Gerrol:

Thank you.

Gino Borges:

I actually gave both of my eulogies for my parents and really it came down to exactly that, how they conducted themselves in the world more than what they owned or what they did. It really warms me to have that confirmed. How does Nexus deal with wellness? When you look around again, there is a tendency for these gatherings to feel a little frenetic. I’m curious about how deep is Nexus looking internally.

Rachel Gerrol:

Great question. I think that us not having name tags on or not putting affiliations on name tags just changes the whole nature of how people meet. They’re not doing the name tech scan, they’re not hitting up business cards saying what do you do? How can we work together? Are you valuable to me? I hate that when I go to conferences. Your affiliation is how people judge. Are you valuable to me? Are you worthy of a conversation? Should I sit down next to you or bring up a chat and a coffee? It’s absolutely disgusting because we are not where we work or who we are. That helps a lot to get people into our heart space and into a helpful space. We do ask people in the first opening plenary wherever in the world to turn to their neighbor and ask, what’s your passion? How can I help? People are super uncomfortable. “What do you mean, what’s my passion?” In the worst cases, people have said, “Could we use the word interest because it feels a little sexual?” Nope, it has to be passion because I want it to be the thing that keeps you up at night. Introduce or invest yourself in a working group.

We recently introduced a biohacking wellness suite at our summits. When people have had a little bit too much, they use what I call the law of two feet. If you’re not where your two feet are, you’re not getting anything out of a conversation or a plenary or a breakout room or a dinner, take your two feet somewhere where you’re actually breathing, learning, living, and doing what’s making your heart happy. Our biohacking wellness suites includes a device called a Bemer, where we sit on chairs and it puts infrared light into you that actually recharges all of your cells. The suite also includes hyperbaric oxygen tanks that you can lay in by one or by twos. People have made friends laying in tanks together. It’s hysterical. But, the wellness suite includes a lot of different modalities like that. We had acupuncturists, we’ve had with masseuses, we’ve had personal intuitive coaches where you could sign up for 20 minutes to have a coaching session. We have guided meditation. Deepak Chopra and Jennifer Smorgon have led tons of guided meditations at are summits for people who want to opt out of a busy crazy connectivity and have time into themselves. We’ve done silent walks in the park as part of our global summits. We did forest bathing as part of our Asia summit where people went out for an hour into the forest and felt the grass on their feet. We have a lot of Nexus members who are really into biohacking, using STEM cells and exosomes, NAD +, and all sorts of things to optimize and relax themselves. We’ve had a lot of sessions about cannabis. We even had one about hallucinogens for health and pain relief for our parents and grandparents who are struggling and make us really feel stuck. There’s a lot that Nexus members are leaning on each other about to see what’s cutting edge and helping people to tap into just meditation and their breath and all these other new cool modalities as well.

Gino Borges:

Wow. There is a lot happening. I actually participated in the hyperbaric chambers that you talked about. I took a nap.

Rachel Gerrol:

You can just tune out. I do it every time. I’m in the Bemer for 20 minutes. I’m in a hyperbaric for 20 minutes. It’s so nice just to have silence. Even if it’s not silent, you can find the silence to be seated and to be experiencing something that’s just for you. You do need to recharge that battery, and we don’t think that that should be that you step out and go get a coffee or go home to your office for an hour. We want you to find a place to do that in the home that is Nexus.

Gino Borges:

We are coming up to last couple minutes here. Rachel, is there something that came up for you that that either I shared or you shared that you would like to sum up before we close?

Rachel Gerrol:

I’m loving most is that your questions are not about what’s the impact that Nexus has had, give me all the data, tell me how many summits, how many salons, how many countries and what’s the difference in philanthropy that you’re seeing trend wise in Australia versus Israel versus Latin America versus Europe. These are the questions that I usually get. The truth is that the trends are that young people are owning their own ways and making the future better and brighter, and they’re finding currencies of impact that people are not seeing or measuring. Looking at the same scales of who’s voting, who’s running for office, who’s donating to the same big institutions that need to keep their buildings on, who’s showing up at the same religious organizations that are now empty. Everyone’s afraid. But I want to just say, I’m not afraid because those are the wrong indicators. We’re measuring people on a scale that’s not the scale they’re looking at, but the people are tuned in. They’re having conversations that they weren’t having five years ago. They’re thinking about their purchasing power and their vote. They’re thinking about who was the most influential person that would take my call if I needed them to. What would I say to them? They’re using their birthdays, they’re using Charity Miles. I see so much hope, so much possibility. We had to experience some moments that people as a generation needed for them to open their eyes. I’m so grateful that their eyes are open, and I think they’ll never shut. A million seeds are being planted right now and will be seen, beautiful gardens where there’s flowers blooming for decades to come.

Gino Borges:

You are one of the bravest souls I know. That’s beautiful. Thank you everybody, and thank you Rachel.