Entrepreneurial Liberation

Transform Your Life and World


Entrepreneurial Liberation will provide you with the foundational knowledge and skills necessary to pursue personal liberation and become a powerful force for positive change in your world through self-initiated entrepreneurial endeavors.  This course will help you deeply explore and directly experience the process of starting new ventures on the path towards your own self-transcendence, as well as begin to develop insight and wisdom into the apparent and ultimate causes for success and failure of founders, startup teams, and entrepreneurial ventures, either in the for-profit, not-for-profit, public, or new/emergent sectors.


Cost: $900. Limited scholarships and follow-on funding for participants' ventures is available.

Dates/Time: Next course start date to be determined.

Location: This course will be delivered virtually. You will interact with other participants on video chat and an online course forum. You are strongly encouraged to get a local partner or team to join the course as well. Face-to-face collaboration with a partner on the Experiential Learning Projects makes learning the material easier and faster, but this is not absolutely required. The instructor will meet individually with you on skype, phone, or in-person (depending on location) once during the course.

Preliminary Call: If you are interested in joining the course, we would like to speak with you to learn about your needs and whether the course would be a good fit. Sign up below for a free discovery call with the facilitator Christopher Zobrist.

Christopher Zobrist.JPG


Christopher Quang Zobrist has spent the last 15 years founding, advising, and mentoring hundreds of entrepreneurs and early stage startup teams. He has a strong interest in the intersection of Mindfulness and Startups, practices daily meditation and yoga, and has completed over 20 weeks of residential meditation retreat practice. Chris worked as a Program Design Consultant for the Innovation Partnerships Program, a government-funded program from the Foreign Ministry of Finland and Ministry of Science and Technology of Vietnam, and served as Deputy Director at the John von Neumann Institute at Vietnam National University. He graduated from the UC Berkeley Haas School of Business and the UC Davis Graduate School of Management. Chris is a classical pianist, avid swimmer, and competitive triathlete, and has a rare genetic condition called Dominant Optic Atrophy, and has been legally blind since birth.

Course Mission

The long-term mission of this course is to help prepare and create entrepreneurs who have achieved awakening through the creation of successful new ventures, where success is measured both in terms of financial sustainability as well as positive social impact on the world as a whole. This contributes to the success of the school by providing a clear roadmap for you to create your own ventures after completion of your studies, one which is also in alignment with your life’s purpose and the good of society at large.  Societies outside the school will likewise learn that new venture success has deeper causes than what is apparently observable from a purely objective viewpoint.

Course Goals

Entrepreneurial Liberation will help you:

  • Assess the long-term implications of your purpose and future as it relates to your impact on others
  • Align your Values, Intentions, and Actions in a way that will result in the highest chance of success for new ventures
  • Acquire the necessary knowledge, mindset, and skills to develop deep insight about what makes a new venture succeed
  • Apply the experiences listed above to projects you find personally meaningful

Prospective Participants

You should take this course if your values and intentions are aligned with the Course Mission as described above.  More specifically, you should NOT take this course if your main purpose in starting a new venture is to make money for the sake of being rich. This course takes the perspective that money is a tool, it is not inherently bad, but the main purpose of making money is to help transform yourself and to be of greater service to the world.  

Classes will be capped at 12 participants to ensure everyone has an opportunity to actively participate in every course session and project. You are strongly encouraged to have a local partner or team you can meet with in order to participate in class sessions and collaborate on Experiential Learning Projects.

Applications: Your applications will be evaluated on the basis of how prepared you are to get the most out of the course, whether you are planning on starting a company imminently or have already started your company, to what degree your company aligns with the broad goals of the school, and its potential positive impact.


The prerequisites for the course are:

  1. Have or be willing to commit to establishing a regular daily formal meditation practice of at least 30 minutes per day for the duration and after completion of this course, and
  2. Be planning to start a company very soon.

Exceptions to 2. will be made for highly motivated applicants who can demonstrate your preparedness to start a business in other ways. Having studied entrepreneurship formally, worked for a startup, or previously started a business is helpful but not required. Ideal participants either have some entrepreneurship experience or are transitioning from corporate careers into social entrepreneurship and want to develop the internal and external foundations to maximize your likelihood of long-term success. 

Core Frameworks and Concepts

You will learn the fundamentals of Values-based Intentional Action (VIA), and how to apply this framework to value creation through new ventures (i.e. start-up organizations, including both for-profit and not-for-profit models).  The frameworks for startups and innovation that will be explored and applied in this course include: Effectual Entrepreneurship (Sarasvathy), Discovery Skills (Dyer, Gregerson, and Christensen) , and Disruptive Innovation (Christensen), as well as Design Thinking (developed by the Stanford Institute for Design, aka Stanford d.school).  

These frameworks are built on top of the foundational principles or virtues that lead to success. These virtues include: Generosity, Ethics, Patience, Joyful Effort (i.e. Having FUN!), Mindful Awareness, and Wisdom.  The course begins exploring these virtues and frameworks as deeply interconnected systems of thought, action, and consequence, which will help you to establish a mindset and daily practices that help to instill and reinforce these positive qualities of mind.  The result will be a much greater chance of success for your future ventures, as well as facilitation of inner and outer transformation for you and the people you are in relationship with.  

Outline of Course Topics

Each class session is divided into three one-hour segments.  The first hour will focus on different perspectives, explorations, and techniques relating to contemplative practices in stillness (i.e. formal meditation practice).  The second hour will focus on content addressed through readings and discussions that you  have participated in during the previous week.  The third hour will focus on review of the previous week’s Experiential Learning Project (ELP), and preparation for the current week’s ELP.  We will have short bio/stretch breaks between each segment.  

Week Contemplative Practices Topics/Content for Discussion Experiential Learning Projects
1 An Integral Approach to Contemplative Practice Effectual Entrepreneurship The Two-Hour Challenge
2 Mindfulness as a Trend, a Skill, and a Way of Life Self-Awareness and Self-Adaptation Creating Personal Means Inventory and Persona
3 Intentionality, Body Sensations, and Labeling Embodied Emotional Intelligence and Values Validating User, Payer, and Influencer Personas
4 Group Dynamics through Social Noting Values, Intentional Actions, and Ethics Understanding the Jobs to be Done
5 Loving Kindness, Forgiveness, and Vulnerability User-Centered Design and Discovery Skills Designing the Gift Giving Experience
6 Gratitude Practices The Business Model Design Process Developing the Business Model Canvas

Content for Discussion

The Discussion Section part of each class session will focus on specific videos that you will view and discuss.  These are as follows:

Week Link to Videos
1 Course Video List (Videos 1-3)
2 Course Video List (Videos 4-6)
3 Course Video List (Videos 7-9)
4 Course Video List (Videos 10-14)
5 Course Video List (Videos 15-18)
6 How to Build a Startup (Sections 5-11)

Experiential Learning Projects (ELPs)

Everyone taking this course will go through a series of Experiential Learning Projects (ELPs) that are “time boxed” and will only last for one to four weeks.  This accelerates the experiential learning process, allowing you to complete multiple learning cycles within the framework of the course.  You are always encouraged to pursue projects that are directly relevant to your interests, regardless of prior experience or expertise, as this course is a living lab for you to learn and grow through these projects.  

It is important to note that the ELPs may be in competition for time or mental energy from participants who are actively engaged with projects outside of the course.  After completing the course, you will be able to apply the learnings directly into current or future projects.  However, if you are currently engaged in one or more projects outside of this course already, it is important to make a clear distinction between the “development” and “production” environments.  More specifically, during the timeframe of this course, you will be asked to devote the majority of your time and energy into the experiential learning projects directly related to the course (i.e. the “development” environment) for learning purposes.  Your course projects may overlap with your real-world projects (the “production” environment), but this may not always be possible, and could become a distraction from the stated learning objectives of the specific ELP.  In the case where potential conflicts may arise, you should talk with the instructor to help resolve any conflicts or cognitive dissonance before starting the project.  You are welcome and encouraged to continue working on any project initiated in this course after the completion of the course when appropriate.

Furthermore, because this course takes a radical approach to the alignment of Values, Intentions, and Actions, this may cause cognitive dissonance with projects that you have started in the past or are currently engaged in. Whether you are currently engaged in a project or not, you will be asked to write weekly reflections about how the new ideas learned in the course relate to your current or past projects.  

List of ELPs and short descriptions:

  1. The Two Hour Challenge: You will form teams and given a small amount of seed capital and are challenged to come up with an idea you can execute in two hours to create as much value as possible.
  2. Personal Means Inventory and Self-Persona: You will create a Personal Means Inventory and Self-Persona based on the Effectual Entrepreneurship model and Persona Creation instructions and documentation given in class and available on-line. You will share these with team members in this course for project work, and can be iterated upon throughout the class and beyond.
  3. Create User, Payer, and Influencer Personas: First as individuals, then as teams, you will create a comprehensive User Persona for a particular User you are targeting for a particular product/service you think would create value for this particular User. This is based on the same process and format as the Self-Person in ELP#2.  
  4. Rapid Prototyping and the Design Thinking Process: You will go through the Wallet and Gift Projects from Stanford d-school with a partner or team, completed over two consecutive weeks.
  5. Business Model Development: Beginning with Customer Segment and Value Proposition blocks, you will lay out the beginnings of a complete Business Model Canvas for a specific business model (for-profit, non-profit, or hybrid/emergent) that you would like to explore in the future.  Using the tool and advice from fellow participants and instructors, you can continue to develop and validate the business model components after completion of this course.  

Time Requirements

Class sessions will occur once a week and last for 3 hours (including breaks), there will be 6 class sessions over the course of 2 months.  You must be able to dedicate between 9-15 hours per week for class sessions, assigned readings, daily formal meditation practice, and Experiential Learning Projects.  The majority of time will be spent working in small teams of 2-4 classmates in Experiential Learning Projects.  

Optional Readings

If you want more in-depth understanding of concepts relating to the above videos, you can explore the following materials in your own time:

  1. Effectual Entrepreneurship - Free audiobook on the Principles of Effectual Entrepreneurship.
  2. The Science of Enlightenment - Rigorous and scientific approach to meditation techniques and the world’s contemplative traditions.
  3. The Innovator’s DNA - Core text on Discovery Skills as it related to innovative high-performing organizations, teams, and leaders.
  4. The End of Suffering - Great book linking science and spiritual philosophy/practices
  5. Sacred Economics - Free eBook about Gift Economics
  6. Reinventing Organizations - Great book introducing Integral Theory and its applications in high performance organizations around the world.
  7. Karmic Management - Application of contemplative practices and karmic approach to business.
  8. Never Eat Alone - Excellent approach to building social capital and social networks through the spirit of generosity.
  9. The Innovator’s Solution - Foundational text on Disruptive Innovation.
  10. The Wallet Project - Classic ELP from Stanford d.school, includes instructions for facilitator.
  11. A Virtual Crash Course on Design Thinking - More elaborate ELP for Design Thinking, with full length video facilitation.

If I have more questions, whom can I ask?

Email zach@theschoolforthefuture.com or sign up below. We would love to talk to you.

How do I apply for the course?

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