Aaron D’Souza is the creator of Conscious Conversations’ Masterminds and I am pleased to have him on as the 3rd guest on the Dynathrive Q&A Sessions.
A brief background…
Aaron and I met in 2013 at a social networking event in Vancouver. We quickly connected on ideas, philosophies and common goals that we both wanted to achieve in our social lives. Since then we have built a stronger friendship by delving deeper into topics regarding entrepreneurship, health and relationship building that we both consistently work on mastering.
A large factor in our connection is the ability to hold each other accountable for our plans and actions. Accountability is a huge driver for Aaron’s success and how he helps his mastermind groups evolve. He is a big believer and practitioner in creating positive social pressure to achieve mastery in any field.
The answers Aaron provides in this Q&A are of the highest quality, value and insight. You’ll find golden nugget information on entrepreneurial mindset, self-mastery, public speaking, uplifting quotes, book recommendations, and more.
Hang tight, this read gave me goose bumps.
What is Conscious Conversations’ Masterminds? And how did you initially become inspired to start it?
Aaron: Conscious Conversations’ Masterminds is a personal empowerment and accountability movement. It’s created for entrepreneurial-minded people to experience more social support and follow through for the accomplishment of the goals they’ve set for themselves through the power of masterminding with a small group of at most 6 people. A mastermind is defined as a group of people that get together to support each other for the attainment of a definite purpose. The term was described by Napoleon Hill in his classic book called “Think and Grow Rich”.
In early 2013 I felt like a self-help junkie. I’d read great books, attend seminars, and watch videos which shared uplifting and actionable content in them, but the only problem was that I never took any action! I’d feel inspired as soon as I’d read, or watched something, and after a few minutes get distracted and go on social media, or check email.
This happened for at least a couple years no joke, and then I decided that something had to change otherwise I would never really create anything of unique value which I could share to the world. Einstein’s quote came to mind “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result.” I had to do something different.
At this point I’d already read Napoleon Hill’s book called “Think and Grow Rich” and especially the chapter on the mastermind principle. But there were another 2 sources of information that cemented the fact that I had to start my own mastermind group: Steve Pavlina’s blog post titled “Self Discipline and Social Pressure” and the 2nd Chapter of the book by James Redfield called the 12th Insight called “Conscious Conversation” (for fans of the Celestine Prophecy, the 12th Insight is the 4th book in the series).
Those 3 sources of information combined inspired me to start Conscious Conversations’ Masterminds (CCM). My first group started on March 18, 2013 and runs onto this day.
Who is Conscious Conversations’ Masterminds for? And what can people expect when attending one of your groups, or sessions?
Aaron: CCM is for people who are looking to create their life by their own design, and not the socially conditioned default that most people’s lives tend to follow: go through formal education till at least 22, and then get a job which pays well (with too little emphasis put on what the work is that you’re doing and even lesser emphasis on why you’re doing it).
We’re well into an entrepreneurial revolution, and are fast moving into an economy where your unique talents are what set you apart from everyone else. Work that can be automated will start being automated sooner than you know it, and this creates urgency for people to start developing skills that they weren’t taught in school to make it in today’s world, especially social skills. People have to take full responsibility for themselves and create habits that support them towards becoming masters of their craft. I read the book “Mastery” by Robert Greene in January of 2013, one month before I started my first mastermind, and that was no coincidence as well.
Very, very few make the commitment towards mastery, and I want to change that. I want to see highly creative people (which is everyone) both contribute their creations to humanity and be well compensated for it while keeping other aspects of their lives in balance. This requires new systems and new methods, and CCM is the solution to that. People get to structure their lives in a very strong way and get daily social support to keep moving along, even when times get very challenging. It’s hard to fail when you know that a core group of people won’t let you do that.
If people attend one of the meetings, they will see a boot-camp style Machiavellian system where people are whipped into shape each week. Just joking! We allow guests to visit a session free of cost for an hour. During this hour they will observe members giving the group a weekly update based on the goals they set for that week, and then receiving feedback on those goals from the other members. We use a gentle yet firm method of goal-achievement, keeping in mind that not everyone is meant to power their way to their goals. For most, it’s a journey of self discovery which takes time. However, when someone clearly has to step it up, members don’t have any hesitation to point that out.
After the weekly updates, we go on to discuss an article that is part of the curriculum which is meant to teach members new ideas on different topics to enhance their lives. We are very inclusive towards guests and they are also given the opportunity to share feedback at the meeting.
What aspects do you find difficult about pursuing an entrepreneurial lifestyle?
Aaron: Self-discipline, and that’s why I made it easier for myself and others to get help with that through the power of masterminding. Social pressure makes self-discipline a lot easier. When you know that others care about what you’re doing, it’s hard to fall off the wagon.
The truth is that even if you’re immensely passionate about what you do, there are some tasks (this is the part that most books don’t tell you) that you just don’t want to do consistently, even if you love that task! I learned this the difficult way. If you’re so passionate about something, it should be easy to take regular action, right? No. Once you accept the fact that you will feel resistance, sometimes very strong resistance, towards that which you’re most passionate about, then things become easier. You’ll beat yourself up less because you now understand the process better. Passion is only part of the equation.
Long story short, self-discipline, and creating those habits that help you create what you want, especially when it might take you years to do so, is the biggest challenge. Once you’ve created a ritual of getting work done day in and day out, your goal is on auto-pilot. It’s only a matter of time, a few weeks, or a few years depending on how big a goal you’ve set for yourself, until you get there.
How do you break through these barriers?
Aaron: I don’t see it as breaking through barriers, but rather allowing the barriers to be there. Barriers are a visual representation of internal resistance. You can try to break a barrier down, but that requires a lot of force. Once you totally accept that the barrier is there, and you have no mental resistance to it, you will either find a button that destroys the barrier or resistance, or you decide that you can easily walk around it or climb over it. It’s usually just a single action that gets me past most barriers. A very wise Chinese saying once said: “A journey of a 1000 miles starts with a single step.” A first step is sometimes all that is needed.
In the past 6 months, what has been the most uncomfortable, yet highly valuable experience you’ve had in your life?
Aaron: During the first 3 weeks of March 2015 I nearly crashed and burned. It was a perfect storm of events that I created for myself. Yes, created. All my fault. I reached a point where the business wasn’t moving forward as fast as I wanted it to. There was a woman in my life I wasn’t completely honest with about my feelings towards her, and I wasn’t consistent in going to the gym. I was in big depression mode, and felt like giving up on my goals, especially the one with the mastermind business.
After 3 weeks of not getting much done and living in much less than positive states, I put things into perspective: I’m here on Earth for a short time. These things are transient. I can’t give up now since I’ve come so far. I can summon courage to do the things that I want to do. One step at a time came to the rescue once again, and I slowly crawled back out of the darkness and into a normal routine once again.
I know that you are a member of the “Vancouver Entrepreneurs Toastmasters Club”. Why did you join Toastmasters? And how has it benefited your life?
Aaron: I grew up with a stutter ever since I was 9 years old and it held me back socially considerably once I moved to Canada in 2005 when I was 18. When I moved here I experienced to my surprise that the most challenging word for me to say was my own name! It was indeed very embarrassing each time I had to introduce myself in front of an audience, and I felt very limited with always having this anxiety about not speaking fluently.
After being in Canada for 8 years I finally decided that the stutter was no reason to stop me from doing the things I really wanted to do. It’s funny that your biggest fear points can lead towards your biggest desire. For me, I liked the idea of public speaking and sharing ideas with large audiences. I thought about the change in people’s lives one could make if they spoke with a desire to serve others. I knew that Toastmasters was the place that could offer me a supportive environment to develop these skills and get rid of fear, both of public speaking and of stuttering, and that’s why I joined. My stutter has pretty much disappeared and now I feel much more confident standing in front of an audience and delivering a speech.
What was your last Toastmasters speech about?
Aaron: It was based on a book called “Power vs. Force” by Dr. David Hawkins. The speech described the levels of consciousness that Dr. Hawkins mapped out for human beings. My speech encouraged people to pursue higher levels of consciousness throughout their lifetime.
For those that have every excuse under the sun to not go up on stage and give a speech, what advice would you give them to make it a smoother process?
Aaron: Don’t focus on yourself when thinking about getting on stage. Think about the last time you heard a great speech and were really moved by it. If the speaker gave into their fears, you would have never had that experience. Don’t deny people the experience of getting to know you and your story. If your intention is to provide great value to others through your content and delivery, then the pull of that will be greater than the drag of fear. As the great physicist Max Planck once said “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at, change.” Public speaking is really not that big of a fear that most people make it out to be, but again, you have to experience it first hand to prove that to yourself.
What was the last book you read? And how did the ideas in that book manifest into your own life?
Aaron: The last book I read was called “Awakened Imagination” by Neville Goddard. The main take away I got from it was the fact that all plans and actions, even if executed very well, don’t matter if you don’t have an active imagination to begin with. Imagination is where it all starts and ends. In my life, I find my thoughts as always being a good indicator about how a certain experience or sequence of actions will turn out. Once I read that book, I focused a lot more on just bringing in new members and creating new mastermind groups, rather than worrying about the long road ahead and about things not working out. That did work, and I did get in a few new members in the next month which hadn’t happened in the last few! The challenge is making sure that your thoughts are aligned with your desires, not your fears.
Name 3 books you are eager to read next:
- Sex at Dawn by Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jetha
- Sex 3.0 – A sexual revolution manual by JJ Roberts
- Bold by Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler
What was the last destination you travelled to? And where do you want to go for your next trip?
Aaron: The last destination I travelled to was my hometown of Karachi, Pakistan, in early 2014. I went back after 6 years and the trip was mainly to attend my younger brother’s engagement.
I would love to travel to Australia because I’ve never been there before and I have lots of family and friends there who I haven’t seen for years.
If you had to choose one quote to repeat to yourself daily, what would it be?
Aaron: “Live and love one day at a time, and live each day a bit more courageously than the last”. My mind tends to project itself into the future where it has to do a multitude of different things, most of which aren’t very pleasant to do. We only have ever this moment to experience, why worry about the future?
What is next for Aaron D’Souza and Conscious Conversations’ Masterminds?
Aaron: My business is still in its infancy. I’m only 2 years and 3 months in, but now I definitely see the potential of it growing to really make a difference in helping people on their path towards mastery and creating a fulfilling lifestyle beyond the blind pursuit of money, even though earning money in a conscious way is very much a part of the Conscious Conversations’ Masterminds movement we’re creating.
Any final thoughts for the readers Aaron?
Aaron: I’ll keep it short this time! 🙂 I’d encourage readers to use their feelings as a signal towards where they need to make changes in their lives. Feeling bad is a good thing because it means that you want more out of life. Complaining, however, is not a good thing and keeps you stuck. As creative beings, feeling bad is best dealt with by using our creative abilities to create more of what we want using the infinite talent that each one of us has.
Use feelings as your guide: if you’re finding it a challenge to get out of bed each morning, then look more closely at your diet, the work that you do, and most importantly the people you spend time with. If there was anything I’d suggest more than anything else to get people to start changing their lives, it would be to change their social circle. The people you spend the most time with determine 80% of your success.
Lastly, where can readers find and follow you online?
Aaron: You can follow Aaron D’Souza on Facebook (there are too many of us!). You can also like the Conscious Conversations’ Masterminds and the YVR Masterminds page. The latter is a collaboration with local entrepreneur Ricky Shetty who liked the system and wanted to bring it to the YVR brand he created. He’s been running his own mastermind using my system for the past year. I don’t have a Twitter account for the business yet, but you can follow me @aarondsouza21. My website is www.ccmasterminds.com and the content on there will give you a more comprehensive understanding of the mastermind system I’m creating. Please sign up for the newsletter where I share more up-to-date information about the masterminds and how the movement is growing.
Thank you Aaron for coming on the Dynathrive Q&A. It has been a great pleasure getting to know you the past several years, as both a good friend and accountability partner. I wish you all the best in your upcoming plans and actions my friend.
Aaron: You’re most welcome Poyan, it was a pleasure and good thinking exercise to answer your questions. Thank you for the opportunity to be featured as a guest on your blog that seeks to “unmask your peak potential”. In a way, we both share the message in different ways. The variety is great. It’s been great knowing you over the past 2 years and I’m very happy to see Dynathrive take off. I wish you the best of luck going ahead and am here to help you whenever you need me. All the best Poyan, and catch you around in Downtown Vancouver sometime! 🙂