Psychedelic drugs and entrepreneurship are a good match

Ronen Menipaz


Psychedelic drugs have been a victim of decades of counterculture despite centuries of old, familial practices. However, times have finally caught up. Today, psychedelics are slowly becoming a reemerging therapeutic platform along with progressive biotechnologies that lend it the overall credibility they so desperately need.

In the entrepreneurial sense, psychedelics should find its place in the pantheon of things we entrepreneurs do and try. I’m advocating their use within certain parameters in the hope that entrepreneurs might experiment and open their mind (figuratively and literally) to their application in not only improving mental health but their entrepreneurial processes, so to speak. 

Challenge the outcome

Psychedelic drugs are for those who want to be leaders and not be sheep, who want to challenge the status quo to see if they are leading the right way. I would apply psychedelics as a session just as I would apply yoga and meditation. I’d say the same to a manager, father, friend, politician – think of them as a part of larger diversity that leads to having open-minded thoughts, challenging ideas, and perhaps most of all – not being sucked into a loop. 

One of the more fascinating books I read is ‘Stealing Fire’ by Steven Kotler and Jamie Wheal in which they talk about the concept of flow as a sense. You use it or rely on it not only to achieve peak performance but also to actually get into a state of mind where it’s clear why you are doing things and why you need to do them.

There’s a great story in the book about how flow manifests: the story about how Google’s co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin found a CEO that’s up to their liking, Eric Schmidt. Their unusual selection process included the Burning Man festival, a fantastical experience that breeds a sense of freedom and self-expression through all kinds of activities – psychedelics very much included. As devout attendees, they used it as a rite of passage and together, discovered an “altered state of consciousness” that implied there is a form of heightened cooperation, a better way of working together – something their soon-to-be leader had to know in and out. 

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The point is to try psychedelics via microdosing – consuming tiny amounts or doses (one-20th to one-tenth of a recreational dose) not to get high but to feel more focused and creative. It’s about recognizing the inner self and the reality around you. Such use of psychedelics in Silicon Valley is well documented when it comes to solving complex problems and finding that shortcut to spirituality. That’s how I got to experience them: I had the fortune of an SV tech executive guiding me through the process. 

Not for everyone, though

However, psychedelic drugs are not suitable for every entrepreneur out there. 

You have to understand your body, first and foremost. For instance, weed (not a psychedelic) sucks for me. I’m just not compatible with it and I know better to stay away from it.

Then, there’s a certain state of mind in terms of how you approach this. I’m willing to bet there’s a lot of unease initially, particularly if you never experimented with psychedelics before. I understand the fear of what you might experience can be and often is overwhelming.

But that’s precisely the point: our brains are trapped in a loop of muscle and electricity that flows in the same way if we let it. Because these loops in our brain are closed, we begin to form addictive habits, regardless of their size or impact – it can be drinking coffee every day to micromanaging the shit out of everyone and everything. And then, change becomes the hardest thing, especially something comprehensive such as changing a company’s culture. 

There is a DNA in our body that likes to cut off the flow: the need for our brain to be creative, to cut off the habits and loops. That’s why we sometimes meditate, shower a lot, do high-impact sports, or just go out and party to feel better the next day. There is a freedom of mind in getting out of the loops, sort of like a massage for our brain, which then opens up so the loops can change. The uniqueness of the brain is unparalleled. Our remarkable cognitive capacity is only partially tapped, and psychedelics are a great way of opening up our neural pathways.

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In retrospect, a lot of ideas from the 1960s and the hippie culture that resulted from the initial use of psychedelics are things we are talking about today. Collective communities, equality, peace, and so on – they saw the world a little bit differently because they got out of the loop. They revolutionized the culture but at the expense of a massive cultural backlash and strict drug regulation. Essentially, we are talking about really basic things today (things we don’t appreciate enough) which that entire culture changed.

Natural vs chemical

What I am talking about are not chemical products. Nature has provided us with a few presents that occur naturally in trees, fungi, vines, seeds, and leaves. More often than not, it’s impossible to get out of the loop without help. As entrepreneurs, we don’t merely solve problems – we solve them in the best possible way. You should never be ashamed of seeking it from outer sources that are natural.

Fortunately, science is helping the push towards the legalization and decriminalization of psychedelic drugs. There is an increasing number of clinical trials exploring psilocybin (a naturally occurring substance found in mushrooms) as a viable therapy option for treatment-resistant depression, alcohol addiction, possibly even nicotine addiction, and other anxiety disorders. This and similar research is changing public perception.

If you want a different perspective: out of all the drugs, psychedelics are perhaps the only ones that actually benefit you. Just to be clear, I am NOT for other drugs, from the hardcore stuff to the perhaps worst of all – alcohol. Apart from an occasional glass of good red wine, it isn’t so great healthwise.  It’s 99% legal, it turns your aggressiveness to 11, and you lose control of your body.

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Perhaps the comedy’s great Billy Conolly said it best at one of those talks about why he quit drinking: because alcohol didn’t make him clever. That’s precisely it – it has almost no value yet we’re quick to shove it down our throat. 

With psychedelic drugs, I’m not saying you should go full-on hippie or for that matter, non-hippie. It’s about taking very mild dosages to open up, loosen yourself so that your certain brain functions change in order to experience a form of self-help empowerment. Like with anything in life, don’t go to extremes. However limited, research shows that these drugs don’t appear to be addictive or have adverse effects when used under the supervision of trained professionals. There’s even huge potential to revolutionize mental health care.

In that sense, it’s really no different than drinking milk: it’s like drinking water for some while others may be lactose intolerant. You have to understand your body and ease your intake and if your body is okay with it, I think it’s safe to assume that presents from Mother Earth are there for a reason. When you think about it: there really isn’t a natural resource in the world that we don’t have a need for. 

Final thoughts

As entrepreneurs, we dream big and then dream bigger. We innovate, we perpetually strive for more. Everything we do is a good case for evaluating the integration of psychedelics in our system. If entrepreneurial success is an algorithm that only some can solve, psychedelics can make it hackable through skill, knowledge, and a new dimension of thinking. 

People are sporadically coming out of the psychedelic closet but anyway you look at it – it’s a risk you take. Reorientation of this entire culture takes time and with an informed and honest narrative, it’ll come sooner rather than later. 

Words of advice: if you choose to experiment, do it with people you feel really comfortable with and who are open-minded. Once you unlock your personal utopia, you’ll see why our brain is labeled as the “crowning achievement of evolution.”

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