The Audacious Optimism of Silicon Valley’s Mindful Maven

Tara-Nicholle Nelson believes mindset matters. Here’s what she’s learned as a marketing strategist for some of America’s biggest wellness brands.

Learn more about why mindset matters—and how to change yours—with Tara-Nicholle Nelson at Wanderlust San Francisco! For tickets and more information, click here

If I had a nickel for every time that I’ve heard in the past year someone in our community say that the “world is burning,” or that we’re nearing end-times, I’d be a rich woman. With the 24-minute news cycle continually pumping destruction and sadness into our ears and eyes, it’s easy to sense that our nation itself hasn’t felt as divided since the Civil War. Given this pervasive attitude, it would make sense that Tara-Nicholle Nelson, a self-processed Impact Junkie (also former VP of Marketing for MyFitnessPal and strategist for HGTV, Capital One, Eventbrite, and Zillow, among others), would be prone to these feelings of frustration or helplessness. But Tara-Nicholle has always been one to break the mold, and her relentless optimism and emphasis on self-agency is no exception.

“I am a spiritual contrarian,” she says. “I recognize that many people think our world is a dumpster fire, and getting worse fast. I strongly disagree. I can see wellbeing is the order of our universe. Wellbeing is the order our individual lives. It is our divine inheritance. It is our birthright.”

Reasons for Optimism

This doesn’t mean that Tara-Nicholle is blind to the challenges of our fast-paced, negatively-saturated culture. She admits that neither our brains nor our spirits are necessarily equipped to handle all that come at them every day.

“One of my teachers says that if the media reported the good news and the bad news in their accurate proportions, you could have the TV on 24 hours a day, and one time a day you would see a swoosh across the bottom of the screen, and that would be all the bad news,” says Tara-Nicholle. “Our hearts beat for decades on end. We didn’t earn it. We didn’t work hard to make that happen. There’s all this beautiful good news happening all the time that we can start to see more naturally when we turn away from the digital drama of the day,” she says.

Tara-Nicholle believes that everyone—from any walk of life—is simply doing the best they can to create a life from “where they’re at, for better or worse.” For her, unwanted circumstances are simply a way to create clarity around what she actually wants. Anyone can harness the power to improve, simply by realizing that they have the agency to do so. “Whether a situation or an emotion or a relationship pattern or a circumstance that is wanted or unwanted, they all create clarity,” she says.

Wellbeing is the order of our universe. Wellbeing is the order our individual lives. It is our divine inheritance. It is our birthright.

It is through this clarity that we are able to capitalize on optimism—on the possibilities in life rather than the setbacks—and create the life we want. We buy into the brainwash of our upbringing, she says. “How many of us have bought cultural or family conditioning and messaging about what is aspirational? We’re good if we go to this school. We’re good if we have this career. We’re good if we make this much money, or live in this neighborhood … And then you get that thing that seemed like the thing you most want, and you don’t like it,” she says.

Tara-Nicholle should know—she worked like a madwoman to receive her law degree and become a lawyer, with a young child at home, and after a few years in the practice realized it actually wasn’t for her. Rather than viewing the experience as a waste, however, she transmuted the skills she’d honed to a very successful marketing career. She took the clarity of having done something she didn’t love to discover something she did. “Every circumstance, every decision you make in your life gets you closer to fulfillment or closer to clarity,” she says, “so you can’t actually lose. That is a hundred percent the beauty of the hand you are dealt.”

Growth vs. Fixed Mindset

Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck coined the idea of a person having either a fixed or a growth mindset. In her theory, a fixed mindset person sees the world as something happening to them, rather than seeing themselves as a player and participant in their own life. This leads to feelings of helplessness or frustration. On the other end of the spectrum is a person who embodies a growth mindset—who believes that they can always improve or optimize their life or change for the better. Tara-Nicholle says that a growth mindset allows not only for optimism in the face of challenge, but also the freedom that comes with the belief of self-agency.

Everyone has this power, she says. But what of disenfranchised communities? What of people who have long been struggling against the social tide? Is it fair to expect them to have this same sense of power?

“The truth is a lot of times the people who were born into the abusive family, born into the poor family, born into the really tough circumstance … are often on the growth mindset track,” says Tara-Nicholle. “I was a teen mom. I had a whole life that feels like another life, so I don’t even really talk about it that much anymore,” she says. She believes that very often the people who have struggled most are creating a new level in their life or their family lives, “because those realities of their early childhood inspired them to more. I think that is true on an individual level. That’s also true on a cosmic humanity level,” she says.

Every circumstance, every decision you make in your life gets you closer to fulfillment or closer to clarity. You can’t actually lose. That is a hundred percent the beauty of the hand you are dealt.

There’s a relationship between believing you have agency over your life and your experiences and spiritual well-being. Tara-Nicholle says that very often the physical issues in our lives—what we strive to improve in our families, our relationships, our bodies—can be gateway issues to deeper spiritual explorations as well. And it goes both ways. Oftentimes, difficulties in life can spur an interest in deeper spiritual explorations.

How This Matters in Business: Transformational Marketing

The idea that perception and spiritual wellbeing is applicable outside of personal explorations, according to Tara-Nicholle. She believes that marketing and business can be as intertwined with spirituality as personal development. During her time at MyFitnessPal (now part of Under Armor), Tara-Nicholle used the platform to slip consumers secret messages about radical self-acceptance, “about how deeply worthy of love they are.” She began to develop her signature idea of the “transformational consumer,” a marketing prototype that has the potential to lead to a whole new generation of marketers.

A transformational consumer is one with a growth mindset, who is making purchasing and experiential choices in the quest to evolve and become better. Tara-Nicholle’s current role, as the Founder and CEO of Transformational Consumer Insights Inc., is to work with large companies about how to identify the soul-needs of their target audience, and feed those. This is an optimistic and uplifting foil to many marketing tactics that rather exploit the vulnerabilities of potential consumers.

And it is this approach that will begin to not only change the world, but the way we see ourselves in it as well. To learn more about how to be a part of this change, join us and Tara-Nicholle at Wanderlust San Francisco this May. We have the power to evolve—together.

author photoLisette Cheresson is currently the Director of Content at Wanderlust Festival. She’s a writer, storyteller, yoga teacher, and filmmaker who is an avid vagabond, dancer, dirt-collector, and dreamer. She received her Level II Reiki Attunement and attended a 4-day intensive discourse with the Dalai Lama in India, and received her RYT200 in Brooklyn. Catch her teaching @dayayogastudio, or find her on Instagram @lisetteileen.