A strong community can promote new ideas and ensure accountability. It can also act as motivation, support, and even provide a little friendly competition. The power of community is undeniable and the Okanagan tech community is no exception.
Our community is strong and growing with record speed and maintaining connection through a period of growth like this can be a challenge. Nobody panic, we've got a plan.
Introducing, The Faces of #OKGNtech. A showcase of Okanagan tech entrepreneurs, partners, supporters, and cheerleaders designed to fuel more connection, more growth, and more excitement. Follow along (on the blog and on Instagram @OKGNtech) to learn more about our growing community and what makes them awesome.
Meet Jamie. Jamie Wood is the founder of Sanga Living where she does performance enhancement programming for high demand high-stress environments. When Jamie isn’t working with fast-growth companies from all over the world, you will likely see her headphones in, riding her skateboard downtown.
We recently caught up with Jamie to learn more about her passion for the nervous system and why she decided to create her Business.
Why did you choose to call the Okanagan home?
"I grew up in the Okanagan but I left right out of high school and started traveling. I officially moved back to the Okanagan maybe like two years ago, after being gone for 17 years. It was good to come back because Kelowna is just starting to really grow up. When I had left Kelowna, there wasn’t a strong entrepreneurial community here.”
[Editor’s Note: Jamie primarily lived in Central America and Costa Rica, but she also lived in Europe and Vancouver as well.]
Where did your passion for the nervous system and stress management come from?
"When I was living in Costa Rica, I had this really great amazing lucrative job in finance - like a dream job - but I ended up burning out really really really badly. I grew up in a family of investors and finance people and really wanted to be a part of that world. After burning out, I was convinced it had to do with my work environment versus how I was operating in the environment. I later realized that I had burnt out because I wasn’t taking care of my nervous system to be able to withstand that demand and pressure.
After burning out I tried to find help and there really wasn’t any. This was over a decade ago and people weren’t even talking about stress, burnout, and mental health at this point. People were just like “Work hard and if it doesn’t work its the wrong job for you” and I didn’t really like that answer, I wanted to be able to excel in any work environment I wanted. So that started over a decade long process of understanding the nervous system within high demand environments and how to effectively be in them and excel in them.”
Can you tell us about creating your company Sanga Living?
“Yeah, so the company first started off as a retreat company that was directed towards North American people working in high demand corporate environments. I would bring them down to Costa Rica under the disguise of it being a stress management retreat - which it was - but I was really testing theories around studying them and trying to find out what these people needed.
We have all been in that position where you’re thinking “God I am stressed, I am not dealing well, my quality of life is going down, I can’t focus, I can’t sleep, my mood has shifted, and now I don’t like my job!”. When you get to that point you end up taking a break for some self-care, and in a way yes that can work, but it is a bandaid because you are reactive. If you walk off a plane and get handed a beer and shown a hammock obviously you’re feeling good, so what I was really interested in was keeping up with everybody once they had left the retreat. What I learned was reactionary approaches to supporting mental health and to supporting the nervous system don’t work, you have to get in front of it.
After running these retreats for about four years, I learned that I needed to figure out how to provide effective programming for companies. I knew I had to do programming because some people can’t afford to go on a retreat and they need to be able to have these tools and ingrained training in themselves that they can take anywhere. Founders need foundations. Which is why it is super important that the founders understand how to operate because then they just encourage and build that within their team."
What do you enjoy most about your role?
"I really like being able to provide people with the knowledge and training to turn their shit up. What is fascinating is a lot of people aren’t operating in choice. People think that they know how to manage stress or how to be a high performer, but if you’ve never had adequate training, then you don’t right? When I am working with companies, obviously the impact is amazing, seeing shifts in people's lives, developing that awareness and that knowledge, it’s all so rewarding because once they have that knowledge, it is up to them! They can take their training and apply it to any area of their life. A lot of the time people are like “Wow this is super cool!” and I love that, I really do.”
What advice would you give to someone interested in a job like yours?
"I think that when someone is trying to build a business around mental health or performance - or really any business - understanding the problem is so important. Don’t assume you know the answer! There have been many times where I was like “Okay I am finally getting this,” and then something would happen with one of my clients or something in my personal life and I would be like “I am not handling it well right now, why is that?”. I think it is important to question yourself constantly. I am such a researcher. My favourite thing is to spend as much time as possible in countless pages of research, learning about the nervous system and learning about how you can optimize brain function when you support the nervous system, I am such a nerd for it.
Another thing I would say is put in your time! People forget things don’t happen overnight and if you’re really passionate about something or if you’re really driven by something, follow that. I know it is a little cliche but the only reason I have put over a decade of work to this is because I am really really interested in it. I live and breathe it. I am the first test subject every time. I don’t take anything at surface level, even if it is an amazing piece of research, I will read it all and then I will question it all and implement it on myself. I never allow myself to get comfortable; I am constantly learning, reading and evolving."
What do you love about OKGNtech?
"I love the big dreams here. I am really driven by really big massive goals and dreams that are kind of like laughable goals. Another thing that I love about the community here is that there are lots of people that are running companies or starting a startup that have that mindset where they are driven by something that is much bigger than themselves. I think that it is really neat to be in a community like that. It really drives innovative thought, it drives different thinking, it drives question, and I think that we need a lot of questioning and that's what I love because you can find that here.”
What is the best piece of advice you can share?
"A piece of advice that I really live by is “We don’t rise to the level of our expectations we fall to the level of our training” by Archilochus. I find this to be true in everything. Most people tend to become discouraged because they believe they aren’t “good” at something or aren’t capable of achieving what they want. It is a limiting belief self-imposed simply due to a learning curve and lack of training. People can feel like they aren’t able to succeed in various areas of life as if they aren’t designed for XYZ. That actually isn’t true; the only thing that is separating you from your success comes down to training. No matter what it is, if you want to become good at something...train. Develop a skill set that is so integrated into your knowledge; it never leaves, and no one can take it from you."
[Editor’s note: Right now Jamie is starting to train for hand-to-hand combat!]
What is one word that describes you and why?
“Weird? Haha. Yeah, I’d say weird for sure, and why? I just look at the world differently. I look at the world from the nervous system. I’ve definitely stepped into owning weirdness because again I think it allows you to think a little bit different. I think if you were to ask people that would probably be what they would say as well. They would say I am nice and then they would say I am a little bit weird.”