This past weekend, I attended Cerebrate.

“What is Cerebrate?” you might wonder. Before I left for California, I wasn’t exactly sure myself.

My explanation to my spouse (and frankly to myself) sounded something like this: “I’ve been invited to a retreat by that man I met through Jason who has been really nice to me. I think I should go.” While he took a real leap of faith in me, based upon my rather vague description, I also trusted my instincts in knowing that “that man” (Rajesh Setty) and his wife Kavitha would host an inspiring event.

I was not disappointed.

In a nutshell, the retreat was refreshing, enlightening and rich. I got a glimpse into the authentic selves of 14 other individuals I hadn’t previously known, something rare in today’s high-speed, high-tech and low-touch environment. We gathered and listened intently to one another for an entire weekend (and sat still for hours on end, which I am pretty sure is rare for all of us!). We learned about business. About life. About the reconciliation of both in mapping out our own life stories.

I met the aforementioned Rajesh Setty just over a year ago for a cup of coffee in Sunnyvale, California. I was introduced via my dear friend Jason, co-founder of Meylah, by way of the following: “You just have to meet him.” Though I don’t know Raj well, I can honestly say that he touches people, myself included, in significant and special ways – to help them celebrate the gifts they have to offer the world.

Apparently, he associates with like-minded individuals. Here are just a few of the ways these men and women influenced me through the course of 36 hours. Thanks to each of you for sharing your stories and wisdom!!

Terry, CEO of PSVillage, was one of my roommates for the weekend. Though she had a lot of wisdom to share about building an online community, I will most remember her tips on planting an organic garden (and ballroom dancing!). I truly appreciated her joy for the simple things life has to offer (and am glad someone else liked an early curfew, too!).

Shirish, who has a breadth of experience in a variety of companies, including Sun, shared his incredibly interesting perspective on recognizing and monetizing patterns. I would have enjoyed an entire weekend delving into this one issue.

Bill, the co-founded of Intulogy, offered his wisdom on training and learning, while also sharing his unique journey on learning to live. I hope his life’s story will one day include the expression of his theatrical talents!

Sharan, in a few words, made me smile! He exudes an enthusiasm for life – an energy, optimism and honesty – which is contagious. I know he will be successful in the launch of his company,, and I wish him years of happiness with his fiancé from New Zealand (the story of meeting her was priceless!).

Tim is a prominent Bay Area attorney who writes and speaks about death in his spare time. Do the two go hand in hand? Maybe not on the surface, but after a few pages of Death Tweet, I think you’ll agree his words about life are worth sharing (and his unintentional  guided meditation was highly effective!).

I really enjoyed my conversation with Anil yesterday. CTO of iCharts, he has been a vegetarian since birth. He told the group about one of his greatest accomplishments in life – meditating for one hour/day for 3 years while living in India. I was truly mesmerized by his description of the Indian culture, of meditating with friends in open air gardens, and sharing a desire to care for one’s inner self. I hope to visit those gardens one day soon. (He has a heck of a volleyball serve, too!).

Vijar also had a smile and laugher that was infectious! A successful entrepreneur as founder of Suggestica, Vijar is on a quest for happiness. He confided his personal  journey and provided guidance for each of us to create stories in our own minds to help achieve inner peace.

Mitchell runs a publishing company in Silicon Valley and is helping others achieve their personal and professional goals through books. I enjoyed our conversations immensely and hope to collaborate in the future.

Rohit, founder of AdNuance, provided helpful ideas and suggestions for my business concept – {the} cooking space. I know we’ll be in touch and I appreciate his generosity!

Praba, founder of Corp-Corp, has a brilliant analytical mind and bounds of determination. His first time marathon story was incredible – I hope to include him in my book, Knocking Down Walls. After fighting considerable adversity, he proved to himself, upon crossing the finish line, he could do anything in life he set out to do.

Michael, one of the organizers of the original TED conference, had some incredible stories about the early days of graphic design technology. He humbly understates his accomplishments and I hope he reaches his sustainable dreams.

Chintu is the founder and CEO of SachManya, maker of award-winning mobile publishing and commerce platforms. He was yet another brilliant mind with an inspiring, yet humble, story to share.

I am grateful to Kavitha for organizing this event without a flaw. Her stated admiration for her husband brought a tear to my eyes.

Thanks again to the Setty’s for including me.

About the author

Melinda is a marketer, researcher and writer. She also has a passion for healthy living, every day.