Soon I will be teaching other executive coaches the Awake Forward Method through a certification program. Until then, I am the only executive coach offering a psychedelic-assisted executive coaching program.
I am proud to introduce my trusted NLP practitioners that provide sessions for my clients as they go through the program.
To be crystal clear Awake Forward does not provide therapeutic psychedelic experiences.
Those services are offered by independent providers, including Mindbloom, Polaris, Soltara in Costa Rica, and Nihue Rao in Peru.
Founder / Executive Coach
Habit change coach (NLP)
Habit change coach (NLP)
The Awake Forward Back Story in Pictures
I’m Michael Costuros, a former tech startup founder, now a coach and advisor to some of Silicon Valley’s most talented business leaders.
Back in 2008, the investor-backed startup I co-founded, (www.liveBooks.com) was threatened to be destroyed by the financial crisis. Our Series-A round fell apart, we needed to lay off a third of the company and pivot fast. Super stressed and feeling numb, I couldn’t help but think that I lacked the leadership qualities I needed to navigate the challenges coming our way. I needed a serious reboot—and fast. At an advisor’s recommendation, I signed up for a series of three therapeutic, psychedelic sessions. Boy, was I nervous! My biggest fear was that the experience would agitate my mental state, or worse convince me that I should resign! Until the very last moment, I was ready to cancel my first session.
I’m not going to lie. The first two sessions were extremely difficult. I was confronted with my worst fears, but this confrontation allowed me to face the things holding me back and let go of the part of my ego. The experience was very humbling. Then, the third session taught me what the first two were really about, which led to a series of profound insights
The insights were life-changing, both personally and professionally. Back at the office, I experienced inner peace and clarity of mind. My identity was no longer wrapped up in the company! As a result, the root cause of my anxiety was gone. I was able to carry out decisions and do what needed to be done in a more methodical way. Best of all, I felt totally committed to the company yet utterly unattached.
The company survived 2008 and thrived in 2009. Then, by 2010, I had discovered that what I loved most about being a founder was mentoring and developing people. So, I left the company in my co-founders’ care and started executive coaching full time.
Inspired by the impact therapeutic psychedelics had on my professional development, it wasn’t long before I suggested to select clients that they work with an expert psychedelic guide in conjunction with my coaching sessions. The results were usually fantastic, but not always. So, I set out to develop a new coaching method that included therapeutic psychedelics and consistently provided exceptional results.
However, due to legal constraints and social taboos, the work proved harder than I thought. Finding exceptional guides and clients willing to experiment wasn’t easy back in 2011. It was also clear that I needed to keep Thriving Founders, my conventional coaching firm, totally separate.
I realized the solution was to start a new company that provided premier mastermind programs that included an ayahuasca retreat in Peru. Ayahuasca, one of the world’s most transformative psychedelics and the one that helped me in 2008, was legal in Peru. So, I moved to Peru for five months to work out the design of the retreat and co-founded Entrepreneurs Awakening with Kim Iglinsky in 2011.
We ran our first program in 2012, and the results exceeded everyone’s expectations. Soon after, much to our surprise, ayahuasca became popular, and clients were willing to speak about their experience in the press. This led to several magazine articles and culminated in a documentary-style video profile that Fast Company produced about the Entrepreneurs Awakening program, and we couldn’t be more thrilled!
By this point, my method for effectively combining executive coaching with ayahuasca and other therapeutic psychedelics was working well, but there was still some room for improvement. There was a problem I needed to solve. Too many of the psychedelic insights were not applicable to the coaching goals. Though my clients were not complaining, I wanted them to be able to apply most of the psycho-spiritual insights from the psychedelic experience to achieving the professional goals set out in the executive coaching program. I wanted all the elements of the program to weave together artfully to deliver results greater than the sum of the parts.
I tried many things, but it wasn’t until Kim’s help that I found a collection of transformational NLP processes that did the trick!
NLP stands for Neuro-Linguistic Programming. To grossly oversimplify, NLP is a method for identifying and changing our subconscious beliefs about our inner and outer world. (You can learn more about NLP here.)
I feel that the moment we integrated NLP into the program back in 2017, the Awake Forward Method was born.
Laws and popular opinion continued pushing me to keep my work with Entrepreneurs Awakening separate from Thriving Founders, and so, the Awake Forward Method was, for the time being, under wraps. Though I longed to share it publicly, looking back, I realize that I was fortunate to have so many years to refine the method.
Finally, in 2021, thanks to new laws and public opinion changers, like Tim Ferriss, Rick Doblin, and Michael Pollen, the taboo, controversy, and legality surrounding psychedelics changed. I felt that I could finally merge my two executive coaching firms, Thriving Founders and Entrepreneurs Awakening, into one and give birth to a new firm: Awake Forward.
Launching Awake Forward and the method it is named after has been a cathartic experience! It’s the culmination of over a decade of learning and tens of thousands of hours of one-on-one coaching sessions. That said, it is truly only the beginning.
I believe that the Awake Forward Method can do for the executive coaching profession what Uber did for taxi customers. Not only is it that much more effective, but it will actually expand the very definition of business leadership.
If the startup industry is short on anything, it’s exceptional leaders who can achieve their business objectives while, at the same time, adding value to every aspect of the ecosystem the business touches. This is what the startup world needs most: pioneering businesses with exceptional leaders who care as much about the collective as they do their net worth.
When I was a young man, I wanted to make the world a better place. Now 50, I’m clear that my life’s work is helping pioneering entrepreneurs achieve their goals while becoming extraordinary human beings and greatly admired leaders. Add to that contributing to the repatriation of psychedelics into society by creating advocates out of influential leaders, and I feel whole. I have found my special way to contribute to the greater good.
Now a growing team, Awake Forward LLC will measure our success by how many exceptional leaders credit the Awake Forward Method as a truly critical part of their success in life and business.
Our Vision: We envision a global civilization that is thriving, inclusive, and equitable for all living things.
Our mission: To develop 1000 extraordinary entrepreneurial leaders by 2032.
We believe that for our vision to become a reality the world needs more extraordinary leaders and disruptive technologies.
Our mission is to accelerate the leadership development of entrepreneurs who are out to make the world a better place through their companies.
To do this we are dedicated to continually pioneering more effective methods of leadership development and training coaches in the methods we develop.
And big talk aside, what truly gets us up in the morning is the excitement of helping our clients during the most meaningful, high stakes, and challenging time of their professional lives.
Michael and the Awake Forward team
MAPS: Founded in 1986, the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit research and educational organization that develops medical, legal, and cultural contexts for people to benefit from the careful uses of psychedelics and marijuana.
Pacha Mama Alliance: Founded in 1995, the PMA’s mission is to empower Indigenous people of the Amazon rainforest to preserve their lands and culture and, using insights gained from that work, to educate and inspire individuals everywhere to bring forth a thriving, just, and sustainable world.
The Social Proof
These magazines have written feature articles about our Ayahuasca Mastermind Program. Click the logo to read the article.