Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow at Awake Forward

My Team

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. 

Michael

Founder / Executive Coach 

Sergio

Habit change coach (NLP) 

Kim

Habit change coach (NLP)
Microdosing coach

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.

In service,

Michael

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. 

In service, 

Michael and the Awake Forward team

We are proud to support the Pacha Mama Alliance and MAPS with 5% of 2022’s net revenue.

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.

Michael


Executive Coach, Startup Advisor, creator of  The Awake Forward Method

After 6 years as the co-founder of liveBooks.com, an investor-backed startup that achieved $2.5MM in ARR, I left to become an executive coach. 

Since then my full-time job has been helping founders solve the most gut-wrenching issues they face as their company rockets toward the next round of funding. 

Co-founder conflicts, forced resignations, attempted coups, RIFs, showdowns with the board. You name it, and I help my clients through to the best possible outcome. What’s more, I figure out a way to use each challenge as an opportunity for leadership development and personal transformation. 

Launched soon after my 50th birthday, the Awake Forward Method is the first formal psychedelic-assisted executive coaching method in the world! I’m excited for this next chapter of my life’s work. 

What I’m proud of

In 2002 I co-founded a tech startup called liveBooks.com. During the 6 years that I was on the exec team, we ramped up to 60 employees across 3 locations and achieved $2.5MM in ARR. We also earned the position of an industry-leading brand. My co-founders and I faced every kind of business-threatening challenge you can imagine, including the 2008 financial crisis that cost us our Series-A. Today liveBooks.com is still thriving under the company that acquired it in 2013.

As an executive coach, I have worked under two brands. My firm, Thriving Founders, and before that as a senior partner at Neuberg Gore and Associates, (NGA). NGA is one of the most respected executive coaching firms in San Francisco.

Since 2010 I have worked with more than 150 startups and 300 clients, clocking more than 10,000 hours of coaching time. Many of my clients are considered top founders and CEOs, as judged by 30 under 30, YC, and other sources. I am proud to have over 50 authentic recommendations on my LinkedIn profile. My former client network is a priceless resource pool that my new clients benefit from immediately.

I have also taken the opportunity to coach partners at VC firms. Understanding both the investor/board side, as well as the founder side, enables me to understand and resolve conflicts between them quickly.

In parallel to the narrative shared above, I have been pioneering ways to incorporate therapeutic psychedelics into my executive coaching program. Much of my R&D took place during an annual group mastermind program I ran from 2012 – 2019 which included going to Peru for traditional ayahuasca ceremonies. This led to the Entrepreneurs Awakening podcast, a labor of love that documents the impact that ayahuasca had on the startup leaders I worked with. My learnings lead me to develop the Awake Forward Method and coin the term (according to Google search), psychedelic-assisted Executive Coaching. 

The launch of the Awake Forward Method for Psychedelic-assisted executive coaching in 2021 marked a new chapter in my life’s work. Through Awake Forward my team and I will bring the transformative benefits of therapeutic psychedelics to executive coaching and train hundreds of coaches to use the method. 

Training

At 50 years old, my greatest training has been the human experience! That said, here you go.

In addition to my 6-years of experience as a co-founder of a fast-growing tech startup, I have completed the following training. 

I am certified in the Saturn Leadership Index, which is an extraordinary 360 instrument developed specifically for the venture-backed startup executive, as well as their C.U.B.E. communication model.

I have more than 2,500 hours of coaching-related training, including NLP psychology, conflict mediation, empathic leadership, whole person culture, non-violent communication, and the California Leadership executive coaching program.

I am an expert in the area of therapeutic psychedelics, specializing in traditional plant medicine approaches to working with the medicines. This led me to found Entrepreneurs Awakening in 2012 and the Awake Forward Method in 2o21.

Despite my experience, I learn something new with every coaching session. It’s my continued growth as a coach and passion for my work that makes me confident that I will make a truly life-changing difference for you, both professionally and personally.

Thank you for reading my story!

Michael 

Sergio

NLP master practitioner and life coach

I have my clients do sessions with Sergio during their 6-month program because he is able to greatly accelerate the behavior changes we are targeting in the program.

Sergio is also an expert outcome-focused prep and integration coach for ayahuasca, a skill he learned while apprenticing an ayahuasca shaman for over 10 years.  

My clients have been delighted with the added value Sergio adds to their program. 

Kim Iglinsky

Kim is a certified NLP master-level practitioner, a life coach for entrepreneurs & a Psychedelic Microdosing Expert

I have my clients do sessions with Kim during their 6-month program because she is able to greatly accelerate the behavior changes we are targeting in the program.

In addition to NLP, Kim has extensive training in Nonviolent Communication, (NVC), as well as Emotional Freedom Technique, (EFT).

Her experience working with startup leaders comes from being married to Michael during his years at Livebooks and serving as a life coach to the romantic partners of founders for over a decade. (Her specialty.) 

Over the last 5 years, Kim has established herself as an expert in microdosing psychedelics for mood and performance enhancement. Listen to her teach microdosing 101 here.

She is also an expert outcome-focused prep and integration coach for ayahuasca, a skill she learned while co-facilitating our Peru Ayahuasca Mastermind retreats between 2011 and 2013 and mastered in the subsequent years. 

I have my clients do sessions with Kim during their coaching program because she is able to accelerate the behavior changes my clients seek. 

In her former life, Kim was a top runway model, and I only mention that because if you Google her name, that’s all you’re going to see and it’s pretty unusual! 

Here’s a link to Kim’s private practice, The Evolving Center.

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