About Reiner Kraft, PhD
Reiner is a seasoned technology leader, engineer, scientist, technical advisor, trainer, executive leadership, micronutrients expert, human potential coach, and teacher who shares transformative principles of presence, mind-management, and biohacking using the latest science of epigenetics.
During his tech career, he spent 20 years in the Silicon Valley and the past 6 years in Berlin, Germany, working for top high-tech companies (e.g., IBM Research, Yahoo, Zalando) and startups while exploring novel approaches to leadership and new work methodologies to build purposeful and impactful organizations.
He is considered a top innovator with more than 120 U.S. patents, making him one of the most prolific inventors in Silicon Valley. Both IBM Research and Yahoo recognized him as a Master Inventor. The prestigious MIT Technology Review (TR 100) in 2003 also nominated him as a top innovator under the age of 30 to shape the world.
Reiner spent the past decade defining a systematic approach to upgrade your body and mind by tracking more than 200+ biomarkers and introducing a method to estimate your level of present awareness (LPA) to become the best version of yourself, with a focus of then applying novel leadership methodologies to shape the new workplace.
As a founder of The Mindful Leader, he published the 12 Mindful Leadership Principles along with practical teachings that cultivate presence in leaders and let them define their own unique leadership style and increase their leadership effectiveness.
Furthermore, he incubated the Fellowship of Mindful Tech Leaders, a global community of diverse business and tech leaders who are passionate about applying mindful leadership to build purposeful and impactful tech orgs.
He also co-founded The New U, a global community to attract like-minded people to live healthier and more consciously. He is the host of the The Mindful Leader podcast, where he interviews experts and thought leaders in the area of mind-management, leadership, and biohacking.
Reiner works also in the role of a scientific & tech advisor for Onvy to introduce more innovation into the emerging field of health tech.
As a scientist he has tenaciously applied the results of his field research and used them to not only completely transform his own life but also the lives of many business and tech leaders, along with thousands of fans and followers through his various media channels, and speaking engagements.
Leadership Training and Coaching:
Helping others with effective training and coaching to becoming mindful and inspirational leaders, as well as stress resilient, to change the world using a scientific approach to Mindful Leadership, with clear performance indicators and measurable success.
Applying New Leadership methodologies to organizations to shape a purposeful New Workplace with meaningful and sustainable impact, while fostering Deep Innovation.
Hi, I am Reiner, creator of the High-Performance Mind program. 1996 I moved to Silicon Valley due to my passion for technology, research, and innovation in tech. In 2003 the MIT Technology Review recognized me next to Larry Page (co-founder of Google) or Jerry Yang (co-Founder of Yahoo!) as one of 100 Top-Innovators under the age of 30.
I then became director of engineering at Yahoo. A few years in this role I started at first slowly but then from week to week observed a faster decrease of my performance, and my energy levels were diminishing day by day.
I couldn't keep up with the pace anymore and nearly burned out due to an overload of work, deadlines and information to handle. Creativity declined, and I missed out on some great opportunities due to increased levels of fear and stress. Negative thoughts and worries were preventing me from evolving as a tech leader. I had reached a plateau in my career. My overall health was also deteriorating. After a pivotal moment of insight it was clear I had to make some major changes in my life.
Yahoo offered at this time a MBSR program (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction ) to their employees, and this was a game changer for me. I started embarking on a journey to upgrade my mind, without knowing where I was going, and how to best proceed.
Reiner Kraft, PhD
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After studying computer science in Germany during the mid-nineties, I decided to move to the Silicon Valley in California.
Freshly graduated, I figured that this is where the “action” was. As the Internet rose in prominence, I worked in various roles as an engineer, scientist, inventor, product manager, and technology leader for large companies like IBM Research and Yahoo.
Besides working, I continued to deepen and broaden my education, earning my PhD in computer science from the University of California, Santa Cruz in 2004.
What an exciting and wild ride! Many Internet technologies that we take for granted today were invented and built back then.
Innovation & Idea Engineering
While working at Yahoo, I was proud about the impact I had on millions of people by innovating digital products and improving Yahoo’s search technology.
Besides being an engineer and researcher, I also invented and filed more than 120 patent applications with the US patent office.
Both IBM Research and Yahoo recognized me as a Master Inventor, and the prestigious MIT Technology Review (TR 100) in 2003 also nominated me as a top innovator under the age of 30 alongside other now-famous nominees, like Larry Page (Google) and Jerry Yang (Yahoo). This was a great honor!
Overall, I spent almost 20 years in California. Life was good. But in 2016, it was time for a change, and I decided to move with my family to Berlin, where I built up and scaled technology organizations at Zalando, Europe's leading e-commerce and technology company for fashion.
At the beginning of 2019, I joined a technology start-up (Yunar) in a CTO role to gain more experience working in smaller organizations.
I first became a technology leader back in 2006. I realized that I could multiply my impact by managing engineering teams working toward a common vision.
I learned something important:
It is the quality of leadership that determines the overall quality of what gets delivered to the customer, as well as the quality of everyone’s work environment in the organization.
A good leader will define a bold vision and purpose, inspire the team, and support as well as guide them along the way to reach this vision.
Before I realized the importance and impact of purposeful leadership, I always wondered:
What defines a good and successful leader?
I had the privilege to work with and for a few exceptional managers and mentors over the years, but I also observed other leaders that weren't that great.
While attending the University of Berkeley, California to learn engineering and entrepreneurial leadership (ELPP) and obtaining feedback from my teams, mentors, and co-workers—it became clear that the leadership is quite complex, and there are a variety of methods and approaches that can go in a leader’s tool box.
There is no right or wrong when it comes to leadership, as much depends on the context and situation.
Each leader also has a unique, personal leadership style shaped by his/her capabilities and past experiences.
Starting my Mindfulness Journey
While finding my own style in 2015, I experienced a major and unexpected disruption.
I always worked very hard in my job. In my spare time, I also experimented with various start-up ideas and worked as an adjunct professor at the University of California in Santa Cruz, teaching Web engineering. I later realized that working 16 hours a day over a long period is not healthy thing and that it will eventually exhaust you.
Luckily, I noticed this before I was totally burned out and took action by enrolling in an eight-week mindfulness-based stress-reduction (MBSR) class offered by Yahoo. This was the first time I had been exposed to meditation and mindfulness.
Overall, it felt good, and part of my personal and spiritual growth depended on being a student of mindfulness. I had a few deep, mystical experiences during that time and found myself achieving more balance between my personal life and work. My health and wellbeing also improved, and I became more resilient to stress.
In the following years, I became more deeply committed to these practices, focused more on personal growth, stress reduction, and consequently made substantial lifestyle changes. Techniques like yoga and meditation positively influenced my life, and I was increasingly exposed to valuable insights from various mindfulness practitioners and traditions.
Back in 2016 I thought at this time I needed a change of scenery. I moved with my family to Berlin, Germany, accepting a new role as VP Engineering at Zalando, which offered me a great opportunity to build up a large tech organization. At this point, I already had established a regular mindfulness practice, which helped me to become very effective in my new role.
I gradually realized that I could not control my external circumstances. However, my mind could look at these sometimes turbulent and stressful events with more distance and clarity with the mindfulness training . The fast-paced environment, deadlines, and priorities were still there, but now, my mind would respond entirely differently to them in a similar situation.
I suddenly was able to deal with the stress that overwhelmed me before. However, as a Techie, mindfulness was just too vague, and I needed to find a more scientific & systematic approach to evaluating progress and measuring success.
Was I really evolving?
A Data-driven & Scientific Approach to Mindful Leadership, Stress Resilience, and Deep Innovation
However, as a scientist I always wondered how do I measure my progress?
Progress towards more effective leadership, higher stress resilience, more energy, better overall health, and consciousness growth.
For example, if I sit there and meditate for 20 minutes, how do I know it was helpful for my body and mind? Was it an effective use of my time? Would it be better to meditate 30 minutes instead, and how often?
This is when I started experimenting with various electronic devices (e.g., like the Muse meditation headband, HeartMath, ...) and technologies that would allow me to measure my body's response to mindfulness techniques.
That's when I started researching and experimenting with several KPIs for my mind and level of awareness. This approach worked, and I could see gradual and measurable improvements in my cognitive performance, energy levels, calmness, executive brain function, increased focus, and clarity, as well as continuous improvements to my overall health and wellbeing. This assured me that I was on the right path.
I also realized that meditation and mindfulness techniques have a more effective impact if you have a healthy body. This is when I got inspired by biohacking pioneers like Dave Asprey, Ben Greenfield, and Olli Sovijärvi.
Biohacking is closely related to the Quantified Self movement. It uses the latest in wearable technology and testing labs to test our bodies.
With short feedback loops, we can experiment and quickly discover what works and doesn’t work with diet and lifestyle changes. Technologies to track sleep, exercise, stress, health and even brain function are accessible to us nowadays.
I started experimenting with different approaches, and gradually figured out a system for me that can not only be used to measure the results of our efforts that we put into mindfulness activities, but also incorporates the latest science on body improvements ideas with the goals to become ultra resilient to stress, improve my overall health, and continue lifting my consciousness growth.
Training the Mind is the Foundation
There is the latin saying "Mens sana in corpore sano" (A healthy mind in a healthy body), expressing the theory that physical exercise is an important or essential part of mental and psychological well-being.
While I agree with this quote during my experiments I found out that the opposite is even truer:
"A Healthy Body with a Healthy Mind"
Similar to how a body needs training to stay strong, the mind needs also training to stay focused in the present moment.
And only if you have a healthy mind, will you have the foundation for a health body.
Did you know that a human mind produces 50.000 thoughts on average per day?
If you have an unhealthy mind chances are that the majority of those thoughts will be negative, and therefore adversely affecting your body on a molecular level. There is numerous scientific evidence that points this out.
That means you could eat all the good organic stuff, take expensive supplements, work out regularly, but still would continuously become sicker on a molecular level if you don't get your mind in order!
It is stress, which originates from faulty and negative programming of your mind, that has a significant detrimental affect to your heath, longevity, and effectiveness of a leader.
I also realized that meditation and mindfulness practices are not sufficient in themselves. Increased awareness can even be detrimental to your mental health if there are no tools to use and manage this increased level of awareness effectively. It became clear that there are other aspects of training and managing my mind, like debugging false or limiting beliefs, upgrading old reactive patterns and other unhelpful / outdated subroutines in my mind that are no longer helpful, or letting go of old events and traumas that no longer served me well.
When putting this all together, my initial mind-management practice was born!
The importance of setting up an effective Mind-Management Practise
Over the past 10 years, I immersed myself really deep into various mind-management practices, measured progress, and iterated on more improvements based on learnings. This is a truly agile approach, which I knew how to apply effectively in my organization. It worked similarly on my mind and body.
I found proof of their effectiveness as I effectively built the Zalando's Search, Personalization, and Research organization with up to 400 FTEs without any stress symptoms or slow-down. It even felt easier compared to the 30 people organization I had managed at Yahoo!
The main driver for this had been the mind-management practices I implemented and refined over the years, combined with new learnings from biohacking, integrative and functional medicine, as well as bio- and neurofeedback.
A healthy mind needs a healthy brain and body. The solution emerged, and those findings and learnings evolved into the now available 12-week training “The High-performance Mind.”
The importance of becoming Stress Resilient
I witnessed first hand the negative effects of stress on my personal and professional life.
On a personal level my energy levels depleted quickly, my health was in bad shape, and my sleep was irregular. So I was tired all day. As a result my productivity and output decreased on a quantitative, but also on a qualitative level.
At work I noticed that stress had a negative impact on the quality of my decisions as a leader. I would also be the source of stress for my team and co-workers, as stress energy is contagious and spreading quickly throughout the organization.
Stress in the work place is therefore a major source of toxicity, with the potential to poison the culture of an organization, decreasing the level of collaboration, and undermining the quality of delivered products and services.
The underlying source of stress is fear, and decisions based on fear are never good ones, trust me!
Becoming stress resilient is therefore one of the most important topics for becoming a Mindful Leader. You have to become a master in managing stress. Therefore I decided to make this an integral topic for mindful leadership.
However, to combat stress you need to first understand how to measure it, what bio markers are relevant, how to track them over time to determine progress ("know your enemy"). There is a lot of evolving knowledge, research & latest findings that had been developed in the past years.
Particularly in the mindfulness, but also in the bio-hacking community are lots of good and proven ideas for experimentation and validation.
The good news is that stress can be managed!
I put everything together what I have learned into an effective science based system on how you can become more stress resilient over time, determine the right metrics for measurements, and making adjustments if needed.
Mindfulness in the Work Place
Then I asked myself:
Wouldn’t it be great to transfer the benefits of mindfulness achieved in my personal life to the business context?
However, in my role as a leader in the workplace, I noticed that too many people were guided by their egos, sometimes engaging in political maneuvers about growing their influence.
Too many leaders focus on achieving goals and delivering business results, but equally important is how the work is accomplished and the personal values that guide that action.
Identifying your own personal values, as well as your limiting thoughts and false beliefs, is an important step in increasing your self-awareness.
When I started applying these mindfulness principles to my leadership, I noticed encouraging results right away.
In 2017, I published the 12 Mindfulness Leadership Principles and applied the principles therein to my organizations.
Throughout this experience, I gained considerable experience and insight into what works—and what doesn’t.
I'm passionate about the topic of mindful leadership, and I’ve realized its full potential to create a purposeful work environment that leads to happier employees and long-lasting, sustainable, positive business results for a company.
Most of us intuitively agree that mindfulness programs and initiatives are helpful for organizations, but I’ll make a case in one of my articles that
Mindfulness in organizations is not merely a nice feature to have but a crucial foundation for the long-term success of an organization.
It is literally a matter of "evolve or die"—either organizations work towards becoming conscious businesses, or they’ll eventually dissolve.
In my opinion, traditional management training in companies is insufficient and focuses mostly on training certain skills, but very few coaching opportunities or experienced leaders exist emphasize mindfulness and present awareness in organizations. (However, I’ve anecdotally observed a positive upwards trend in the past years.)
It all starts with the mindset of the leader with enough present awareness to look beyond the daily power games and the egos that seek success through unmindful means that result in fear, frustration, and stress for all people involved.
With my blog, I'm hoping to provide a valuable contribution to the global workplace and hopefully increase mindfulness in organizations as more leaders become mindful and increase their present awareness.
Deep Innovation: Tapping into your Intuition
As mentioned above I'm very passionate about introducing innovation into everything I do.
It is effortless for me, and I took this capability for granted.
Only in the past five years while studying mindfulness I thought about whether is really a specific capability of mine - like an "innovation gene", or whether there is a systematic approach for becoming an innovator that can be learned by everyone.
This is indeed the case - I developed a method that allows you to tap into a deep state of mind and connect with your consciousness.
When using your intuition the outcome can be high quality and original ideas. Learn more about Deep Innovation.
To become a Mindful Leader, you must surround yourself with a community of like minded professionals and experts to support you in your journey.
For this reason I have recently created the Fellowship of Mindful Leaders. Together with other leaders we embark on a powerful mission to change the business landscape on this planet.
The Fellowship is there for you to support you in your personal growth during this journey, and that you have the opportunity to mastermind and connect with your fellow Mindful Leaders and subject experts.
Join me on raising consciousness in the business world by upgrading the workplace!
Contact me to setup an introductory get-to-know Session