Name: Renita Kalhorn
Title: Performance Strategist
Renita Kalhorn is an executive performance coach helping visionary entrepreneurs build high-impact companies. A Juilliard-trained concert pianist and martial arts black belt with an MBA from INSEAD, she works with entrepreneurs and their teams to perform at the top of their game under pressure.
Me: Why are you an entrepreneur?
Renita: The original meaning of entrepreneur comes from the French, entreprendre, “to undertake or begin.” For me, this translates into having the independence and clarity to step off the beaten path and synthesize what’s happening in the world in my own way. For sure, it takes imagination, courage and perseverance to create a new path when defaulting to convention would be easier and more comfortable, but the satisfaction of pursuing exactly what you want to create is so worth it!
Me: What problem would you like solved?
Renita: We live in amazing times, with limitless opportunity for creativity and growth — and yet we spend so much time in “survival” mode, constantly seeking out comfort, convenience and instant gratification. You know, like Louis CK said, being upset that the Internet connection on our flight is slow. If we don’t change this, we can go through life accumulating lots of material things and cool experiences without really evolving as human beings. I want to equip people with the mental training and skills — focus, resilience, courage, curiosity, ingenuity, imagination, just to name a few — they need to get out of survival mode and into the “flow” state. Ultimately, I want to make growth and mastery way cooler than the latest “hack.”
Me: Advice you’d wished you’d had or had followed?
Renita: Have the courage to express unconventional ideas. Care less whether people understand or agree with them.
Me: What does success look like for you?
Renita: Being a multi-dimensional human being: living in different countries, having deep conversations and developing mastery in coaching/teaching, music, fitness, languages…
Me: Who are your heroes?
Renita: Pema Chödrön, the American Buddhist nun, who’s so real and empathetic — and gets that it’s not easy to live in the present moment. Madonna inspires me with her energy, conviction and ability to adapt and stay relevant. She’s the original maverick. My latest entrepreneur hero is Charlie Kim, another maverick, who went against conventional wisdom about building a company. His company, Next Jump, walks the talk in making the growth of their people top priority (they call it human capital engineering).
Me: What is your best discovery?
Renita: Essentia alkaline water! Tastes better so I drink more…
Me: What would the title of your biography be?
Renita: Focus and Flow
Me: What makes the Harlem entrepreneurial ecosystem unique?
Renita: This is the original home of hustle! There’s so much energy and resourcefulness here waiting to be tapped and cultivated.
Me: If a Shark Tank investor asked “why should I invest in Harlem?, what’s your answer?
Renita: The resilient community. We refuse to lose.
Me: From meetups to co-working to networking events, what are your top recommendations for someone just stepping into the Harlem startup ecosystem?
Renita: It’s growing every week: co-working and events at Cofound Harlem, which has a mission to build 100 companies in Harlem by 2020, Harlem Garage, MIST; the Harlem Biospace incubator. And you can connect with the uptown coworking community at weleet.me.
Me: Anything else we should know about?
Renita: Why not check out my podcast, Mental Toughness for Mavericks, featuring interviews with people like Navy SEAL Mark Divine, self-disruption expert Whitney Johnson and performance psychologist, Dr. Sian Beilock.