Honorable Mention Chapter Award
Honorable Mention Chapter Award

IMEX America speaker wants you to unlock your natural joy

Aug 12, 2021, 16:46 PM by Blair Potter
Radha Agrawal says now is the time for meeting planners to expand their creativity and cultivate deeper connections.

Be prepared. A dance party just might break out during Radha Agrawal’s IMEX America keynote presentation.

Agrawal is the co-founder, CEO and chief community architect of Daybreaker, the early morning dance and wellness movement that takes place in more than two dozen cities, on five continents and on college campuses around the U.S., engaging a community of around a half million people.

Using a science-based approach, Agrawal creates motivational messaging designed to help “unlock your natural joy” by releasing the four neurochemicals—dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin and endorphins—that “make you happy.” It’s a platform called DOSE.

“Daybreaker is my heart and soul, it’s my dharma,” Agrawal said in an interview with The Meeting Professional. “Dance has always been the original form of human celebration. We were dancing around the fire as cave people. That was the original expression of joy and community and connection.”

Her goal was to make practicing joy as ubiquitous as practicing yoga and meditation, and her message resonated. She and her team spent the first part of 2020 touring with Oprah Winfrey and WW (formerly Weight Watchers) on a nine-arena, sold-out tour.

Celebrations in a lonely time

But Agrawal’s reputation goes far beyond Daybreaker. She’s authored several books and been a global keynote speaker, an entrepreneur, an investor and a DJ, just for starters. She’s also an experienced event planner, enabling her to relate to the meeting and event professional audience that will experience her Nov. 9 keynote during IMEX America at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.

“I’m an event creator, an experience designer,” she said. “I had a lot of negative feelings around the 2D kind of digital space. I always felt it was, you know, obviously not the same as the tactile and nor is it ever the same as the tactile, six-dimensional experience of being in person.”

The COVID-19 pandemic caused a disruption in face to face as well as our wellness, Agrawal said.

IMEX America. Learn more about keynote speaker Radha Agrawal.

“We realized that we had a community to support and we started getting letters from community members and friends who were in deep depressions,” she said. “We said we have the ability to create a celebratory environment even in these scary times. So, we pivoted to online digital dance parties. We started throwing these dance parties online and we started bringing in Boyz II Men, Gloria Estefan, Gloria Gaynor, The Village People. He had 25 plus A-level artists that came on to our live streams, and all of a sudden we had 20,000, 30,000 RSVPs.

“We realized the power of the global reach in the 2D environment during COVID. We realized that you can achieve intimacy by people sharing their backgrounds. People began to dress their backgrounds for our dance parties. They really brought celebration in such a lonely, socially distant time.”

The phenomenon took off, with some organizations, such as AARP, signing up for multievent contracts to serve “master citizens,” as Agrawal refers to AARP members, as well Marriott, Chase and others.

The importance of people

Daybreaker is just one aspect of her portfolio. She’ll delve into community building and female leadership with equal ease and authority. Her book, Belong: Find Your People Create Community and Live a More Connected Life, received an endorsement from Deepak Chopra.

“If you want to belong, read this book,” he said.

The book covers such topics as “how the heck do I find my people?” and “how do I create meaningful communities in the real world?

Agrawal said it begins with first recognizing the importance of people.

“Dance has always been the original form of human celebration.”

“Not by putting it on the ‘if I have time’ list or ‘when I've done my work and all my other things that are important,’ then I'll make time for friends,” she said. “When I started putting community and making friends as the most important aspect of life, just that intentionality, just that new focus changed everything. Then I found my love and then I became financially successful.”

Agrawal said the second step is writing down your priorities, focusing on what you’re looking for in a friend. What are the qualities you don’t want in a friend? What are the qualities that you need to embody in order to attract the friends you want?

“For me, when I was in my 20s, I was so focused on being popular, being the party girl, and I was attracting all these like kind party people who just weren’t at all feeding my soul,” she said. “When I began recognizing that I needed to be less judgmental and to be more focused on what I valued in life, not what society valued, then I began attracting those people and my entire life changed. Doing that audit on how you’re showing up is so critical in your community-building journey.”

Making friends, building community

Agrawal’s journey in life began as a twin with her sister and a diverse, immigrant family—her mother from Japan, her father from India.

“Being an identical twin I think that infused in me the influence of belonging and building community, which is why I kind of have devoted my life to that entire space,” she said.

Agrawal was influenced as well by her parents, who came to America to “chart their own community, chart their own path,” which they did with “much bravery.”

“You don’t realize how important community is until you lack it or until you realize there’s a pandemic and there’s nothing more important than to connect with and invest in than making friends and building community, and teaching people how to do that,” she said.

Agrawal’s journeys reinforce the message she’ll deliver at IMEX America, but joy, and maybe dance, will be on the agenda.

“We talk about collective joy all the time,” she said. “My ultimate main agenda now is to push the concept of collective joy as an even higher level of existence than just individual joy. I actually think I’m coming into a whole new era of understanding that digital devices get you only so far. There’s this craving of the smells, of the touch, of the taste, of just the collective moving that people are no longer taking for granted. I think that there is a renewed humanity around event and experience creation, and I really feel like it’s the meeting planner’s dream time to be alive. It’s the meeting with experience designers, event creator’s dream moment to come back and not just do wine and cheese parties, to not just do boring events that anybody can do pre-pandemic. But this is the time to really expand our creativity, expand our opportunity to invite more connection and that take deep intentional experience design. This is the time to do it.”

KEYNOTE SPEAKERS AT IMEX AMERICA

Nov. 8-10, 2021
Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas

Nov. 8, Smart Monday powered by MPI: Shimi Kang, Harvard-trained physician, author and global entrepreneur

Nov. 9: Radha Agrawal, co-founder, CEO and chief community architect of Daybreaker

Nov. 10: Erik Qualman, author, Socialnomics thought leader

Learn more about IMEX America speakers.

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