Mindful leadership: Definition, examples and best practices

Kailash Ganesh
17 min read
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What is mindful leadership: Examples and steps to practice at work as a leader

In the ever-evolving landscape of leadership, one term has emerged as a guiding philosophy that not only transforms the way we lead but also nurtures a workplace culture rooted in empathy, authenticity, and productivity. That term is "mindful leadership."

At its essence, mindful leadership is a compass that directs leaders toward a more conscious, compassionate, and connected way of leading. It's a beacon that illuminates the path to harmonious workplaces, engaged teams, and sustainable success.

In this exploration of mindful leadership, we delve into its definition and its significance within the modern workplace. We will journey through real-world examples of leaders who epitomize this mindful approach, unraveling their impact on organizations and individuals.

What is the connection between leadership and mindfulness?

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What is the connection between leadership and mindfulness?

Leadership and mindfulness are intricately connected. Mindful leaders exhibit self-awareness, emotional regulation, and empathetic understanding, fostering a positive workplace culture.

Leadership practices, such as mindfulness meditation, enhance a leader's ability to focus, make sound decisions, and manage stress, improving overall leadership effectiveness. Mindful leaders also exhibit greater empathy, active listening, and open communication, strengthening relationships with their teams.

In turn, effective leadership promotes mindfulness within the organization. When leaders prioritize well-being and work-life balance, it encourages employees to do the same. This leads to increased engagement, reduced burnout, and enhanced creativity.

In sum, mindfulness bolsters leadership by equipping many leaders as possible with crucial skills while simultaneously fostering an environment where mindfulness can flourish, benefiting both leaders and their teams.

What is mindful leadership?

Employer meditating in the workplace
What is mindful leadership?

Mindful leadership is a management approach characterized by self-awareness, emotional intelligence, ad a deep understanding of the impact of one's actions on others and the organization. It involves being fully present in the moment, making conscious decisions, and fostering a compassionate and inclusive workplace culture.

Mindful leadership benefits organizations by promoting employee well-being, engagement, and productivity, fostering a positive work culture, and facilitating effective decision-making. It is a leadership style that emphasizes not only achieving goals but also the well-being and growth of individuals and the organization as a whole.

What are the pillars of mindful leadership?

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What are the pillars of mindful leadership?

Mindful leadership is built upon several key pillars that serve as its foundational principles. These pillars help leaders cultivate self-awareness, empathy, and effective communication while creating a positive and inclusive work environment. Here are the essential pillars of mindful leadership:

  • Emotional regulation: Mindful leaders practice emotional intelligence, which involves recognizing and managing their own emotions as well as understanding and empathizing with the emotions of others. By staying calm under pressure and remaining emotionally present, they foster a supportive and stable work environment.
  • Compassion: Compassion goes beyond empathy; it involves taking action to alleviate suffering or support others in their growth and development. Mindful leaders show kindness, provide constructive feedback, and offer support when team members face challenges. This promotes a culture of understanding and resilience.
  • Presence and focus: Mindful leaders are fully present at the moment, giving their undivided attention to tasks, people, and situations. This presence enhances their ability to make informed decisions, solve problems effectively, and connect with their teams.
  • Servant leadership: Mindful leaders adopt a servant leadership approach, putting the needs and development of their team members first. They aim to empower and support their teams, facilitating growth and personal fulfillment.
  • Inclusivity and diversity: Mindful leaders value diversity and foster an inclusive work environment. They promote equality, equity, and respect for all team members, recognizing that diverse perspectives contribute to innovation and creativity.
  • Cultivating a growth mindset: Mindful leaders embrace a growth mindset, believing in the potential for development and improvement in themselves and others. They encourage continuous learning, experimentation, and adaptation, fostering a culture of innovation and resilience.

These pillars of mindful leadership form a cohesive framework that enables leaders to navigate complex and dynamic work environments while promoting the well-being, growth, and cohesion of their teams and organizations.

What are the benefits of mindful leadership?

Employees working together as a team
What are the benefits of mindful leadership?

Mindful leadership offers a host of benefits for both leaders and their organizations. It is a leadership style that emphasizes self-awareness, emotional intelligence, and a focus on the present moment. Here are 13 of the key benefits of mindful leadership:

  1. Enhanced self-awareness: Mindful leaders have a deep understanding of their own thoughts, emotions, and motivations. This self-awareness enables them to make better decisions, manage their reactions, and align their actions with their values.
  2. Greater empathy: Mindful leaders are empathetic and attuned to the emotions and needs of their team members. This empathy strengthens relationships, builds trust, and creates a more supportive and collaborative work environment.
  3. Enhanced communication: Mindful leadership excellence lies in communication. They are active listeners who foster open and honest dialogue. This leads to better understanding among team members, fewer misunderstandings, and improved teamwork.
  4. Stress reduction: Mindful leadership practices, such as meditation and mindfulness exercises, help leaders manage stress effectively. This not only benefits their own well-being but also sets a positive example for employees.
  5. Increased resilience: Mindful leaders are better equipped to handle adversity and setbacks. They view challenges as opportunities for growth and maintain a positive outlook, which inspires their teams to persevere in the face of difficulties.
  6. Ethical decision-making: Mindful leaders prioritize ethical considerations in their decision-making. They make choices aligned with their values and the organization's mission, promoting integrity and trust.
  7. Employee well-being: Mindful leaders create a work environment that prioritizes employee well-being. This includes supporting work-life balance, mental health, and personal growth, resulting in a happier and more engaged workforce.
  8. Improved productivity: Mindful leaders tend to be more focused and present in their work. This concentration leads to more efficient decision-making, increased productivity, and better organizational results.
  9. Positive workplace culture: Mindful leadership fosters a positive and inclusive workplace culture. It promotes respect, diversity, and equality, creating a harmonious and supportive atmosphere where employees feel valued and heard.
  10. Talent retention: Organizations with mindful leaders often experience lower turnover rates. Employees are more likely to stay in an environment that prioritizes their well-being and professional growth.
  11. Innovation and creativity: Mindful leaders encourage diverse perspectives and creativity within their teams. They create an environment where team members feel safe to share new ideas and take calculated risks.
  12. Enhanced team collaboration: Mindful leaders cultivate an environment where collaboration thrives. By fostering open communication and trust, they encourage team members to work together synergistically, resulting in increased innovation and problem-solving capabilities.
  13. Enhanced conflict resolution: Mindful leaders possess the skills to navigate conflicts effectively and constructively. By remaining calm and empathetic during disagreements, they facilitate productive dialogue and help resolve conflicts in a manner that strengthens relationships and fosters mutual understanding.

Mindful leadership offers a wide range of benefits that contribute to a healthier, more productive, and more harmonious work environment. It not only enhances leaders' personal growth and well-being but also positively influences the culture and success of the entire organization.

What are the traits of a mindful leader?

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What are the traits of a mindful leader?

Mindful leadership is characterized by distinct traits that set it apart as a unique and effective leadership style. Here are five creative and unique traits of a mindful leader:

  1. Radical open-mindedness: Mindful leaders embrace radical open-mindedness, which means they actively seek out diverse perspectives and welcome feedback from all levels of the organization. They recognize that innovation and growth often stem from unconventional ideas, and they encourage a culture of open dialogue where even dissenting opinions are valued.
  2. Purpose-driven leadership: Mindful leaders are deeply connected to their personal and organizational purpose. They infuse their leadership with a sense of meaning and authenticity, inspiring their teams to align their efforts with a shared mission. This purpose-driven approach instills a sense of fulfillment and commitment among employees.
  3. Vulnerability as strength: Mindful leaders understand that vulnerability is a sign of strength, not weakness. They are open about their own imperfections and challenges, which creates an atmosphere of trust and authenticity. This allows team members to feel comfortable sharing their struggles and seeking support when needed.
  4. Adaptive resilience: Mindful leaders possess adaptive resilience, enabling them to navigate uncertainty and change with grace. They understand that setbacks are a natural part of growth, and they lead by example, demonstrating how to bounce back from challenges and setbacks with a positive attitude and a focus on learning.
  5. Silent listening: Mindful leaders excel in "silent listening," a practice that involves not just hearing words but also sensing the emotions and intentions behind them. They pay attention to body language, tone of voice, and non-verbal cues, allowing them to grasp the full context of a conversation and respond empathetically.

These unique traits of mindful leaders go beyond traditional leadership qualities, emphasizing the importance of openness, authenticity, adaptability, and deep listening in fostering a positive and purpose-driven work environment.

5 Mindful leadership characteristics that you should practice in the workplace

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Mindful leadership characteristics that you should practice in the workplace

Mindful leadership entails a distinctive set of characteristics that can significantly impact the workplace culture and the success of an organization. Here are five creative and unique mindful leadership characteristics to practice mindfulness in the workplace:

  1. Elevated self-compassion: Mindful leaders extend the concept of compassion to themselves. They acknowledge their own limitations, accept their mistakes, and treat themselves with the same kindness they show others. This self-compassion not only reduces self-criticism but also serves as a model for employees, promoting a healthier self-image across the organization.
  2. Radical inclusivity: Mindful leaders champion radical inclusivity by actively seeking out and valuing diverse perspectives and backgrounds. They create an environment where everyone's voice is heard and respected, fostering innovation and broadening horizons. This inclusivity extends beyond visible positive difference to encompass diverse thoughts and ideas.
  3. Narrative awareness: Mindful leaders are acutely aware of the narratives they construct about themselves, their teams, and their organizations. They encourage a positive and growth-oriented narrative, reframing challenges as opportunities and setbacks as stepping stones. This narrative awareness helps shape a more optimistic and resilient workplace culture.
  4. Generative patience: Mindful leaders practice generative patience, understanding that meaningful change takes time. They resist the temptation to rush solutions and instead cultivate a patient approach to problem-solving. This patience creates space for creativity, allowing innovative ideas to emerge naturally.
  5. Joyful gratitude: Mindful leaders infuse the workplace with joyful gratitude by regularly expressing appreciation for their team's efforts and achievements. This practice of gratitude extends beyond formal recognition to celebrating small wins and everyday contributions. It fosters a sense of fulfillment and motivation among employees.

These creative and unique mindful leadership characteristics emphasize the importance of self-compassion, inclusivity, narrative awareness, generative patience, and joyful gratitude in creating a workplace that prioritizes well-being, growth, and positivity.

7 Mindful leadership examples you should know

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Mindful leadership examples you should know

Mindful leadership is exemplified by individuals who embody its principles, fostering positive workplaces and driving organizational success. Here are seven real-world mindful leadership examples you should know:

  1. Satya Nadella (Microsoft): As Microsoft's CEO, Nadella transformed the corporate culture by emphasizing empathy and a growth mindset. His book, "Hit Refresh," reflects his commitment to mindful leadership, advocating for a people-centric approach and recognizing the importance of continuous learning.
  2. Arianna Huffington (Thrive Global): Arianna Huffington, the founder of Thrive Global, advocates for well-being and mindfulness in the workplace. She emphasizes the importance of sleep, stress reduction, and unplugging technology to enhance productivity and overall quality of life.
  3. Marc Benioff (Salesforce): Marc Benioff, the founder and CEO of Salesforce, is known for his mindful leadership style. He champions corporate social responsibility, environmental sustainability, and gender equality, aligning Salesforce's values with positive societal impact.
  4. Tenzin Gyatso (The 14th Dalai Lama): The Dalai Lama exemplifies mindful leadership through his teachings on compassion, empathy, and mindfulness. He promotes non-violence, tolerance, and ethical behavior, emphasizing the role of these principles in both personal and organizational leadership.
  5. Chade-Meng Tan (Google): Formerly a Google engineer, Chade-Meng Tan created the "Search Inside Yourself" program, which integrates mindfulness and emotional intelligence into workplace leadership. He demonstrates how mindfulness can enhance productivity and emotional well-being.
  6. Dan Price (Gravity Payments): CEO Dan Price of Gravity Payments made headlines by setting a minimum salary of $70,000 for all employees. His decision reflects mindful leadership by valuing employee well-being and financial security, ultimately improving morale and performance.
  7. Sundar Pichai (Google/Alphabet): As the CEO of Alphabet Inc. (Google's parent company), Sundar Pichai has fostered a culture of mindfulness and innovation. He encourages employees to explore new ideas and prioritize their mental well-being, recognizing that these factors contribute to a healthier and more successful organization.

These mindful leadership examples illustrate how leaders from various backgrounds and industries can integrate mindfulness, empathy, and ethical values into their leadership styles, resulting in more engaged employees, positive workplace cultures, and sustainable business growth.

Mindful leadership exercises that you should know

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Mindful leadership exercises that you should know

Mindful leadership exercises are practical techniques and activities designed to enhance self-awareness, emotional intelligence, and resilience among leaders.

These exercises help leaders develop the skills needed to navigate challenges, inspire their teams, and create a positive work environment. Here are thirteen effective mindful leadership exercises:

  • Daily mindfulness meditation: Encourage leaders to incorporate daily mindfulness meditation into their routines. This practice involves setting aside time each day to sit quietly, focus on the breath, and observe thoughts and sensations without judgment, fostering inner calm and clarity of mind.
  • Gratitude journaling: Encourage leaders to keep a gratitude journal where they regularly write down three things they are grateful for each day. This practice helps shift focus towards positive experiences and fosters a mindset of appreciation and abundance.
  • Mindful walking: Invite leaders to practice mindful walking, where they intentionally slow down and pay attention to each step, the sensations in their feet, and the surrounding environment. This exercise promotes relaxation, mindfulness, and connection with nature.
  • Five senses exercise: Lead leaders through a five senses exercise, where they consciously engage each of their five senses to connect with the present moment. This exercise helps ground leaders in their immediate experience and reduce stress and anxiety.
  • Mindful eating: Encourage leaders to practice mindful eating, where they slow down and savor each bite of their meals, paying attention to taste, texture, and sensations in the body. This practice promotes healthier eating habits, enjoyment of food, and mindful consumption.
  • Visualization exercises: Lead leaders through visualization exercises where they imagine themselves successfully navigating challenges, achieving their goals, and embodying their ideal leadership qualities. This practice enhances confidence, motivation, and goal-setting skills.
  • Gratitude circle: Organize regular gratitude circles where leaders come together to express appreciation for each other and share positive experiences from their work. This practice fosters a culture of gratitude, recognition, and camaraderie among leaders.

What is mindful leadership effectiveness?

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What is mindful leadership effectiveness?

Mindful leadership effectiveness refers to the ability of leaders to integrate mindfulness principles into their leadership style, resulting in positive outcomes for both themselves and their organizations.

Mindful leaders are self-aware, emotionally intelligent, and empathetic, enabling them to make informed decisions, manage stress, and foster a supportive workplace culture. Their effectiveness is evident in improved employee well-being, increased engagement, reduced turnover, and enhanced organizational performance.

Apart from these, mindful leaders prioritize ethical decision-making, open communication, and the development of their teams, ultimately contributing to a more harmonious, innovative, and resilient work environment.

How do you bring mindfulness to your company's leadership?

Leaders are flying with a cape on
How do you bring mindfulness to your company's leadership?

Bringing mindfulness to company leadership is crucial for fostering a culture of awareness, empathy, and resilience. By integrating mindful practices into the fabric of organizational leadership, companies can cultivate a work environment that promotes well-being, collaboration, and sustainable success.

Here are effective strategies for infusing mindfulness into your company's leadership:

Leadership mindfulness training programs

Implement structured mindfulness training programs specifically designed for company leaders.

These programs can include workshops, seminars, and coaching sessions aimed at enhancing self-awareness, emotional intelligence, and stress management skills among compassionate leadership teams.

Incorporating mindfulness into leadership development initiatives

Integrate mindfulness practices into existing leadership development initiatives within the company. Offer resources such as guided meditation sessions, mindfulness apps, and reading materials on mindful leadership to support leaders in their personal and professional growth journeys.

Leading by example

Encourage company executives and senior leaders to lead by example by incorporating mindful hands-on practices into their own daily routines.

When leaders prioritize self-care, mindfulness, and emotional intelligence, it sets a powerful example for the rest of the organization to follow.

Establishing mindful leadership circles

Create opportunities for leaders to come together in mindful leadership circles or peer support groups.

These forums provide a space for leaders to share experiences, challenges, and insights related to mindfulness practices, fostering a sense of community and mutual support.

Mindful communication training

Provide training on mindful communication techniques for leaders to improve interpersonal relationships and enhance team collaboration. This training can include practices such as active listening, empathetic communication, and conflict resolution skills.

Creating mindful workspaces

Design workspaces that support mindfulness and well-being, incorporating elements such as natural light, greenery, and quiet areas for meditation or self-reflection.

By creating a physical environment that promotes relaxation and focus, leaders can enhance productivity and creativity among employees.

A leader is looking out for a next big idea
How is mindful leadership related to employee retention and productivity?

Mindful leadership has a significant impact on both employee retention and productivity:

  1. Enhanced employee well-being: Mindful leaders prioritize the well-being of their employees, promoting a work environment that values mental and emotional health. When employees feel supported and cared for, they are more likely to remain with the organization, leading to higher retention rates.
  2. Reduced burnout: Mindful leadership emphasizes stress management and work-life balance. Leaders who encourage these practices help prevent employee burnout, which is a common factor in turnover. Reduced burnout leads to a more satisfied and committed workforce.
  3. Improved job satisfaction: Mindful leaders foster a positive workplace culture through empathy, open communication, and appreciation. Employees who feel valued and respected are more likely to be satisfied with their jobs and less inclined to seek opportunities elsewhere.
  4. Increased engagement: Mindful leaders engage employees by actively listening to their concerns, involving them in decision-making, and recognizing their contributions. Engaged employees are more motivated, which directly correlates with higher productivity.
  5. Better communication: Mindful leadership emphasizes clear and transparent communication. When leaders effectively convey expectations, provide feedback, and encourage dialogue, employees are more likely to understand their roles and responsibilities, leading to improved productivity.
  6. Stress reduction: Mindful leaders equip employees with stress management techniques and create a supportive work environment. Reduced stress levels lead to improved mental clarity and focus, enhancing productivity.
  7. Promotion of work-life balance: Mindful leaders encourage employees to maintain a healthy work-life balance. When employees can effectively manage their personal and professional lives, they are more likely to remain committed to their roles, resulting in better retention.
  8. Empowerment and growth: Mindful leaders empower their teams by offering opportunities for skill development and career growth. Employees who see a future within the organization are less likely to leave, contributing to higher retention rates.

Mindful leadership fosters a workplace environment that prioritizes employee well-being, engagement, and job satisfaction. By addressing these factors, mindful leaders significantly contribute to improved employee retention and increased productivity, both of which are vital for organizational success.

How can you measure manager effectiveness and improve it?

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And be as effective as a deputy general counsel in the workplace

Measuring and improving manager effectiveness is critical for fostering a productive and engaged workforce. Here are steps to measure and enhance manager effectiveness:

Measuring manager effectiveness:

  1. Employee feedback: Regularly collect anonymous feedback from team members through surveys or one-on-one discussions. Their insights can reveal how well managers communicate, provide support, and foster a positive work environment.
  2. Performance metrics: Analyze key performance indicators (KPIs) within the team, such as productivity, employee turnover, and absenteeism. Managers who lead effectively often have teams that perform well and demonstrate higher retention rates.
  3. 360-degree assessments: Conduct 360-degree assessments that include feedback from peers, direct reports, and supervisors. This comprehensive view offers insights into a manager's strengths and areas for improvement.
  4. Goal attainment: Evaluate whether managers effectively set, communicate, and achieve team goals. An effective manager should align team objectives with the organization's strategic goals and consistently meet targets.

Improving manager effectiveness:

  1. Mindfulness training: Provide mindful leadership training and development programs that equip managers with essential skills, such as communication, conflict resolution, and emotional intelligence.
  2. Coaching and mentoring: Pair managers with mentors or executive coaches who can provide guidance and help them develop leadership capabilities.
  3. Feedback and recognition: Encourage regular feedback between managers and their teams. Acknowledge and reward effective leadership behaviors and provide constructive feedback for improvement.
  4. Clear expectations: Ensure managers have a clear understanding of their roles, responsibilities, and performance expectations. This clarity helps them align their actions with organizational goals.
  5. Empowerment and autonomy: Grant managers the autonomy to make decisions and empower them to lead their teams effectively. Trust in their abilities can boost confidence and morale.
  6. Regular check-ins: Conduct periodic check-ins to assess manager progress and address any challenges. These meetings provide opportunities for ongoing coaching and support.
  7. Resource allocation: Ensure managers have the necessary resources, tools, and support to lead effectively. Adequate resources enable them to meet team goals and address issues promptly.
  8. Peer learning: Facilitate opportunities for managers to learn from their peers, share best practices, and collaborate on leadership strategies.
  9. Culture of accountability: Foster a culture of accountability where managers take ownership of their teams' performance and outcomes.
  10. Feedback loops: Establish continuous feedback loops within the organization to ensure that improvements are sustained over time.

Measuring and improving manager effectiveness is an ongoing process that requires commitment from both managers and the organization.


Mindful leadership is a powerful approach that combines self-awareness, empathy, and ethical values to create a positive and productive workplace. As illustrated by real-world examples, it leads to higher employee satisfaction, improved retention rates, and enhanced productivity.

To practice mindful leadership at work, leaders should embrace self-compassion, encourage diverse perspectives, shape a positive narrative, cultivate patience, and express gratitude. By embodying these principles, leaders can inspire their teams and foster a more mindful, resilient, and successful organizational culture.


1. What is mindful leadership, and how does it differ from traditional leadership?

Mindful leadership is a leadership philosophy that emphasizes self-awareness, empathy, and ethical values. It encourages leaders to be fully present, make conscious decisions, and foster positive workplace cultures. Unlike traditional leadership, which may prioritize results at the expense of employee well-being, mindful leadership focuses on balancing performance and the overall health and satisfaction of both leaders and team members.

2. Can you provide examples of mindful leadership in real-world settings?

Certainly. One example is Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, who transformed the company's culture by emphasizing empathy and continuous learning. Another is Arianna Huffington, founder of Thrive Global, who advocates for well-being and mindfulness in the workplace. Such leaders prioritize employee mental health, work-life balance, and ethical practices.

3. How can leaders practice self-compassion in mindful leadership?

Self-compassion in mindful leadership involves treating oneself with kindness and understanding. Leaders can practice self-compassion by acknowledging their own limitations, accepting mistakes, and avoiding self-criticism. This not only improves their well-being but also sets a positive example for their teams.

4. What are some steps leaders can take to encourage diverse perspectives in mindful leadership?

Leaders can encourage diverse perspectives by actively seeking input from team members with different backgrounds, experiences, and viewpoints. They should create a safe and inclusive space for sharing ideas, valuing dissenting opinions, and promoting open dialogue. This fosters innovation and ensures that various voices are heard and respected.

5. How can leaders shape a positive narrative in mindful leadership?

Shaping a positive narrative in mindful leadership involves framing challenges as opportunities and setbacks as stepping stones. Leaders can do this by consciously choosing their words and communication style. By maintaining a focus on growth and resilience, leaders inspire their teams to maintain an optimistic outlook even in the face of difficulties.

6. Can mindful leadership affect a company's bottom line?

Yes, mindful leadership can significantly impact a company's bottom line. By fostering a positive work environment, improving employee well-being, and enhancing collaboration and communication, mindful leadership can lead to increased productivity, efficiency, and innovation. Additionally, mindful leaders tend to make more informed and ethical decisions, which can mitigate risks and enhance reputation, thereby attracting top talent and loyal customers.

7. Why do we need mindful leadership?

We need mindful leadership to navigate the complexities of today's rapidly changing and interconnected world. Mindful leadership promotes self-awareness, emotional intelligence, and ethical decision-making, which are essential qualities for effectively leading diverse teams and addressing complex challenges. By fostering a culture of empathy, collaboration, and resilience, mindful leadership enhances employee well-being, promotes innovation, and fosters a positive work environment.

Kailash Ganesh

Kailash Ganesh

Kailash is a Product Marketer with 5+ years of experience. He loves story-telling in the simplest way possible and he is an avid reader, movie buff, and likes to travel new places to meet new people.