SPA INSPIRATION: Miraval's "Type E" Workshop for Entrepreneurs - Estheticnet

SPA INSPIRATION: Miraval's “Type E” Workshop for Entrepreneurs

A recent workshop at Tucson’s Miraval helped business owners make the most of their entrepreneurial natures.

Think back to when you first became attracted to the spa industry. Did you know all along that you would own your own spa? Did, in fact, the thought of working for someone else make you cringe? Were you overflowing with new ideas for a better spa and more innovative treatments? Finally, did you feel you were different from most everyone else in the industry? If your answer to each of these questions is yes, chances are you’re a type E.

You may ask, “Type E—what the heck is that?” After all, you’re familiar with types A and B, but E? Type E individuals represent just 5% to 10% of the population and, according to experts, they have a different physiology, mental outlook and intuitive capacity from other people. The hallmarks of the type E personality are extreme creativity, energy, passion and risk-taking. E personalities are typically entrepreneurs, CEOs, athletes and artists.

It was through his work treating tens of thousands of individuals that psychotherapist Alex Giorgio “discovered” the E personality. Ever since, he has been bringing this new personality type to light via seminars at places like Harvard, MIT and IBM—and at events like the Entrepreneur’s Guide to Enlightenment, a four-day workshop held recently at Miraval Spa in Tucson, Arizona.

Facilitated by Giorgio and his partner, Heidi Nobantu Saul, this workshop weaved practical education and Miraval’s unique programming into a dynamic course. The goal was to help type E professionals balance their lives, create positive work environments with teams that mesh, and ultimately grow their businesses.
“We’re teaching people a way to know themselves better so they can learn business and spiritual strategies in a restorative setting,” Saul explains.

Following is an account of my observations at the Entrepreneur’s Guide to Enlightenment workshop. Read on to determine whether you or someone you know could benefit from this unique approach to optimizing the type E personality.


Type Es make for strong spa owners because of their passion for wellness and their creativity. The key to maximizing this personality in the spa is to play to its strength and downplay its weaknesses. Therefore, the class began with participants exploring what living an enlightened life means. For some it’s about freedom; for others it’s about meaningful work and for others it’s all about relationships. Once we understand what enlightened living means for us, we can craft our business goals and pursuits around these values. When we obtain this congruency, life is in balance and opportunities seem to magically appear.

Angela, a 30-something small business owner and type E personality from Miami, came to Giorgio’s and Saul’s seminar to learn how to better evaluate business opportunities, improve her communication skills and simply gain clarity about what she wants.

“The course helped me get to the root of my roadblocks and gave me the tools to get around them. I wouldn’t have gotten that from a business class at a community college,” she said. “It’s in the quiet moments that we do the real work and advance.”

E personalities like risk-taking, but it’s still with trepidation that the group approached one of Miraval’s signature challenge activities, Quantum Leap II. In pairs, they would climb a 35-ft. pole and make the decision of whether to jump. The exercise symbolizes letting go and embracing life’s transitions. For each pair it meant overcoming mental and emotional fears, as well as working as a team—the same skills spa owners need to negotiate transition points in their business and personal lives.

“Quantum Leap made me realize that a lot of times I rush through situations to avoid pain and that, in doing so, I’m missing the opportunities that are within me and around me to grasp onto,” observed Angela after the activity.

Giorgio and Saul explain how type Es’ strength lies in creating something new, but if they stick around too long and try to actually implement the project, they eventually grow restless and even depressed.
“I’ve had several business ideas about which I’d get ramped up, but then I’d get bored and the infatuation would wither before it got traction,” said one participant, an attorney from Philadelphia. “The class helped me understand what personality traits of mine will make me successful, and how to avoid those that can create potential pitfalls.”

A Type E is driven to create, and then delegate to a team to handle the nitty-gritty details. Imagine if mega-entrepreneur Richard Branson were mired in the minutiae of his companies! For spa owners this means understanding that your role is that of the visionary, so you must hire strong teams of people who can play different roles.


Because E people have a unique physiology wherein their internal stress response system operates at levels three to five times higher than normal, Miraval’s exercise physiologist Andrew Wolf lectured to the group about the importance of exercise. In addition, Giorgio and Miraval’s Dr. Jim Nicolai presented innovative ways for type Es to benefit from breathing and biofeedback methods.

“The thing that surprised me most was that I can use my physical well-being as a barometer to go left or right,” said Angela. “I learned to exhale; that to take a step back to anchor myself mentally is really a way to take a step forward.” Participants learned that to manage their E personalities, they needed to follow the “Four Es”: Eat breakfast, Exercise, Exhale and Enjoy life.

Using a variety of biofeedback tools, workshop attendees were also shown just how much their thoughts affected their physical selves. The biofeedback tools they tried during lectures provided instant feedback as to how calm they were, and how quickly they could recover from situations that tend to provoke strong reactions. For instance, one participant had had an encounter with a tarantula on a hike earlier in the day and when Giorgio mentioned it well after the fact, the biofeedback device to which she was hooked up wailed.

“When the monitor went crazy off the hook I realized how much I need to manage my thoughts,” the participant said. “I need the soundtrack in my mind to be spa music, not heavy metal!”

Once a Type E spa owner has a handle on who she is, what she wants, what makes her tick and what brings her joy, she’s finally in a place to take her spa to new heights.

“You’ll find that you’ll just attract more opportunities and that you have the wherewithal to act on those opportunities,” said Giorgio. “You’ll be bumped up to a new level of possibilities.”

The seminar’s potent combination of salient topics, activities, exercise classes, spa offerings and opportunities to learn from other likeminded individuals created a strong framework for participants, to help them make big changes in their businesses and lives. And in the end, each person who participated added value to the seminar. After creating a personal SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis on the last day, the group decided to keep in touch and serve as resources for one another moving forward. (In fact, they were so impressed with the class they’re trying to convince Giorgio and Saul to create an advanced class so they can continue learning and growing as type Es.)

“The workshop taught me different questions to ask when evaluating opportunities,” said Angela. “Sometimes the answers we seek are better questions to ask.”

The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Enlightenment virtual program is currently taking place online, and can be accessed at The next program at Miraval is scheduled for April 14-19 (visit for more information).


For Your Head… Plan for tomorrow but live in the now. It’s important to envision the path ahead, but you must live in the present moment. The more you stay focused on today, the greater your ability to respond to current opportunities.

For Your Heart… It’s about passion!
You most likely started your business from a place of blazing passion, but with time the flame may have waned. Revive that passion by revisiting that time when, despite 24-hour days, nothing seemed impossible.

For Your Clients… Love them and they’ll love you back. You may think it’s your great service, incredible treatments or the tranquil environment you’ve created, but when all the externals are brushed aside, it’s the love that you bring into your business that keeps your clients coming back.

For Your Business… Know if it’s time to stay or cycle out. Businesses, like children, grow up fast. If the thrill of running or growing your business is nowhere to be found, perhaps your team needs a reboot. Or, it may be you who needs to move on if you’ve grown beyond the dream that launched your business. If this last sentence elicits excitement instead of dread, there may be a new dream waiting for you in the wings.

Think you might be a type E? Visit to take a quiz!

About the author

Katie OReilly