The Backpacker Intern

’10 Years Later’ Life Update: Growing Conscious 500, Mmm Cacao & Soundjourneys


Hello dear friends from all over the world. Mark checking in from Portugal ✌️.

It’s been 10 years since I started the Backpacker Intern in 2014, and I felt called to share a life-update with you.

I have travelled for 7 years to 60 countries on 7 continents. This world trip has opened my eyes on so many levels. I’ve spoken and worked with people from so many nationalities, backgrounds, industries, ages, religions, beliefs, perspectives. I’ve started a Digital Nomad company called Wanderbrief that grew into as global community and got acquired by Unsettled. In total I’ve been invited to speak at 300+ events including TEDx, SXSW, United Nations HQ and was invited by Nile Rodgers for an internship (we’re still friends ❤️). Have worked in the favelas in Rio, see Penguins on Antarctica, 6 of the 7 World Wonders, the poorest and the richest people in the world, the full spectrum of the human experience.

I’ve faced endless struggles along the road from being broke to depressed, anxious, lost, feeling alone, sad, confused and everything in between. I’ve also experienced the most magical moments, with the most incredible people in the world, from sitting in the studio with Avicii, Chris Martin, and Nile Rodgers creating the song ‘Heaven’ to meeting Malala, being invited by the White House, and a whole book full of crazy stories.

Even tho I have worked extremely hard everywhere to live this lifestyle, it is something I do not take for granted and I am forever grateful for these experiences. Therefore I want to share my perspectives, learnings, as much as I can and tell you about two new exciting companies I started that grew from this experience…But first let’s go back in time a bit.

A few years ago I was at the end of my 7 year world trip, and came to a deep realisation. Something I was searching for, hoping to find it somewhere in the world…I thought that I needed to achieve something, to ‘be someone’. That I needed to climb a ladder of success to feel good enough. Then, on a rooftop in LA, while staring at the sunset, I realised something very deep and simple.

I don’t have to do anything, achieve anything, or go anywhere to be someone.

I am perfect as I am in every moment. I am always good enough. In the ever-evolving journey of life. This realisation woke me up and I knew it was time to end my world wide search. I literally came home back to Amsterdam.

The landing was rough. Imagine being in a rollercoaster for 7 years and suddenly you realise that you can also step out of the ride. My body and being had to get used to being in one place again. The pandemic helped with the lockdown so I could also not travel, like anyone else. Yet, it was a very dark and painful time for me. I knew I was good enough, but there was so much pain inside me that was asking for attention.

From this period I started to dive deep into my inner world. After travelling in the external world, I embarked on the journey within. I started to work with different wisdom teachers, cosmologists, shamans, monks, pastors, hindus, scientists, artists, polymaths and other people who are on the path of self-discovery. From Zen Monks to Deepak Chopra, Mayan Cosmologists, Cacao Facilitators, Breathwork Practitioners, Nobel Peace Price nominee Scilla Elworthy, and so many more beautiful teachers. I’ve also travelled with several plant medicines in deep ceremony. I started to work with Sacred Sons and joined their Leadership Program to work on my masculine embodiment. The medicine of brotherhood has been life-changing and I recommend other men to find a mens group in your community too.

With every conversation with myself and my teachers I could go deeper and find the roots of my suffering. As the body keeps score, I learned how to alchemize my emotions into power. Basically E-Motions are Energy in Motion. They are teachers that show us how we can navigate the journey of life in a more aligned way. It’s an ongoing practice, yet I now have a strong toolbox that helps me every day to be a better leader. First of all to lead myself, and from there my family, friends, companies, and the world around me.

I strongly believe that expanding and elevating our consciousness is what the world needs right now. The more we get to know ourselves from the inside, and shift from victim-consciousness to creator-consciousness, the better life will be on this planet.

There is a lot of work to do. I feel called to do my part based on how much I have seen and experienced around the world. I believe in humanity. I believe that we can live in harmony.  Therefore I started two companies.

Mmm Cacao. A wellbeing company on a mission to re-connect the hearts & minds of humanity. We solve the mental health crisis by replacing a cup of coffee with a cup of cacao and immersive soundjourneys.

Elevating Business for Good

Conscious 500. A growth network for conscious leaders on a mission to elevate business for good. A lot of leaders struggle with finding the balance between business and consciousness, therefore we bring together 500 Conscious Leaders as One. Boost your business, Elevate your Consciousness, and Grow your Network to co-create a more beautiful world.

Next to that I have also learned how to play different instruments, studied Melody and Harmony at Berklee and became a Sound Alchemist. I now combine the positive effects of sound to invite people on an immersive journey within, to discover a deeper sense of meaning, gain clarity on your life path and elevate your consciousness. It’s a mix of life sounds that turn into a DJ set ✨. My dream is to play one of these sessions at Burning Man some day 😎.

Why am I sharing all this?

Well, I hope that it gives you a fresh perspective on your life right now. Are you living in alignment with who you truly are? Are you listening to that deep inner voice, your heart, that always knows what’s right for you? I understand that people are in different experiences in this life. Yet based on all the people I have spoken with, we all have similar things in common. We all experiences the polarity of life. Yin Yang. There are dark storms and clear blue skies. Death is real. Birth is real too.

I believe that we are here to discover who we truly are. This is not one place, job, relationship, or anything else. It is a state of being. A state of wonder and discovery. A state of consciousness. And ever-evolving journey in the present moment.

The only place we can be, is here, right now.

So from this awareness, what will you now do to follow your heart?

I wish you all the most beautiful life you can imagine. I hope my stories inspire you to dream big, step into the unknown and don’t forget to enjoy the ride 😁. The Backpacker Intern is definitely one experience I will remember forever. I’m curious to discover what your adventure will be like.

If you want to learn more about Mmm Cacao, Conscious 500 or my Soundjourneys, check out the links below.

Mark van der Heijden IG

Mark van der Heijden LI

Mmm Cacao IG

Mmm Cacao Website

Conscious 500 IG

Conscious 500 Website




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