Mike Zapolin, a bald, guru-like figure with a white beard and dark sunglasses, is telling me about a group of Silicon Valley tech executives that wanted to try something a little different for their most recent corporate retreat. Rather than the normal team-building exercises, they opted for a three-hour “ket-itation” – that’s ketamine and meditation – led by a doctor who gave them lozenges dosed with the dissociative. As they went on their individual trips, they sat together and listened to calming, spa-like music. After their experience, Zapolin tells me, the team reported that they worked together better on projects, had more empathy for each other, and felt a burst of creativity.
Zapolin, who also goes by the name Zappy, helped them organise the whole retreat. He describes himself as “psychedelic concierge”, which might just sound like a glorified drug dealer, but Zapolin says he’s no such thing: “A hotel concierge does not get you the food you’re going to eat; they just make the reservation,” he said. “It’s the same with me: I’m advising based on best practices and protocols, and using my network to find the doctor or expert.”