Month: November 2016

One Big Thing with Nick Burka

You’ve probably heard it a million times; Focus on one thing at a time. The concept isn’t new but it’s powerful, and Nick Burka, the founder of the One Big Thing app, totally agrees. It’s why Nick and his brother, Daniel, have created a purposefully simple app that does just that – asks you what you want to focus on for that day, that one thing.

'Focus on one thing at a time' Click To Tweet

The Concept

Nick’s brother Daniel Burka is a serial entrepreneur. He’s currently with Google Ventures, which works to fund startups under the Google name. With one of Daniel’s coworkers, John Zeratsky, the two began discussing a model for staying focused, mindful, and getting daily tasks finished efficiently. “There’s a pre-existing model called the 1-3-5 model, which focuses on one big thing, three little things, and some other stuff each day. John and Daniel came up with a sticky pad version with a clean, simple, and beautiful layout” said Nick. After just two tweets from John and Daniel, they received tens of thousands of responses saying the model was helpful and very useful.

Daniel then took the idea to his brother, Nick, and the two began working on it as a personal project. The goal was to create a simple app that asked users to write down one thing they wanted to complete for that day and would remind that user of it. Even better, each morning the app notifies users to jump back in and enter another one thing. “It was a chance to work together, which we haven’t done for a while,” said Nick. “The project was an evenings and weekends kind of thing.”


One Big Thing


Being Mindful

Nick agreed to working on the project because philosophically he believes in it, saying, “I actually do create the task to complete it. It’s refreshing to finish a task and cross it off your list.”  When asked about work and life balance, Nick referenced that concepts like One Big Thing help him to not panic. It allows him to see a whole pile of things he needs to do and pick from the top and work his way down. Otherwise, he would get overwhelmed.

Nick hasn’t always known how to live a mindful life. In fact, he previously thought the only way to be mindful was to engage in systems like meditation or yoga. “The big switch for me is that I was thinking I wasn’t doing it “right,” but rather it was just a different mindful thing than a system that people usually do,” he remembers. “I had to go through trying the system to realize that I needed a more personal mindfulness.”

'I find mindfulness in the activities that draw me into them by actually doing them' Click To Tweet

So what does Nick do to stay mindful? “I find mindfulness in the activities that draw me into them by actually doing them,” he said. A couple examples Nick gave us include spending time with his son in his classes helping them organize or work on an art project. He also mentioned cooking as a good activity. “These are mindful activities to me as I’m thinking about core things in my life that are important. True things to me work better than a system like meditation or yoga,” he finished.


It’s Fluid

The biggest takeaway for Nick, that may also apply to many others, is that every day is different. Therefore, how you stay grounded or mindful can shift and change. One day it might be a yoga class that helps you, but another it may be a strenuous workout. At the end of the day, Nick sums all of this up nicely by saying, “Life is stressful. The goal is not to get rid of all the stress. The goal is just to manage the stress. There’s a balance.”


Nick’s Questions for the KYŌ App:

  • What are you doing that really matters?
  • What are you doing to help others?
  • What did you visually appreciate today?


Images: Marc Champagne

Find Your Sauna with Greg Isenberg

In today’s corporate world, very few people can call themselves a serial entrepreneur or investor. But for Greg Isenberg, current founder and CEO of Islands, that’s exactly what his life has been to date.

With a focus on consumer products, Greg has spent his life creating marketing and social media campaigns for some of the biggest brands in the world, creating Wall Street’s most popular stock market simulator, investing in early stage startups, and building remarkable digital products – many of which have been acquired.

Most recently in 2012, Greg was founder and CEO of a startup called 5by, a startup that gave consumers a simple button to push to retrieve the most popular videos on the web. By 2015, the company was acquired by StumbleUpon. “After the acquisition, I told myself I needed some time off,” he said. “I had been working since I was the age of 13 and I wanted to take a break and do nothing.”

'Being alone is underrated' Click To Tweet

The break didn’t last long. Greg had met a woman in Los Angeles who had a rare cancer. She had created a group of 50-60 people that would converse daily through email. “I tried to get them all on Slack thinking it would make it easier for them,” he remembered. “The entire group said it was too difficult to use and they couldn’t figure it out.” With that, Greg’s next entrepreneurial adventure began and Islands was born. The product is still in private beta but users can sign up to join the waiting list. The concept revolves around providing a de facto community platform for communication, much like the group the women in LA created to stay in touch.

islandsWhile being a serial entrepreneur and investor may sound glamorous, the pressure and continually having to be “turned on” can take its toll. When asked how Greg steps back from the daily grind or stays inspired, he noted, “Being alone is underrated.” After realizing he was getting a bit overwhelmed at work that day, Greg gave the example of starting his day with a walk in the old port of Montreal, listening to music – alone. “I even put my phone on airplane mode,” he said. Being alone allows him to regroup. “I also think nature helps a lot,” he added.

Like other interviews we have conducted, we often ask about meditation. “Depends how you define meditation,” said Greg. The point is valid. We often think of meditation as sitting, legs crossed, and chanting. However, meditation can vary be individual. For Greg, he doesn’t practice the traditional sense of the word, but rather has found his version in the form of Russian Bathhouses. “There’s this one I go to in San Francisco every time I’m there,” he said. “It’s amazing. You submerge yourself in the sauna and then do a cold bath that’s like 38 degrees.” The bathhouse offers Greg the opportunity to disconnect, but have both a mental and physical rejuvenation. “It’s one of my life hacks,” he ended.

'People need to find the things that keep them balanced' Click To Tweet

What’s your opportunity to disconnect?

At the end of the day, Greg does a great job summing up how many people are living and working today and why types of meditation and forms of journaling are so important. “While some people are fine with just being a cog in the wheel, others are working to optimize their lifestyle and do more with their lives,” he said. “People need to find the things that keep them balanced. They need to find their sauna”


Greg’s Questions for KYŌ App:

  • What am I worried about?
  • How am I spending my time?


Images: Marc Champagne