Month: June 2017

Finding Focus with Steph Liverani

Creating a company in your early twenties can be daunting, but separating from the company you created to help grow another at 23 is a unique endeavor. Self-starting entrepreneur Steph Liverani and a group of friends successfully created Crew, a labour marketplace (recently sold to Dribble), Unsplash, an online community of adventurers and photographers and then Crew Collective & Café, a space in Montreal that’s part collaborative work space, part coffee shop, and part event space.

A Choice to be Made

But through all the hard work and dedication Steph put towards growing Crew and starting Unsplash, something was off.

I hit a point where I felt guilty about going to watch a movie. Click To Tweet

At the time, Steph was heavily involved with the management and growth of Crew and Unsplash simultaneously. “I remember waking up early, working till late, and then getting home and feeling guilty about wanting some time for myself,” she continues, “I needed a change.” The change came when the team decided to sell Crew so they could focus on one business. The byproduct of this decision also helped Steph maintain a healthier work/life balance.


Finding Her Focus

Since deciding to focus on Unsplash, Steph has put an emphasis on becoming more mindful. “Self-reflection is very important,” says Steph. “It helps you be more comfortable with yourself. And the more comfortable with yourself, the more reassured you’ll feel,” she continues. Steph does a lot of her reflecting while walking her dog. “We walk our dog four times a day, but being in the natural elements is also healthy for me,” she says.

Whether it’s visiting with family and friends, checking out a movie, or taking her dog out on a hike, as Unsplash continues to grow, so will Steph while remaining focused on what makes her happy.


Steph’s Questions for KYŌ (App):

  • Why do I feel this way?
  • Am I being fair to myself?
  • What does happiness mean to me?

Photos: Unsplash

Peace & Freedom with Jade McQueen

Jade McQueen integrates mindfulness into every day by making time for it herself and by incorporating it into what she does with her career. As the managing director of media and entertainment at Box, an enterprise content management platform, Jade gets to work in the most collaborative industry; entertainment. She works with music, television, gaming, sports and more. “We’re impacting creative work,” she shares as she explains what Box is. “We’re giving creative work the means to happen faster and securely.” Jade shares that there is a lot of mindfulness behind what she does because Box allows creatives to focus on what matters: creating. “My mission is to help creators out there not worry about technology and get to their best work. That’s what I do.”

Mindfulness at Box

“Box is the kind of company that allows you to be yourself.” Jade explains that at Box, when you walk into work, you have ownership over the role that you play and can apply your own values. She explains that doing the work you want when you want is where mindfulness plays a strong role. She wants the people she works with to understand, “It is not about getting the work done with you suffering. It is about you learning through getting the work done.” She believes having this kind of mindfulness with your work supports both personal and professional growth.

'Box is the kind of company that allows you to be yourself' Click To Tweet

Peace is Freedom

Jade shares that the most important thing to her is freedom, and freedom to her is being able to “tap into a place of peace where I have created – whether it’s mental or physical – a safe haven.” She continues, “Mindfulness to me means creating the space in my head, and the material and physical space around me, in order for me to have peace.” Because working with entertainment and business can be very stressful, Jade explains how important it is to have a rock-solid foundation that you can always go back to.


'Mindfulness to me is not just creating that space but constantly reinforcing that space.' Click To Tweet


Journaling En Route

For her career, Jade travels a lot. “I travel so much, so where I go has to become home.” She explains that she’s a big believer in becoming part of the environment you’re in rather than just being a visitor or foreigner to that place. One way she gets grounded in new places is buying a journal for every country she visits. “I use plane rides to allow me to just dump everything that I’m feeling because there’s no distraction.” She continues, “I find myself being able to get all these things out of my head and on to paper so that by the time I land, I’ve already been able to clear my head and I’m ready to take in the atmosphere of the place I’m in.” Writing allows her to ask herself questions about what is going on in her life, giving her a chance to evaluate if she’s telling the same story again and again. “I constantly challenge myself to think different. I’m a big believer in changing my own story.” By giving herself time to find freedom and to journal to feel grounded, Jade is able to incorporate mindfulness into her life every day.

'I am not my circumstances; my story can constantly change.' Click To Tweet

Jade’s Questions for KYŌ (App):

  • What does today mean to me?
  • What are you most grateful for?
  • Am I telling myself the same story?

Photos: UnsplashBox

Taking a Personal Inventory with Joe Burton

Joe Burton lived a busy, cluttered life with a focus on driving his career forward and climbing to the top. His success in the world of business is what aided him to build his own company from scratch, but it was realizing his financial-focused career lacked purpose that inspired an idea. It’s never too late to start over, which is exactly what Joe Burton, the founder and CEO of Whil Concepts Inc, did. Whil is the leader in digital wellbeing training. They help employees reduce stress, increase resiliency and improve performance with programs based in science, mindfulness and positive psychology. As somebody who once lived his life focused on everything but his mental well-being, it took a lot of self-reflecting and learning to get there.


Mental Well Being > Physical Well Being

Joe Burton is naturally a type A personality. With a drive to win and a focus to be the best of the best, he worked for years in the professional services industry climbing to the top. But by doing so, his life was passing him by. As a global COO, he was travelling from country to country. “I’ve worked in 50 to 60 countries,” he explains. “I flew in, I worked late, I went to my hotel, I worked late, I flew out.” He was missing out on a lot of what life had to offer, and working so much was taking a toll on his body. Joe realized that stress and a lack of mindfulness was causing a lot of his physical pain. Recognizing that his mental well-being was just as important as his physical well-being was a huge turning point in his life, leading him to resign from his position and begin a journey towards mindfulness.

I want to enjoy my life. I want to create and build things. I want to savour and love what I’m doing. Click To Tweet

Asking Important Questions

Joe found himself drawn towards people who, like himself, had a connection to the corporate world but had dedicated themselves to becoming trainers in mindfulness and meditation. He took courses about stress, resiliency and how to sleep better and began to journal. He began by writing about what was going on with his life, what his challenges were, what was important to him, how he felt, etc. Joe shared the importance of asking yourself, “Who are you now and who do you want to be?” and “What are three things you stand for?” Asking yourself these kinds of questions allows you to evaluate where you are in your life versus where you want to be, something that proved very beneficial in Joe’s life.

Practice with Intention

One of the things that worked well for Joe was guided practice and practice with intention. As a former athlete, Joe recognized how the repetition of techniques is what helps develop skills. “That’s what we work on creating a Whil. How do we create learnable, repeatable skills for your average stressed-out professional?” Joe continues, “One of those repeatable skills is the art of journaling.” He shares that journaling is a technique that calms and focuses the mind so you can actually get something done.

I look at journaling as the life skill that you can learn and that is repeatable. Click To Tweet

Taking a Personal Inventory

Joe Burton discussed the importance of knowing where you’re starting from by taking a personal inventory. In order to live a mindful, fulfilling life, he suggests you start by asking yourself questions like, “What do you stand for? What are the three things that define you at your core? Who are you?” and comparing it to, “Who do you aspire to be? What kind of life experience do you want to be having?” Acknowledging that you are not where you want to be is the first step to getting there.

You have to understand where you are and where you want to go. Click To Tweet

Three Steps of Mindfulness

“Mindfulness meditation practice for yourself is wonderful, for other people it’s even better.” Joe shares how involving friends and colleagues in your journey towards mindfulness can make a huge impact. “Mindfulness meditation starts within”, he begins. “Then you take the next step outside of yourself with journaling, writing, exploring and thinking through issues.” He shares that the last step is to take mindfulness with you into your conversations and relationships, in order to bring it all to life.

Joe’s Questions for KYŌ (App):

  • Who are you?
  • What do you stand for?
  • What are three things that define you?