Month: August 2017

Pursuing Your Passion With Alex Castellani

Boxcar Social is a fusion between a café and a bar. All six locations across Toronto offer a social atmosphere where the staff is passionate about coffee, wine, craft beers, bourbon and scotch. Their mission is to “strive to create the most unique tasting experience,” and Alex Castellani has an important role in making this happen. As one of the four minds behind the creation of Boxcar Social, Alex has found a way to bring his passions into his work and be mindful while doing so.


Two Categories

So, what does Alex do? He shared that he wears many different hats. “It’s a tapestry of me being a teacher, instructor and leader.” While these titles sound glamourous, he explains that he is also working behind the scenes as a recipe builder and coffee taster and is involved in customer service as a food runner, dish washer and waiter when needed.

As for what Alex cares about, he broke it down for us into two categories: sensory experiences and people. Whether it’s taste, aromatic profiling, music, or the aesthetic design of something, Alex chases sensory experiences. He also cares about people, whether it’s teaching, front of house customer service, or managing people in a company.

'Sensory experiences and people. Those are the two categories that define my life.' Click To Tweet

From Vision to Reality

For the five years before Boxcar Social was created, Alex was involved in all facets of the coffee world. He worked as a barista, managed cafés, taught at the Canadian Barista Academy, roasted coffee for a company in Toronto and had a consulting company devoted to helping lay the ground work for new cafés by training their staff and designing their coffee program and the café itself.

Although he loved coffee, Alex wasn’t fully in love with what he was doing. “I was helping other people accomplish their vision,” he recalls. That’s when his now business partner came to him with the idea for Boxcar Social. “That’s when it was decided,” explained Alex. “Basically, once a vision was formulated of what that place could be and that I could use this project as an expression of things that I am passionate about… That was it.”

Continuing the Pursuit

Alex is wholly devoted to Boxcar Social and is passionate about his involvement in the world of sensory experiences. He envisioned a life where he loved what he did for work, and made it happen. “I crafted my work to be the thing in my life that I love to do… I own my work.”

The phrase, “my work is my life” doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing. Although many people don’t understand why somebody would continue to work at home, Alex thinks they’ve got it backwards. “I will go home after 12 hours of work and try out cocktail recipes, new craft beers, try wines… It’s natural for me to get home and continue that pursuit.”

'I have the personality to wholly involve myself into one single thing.' Click To Tweet


Slow Conversations

Managing six different locations and having so many different titles creates a busy work life. Rather than making time outside of work to slow down and be present, Alex uses his job as an opportunity to be mindful. He shares how he makes time to consistently sit down with his staff one on one to “connect as individuals.”

“I want people in my company to have a forum to express things safely. So, I take time to talk to them. I use it therapeutically for myself, as well, because so many times it makes me slow down and reflect a lot because they’re slow conversations. They’re not inquisitions. They’re about reflection.”

Alex appreciates the potential of having a slow, meaningful conversation. “I think these interactions with colleagues and staff force you to articulate ideas. When you are forced to articulate something, it makes you conceptualize it in a more focused way… It certainly makes you slow down, reflect, take time and articulate.”

'It’s wildly productive to slow down.' Click To Tweet

The Importance of Happiness

In order for Alex to be successful, he needs to feel energized, inspired and happy. “I have to love my job first. I have to be super passionate about what I do… If I’m not happy with my work it’s extremely hard for me to be happy as a person.”

Alex believes in the importance of asking yourself if you’re happy, because if the answer is no, then it’s time to reflect upon how you can change that.


Alex’s Questions for KYŌ (App):

  • What are you grateful for?
  • What makes you happy?
  • What energizes you?
  • Do you love what you do?


A Desire to Help Others With Jacqui Sinfield

Jacqui Sinfield is a Montreal based coach for adults with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). She is also the author of her award-winning blog “Untapped Brilliance” and the book “Untapped Brilliance: How to Reach Your Full Potential as an Adult with ADHD.” Jacqui always knew that she wanted to help people. When she was diagnosed with dyslexia, she had no idea that her condition would lead her towards helping others with similar struggles through coaching.


The Desire to Help

As a freshman in high school, Jacqui had to make the big life decision of which direction she wanted to pursue. “I had to decide quite early on what I wanted to do. I decided to be a nurse because 1) I like helping people, and 2) I couldn’t imagine sitting in an office day in and day out.”

Jacqui’s favourite part of being a nurse, and what she was best at, was communicating with others. “I realized I was good at talking with and interacting with people.” She thought, “Maybe I don’t need to stay in nursing to be able to achieve my goal of helping people. Maybe there’s something else I can do.”

I was just driven by helping people and spending time with people. That’s what my guiding star was. Click To Tweet

Discovering Potential

A turning point in Jacqui’s career was discovering that she had dyslexia. While she wasn’t being fulfilled by her position as a nurse, she realized she could still help others by incorporating her personal experiences of struggling with dyslexia. She then discovered coaching and made a choice to switch paths and help people with ADHD. “Although the two conditions are different, they are very similar,” she shared. “People would ask, “Are you psychic? Are you living in my head?” But I just knew intuitively what was happening.”


Personalized Support

Jacqui explained that what she does as a coach for people with ADHD is help them implement natural things to help their condition. Taking Omega 3, eating protein with every meal, exercising, meditation and journaling are some of the things she encourages.

“Everyone experiences ADHD differently… We really want to marry what I know works with people with ADHD with their personality, their type of ADHD, and their preferences so that they can implement all these steps in a really natural, effortless way.”


Everyday Writing

Jacqui writes every single day, and for her, it takes many different forms. What she likes to begin with in the morning is a “brain dump” to help her get whatever is on her mind onto paper. This ensures her head is clear for when she writes articles for her blog. She also makes time to reflective write, either at the end of the day or during her commute, and maintains a productivity journal.

It helps my mental health to write. Click To Tweet

Away with Worries

When asked what mindfulness means to her, Jacqui stated, “Being present as much as possible in the moment.” She recalls how she’s always been a worrier. “If I’m not being present in the moment, then I’m worrying and creating anxiety for myself.” Jacqui likes to write down all of her worries and concerns. “It’s almost like magic. If you write down all your worries, within 48 hours they will resolve. Either because you’ve taken action, or they weren’t as big as you thought, or because something in the universe rearranged itself.”

It’s almost like magic. If you write down all your worries, within 48 hours they will resolve. Click To Tweet

 Jacqui recognizes the power of writing and encourages her clients to keep journals, make lists, and write. She believes that the act of putting your thoughts onto paper helps to clear busy minds, release worries, remain present and maintain mindfulness.


Jacqui’s Questions for KYŌ (App):

  • What worked today?
  • What didn’t work today?
  • What could I do differently?


Photo by Breather on Unsplash





Exploring Mindfulness Through Tea With Jesse Jacobs

Samovar Tea is more than just another café or tea house, it’s a spiritual sanctuary where customers are invited to explore their senses and experience a time of mindfulness and conscious presence through tea. Jesse Jacobs, the founder and owner of Samovar Tea, spoke with us about his passion for tea and its connection to mindfulness.


Entering the World of Tea

Jesse began his mindfulness journey after realizing his corporate career was not bringing him true joy or fulfillment. “I woke up one day feeling overwhelmed by the machine I was a part of and the miniscule contribution that I seemed to be making,” shares Jesse. He realized that he was giving up hours of his life in exchange for a pay cheque. “That at some point became more painful than the security that it offered.”

Jesse was in search of something more fulfilling. When he decided to begin Samovar Tea, he wanted to incorporate mindfulness into the entire experience. This would help balance the creativity and expressiveness of his passion, while also maintaining all the variables that come with starting and running a business.

I see business as a canvas; as another form of art. Click To Tweet

Tea & Mindfulness

Jesse’s venture with tea is more than just running a business, it’s an opportunity to make a positive impact on other people’s lives. He realized the potential of tea from visiting Japan and Scandinavia; places where tea culture had a big impact. “The practice of tea in traditional societies is yet another pathway for personal development. That appealed to me as a personal path, a spiritual path and as something I can provide to the public.” In a modern world focused on work, consumption, and running along the treadmill-of-life that lacks meaning, Jesse thought, “Maybe the experience behind tea and the history of it has relevance to this day and age.”

I feel good about waking up every morning and delivering something that is genuinely helpful to people. Click To Tweet

 A Sensory Experience

To Jesse, mindfulness is “a practice of emptying the mind so I can be present in the moment” and “having as clear of a perception as possible to see the truth more clearly.” Jesse wanted others to experience life in the present moment, and realized he could touch people’s lives with tea by incorporating all five senses into his Samovar Tea locations.

Life is becoming more sensual because of tea. Click To Tweet

Sight, touch, taste, smell and sound all play a role. For example, walls are stripped from everything that isn’t essential in order to provide meaningful focal points, and seating is organized to offer a theatre experience, while other senses are awoken through the tea itself.

Jesse continues to live a mindful life by remaining present and incorporating thoughtfulness and creativity into his business and sharing it with others. In order to truly experience what Jesse has created, you’ll just have to visit Samovar Tea yourself!


Jesse’s Questions the KYŌ App:

  • What am I grateful for?
  • What are my needs?
  • What’s the one thing I need to do to move forward?
  • What’s the worst that’s going to happen?