Month: November 2017

Collaboration & Creativity with Brandon Harrar

Brandon Harrar is passionate about design, branding, and the process it takes to produce work for clients.  Although he enjoyed working in advertising as a media buyer & campaign manager, a lot of his free time was spent on freelance design contracts. Since he was spending so much energy on side gigs, he realized he could live a more fulfilled and mindful life if he grew his client base into something of his own. So, he took the leap to try something new, combining his creative passions with his unrelenting desire to build something for himself and began HRVST, a creative agency for growing brands that is passionate about collaboration and creativity.


“I felt like I needed to grow in a different way.”


The Process

Brandon is as passionate about design as he is about the process. “I really love business development,” he told us. “I love process and I love organization and efficiency.” From onboarding, to selling an idea, to executing work, to mitigating risks with a client, to handing off work, Brandon loves every step of the process. Paying attention to where his passions lay, and pursuing a career in that direction, was Brandon’s first step towards living a more mindful life. With a handful of loyal clients already by his side, and a passion for design and business development, beginning a company of his own just made sense.


“I love design and I love functional products that help people.”


A World of Opportunity

Beginning a creative agency was intimidating at first, especially with so many people telling him it was a saturated market. However, Brandon looked at the industry differently. Rather than dwelling on the negative challenges, he focused on the positive opportunities. He told himself, while there are thousands of creative agencies and freelancers, there are even more untapped businesses that haven’t been approached yet or don’t know what they’re missing out on. Plus, with the internet, language barriers and time differences aren’t limiting.


“Your client base is the world.”


Collaboration & Creativity

Brandon prioritizes growing a positive environment at HRVST. Maintaining a unique space where people can work collaboratively, creatively, and find inspiration — it’s the people that make the difference. “HRVST wouldn’t be what it is if we didn’t have a group of really cool, open minded, easy going, incredibly talented, amazing people.” Rather than counting down the clock until it’s time to leave, HRVST is made up of a small, but growing team of creative and hardworking individuals who appreciate and are mindful of one another. As part of a collective, members of HRVST care about the work they’re producing together.


Journaling to Forget 

For Brandon, mindfulness means “being aware of everything you have going on in your life, things that have happened, and things that are coming up.” Brandon uses project management systems like Asana to stay organized, aware, and, therefore, mindful. He also journals. “I started writing because I had so much going on that I needed to get it down on paper or on my phone.” Brandon journals so that he doesn’t have to physically remember certain, specific things anymore. It’s a way to let go and shut off.


“I journal and use project management systems to relieve myself of having to remember things.”


Although phones can sometimes be overwhelming with so much going on in them, they are also an incredible tool. “It’s full of distractions, but it’s full of even more possibilities and opportunities.” Brandon writes whenever he feels the need to get something out of his system and put something down, so having his phone on him whenever the moment arises helps him remain mindful. Journaling, whether on paper or on a mobile device, allows him to organize his thoughts and his life.


“You need a place for yourself, where you can put it all down.”


Brandon Harrar’s Questions for Kyō:

  • What’s the last thing you figured out?
  • What are the next 5 things you want to get done?
  • What would the people who know you well suggest you do?


Setting Intentions.

There is something about owning your morning and taking the time to set your intention for the day that is incredibly powerful. I’m speaking from personal experience but also drawing a conclusion from the 60+ KYŌ interviews conducted over the last 10 months. Intentions matter.

It’s very easy to wake up and immediately dive into work, messages, putting out fires, or as I define it,  jumping immediately into the chaos . The alternative doesn’t have to be a 2 hour morning routine but finding something that helps you “own” your morning can actually change your entire life. This could include many things such as a meditation, writing, exercising, breathing and so on. But one of the most important elements is to set an intention for the day.

What do you want to accomplish today? How do you want to feel? You can accomplish many things and feel like garbage doing it. I’m assuming that’s not your goal so don’t forget to include the emotion piece, that’s arguably the most important part!


“Owning your morning has the power to change everything.”


A Fun Way To Do This

The amazing people over at Unsplash recently launched Unsplash Wallpapers (Mac & Android App) which allows you to plug into their massive library of photographs. You can change you desktop wallpaper daily or multiple times a day. I’m not even sure if the Unsplash team realizes how powerful of a tool they’ve created! It’s not just a matter of saving time hunting the internet for that perfect image but more so that you can quickly hit “refresh” until you find a photograph that matches or helps set your intention in that very moment.

Do you select the energetic streets of New York to get ramped up for the day? Do you select that beautiful mountain sunset to stay calm and grounded throughout the afternoon? What about something inspiring while diving into creative work? Your decisions and emotional links are highly personal to you but just like we often select music to set our mood, you can easily include another one of the senses in the mix.

The key point is that you’re taking a minute to set the tone before allowing someone or something to set it for you.

Marc Champagne


Photo by Aidan Hancock on Unsplash

Compassionate Living With Leo Babauta

Changing one’s life often begins with changing little things first. For Leo Babauta, changing daily habits included eating healthier as a vegan, exercising, decluttering, and simplifying his life in order to feel balanced and renewed. “Once I figured out some things that worked with one habit, I started changing a whole bunch of different habits.” With a refreshed perspective on life and a new appreciation for mindful living, Leo began writing his blog, Zen Habits, and eventually wrote a book under the same name. He now strives to positively impact others through his work while living mindfully and compassionately.


Nurturing Positive Change

Leo is passionate about helping guide others towards a positive, healthy, and mindful lifestyle. Along with his blog and book, Zen Habits, Leo also creates online courses called “Sea Change” as part of his mission to help others find their path and change their habits.


“Mindfulness and simplicity are both at the core of all of that change.”


Leo is also working towards organizing live events and retreats where people “can get together and find the power of human connection to undergo transformation.” Leo recognizes the power of human relationships, and acknowledges that being open and honest with others can lead to the most profound kind of change in one’s life.


Shaped by Others

Leo acknowledges that who he is and where he is today is the result of many people. “I believe that we are all interconnected and we are constantly influencing who we are. And I believe that who I am is created by everyone who I’ve had contact with.” Rather than having an individualistic outlook on life, Leo encourages others to pay attention to, and give thanks to, those who surround us.

This philosophy is integral to everything Leo does. Since other people have positively impacted him and his life, Leo wants to do the same for others. Leo constantly keeps others in mind and often reflects on his own life experiences to connect with others and help them through their struggles.


“Connecting with people through a shared struggle and then helping them in a compassionate way really warms my heart.”


Shifting Your Focus to Serve Others

“One of the key things that I work with nowadays is helping people deal with struggles, uncertainty, and fear in their lives, and turning that into something joyful, grateful, and mindful.”

We often procrastinate or get distracted by our fears. Whether it’s a fear of failure or judgement, Leo likes to encourage others to think about who you’re serving, and the meaningful impact you will have on others upon completion of the task, rather than focusing on made up negative outcomes.


“If I’m not as self-centred (on fear) and instead focus on the creation that can help others, that’s a huge shift for me.”


Not only does Leo care about people, but, as a vegan, he is also mindful about “removing himself from contributing to the suffering of other beings.” Leo expressed, “for me, it’s an amazing way of life.” However, he understands that eating vegan isn’t necessarily realistic or desirable for everybody. Rather than pushing others to do the exact same things as him, he supports and encourages people to discover their own ways to make the world a better place.


Mindfulness & Self-Compassion

For Leo, mindfulness is “paying attention to what’s happening right now.” Leo aims to incorporate four main passions into his everyday life: meditation, reflection, creation and health. As a husband and father of six, it can sometimes be a struggle to include extensive exercises in each area, which is also where mindfulness comes in. Rather than being hard on himself for not following a strict regimented schedule, he practices self-compassion, allowing himself breaks and completing modified mindfulness exercises instead.

Self-compassion is something else Leo cares greatly about. If mindfulness means paying attention to the present, it also means paying attention to how we treat and affect others, as well as ourselves.


“Paying attention to right now is the door that opens to unseen worlds and amazing possibilities.”


Leo Babauta’s Questions for KYŌ:

  • What are we creating together?
  • Who am I serving?
  • What is my intention for today?


Photo by Ian Schneider on Unsplash


The Other Art Of Living With Sophie Trem

Sophie Trem is all about embracing the journey as much as the destination. After years of reading self-development books, exploring mindfulness practices, and learning from life experiences like being a mother of two, Sophie can now say that she has found her way. After working in fashion for a long time, Sophie launched her blog, The Other Art of Living, four years ago and began The Good Mood Class one year ago. She lives life mindfully and encourages others to do the same.


The Other Art of Living

By applying all the things she had read, Sophie began living a more mindful and fulfilled life. She would discover things that really stuck with her, then share those tips, tricks, and ways of thinking with her family and friends. She explains how it was a slow process getting to the point she is at now. “It goes step by step,” she explains. “You must try, fall, get up, and never be afraid to do it again.” Eventually, she began to share her ideas to a blog, and that’s how The Other Art of Living began.


“The Other Art of Living is about anything that contributes to a better life, and that’s what the journey is all about.”


Positivity for All

With the success of her blog and a desire to reach more people, Sophie began The Good Mood Class, a workshop designed to help others to live a fulfilled, mindful life.


“It’s a combination of how to balance the mind, soul and body.”


The Good Mood Class encourages simple but powerful basics that helped Sophie with her own life. These fundamentals include knowing yourself, nurturing positive thinking, and appreciating the power of now. Sophie emphasizes how important it is to begin by really getting to know and understand yourself so you can begin to distinguish what matters and what doesn’t.


“I started to think about what was essential to me. Now it seems so obvious, but at the beginning, I was really not aware, and it was so difficult to differentiate what was important or not.”


A Conscious Awareness

Through all of this, Sophie now understands the power of mindfulness and the importance of remaining present and consciously aware. “Being conscious is that little thing that makes all the difference,” shares Sophie. “Today, most people are not conscious about what they do, think, or feel. That’s often what leads to stress, anger, and pain.” By making the conscious effort to understand ourselves, we can better understand the world.


Clearing Your Mind

When asked what Sophie does to remain mindful, she said she incorporates The Good Mood Class practices, positive thinking, and chakra clearing into her regular routine. “Meditation and mindfulness is great to help make your mind clear and silent.” Sophie shares how important it is to keep a clear mind by explaining that too much information pollutes your mind.


“When you don’t think clearly, it unfortunately leads to the wrong destination.”


Embracing Change

Something so simple, but so important, is recognizing that if you want your life to be different, you must first change yourself. Whether it’s wearing something different or trying something new that you’re not used to, Sophie explains, “You can’t get somewhere else by taking the same path every day.” The key, however, is changing the way you think first. “Then you will see life differently,” shares Sophie. “It all starts in your mind.”


“I discovered what the universe was about once I was open to something different.”


Sophie’s Questions for KYŌ:

  • How do you feel right now?
  • What do you want? Why?
  • What do you do and why are you doing it?