Month: January 2018

Asking Why With Brad Kopitz

Brad Kopitz is the CEO of Artifact Uprising, an eco-friendly company that creates custom photo gifts to turn single moments into forever lasting memories. Whether it’s enjoying moments of reflection, or recognizing we’re all a part of something larger than ourselves, Brad often finds parallels between what he has created with his company, and with life. Right now, his biggest personal challenge is redefining himself. Less than a year ago, Brad was a fiancé and an employee, with hobbies on the side. But now he is a husband, father and a CEO. Maintaining balance has been a learning process for Brad, but getting to the core of “Why?” always keeps him going.


Integrating A Work-Life Balance

Usually, people don’t realize they need to make a changes until things become painful. Brad explained that he used to be a segmenter; someone who separated his work life from his home life. But giving 100% of his attention to each led to him burning out. “It was too intense all the time,” explained Brad.


“If you’re doing it all, all the time, then you’re probably not doing any of it well.”


Brad realized that your body and mind will tell you to “take a break and do something else” when it’s time to. He is now more of an integrator, going back and forth between the two. He had an epiphany when he realized, “You’re actually more present because you’re not tired of whatever it is you’re doing. You’re doing it for just the right amount of time.”


Reflection & Restoration

When Brad is taking a break from work, he enjoys visiting the woods and embracing the outdoors to reflect and “restore remembering what’s really important.” He explained that there’s a lot of power in simplicity, and when he visits calm, natural, uncomplicated places, it makes him feel small but comforted.


“You start to feel this connectedness to something bigger than yourself.”


Similar to these moments of reflecting on what’s important, Brad’s mission with Artifact Uprising, is to build products that remind people of their meaningful experiences in life and their important connections with others.


“Presence, reflection, and time spent can never be replaced.”


Comfort in Something Bigger

Brad recognizes how powerful and comforting it is to be a part of something much larger than yourself, and wants to recreate this experience for his employees. For a while, Artifact Uprising was about building a product, but now it’s more about the people he is building his company with. “My higher purpose is now providing the environment for my employees where they’re happy and feel present.” Brad wants his employees to feel inspired and comforted by the mission and support network that they’re a part of.


Asking “Why?”

Brad lives a busy life, but stays grounded with meditation, running, journaling, and reflecting by asking himself questions. He spends a lot of time thinking about the “Why?” behind all his actions and decisions. Brad believes that if you remind yourself why you’re doing something, then no matter what happens, you will be content with the outcome. In other words, “Assume you’re going to fail. When you fail, will you still be glad that you tried?”


“I can live with failure if the “Why?” behind it is correct.”


The Art of Movement

Brad also asks himself, “Is this directionally correct?” In other words, “Is this moving me closer or father from my goals?” If something is moving you closer to your goals, whether if it’s the fastest path, then it’s a step in the right direction. “If it looks like something that gets you excited, and it’s moving you towards something you want to accomplish, then go that way. Then if it starts to go horizontal, make another shift. That’s the art of movement.”


Brad’s Questions for KYŌ:

  • Why am I doing this?
  • Is this directionally correct?
  • If you fail, will you still be glad you tried?

Honesty & Design With Joey Cofone

When asked who he is, Joey Cofone explained, “I am curious and willing. I try a lot of things. A lot of things work, and a lot of things don’t. That’s what I like to fill my life with.” Luckily for him, one of those things did work. Joey is the co-founder/CEO of Baron Fig, a company that designs “tools for thinkers” such as notebooks, writing tools, backpacks, and more. While he believes that most things in life occur out of his control, Joey has several practices that keeps him scheduled, grounded, and equipped for success.


Designing with Truth

Joey has a hunger for trying new things and finds inspiration all around him. He often visits crowded spaces to people watch, or abandoned places to think about what once was.


“The whole world is amazing and can be inspiring. It depends on your mindset.”


Once Joey finds inspiration, his design process is all about honesty. He likes to pay attention to how he truly reacts to his work, rather than focusing on what he thinks about it. When creating, he asks himself, “Am I excited? Am I curious? Or am I disinterested?” Joey shared, “When I design, I try to pay attention to the truth of my inner self. Design is an introspective process.” This is what he calls “designing with truth in the moment.”


“I believe that honesty is key, and it’s at the heart of good design, good communication, and good life living.”


The Birth of Baron Fig

When Joey was in art school, he noticed that everyone had two tools: a laptop and a notebook. All the laptops were the same, but each notebook was different. He thought to himself, “Maybe there’s some perfect thing that everyone is searching for.” He had the idea to create a product line, but it wasn’t until his friend, and now co-founder, encouraged him by saying, “Stop thinking about it. Let’s do it.”  It took a combination of conviction, discipline, trust, and passion to create Baron Fig. While most people think leaving their job to try something new is risky, Joey believes that life isn’t about staying comfortable but rather pushing yourself and pursuing ideas.


“I think people are unreasonable in the way that they measure their risk.”


A Blank Slate

According to Joey, Baron Fig was the result of “a lot of serendipitous things coming together.” Joey believes that life is a combination of chaos and luck, and that we’re a result of our experiences. “We are born a blank slate, then that slate is filled up through our experiences, and those experiences are from external catalysts that we don’t have control of.” Thinking this way keeps Joey humble, and excited for the unknown future.


“You are a result of things you don’t have control of.”


Every Minute of Every Day

Joey’s daily schedule, however, is something he likes to stay in control of. “Every minute of my day from 5:45am to 6:00pm is scheduled,” explained Joey. He feels great when his day is meticulously planned, but he also doesn’t resist change when something unscheduled occurs. After six o’clock, however, his calendar is always left empty. “Free time is critical. There is no such thing as delaying your gratification, satisfaction or your chill time.”


“My chill time is planned by being unplanned.”


Practicing Discipline

Along with making time for relaxation, Joey also journals and goes to the gym. “It’s another way to meditate.” When he doesn’t feel like doing either, he forces himself to try because “It’s not always about quality; sometimes it’s about quantity.” Journaling and working out, like practicing any habit, is all about discipline. It’s better to do it a little bit, than to not do it at all.


“It’s more of the process than the result.”


Joey’s Questions for KYŌ:

  • What do I want to be better at?
  • What am I doing today?
  • When am I doing it?

Rediscovering Gratitude with Derik Lawlis

Derik Lawlis grew up around the outdoors and on weekends, he’d visit a lakeside cabin in the woods. “It shaped my childhood in a beautiful way. It’s so peaceful and engrained in who I am now.” Later in life, Derik made the switch from biology and health sciences to business, and began working towards his goal of reaching financial freedom. Eventually, Derik began to feel tired and unfulfilled, which led him on a mission to rediscover gratitude. His mindfulness journey allowed him to gain a new perspective on life, leading him to create Mindbliss, a meditation app for spiritual exploration.


“I lost touch of myself… I got sidetracked from what made me happy.”


Rediscovering Gratitude

After years of working in real estate, hedge funds, and commodities trading, Derik began to feel drained and worn out. It wasn’t until later that he realized the reason for feeling lost and tired was a lack of gratitude, not his job. “I was discounting the people surrounding me and the wonderful experiences I was having.” Derik became self-destructive, causing both his health and personal relationships to suffer. When a close friend pointed out that he was living in a toxic environment, Derik realized he needed a change.


“It was the lack of gratitude that made me so tired.”


At the time, Derik’s lack of gratitude was causing pain in many areas. “I didn’t appreciate anything I had. I needed to learn that again and reconnect with nature, adventure, fun, and playfulness.” Thankfully, he had an opportunity to move to Thailand for almost a year, allowing him to take a break and “reevaluate what was most important” to him.


A New Perspective

During his year abroad, Derik rediscovered gratitude, became more self-aware, and gained a more positive outlook on life. Derik explained that he used to think of the world as a mess, but now views the world as amazing, beautiful, and full of opportunities to help, serve, create, and play. With practicing mindfulness, meditation, and journaling, he also began to live more from his heart, rather than being stuck in his mind.


“I gained amazing clarity on how I wanted to live in the world.”


With a new perspective and an appreciation for gratitude and meditation, Derik began Mindbliss, an app focused on helping others relax, let go, and bring awareness into their lives.


Nurturing Joy

Derik recognizes that we are constantly bombarded by media and information. He believes that we need to be more aware of our “media diets” because “we are what we consume.” To combat the constant influx of information and addiction to technology, Derik looks for opportunities to get outdoors and play. Sometimes he will play in a park and swing around the bars, dance, or do yoga. Meditation has of course been a huge staple in his mental fitness routine and he encourages others to do the same. Finding the right balance with technology and using it for good, Derik can help others nurture both short and long term joy.


How Do You Meditate?

Meditation is different for everybody. It’s all about remembering “the basic need of taking some time for yourself.” Some people sit and breathe, others run or go fishing. For Derik, he returns to the lake from his childhood. Whatever it may be, if it brings you peace and helps you to exist “right now” in the moment, then it’s important to make time for.


Derik’s Questions for KYŌ:

  • What am I most grateful for right now?
  • How am I being of service right now?
  • How can I be more self-expressive right now?