Month: June 2018

Creating Space For Your Mind With Mikael Cho

Mikael Cho is a prolific entrepreneur and the CEO of Unsplash, named by Forbes as one of the world’s leading and most active photo sharing sites. 

Mikael believes that his self is best defined as “under construction” – that he (and perhaps all of us) have a core identity which is constantly in progress, constantly learning, and constantly curious. When Mikael started Unsplash, about five years ago, he had the impetus to, or rather, the opportunity to finally tap into his mindset – to truly question why he does what he does. You’ll find out that now, with all hands on deck, Mikael and by extension, the Unsplash purpose, is strongly defined. 

Coming from an educational background in psychology, Mikael relates starting a business to one big human psychology experiment; an almost perfect parallel against the basic methodologies in business. When constructing his vision and choosing which best practices to implement, Mikael didn’t only look at the success stories out there. He tapped into the very human basis of his team and his customers, took ownership himself, and went from there.

Unsplash is what Mikael calls a “Wikipedia for photos”; a beautiful collection of images that people can use and create with. Mikael started his career by working at a design agency where he immediately encountered issues deriving elements to create with; in particular, images to create with. Effective stock photos were hard to come by and creative licensing fees could be up to thousands of dollars. 

After doing their own photo shoots, Mikael decided, on a whim, put up the photos that his professional team took to share with the public domain. The first iteration took 3 hours; subsequently, they would put up 10 photos every 10 days, and they called it Unsplash. The domain they purchased cost less then $10, they went into 1st place on Hacker news on day one, and it’s been a rocket ship since. 

Last year, Unsplash was spun out and Mikael dedicated himself full time to it. The team now has 6 billion photo requests a month, with a 500,000+ (and growing) image library at present – and remember, they started with only 10 photos. 

They’ve also developed an Unsplash Chrome Extension, Mac Desktop App, iOS App and thousands of third party integrations to make great photography accessible to the world. This is all an extension of a project Mikael has created because he wants to push the positive impact of photography as far as possible; he wants people to be able to enjoy the creativity of artists, the world afar. 

How does Mikael and his team pace themselves:


“We’ve added multiple pauses throughout the year”


Defining Breaks

Mikael and his team work on a 6 week roadmap, then they take a week to pause and reflect upon that previous period’s progress. 

Seeing checkmarks and items crossed off a list, in Mikael’s words, can be fantastic for a team’s mentality and for their spirits. 

The feeling of being able to cross tasks off, during these regular sessions, and also and to go from there. 

Looking at the business based on a 3 month reflection and yearly recap also allows the team to focus on the long term, providing a counterweight to the day-day. 


“Feels like a pitstop, like when you’re going around a racetrack”



The approach is to move from discovery, ideation and then execution. During the first week, Mikael and his team re-centers. They ask why they are focusing on their current priorities and then filter through.

Everyone contributes during this progress. They write into a common, shared document. They dissect, debate, and discern priorities as a result, through ample, week long conversation. 

People are able to take the time to truly align themselves with team priorities, then as a team, extending into early days of the second week, achieve that forward momentum needed to be successful. 


“You may be doing the right thing, but it’s just to get certain…when you get certain, it’s just a whole different feeling”


Taking the Reins 

If you ever find yourself on autopilot, mindlessly typing into a document, inputting into a process, then you should question if whatever you are doing, whatever you think you’re “focused” on, is really what you should be focused on. 

You must aim to establish certainty, to ground yourself, mentally, in a task and your role in executing that task. 

If you establish certainty then when you move into the execution stage, you can be clear minded and posed. 

Individuals as part of a team, independently doing this is important. But so is creating and maintaining a team environment that promotes open, honest discussion and discourse, which is dynamic and has the conversation move along as the tasks move along – this is exactly the space Mikael has established.


Mikael’s Questions for Kyō:

  1. What do I feel is the purpose of life?
  2. How do I achieve my purpose?
  3. In 10 years what does a successful life looks like?


For the FULL conversation and more insights into Mikael’s mental fitness routines, have a listen to the PODCAST!


Photo by Mikael Cho on Unsplash

Music: Waves – Joakim Karud

Auditing Your Inner Circle with Aaron Spivak

A serial entrepreneur, at 18 years old Aaron co-founded Revitasize, an organic cold pressed juice kitchen serving high quality juices, smoothies, acai bowls and a variety of vegan options.

In 3.5 years Revitasize has expanded to 7 locations throughout Toronto and the GTA.
Aaron also co-founded and recently launched Hush Blankets designed to help with sleep anxiety, insomnia, ADHD and more.

We dive into mental health, entrepreneurship and how to audit your friends so you’re surrounded and supported by the best people at all times. 

Follow Aaron’s journey @ehspiv

Revitasize >
Hush Blankets >

Music: Waves – Joakim Karud

Breaking Down “The Perfect Life” With Catie Fenn

Catie Fenn is soul coach, speaker, and transformational retreat leader. Her mission is to help others become the most vibrant, confident versions of themselves and live their best lives on their own terms by redefining success and learning to cultivate happiness from the inside out by tapping into their own inner wisdom.

Her background as a busy litigator gives her an unique perspective on how to incorporate mindfulness and presence into a demanding life. She created and leads the Circle, a community of women supporting and celebrating one another to step into their highest potential, and is an advocate for women’s empowerment and feminine leadership

Follow Catie’s journey @catiefenn
For her blog, retreats and more resources head over to :

Music: Waves – Joakim Karud

Going Beyond The Pose With Jenay Rose

Jenay Rose is a yoga teacher, thought coach, wellness influencer and mindfulness advocate. She spends her time bringing accent practices or the concept of mindful living into the modern world.

Jenay opens up on navigating career changes, mental health struggles and the world of wellness. We also go behind the scenes getting real about Yoga and how the stunning Instagram poses we all see are only a fraction of the practice.

Follow Jenay’s journey @namastejenay

Music: Waves – Joakim Karud

Indie Pop Artist Kirbanu on Creating From Within

Kirbanu is a world traveller, internal explorer and an Australian Indie Pop Artist weaving human experiences from despair to euphoria, into beautifully uncomfortable songs.

Through her music, Kirbanu takes people on honest journeys of self-inquiry exploring inner struggles, existential questions, change making, as well as celebrating this perfectly imperfect life.

Follow Kirbanu’s journey @kirbanu
For upcoming concert dates visit

Music: Waves – Joakim Karud

The Power Of Energy With Jill Wintersteen

Jill Wintersteen is the beautiful mind behind the quickly growing Venice based brand, Spirit Daughter. She was introduced to astrology and yoga as a teenager, and they have served as the foundation of her life for 20 plus years. Though she was drawn to these artistic expressions of wellness, Jill ended up following a more traditional path to become a neuroscientist due to her interest in the study of consciousness. While studying at John Hopkins, the opportunity presented itself for Jill to move to Venice Beach to study Chinese medicine, and that is when she returned to her true calling and began a practice of helping others to find grounding, peace, and their true path.

More great resources over at Spirit Daughter
Follow Jill’s journey @spiritdaughter

Music: Waves – Joakim Karud

Maintaining A Sense Of Purpose With Mark Wales

Mark Wales is the creator of Kill Kapture, a line of military inspired leather jackets, and the CEO of The Younger Heroes, a non-profit aimed at easing the experiences of veterans’ families. Mark believes that maintaining a sense of purpose is essential for attaining personal and professional success.

Mark developed an interest in the military during his youth spent in Western Australia. He can trace his interest back to the first images he saw of the British Special Air Service (SAS). What Mark saw in those images was his first glimpse at a sense of purpose. The men and women of the SAS represented hope, courage and freedom to Mark–from that young age, he knew what his goal was. He wanted to be a part of the Australian SAS.

Mark didn’t lose sight of that goal as he climbed through the military ranks. During his time within the military he had a very defined sense of purpose. Mark knew what he was doing, he knew why he was there and he believed that he was making a difference in the world.

After two tours of Afghanistan, Mark was ready for a change, however. He felt that he had done his duty and he was ready to take on a new challenge. He decided to apply the discipline and determination that he had developed in the military and apply these traits to the world of business. Mark’s hard work paid off; he eventually gained entry into a top American business school. From there he moved on to a job in the corporate world, at the highly-respected management consulting firm, Mckinsey and Company.

The ambition, work ethic and dedication that have pushed Mark to relentlessly pursue his goals throughout his life and led him to try his hand at other pursuits as well: he has been a contestant on Survivor: Australia and can now add fatherhood to the list of roles.

Here’s how Mark stays afloat with so much on his plate.


“Eat well, rest a lot, exercise a lot.”


Good Habits

Mark has developed some habits that ensure that he continues to optimize his daily dynamism.

Following his stint in the military, Mark was diagnosed with PTSD. His therapist outlined measures to aid resilience: eat well, rest often, exercise. Mark believes in these tenets and attempts to live by them.

He forces himself to wake up early, then he exercises to get warmed up for the work day. Mark believes in social workouts–he joins classes such as crossfit or boxing to keep his motivation up.

He bookends his day with healthy habits: he lets his body wind down with no screen time thirty minutes before bed.

He periodically takes time to check in with himself and asksf if he is on the right track. If the answer is no, it’s time to reassess and correct course.


“Take it in, have a think about things–prioritize thinking time.”



Mindfulness is something that Mark takes very seriously. To him, the concept of mindfulness means maintaining perspective. Mark has made the mistake in the past of being too hard on himself. He’s realized now that it’s good to take a step back and reassess; to be grateful for what you have and to ask yourself if you are doing something meaningful with the time that you have left.


“Have the discipline to do the little things that in the aggregate mean a lot.”



To Mark, resilience means having the discipline to do the little things that in the aggregate make a huge difference to your daily well-being and performance.

It also means maintaining a sense of purpose in your work and your life. If you don’t believe in what you’re doing, how will you see your way through the bumps in the road?

Finally, resilience means perseverance– Mark believes that learning to hang in there and not give up is a skill that trumps other qualities when it comes to attaining success.


Mark’s Questions for Kyō:

  1. What is the thing that you’re willing to go to the end of the earth for?
  2. What is the successful endpoint for this endeavour?
  3. What are the steps that I need to take to make this dream a reality?


Photo by Mario Purisic on Unsplash