Category: Conversations

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The Millennial Mindset with Kieran Mathew

Ambition is something that cannot be stifled in some people. These people often go on to create helpful and imaginative products and services. Or, in the case of Kieran Mathew, you use that ambition to fuel others to create, educate, inspire, and innovate.

The Person

Kieran is, at his core, an entrepreneur. To round out his qualifications you can add speaker, advisor to startups, and leading youth marketer who has been featured in many publications. Drawing on his university experience where he became deeply interested in marketing, he discovered that nobody knows the student market better than the students themselves.

 

“Nobody understands the student market better than students themselves.”

 

During our conversation Kieran casually dropped the figure that the average 20 year old sees about 15,000 marketing messages a day. Knowing this, and seeing the lack of conversions that should come with that many impressions, the idea was born that marketing agencies needed appropriate representation on campus in order to get their message across in a way that would increase conversions, brand loyalty, and recognition among students.

 

“I saw what young founders were going through and it didn’t scare me away, it actually made me excited to try and do it myself.”

 

The Idea

Amplify is “a full-service marketing firm which helps brands thrive on university and college campuses.” Amplify was born of necessity to create a network of students to help inform creative at big brands who have their sights set on the student market. Kieran noticed that brands were not actually talking to their consumers enough, especially in the student market. This disconnect was the catalyst for creating a close-knit group of people who could bridge the gap between the student market and the brands trying to reach them—a win-win all around.

Mindfulness

Kieran is no stranger to mindfulness practices. His grandmother meditates for five hours a day. He jokingly punctuates that with “and I slept 5 hours last night”. Though his busy schedule does not afford him five hours a day to devote to mental fitness, he takes the time whenever he is able to just be aware.He says that mindfulness or self-awareness doesn’t have to take 5 hours or even 30 minutes, but is just a matter of taking in what’s going on around you and internally, being present to it. As he scans the room, he makes note of the little details that might escape some and is conscious of what he’s feeling and thinking.

When asked what mindfulness means to him, he pauses thoughtfully before articulating “Mindfulness, to me, is just having an understanding of self and the present.” He elaborated sharing that “Mindfulness is being present to your thoughts, experiences, and feelings but understanding that they are not the self. It is looking internally to see that you are the unchanging observer of all.” Kieran likes to focus on the process of asking questions. When faced with a situation that is causing grief or stress or otherwise consuming too much mental energy, he will ask himself “What am I actually feeling and what thoughts are making me feel this way?” When you take the time to understand what’s happening, what the feelings mean, and what the triggers are, it becomes easier to isolate those feelings and further explore them at a later time through meditation.

 

“Meditation enables you to, in some cases, get to a state in which you are comfortable with those triggers”

 

On the topic of journaling, Kieran is aware of the stigma attached to that particular word and how it often evokes images of the young girl writing about her crush in her diary. His aim is to find unique ways to reframe the topic in ways that might change someone’s perspective on it.

When asked what a life well lived would look like to him, it boils down to three salient points:

1. Maximizing impact for young people — They are the future and their experiences and interactions will be what shape the next generation of leaders, innovators, and educators.

2. Shift the conversation from “Why this won’t work” to “How can we get this done” — Entrepreneurs often approach those close them with their ideas and more often than not the responses are “That won’t work”, “It’s already been done”, or “That’s very expensive”. Working around these questions to remove the doubt and negativity help ideas flourish in a supportive environment.

3. Being impactful in helping people execute their ambitions — Supporting not just ideas, but the process of building ideas, is key in the development of any entrepreneurial venture.

Kieran’s Questions for Kyō:

  1. What is actually happening?
  2. What am I feeling?
  3. What am I assuming to be the truth?

 

Follow Kieran’s journey : Linked In | Instagram | Twitter | Website

Check out what Amplify is all about 👉🏻 https://amplifysolutions.ca

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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

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.”

 

Resilience

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

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Unlocking Your Potential With Julie Billings-Nguyen

While most people define themselves by their achievements and what they do, Julie Billings-Nguyen, the co-founder and CEO of Odessa PR, does the exact opposite. She asks herself, “Who am I without everything that I’ve accomplished?” and strives to focus on her mindset, rather than focus on what she’s achieved.

 

“I’m trying to shift my mindset into being, rather than doing.”

 

Focusing on who she is rather than what she does helps Julie practice self-love and live authentically. Similarly, her public relations company, Odessa PR, is built on this unique perspective and approach to life. In the same way that Julie is focused on accomplishing goals in an authentic way, Odessa aims to do the same with their clients.

 

“Odessa follows entrepreneurs and founders through their odyssey of how they conquer victory.”

 

Be The Next

Julie is passionate about working with incredible, inspiring people and building a company that truly cares about the success of their clients. Unlike a traditional PR agency that typically focuses only on execution, Odessa is extremely strategic and aims to help people be the best version of themselves.

Odessa is mindful in what they do. Julie and the rest of her team regularly asks themselves, “How can we best serve our clients?” and “How can we move their business forward in an incredibly meaningful way?” Odessa’s latest project encourages people to #BeTheNext, go after who they want to be, and narrate that journey.

 

“I want to tell the stories worth telling.”

 

I said I could, I would, and I did

Julie was raised on the foundation that stability and security were extremely important. So leaving everything she knew in Australia to move across the world to New York City to begin her own company was a big change. How did she do it? “Have zero inhibitions,” she shared. “Ask yourself, ‘What would the decisions in your life look like if you had no limiting beliefs?’” Simply put, Julie believed she could do it, said she would do it, then did it.

It wasn’t always easy. “It’s incredibly hard to be an entrepreneur because you’re creating a world that doesn’t exist yet.” This is where mindful reflection comes in. When doubt, worry, and fear creeps up, recognizing those emotions and being mindful of how you act upon them is key. For Julie, practicing daily meditation, reflecting, and journaling helps her stay in control of her thoughts and actions.

 

“It’s important to catch your thinking before it becomes an action.”

 

The Power of Questions

Julie recognizes the power of asking questions. “The quality of your life relationships stem from the questions you ask people and yourself.” One question she often asks herself is, “Am I saying yes out of guilt or out of fear?” As social beings, we want to be liked and usually default to saying yes. However, Julie explained that if we don’t really want to do something or be somewhere, it’s better to say no if you’re not going to be truly present. Her newest mantra helps her commit to this practice every day:

 

“I protected my time and honoured it with decisions that would lead to deep happiness, intellectual and emotional fulfillment, and inner joy.”

 

Do You

There are countless tools, methods, and ways to practice mindfulness, but the most important thing is finding what works for you personally. Julie explained that she once tried to practice meditation and journaling very early in the morning, but failed again and again. She is someone who enjoys rising with the sun, so that just wasn’t for her. She explained, “Setting yourself up to fail is the worst thing you can do for yourself.” Instead, think about how YOU work best. Be honest with yourself and practice mindfulness in a way that makes sense for you.

 

“You are unique. You can’t copy someone else’s mindful practice.”

 

Julie’s Questions for Kyō:

  • Were my decisions today serving my vision and long term goals or were they a reaction in the moment?
  • Am I saying yes out of guilt or out of fear?
  • How can I unlock the potential of those around me to be the best version of themselves?

 

Photo by Patrick Tomasso on Unsplash

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Finding Fulfilment With Angela Percival

We all have challenges at work. For Angela Percival, those challenges sometimes mean life or death. As an outdoor adventure photographer for Arc’teryx, Angela has been scaling mountains, hiking along cliffs, and battling severe weather while capturing the perfect shot for over 13 years, and she loves what she does.

Doing What You Love

Angela moved to Whistler, BC from Australia and loves everything about the outdoors and being in the mountains. Although she went to school for graphic design, working for an outdoor adventure company made it clear that a desk job was not for her. She didn’t want to look at photos of mountain tops on her computer, she wanted to be the one taking them. So, she followed her gut, made the transition to photography, and pursued a career doing something she loved; being in the mountains, working with photography, and going on adventures.

 

“If you follow what you love to do, you can’t go wrong.”

 

Finding Fulfilment by Overcoming Challenges

Angela’s job is both physically and mentally demanding. Shooting mountain adventures like skiing, snowboarding, and ice climbing often means battling avalanches and working in freezing temperatures, but surviving is only half the battle.

 

“It takes inner strength to keep going. It takes mentally being in it and committing to it.”

 

As the photographer and team leader, there’s a lot in her hands, including the lives of her team. For example, when the weather conditions suddenly change for the worse, it is up to Angela to decide whether they should push forward and continue or turn back. While Angela’s job is incredibly challenging, both mentally and physically, overcoming those challenges is what makes it all worth it.

 

“If everything was easy, it wouldn’t have the same fulfilment.”

 

Preparing for Success

Angela shared that she is successful in what she does because of teamwork. “The people are key,” she explained. Surrounding herself with the right people who communicate and work well together makes all the difference. “I work with people I would hang out with anyway and get to go on adventures with them.” Angela also prepares for success by communicating expectations to her team before expeditions. Doing so means everyone is on the same page and working towards the same goal.

 

“I try to set us up for success at the beginning.”

 

Balancing the Intensity 

Angela works incredibly hard, but she also acknowledges the importance of balance. She incorporates mindfulness into her work by taking breaks from the intensity of her job to do enjoyable, light activities like running, biking, and skiing just for fun.

 

“I need to balance the intensity with something soul nourishing.”

 

Another way Angela is mindful of what she does is by using visualization. Although she’s big on photographing things in the moment, she also visualizes and plans some of the shots she wants to get beforehand to prepare her and her team. Along with visualization, Angela uses yoga and practices meditation with Headspace. She normally has a million things going on in her head, but slowing down and being quiet helps her begin her day not with a frantic, excitable energy, but a calm, collected sense of mindfulness.

 

“It doesn’t matter if you’re good at them, what’s important is you’re doing what you need to do for you.”

Angela’s Questions for the KYŌ:

  • Is what I’m doing today how I want to spend my life?
  • Am I spending time with the people that matter most to me?
  • Am I giving enough energy to them?

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Learning to Surrender With Lauren Toyota

Lauren Toyota used to define herself by her career, but when she lost her job, she began to question who she was. Through resilience and a new sense of self awareness, what began as a disappointment evolved into an opportunity, transforming her and her life for the better. Lauren decided to take her passion for eating vegan, cooking, and sharing recipes and make a career out of it.

 

“Now I can define myself by what I do… I’m aligning my career with who I am.”

 

Lauren creates authentic and engaging creative content on Hot for Food, a brand that focuses on cooking up vegan love by creating and sharing plant-based comfort food recipes. Her YouTube channels, social media platforms, and book “Vegan Comfort Classics” allows her to share the life lessons she’s learned, teach others how to eat and cook vegan, and connect in a meaningful way.

 

“I am a teacher and I am a giver. I always want to create stuff for others.”

 

The Power of Surrendering

When we experience things that we don’t like, we often fight it. This is what Lauren experienced when she was let go from her job, and it wasn’t until she fully surrendered to what was happening did she find clarity. In tough situations, Lauren’s immediate reaction is often very emotional and dramatic, but she’s learning how to slow down and recognize that although she can’t control what’s happening, she can control how she reacts.

 

“That’s what you’re in control of: How you’re going to react.”

 

When Lauren finally surrendered by letting go of her anger and resentment, she immediately felt better, both mentally and physically. Although it seemed spontaneous, being quiet is what helped that moment occur. “I’m not an expert,” she shared, “But I have moments where it goes quiet and then something amazing happens.”

 

Awareness of Your Inner World

Lauren finds clarity by maintaining an awareness of what is going on within her and around her. She calls it “having a sense of the inner world” while also “having a sense for how everything is interrelated.”

 

“Mindfulness is having an awareness of the connection between physical, mental, and emotional.”

 

Lauren maintains awareness with meditation, therapy, and eating a plant-based diet. She listens to her body and pays attention to what it wants.

 

The Benefit of Contrast

We can’t have the good times without the bad. For Lauren, contrast is essential for finding clarity and staying mindful. “When you’re angry, you want to feel harmonious. But you wouldn’t know that you want to feel harmonious unless you felt angry.” She explained that we must validate our negative emotions, then use them to recognize what we do want. By recognizing what you want, believing in yourself, and taking small steps towards it, anything is possible.

 

Lauren’s Questions for KYŌ:

  • How do I feel?
  • How do I want to feel?
  • How can I take small steps towards that feeling?

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Setting Boundaries with Davida Kugelmass

Davida Kugelmass spent most of her early life trying to please others. While studying psychology in university, she discovered a passion for healthy eating and exercise, and began to make lifestyle changes that positively affected her physical and mental health. After many people in her life began asking her, “How are you doing it?”, Davida realized she had something to offer the world, and, for the first time ever, did something for herself; begin a blog.

 

“You have the power to decide what your life looks like.”

 

About a year later, she decided to leave her job and pursue The Healthy Maven full time, growing her blog into what is now a multi-channel health and wellness platform that helps others “live healthFULLY rather than living for their health.”

 

Practicing What You Preach

There was a time in Davida’s life where she got too wrapped up in the extreme side of the health world and was not taking care of herself the way she was encouraging others to. “You can get lost in the wellness space,” she explained. “You’re supposed to live your life first, and health practices are supposed to be incorporated into that, not at the center of your universe.” The whole point of working out and eating healthy is to feel good and live a happy life, but if that’s all you’re living for, then you’re missing the point.

The Healthy Maven focuses on encouraging others to live fully, rather than living for their health, so Davida had to make changes. This meant being more mindful and setting boundaries.

 

Setting Boundaries

Another important element of Davida’s success is being aware of her time and taking breaks. Many people consider blogging to be a lifestyle that’s on-going all the time, but Davida makes a point of working regular, 9-5 hours and reserving evenings and weekends for herself.

 

“I need that division in order for me to feel like I have a sustainable business.”

 

Maintaining boundaries allows Davida to separate business and personal life, and make time for herself. “That’s my protected time that I get to do whatever I want with it,” she explained. Whether it’s working out, going for a walk, reading a book, or watching a movie, checking in with yourself and making time to relax is integral to a healthy lifestyle.

 

“You can be committed to something and also take breaks.”

 

Really Listening

For Davida, mindfulness is “really listening” to yourself. She often asks herself, “What do I need in this moment?” and gives herself time and space to reflect on what’s happening in her life. Journaling and meditating are a few ways to practice mindfulness, but Davida explained that it looks different depending on what you need in that moment. Sometimes it’s sitting down with her journal to write down her thoughts, sometimes it’s walking her dog or visiting the beach.

 

“Mindfulness is really taking the time to listen, slow down, and not rush through life.”

 

Mindful Spaces

City living can make it difficult to be mindful, which is why it’s important to find places where you live, or create spaces at home, that you associate with mindfulness and relaxation. Having rituals like using essential oils or lighting a candle can help create a mindful environment, but it is most important to create a space for relaxation in your mind. “The power of thinking is unbelievable. We can’t control our environment, but we can control the way we perceive things.”

 

Embracing Change

When we asked Davida what’s next, she shared that she sensed change was on the horizon, but was unsure what it would look like. Rather than fear the unknown, however, she embraces it; something that comes with living a balanced, mindful, healthy life.

 

I can’t predict what’s next, and I’m okay with that. Good things come from change.”

 

Davida’s Questions for KYŌ:

  • What are you passionate about?
  • How would you want to spend a Saturday afternoon?
  • What do you need right now?

 

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Following What Excites You with Andrew Colin Beck

Andrew Colin Beck is an illustrator and graphic designer who loves what he does and likes to think of himself as a visual poet. “Poetry is about finding ways to make language paint a picture and touch someone. Designers and illustrators are kind of like visual poets. We try to put images together or weave in different visual imagery to elicit an emotion or tell a story.”

 

“My favourite thing to do is create.”

 

Andrew also considers himself a nomad, both creatively and geographically. Whether he’s illustrating, creating comics, or playing music with his psychedelic rock band, Andrew loves exploring his creativity. As for geographically, while he used to travel the world with his wife and young son, he now works from home but explores local places for inspiration. “I like to be open to weird experiences,” he explained. “Usually, it’s enlightening and enjoyably uncomfortable.”

 

Disconnecting to Connect

As an illustrator, Andrew begins by sketching on paper, then uses a computer to look for inspiration online and create work in Adobe. When asked how he stays grounded while being surrounded by technology, he shared that he makes time for things away from the computer, like his family, his dogs, and his band.

Andrew enjoys connecting with others, whether it’s his family or strangers. When he’s not working, he makes a conscious effort to leave his phone at home, or in his pocket, forcing himself to observe his surroundings or talk with others. He also enjoys bringing his sketchbook with him to draw the people and things he sees, resulting in interesting conversations from curious onlookers.

 

Taking Time

A method Andrew uses to figure out what he really wants, whether in life or just in the moment, is “getting quiet with your own mind.” He has applied this to his life many times, from choosing what he and his band wanted to sound like to figuring out what an illustration should look like. He explained that the key is to slow down, get quiet, and take time to meditate and focus on what you’re trying to solve, create, or discover. “For anything that is real and worthy, you’ve got to get comfortable with the idea that it’s going to take a sincere amount of time.”

 

Follow What Excites You

Andrew attributes his success as an illustrator to following what made him excited. “The reason you’re only ever going to get good at something is if you put an extreme amount of time into it. So, the reason that some people are so good at what they do, is because they’ve chosen something that gets them really excited.”

Andrew also uses this philosophy on a more granular level when illustrating. He explained that he usually works with a piece until it excites him and he gets a genuine, emotional reaction. “When you’re getting an emotional reaction from your work, that’s when you can expect someone else will to,” he shared. “Other people can feel your love and passion for it.”

 

“That’s when work becomes successful; When people can feel the heart in it.”

Andrew Colin Beck’s Questions for KYŌ:

  • What really excites me?
  • How can I make my work really connect with people emotionally?
  • How can I balance all the interests and passions I have?

 

Illustration by Andrew Colin Beck

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Connecting the Dots with Andrew Beattie

Andrew Beattie is the co-founder of Ethos Magazine, a quarterly print magazine that focuses on telling the stories of people who “embrace new and innovative ways of doing business.” That means that Andrew gets to travel the world and interview some of the most progressive business leaders out there, energizing his love for what he does: connecting with others, linking people together, and telling stories.

 

“I feel like a travelling storyteller.”

 

Discovering His Purpose

When asked what led Andrew to discovering his purpose, he explained that it’s something he “sort of discovered along the way.” In fact, it took him a while to uncover what he enjoyed doing the most. He began his career working at an automotive industry start-up which, although he learned and grew a lot, led him into a period of unhappiness. However, these experiences helped him rule out what he did not want to do, leading him closer to what he did want to do. Eventually, Andrew landed upon a sweet spot that combined some of his favourite things – media, storytelling, journalism, books, and magazines – and created Ethos Magazine.

 

 

Telling Good Stories

Andrew enjoys working with his team at Ethos Magazine and likes the production process of putting together a print publication, but what he truly loves is speaking to new people and finding new stories. His favourite part about his job is interviewing people and “figuring out their story, listening to the journey they’ve been on, their accomplishments, their happy moments, their challenges, and how they’ve overcome them.”

 

“The people I meet is the best part of my job and the reason I got into the work that I do.”

 

 

Connecting the Dots

Andrew shared that something that motivates him to continue creating content for Ethos Magazine is the impact that telling one person’s story can have on another person. “We’re a lot more similar than we are different,” explained Andrew. Someone who is facing a challenge in one place may find the answer from someone who lives on the other side of the world. Andrew believes that the more stories Ethos Magazine can expose, the more people they can help.

 

“Our role with Ethos is to help people connect those dots and bring that network together.”

 

Moments of Mindfulness

For Andrew, mindfulness is regularly taking moments in the day to pause and check back in with himself. It’s important to maintain this kind of mindfulness practice so he doesn’t hit a wall. “You never know when you’re heading towards a burn out until you’re already burnt out. It can creep up,” explained Andrew. Thankfully, he has been able to avoid reaching this point. He shared that the most mindful he’s ever been is when he recognizes that it’s time to take a break for a good, hard reset.

 

“It is fine to recognize when you just need to stop.”

 

Daily Gratitude

One of the ways Andrew takes breaks is with writing. Whether it’s keeping lists, maintaining a quick, two to five-minute journal, or retelling some of the stories from his day-to-day life, writing helps him empty things he’s thinking about or wants to remember onto a page. The one thing that helps him the most, though, is writing down things he is grateful for each and every day.

 

“Keeping a gratitude journal has been the most significant change I’ve made.”

 

Andrew Beattie’s Questions for KYŌ:

  • What am I grateful for in this moment?
  • What do I stand for?
  • What value will this add to my life? My family? My community? The world?

 

Photos: Ethos Magazine & MagCulture

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Waves Of Balance With Dean Petty

Dean Petty fell in love with surfing at a young age. He grew up on the coast of Maine, and after saving up for his first surfboard at the age of 12, surfing “quickly became an infatuation.” After graduating from Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, he chose to pursue surfing full time in California, but soon learned that having a one-track mind wasn’t for him.

 

“It wasn’t checking the boxes I thought I would check.”

 

Dean realized that by making surfing the center of his life, he was getting less out of it; it became more work than fun. He then moved back to Nova Scotia, where he felt more at home with the small, tight-knit surfing community, had a solid group of friends, and could work towards establishing balance in his life.

 

Pursuing Positive Vibes

Upon returning to Nova Scotia, an acquaintance (now best friend and business partner) asked him to work as a sales representative at Anchored Coffee, a direct trade coffee company that is “transparently sourced, carefully developed, and consistently delicious.” One thing led to the next, and Dean eventually became the co-owner of Anchored Coffee.

 

“It’s a wicked, fun business.”

 

Dean’s life is hectic and his schedule is busy, but he loves what he does. A lot of his time is spent connecting with cool people while fostering a positive environment with good, fun energy. He explained that if the vibe of where coffee is roasted is dreary, then the product is going to reflect that. “If everyone is enjoying their work, listening to great music, and happy with each other, then it will taste better.”

 

Waves of Balance

Dean loves to surf, but he recognizes the importance of balancing it with his other interests and passions. He’s learned to prioritize his to-do list and work hard when the water’s flat, so that when the waves are good, he can afford to take a break. But, since Dean is so dedicated to his work, it’s sometimes hard to put it aside without feeling guilty when great waves suddenly appear.

 

“I’m learning to be okay with telling myself, “That doesn’t need to be done.”

 

Although surfing is fun, fast, and exciting, it forces Dean to focus, be present, and accept things as they occur. It can take a while to gain your balance, finally catch a wave, and surf with confidence. Then suddenly, the wind and ocean can change, and you must start all over. But just like everything else, if you truly love it, you keep trying.

 

“It’s never the same thing twice. It’s ever-changing. It’s a parallel for life.”

 

Whether he makes a good turn while surfing, or something finally comes together with his business, Dean loves what he does because of these moments of success. “It happens in surfing and it happens when things are running smoothly in the business. Those moments are what I live for.”

 

“I like the balance of having other things I can feel proud of.”

 

Lowering Expectations to Find Balance

One thing that has helped Dean find balance in his life is lowering his expectations. He’s accepted that to find joy in multiple areas in his life, he can’t focus or be the best at only one thing. “You have baskets and you have stones,” explained Dean. Equally distributing his stones – or his time and energy – amongst different “baskets” in life has allowed him to enjoy, care about, and succeed at multiple things.

Dean’s Questions for KYŌ:

  • Is this change going to make me happy?
  • Is my energy and time worth it?
  • Is this going to lead to more balance?

 

Photo by Tim Marshall on Unsplash

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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?

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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?

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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?

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Respecting Your Boundaries With Frank Chartrand

Frank Chartrand is a product designer for Headspace, a mindfulness and meditation app. Originally from a small, rural town in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada, Frank often felt like it was an uphill battle to find his place. After beginning and running his own digital agency for many years, he began to feel directionless and needed a new tool to deal with stress from the daily grind of his demanding job. Once he discovered Headspace and began to meditate, he became more aware of himself and those around him. Eventually, he was offered a job as a visual and interaction designer at an agency in San Francisco, California, and, as the saying goes, he decided to “go west” and make the move. Soon after, he made the switch to work at Headspace in Santa Monica, where he now gets to combine his love and passion for design, meditation, and mindfulness.

 

“I’m a designer at work and in my free time. It’s more of a calling than a job.”

 

An Introduction to Meditation

Frank was introduced to Headspace at a time when he was struggling to manage the stress and long hours at his own agency. Initially, he was quite skeptical of the idea of mindfulness and meditation as being a feasible solution to struggling with balance. But, after using the app a few times, he realized it was helping him in all areas of his life including sleeping better, being more creative, and having more drive. Practicing meditation also showed Frank how to live mindfully and be aware of the moment. Headspace opened his eyes to multiple approaches for living a fulfilling and authentic life.

 

“The better you get to know yourself – the good, the bad, the ugly – the more effective you can be in life, the more genuine you can be as a person, and the most real you can be for yourself.”

 

Respecting Your Boundaries

When it was time for Frank to make the transition to a new city, how he made the move was “a testament to mindfulness.” Frank was aware of what would make the most sense for him. Rather than getting on a plane and suddenly landing in a foreign place, he and his fiancée decided to pack up a truck with their belongings and drive across the country to slowly transition into their new home. “We respected our own boundaries and how we wanted to do that.” Similarly, while many people in LA are constantly on the go, moving from place to place, and travelling, Frank recognizes that this lifestyle isn’t for him. He believes that it’s okay to be “ineffective once in a while” and doesn’t worry about what others are doing. Instead, Frank lives mindfully by maintaining self-awareness and accepting what works for him.

 

“I’ve learned to respect those boundaries. It’s okay not to feel that desire.”

 

A Sixth Sense

Frank shared that practicing meditation leads to a more mindful, aware life. “Mindfulness is this idea of being a bit more aware. It’s self-awareness and awareness of others.” By practicing daily meditation, Frank can slow down and become more conscious of his surroundings, of his own thoughts, and of what others may be going through. Whether it’s recognizing that you need to take a break, noticing people hurry past you during rush hour and stopping to let them by, or slowing down during an argument to ask yourself, “Where is that person coming from? What are they dealing with today?”, meditation helps you have a deeper awareness of what’s going on within you as well as outside of you.

 

“Having that sixth sense is like a superpower to go through life with; To be a bit more awakened to what you’re going through and what others are going through.”

 

Self-Awareness

Being self-aware, recognizing his boundaries, and asking “What’s the best day I’ve had in the last month?” helped Frank realize exactly what sphere he wanted to work in. He found that being lost in his work and focused on craft and design with minimal distractions was his ideal day. Now, Frank gets to work at Headspace as a product designer and merge his two passions: meditation and design. This was no happy accident. Frank shared that it was intentional and happened because, by living mindfully, he accepted who he was and recognized what he wanted for his life.

 

“Be very real with yourself and what makes you tick, what gives you the best day and best week. Hopefully those days lead to months and years and a life that’s fulfilling.”

 

Practice, Not Perfect

Unlike physically working out, where progress and immediate changes can be seen, working on and building up your mind’s strength takes time. “It’s a little bit harder to see those changes in your mind,” explained Frank. He also shared that sometimes, he misses out on his daily meditations but reminds himself to call it “mindfulness or meditation practice, not meditation perfect.” Whether you practice mindfulness through reflection, meditation, or journaling, it’s important to remember that it’s a practice and a process. The beautiful thing about meditation is that once you’ve started, it will only get easier, more effective, and more beneficial.

 

“Every time you go back to meditate after a break, you don’t have to climb a big mountain or take a big jump to get back into that state… Focusing on mindfulness in general for a portion of your life means there’s some skills you’ll take away that stay with you forever.”

 

Frank’s Questions for KYŌ:

  • What do I want to achieve today?
  • What’s the best day I’ve had in the last month?
  • Where is that person coming from or what are they dealing with?

 

Illustration by Headspace

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Practising Acceptance With Rosa Park

When asked who she is, Rosa Park, co-founder of travel and style magazine Cereal Magazine, responded, “I believe that everything in life is in flux, so who I am is constantly evolving.” She believes that because people are always learning and growing, “Who you are should not remain static.” Growing up, Rosa lived between Seoul, Korea – where she was born – and Vancouver, Canada. Upon graduating from school in Boston, she moved to New York to work for five years in fashion and beauty marketing. After feeling stuck and ready to discover something new, she moved to Bristol, England to complete her masters. That’s where she met her partner in life and partner in beginning Cereal Magazine. She now lives in Bath, England, where she pursues her passions, meets with inspiring people, and curates content for Cereal.

 

“A few things that are very important to me are the relationships to the people in my life and the work that I do.”

 

The Ebbs & Flows of Life

For Rosa, what she does for work is just as important as her personal life. “Most of us spend most days at work. So to say that work isn’t that important seems counterintuitive.” Rather than striving for a daily balance between work and life, Rosa aims for an overall balance. “I don’t view it as, “Do I have work-life balance today in this very moment?” It’s more like, “Will I be able to achieve that at the end of my life, whenever that might be?” Sometimes work dominates your life, like when Rosa was invested in beginning Cereal Magazine. Other times, you’re more invested in your personal life. What matters to Rosa is that at the end of it all, she is content with how it all worked out.

 

“Life ebbs and flows… It goes back and forth, and you ultimately achieve your balance at the end of that.”

 

No Expectations

Rosa calls herself a realist, and as a realist, she tries to live without expectations. Having no expectations means she won’t be let down, and it is this attitude that propelled her forward in pursuing the creation of Cereal. While she was fully committed, and poured her heart and soul into the project, she would also be okay if it didn’t work out. “People seem to not like to use the word failing… but there’s nothing wrong with failing,” she shared. Thankfully, Cereal Magazine was a success, and recently released its fourteenth volume.

 

“The only time failure is not a good thing is if you fail to learn from that situation.”

 

Acceptance & Resilience

Rosa’s ability to live without expectations comes from the importance she places on acceptance. She strongly believes that if something doesn’t work out, you move on. “Most things in life are like the Yin and the Yang. You’re experiencing it all and rolling with the punches.” Rosa’s view on acceptance was truly tested when she was forced to leave England due to her Visa not being approved.

 

“It tested my ability for resilience and positivity.”

 

Accepting things as they occur doesn’t mean you can’t do anything about your situation. Instead of wallowing in her sadness, Rosa chose to accept the situation as it were, and used her time in America as an opportunity to gather content for her magazine, reconnect with friends, and learn from her experience.

 

“It’s planning as much as you can and being prepared, but also willing to acknowledge that some things are out of control and you have to accept it and keep moving forwards.”

 

Connecting With Others

Rosa has recently begun attending mindfulness retreats and plans to do so once a year. She likes to think of it as a mental detox. “So many people spend hours at the gym for their physical health, and yet, why don’t people spend the same amount of time caring about their mental health? Mental health is something that you have to work on.” Along with meditating, Rosa also reads and spends time with people to disconnect and take her mind off things. With Cereal Magazine, Rosa gets to connect with and meet all kinds of incredible, inspirational people.

 

“I’m constantly meeting people from all walks of life and different occupations. I’ve met some people that have really made me feel appreciative of what I do.”

 

While Rosa gets to spend time with impactful individuals through her work, she stresses the importance of having people within your personal circle who you can candidly talk to without a filter. Rather than just writing, she exercises mindfulness by talking through things with her family and friends. She often asks herself:

 

“Who in my life can I just bare my soul to without receiving any judgment and just support?”

 

Rosa’s Questions for KYŌ:

  • Who are the people that are important to me?
  • Am I proud of the person I am when I go to sleep at night?
  • Where is my life headed to in the next year?

 

Photography : Rosa Park

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Creating Mindful Experiences With Meghan Godin

After graduating from design school and working as a user-experience and product designer in New York City for many years, Meghan Godin decided it was time to go try something new. She knew she wanted to start something of her own, but was not quite sure what that was. After moving to live by the water in Northern Michigan for a summer to reflect and rediscover conscious living, her path became clear. With a passion for mindful living, intentional design, thoughtful conversation, and creating spaces where a sense of community can thrive, Meghan began Some_____Things, a mindful, design-oriented company dedicated to helping hotels, retailers, and makers evolve their businesses through creating authentic environments and memorable experiences.

 

“Something that defines me is this notion of inclusivity and bringing people together in really intentional and thoughtful ways.”

 

Living By The Water

Taking a break and living by the water positively impacted and inspired Meghan in a big way. “I think the water in general has such healing properties,” she shared. “Especially if you just need to get thoughts out and think clearly.” While Meghan was collecting her thoughts and organizing her mind, she discovered multiple mindfulness practices that helped her to do so. She consistently journaled and wrote, as well as meditated and practiced yoga daily. Meghan shared that mindfulness allows you to “put intentions into the universe and see it come to fruition in interesting ways.” Living this way gave her a fresh perspective on what she wanted to do and how she wanted to live her life.

 

“The universe speaks to you when you’re tapped into finding your path and journey.”

 

Innovating, Creating & Designing

Megan began to ask herself questions like, “what would be an ideal job for me? What would be the ideal business that I would want to create? How do I want to live?” She also paid attention to her love for travel, hotels, retailers, and small, mindful brands that have a story to tell. Shortly after, she came across a book of poems called, “Some Natural Things” which inspired the idea for Some_____Things. With Some_____Things, Meghan gets to develop brand stories and evolve experiences for people and businesses while innovating, creating and designing mindful environments and products.

 

“It’s wonderful to see how design can play into any environment.”

 

Creating Mindful Experiences

One of the most important elements in creating an inviting atmosphere and mindful experience for guests is incorporating all the senses. For example, scent reminds people of places they’ve stayed and music can alter the mood of an environment. With hotels, Meghan immerses herself in the location’s culture to get an understanding of how to convey the nature of the place. Her goal is to make people feel as if they have learned something new. “You can tell if people feel light when they walk in.” Meghan loves what she does and is grateful for the opportunity to be able to create experiences and influence them with her own unique tastes and her passion for mindfulness, often without many limitations.

 

“I’m going to influence it in the most intentional ways because that’s my heart and my soul.”

 

Reflection, Patience & Compassion

Meghan uses journaling to check in with herself and plan her day. After waking up, the first thing she does is reflect on three things she is grateful for then writes down her intentions for the day. This helps her stay organized and prioritize her to-do list without overwhelming herself. She then takes five or ten minutes to meditate before beginning her day.

She expressed that as an entrepreneur, it’s easy to become very self-focused. Through living mindfully, and incorporating mindfulness into what she does, she has learned how to be patient and have compassion for others. While looking out for yourself is important, she shared how important it is to also ask yourself, “How can I make sure that I’m also doing for others?”

 

Meghan’s Questions for KYŌ:

  • How am I helping those outside of me?
  • Is this in line with what I truly want to be doing?
  • Where do I see myself in three months? Six months?

 

Photography by 1 Hotels