Category: Conversations

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Find Your Sauna with Greg Isenberg

In today’s corporate world, very few people can call themselves a serial entrepreneur or investor. But for Greg Isenberg, current founder and CEO of Islands, that’s exactly what his life has been to date.

With a focus on consumer products, Greg has spent his life creating marketing and social media campaigns for some of the biggest brands in the world, creating Wall Street’s most popular stock market simulator, investing in early stage startups, and building remarkable digital products – many of which have been acquired.

Most recently in 2012, Greg was founder and CEO of a startup called 5by, a startup that gave consumers a simple button to push to retrieve the most popular videos on the web. By 2015, the company was acquired by StumbleUpon. “After the acquisition, I told myself I needed some time off,” he said. “I had been working since I was the age of 13 and I wanted to take a break and do nothing.”

'Being alone is underrated' Click To Tweet

The break didn’t last long. Greg had met a woman in Los Angeles who had a rare cancer. She had created a group of 50-60 people that would converse daily through email. “I tried to get them all on Slack thinking it would make it easier for them,” he remembered. “The entire group said it was too difficult to use and they couldn’t figure it out.” With that, Greg’s next entrepreneurial adventure began and Islands was born. The product is still in private beta but users can sign up to join the waiting list. The concept revolves around providing a de facto community platform for communication, much like the group the women in LA created to stay in touch.

islandsWhile being a serial entrepreneur and investor may sound glamorous, the pressure and continually having to be “turned on” can take its toll. When asked how Greg steps back from the daily grind or stays inspired, he noted, “Being alone is underrated.” After realizing he was getting a bit overwhelmed at work that day, Greg gave the example of starting his day with a walk in the old port of Montreal, listening to music – alone. “I even put my phone on airplane mode,” he said. Being alone allows him to regroup. “I also think nature helps a lot,” he added.

Like other interviews we have conducted, we often ask about meditation. “Depends how you define meditation,” said Greg. The point is valid. We often think of meditation as sitting, legs crossed, and chanting. However, meditation can vary be individual. For Greg, he doesn’t practice the traditional sense of the word, but rather has found his version in the form of Russian Bathhouses. “There’s this one I go to in San Francisco every time I’m there,” he said. “It’s amazing. You submerge yourself in the sauna and then do a cold bath that’s like 38 degrees.” The bathhouse offers Greg the opportunity to disconnect, but have both a mental and physical rejuvenation. “It’s one of my life hacks,” he ended.

'People need to find the things that keep them balanced' Click To Tweet

What’s your opportunity to disconnect?

At the end of the day, Greg does a great job summing up how many people are living and working today and why types of meditation and forms of journaling are so important. “While some people are fine with just being a cog in the wheel, others are working to optimize their lifestyle and do more with their lives,” he said. “People need to find the things that keep them balanced. They need to find their sauna”

 

Greg’s Questions for KYŌ App:

  • What am I worried about?
  • How am I spending my time?

 

Images: Marc Champagne

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Surfboards and Coffee with Mitch Martin

When you think about surfboards you probably don’t think about coffee. However, according to September Surf and Shaper Studios founder and partner Mitch Martin, there are more connections than you may think and that’s the basis for this surfboard and coffee shop combo in Montreal, Canada.

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We sat down with Mitch at his coffee shop and shaping studio to learn more about how his idea was born, where they are today, and where he finds his inspiration and motivation on a daily basis.

The Garage
Mitch has a history with surfing and grew up around it in Canada. One of his bucket list items was to shape his own board someday. He had several friends who wanted to do the same. In Vancouver, Mitch eventually started to shape his own boards in his garage with his friends. As they spoke to others about the project, they to wanted to shape a board. With that, Learning Curves was created. A space where people could come and learn how to shape their own boards. They charged members $75 to cover the costs of the space, tools and boards.

After an article in The Inertia profiling the project, Shaper Studios out of California reached out to Mitch. The company wanted to expand into Canada and having similar business models asked to partner with Learning Curves. He accepted and with a small cash infusion took the operation out of the garage and into an official studio space.

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Montreal Bound

Fast forward to today, Mitch has now taken the Shaper Studios concept to Montreal where he knew there was a growing surfer community. September Surf, named after the Hurricane Season when surfing can be ideal, offers visitors a place to hangout and be social. Mitch explained, “it’s like a constant party but without the alcohol.” Originally, the shop was more focused on retail, but he saw more of a demand for food and coffee. “Business models have to be able to mutate and change,”  noted Martin.

'Believe in the idea enough and people will support it' Click To Tweet

When asked what the relationship is between surfing and coffee, Martin explained that surfers notoriously hit the waves very early in the morning a time when coffee is on most people’s minds. Also, when you get out of the surf, especially on the east coast, you’re freezing and coffee is a way to warm up.

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Our Community

When asked what the main theme that kept surfacing when it came to surfing and coffee, Mitch had one simple word: Community. When it came to shaping boards, people inherently brought friends and made friends throughout the process. The same can be found at the coffee shop. He also compared the time that people go to get a coffee as their meditation or tranquility. Similar to how someone may journal in the morning. “I think everyone has some pretty chaotic days and going to get a coffee for 10 or 20 minutes, even an hour, is an opportunity to do something for yourself.”

September Surf Mitch Martin

When it comes to Mitch himself, he fully agrees with taking care of oneself, especially when it comes to owning a business. “I spoke with someone recently who owns a few bars and he made a good point. Your business is a reflection of yourself. So if I don’t take care of myself and I feel like shit, then so will the business.” Mitch says that getting to the gym and exercising helps a lot, while also focusing on some meditation and even journaling. One of the most important things to remember when it comes to caring for yourself? Mitch says it’s being able to turn everything off. When I go to bed, I turn my phone to airplane mode.

With everything, it’s a learning experience when it comes to a new business and trying to balance it with a personal life. So what’s the one thing you should do? “Take it just one day at a time,” he says. “Focus on what’s in front of you, realize you have a choice on how you react to things, and try to stay grounded. When things get stressful, just have a coffee and talk to a friend to destress.”

'Focus on what's in front of you and realize you have a choice on how you react to things' Click To Tweet

Your Goals

In continuing on how someone can work to better take care of themselves, Martin also emphasized a process of setting three goals for himself each day. While the goals are less about daily tasks or chores, they are a way to organize his day and have it feel less chaotic. He provided examples of some of those goals, which included being more mindful, staying hydrated and even cleaning his car. “It’s amazing how well you feel just by making sure you’re drinking water and cleaning my car is like an hour process so I need to plan ahead around it.”

In closing, the journey Martin has taken across Canada and combining two businesses many would say don’t belong together is nothing short of amazing. Though stressful and crazy at times, his focus on being healthy, mindful, and inspired has lead him to creating a vibrant and passionate community. So what are the key questions Mitch is asking himself today?

Mitch’s Questions for KYŌ App:

  • What are my 3 goals for the day?
  • How can I be a better leader?
  • Am I staying hydrated?

 

Images: Marc Champagne

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