Focusing on Your “Inner-net”: Life-changing Insights from an Inspiring Googler Named Gopi

Focusing on Your “Inner-net”: Life-changing Insights from an Inspiring Googler Named Gopi

Founders/Startups Personal Development

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Last week I shared a New Year’s post that suggested 5 books to read asap to prepare yourself for acing your goals and living your best life in 2017. One of those books was, “The Internet to the Inner-Net,” by Gopi Kallayil. Gopi is the Chief Evangelist for Brand Marketing at Google and, like many of us in the tech industry, lives a very fast-paced and high-tech existence. In the book, which is a collection of short essays, Gopi shares his adventures in, and lessons for, conscious, mindful living.

In a world in which the Internet is “always on” and clamoring for our attention, Gopi reminds us that, “ …the most important technology is right here, inside us. It is our inner-net, our brain, our body, our mind, our breath, our consciousness – the set of personal technologies that we carry with us everywhere.” His essays are inspirational tales chock-full of actionable ideas for “living consciously, living with full engagement and working with well-developed sciences, such as yoga and meditation…so that we can live in harmony and balance with the outer.”

The book covers topics from optimizing your time (and the myth of multi-tasking) to finding one’s meaning and purpose to the benefits of sleep, gratitude, yoga, and more. Two exercises to try immediately (I am only sharing two – buy the book here!):

1) 5 Essentials: These are the 5 organizing principles for your life. Figuring these out helps you best allocate your time and makes it easy to quickly say “no” to doing things that are nonessential.
2) 10 Things to Do with the Next Hour: If you had one extra hour each day, what would be the next one thing (up to 10 things) you would choose to do with it to maximize your quality of joy, presence and life?

Small Sacrifice for Big Impact

One of the essays in the book is called, “Ordinary People Can Have an Extraordinary Impact.”  In it, Gopi shares that one year he stopped enjoying expensive Frappuccinos and, instead, used the money to provide monthly loans via Kiva.org. I fell in love with the idea and adapted my own spin to it. As my purpose is to empower entrepreneurs and be a champion of diversity and equality in the tech/business worlds and beyond, I will be making one loan a month to a female entrepreneur chosen via Kiva. I plan to support female entrepreneurs in different countries across the globe, and my intention is to visit these women during my travels. Perhaps one day I will write a book telling their stories of courage, determination and hustle.

For my first loan, I chose to start here at home with Shawna, a mother of four, living in Cape Coral, Florida.  Shawna, who is a serial entrepreneur, is starting a new business that is very near and dear to my heart – it is called Furbabies Rescue and Doggie Daycare.

Go get em’ Shawna!

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#dobetterbebetter
#manifestthebest
#crushyourgoals

 

 

 

 

 

 

My New Year’s + Ideas for Being Your Best in 2017

My New Year’s + Ideas for Being Your Best in 2017

Personal Development

This New Year’s Eve I went to bed at 10:15. Yup, you read that correctly. I have never been asleep on December 31st before midnight…..at least not since I was a small child. And, if you know me, you know I heart ALL the things about celebrating the New Year – friends, wine, music, dancing, shouting, etc.  Well…. I love those things no matter the occasion. But this year, I purposely approached both the end and beginning of the year differently. I celebrated, just in a much different way.

On the last day of 2016 and the first day of 2017, I did a bunch of things that my 30-year old self would have scoffed at. These things, which included Tai Chi, a nature walk, meditation (which, thanks to Headspace I have been practicing consistently) and a drumming circle, culminated in my big New Year’s Eve plan – partaking in my first Sound Bath. Yup, I know I stunned many of you last August when I shared that I went to a Numerologist. And now I have been to a Sound Bath – on New Years Eve no less!

Why? 

My goal was to end 2016 and to begin 2017 with “presence.” When I shared my 30 Days of Self Work Challenge at the end of this past summer, I highlighted 5 things I was working on, with the first being “Dialing back my “doer” and nurturing my “be-er.” I also shared that meditation and spending quiet time in nature were two ways I was getting in-touch with my “be’er.” What better way to truly be present than to create time and space, in a peaceful outdoor space, to spend the final and first days of a year in peaceful reflection and mindful meditation.

Truth be told, part of the reason I was able to “be” over the Holiday is that I had already laid out much of what I aim to “do” in 2017. So, as I floated in the hot springs bath staring up at palm trees and mountains, I was able to focus on breathing in the moment and manifesting my intentions.

Goal-setting

As a Type A personality (like many of you reading this), I am a born goal-setter who relishes the coming of the New Year as a time to assess performance to last year’s goals and create next year’s (whether company or personal).  I don’t really believe in or make resolutions, as they tend to be “loosey goosey” and fade quickly. I am, however, a huge believer in goal-setting. And as a business nerd, my personal goals are SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timebound). This year I set up my goals around the “Pie” I made last August – where I prioritized the time I aim to allocate to most important areas of my life. I am not going to get into my goals here, only to say I have them and to suggest that goal-setting (short-term and long-term) is a very healthy and worthy exercise. I actually have written my goals, by category, on the first page of my journal (also a new practice) so that I review them nightly.

Intention Setting

This is the first year that I have actually written down my intentions alongside my goals.  If you don’t know the difference:

  1. Goals are focused on the future. Intentions are in the present moment.
  2. Goals are a destination or specific achievement.  Intentions are lived each day, independent of reaching the goal or destination.
  3. Goals are external achievements.  Intentions are your inner-relationships with yourself and others.

If you are like me, and tend to be constantly focused on future achievements, setting intentions is a great way to balance your “do-er” with your “be-er” and to make sure you are prioritizing fulfillment along with achievement (see Tony Robbins). My intentions are also written in my journal for nightly review.

5 Books to Read NOW!

Much of my goal, intention and activity-setting for 2017 was colored by the reading I did in the second half of 2016. I discuss some of the most impactful content in prior posts, but am adding 5 books suggestions here. Reading these will make for a meaningful and empowering start to the New Year and can definitely help you manifest your intentions and achieve your goals.

1) The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz
2) The Internet to the Inner-Net by Gopi Kalliyil
3) The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch (well-worth a re-read once a year IMHO)
4) Designing Your Life by Stanford Professors Bill Burnett and Dave Evans
5) Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss

These books are chock-full of insights, suggestions and exercises for designing all aspects of your life. Shout out to Tim Ferriss for saving us all a bunch of time and effort by consolidating the thoughts and practices of myriad successful folks across the topic areas of Healthy, Wealthy and Wise.  (Note: 80+% of the Titans in Tim Ferriss’ book meditate)

I couldn’t possible share all the take-aways I plan to implement in the New Year, but I will share one that I just came up with on my “Presence New Year’s” trip. I am sharing it: 1) to hold myself accountable, and 2) because I think it will be a great way to check in with yourself – your work self, your friend self, your relationship self…..your whole self.

Something to do starting NOW

Journaling can be tough. What the hell do you write at the end of the day? Some days there’s lots, some days…. not so much. One element I am adding to my end of day journaling (if you have yet to commit to journaling, you will once you read Tools of Titans), is a nightly review of how I did with the Four Agreements. I read this book 5 years ago and just gave it a re-read. This is profound stuff to live your life by. And Founders, this is stuff to build your company culture upon.

Stay tuned for more posts on things I am trying out this year.  Some will work, some won’t. The goal is to find what works for you and stick with it. Also, if you have new practices you are testing out in the New Year, please share!

Lastly, if you are in need of a break from the cortisol-inducing startup world in 2017 (mini-breaks and saunas are also popular amongst the Titans), I suggest checking out Two Bunch Palms.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!
#dobetterbebetter
#manifestthebest
#crushyourgoals

My 30 Day Self Work Challenge / 5 Ways to Recharge and Realign

My 30 Day Self Work Challenge / 5 Ways to Recharge and Realign

Personal Development

If your summer social feeds were anything like mine, you saw lots of folks enjoying sun-filled beach vacations. You also saw lots of “30 Day Challenges” (Whole 30, 30 days of Push-ups, 30 days of Rose, etc.). I dig challenges, so I decided to do one of my own, dubbing it “30 Days of Self Work.”

Why did I decide to prioritize “self work” this summer?
You may be guessing that I was unhappy, but I wasn’t. The convergence of a great many things (turning 40, illness/loss experienced by friends and family, attending the United States of Women Summit, several amazing travel experiences, this election) had begun to really impact the lens through which I view the world, myself and my purpose. As happens over time, my passions, perspectives and priorities were evolving, and I realized I needed a “tune-up”.

Over the course of August, through various activities I will share later, I began to solidify what I needed to work on to be the best version of myself I can be, and to serve myself and the world in the best way I can. They are:

1) Dialing back my “doer” and “thinker” and nurturing my “be-er” and “feeler”
2) Giving time to all the dimensions of life that are important to me
(which entails learning to say “no” without feeling like a horrible human)
3) Focusing on Fulfillment, as opposed to Achievement

Why am I writing about my experience and why, on earth, am I sharing it?
I am writing this 1) for me (and to hold myself accountable), 2) for anyone with whom this may resonate and help on any level, and 3) because my dear friend, and badass startup founder, Kat Markov, suggested I share my experience (particularly when I told her I made an appointment with a numerologist).

What I did?
Disclaimer: I am fully aware that creating a Self-Development Summer Intensive is exactly how a “doer” and achievement-obsessed person would tackle growth. Baby steps folks;) In this case, the ends justified the means.

Since I decided to embark upon this journey, I also decided to be completely open to any suggestions that came up along the way. As my friend , the wise soothsayer Ara Katz, said to me, “It doesn’t matter what type of work it is, it only matters that you are doing it. Whatever works for you, is a good thing for you.” So now, without further adieu, I am sharing my “Toolbox for Getting Real and Growing.” Take some of these practices or leave them. Everyone has their own path:

1) I did brand work. Yup, you read that right. When is the last time you wrote down your (not your company’s) core values, mission statement, and vision statement. Other great questions to ask yourself: What do you stand for? How do you define who you are? How do you want to impact the world? This is a challenging and powerful exercise. If you are not doing things – in either your professional or personal life – that align with your values and goals, it is time to make changes. Thank you Liz Heller and Robin Fisher Roffer of Big Fish Marketing for showing me the way.

2) I cut back on the countless articles, books, podcasts, and videos on the tech /startup space I consume daily. I supplemented my reading with content on personal growth and development that I read in 30-45 minute allotments in the morning and evening.

In the age of the Internet, social media and the smart phone, this is VERY hard to do. Nuzzle, Pocket, Facebook, Twitter, TechCrunch, Pando, The Information, The Verge, Upload VR… I read them all, often. I love reading about tech and innovation and, of course, it is part of my job. I didn’t stop reading about my industry altogether, I just checked myself from doing it incessantly. Like when I wake up at 2 am and read for an hour, which I put the kibosh on for good!

In addition, I deliberately re-visited impactful content I had consumed in the past, as well as sought out new information from people I know to be experts in the self-development space. Interestingly enough, I found that shifting my focus opened me up to discover (or at least pay attention to) all kinds of amazing pieces relevant to my “challenge.” I consumed so much important, impactful content that I cannot share it all. Below are some of the folks that helped me get in touch with what I wanted to improve upon and how I might do so.

James Altucher
I stumbled upon an amazing Medium post by James Altucher a few months back. James is a hedge fund manager, entrepreneur, writer, and podcaster. To be honest, I had no idea who he was at the time I read the post, but I knew it spoke to me so I followed him. During my 30 days, Medium suggested other posts by James, as well those under the topic of “Personal Growth” (thank you, Medium!). At this point, I have devoured an insane amount of Altucher content, all of which has been super helpful.

One of my favorite posts is called “I Miss Nothing.” You can read it here. Best quote of the article: “Stillness ultimately creates, Doing often destroys.”

I also read a great post titled “13 Things I learned from James Altucher.” They are all gems but the first one will stick with me far beyond these 30 days:

“Acknowledge that it’s not your external life that needs to change (you have little control over that), but that external changes flow from the inside.”

I also suggest reading James’ books, “Choose Yourself” and “The Power of No.”

Brene Browne
I revisited Brene Browne’s Ted Talk on vulnerability. It resonates with me on so many levels, as Brene is a self-proclaimed Type A perfectionist. This is a Ted Talk I will visit frequently as I am working on allowing myself to be more vulnerable. If you also need to work on this, watch and bookmark this video NOW.

Tony Robbins
Admittedly, I have never quite understood the phenomenon of Tony, but his documentary hit Netflix the first week of my “challenge.” In addition to being a sucker for a great documentary, I figured it was time to learn why millions of people, including many successful business leaders I revere, swear Tony helped them better their lives. Watching “I Am Not Your Guru” blew my mind. It helped me to recognize that to better understand myself I’d need to go deep into my childhood. This exercise is not to place blame, but to understand some of the driving forces of your life and to release what is not working for you. I had never really done this in a concerted way so this took some real work, which ended up being real helpful.

With my newfound admiration for Tony Robbins, I sought out more from him. I came across this podcast he did with Tim Feriss. So much of what he says really hit home for me. The gist is that “We get the science of Achievement, but don’t pay enough to the Art of Fulfillment…… its an art because it is different for everyone.” He also says, “the principal that makes us fulfilled is growth because we are most alive when we are growing and growth gives us the ability to give and feel like we are making a contribution to the Universe.” Amen Mr. Robbins.

3) I made a pie. No, not that kind – I cant’ bake (or cook for that matter). More specifically, I made a pie chart. It consisted of the things in my life that are most important to me. Mine were: Family, Friends & Dog, Job/Career, Love Life, Fitness & Health, Travel & Fun, Service, and Learning. I first drew the chart according how I have spent my time in the past. No surprise here that the career slice of my pie was exceedingly large. I then drew my chart according how I want to allocate my time going forward. I now have a visual in my head , and on paper, to check myself if/when I fall out of balance.

4) I went to a Numerologist. Don’t really know what a numerologist is? No worries, I didn’t either. The fact that it floored several of my friends when I revealed I was doing this should tell you that I am not a numerologist kinda gal. That is, I wasn’t. But I am now.

I have since learned folks like Pythagoras and Gallileo believed in numerology. Seem like smart dudes, right?

I met my numerologist, Josh, at Le Zinque – a hot spot in Venice, not a tie-dye gypsy tent. He came highly recommended from my friend Leslie, who assured me he was not “hippie dippie” and that I would like him. She was correct. Josh is a math and science guy, who became obsessed with numerology 20 years ago. After exchanging pleasantries, Josh asked for my full name and birth date, which he wrote at the top of a plain sheet of paper.  He then went to work, like a mad scientist (err… numerologist). He began calculating numbers all over the sheet and then circled many of them, drawing lines across the paper to connect like numbers. It was all quite fascinating. Then, he looked up and proceeded to tell me all about myself. It would be apt to say, “he had my number.” He even called out certain years in my life that were years of transition/transformation. And he knew I was in one of those years right now.

Of course, visiting a numerologist isn’t going to magically change you. But anything that helps you get real and examine your personality traits and behaviors can certainly be helpful in making decisions and changes.

I have now referred a number of friends to Josh. All have been blown away by their experience. If you are open to trying it, message me.

5) I spent time with myself and nature.  Even as a single person, it’s tough to get alone time – at least quality alone time. Time where you can sit in stillness and just breathe and be present. In LA, we have alone time in our cars, but that is usually filled with planning the day ahead, business calls, road rage, and the occasional 80s rock song sing-a-long. The same goes with gym time. While I am a fitness nut, and love what it does for me physically and mentally, the group classes I take don’t really provide for peaceful introspection. During my “challenge”, I cut back on my group classes and opted for walks along the ocean and hikes in the mountains by myself. At some point along my scenic route, I would pick a peaceful spot to sit and meditate. Now, I have tried to meditate before and it has never stuck. So I am trying again and will keep doing so until I am the girl pictured below realizing all of the many great benefits of the practice.

Special thanks to Headspace for making something so difficult a little bit less so. Wish I was an investor!

During my “30 Days of Self Work,” I also did a bunch of other things that made me happy, made me feel grateful and made me….just feel. Things that involved the heart over the head. This included family and friends time, attending a wedding on an estancia in Argentina, dancing, and spending lots of time with babies and small kids (admiring their endless curiosity and excitement).

My challenge is now complete. I feel grounded, recharged, and more creative. Most importantly, I feel more in tune with what is important to me both personally and professionally.  It was an amazing 30 days, but the hard part begins now – with how to continue the work and sustain my current peace of mind and perspective. The key is to make it a priority and to make myself, and becoming my best self, a priority above all else. There is nothing more important than continuing to grow and to focus on living a fulfilled life. As the saying goes, “you only get one shot, make it your best!”