#2: Nina Iordanova – Becoming your best self

January 20, 2021
Nina is the Cofounder and CEO of Hello Iris, a platform that provides guided meditations based on different personality types. In this episode, Nina and I talked about so much from career transitions to long-lasting habits, building a company in public, and of course meditation and mindfulness.

Show Notes

🔗 Links

The Sandman (Neil Gaiman)

The books that changed us (blog post)

Joe Dispenza

👋 Find Nina Online


Hello Iris



Nina  0:00  

I think it's like, getting perspective on what you're experiencing versus who you are. And so it's like, oh, if I'm in tune with my body, or if I'm in tune with my environments, I can be more present. And it's like whether I have thoughts or not, I'm not attached to them. And I think that's also the goal of a lot of different meditation practices where it's not to have no thoughts, but to just let them come and go without being attached to them.

Reza   0:35

Hello, and welcome to the latest episode of out of curiosity. My name is Reza. And on this podcast, I speak with entrepreneurs and creators to learn about their mindsets, habits, and life philosophies.

Together, we dive into timeless ideas to help answer what it means to live fulfilling lives and build meaningful careers.

On the show with me today is Nina Iordanova. Nina is the co founder and CEO of Hello Iris, a platform that provides guided meditations based on different personality types. Nina and I talked about so much in this episode from career transitions to long lasting habits, building a company in public, and of course, meditation and mindfulness. So enjoy, take notes, but more importantly, take action.

Nina   1:33

Back to my acting days, amazing.

Reza   1:35

Yeah, I actually noticed as I was leaving a bunch of research, I'm curious to know more. But that was during University, right?

Nina  1:40  

It was, yeah, during and after university. So I started in university when I realized business school was not a good fit for me. Okay, well, I'm here, but maybe I can start an improv club. And, you know, like an improv club for business people. Yeah, this still makes sense. And then one thing led to another. And I remember by like, my fourth year, I would be missing presentations to go on set and to go to auditions and everything. And then when I came out, I was like, Oh, well, I might as well do acting stuff. And if I need to, I can fall back on this degree. But like, why would I go to plan B, when I have a plan A, which is to become a famous actor who does a lot of cool stuff, which didn't quite work out the way that I had planned. But it was a very interesting six years of life. Interesting acting, how did that go? What made you not want to pursue that path? Yeah, so I'll tell you why I did want to pursue it. Because the reason I stopped was because reality versus expectations were very different. But what really got me excited about acting was like, Oh, you get to learn so many different skills for these roles. Like you get to learn how to horseback ride, you get to learn how to fence, you get to learn ballet, like whatever the role requires. And you get to learn it not in the way that you would a hobby where it's like, okay, maybe two hours a week or three hours a week, but you have a coach who is dedicated to like, teaching you in the space of two months, eight hours a day, every day to be a master. And you get paid for that, like you don't pay them, they pay you to do that. And you get a dialect coach, you get to shoot on location.

To me, it was like, Oh, you get to live like 1000 lives and one, while also having a career while being paid to do this, like actually living off of it. And you can take time off whenever you want. Like, it just seemed like the dream to me. Like I don't know why 100% of people weren't trying to be actors at any given point. And so what I found, though, was like, my agent would send me on auditions. And you would just kind of go, you would do it, you would do one take you would do maybe two takes, you'd be done, you'd leave and you wouldn't get any feedback, you wouldn't hear why you weren't picked for the role. And so after a couple of years of doing this, I was like, I literally have no control over my career. I don't know what I need to work on. I don't know what's holding me back. I don't know if I'm doing great, but I'm just not finding the right roles. And all I can do is like really sit here and wait for my agents who call me or maybe make my own work, which I did not want to do. I was like I left business so that I could just have one thing to do and I could just be an actor. Everybody does the other stuff. And so yeah, eventually when I realized like, okay, the dream is you get to do all these different things. But the reality is you just go to auditions and never hear back and are lucky to work like a couple of days a year. Are you really an actor? Or are you more you know, whatever doing a side hustle waitressing and just waiting to catch your big break. And I remember like I had a few friends who really succeeded and got like great roles on national television shows. And they would still keep their waitressing jobs. And that's a cue. Even when you make it which is so hard to do. You're not even supporting yourself enough to like, cut out the other stuff you're doing and just rely on this craft and this work. And I don't even know when that time is going to come from me like that is insane. I don't want to do that. I don't want to commit myself to this. And so I started to slowly distance myself from the film world as I came into tech. And what I think has been really cool about that is like all the things that I was looking For in film, the sense of a community coming together to work long hours to create this thing out of nothing, everybody comes with different skills, whether you're like a director or an actor, wardrobe person, the cinematographer, and at the end of like a couple of months of really intensive work and low pay, you come up with this beautiful thing that everybody's poured their heart into. And that's kind of like a startup. That's what running a startup is. long hours low, pay a bunch of people with different kind of skills, all trying really hard to make something out of nothing. But the work that you did actually would amount to something. And the harder you work, the more you would see that pay off. Whereas I felt in acting that wasn't really the case.

Reza   5:39  

And were you aware of this is how tech is before taking the leap?

Nina  5:45  

No, I was like, Oh, this is so cool. I'm doing this with a few friends. I have no idea how to do any of this stuff. Let's jump in and find out. And I guess for me, it was a little bit less scary because my first startup was in the film space. So like, Okay, well, I have knowledge about how this works. I know I know the industry. Exactly, exactly. And so it was like, okay, the question of how do you solve this problem is interesting. But it's not a complete black hole I'm stepping into where it's like, oh, if I'm doing crop insurance, I know nothing about agriculture. I know nothing about insurance. I don't know how to work with other people in a more formalized setting. And so that made it easier for me to cross that bridge.

Reza   6:23  

And ever since you started your new startup, you've been posting daily updates on your startup journey for the last I guess, the last one I saw was entry 600 or so. So as close as Yes. What inspired this? This is not your first star was inspired this in the first place.

Nina  6:40  

I love that you asked that. Because I think our daily posts are, they really mean a lot to me. And I think they're a huge part of the company we're trying to build. And so it started back when we were building a dating app. And our whole goal with the dating app was can we help people feel more open towards each other less judgmental, and more see each other's people rather than, you know, a collection of photos and characteristics? And so for us, it was like, Okay, well, instead of just asking that of people and being like, this is the culture, this is what you must do? Can we model that ourselves and set that standard just by showing that behavior? And so it came out somehow very naturally to be like, Well, why don't we write about the ins and outs of a founder life and what it feels like to start a startup? And not just in the successes not just sharing? Like, we raised X amount of money, we got into tech stars, we added a new team member, we're sick, we're amazing. But can we show the parts that suck? And not just like, in a palatable way, where it's like, oh, no, this meeting didn't go, well. Good thing, we have 800 more lined up, we went again. But really like, this was really messed up. We don't have an answer to this problem. I don't know what we're gonna do about it. And I hope that this won't sink our company. Stay tuned and find out to see where it goes. And a lot of the times we wouldn't have an answer to whatever the problems were, it wouldn't be neatly packaged up into the app, this happened. But no worries, we took care of it. It's much better now than even before there was a problem. And so it's funny because our company has changed a lot since those dating days. But we still really resonate with this sense of can we share the messy parts, and give people a way to look beyond this like veneer of everything's great. And this is so fun. And I'm living my best life. Because sometimes it really sucks. Like it just flat out sucks. And it's really hard hurt.

Reza   8:33  

Which is usually the case for running a company in general, let alone startup that a lot of things aren't figured out in the first

Nina  8:39  

Oh, yeah. And it's been really cool to because we took a pause for, I want to say four or five, six months. And that's when we were really like in a dark place with the company with what we were doing. We couldn't quite get a grasp on the problem or the solution. And we were just like, iterating nonstop. And I think we got to a point where just every single day we'd be posting like, we don't know what we're doing. We don't know what's next. We don't know if we're doing the right thing. And I think we just kind of got like, tired of sharing that. And we're like, this isn't helping anyone. This is like day 30 of me posting just a million questions.

Reza   9:14  

What what purpose is it actually serving...

Nina  9:16  

Exactly, exactly. And so when one of the reasons actually, that we brought back the daily posts was we had so many people reach out to us and be like, hey, honestly reading about your guy's struggles and seeing that it's not all rosy. And that this image that everybody else is projecting isn't necessarily the full story. It helped me so much with dealing with my struggles, it helped me and my co founder when we had similar problems come up. And it was just really cool to follow your story and to see that, you know, I can do this too, because I can see that it's hard, I can see that. It's not a perfect journey. And so for us, it was like, Oh, so it's not just about us sharing what it's like it's about other people also getting in encouragement for getting insight getting valued getting affirmations. And for us, it was so huge to be like, Alright, plenty more mistakes for you guys to see coming up very, very soon.

Reza   10:11  

And I should add, it's not just about sharing the struggles, you also do share the successes, which is really nice to show the ups and downs that you're not always in a happy place when you're running startup, but also, I think provides a really good networking opportunity for you. This is how I reached out. And we started talking.

Nina  10:28  

And it's so funny, because one of our concerns with the daily posts was like, Okay, well, if we're a young startup, that's what at one point going to try and raise money that wants to be successful, that wants to be looked at as successful. And for me, I was like, I also want to look cool, I don't want to be just successful. I want to look like an amazing, brilliant, smart person. And I was like, oh, but is this undermining all of that, like in a sea of companies all saying, We raised X amount, we just close this deal. We just close this customer. And you see one company being like, we fought in the middle of tech stars at the top of our lungs. That was our day today? Like, how do you look at those different companies? And how does that compare? But what we really found was we found a ton of people really supported us, they got invested in our story, they got invested in the ups and downs, and somehow, like weren't deterred by all the mistakes we were making, and all the kind of learnings that we went through, and we're more like, cool, no, you're real people sharing a real story. I'm here for you. How can I help? Do you need feedback? Do you need advice? Do you need connections? What can I do? And that for us was like, Oh, my God, that's so ha. This wasn't originally why we started it. But it's been consistently such a huge benefit for us in finding friends and finding advisors like and finding people who want to help us. And it's been so meaningful.

Reza   11:51  

What's the primary motivator for you to build a company rather than working on an existing one?

Nina  11:55  

Hmm. So I think for me, I've always, I've been very driven to work as hard as I can and to strive for excellence in everything that I do. And mostly because I care so deeply about anything that I do. And so I felt like if I work at a company, one, I'll be very niche down something like, oh, I'll be doing SEO for this one kind of product under the whatever Walmart umbrella. And that'll be the one thing that I do. And I was like, I don't, that doesn't sound exciting to me, like I want more, I want to see how my decisions impact every part of the company, I want to be able to pull every lever and see how that affects the the end outcome. And I want to be driven by this fact that knowing that my actions are influencing some end outcome, I can see that whole chain and I'm deeply invested in every part of it. Whereas I felt like, again, if I have this nice role, what if the blocker somewhere else in that company? And how can I see how everything works together? And how can I kind of play in all these areas. And so for me, that was one huge thing that I can work really hard across a spectrum of different things. And that I can direct my work so that I can pick like, hey, actually, I think our marketing strategy should change. I really want to experiment with doing x, y, and Zed even though that's like outside of my role at a traditional company. When you run a company, you can dabble in everything until you have a big team that's like, you know, taking care of those things. But yeah, that's always been a huge motivating factor for me.

Reza   13:19  

In running your own business, how do you stay motivated, when oftentimes results don't show up until much later down the line?

Nina  13:27  

Hmm, I think that's such a good question. And honestly, I'm not always motivated. I think sometimes there are parts where I just do it. Not out of obligation, but because I know it has to be done. And the fact that I'm uninspired in the moment or unmotivated in the moment isn't an excuse to be like, Well, I'm not gonna do anything. And I'm just gonna wait till motivation comes back. And so I think the big thing about being able to have that drive through the hard parts, is seeing this bigger vision of how, for me, it's specifically how it'll impact other people. So it's not like, oh, when I get to this stage, I'm going to make a million dollars, and I'm going to have whatever personal success, it's more if I keep pushing here, what can I unlock for people? How can I change their lives? How can I like give them the tools to be happier to be more fulfilled to be their best selves? And I think when you have that as a guiding star, it's like, yeah, cool. This sucks. Now, I have no idea if this is going to turn out and if it does, it'll probably be like, like you said, I'll know in eight months, nine months a year from now. But I know that I'm in the process, and I'm taking the steps I need to go in that direction.

Reza   14:31  

Is that how you deal with self doubt as a founder?

Nina  14:34  

I don't know if I found a way to deal with that. I think honestly, having a co founder and having me lose my partner is like the biggest thing where we've been very lucky that most of the time we'll have fluctuating periods of self doubt where it's like, when I feel like I'm really questioning what I'm doing in my role, and if I'm, you know, doing the right thing, or the right person for the job, or however deep you want to get with like the existential questions. She's very much there's a support system to be like, Look, you got this, if you don't, we'll figure it out. Like, it's 100% fine. And she'll be there to really support me and to kind of brace me when I need it. And so that's been a huge thing. I don't think I could do that by myself, I don't think I have the internal fortitude or whatever it is to just always be able to pick myself back up and be like, no, I believe in myself, I'm gonna do this.

Reza   15:25  

And you and Niloo recently completed a series of user discovery sort of interviews. I know, because I was one of those being interviewed. I really enjoyed that process. Out of the questions you asked, which was super interesting was a definition of personal growth from the people who were being interviewed. This is super fascinating to me as a person, what people think about that concept. So I'm curious if there were specific themes that emerged from that question you had you did, like 60 or so. Right?

Nina  15:51  

We did. I think we're on honestly at at this point. But yeah, I think we had two different versions of that question. And one was, you know, tell me about your personal development journey. And the other one was kind of like, What does becoming your best self mean to you? And so it was really interesting, like, a lot of patterns came up in that. And one thing that I noticed in that what is becoming your best self means your question was, I want to say like a third to half people would say, Well, I kind of am my best self already. Like, sure, there's things that I can work on. Sure. There's places I want to go. But I feel like I have everything that I need. And, you know, I'll work on the things that I need to but that doesn't mean that there's anything wrong with me where I am now. I was like, Oh, that's so that's so interesting. Not at all what I expected, but we kept hearing it like over and over and over again. And it wasn't in this like, I don't know, what's the word for it, like? overly confident arrogance. Yeah, I think arrogance is the word I'm looking for. It wasn't in an arrogant way. It was just like, yeah, honestly, I know, I have stuff to work on. But I'm good. I'm also good. And I'm just want to keep moving forward with where I am now. And then I think the other thing that we kept hearing come up was really the sense of being able to give back to your community and being able to impact the people around you. And so it's like, oh, well, to me, becoming my best self means that I'm so okay with myself, that I don't have to focus on that anymore. I can focus on helping other people unlocking other people's potential, helping them get where they want to go, taking care of my family, helping my friends do feel be better. And all these things that were so like, Oh, I guess once you're okay with yourself, your attention flips outwards. And that becomes the most important thing to you. And I thought that was so like, honestly, one of the things that keeps us going with the company is the sense of like, the people we want to help are not just, again, they're not people who are like, I want to make a million dollars, and then I'll be my best self. But it's also like, my community means so much to me, and I want to give back and I want to get to a place where that's my primary goal.

Reza   18:01  

What does becoming your best self mean to you?

Nina  18:04  

Oh, interesting. Oh, okay. Let's think about it. I think for me becoming my best self. Oh, I guess I gave away the answer. But for me, it is very much getting to a place where I feel comfortable with all the things that I lack. And all the things that I will continue to fall short on. And rather than seeing that as an opportunity to be like, Oh, you suck, how could you get here? This is such a disappointment, like you're better than this to be like, Yeah, man, everyone has faults, and there's things that I'm not going to be great at. And as much as I'd like to work on everything, I'm never going to be perfect. And so rather than focusing on continuing to try and get to this perfection, how can I turn my attention to other people? And how can I? I don't know, it's like, if I've done the 80% of myself, how can I do 80% on other people, instead of trying to do 20%, to fill up that 100% being awesome, whatever. And so for me, it's like, oh, when I'm my best self, I can help people find what they need, I can connect them with the resources that they need, I can point them in the right direction, I can talk to them, I can listen to them. And it's very much about improving other people's experiences. And whether that's through work, whether that's personally whether that's in my relationships, really being able to improve the lives of people around me.

Reza   19:26  

And what do you fear most in life?

Nina  19:29  

Hmm. I think for me, it's interesting. Like this was a conversation I was having with neelu today. But I think what I fear most is that I'm overreaching for the things that I want. And that I don't actually have the skills or the capabilities or the attitude or the experience or whatever it is to get there. And that I need to settle not for going after what I want, but for what kind of society says should be expected from you at this point. So like, Oh, you want it to be a startup founder. That changed people's lives. Okay, cool. That's a nice goal to have, why don't you go get a job and like actually make money and actually, you know, live this life that most people do, what makes you think that you can achieve more than that? And what makes you think that you have the right to risk?

Reza   20:15  

And what are you doing to move away from that fear? How do you remind yourself?

Nina  20:21  

So it's interesting, I've been doing a lot of work on shifting my mindset. And I think the first, honestly, the first part of that has been even realizing that that's a part of my mindset. And that this is a way they think, and that this is a concern I have, because my approach thus far has been, it's almost like something happens. You have your real honest reaction. And then you have the thing that you actually do. So it's like, oh, maybe I get disappointing news. How I actually feel is disappointed and hurt and upset. But I don't think I should feel that way. So what I'm going to do is be fine. And tell people I'm fine. And just keep moving on like it is fine. It sounds like Well, I think if I do this long enough, I will just by default, become the person who feels the way that I want to feel. And I never have to deal with the messy middle part. That isn't what I want it to be. So that was like my going theory, honestly, for probably the last 29 years, which is how old I am. And it's only recently discovering that.

Oh, okay, I guess before I can become the person I want to be, I need to meet myself where I'm at, and have the reaction I don't want to have or that I don't think is the right reaction. and acknowledge that that's where I am. So yeah, maybe like the way I want to feel is like I don't even care about this thing. But the way I actually feel is, yeah, I'm super disappointed. And I was counting on it. And it makes me question my self worth. And that's where we are. And on top of that, I hate that I feel that way just to have an extra sandwich layer that this sucks. And I don't want to feel this way. And I have to just kind of accept that those two things are both true. And so I think that was the first layer for me to being like, okay, okay, so let me deal with these feelings. Let me accept that they're there. And also understanding that, oh, I do have a lot of fear. Actually. My assumption was that I didn't. But I actually do and what does it take to? Where does that come from? And how can I understand that? And how can I see where it's coming from, so that I can actually deal with it and then kind of move on instead of just pretending it's not there when it's really like 80% of what I'm thinking about or trying not to think about.

And so for me in terms of like tactical things that have worked are one just becoming more open and vulnerable with people. And I think for me, it's always been kind of hard to trust people fully. And so even with relationships, even with close friends, like there's only so much that I would share, and the version of events that I would give would be like cleaned up quite significantly. And so I think finding a friend like kneeling where I do feel very comfortable to be like, hey, this really stupid thing happened. I can't believe I'm reacting this way. But honestly, I've been upset about it for two days. And that just kind of is what it is. and it sucks. And I'm embarrassed. And I really feel like a lot of shame about feeling this way. But it is what it is and having her react so positively. And over and over and over again, seeing that same reaction, I think gives me the space to be like, oh, okay, I can have these feelings. It doesn't make me a bad or broken person. It's totally okay.

And then I think the next part, like once that's come more out of the open. I feel like that's given me the ability to be like, Okay, what are some thought leaders in this space? What are some books? What are some quotes? What are some podcasts? Like, what, what are people talking about in this space where I can try different things and see what resonates with me. And so I found, like, there's some books that were interesting, I got more into yoga just as a way of like, being more in touch with my body and how it moves and where emotion is stored, etc, etc. But that only touched on the small part. I think a big thing for me lately has been a podcast by Dr. Joe dispenza. Who's like a little bit. Are you Oh, amazing. Honestly, I keep thinking he's so nice. And every time I've brought him up people like know him love him. Amazing. Yeah, so he's, and I'm coming to terms with myself as well to be like, you know, how much do I believe versus how much feels like two out there for me? And oh, god, am I like, I don't know. Like, I come from such a strong science kind of proof background that I'm like, oh, God is this is what he's saying true. Is he making it up? Is he a real doctor? But everything that he talks about just feels so relevant and accurate and insightful and thoughtful and really challenged the way that I look at my life? And somehow, everything that he mentioned, I was like, Yeah, I do that. Yeah, I do that. Yeah. That's how I think that's exactly how I go through my day. And then to hear the alternate version of how you could think about things into like, Oh, I can. And this is something I can work on. It doesn't have to be an instantaneous thing. It's okay to be making progress towards switching your mindset. It doesn't have to be like a switch that you shift, or a switch that you whatever turn on and off. And so that's been really, really impactful for me. And I've only been listening to him for a couple of weeks. But I find like, literally, I got YouTube premium, just so I could download his stuff and listen to it on the TTC. It's been super cool. And I feel like I listened to him every single morning, at least 10 minutes, but up to like, an hour or whatever my commute is. And it really has unlocked a lot of stuff for me in a very short amount of time.

Reza   25:42  

I first came across Joe, through his book, breaking the habit of being Hugh, ha ha a lot of the ideas that he talks about are quite fundamental. They're not like they're the things you probably no as a person, but just need reminders for.

Nina  25:59  


Reza   25:59  

Do you feel the same?

Nina  26:01  

I do. And it's almost like part of it is just allowing myself to believe that we're it's like it feels right. It sounds right. I resonate with it. This matches my experience. So yeah, what's like stopping me from kind of buying in and moving forward with that. And I think that's literally the thing holding me back is like, oh, but more proof. I don't I don't know.

Reza   26:25  

What's the missing element that you're getting more people to meditate daily?

Nina  26:29  

So I really think it's interesting. And this is something that came out of our customer discovery calls. And honestly, I resonate with it as well. But we had a lot of people who are these very high achievers who want to really make an impact on the world and grow and become their best selves and live fulfilling lives. And what we kept hearing over and over was like, I just don't want to sit for that long. I don't want to sit alone and be with my thoughts. And for me that didn't come from a place of like, I'm scared to be with myself or anything like that. It was literally like, I like to be busy, I like to be active, I like to be on the go. And I want something that can stimulate my mind and get me in touch with myself but in a more active way. And so I think traditional meditation technique has been very much about taking space and breathing, and visualization. But it's like a very grounded slow kind of practice is how it feels to me. Whereas for me, it's like, oh, when I do yoga, I really like to be in tune with my body. And for me, that's a kind of meditation. Or when I walk in the morning with my coffee, I won't listen to any music. And I'll just be very aware of like, what I'm drinking and the temperature and the sights around me. And so for me, it's like, I think if more people can find a type of meditation, and maybe it's mindfulness, maybe it's not meditation, if they can find a way to incorporate mindfulness that feels right for them. And that taps into things that are valuable to them. I think that's the missing piece where it doesn't have to be this one thing of I sit on my bed at 7am, the moment that I wake up and I do 30 hours of breathing, and being aware of my breath. I don't think that's the solution for everybody. But I think it's hard to see different alternatives out there.

Reza   28:11  

With with that definition, then is is your definition of meditation being aware of your thoughts in any way possible.

Nina  28:19  

I think so I think it's like, getting perspective on what you're experiencing versus who you are. And so it's like, oh, if I'm in tune with my body, or if I'm in tune with my environments, I can be more present. And it's like whether I have thoughts are not i'm not attached to them. And I think that's also the goal of a lot of different meditation practices, where it's not to have no thoughts. But to just let them come and go without being attached to them.

Reza   28:48  

What you're experiencing versus who you are, talk more about that.

Nina  28:52  

It's so funny, because I feel like ever since I was quite young, I've always felt like I had this outside observer on my life, where I was simultaneously the person living my life and the person reading the book about my life. And so I would have like a third person perspective on me know, walks to the grocery store, Nina puts her hat on, while I simultaneously walked to the grocery store and put my hat on. And I think for me, it's always been such a like such a natural part of life that I didn't know, you couldn't read, like, you might not pay attention to this sort of separate part of yourself and this watcher. And so for me, I think meditation and mindfulness really kind of put that into perspective and gave me a healthier way to look at that where I didn't feel like I was an observer of my life. But more I could separate. Oh, interesting. This is my experience that I'm actually feeling. And then this is how I'm kind of processing it. And this is me being aware of myself going through all those things. But for me that didn't feel like a healthy balance. It felt like I was very detached from my experience. And like I was an observer More than a real person. And so I think for me, it kind of touches on that. But in a way that's more integrated, where you can feel yourself being like, oh, that person said something. And I just felt like a surge of anger at it. But I don't have to react based on that I'm not living in that experience. I'm also this me that can see it happening in that can feel it happening without being in that it's more just like letting you see that experience from a slightly more detached perspective.

Reza   30:32  

Speaking of building their meditation habit, how do you go about building new habits in your daily workflow.

Nina  30:39  

So this is really cool, because I actually just this month launched something called the 30 day club. And my whole goal was to help people become the best version of themselves through building the habits that they wanted to incorporate in their lives. And so it's something I've actually been thinking a lot about in the past, you know, two or three weeks in preparation for this.

And so for me, this is one of my favorite stories, I love to tell. So this is how I used to go about building habits. Back when I was an actor, I had an acting teacher who, who was on the more spiritual side, and he was like, Okay, so, you know, I'd highly recommend that everybody in this class takes up meditation, just start with 510 minutes a day, you know, do it for, you know, eight 910 years. And it'll eventually really impact your acting, and it'll give you such an edge over everyone. And so I did the math, and I was like, five to 10 minutes a day for 10 years. What if I did an hour a day and just did like two years, instead of 10 years, this is incredible. Like, I'm going to fast track the shit out of this. And that didn't work. And I feel like that's very much been my default with habits is like, find what I should be doing. Do it 10 acts as intensely to have it be done in one 10th of the time. And then I would do it for like three days, and then be like, this sucks. This is awful. I don't want to meditate for an hour every day, and then just stop altogether. And but when I found out recently that works really well for me is I want to say three things. One is taking one habit at a time. So I feel like I'll start with Oh, I want to meditate. While I'm meditating. I might as well like exercise before that. Oh, and if I'm going to exercise Well, okay, I'll do a whole thing where like, I journal I exercise, then I meditate. And it's just one of those activities exactly, like one thing builds on the other. And it's like, well, while I'm doing this, I might as well do these 10 million other things. And then again, it just like syncs the whole thing, because you're trying to add two new hours of activities to your day, where it's like, that just doesn't work. And so the first thing was, okay, just pick one thing. And even though you want to be an overachiever and a high performer, pick one thing, it's gonna sound ridiculous, you're going to be like us gonna be so easy, but just go with it. One thing, one thing at a time.

Second thing was make it so that the default is that you do it. And what I mean by that is like, don't put any exceptions or things like, well, I'm going to exercise three times a week, or I'm going to take weekends off and not do this. Because I think as soon as you give yourself or this is, for me, obviously, like, very personally, how I think and what works for me, but as soon as I have room to negotiate with myself, and to think like, well, if I'm only doing three days a week, and it's like Monday, and I don't really feel like it, maybe I can just put it off to like Wednesday, then Thursday comes around, then Friday comes around, and you have like three days to do your three days of exercise, then you're like, well, if I'm only doing three a week, maybe I can just do like for next week and to this week. And I think as soon as that becomes a thing that you have to talk yourself into doing, you've already lost because it takes energy it takes willpower to decide to do something. And so what I do is, I'll just default into doing it like every single day, I'm going to do this thing. Whatever it is, there are no days off, you don't have to think is today, a weekend is today, one of my days, it is always your day, it is always the day to do it.

And then when I can I try and attach it to another habit. So it's like, oh, if I'm meditating, can I do it while the coffee is brewing, takes 10 minutes for the coffee to brew, it'll all work out perfectly. And then I know, whenever I think coffee, I think meditation. And because coffee is already a part of my day, these two things just go together. So I found that to be hugely impactful. And then I think the last piece for me has been really, and this is something I noticed with the 30 day club, but it's been tying your habit to something that's important to you. So I feel like if I just say, Oh, I want to go for a walk for 20 minutes every day, and then three days and I'm like, why am I doing this again? Like what is the point of this? It's getting cold, I don't want to and so I find I have to attach it to some higher meaning or some higher goal so that I can be pushed on to do it. And I know why I'm doing it even on the days that it's hard. And I think for different people that can be like, okay, maybe instead of having a bigger goal, maybe it's just accountability that I'm looking for. Maybe it's just not wanting to disappoint a group of people who are also working on things. Maybe it's because I told somebody I do this maybe because I posted on the internet, but just having something outside of your pure willpower that pushes you to do it. And so I found that's been like a very, it makes it much more digestible and much more, much more reasonable for me.

Reza   35:27  

I really love that. So just to summarize, the three things are attach what you want to do to another sort of activity. So the two of them go together, remove the decision making process of having to do that. So it's kind of like at this at this point in time, I'm doing this and then attach it to a higher goal. So whenever you are reminded of whenever you are tempted to not to do it, you kind of think of that bigger vision. And where is this actual, the goal of this habit comes from?

Nina  35:55  

Yes, and I find one thing that just works well for me, because I generally, I prefer a more unstructured life than a very structured life. So for me, even putting a cap of like, I'm going to do this for 30 days, and then I'm going to check in, this doesn't have to be for the rest of my life. This doesn't have to be for a year, 30 days challenging enough, but also short enough to feel like oh, I can I can do it. And then we can see. And I don't have to, I don't know three months and be like, wait, why am I doing this? Do I still need to do it? So again, having these like built in checkpoints and taking away that thinking?

Reza   36:29  

And what habit Are you building during the next 30 days?

Nina  36:33  

Yeah, it's so funny. So like, my habit was actually to listen to the Joe dispenza podcasts. And for me, it was a really big thing to be like, I don't want to just turn to this at times of stress or times when I have self doubt. And I need something to kind of fix my mindset. I want to just adopt this as my baseline. Like I want to just be so inundated with this content and this way of thinking that it becomes a part of me, as opposed to something I have to keep reaching to. And so it was a little bit of a cheat, I'll admit, because it was something that I was interested in. And it didn't feel hard to be like, okay, every day like, Okay, I'm gonna do it. I'm going to do it because I want to, but I guess the one thing is like, on the weekends, I don't like listening to stuff unless I'm on my way somewhere. And so it's really a stretch for me to be like, okay, you gotta do it. Gotta do it. It's every day. So we can You're not going anywhere. But do it. Do it. Do it. Do it. Do it. Okay, done.

Reza   37:25  

I love that. What are some of the books that have shaped who you are today?

Nina  37:31  

Oh, it's so funny. I feel like every year that passes, I find more ways that books have been that books have impacted my outlook in life the way that I think I'd seen one really big one for me has been pretty much all of Neil Gaiman's work. So specifically, The Sandman comic, or sorry, graphic novels are probably where I'd start, where I really love his mix of mythology and folklore and fantasy, and just taking very human kind of questions, human conditions, and turning them into these like fantastical representations. So like the starring characters of his graphic novel series are called the endless and it's like death, desire, delirium, despair, Destiny, destruction, and dream. And they all have these characters, but they also embody all these sort of like endless qualities. And I just thought it was so lovely, and so like, thought provoking and inspirational and really showed me how fiction can raise all these different kinds of questions. And I found Ender's Game as well by Orson Scott Card was very much my first brush with how science fiction can raise questions that are very real in today's society, but approach them in a way where everything is kind of a metaphor. And so I thought that was really, really interesting, and is probably one of the books that really got me into sci fi to start with.

In terms of nonfiction, honestly, I feel like 90% of my books are fiction books. And we're like, the bigger the adventure. The bigger the characters, the more I'm like, this is incredible. This changes how I look at life. This changes my ideas and what's important to me and how I understand the world and the possibilities within it. We should not because I'm the complete opposite. You like your nonfiction Hmm?

Reza   39:24  

Too much, but I'm definitely want more like, these are great recommendations. But I like what you're saying about how fictions through the stories can actually shape how you think about the real world.

Nina  39:35  

Yes, yes. And one of my favorite quotes, and I'm definitely butchering it, but it was pretty much about how things don't have to be real for them to be true. And I think that was such a profound and like, life-changing idea where it's like, oh, the literal truth doesn't always translate to give an accurate depiction of reality. Sometimes fiction is closer to truth than the real truth is, if that makes sense. And that was like 1000 mind blowing emojis for me when I saw that reality being relative? And depending on someone's perspective, I think so i think so. And it's something that's come up in, like my professional life, my personal life. And I think it's really, really powerful.

Reza   40:25  

Can you name a couple of people who have influenced you in your career or your life?

Nina  40:33  

Yes, I think for sure. Like my past co founder, Alex, we spent three years building a company together. And I think very much how he approaches problems and how he thinks about things. Yeah, it's really like, I guess gave me my start as a startup founder, like it really taught me the basics and how everything works. Definitely neelu, my co founder now, like, she pretty much made me who I am today, through the past year and a half of our personal development boot camp, that we've been running each other through my parents as well. I think like, they're, I mean, I'm an immigrant to Canada, too. But I guess they are even more so. And the mindsets that they brought with them, and what's important to them, both, for better and for worse, have hugely impacted both my personal and professional goals and aspirations how I work how I think. And for me, it's really funny, like, I'd say, the people who impact me the most are the people in my life, where it's not like an aspirational figure, it's not someone in the news or someone that people have written books about. For me, it's really seeing people in real life and seeing how they deal with challenges, seeing how they deal with success, seeing how they think seeing how they make decisions. And just being able to see their evolution as people is what I can relate to the most. And what gives me kind of the most inspiration, and the most actionable way to think about what I'm doing and how I'm doing it.

Reza   41:58  

How do you want to impact people?

Nina  42:02  

It's so funny, I think I was I was cleaning out my parents basement earlier this week, which has been a dream for me for many years. It's like 20 years worth of old furniture and old things. And just whatever you think, like we relegated this to the basement, it exists in our basement in like, six times the quantities it should. And so one of the things we found when we were digging through everything, there was some letters that my old teachers and people I'd worked for, had written me as recommendations for like University scholarships. And one thing that my drama teacher wrote, who was like, you know, I did a ton of drama in high school dance musical theater, like I was very much that kid. And at the end of her letter, she wrote, like this young woman always strive for the stars and stripes to bring people along with her. And I was like, Oh, that's so cool that this is something that was very much, you know, 12 years ago, that letter was dated 2008. Like, was something that I still cared about them and is still such a driving force behind everything that I want to do now. And I think it's really cool to see parts of yourself when you were young. And to see maybe like, the way you approach it has changed, or maybe how you understand that has changed. But I think so much of that core of who you are as a person, you can see the seeds from early on. And you can see how they tried to kind of go in the same direction. And I just that's 100% like how I want to impact people is to really support them on their path to being the best version of themselves or to living a fulfilling life and to be a support along the way. Because I think it's so hard to do on your own. I think it's so hard to greenlight yourself, I think it's so hard to find the path forward to feel like there's people rooting for you. And I really want to be able to you have to do that for anybody who's aiming for something higher.

Reza   43:56  

Nina, this has been really amazing. I really want to keep going and give asking questions. So we definitely have to do another session at some point soon. So we can dig deeper into a bunch of other questions. And thank you again, so much for being here.

Nina  44:10  

This has been so lovely. I feel like every conversation we have just gets better and better and better. So this was really great, honestly feels like very lucky to be here. And thank you so much for asking, you know, questions that were very thought-provoking for me as well.

Reza   44:23  

Appreciate it. Thank you so much.

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