Founder of Calii Love, a Californian-Hawaiian eatery in Toronto.
There was a time when I stopped enjoying my life and being happy. I lost the urge to wake up every morning and go to work.
My dad had always instilled the importance of learning all aspects of business and that taught me the value of learning. I never said no to any opportunities – working for the family business, I learned how to fix printers; from there, how to fix computers, eventually discovering my passion for design and marketing, ultimately launching my career.
My first job was at 16 at a fibreglass factory in Scarborough, and it still gives me goosebumps thinking about it. I came home crying in pain from skin exposure after my first day; the conditions were ruthless. I then did odd jobs, before working for my family business and later launched a marketing and hospitality career, opening many successful establishments.
I became a workaholic. For eight years of my life, I worked double jobs – a 9-to-5 marketing gig and then a 6 p.m.-2 a.m. shift at the various restaurants and bars I partly-owned.
The hospitality industry became a wakeup call for me – how poorly the staff were treated, how negative the space could be and how quickly people fell into bad habits. It became a struggle and a constant battle between egos instead of ethics. It was draining my energy, the energy of those around me, depleted my bank account and, most importantly, cost me relationships with my fiancée, family and close friends. I couldn't sleep, suffered from high-blood pressure and I was depressed.
It was a spontaneous trip with my fiancée that changed my life for the better – for the first time in more than three years I smiled and enjoyed life a little. I came back wanting to build something that would make an impact on, not only my life, but others – a company that focused on building a positive culture, that pushed personal growth, not just a work environment.
Mindful living is not about being in your yoga pants and becoming vegan – it's about being present and understanding and valuing what you have at this moment in your life. It's about seeing the best in people and dealing with hardships. Calii Love has never been just about food – it is about promoting positivity and wellness in a community space. I wanted a place for everyone – that's why our menu is based on feelings, because everyone (including our staff) feels and we ultimately want everyone to feel the love coming in.
Millennials and Generation Z are embracing the free-spirited lifestyle, are not bound to structure and value convenience. One of the many reasons why services such as Netflix and Uber prosper is that the consumer wants what they want, when they want it. Online retailing is growing at a rapid pace and purchases are a click away. However, consumers are conscious of where they're grabbing their coffee, what they're consuming, the story behind the product and where it comes from. They want to feel like they're doing something good and making an impact in society, and are a part of something bigger. This is forcing businesses to make changes – how they treat their staff, what culture they curate for the next generation, and work-life balance.
There's no surprise that mindful living is a term that has slowly been implemented into work practices in an attempt to sustain healthy and happy teams, but how can dedicated employees keep a work-life balance? Here's three mindful ways:
We're living in a growing city, leading very busy lives. There are work commitments and life commitments – so breathe. I set my Apple Watch to remind me to breathe every few hours, and I make sure I follow it. Regardless of that strict deadline you're trying to meet or that appointment that you can't cancel again, remember to inhale, exhale. This helps to nourish your mind, body and soul because you're breathing mindfully. We host meditation classes in our Mindful Studio every day, and get our employees involved because we know it helps.
Don't let one bad day bring you down
There is always tomorrow – a new day, a new start. Sometimes we don't feel our best mentally or physically, maybe we've exhausted ourselves and this affects our work. It's okay to have an off day, week, or month. The idea is to bounce back and be aware of your emotions – anger, fear, jealousy and stress are the common emotions one feels in a workplace. It's important to have open conversations with colleagues, mentors or seniors, to be transparent and not harbour feelings. Be a better communicator and you will get what you deserve.
The best tip in the books – "you time," also known as "me time." I dedicate one hour every morning to myself to read, relax and enjoy quiet time without anyone disrupting me. During the week, it can get hectic – so stepping out for a walk, doing a lunch workout or connecting with a loved one is what keeps me inspired. Adding small steps together creates one large stride toward mindfulness and good vibes only.
Executives, educators and human resources experts contribute to the ongoing Leadership Lab series.