I go in phases with my yoga practice. I love a 30-day yoga challenge and sometimes extend it for another 30-60 days. Then I often stop making it a priority because I’d rather go for my morning run or because that extra 30 minutes of sleep is enticing, but it’s not just my flexibility and ability to touch my toes that is effected by this, but my energy and focus at work as well.

Certainly part of my yoga life-goals is about achieving the headstand, or at least mastering crow pose, but part of the reason I get called back to practicing is because of how I feel throughout my day post-session. Don’t let Instagram fool you; yoga has nothing to do with how flexible your body is or what poses you’ve mastered, but about meeting yourself where you are and breathing into your movements. Whether I practice for ten minutes or an hour, the method of breathing in and out in rhythm brings focus to my body as a whole, and I feel more centered during my day and able to center that focus on my tasks, projects, and relationships.

Yoga has a plethora of benefits. Though it unfortunately won’t prevent difficult plights at work, it can certainly help entrepreneurs manage their stress and anxiety. Cash flow problems won’t be resolved by mastering the firefly pose, but what it can help is how to approach these problems with a clear mindset. Most entrepreneurs I know understand the importance of staying physically fit, but not as many commit the same time for their mental health.

Lizzie Brown, highlighted by Forbes, is the co-creator of Yoga Wake Up, an app that teaches busy entrepreneurs how to practice meditation and basic yoga postures. She shares that “yoga is a practice that adapts to whatever challenges are going on in your body and in your life.” The benefits of yoga for you as an entrepreneur are all about managing stress. When your day is inundated with employees asking questions, or you’re working around the clock to secure funding, a mindfulness practice can root you to the ground. This mindfulness and meditation is what yoga is at its core and your consistent practice, whether through an app or in a studio, will aid you in keeping control.

Yoga helps you let go of control, slow down your mind, practice patience, and take a moment away from screens and work to be with yourself. We’ve been fortunate at thinkspace Seattle to practice weekly with Jackie Lea as she leads member yoga each Wednesday. During our session we take extra time to stretch, open up our breathe and work out the kinks from sitting at a computer all day. After each session I’ve left feeling refreshed, re-energized, and ready to tackle my next project, whether for work or at home. You have so many options to practice yoga, via app, instructor, or online (might I recommend Yoga With Adriene?). You can do yourself and your business a favor – try challenging yourself to 30 days of yoga and be shocked at what more you can do.

Diversity in the workplace looks incredibly different depending on the industry and certainly location of the company, but if you’re paying any attention to some of loudest niche markets out there, and definitely those supporting entrepreneurs, you’ll see that women are getting more noise than ever.

While browsing for information about women and diversity in the workplace I stumbled across State of Startups; I found the results fascinating. Venture-firm First Round Capital produces an “annual survey where hundreds of venture-backed founders speak frankly about what it’s like running a technology startup today.” A Wired article points out some of the biases in the actual survey conducted as it notes that while they certainly asked a lot about diversity, they never gathered data on the ethnic breakdown of their own respondents. What I found most interesting about the results however was that startup founders believe that true progress when it comes to diversity is still well into the future, 10+ years. When you think of the big tech companies and the startup world, words like innovative, ground breaking, and spearheading come to mind. When it comes to diversity though, these founders overwhelmingly predicted that it will take 10+ years until the tech scene is representative of the general population. If tech and startups are where innovative practices are born, think of the missed opportunities and insight from women’s unique perspectives that could be leading this even stronger. How do we accelerate this?

With so much media focus on women and minority entrepreneurs and in tech, it’s curious to see such low optimism for diversity goals being met in the startup world. I think we’re lucky in Seattle. We’re surrounded by some incredible women-led groups with missions to support gender diversity like the Female Founders Alliance, entrepreneurial and programming-rich spaces like The Riveter, and programs like Companion Coding which introduces low-income minority youth to careers in tech by training them to build websites for real small businesses in their own communities. All of these Seattle-based companies don’t just have visions to support women and minority entrepreneurs, but are creating resources and spreading awareness about it as well.

At thinkspace we get to see women in tech thrive in their businesses. We see startup co-founders like Cassie Wallender of Invio and software engineers like Erin Fitzhenry of ToSomeone, and we host the Women in Tech Regatta, which gathers to connect wo(men) in tech to mentors, peers, and resources. In talking to Erin Fitzhenry about diversity in tech jobs and startups, she shared an interesting perspective about her experience as a woman in technology–she isn’t a fan of the term. Though she acknowledges her strength in her abilities, her interests lie in tech as a tool for solving problems rather than in the technology itself. That is sometimes in contrast with her male counterparts, especially ones who grew up gaming and got interested in the industry because of it. Erin noted that if schools, clubs, and parents focused on using technology as a tool to solve meaningful problems in the world, this might attract more girls to this concept at a younger age, helping fill the pipeline in the future.

Certainly we’re seeing more women and minorities as CEOs and in tech, but the growth rate according to this data points to the pipeline being underrepresented and unconscious biases during hiring. Entrepreneurs and companies always have room to do more to be inclusive but finding the resources to support that is crucial. Thinkspace partner New Tech NW has an incredible resource guide Diversity and Minorities in Tech which I highly recommend taking a look at if you’re interested in gaining resources or getting involved.

The “How I Work” series, most noteworthy done by Lifehacker, has been reproduced by multiple authors for good reason: people love to hear from successful and influential people and learn the intricacies of their day-to-day. It can be inspiring and motivating to hear about the best, and oftentimes most simplistic practices.  In our “How I Work” interview we refined our questions by adding a few of our own and spiced them up with inspiration from Lifehacker as well as thinkspace mentor Matt Heinz. If you’re interested in checking out our previous “How I Work” interviews they get compiled here.

In this edition you’ll be hearing from KJ Dykema from Family Retirement. As a financial advisor she practices what she preaches and lives frugally and budgets like a BOSS. She also travels all over to help employees and individuals understand their own 401k’s and sets up 401k Lunch and Learn with a variety of companies. During her free time she spends time with her family. Not only is she the oldest of seven siblings but also has a 5 year-old son. You’ll be able to find them weekly at the Pike Market walking around, one of their favorite and longest-running activities. In addition to spending time with family, KJ loves to share two really incredible resources in the community, Seattle Preschool Program and Launch, who do great things for underserved families allowing tiered fees, programs, and making sure all kids have quality education. If you are interested in learning how KJ can help, the best way to contact her is through her website or her company text line.

Name:  KJ Dykema

Current Gig:  Independent Financial Advisor and Insurance Professional

One word that best describes how you work:  Time block

Current mobile device: iPhone X

Favorite verb: Love

Grit Score: 4.7 You can learn your Grit Score here)

How do you recharge or take a break from work? With my son; his infectious smile keeps my end goal in mind.

What was your dream job/passion project as a kid? Pediatric Dentist

Sunrise or sunset:  Sunset

Tell us a little about your background and how you got to where you are today. I started at a small independent firm with one advisor. When he saw my potential I had to replace my job with automation so I could take client meetings and maintain the portfolios. I was hired when I was seven months pregnant and took three weeks off and when I came back the advisor and I achieved goals he had never hit before.

Number of unread emails right now? 0 for now…

First thing you do when you come into work? Use my Push Journal to plan out my day and time block to make sure it can all get done.

What is your email management strategy? I have it set for Unread first then, keep emails that need a follow up response in Everything else until they are complete when I move to a folder.

How do you keep yourself calm and/or focused? Write everything down. If it’s off your mind and on paper you have more headspace to attack everything.

What’s your perspective or approach to work/life balance? There are sometimes when I need to work late or weekends, but if I am with my family that time needs to be completely dedicated to them and I need to be present.

Are there any work rituals critical to your success?  It’s a bit odd but I usually wait until 10 am or until I have crossed off some of my initial tasks to have my coffee. I make it a treat so I feel like I have earned it for the day.

What apps/software/tools can’t you live without? youcanbook.me, Zoho, Canva, Mint

Last thing you do before leaving work? Fill up my water bottle and say bye to the Thinkspace greeting team.

What’s your least favorite thing to do, and how do you deal with it? When I get questions about how politics effect portfolios.  I have to refocus what the goal is of the investments they have and what they CAN do to ensure their security with their plan.

What are you currently reading, or what’s something you’d recommend? Every time I get on a plane I start to reread The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell.

Who are some mentors or influencers you wish to thank or acknowledge? Chalene Johnson. I love her organization strategies and her podcast are what keep me dialed in.

Describe your workspace? Bright and Calm

What is your working process like? I use the Push Journal to prepare. I form habits and those habits help me clear up and allow me to be creative, spend time with my son, and everything else.

What’s your best shortcut or life hack? I don’t believe in shortcuts. It’s hard to take shortcuts and expect the same end result.

How do you keep track of what you have to do?  Push journal. Chalene Johnson (creator of Turbo Kick and other workouts) introduced me to it. It breaks down goals, number of hours needed to get things done, time blocking, etc.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? Get out of the problem and into the solution.

Is there anything else you’d like to add that might be interesting to readers and fans? I was in the restaurant industry for over 10 years and still work twice a week at a bar because I love being social. The dynamic of those people is really interesting.

Interested in becoming a “How I Work” spotlight? Contact Stephanie and she’ll be excited to come chat!

After taking some time to pause and reflect about the 11th year of running thinkspace, the thing that I’m most grateful for are the relationships with new customers and my team. I’m so thankful for our new members who have entrusted and believed in us to help support them with their startup and businesses; it has given me and thinkspace so much purpose. Success for us is seeing the launch, lift off, and growth of your companies. It means a lot to me and my entire team to be an extension of each of the companies we support and to be a part of their journey. This last year in particular has been great to have two Location Managers, one in Redmond and Seattle, who have been managing the spaces and teams. It’s a really great feeling to have a strong team around each of these locations!

Recently, I had the opportunity to catch up with one of my past employees who stopped by. Alyssa Galios (Magnotti) was one of my first employees when she started working here in 2009. I attribute a lot of the hard things that I’ve push through in the last decade to Alyssa because of the things that she allowed me to walk through with her and her late husband Nick’s cancer.

When Alyssa walked into the Lake Union location, she said, “Wow this is everything you dreamed about creating!” It was pretty awesome to hear her say that and it also helped me pause and reflect too. Alyssa was really helpful to me in the early days of thinkspace and was instrumental in helping create the product, lead the team, shape the core values, and build the company culture to what thinkspace is today.

I had the opportunity to ask Alyssa about her company, Made for Brave, that she has since started up, how her entrepreneurial journey has been, what she is most grateful for in her life, and what are some of the positive and negative things that have shaped her to be who she is today. Alyssa is also author of a new book “Made for Brave: A Journey Through Devastating Loss and Infinite Hope.” You can listen our StoryCorps conversation here!

The entrepreneurial journey is full of ups and downs but remember its about the journey not the destination. 

Best,
Peter Chee
CEO of thinkspace

Adidas is stepping up the game in the shoe industry by upcycling plastic in the ocean. They are turning this plastic into yarn that in 2018, they were able to create over 5 million pairs of shoes with. Their goal in 2019 has increased to 11 million pairs due to an incredible consumer demand.

Adidas hasn’t stopped there. They are the first to use recycled plastic to make football jerseys that the 2018 University of Miami Hurricanes wore. The yarn used for their jerseys came from fishing nets and other plastic pollutants in the ocean.

As the temperature gets warmer and one of my favorite holidays nears (more on Earth Day here), it’s even easier to get outside and do well for the environment. Whether you are individually doing something (trying zero-waste or simply picking up trash on your walk during lunch) or setting goals for your company to be environmentally sustainable, thinkspace would like to hear about it! Let’s celebrate all we do for the earth and share it so others can be inspired. It’s easy to forget that a lot of little small things add up to make a big difference.

The “How I Work” series, most noteworthy done by Lifehacker, has been reproduced by multiple authors for good reason: people love to hear from successful and influential people and learn the intricacies of their day-to-day. It can be inspiring and motivating to hear about the best, and oftentimes most simplistic practices.  In our “How I Work” interview we refined our questions by adding a few of our own and spiced them up with inspiration from Lifehacker as well as thinkspace mentor Matt Heinz. If you’re interested in checking out our previous “How I Work” interviews they get compiled here.

In this edition you’ll be hearing from Michael Elliott from RocketDog. Rocketdog originally launched in 1999 and Michael dove in full time in 2000. Not only is he an active member at thinkspace, he’s also heavily involved in the tech community. This year he was co-lead for Seattle Startup Week and sits on panel discussions often. It’s important for entrepreneurs to make time for themselves and Michael does that by going on hikes with his bulldog Chuck. You can visit Michael, and Chuck sometimes too, in the Seattle office.

Name:  Michael Elliott

Current Gig: Owner of RocketDog

One word that best describes how you work: Hustle

Current mobile device:iPhone

Favorite verb: Get

Grit Score: (You can learn your Grit Score here) 3.75

How do you recharge or take a break from work? Great food and drinks with friends.

What was your dream job/passion project as a kid? NFL Football and or Superhero

Sunrise or sunset: Sunrise. It’s such an amazing sense of renewal, though I have to admit I see way more sunsets.

Tell us a little about your background and how you got to where you are today. I’m somewhat of an accidental entrepreneur. I enjoy, and sometime dread, controlling my own destiny, but it is the path I have chosen and wouldn’t have it any other way.

Number of unread emails right now? 0

First thing you do when you come into work? Review my plan/projects for the day, then meditate for 10 minutes.

What is your email management strategy? Not as good as I’d like.

How do you keep yourself calm and/or focused?  Meditation.

What’s your perspective or approach to work/life balance? I’ll let you know when I find it.

Are there any work rituals critical to your success? My notebook. I write down all of my tasks/projects that I need accomplish for that day with two items on the top of each page: “What’s the one thing that I can do to dramatically change my world” and “What’s the most important thing I can do today to achieve that goal?”

What apps/software/tools can’t you live without? Adobe Suite

Last thing you do before leaving work? Review my tasks and what I need to finish before end of day.

What’s your least favorite thing to do, and how do you deal with it?The hunt. Though I love it, it never ends.

What are you currently reading, or what’s something you’d recommend? I’m a big fan of Culture Code, Power of Habit, and The Power of Moments.

Who are some mentors or influencers you wish to thank or acknowledge? EO (Entrepreneur’s Organization) has been a fantastic experience over the last decade. It’s like have a built-in brain trust of several hundred of people, that I can reach out to anytime.

Describe your workspace? Awesome!

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? When I was graduating high school, I was gifted some money as a graduation present and when my best friend’s dad handed it to me, he said “I gave you more than any of the other boys because I know you will do something with it and I look forward to seeing how your journey turns out.”

Is there anything else you’d like to add that might be interesting to readers and fans? I love giving back, and I encourage those around me to find ways to give back in a meaningful way.

Interested in becoming a “How I Work” spotlight? Contact Stephanie and she’ll be excited to come chat!

Every April 22nd you might receive a message imploring you to spend the day picking up trash, eating a meat-free meal, or joining the movement of sustainable living. On this historic day back in 1970, in communal solidarity, millions of people gathered to protest the repercussions of 150 years of industrial development. Now, The Earth Day Network (EDN) reminds us annually to celebrate this day as Earth Day.

Each year EDN gears up with a new theme to inspire the global community to do something special – to inspire us to make change for our earth. The 2019 theme for Earth Day is to protect threatened and endangered species. Worldwide, a multitude of events will be held on Earth Day to support environmental protection and campaigns come from both corporate and grassroots efforts. This year EDN expects 1 billion people and more than 193 countries to take part in Earth Day celebrations.

Earth Day Network is asking people to join their “Protect our Species” campaign. Their goals include:

  • Educate and raise awareness about the accelerating rate of extinction of millions of species and the causes and consequences of this phenomenon.
  • Achieve major policy victories that protect broad groups of species as well as individual species and their habitats.
  • Build and activate a global movement that embraces nature and its values.
  • Encourage individual actions such as adopting plant based diet and stopping pesticide and herbicide use.

We can all do our part to educate not only ourselves and our community, but also can initiate positive change in the companies we work for and incentivize employees for doing their part as well. With Earth Day 2019 quickly approaching, challenge yourself to do a little more for the earth and its future generations.

Need any ideas? How about planting a bee-friendly garden? These can include sunflowers, honeysuckle, strawberries, magnolias, and roses. If you don’t have a green thumb you could also simply ask your Congress representative to pass the Pollinator Recovery Act and to protect the Endangered Species Act. There are limitless options and certainly something for you!

If you’re anything like me, your nostalgia for the past will never cease. This means you’re well aware that The Backstreet Boys have reunited and are back on tour, that you were torn when Toys “R” Us announced their bankruptcy in 2017, and have been equally shocked to see in the recent news that Payless Shoes will be shutting down all of their 2,000+ US and Puerto Rican stores.

Payless Shoe Source has been a staple since it’s opening in 1956, when cousins set up the model for self-service. In the late 2010’s self-service is still a thing of course, but online shopping is booming and shopping malls are vanishing. Consumers simply aren’t going out to brick and mortar shops as frequently as retail stores would hope, forcing many of them to deal with their multitude of debt.

Market disruptions have always existed, but within the last decade it seems more like an explosion. The entertainment industry for example was blown away by Netflix and other streaming services- you certainly haven’t seen a Blockbuster store anytime recent. I’m also fairly certain you haven’t opened the door for an encyclopedia salesmen anytime within the last 20+ years, and I feel fairly comfortable betting that Gen Z might not even understand that reference, because wikipedia was the disrupter in that.

Your company might be working to cause the disruption in a frustrating market, or perhaps you’re trying to prepare next steps in case of one. Either way, seeing news like Payless closing up doors is a good reason to consider how you’re doing business and embrace that change is bound to occur. I found it shocking that in a recent report from Accenture it quoted “while 93 percent of executives … say they know their industry will be disrupted at some point in the next five years, only 20 percent feel they’re highly prepared to address that threat.” Noteworthy is that this is occurring to both large companies and startups so embracing for change is inescapable.

Darwin’s theory is survival of the fittest. How do you do this in business? Mimicking advice from Accenture: don’t wait, be brave, turn your vulnerabilities into advantages.

By now you’ve probably at least heard the name Marie Kondo, the Japanese decluttering expert who’s been trending all over social media. People are binging episodes of “Tidying Up,” her Netflix Original series and if you haven’t been able to follow along, you should definitely watch this clip of her with Colbert on the Late Show, surely to give you some insight. Dubbed the KonMari method, Marie reveals that the root of decluttering is in finding joy, not just in the items you own, but within your heart.

Marie begins each episode greeting and thanking the home, a silent moment of gratitude, before she helps her new clients prepare for the journey ahead of them. She takes a simplistic approach when it comes to spreading awareness of organization: “the KonMari Method™ encourages tidying by category – not by location – beginning with clothes, then moving on to books, papers, komono (miscellaneous items), and, finally, sentimental items. Keep only those things that speak to the heart, and discard items that no longer spark joy. Thank them for their service – then let them go.”

In addition to tidying (and teaching Americans how to fold their clothes so that their dresser drawers look incredible) Marie also speaks to productivity: the art of being organized doesn’t just lie within the walls of you home or your workspace, but within your mind. In one of her blog posts Marie explains to maximize productivity and be most efficient, she sets up routines that spark joy and align with her goals, currently of which include being able to spend more time with her children. From a macro perspective on long term goals, she begins with how to spend her time in years then progressively works toward quarters, months, and weeks- and finally works through daily routines. If you don’t have time to read through her whole blogpost here are her five tips that keep her productive while balancing work and family/personal life.

  1. Start Your Morning With Good Energy- Examples include opening the windows for fresh air and getting dressed in something that makes you feel confident.
  2. Make a Daily To-Do List- Include everything on your list, from folding the laundry to answering emails. If you’re anything like me, you’ll feel incredibly accomplished after seeing all the checkmarks next to each completed task.
  3. Coordinate With Your Partner- If you have a roommate or significant other, discussing a household to-do list is a helpful habit. Not only is it a way to share what you’ve already accomplished so it doesn’t get repeated, but it also allows you to express gratitude towards each other. Though a spreadsheet might be useful in the beginning, establishing your rhythm can be helpful to figure out which tasks are best suited for each person.
  4. Clear Your Mind- When I have too many thoughts I’m trying to focus on, I like to write down everything, creating a place to hold all the information and free up the space in my head. Other activities to clear your mind might include exercising or cleaning.
  5. Create a Nighttime Routine- Bedtime isn’t just for kids. Creating a routine for winding down in the evening has many benefits, your health included. When everything has a designated home (laundry bin, papers in folders, etc) you get to head to bed knowing everything is where it’s supposed to be. Marie even suggests thanking them for their hard work. Your evening routine can also involve reading, diffusing oils, or writing in a journal.

In her conclusion: “Prioritizing what sparks joy is at the heart of all the tips I shared above. Keeping this philosophy at the center of everything I do helps me focus on what I value. If you are struggling to figure out what sparks joy for you, my first piece of advice is to tidy your home. Once you are done tidying up, you will find it easier to keep your home – and mental space – clear and focused. By being surrounded only by the things that spark joy, your life naturally begins to achieve clarity.”

If you’re interested in reading other things about KonMari, I really enjoyed this article as well. We’d love to hear your thoughts about how finding joy has been influencing your day. Drop us a comment!

A while back we hosted the Madrona Open Pitch event with special guest Spencer Rascoff, CEO of Zillow Group, moderated by Shauna Causey and Mike Fridgen with Madrona Venture Labs. Before the event, Spencer, Shauna, Mike and I had a conversation and got on the topic of our children. It was kind of amusing to notice that the common thing among each of us was how we introduce and expose our children to entrepreneurship in some form.

Spencer shared that one month ago he started a podcast with his 10 year old son Luke. The podcast is called “Dad, I have a question!” In their podcast, Luke asks questions and then they proceed to have a conversation about it. Some of the topics are: Taxes, Savings, What is Blockchain, and the current topic is What are Unions (but not specifically State of the Union)…

If you want to listen to this podcast you can find “Dad I have a question” podcast on things like Anchor and Spotify!

We also talked a little bit about how as our children grow older we want to have different things that allow us to stay connected to them. I know that is so important to me. I would love to be able to explore different fun adventurous ways to connect with them. Some of the ideas that come to mind are doing a joint podcast, helping them create a YouTube Channel, or build a Amazon or Shopify Storefront and sell LEGO collectibles on it. All these things would be insanely fun me and with the intention of them really enjoying it too!

If you would like to see/hear the talk from “How I built my Seattle Startup” there’s a podcast by Shauna Causey and Mike Fridgen taking with Spencer Rascoff!