5 Ways I Optimized My Brain and Grew My Startup
A Behind-The-Scenes Look at the Life of an Entrepreneur
I finally hacked my life to gain enough time to sleep.
Can you believe it? After years of sleeping less than 6.5 hours a night, I finally felt tired this summer.
And it was because I finally broke my vicious cycle and started sleeping more than 8 hours a night. Dare I say, I hit more than 9 hours on a few delicious occasions.
Perhaps you can relate: my vicious cycle was not having enough time for sleep because I was too tired! As a start-up entrepreneur, my task list can be endless. Being too tired to think clearly meant my work kept piling up while anxiety and self-blame piled on.
Piled up work meant less time to sleep. Sleep deprivation meant I was constantly in zombie mode, too tired to even recognize what “tired” felt like. I just pushed through.
It took a surprising amount of work to get adequate sleep routinely. And as incredible as this may sound, by spending less time with my early-stage EduTainmenTech start-up and more on myself, my start-up has grown more quickly than ever before!
Most significantly, I’ve been spending more quality time with my family. My 4-year-old has renewed belief that he and his two siblings really are the most important to me. Before, there was a little bit of “sibling rivalry” that they felt with LIOHAN, my fourth “baby”. Now, they proactively ask me about my progress and offer to help.
I finally hacked my life to gain enough time to sleep.
Only with enough sleep was I able to be more productive and hence create time to make the magic happen.
This transformation from foggy-brained wantrepreneur to mentally focused action-oriented start-up entrepreneur has been a true team effort and a priority for 2021. Ever since my article “How an Overthinking Entrepreneur Started Optimizing Her Brain for Decision Making [Part 1]”, friends have been reaching out to see how I’ve been managing everything in my life. People ask what it means to “optimize my brain” and what tangible changes I’ve experienced.
Big Changes Are Seldom Done Alone
While getting enough sleep ended my vicious cycle, my journey didn’t start there. It started when I first met Portia Asli, founder of Optimyzed Brain, through a workshop she facilitated at my incubator, ICUBE. Optimyzed Brain revolutionizes how business founders leverage their most important assets – their brains – to raise funding and generate revenue faster without burning out, overworking or sacrificing time with family. The actionable techniques and tools shared through their science-based Brain Optimization Bootcamp are uniquely tailored for business owners with a highly scalable venture and the community is filled with world-class inspiring performers.
Below, are five transformations I experienced through Optimyzed Brain,that helped me create more hours each day and get my startup to the next critical stage. Beyond my expectations in under a year, I’ve been quickly up-leveling in my startup incubator programs, gaining more funding, and growing LIOHAN from a solopreneurship to a team of eight!
1. Enhance Mental Clarity – without drugs!
Optimyzed Brain jam-packs many mind-blowing (and naturally mind-altering) tools and techniques into their Brain Optimization Bootcamp for founders. By doing little things that make an enormous difference in brain performance, I was able to gain awareness of how unproductive I had been when slogging through my days. I’ve gained a lot more clarity in what to do “now and next” with much less anxiety over trying to accomplish way too much over a short period of time.
While I know the road ahead is long, it no longer feels impossibly vague. I’ve become much better at articulating my vision for my team which makes it easier for all of us to achieve our ambitious goals together.
With enhanced mental clarity, I’ve reduced time lost to second-guessing myself and hence my workload. Before I felt like I was working every waking moment, seven days a week aside from time needed to do the most basic parenting and household chores. I was constantly apologizing for rescheduling my parent-child date nights. Now, I spend most evenings and weekends with my family. I’ve prioritized taking breaks for myself during the working hours as well.
My pre- and post-Optimyzed Brain self-assessments showed I experienced a 125% increase in being able to make decisions with clarity and certainty. That’s one of the many things I loved about this program. It’s a well-designed system and process that not only guided me towards my better, higher-performing self but also helped me keep track of my quantifiable progress along the way.
2. Optimize My Physiology – with Brain Foods!
Everything I do in my startup depends upon my brain function. For example, gathering diverse amounts of information and ideas, defining their core essence, and making something out of it all.
One of the core teachings in Optimyzed Brain is how our physiology (body) impacts our brain. All the physiological changes I experienced helped me think more clearly and hence much more efficiently. As I developed my skills and habits to become evermore “brain-food conscious”, it was no longer a mystery why I’d feel sluggish after eating something I shouldn’t have. I’ve now experienced firsthand how awareness of self plays a massive role in improving oneself.
I’ve read about how to better “fuel your brain” before but the words and insights through Optimyzed Brain just really stuck. The simple food hacks that can be integrated into any type of diet gave me the kickstart that I needed and I now appreciate the science behind how and why it matters to prioritize brain nutrition.
3. Increase My Concentration Span – even with kids at home!
Like many parents with young children, I have been working from home with lovely yet loud people who find the most random reasons to interrupt me – constantly – throughout my day. They’ve all gone back to in-person school this week and I already miss them.
After living like this for months on end, I no longer had a sense of how poor my ability to concentrate was! But with some tools, I collected irrefutable evidence on exactly how painfully unproductive I had been. I had long understood that I needed to rejig my days to create more time for uninterrupted work. However, obvious habits aren’t always the easiest to implement and I think that’s where the Optimyzed Brain magic lies.
The system not only coached me on how to schedule my days but also gave me easy hacks to focus my attention. The result is that my concentration “spans” increased from 30 minutes to 90 minutes – a three-fold increase. These longer periods of concentration mean I’m able to work while being fully present, without the nagging voice inside my head that doubts every decision or distracts me with all the other things I must get done.
4. Increase My Company’s Productivity – by increasing my own!
This has probably been the most surprising area of greatest impact. As I’ve continued to grow, so has my team, not only in performance but also in number.
Perhaps one of the hardest lessons a founder must learn is that we can step away.
I learned that I could step away. My team gained confidence and skills because they knew I trusted them. They were able to stay on task because I gave them clear direction with plenty of room for their own creativity and ideas. Most importantly, I proved to my team that I could walk the walk about self-care and gave them confidence that I absolutely prioritize everyone’s health and well-being.
And it seems what they say about putting people first really does have the happy side-effect of developing the most amazing company culture that I’m humbled we’re building together. By creating an environment filled with trust and appreciation, we’re learning to work cohesively honouring many of the values of Optimyzed Brain. We’ve learned to develop ideas together while in group flow.
In quantifiable terms, over the past nine months my team has grown from “just me” to eight passionate and creative people. Our alpha app is underway and we’re on target to release our beta this winter season. Within 8 months, we increased our grant and in-kind funding by nearly 10x and we’re setting up for our strongest fiscal year ever.
A year ago I would not have believed my startup would be in the position it is today. It’s like suddenly, after years of putting love and grit into endless soil our first flower is finally blooming, seemingly from nothing. But I now know the difference that made this all happen. From increased mental clarity I know every single step and decision I had to make along the way and there was no “magic”.
5. Honour My Commitments – even when no one’s looking!
The final piece was recognizing I wasn’t keeping my promises to myself. And the reason for my poor self-control was because I wasn’t getting enough sleep! This is what I’ve uncovered, layer-by-layer over many months: 1) inadequate sleep makes me have a negative perspective, 2) makes my brain sluggish, and 3) the final “kicker”, depletes my willpower and makes me unmotivated!
I know it all makes sense objectively but when you’re in the middle of it, after years and years of zombie mode, constantly wondering “what is wrong with me? Why can’t I just do it all?!” it takes sleep to truly understand how under-slept you are.
I now prioritize getting 8 hours of sleep a night. I went from struggling through days on sub-6 hours sleep (believing I was great and on top of things!) to being finely attuned to the negative impacts of even just 30 minutes less sleep than I needed. This was the game changer. Now that my brain is starting to get the nightly sleep it needs, I know everything else will fall into place. With a well-rested and restored mind, I now have the intrinsic motivation and self-control to do what I say I’ll do when I say I’ll do it.
There’s still an undercurrent of fear/excitement knowing that things are changing so rapidly. I also feel gratitude and relief because I no longer feel alone in my quest to prioritize myself while bringing world-changing goals to life. The Optimyzed Brain community is filled with startup founders who are accomplishing visionary goals and we’re in a safe space that enables us to share our challenges and celebrate our wins.
Optimyzed Brain is unique in how it is designed specifically for startup and scaleup entrepreneurs. I genuinely believe every founder needs to be aware of how their brain functions and to make it their most dependable ally. Everything Portia designed and engineered comes from such a deep place of generosity and expertise. The access to her one-on-one coaching alone is worth the price of admission. She will become your greatest ally and cheerleader as you make the impossible possible.
And for all this I must say: Thank you Portia for everything!! I know that Optimyzed Brain is only the beginning of my new life as an EduTainmenTech parentrepreneur – yes, two heavy portmanteux word mashups for you dear readers who are sticking to the end! – and I am so excited and committed to becoming yet another brilliant example of what your Optimyzed Brain can do to transform people like me.
If you’re a startup/scaleup founder and are the slightest curious about upgrading your brain performance to achieve grand targets, please book a discovery call with Optimyzed Brain. And as always, if you’re a parentrepreneur who wants to create more meaningful bonding time with your family while you’re all growing and learning together, follow us at LIOHAN.space.
With a face like this, how could I spend all my days working away from my family?
What's your journey been like?
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