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Perksy Founder Nadia Masri: Founder Wellness & Perseverance—OFF THE CUFF

How do you define business productivity? Is it grinding out long hours, being totally absorbed in the work and sacrificing out sleep time to hit your targets? This week we go Off the Cuff with Tech CEO and founder of Perksy, Nadia Masri. In this interview, this Forbes 30 Under 30, TedX speaker challenges those notions with the concept of founders wellness.

Watch The Full Interview on YouTube

Nadia Masri Interview Key Points

Nadia gives her insights on the following wellness related topics:

  • The importance of not neglecting our physical well-being when we are developing a business
  • The ridiculousness of certain success stereotypes
  • The relearning process that she went through during her rehabilitation
  • How the mental nothingness of her illness created space for renewed creativity
  • The power of not being driven by distraction
  • The importance of sleep for business productivity and how much is enough
  • How to tell yourself to shut it down and go to bed
  • The importance of understanding that running a business is a marathon, not a sprint
  • The importance of supplementation

About Nadia Masri

Nadia was born and raised in Toronto, Canada. She started her first business at the age of 17, then went on to found BirdCage Media Group while studying at Harvard University. Then, in 2015, she contracted meningitis. Her subsequent recovery gave her a renewed appreciation of the importance of physical and mental wellness, including the value of sleep. 

Nadia Masri in her swimsuit looking physically healthy at the Renaissance private island.
Nadia has a Strong Appreciation of Physical and Mental Wellness

Nadia spent five years in the fashion industry in Toronto and New York. The focus of her work was marketing, social media, and creative.

Perksy App: Cash Rewards & Discounts for Survey Responses

Nadia went on to create the App Perksy, which rewards users with cash coupons from name brand stores for answering survey questions. Companies pay up to $300,000 per year to feature their surveys on Perksy. The app has a survey completion rate of 85%, which is far higher than most competitors.

Forbes 30 Under 30

In 2018, Nadia was named in Forbes’ prestigious 30 under 30 list, which recognizes the 30 most influential young business figures un the US and Canada. While studying at Harvard, Nadia realized that many businesses struggled to understand their audience, especially when that audience is young people. This led her to create Perksy as a way to meet young consumers on their own turf, which is a gamified mobile environment.

An image of Nadia Masri when she gave her first tedx talk at the Rutgers University.
Nadia Masri is a TEDx Speaker

TedX Speaker

Nadia is also a TedX speaker, has been named in the CNBC Top 100 and was honored to ring the market closing bell at Nasdaq Tower in New York’s Times Square.

Nadia currently resides in New York, New York.

Find Nadia Masri Online

Watch The Full Interview on YouTube

  • So I’m just getting right into it, boom. Today I’m very happy to have Nadia Masri, Off the Cuff. She’s the founder of Perksy and She just does tons of other awesome things, which I’m sure she’ll get into in our conversation today. But I’m really excited about this conversation with Nadia for Off the Cuff and for our audience, her audience, anybody that’s able to watch this. Because I think this is one of the first times where we’ll be able to dive into a topic that we haven’t really covered, that I don’t think a lot of people have covered. Which one is founder wellness. And it’s something in talking to Nadia and talking about her journey to where she was before she founded her company. The impetus of founding her company, and the struggles that she went through before that, which she’ll get into, which is an incredible story. Also, I’m excited to dig deeper with Nadia, regarding her view on wellness holistically and supplements and sleep and all these amazing things that the 25 to 30-year-old somethings, whether you’re an entrepreneur or whether you’re not. I think it’s really, really important information to hear. So Nadia, thank you for joining me. Thank you for And for lack of a better phrase, tell us a little bit about yourself. How you… came to do your thing.
  • Absolutely. Well, first off, thanks so much for having me T. Joe. I’m very excited to be here. I am currently reporting live from my childhood bedroom in Toronto, Canada This is where I was born and raised. I live in New York. But in Toronto Canada. Where my parents have decided to take my childhood bedroom and build a shrine to me. Which honestly I feel like I pretend that I’m annoyed by it, but I’m also like, deep down I’m like, “Oh yeah.” I feel thank you, thank you. Very, very sweet of them. But also a little bit mildly embarrassing because this is my location for calls. Where’s the best place to start to introduce myself. So I’m a four time founder, Forbes 30 under 30. A TEDx speaker, which I’m really excited to be able to say now. ‘Cause like I love Ted.
  • Oh yeah
  • And then, yeah. And I did a TEDx in February and I’m so excited about it. Like I added it to my LinkedIn and I like put it in my LinkedIn bio and I was like TEDx speakers yeah. I’m one of those people. I was like, I absolutely have to do this, but I’m really excited about it actually, because, and we can touch upon this a bit later. But what I talked about in it was something that I don’t feel a lot of people talk about, which is the power of emotions in business and how important it is to actually use emotion in business in a positive way. And how, you know, emotional capital, I believe is the greatest currency, you know, you can have and you know, building, it is very, very important as an entrepreneur. You know, there’s, there’s that aspect that I think that ties in well to what we’re going to be talking about today, which is really founder wellness. And I think the two things go hand in hand because to build emotional capital requires a lot of authenticity and a lot of vulnerability. And I think, you know, sometimes founders are so focused on business and they’re so focused on almost being robotic to an extent that, you know, they overlook these things that are like innately human and really important to our functioning and, you know, wellness being one of those things and wellness is not just physical health. It’s also emotional health, it’s mental health, all of those things play into it. And so I think there’s going to be a nice synergy of, of what we discussed here today. So I guess now the quick background I’m going to make it sort of short and sweet because otherwise you will be subjected to my rambling, which.
  • Yeah, no I think. ‘Cause there’s articles on it about you and I just think it’s such an inspiring part of your story. And I, I think you know what I’m talking about without giving it all away,
  • Yep
  • Like how, you know, that came to be. I think it’s just such a cool thing.
  • Yep. So I’ll start, I’ll I’ll keep the beginning shorter. So I started my first company when I was 17 in my first year of college in Toronto, Canada, I was a franchise manager. I bought a franchise called Pro Painters and I had success with that. And it led me to start my second business, which was a media company, started in Toronto, but spent most of my time running it in New York, it’s called Birdcage Media Group. We produce niche print and digital content for the fashion industry. We covered things like film, fashion, culture, music, art, I, now today I call it like youth culture. But back then, like when you’re actually young, you don’t call anything youth culture cause like you are the youth, you know, but that, that was a lot of fun. We had really cool interviews, a lot of really great contributors. It led me to join another company called 460 Great Tech Company out of Toronto. I joined as the CMO that it became co-founder, it’s a digital marketing platform, pre commerce retailers. Then after that, I exited it and decided to go back to school. And so I found this backdoor into Harvard that allowed, you know, students that are over the age of 23 who have left their academic careers to pursue some sort of, you know, business endeavor and are not coming back to school. And so I applied for that program. I got in and became a full time degree-seeking student. My concentration was in psychology. I’ve always loved the behavioral sciences. So it just kinda like runs in my family, I guess. Everyone in my family is interested in it or either interested or working in it. And you know, while I was on campus. So I was studying at Harvard and this was, I think the spring semester of 2015, I contracted meningitis and encephalitis. So just to give you an idea of what this is, so itis means inflammation of. So if you have gastritis, inflammation of your stomach lining, you’ve got an upset stomach. So meningitis is inflammation of the meninges around the brain. And encephalitis is inflammation of the encephala, which is your brain. Which means my brain was literally swelling. And the meninges around my brain were literally swelling. And that was the, like also so weird to literally feel your brain swelling, like think of it this way. Like you feel things expanding in your head. And it was just, it was terrifying. So, you know, I got that and I had to temporarily leave school. I had to leave my classes for that semester. And I was just like, the recovery period was me just like sleeping for the entire day. I was only awake for like four hours of every day. I think in the beginning it was probably less. And then it started becoming four hours of every day. But I entirely, I lost my memory during that time period. I just, my brain was just empty. There was nothing going on in there. I didn’t know what was going on. And I remember for when it first started, I was so scared. I was at the hospital and I was like hysterically crying. And my dad, who’s a doctor, was like, “You need to stop crying. “You’re going to stress yourself out more. “Your heart rates can increase. “And the swelling is going to increase more.” Which just made me freak out more. So I’m like terrible, you’re not helping. But that entire process, I mean, it taught me a lot. I think prior to that, I had pulled all nighters for school. I had pulled on letters for work. I’d really treated my physical health very differently prior to that situation taking place and learning that the way in which my brain recovered and my body recovered was a function of just total sleep, really changed my opinion of sleep and the role it plays in our lives. I even ended up when I was taking my makeup courses, started digging into a bit more and even did some independent study around, around sleep, which I found fascinating. But I think like the, the hardest thing is like completely losing your memory and thinking that like, it’s done. Like I thought it was, I was done. I was like, I’ve worked myself to this point. I’ve been working so hard. So at the time I was also, I was helping a friend’s business. So I was going back and forth between New York and Boston, I was in school. And also like I was working myself just to the bone without taking any care of my body or, or my physical health and, you know. I’m not saying that’s what caused it. You know, it’s rare to happen. It’s, you know, 200,000 cases a year, but I think that it influenced it. It maybe made my immunity weaker and made me more susceptible to that. But yeah, it was, it was quite the harrowing experience.
  • How do you, like, I just, I think this is. I don’t, I don’t even, I mean, inspiring is, I mean, it’s obviously that’s the first word you think of, but how do you cause, cause the way I think about it, right? Is like, cause I’ve, I’ve experienced like stomach pains before and things like that. And the way that it affected my brain and my outputs, because obviously your stomach is connected to your brain
  • Yep.
  • was crazy. But for your brain to be the thing that’s swelling for your, for your brain to be the thing that is compromised at that point. For you to be only active for like four to five hours in a day and then have the fortitude
  • To go out?
  • Yeah, like. Like how did you, I wouldn’t really call it a rut, but I think this is just something that can be really beneficial for, you know, your audience and our audience that watches this that are like in the trenches, which is what I like to call it. As you can be in the trenches as an entrepreneur, as an athlete, as a parent, there’s different ways that you could be in the trenches. How did you go from that to, “Okay, I’m going to, I am forced to change my habits. “But at the same time I have to be productive.” How did you, like, how did you change that mindset to get to, to where you are now? Not just with like starting Perksy after that, but just, I mean, that’s a complete like shift of habit, mindset, everything, and that’s one of the hardest things to do.
  • Yeah, you know, what’s really interesting though? Like I was recovering for a really extended period of time and they say it takes like 60 to 90 days to either start a habit or break a habit.
  • Yep.
  • And I think almost like the time period that I was recovering hit the reset button, but you know, I had been so like lackadaisical about, you know, my physical health before I was just like, “Oh, like it’s, it’s, it’s fine. “Like I don’t really need to focus as much on, “And maybe like, you know, it doesn’t, if I, “if I miss out on sleep, it’s not gonna matter.” And like, like I had this, this like long standing thing that is so stupid to me now, but I was like, “Oh, I’ll sleep when I’m dead.” I was like, one of those like, like loser things to say, which is supposed to like champion success. And we believe that we’re saying these things because working ourselves to the ground and like, you know, destroying our bodies in order to build business must be the way to go. That’s clearly it, when in reality, that’s not the case. You know, you need those breaks. And I guess I hadn’t really thought of, so I, I was working out prior to that. So like I was still exercising. And while I say that, maybe, you know, I think I’m, I’m probably under undervaluing the fact that I, I did eat well. I think I even eat it even better now. I think about, you know, supplementation and vitamins and those kinds of things now more than I did before, but I think I still did eat relatively well. But I didn’t really think about mental health as physical health until that happened because I’m like, “Your brain can get injured in this way?” I was like the, like the only thing I had thought of that could really affect your brain in that way like I was like, “Oh, maybe like, you know, “unfortunately like you could be affected by Alzheimer’s “or dementia later in life.” And those were kind of the things that I thought of. But you know, you don’t think that, you know, as a young person at the time I was, what, 24 going on 25 or something like that. Yeah, I was 24 at the time. I was like, “Oh, there’s, there’s nothing “that could impede my ability to think.” But to have that taken from you, like think of everything that, you know right now, think of everything that, you know, imagine all of that evaporates and you know, nothing to the point where like once it got past a certain point, So like, while I was starting, I was like aware of the fact that, I was like losing my memory in some regards, but once I was in recovery and I was like, sleeping, like you said, like that, that’s where I like chuckled. When you were like, “Oh, you were active for four to five hours every day.” I wouldn’t say active. I would, I was awake for four to like for four to five hours of every day and probably about four. Like that’s different. I was like eating, like my bed sheets got changed and I got food. I can’t, I, to this day, cannot remember how any of that happened. I can’t tell you how I ate. I can’t tell you that. I don’t know what happened during that time period. Like my memory during that time period is just like, I feel like I just like lost all that time. Like towards the end of my recovery, very sadly, my grandmother actually died and we were very close. I know that I was going into the hospital for my final MRI, the day that she was coming out, it was like a followup check in like an MRI to make sure there was no like residual, like tumors and stuff, which can happen. And the, I just, I think because it’s such a strong memory, I remember holding her hand while she died, but I can’t remember like being at the hospital with her and like, I apparently was there. And so it’s just, it’s crazy. Like those kinds of things are just like nuts. There are parts that I don’t remember, but imagine like everything being wiped, I have always prided myself on, like, I know the things that I’ve done, like my experiences, like look at my, like my weird parent shrine. Like these experiences have defined me. Like I love to sing and dance and play hockey and soccer and imagine all of those skills you lose overnight. Or that’s what I thought happened. I thought I’d lost everything because I didn’t know what was going to happen. I was, it was 24 years old. I was freaking out. And so like, to me, you know, you don’t really see recovery in sight. And then, you know, I think it got to a point where then it just like overtook me and there was like nothingness. It was like every day I would wake up and like, there’s just still nothingness, like, I can remember not remembering or thinking. It was just like feeling of fullness in your head, in the same way that your stomach feels full. It was just like this fullness that it’s almost like this, this probably isn’t medically correct. But my brain, like my mind thinks it is. But like, I guess how I would describe the feeling, which like, again, to be clear, not medically correct, I think it’s like the brain felt like it was swelling to take up all the space where the information was, which I know isn’t true. Isn’t actually scientifically correct. But that’s what it felt like.
  • So then what was the.
  • I just realized I did not answer your question. I can if you want, but I did not.
  • Well, I think what’s, what’s, what’s more important with that point is the fact like you had to relearn everything like you had to, you had to essentially reprogram how you thought about entrepreneurship and starting a business, running a business and your productivity. So as far as, as far as your new habits and reprogramming, how you thought about that, where did that start from? Like how did that grow?
  • This is a crazy thing. I didn’t know that much about entrepreneurship when I got meningitis, I thought I did, but I really didn’t. Like I had like a very basic understanding of it as one does when the first business they started is when they were 17. Like, you don’t actually know.
  • Right.
  • I was actually talking to my mom about this because I got interviewed like around this, this, this topic, like last year and I was talking to her about it after, and she was like, you know, I wonder if he would have been able to start Perksy if this, like, if this hadn’t happened to you. And the reason is because that nothingness created space, I like, I feel like I let go of so many things. I like stopped caring about people who I was once friends with that it was no longer friends with or like any like burdens or grudges or like anger or resentment or disappointments. I feel like a lot of them I just forgot about and they’ve, they’ve come back to me since. So like the longterm effects of the memory are only for that, that time period. I did get my memory. Like I did get my memories back for anything before that, of course. And so, but I just like didn’t care as much. And so my mom was saying to me, it’s almost like the longest meditation anyone could possibly do. Like you totally cleared your mind, which really changed my perspective towards meditation, as well as someone who was like very high energy and has a really hard time, like sitting down and being like calm, calm, and let everything out of the brain. I think it changed my perspective because I feel like I came in with a blank slate. My ability to learn after that is like nothing I’ve ever, I had ever experienced actually, to be honest, it just tells me I should be meditating more. Still, I have nothing I’ve ever, like, I have not gotten that level again. Like I probably need to get back to it somehow, but I read every book, every startup book, I just like Googled what the top books were. And I was like, “Oh, cool, Zero to One Peter Thiel. “Oh, Venture Deals. “I’ll read this too.” And like, “Oh, The Hard Thing About Hard Things.” And I just went through all of them.
  • Ah I love that book, Ben Horowitz?
  • Yeah, it’s awesome. I’m actually about to read his next book, so I’m excited. I’ll let you know how it goes if you haven’t read it yet. But I’m, it was just so fascinating. I was able to retain this information like you would not believe, which just totally changed my perspective as to like, how are we actually spending our time? Like I just spent the last three months not being on social media, not really like constantly like being driven by distraction. Like not really focusing on anything else and just letting my mind heal, letting my brain heal and my body physically heal and physically healing my ailment ended up mentally and emotionally healing me as well. And so with sleep and just the ability to let go, to remove distractions. I would say that what I learned in the four months after, like I ended up starting Perksy that summer, or I guess like toward like August, 2015. I think that like the information I was able to pick up and learn and acquire during that time enabled me to start like really going hard and building that business operating from almost, you know, very little experience of being the core person, building a tech company. Like I was a co-founder at 460. I didn’t build the core of that company. The founder did. And so it was, it was really interesting, but now I sleep like eight to 10 hours every night. It has to be eight hours minimum. I would prefer.
  • This is like, this is probably one of my, I mean, I just think you’re a dynamite individual. But I think this is probably like one of my favorite things about you besides, like your story and you is just like, you’re like, I’m getting eight hours of sleep. And this is like, let’s–
  • Minimum!
  • Minimum.
  • Minimum.
  • This is a good segue into the founder wellness conversation, because what I think is so important is that, and you know, I’m so excited for you to, to share why you do that, what you’ve seen with that. But I think it’s really important to understand that. And this is something that me just personally, I’ve had to figure this out over time. Just learning how to be a better entrepreneur is that it’s not about how busy you are or how busy you claim to be. It’s about how productive you are. If you’re, if you’re in the, at least for me, it’s like the way that my brain works is a certain amount of sleep and a certain quality of sleep and certain things. And this is all like sleep gym, supplements, everything natural. It gets my brain firing in the right way where I know, okay. I gave my all in terms of a logical pathway to this decision. I did this the best. And so I think that really needs to be understood, but to start us kind of talking about founder wellness, cause I think you have such an amazing perspective on founder wellness that a lot of founders and entrepreneurs that maybe, you know, watching, watching, or listening to this could, could benefit from talk about why you get at minimum eight hours of sleep, why it’s so important to you, the benefits you’ve seen from it and, and just moving into, into founder wellness and kind of what that means to you and why it’s so important.
  • Yeah, absolutely. So first and foremost, I’ll just say that the brain is like one of those old Macs. It can only defrag when it’s off. And so the thing is your brain actually processes all of the information that it receives throughout the day, while you are sleeping, which is why sleeping is so important and the quality of your sleep matters. It’s not always length of time. You can sleep eight hours and have terrible quality sleep. The quality is really important. And I’ll talk about that next, but first I’ll just talk about like length of time sleeping. So neurologists at Harvard medical school had actually discovered that sleeping is a great way to help our brains approach problems from even different angles and see things from different perspectives. So specifically during the REM stage of sleep. So that’s the stage where you’re dreaming, which is why no that’s belief that when it comes to dreams, it’s just a smatter. We don’t really know everything about dreams, but you know, I think the widely accepted theory is that your brain is actually just processing all the information and you’re seeing bits of piece in it. And it creates this sort of like narrative, but our brains do process and combine information in, you know, the most creative and unique way possible. And so we’re able to make new connections and sort of like infer new, new things between ideas and concepts in that stage. So like REM sleep is really important. And so I think that the reason why I care so much about getting a lot of sleep for, for one it’s inspired by the fact that to me, sleep represents a time of healing. It’s a time where my brain was able to become like a heal itself and then become even better than it was before. It was like new car vibes. Like it was just, it was great. And so I think of it as why wouldn’t I continue to do that when it had such a tremendous impact, if it has a power, your brain has a power to literally heal itself during sleep. Why wouldn’t you do that every day if you could? That’s like completely recharging yourself every day. And I think that like, there’s so many factors that go into getting good sleep. It’s really important to create the right sleep hygiene. So sleeping at the same time every night, knowing like when the best time for you to go to sleep is and went to rise. And like, there are really accessible tools that do that. Like I use the, the pillow app. If you have an Apple watch, even better, highly, highly recommend to every single person listening to, to get the pillow app. I happened to download it. And actually I was showing my dad this yesterday, cause he has an Apple watch. And as a psychiatrist, he was like, “You know, about the pillow app?” He’s like, “We like, we doctors, like “we know all about this.” “Like, I didn’t know very many people know about it.” I’m like you think there’s something that happens in the app store that I don’t know about? I’m like “Really, come on dad.” I’m just kidding. But like it’s one of those things that like medical professionals are like, “This is a phenomenal thing for sleep tracking.” Same with the Oura Ring. That one’s great too, but a little more expensive. And so being able to track that and know, and like I’ve seen the quality of my sleep. I’ve been able to notice that at times where I get a little less than eight hours of sleep or I don’t get great quality sleep the next day, my ability to function and peak performance is just impeded. I don’t make the same decisions. I don’t think I make them as quickly. I think, you know, irritability and all that is one thing. But the ideas that you can come up with when you’re well rested, it just, it makes a huge difference.
  • Wow. Yeah. Like, so, so what are some ways like, because I think one of the main things where people struggle with that is the feeling of guilt that they get. So…
  • Yes.
  • How do you get past the guilt of I’m shutting it down and going to bed? Cause like, like the whole, I am like, I don’t have a successful business yet. We’re not profitable. I’m hungry, like hungry meaning that like I’m hungry to make this work. I need to stay up, I need to grind like, blah, blah, blah. How do you get past that feeling of guilt where it’s like, I’m shutting it down, I’m getting sleep back to our points of you gotta grind it out. How do you get your mind past that to realize that, I guess what I’m trying to say is how, how do you yourself to realize that this is the better option for longevity and success of not only you, but whatever you’re doing, how do you get past that?
  • The second you realize that running a business or any other successful endeavor that you’re trying to pursue, you know, any sort of big ambition that you have, but I’ll use the business, framework specifically, the second that you realized that running a business is a marathon and not a race, you will change your relationship with time and what it means in the context of your everyday life. And so for me, when I came upon that realization, it made me think about how, what time means to me every day. And do I want to win in the long term? And to me, obviously, that answer is yes. And so I realized that when I realized that I am the vehicle for success here, an athlete needs to train their body. They need to wake up at a certain time every day. They go to the gym, they do their routine, whatever it is, an athlete, trains for the Olympics. You need to treat your body as if you are also training for the Olympics, but your Olympics are very different. They have different outputs. Your Olympic are, you know, competing for market share. It’s a different type of competition, but it still requires the same dedication to your physical health and your mental and emotional health, well it’s probably spiritual health, but you know, stick with the other ones for now. And I think that the way that I see it is if you are willing to accept that this is a marathon and you’re going to be in it for the long haul. That your body is the window through which you see the world. And it is the tool that you use to accomplish your goals, then you should treat it as nicely as you do the things that are most important to you. When you drive a nice car, you want to take it to the car wash. It’s the exact same thing. And sleep is a fundamental element of our health. It is just like, we have to do it. If you don’t sleep, your body will force you to sleep. It will be like, “I am going to knock you out and make you fall asleep on the “floor right now because you can not deprive me of this.” Like I need like you have to sleep and then you also have to drink water and you need to eat. Like, there are things that we need to do. Like you got to sleep. And so why not figure out, like, if, if you can dedicate your time to something that will make you more efficient, why wouldn’t you do that? Like, do you want to be the best or you want to be good for now? I want to be the best in the long term. I don’t want to be great just today. When everyone can see me working and thinks I’m working, like if you got to shut it down because you need to focus on yourself, that lets you be good for tomorrow. And you’ll also learn that like, you know, in the beginning you need to constantly hustle. I get that, you know, I sacrificed other things. I got… So I understand the concept of working all day for me early on in the business. Like there’s a time period in which you do have to work a ton. Like I’m not saying don’t put it all in and don’t grind because that’s what I did. And that’s what I think people they need to do. But I just chose to sacrifice different things. I, you know, and I’m not saying that that’s right or that’s wrong, but for me, I was like, I need to make sure that I’m getting a minimum of eight hours of sleep every night. And I also want to make sure that I’m getting the work in. So instead maybe like, I’m not going to go to that concert with my friends or I’m not going to, you know, go on a trip that everyone’s going on. I’m going to make the choice not to do those things, but I do need to make sure that I’m taking care of myself. And so it’s just about that sacrifice. And I think as your business grows, I think one thing that founders always struggle to do is, you learn how to delegate. And I realized it wasn’t just about me anymore. Me getting enough sleep, it’s not just about me. You’re the leader of a company. Your mood affects everybody. You set the tone the minute you walk through that door or show up on that zoom, you know? And so for me, I wanted to make sure that I’m not being irritable with people for no reason because I didn’t get enough sleep. And like, you know, there are times where it’s happened. You know, I like there was a few months back where I got food poisoning and I didn’t get enough sleep. I was like, you know, puking up my guts all night. And so I didn’t get enough sleep and still decided to come to work. And I wasn’t the most pleasant and you know, my close system play like Andrews, he’s our head of product and my first hire, he was like, “Just go home and go to sleep. “You need your sleep.” Like, it’s become like a part of who I am now. And I can’t imagine a world like today. I can’t, I don’t think I can pull an all nighter. I don’t know who that girl was who could pull all nighters. She’s a very, very different person.
  • Yeah, no, that’s… that’s such an incredible point that I feel like all founders need to understand is that your mental state, your emotional state, the way that you come in, it’s just like being a captain of a team, right? Like you’re, you know, you’re, you’re leading a team. So you’re, you know, the captain sports team, you come into the locker room, everybody looks to you, you know everybody looks to you. If you give up a certain energy, it makes everybody else question their energy. And it’s not just in a physical room or a physical space. It’s like you said, straight to the zoom call. So taking care of yourself, you know, in effect also takes care of your business. And I think that is an incredible point because people get caught up. Like I got gotta, I’m a bit like, I’m like, I’m a beat myself up. Like, I need that story, like, blah, blah, blah. You know.
  • People also don’t like that because then it makes them feel like they’re not enough. Or like they need to be wearing themselves into the ground. So what I also hate is people who aren’t wearing themselves into the ground, but are making it seem like they’re doing that. I’m like, no, I’m like, I’m like, why would you want to project that? That’s also because I do think that in technology, like sometimes like this startup and venture capital world, they like kind of pervert those ideas as if like, that’s the cool thing to do. It’s like drink Soylent. Don’t eat, just work all the time. Don’t sleep, who needs that? Like, let’s just work constantly until we’re dead, which might happen early because we work too hard. Like it’s like, you can work really hard and still take care of yourself. There’s nothing, there’s nothing cool, or like visionary about not taking care of yourself. Like, I bet you, Bill Gates eats like a King. Like I don’t know what he eats, but I’m sure I’m sure he eats very well and takes care of his body. I mean, hopefully, otherwise.
  • Well, I think that. That’s literally like, I wish I had a, I need to like bring props to these or something. I literally want to hold up a sign. Maybe our video editor can put this on thing.
  • Yes.
  • It is not cool or visionary to not take care of yourself. That is like.
  • Yes! It’s just I don’t understand it. And it’s like people really don’t like it. They just don’t want to work for you. Like they just don’t. So I actually, I declared a mental health day I think it was in June. Yeah, it was, I think it was in about June and I had a few employees like message me and like, thank me for this. And I’m like, yeah, I just figured that you probably need a mental health day. Like we’re all working from home, you know, a handful of you are parents and like there’s a lot going on. Like we should just start having more regular mental health days so that you can like literally unwind. And I told people, I’m like, if I see you on Slack, you’re in big trouble. Like just there’s no, I know that we don’t have things that have to be done right now. I know they can wait. So the great thing about work is it will always be there. It’s not going to go away. If you leave it right now and come back, tomorrow, it will still be there and you can keep working on it. It’s just, we have to stop feeling like we need, need, need, need to get things done all the time and that we need, need, need this productivity and somehow that validates our existence and that makes us okay with who we are and look easier said than done. I’m not saying that any of this was easy, my personality type finds it very difficult to fight back against this. Like I’m like the number one candidate for someone who had to follow these rules, otherwise she would have driven herself crazy. Like I had to learn these things and learn that like, it’s totally okay to shut your laptop at 6:00 PM because you need to eat and you need to take some time. And especially when you’re solving problems, like, I, it took me a long time to realize this, this one, I would say it took me longer. It’s not like I just had some, you know, it was like the post meningitis. I had some like visionary awakening and just knew it, it like took me a while to realize that I was like, you know what, when I, when I take a little more time, when I shave a couple hours off of my work, like, you know, in the beginning I was saying in the early stages, you know, I worked really hard. I got full sleep, but I did like stop working at like eight or nine and then like immediately went to sleep. But I would say I’ve since started shaving a couple hours off. And the difference in my decision making I’ve started to be able to actually notice because I’ve been writing it down. So I’ve been like writing down. I started doing this thing, which was like decision a day. It’s like this thing I made up, I don’t know. I’m sure someone in the world has probably done it before, but it was just like, what decision am I making today? Or what’s the most important decision I have to make today? And I was trying to see how long it was taking me to like, make these major decisions. And I just noticed that when I took more time away, I was like getting more confident with the decision I wanted to make faster, because I feel like I gave more time to sort of like quiet and think about it. And it’s made a big difference. I think that part is important too.
  • Yeah, no, seriously. So couple more things. So one. I know how passionate you are about supplements and supplementation
  • Love supplements
  • and what that means. So I would, I would love for you to get a little bit into that and then to end, I would just love for you to talk about your TED talk and what that meant to you and, and let us know where we can find it, where we can watch it and, and that as well.
  • Yeah, absolutely. So supplements, I’m obsessed with the supplements. I tried to avoid them at first because my mom is like hardcore about supplements. And you know, when you’re young, you’re just like, “Oh mom, like, no, “I don’t want to take these vitamins.” So they’re like horse pills. So I like, definitely like, wasn’t that into it.
  • I used to, I liked the Flintstones. The Flintstones were vibe.
  • Oh, see, my mom wouldn’t let me have it. It was more like, like take this spoonful of like, like flaxseed oil. And I like, it tastes like the, like, inside of like a chipmunks cheek. Like it’s just like, it tastes like nutty and oily and gross. And so I just like wasn’t, I guess I assume that’s what the, inside of a chipmunk’s cheek tastes like.
  • Yeah.
  • Hopefully close enough. So I, you know, at first I wasn’t that into it, but I became very much into it after sort of meningitis. I don’t know why I think it was just because I don’t think there was like something very specific that led to it. I think it was more a general, I want to take care of like the, my full health, but I got into it by starting with kind of like Nootropics. And, you know, I think that there are a lot of things out there that sort of like claim to be brain boosters. And I think there is a lot of bullshit out there, but there are also some things that are tried tested and true and have been around for ages. You know, one of those things being like Ginkgo biloba, I’m super into Ginkgo biloba. I actually have some Ginkgo biloba here because I couldn’t bring all my supplements, but I was like, girls not going to forget or Ginkgo biloba. It’s also really fun to say, but these are things that like, they just like, they work on your brain. But I also, I realized that I felt much better and much stronger when I was really focusing on, on supplementation as a whole. And things can affect your thinking, like not having enough vitamin B12, a great example. I used to be a vegetarian. I was a vegetarian for seven years. I was vegan for two of them. I still am very much. I feel like I do have a pretty, mostly vegetarian diet. I think one of the things is, cause I mostly just don’t like to cook meat myself, but I also am a person that cannot keep weight on unless as a, as a vegan slash vegetarian unless I’m constantly eating, which I wasn’t able to do with the career I chose. So I decided not to be a vegetarian anymore. But during that time, like, you know, in the beginning I feel like I had a lot of clarity and thinking, I feel like I made my thinking a lot clearer, but over time it was affected. And I later learned it’s because I wasn’t getting enough vitamin B12. So like these things that we eat matter, like they really do matter. They, they affect our thinking. And so that’s why thinking holistically about sort of like brain body, like emotional wellbeing, mental wellbeing, everything, they’re all interconnected. It’s the same thing with vitamin D not getting enough vitamin D affects your mood. It affects whether or not you are happy. The number one reason why people are sad in February is as a result of that’s actually the time it takes for our vitamin D stores to wear off from the summer months, that’s how long it takes. And so they typically wear out around like for some January, but January, February, March.
  • Then coronavirus.
  • And so, yeah, and then coronavirus, which just decides to wipe everyone out, so just problems. So I would say that it’s really important to think about, you know, wellness holistically in that way. And that’s why I care about supplementation. I actually take a prenatal vitamin. I’m obviously not pregnant. And I asked a very stupid question to my sister in law who is a naturopath, I shouldn’t say obviously, I mean, you can’t see me, but I’m not, but my sister-in-law’s a naturopath. And I asked her a very silly question. I was like, “Won’t this be like bad for me? “Cause it would have stuff for like, you know, “it’s like prenatal, right?” And she’s like, “You know that your brother takes it?” And I was like, “Really?” And she’s like, “Yes.” Like what it basically is, is it’s a double dose of vitamins. Like it’s like a double dose of everything you need because the idea is it’s for you and like you and a half. And I started doing that and it actually worked very, very well. So I would recommend it to all women and any brave men who want to be like my brother. He would probably be mad at me if he heard this, but you know, I just had to put it out there.
  • What a guy.
  • Yeah, in terms of, of brain stuff, I really, really like, I really, really like Neuro-Peak. So Neuro-Peak is produced by a company called Zhou Nutrition and I’ve, I’ve been a fan of Zhou Nutrition in general. I feel like a lot of the things that it’s produced have been really effective, just they’re very targeted. I think they’re very smart with their products, And so I’m a huge fan. And I love Neuro-Peak. I feel like that’s been a great like sort of brain vitamin.
  • Awesome. So yeah, I think now, I mean, I talk a little bit about your, your Ted talk. I mean that’s yeah.
  • Yeah, TEDx, I’m not cool enough to be full TED, it is the TEDx but… Yeah, so you know, the focus of my TEDx talk. So I did a TEDx talk at Rutgers in February and it was called emotional capital, like the new currency, because of course you have to have one of those like, you have to have a colon in the title and make it all cool like that. You’re like emotional capital, you know, the new currency. And so that’s kinda how I dropped it. But the idea is really that I’ve always believed that the best leaders are adept at building emotional capital and the concept behind that is think of every interaction that you have with someone as, you know, a, almost like a, think of it in financial terms, like a financial transaction, where in that relationship. So let’s say you and I, we have a bank account that we share and that bank account will represent our emotional capital. Every time that we have a positive interaction, we’re investing money into that shared bank account. Every time that we have a negative interaction, we are withdrawing money from that shared bank account. And so the reason why it’s so important to think of it as shared is like, whenever you are talking with someone every time that you, you have a positive interaction, you, you tell them a great story. You find a way to connect with them on a deep level. You’re building that bank account for the both of you, which means that you are, you can be fully responsible of building that emotional capital with others. And so they say the best leaders are emotionally intelligent. I don’t think it’s about emotional intelligence. It’s like, how much do you want to be around that person? I might be emotionally intelligent, but not adept at building emotional capital. Are you going to come to my birthday party in December as a result of that? Maybe not, but if we build good emotional capital, maybe you’ll come to my birthday party. It’s on December 10th. It’s in December. It’s gonna be a lot of fun, you should come. I want to see you there T. Drew and then it’s going to be great. Well, we’ll see, we’ll see about COVID but you see the idea is the idea is it matters how you build that emotional capital. And so my belief is that it’s built through transparency and authenticity. And I mean like everyone talks about authenticity and they’re like, “Oh, be authentic, be yourself. “It’s going to be so great. “Just like be who you are and see what you feel.” That’s not authenticity. Authenticity is showing up in the way that you feel you truly are at your core without fear of retribution. So like me on this call, I feel pretty good about myself. Cause I feel like I’ve been authentic. I feel like, you know, I’m quirky. I say weird things. I talk too much or ramble, but that’s who I am. And that’s me showing up as I am. And the idea is like attracts like, and if you show up in that way, I think people recognize it and they can appreciate that you’re being real. They can sense it. People can sniff out inauthenticity like those drugs, sniffing dogs, at LaGuardia. They can just, they smell it out and they just know that it’s there and they don’t want anything to do with it. The second thing that I think is really important is storytelling. Being able to share stories with other people is how they connect. Like what you do here with all of this is you’re, you’re talking to people and getting them to share their stories with you. That’s really impactful. It doesn’t just let people learn, but it allows us all like all of the viewers, not just you and I, but all the viewers to even connect with us and connect with what we’re saying and maybe find even better ways to connect with one another. And that’s really, really important, especially in this day and age. And the third one is emotional awareness. It’s a practice that I think, you know, I actually think this ties back to founder health people really, really need to think about in order to build emotional capital and to even be emotionally intelligent, you need to be emotionally aware. And that will also help you think about things like sleep and your health. If you are emotionally aware enough to know how you are showing up in situations, are you being angry because you’re being reactive because you didn’t get enough sleep or maybe you haven’t fed yourself enough or you’re being affected by something else that happened earlier that you’re now carrying into this conversation. Being emotionally aware enough and practicing emotional awareness, enables people to take control of how they’re thinking, how they’re behaving and what they’re feeling. And that helps them also build emotional capital. So the rest I will save for the TEDx talk, but it can be found on YouTube. I can send you the link, but you can also just type in, I mean, I’ve never actually tried to type it in, but I feel like if you type in like Nadia Masri, TEDx, emotional capital, I feel like you’ll find it. So give it a shot.
  • I will look, you are just amazing. Thank you so much for, for taking the time again, to, to do this. There’s I mean, I learned so much, I’m sure. You know, for the people that watched this from our audience, your audience, whoever is able to view it, I feel like they’ll learn a ridiculous amount of information. I mean, we’ve been talking for, I don’t know, like 45 minutes, felt like 10 minutes, you know, it’s, it’s, it’s so amazing to just see that there are entrepreneurs like you that are successful for the right reasons and that have done things the right way. And that have such an amazing, transparent, real story to share, because I think that in entrepreneurship nowadays, there’s a lot of frauds, it’s really cool to have a conversation with someone that is so young, that is doing it the right way. That is so inspiring and that has the brightest future ever. So Nadia again, thank you for joining me. I will pull up your birthday
  • Thank you so much, TJ.
  • I will bring the energy. I will bring vibes, let me know. And yeah, I hope you have an amazing time in Toronto.
  • Will do, The Six.
  • Yeah, The Six, you know, I think Drake’s about to come out with a new album. So I’m excited about that. I got my.
  • I cannot wait. I love Drake.
  • Yeah, the leak I got my hands on the leak, you know, this is, this is off record, but if you want the leak, the leak, I will send you the leak.
  • Do I ever!
  • Yeah. It’s like, it’s like seven tracks. It’s wild.
  • I’m still upset that 5AM in Toronto isn’t on Spotify. That’s still frustrates me. I’m like, come on, Drake. Why do I have to go to YouTube in order to listen to this?
  • Yeah, 5AM in Toronto, vibe. 6PM in New York, vibe.
  • Yeah. Yeah. That one’s on Spotify though.
  • Yeah, there’s another one. He’s in all these places, I don’t know.
  • Yeah, yeah, yeah
  • 10:00 AM in Barbados, 3:00 AM, but yeah. Awesome. Nadia, thank you again for that,
  • Thank you so much
  • figuring stuff out and yeah,
  • I will, I will.
  • I’ll see you soon, hopefully. Travel safe.
  • Thanks so much. Talk soon. Bye.