[INTERVIEW] Nathan Westwick – A Math Teacher Turned Coffee Connoisseur

IMG_1049Nathan Westwick hates math. So he became a math teacher.

“I have a degree in [math],” he says. “[But] my passion was for the students. I didn’t care if the students would remember me or not 10 years from now. I only wanted them to remember my message.” It was this attitude that pushed Nathan to motivate his students to pursue good work, work they could throw themselves into. Work that could effect change.

And it was this same attitude that eventually made him quit his job.

In 2008, Nathan and his brother started selling bags of coffee at their town’s weekly market night. Their business model was unusual: for every bag of coffee sold, Wild Goose Coffee Roasters would donate ten bags of food to a homeless shelter. “I was never interested in business for making money,” said Nathan. “I was interested in using business to promote philanthropy and help people.” And it worked. In its first year of business, Wild Goose donated 250 pounds of food to shelters.

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And then it kept working. Wild Goose became so popular that Nathan began to wonder if he should leave teaching to work on the business full-time. The team was wholesaling coffee to several shops and donating monumental amounts of food to shelters. The response at market night was overwhelmingly positive. Nathan realized he had to make a choice: teaching or Wild Goose. The business was getting too successful to do both.

“My wife asked me, ‘What is it you’re so afraid of?’” said Nathan. “I guess it was that all the hard work we’d put in was going to split off.”

In 2013, Nathan made his choice. He loved his students. He loved pushing them forward. He loved helping people. And he decided that Wild Goose was his calling. His philanthropic work was well-known in the school. His students and colleagues supported his decision to work on Wild Goose full-time. “It didn’t come as much of a surprise,” he admits. The business took off and he hasn’t looked back since. It’s gone pretty well. He recently received a plaque from a local shelter for being their number one donator and saving them from being closed down.

Wild Goose has taught Nathan about the realities of passionate work. “…it’s not just about making a buck,” says Nathan, “it has to be about more than that…the world gravitates towards people who have passion.” The business has given him plenty of insight that college students should heed.

“Give yourself permission to change your mind. I was going to be the one person to never change my major. But sometimes you have to swallow your pride and accept that your major isn’t for you. In college, there is so much internal indecisiveness and conflict when you’re trying to feel out what you want to do with your life. There’s outside pressure from friends and family and the corporate world saying, ‘Make up your damn mind!’ But college is the element of giving yourself permission to try on different things at the expense of what other people might think.”

14624254198_8df613386b_kNathan also stresses that pursuing a dream should not be taken lightly. It is very much a business decision. “The reality is that you have to balance following your passions and living responsibly. Don’t be flighty and unreliable. You have to be strategic about following your passions – which is one of the biggest stumbling blocks for young people. For example, one of my other passions is writing. But does that mean I’m going to quit Wild Goose right now to become a writer? It’s all a balancing act. Don’t quit your day job without looking down the road.”

Life is not refined over night. Nathan knows this. He’s heard that people often don’t find their true calling until their forties. That should take the pressure off college students, he thinks. If most people don’t even have it figured out until their forties, college should be about exploring a wide future. Take chances. Be smart. Don’t worry about the summit, as biking parlance would put it. “If you just worry about getting to the summit, you’re never going to make it. The trick is to just keep on peddling.”

On the wall behind his desk, Nathan keeps a wooden helm to remind him that he’s steering through open waters. We all are. And we’ll end up where we’re meant to be.

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[INTERVIEW] Jesse Oduro’s Journey to the 2016 Olympics

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It’s fun to do the impossible.

Jesse Oduro is training to qualify to fence at the 2016 Olympics. He has a huge dream and The UP Lab is here to help.

We are partnering with Jesse to pilot our sponsorship program and work out the kinks in the program in hopes of directly helping more individuals achieve their biggest goals.

We interviewed Jesse a year ago and his message was, no matter the discouragement to keep dreaming. The important thing is to make definitive moves to get closer to obtaining your dream. That’s what he has been doing. Let’s catch up with Jesse and learn more about his fencing.

The last time we interviewed you for The UP Lab was over a year ago, can you fill us in on what has happened since then?

Quite a bit has happened. I completed a few projects and graduated from college. I completed an art piece as part of the TEDxUCIrvine talks, put together a benefit concert to raise $5000 for To Write Love On Her Arms (TWLOHA), and took an internship at the American Diabetes Association of Orange county as a grant writer for a couple of months.

I moved back home to the San Fernando Valley to sort myself out and figure out what I really want to do. The stress of the job market and not knowing what I wanted to do had taken a toll on me. Breakdowns had become normal and I would often wake up and ask myself, “What am I doing with my life?”

My parents have been encouraging me to go back to school but, in addition to taking out more loans, I wouldn’t know what to pursue. They have been pushing me to pursue money before passion. Although I understand that money runs our world, I don’t want to spend the energy and vigor of my youth chasing money. I want to make good money and enjoy the finer things in life but I want to do something meaningful to me. My family finds this naive and overly idealistic.

Instead of focusing so much on my future success, I’m learning to immerse myself in the process of obtaining success and allow myself to fully experience life. This has helped me a lot to become a well-rounded individual.

For instance, I recently took a part-time job at a Lowes Home Improvement Store. It looks bad that, as a college graduate, I’m working a low paying job, but to me its part of the learning experience. I’m learning how to work with people from all walks of life and adapting to a job I wouldn’t have been comfortable with earlier in my life.

I feel a lot of pressure from my parents to become successful, for which their measuring stick is the amount of money I  make. It’s not entirely wrong that these expectations have been placed on me. Where I come from, poverty is real and you’re a nobody if you can’t provide for your family. It’s even worse if your parents have sacrificed to get you to America and you don’t seek out a way to make a lot of money.

These expectations weigh heavily on me because although I want to make my family proud, I don’t want to sacrifice my personal agenda of doing something extraordinary with my life. I want to have the best of both worlds but I will place my passion first.

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What’s your history with fencing? It seems kind of random.

It’s actually is a random story. I had never heard of fencing prior to moving to the United States. I saw it once when I watched the Olympic Games on TV but didn’t think much of it. I was a soccer player but, due to injuries and being out of shape, I wasn’t getting playing time with my high school soccer team.

I remember being frustrated on game day. My coach had cut me from the roster and, as I was walking to my locker, I saw a couple of students playing with swords. I was quite intrigued and stuck around to watch. Before I knew it, Mr. Schiller, the fencing coach, handed me a weapon to try it out. I practiced for about a month and entered my first competition where I took 2nd place in men’s novice foil and placed in the top 8 in both sabre and epee.

From there on, I became an integral part of the team and competed in the So. Cal Scholastic Fencing League. My teammates, Joseph and Bryan, and I qualified for the 2008 United States Fencing Association’s summer national tournament in San Jose, Calif.

After high school, I competed for UC Irvine against schools like UCSD (a division 1 ranked team), UCLA, Arizona State, UCSB and CalTech.

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Why have you decided to fence now, again, after letting go of it during college?

Fencing is a passion. I’ve really enjoyed the idea of sword fighting since my childhood. I remember playing with my friends as a kid in Ghana and mimicking moves we saw from the The Three Musketeers and Zorro movies.

It’s unfortunate that due to focus on internships and work that I let go of fencing during my senior year of college. I never strayed too far away, though. I made time to regularly go to fencing practices and spectated at tournaments to stay in the community.

I have a huge opportunity to make history as Ghana’s first Olympic representative and, more importantly, I have the opportunity to introduce a slightly new sport to Ghana.

To some, competing in the Olympics is an impossible dream. It would be fun to do the impossible.

What do you foresee as being the biggest hardships as you work toward the 2016 Olympics?

The biggest issue so far has been getting access to higher quality training equipment and facilities. Fencing is an expensive sport and to compete at the Olympic level requires a lot of individual practice with a great coach. Money is tight and not having a large sponsor is my biggest roadblock at the moment. Other than funding, I don’t foresee many obstacles. With funding, I”ll be able to upgrade my equipment and afford more technical training. My coaches have confidence in me and I’m confident in my capabilities. My coaches’ confidence in me inspires me to do my best and I hope to make them proud by qualifying for the dream.

What does your training schedule look like?

I’m focused on developing a strong foundation with cardio work and weight room sessions. I plan to re-start full time blade work and technique training in September at Avant Garde Fencing Studios and Salle D’asaro. I’m hoping to raise enough money to afford more one-on-one sessions with my coaches.

I’m also on a nutrition program and plan out my meals a week in advance.

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Which tournaments do you plan on participating in?

My coaches will help me decide which tournaments to attend based on my qualification route to the Olympics. At the time of this interview, I plan on participating in the Korfanty Cup in Chicago, the World Cup in Kazan, the African Championships, the Cole Cup in London and the North American Cup.

What do you do when you aren’t fencing?

I love all things music. When I’m not fencing, I’m out collecting records or at a concert to see some of my favorite bands and discovering new artists with friends. Music truly inspires my every step. I’ll be putting up a playlist from time to time on my website.

Check out Jesse’s website and support by liking his Facebook fan page!

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[Interview] Dani Dipirro – Live Happily Ever After Now

Dani-DipirroDani DiPirro is an author, blogger, and designer living in a suburb of Washington, DC. She founded Positively Present in 2009 with the intention of sharing her insights about living a positive and present life (something that didn’t always come easy to her!).

In 2012, Dani left her full-time job in Marketing to pursue a career with Positively Present. Since then, she has self-published Stay Positive: Daily Reminders from Positively Present and signed a book deal for her next book, The Positively Present Guide to Life (available January 2015).

Read on for our interview with Dani and learn about how she made a change in her life and turned her passion into her career!

What was your life like before you created Positively Present?

Before I started Positively Present, I was in a low point in my life. I didn’t care for my job, I wasn’t happy with how I spent most of my time, and I generally just felt negative about most aspects of my life. I knew I needed to change, but I didn’t know how to begin so I started doing some research on happiness.

What made you start Positively Present?

As I researched happiness, I came to the conclusion that, while being happy would be great, what I really needed to do was to become more positive–to focus on the good even when things weren’t so great–and to be more present–to focus on what was happening in the moment rather than worrying about what had happened or what could happen. I was always writing my experiences in journals and notebooks, but I thought it might be helpful for me to create a site where I could share what I was learning as I tried to live a more positive, more present life.

What does it mean to live a “Positively Present” life?

Being “positively present” means: seeking out the good in every situation, refusing to dwell on the past, allowing the future to come as it will, coping with negative situations and people in a positive way, choosing activities that bring out the best in you, and cultivating positive, productive relationships.

Why do you believe positivity is important?

I believe positivity is important because I’ve seen firsthand what it can do to transform almost every aspect of life and any situation. No matter what the situation, choosing to focus on the positive only makes the situation better. Positive thinking has lead me to more positive people, situations, and experiences than negative thinking ever did.

What made you want to share positivity with others?

I’ve always been a writer, so the act of writing down my experiences came naturally to me, but it was actually a challenge for me to share them with others initially. It took awhile for me to break out of my shell and become more open with my readers, but I knew others were probably out there struggling to stay positive and present and I wanted to share what wisdom I gained with them. The more I shared, the more insight I gained from others, and the more insight I uncovered about myself.

On your blog, you use the phrase ‘Live Happily Ever After Now’. What does this mean to you?

It means that “happily ever after” isn’t someday in the future when you get the perfect job or partner or house. Happily ever after is something that’s happening all the time, every day, and that phrase serves as a reminder to me to make sure I’m living the happily ever after I want to be living, to make the most of my days and make them as positive and present as possible.

What has it been like to pursue, Positively Present, what you believed in, and your own idea of success?

It’s been both challenging and exhilarating to go after what I’m passionate about and transform it into a career. A lot of hard work goes into the website and writing my books, but it’s worth it because every word I write has the potential to help someone else — as well as help me — become more positive and present.

How did it feel to sign your first book deal and now be releasing your second book?

Signing my first book deal was amazing. For my first book, I went the self-publishing route and was really pleased with how well it turned out. For the second book, it’s been a great experience to work with a team of editors and sales people and designers.

Who or what inspires you to lead a positive lifestyle? Why?

What’s most inspiring to me is the results I’ve seen in my personal and professional life. When I’ve chosen to focus on the positive, to share my time with positive people, and to engage in positive activities or business ideas, I’ve found myself inspired, motivated, and uplifted. The more I choose positivity, the more it inspires me to keep choosing it.

If you could give advice to your younger self, what would it be?

Don’t worry so much. It will all work out.

Tell us a little bit about your upcoming book!

Most people don’t realize the power of their own thoughts. The Positively Present Guide to Life (available December 2014) shows readers how to direct their thoughts to the positive aspects of the present moment in order to create a nurturing home, build a fulfilling career, develop great relationships, appreciate true love, and embrace change.

What do you believe it means to be unparalleled?

Being unparalleled means being exceptional, standing out from the crowd and having no one doing what you’re doing in the way you’re doing it.

Check out Dani’s website to learn more about her upcoming book and her other positivity projects!

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On The Rise: Naomi Primero – How to Figure Out What to Do with Your Life

1186194_10201490121368177_1671790335_n The thought of taking a year off from everything is paralyzing. I have to go to school to get a job! I’ve got to work to make money! A year off sounds like a long time, and it is, but it’s a year of figuring out what you want to do and learning about yourself.

Naomi Primero, Naomi Primero, 18, is finishing up her gap year before attending the University of California, Berkeley in the fall. She took a year off after high school to travel and figuring out how she was going to spend the next few years of her life. A year away from academic institutions has treated her well as she moves into the next chapter of her life to study a subject she’s interested in.

This is our interview with Naomi recapping her year off and the consequences of making risky decisions.

TUL: Tell us about yourself.

NP: One of the most constant things in my life is that I’ve been the short one. I used to be really sensitive about it and then I started to ask myself “Why should I be sensitive about it? I might as well use it and make fun of myself.” That’s kind of my ice breaker with people.

Embracing [my shortness] was something that I learned over time, and it was a challenge. I believe that change comes really slowly. It’s not something that happens just like that. The only reason people can perceive change is because they haven’t seen that thing in a while and something made them realize that change had happened.

I was already laughing about myself before I had even realized it.

What was your high school experience like?

I was home schooled up to 8th grade and went to a private high school in Massachusetts, about an hour north of Boston.

Looking back on it, my high school experience definitely gave me the opportunity to explore a lot of things, more culturally than intellectually. Since it was a boarding school, there were a lot of international students from across the world. My group of friends was made up of a girl from Florida, two girls from Chicago, a girl from San Francisco, and a girl from Shanghai.

What were you involved in during high school?

I ran cross country and I still run a lot. I was in the orchestra. I played viola and piano. I also sang in the choir. I did a lot of musical initiatives in high school. I was also in a musical so theater was a really big part of my life. I helped start a  music technology program. I was also a designer for random stuff like school spirit t-shirts and bags. I had been trying to get the school to allow me to paint murals for a long time–that didn’t work out but I’m glad I tried. *laughs*

One thing that I’m really proud of doing in high school was I researched solar power and the possibility of it on my campus. I had already been interested in environmental science during my senior year and I wanted to pursue that a little deeper so I decided to form my own [research] with my environmental science teacher.

[During my research,] I told my teacher “Mr. Black, you know I’m doing this because our school doesn’t really have a good history of having alternative energy, but I don’t know how far my research will go because they’ve already said ‘no’ so many times.”

He said “Well, you’ll start a seed, I promise. You’ll start a seed of thought and that’ll start everything.”

I visited my high school [a few weeks ago] and spoke to my teacher and he told me, “I wanted to let you know that three seniors this year took on your project and they’ve been working on the information. They’re going to present their ideas to one of the boards of the school and I already have students lined up for the next year to take over your work.”

That’s really cool!

You’re very involved in art, but you chose to study environmental engineering. How did that happen?

I literally have no idea. I thought I wanted to do biomedical engineering at the end of senior year. That was because I grew up in a medicine-based family.

It was actually one of the bigger reasons I decided to take my year off. I [asked myself] “Is that something I really want to do?” I volunteered at a hospital the past summers and I did not enjoy my time there. Then, I talked to my brother who suggested I take a year off to figure myself out. He had been suggesting it since March of my senior year. The first time he suggested it to me, I was like “Are you joking me? That’s really funny.” I made fun of him, but look where that got me.

It made sense. I was burnt out from high school anyway. I could take a year off and learn a lot about myself first before delving into college stuff, where they assume you [already] know what you’re gonna be. *laughs*

10432313_10203124259140600_1052818748_nWalk us through what you’ve done this past year from 2013 to 2014.

I actually had a college lined up [after high school] and didn’t decide to do my gap year until mid-summer. I was really scared because I didn’t think they would accept my request for deferral. Thankfully they did.

The first thing I did in the beginning of September was work on an organic farm in North Carolina for a month. It was cool because I was working. On. The. Farm. I would go out with my boots and I’d be plowing away at the dirt.

How did you find that organic farm to work on?

Through organization called Worldwide Opportunities On Organic Farms (WWOOF). It’s an international organization where farmers can sign up to be hosts and people sign up [to work] on a farm in exchange for food and shelter.

After that, I interned for an NGO called Sustainable Harvest International (SHI). They do different initiatives in Latin America and work with indigenous farmers on sustainable agricultural methods.

I was based in Punta Gorda which is the biggest town in Southern Belize–biggest means like 5,000 people. It was different because I was going into a totally different culture where things were not as efficient as they are in the U.S. I was there for about two months.

One of the things we interns worked toward was the organic fair–it was a big event for the farmers in Southern Belize. There was a lot of office work involved, but we also had the opportunity to go out to the villages to meet farmers and see their farms. Their farms were more like…the jungle. It was crazy.

During that time, I decided, or realized–whatever term you want to use–that I wanted to do environmental engineering. I was like “This is really, really cool. I think I want to do this.” It wasn’t really a moment of revelation–like an epiphany–that people always say. I just decided, “I’m gonna do this.”

I went back home in mid-November and reapplied to colleges until December.

January through March, I volunteered for the local conservation district. They had a technical and an education sector. Although I did have the opportunity to sit in a couple meetings with the tech group, I mostly worked with the education group.

After that, I went to Honduras with the UC Davis Water Brigade, I worked with a community to help complete their new water system. I got my sweat on pickaxing and shoveling out a ditch for water pipes. On the last day, we gave an education spiel to kids of the community about what we did and what they can do to help keep water clean and usable. Of all my trips this year, this was my favorite because of all the amazingly friendly people–both Hondurans and students–I met.

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Do you recommend that all high school graduates take a year off?

Definitely. One of the things about my high school is that, since we are an “elite” prep school, a lot of students work really hard and expect to get into the best colleges. It’s a crazy competitive school. High school, in my opinion, has become a competition for college.

In high school, I feel like everything comes at you like bam!bam!bam! One [thing] right after the other. You’re so distracted by everything that you have to do. “Oh my gosh! I have to study for my SATs and my APs. And I have to get straight As or else my parents blah, blah, blah.”

With all of those preparations and the stress that we put upon ourselves, we never actually give ourselves time to explore [ourselves] and to figure out the way our minds work. You can’t really do that without a lot of time off. That’s the major reason why I think people should take a year off. You literally have an entire year to do whatever you want.

But there’s a thing about that.

When you make a decision [at that age], it could be your parents making the decisions, but it’s ultimately you who makes the decision. When you let your parents’ influence make the decision [for you], you don’t really have a right to complain later because you let them do that.

When you take a year off, you can do whatever you want, but there lies the responsibility of taking care of everything that happens. If you screw up later, the blame’s only on you, but if you end up doing amazing things, good for you.

My parents and a lot of my friends were skeptical when I was planning my gap year. My dad would say “After this year you might not want to pursue an education anymore and that’s really important nowadays. You’re just gonna want to travel the world and you’re going to find some boy overseas and just leave us.” *laughs*

A friend said “Aren’t you just running away from college? Aren’t you just being scared?” Now that I think about it, it was the scarier thing to take the year off because  it was my responsibility to make sure I didn’t become a hobo by the end of the year.

I had to be motivated to do the things that I wanted to do.

There are lots of amazing things that everyone wants to do, but these ideas don’t come to fruition because they didn’t have the motivation or the energy to actually start doing it.

Are your parents glad you took a year off?

I’m pretty sure my mom’s been thinking it’s the best thing ever. I think she realizes the importance of this year off for me. My dad has always been the harder one to convince, but I think he’s beginning to understand and he better because my little sister now wants to take a gap year. *laughs*

How do you think high school students can convince their parents to be okay with taking a year off?

One of the issues with taking a year off, at least for me, was the money aspect because I’d be traveling. It was particularly tough [for me] because we were not in the greatest financial situation when I decided to do this. So I told my parents  “I’ll do this and I’ll pay off every single one of my trips and I’ll find a way to do it. I promise.” *laughs*

If you want to [take a year off], you can do it, you just have to find the way and the motivation to do it and take responsibility.

You just have to tell your parents “I know what I’m getting myself into and, whatever happens, this will remain my decision. Whatever result, whatever I become, either a hobo or an amazing, young entrepreneur, that will be all my responsibility. That will all be on me.”

What’s art’s position in your life now that you’re pursuing engineering?

It’s still a giant part of my life, but I know it’s not going to be the thing that I dedicate the most time to. It’s something that keeps me going.

I feel the profession that people choose isn’t because it’s a thing that they want to consistently do. It’s really based on the circumstances that they find themselves in and choosing a certain path between the things that they love to do.

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On The Rise: Angelia Trinidad – Stop the Biggest Dream Killer

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What’s the first step you need to take to achieve your biggest goal? If that step takes more than 30 minutes to complete, you might be doing it wrong.

Meet Angelia Trinidad, creator of the Passion Planner. The Passion Planner is a personal organizer which encourages individuals to measure out what they want to achieve.

In less than three months, it became one of the best selling planners on Amazon.

However, before we get to that, it’s worth learning how Angelia got here.

From Pre-Med to Art

Taking a look at her achievements in art, it’s difficult to believe that Angelia began her undergraduate career at UCLA as a pre-med student before switching to art. She was also involved as a member of Chi Delta Theta and as a Zeta little sis. When asked how she did it all, she responds, “I just prioritized–and I didn’t sleep very much.”

As Angelia followed the pre-med path and studied more than she slept, she had a revelation many college students have.

“I studied so much. I studied more than I slept. If I’m gonna lose that much sleep, then it better be for something that I will eventually love.

“I didn’t see myself becoming a holistic medical practitioner. I just knew that my calling was elsewhere,” she explains. “I was into finding out what people’s core struggles were and addressing that. For me, that was through art.”

However, the art program at UCLA is extremely competitive, which made it difficult for Angelia to transition from life sciences to art. She was rejected the first time she applied for the change in major.

“It made me question if I really wanted to do it and I did.”

She crashed two art classes, and spent much of her time working on projects at the sculpture lab where she ended up getting hired. One of her pieces caught the attention of a faculty member in the art department who was stunned that Angelia wasn’t in the art program.

Angelia was accepted into the program the second time she applied. She picked up a minor in visual and performing arts education along the way.

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Life of an Artist

Her interest in art began before college.

“Art was an escape in high school. It was an escape from being serious. It was an escape from being such a perfectionist. I drew all the time. I drew Dragonball Z characters. I drew Sanrio characters. I drew Sailor Moon characters–all by memory.”

In addition to taking two AP art classes, she started her own arts club.

While in college, Angelia also taught art to second and third grade students who were learning English as a second language. “It was amazing because it was really hard for them to communicate [in English] and writing, but art was so easy.”

“Amazing things happen when you leave gates wide open for people. I think It’s very beautiful to give someone that space to just do whatever they want.”

passion-planner-creationThe Key to Doing Good Work

Angelia believes that the key to doing good work is to enjoy the process. “The whole process of coming into a project blind, figuring it out, and then having something at the end that people can react to is something that I enjoy so much.”

In order to stay organized amidst her involvements, projects, and school work, Angelia created her daily schedule and kept track of her time using a combination of post-it notes and iCal.

She wrote her tasks on individual post-it notes and focused on one at a time, keeping track of how much time was spent on each task. Once she completed all her tasks, she put each task into her iCal and note the amount of time spent on each task. Then, she would throw away the post-it. “I like crossing things out and throwing things away. It’s a thing with progress. You see all these post-its and then they’re gone.”

This system allowed her to reflect on each day and take a look at how she was spending her time. Upon reflection, she would optimize her time by increasing or reducing the amount of time spent on each task next time.

Angelia integrated her scheduling tactics into the Passion Planner, and put the planner through multiple real-life usage tests with friends, maximizing its organizational potential.

passion-planner-mindIntentional Elements of the Passion Planner

She compares using the Passion Planner to the process of publishing a book. When you write the book, you must establish characters, a plot, language, and other details. Once the book is finished, you must find an editor, publisher and PR agent.

Similarly, the Passion Planner encourages you to examine your life as a whole, then declare goals and break them down into smaller, accessible steps, a process Angelia calls “passion planning.” The planner’s layout intentionally breaks down each day into 30 minute increments, allowing you to measure out and understand how you allocate your time.

“People think that they’re so busy, but it’s because they’re so busy doing busy work.”

In addition, a key element of the planner is the separation of personal tasks from that of work-related tasks.

Angelia explains, “I put personal first because I feel people put themselves on the backburner. It’s very important to be balanced. Work should only be a fraction of your life–unless it’s your passion. Once these two lists start to merge, that’s when you know your life is going in the right way.”

Directionless Floating of a Post Grad

The idea of finding direction and purpose in life was Angelia’s number one stress point after graduating in the spring of 2012. At the beginning of 2013, like many college graduates, Angelia began to suffer from post-grad symptoms of uncertainty, fear, and stress, a state she refers to as “directionless floating.”

 This might sound familiar. “I felt like I had done everything right, graduated from one of the best universities on the planet, made proper career choices, and followed my passions.”

However, she realized that she was stuck and scared and had no idea which way to go next. “I realized that this feeling of emptiness and directionless runs rampant in us when fear is the primary motivating force that drives our actions.”

When an idea comes to us, “we think, we think, we think… and think some more but fail to act.”

Angelia wanted to turn that paradigm “on its head.”

“I wanted to make love, gratitude, and self-motivation the primary force that propelled action. I wanted to help people pursue their passions; to pursue that thing that makes them excited to get up every day because when you follow your passion, you never have to work a day in your life.”

“I feel like my life purpose is to pursue my passion of helping others pursue theirs.”

passion-planningHaters Be Trippin’

In a month and a half, Angelia pushed the planner from idea to prototype, to manufacturing, and shipping. “It was like, what did I just do?”

“People would ask if I would have wanted more time. I tell them no. It was insane and it was amazing and I wouldn’t have done it any other way. It was so much fun!”

“It’s very interesting being able to do something that other people think you can’t. So many people doubted me when I set my Kickstarter goal at $19,000. They would say, ‘There’s no way.’”

However, Angelia reached her fundraising goal in nine days and received funds for 25 days, raising a total of $48,030.

There were naysayers at every step. “There’s always gonna be people telling you that you’re doing it wrong. At least I’m doing it.”

Those people expected Angelia to fail.

Welcome Failure

“For me I don’t care about failure very much. [laughs]. I know that a new project’s just gonna come up. As long as I’m not dead that’s cool.

“You will always have haters and you will always have people that think you’re too idealistic. For me, being called an idealist is actually a compliment. The idealists are the people that are making the world better.

Perhaps the naysayers were scared of failure themselves and projected those fears onto Angelia. People often discourage others by doing this.

However, she wasn’t always so excited about failure. Angelia recalls a moment in the second grade when she answered a question incorrectly. “I cried! I was that much of a perfectionist. I didn’t want to be wrong. I didn’t want to be embarrassed.”

Now that her work is out in front of thousands of people. “A bad review on the Passion Planner is in front of thousands of people. It’s like, I got the answer wrong in front of a thousand people instead of 30 second graders.”

“I’m a lot easier on myself. I have a lot more ice cream. I just tell myself to enjoy the process and embrace the victories.”

“The planner is not perfect,” she admits. “But that’s the beauty of it. It’s a work in progress and something I’m invested in for the rest of my life.

Angelia-Trinidad-ice-creamAngelia wants you to stop the biggest dream killer.

“Perfection is a dream killer.”

“Treat projects as a series of stepping stones. You can’t expect to make each stone beautiful. You may want to take your time and polish the first stone to make it as beautiful as possible, but you eventually have to put it down, step on it, and move forward.

“A hundred stones down the road, you won’t even remember that first one. It might’ve been the ugliest stone ever but who cares? If you want to spend 100 years making that first stone perfect, you’re gonna die and nothing’s ever gonna happen.”

“Our culture is so afraid of failing and afraid of making wrong decisions that we don’t make any decisions and it screws us over. Failure isn’t the enemy. You’re defeated when you accept failure and you decide that that’s going to be your reality.”

“Action cures fear. It’s so simple and so beautiful because it addresses the idea that you’re not doing what you want to do because you’re scared. That’s it.”

Anything that you do, if it’s learning language, if it’s starting a business, if its writing a blog, if it’s creating a planner to improve people’s lives, action cures fear. Take the first step.

Action cures fear. You just gotta do it.

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