Hey lovely humans,

Today I’m excited to feature Brandon Lee and his Wellness Wisdom Stack. Brandon currently runs Operations at Searchlight.ai, a YC company helping teams hire diverse candidates. Prior to that Brandon has lived many lives - from flipping houses, starting a personal development coaching program for teens, to moonlighting as a Quora writer with over 17K followers.

Unsurprisingly, I got to know Brandon through his writing.

I was impressed by the vulnerable (“An Answer to Loneliness”) and intentional (“How I found out what I want from life in 2000 words”) ways in which he approached his own personal growth.  

Now I’m excited to share his Wellness OS across Mind 🧠(emotional and intellectual) and Body 💪(self-care, fitness, nutrition) with you all!

And it begins with throwing away the notion that wellness is just comprised of Mind and Body.

Brandon started off by pointing out that there are many ways to define wellness outside of those bounds. First and foremost, financial stability begets wellness. Achieving a certain degree of financial stability is required before one can afford an Airbnb glamping escape, $150 therapy session, or cult gym membership. Consumerized wellness in popular culture is a privilege for many. Taking time off to ponder self-actualization is a luxury.

Now assuming a certain threshold of financial security is met, what does wellness mean?  

Spiritual wellness is an important facet of wellness outside of mental and physical wellness. In other words, finding meaning and purpose. In fact, Brandon argues that although there’s been periods in his life where he was at peak mental and physical wellness levels, it was a lack of purpose that caused him to be extremely unhappy.

So.. what does finding purpose and meaning actually mean?

2 things: making a positive impact on others and honing your creative expression.  

  • 👩‍👩‍👧‍👦Creating impact. Compared to a human rights activist, being a comedian may appear less meaningful. But comedians, like Steve Martin, say that their work becomes meaningful once they hear about how it got someone through life’s toughest moments with a bit more levity. Another comedian, despite having the same occupation, might never get this feedback, and thus feel that their job is meaningless. Thus, closing the feedback loop and understanding the impact your work has on real people can nurture meaning.
  • 🙋🏻‍♀️Patricia’s thoughts: I think this is why many people at big TechCo’s become disillusioned despite lofty “change the world” mission statements.  There’s not a consistent feedback loop between their impact and the end user. On the other end of the spectrum, being at a start-up exposes you to an endless stream of user feedback. Although likely negative since v1 of your product prob sucks, you may still feel meaning. Takeaway → instead of changing jobs, could you find ways to talk to real people impacted by your work on a daily basis?
  • 🎨Creative expression through skills. Ideally you can create impact while flexing your skills and creativity around solving a problem. I.e. the craft of creating a joke, process of perfecting a painting, problem solving through programming.
  • So how do find the sweet spot between skills and impact? A passion doesn’t just fall into your lap if you look hard enough. You have to follow your effort to find your Ikigai.
  • Brandon’s advice to his younger self: Obtain skills. Get curious about something, then get good at it. Skills are required in order to solve hard problems. By virtue of something being a hard problem, it’s likely that solving it would improve someone else’s life.

Life oscillates between impact and skills

If you don’t have skills you’re likely not finding much meaning in life. If you spend a lot of time developing skills you’re probably also not feeling much meaning. Calibrating the % of your time dedicated to simultaneously developing skills and impact is ideal and depends on your phase in life. Once you’re competent in a certain skill you have the ability to modulate how much of your time is focused on learning vs. making an impact

For example: Brandon’s life in the last 10 years

🎓Dropping out of college:

  • 50% Skills: influence and soft skills
  • 50% Impact: mentoring freshman

🏠 Real estate

  • 80% Skills: negotiation, investing, sales
  • 20% Impact: real estate coaching and workshops

💪 Orenda: Teen Coaching Academy

  • 20% Skills: soft skills + ops
  • 80% Impact: coach teens

👨🏻‍💻 Searchlight.AI

  • 75% Skills: scaling a company, org design
  • 25% Impact: informally coaching the CEO  

You can’t calibrate when you’re on autopilot.

One must slow down and reflect in order to identify their balance and shortcomings between skill and impact. Here are Brandon’s tips to do so:

  • Find flags that alert you that you’re moving too fast: for Brandon it’s being too busy to do weekly laundry, spending too much time on screens, feeling under-slept in the morning (which means he’s booked himself too tight the day before)  
  • Habits to become self-aware: journaling/writing, long drives, extensive hot showers, scheduling time to be reflective with friends.
  • Life hack: Brandon says that tactics suggested in Atomic Habits and Power of Habit don’t work for him. What has worked effortlessly is social accountability. Every week he has calendar blocks with friends dedicated to writing, practicing piano, and being self-reflective. The sessions typically start off with a quick catch-up → undisrupted period of self-doing → and a quick reflection with friends right after. Grow yourself and your friendships simultaneously, win-win.

And this concludes Brandon’s Wellness Wisdom Stack 🥞

Some of my key takeaways?

  • Spirituality/Purpose and meaning = wellness
  • Balance your life between creating impact and learning skills
  • Slow down in order to calibrate between the two
  • Try social accountability if you need help doing so  

If you enjoyed it would mean the world to me if you could share! 💌

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Wishing you peace & health,