“Believe it and follow it until you become it”, Daniel Schindler and Parveen Panwar, Mr. Activated

Most people seem to forget that your vision for your future is what’s guiding most of your actions. If you truly see and believe your future self as someone who is healthier and more successful, then your brain is going to be thinking about ways to help you get there. The first step is to […]

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Most people seem to forget that your vision for your future is what’s guiding most of your actions. If you truly see and believe your future self as someone who is healthier and more successful, then your brain is going to be thinking about ways to help you get there. The first step is to truly envision that person and what his or her day looks like. Cement that person in your brain and good habits will follow, while bad habits will dissipate.


As a part of our series about “How Anyone Can Build Habits For Optimal Wellness, Performance, & Focus”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Daniel Schindler.

Daniel Founder and CEO, received his Bachelor of Arts in Economics, University of Michigan in 2015 and a Masters in Business Administration with a focus in Entrepreneurship, Washington University’s Olin Business School in 2019. After two years as a software consultant for a dealership management company, Daniel knew he wanted to start his own company. He quit his job and accepted a full-ride scholarship to the country’s top ranked MBA entrepreneurship program at Washington University. Daniel assembled a network of pharmaceutical experts, mentors and focus-group participants to turn Buoy from a passion project into a company with more than 20 people now involved. In his free time, Daniel surfs the San Diego coast.


Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?

I grew up in Tucson, Arizona and yes, you guessed it, I was the little kid guilting you into stopping at my lemonade stand. I just wanted to help everyone stay hydrated in the hot Arizona sun… and maybe make a little bit of extra money to go to the arcade too. Considering that my job now is centered around helping people stay hydrated, I’m not sure how much I’ve changed.

As I got a little bit older, those lemonade stands turned into garage sales and then the ventures kept getting bigger. I was lucky enough to have parents who loved to travel and an older brother who naturally gravitated towards unique business opportunities. Every break from school usually meant a trip to another country where my brother and I were exposed to different cultures, people, and marketplaces. Most importantly though, we learned the importance of being a global citizen and treating everyone with respect.

None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Was there a particular person who you feel gave you the most help or encouragement to be who you are today? Can you share a story about that?

My parents and my brother. My parents have always stressed that I follow a career path that I am passionate about. They have done everything that they can to ensure that I’m happy and successful, and without their support, I don’t know that Buoy would exist.

And my brother, ever since I can remember, has had the mindset that he would never work for someone else. As I mentioned above, we both dabbled in some entrepreneurial ventures when we were kids which helped instill that possibility for the future. But as you get older, it’s easy to give up on those dreams and conform to a more traditional career path. It wasn’t until I graduated college that he really inspired me. I took the only job that I was accepted for as a traveling software consultant and even just a few months into it I knew that I wouldn’t be able to do it for very long.

A few years earlier my brother had kicked off his own venture — a pillowcase that could help prevent acne. As he began to realize how rewarding the startup journey could be, he encouraged me to read different entrepreneurial books and to try and think of my own idea to pursue. By the time I was getting to be really fed up with my corporate job, his startup was gaining significant traction which proved to me that starting something from nothing was possible for me too. Shortly after that, I had a few drinks, laid down on a couch, and tried to come up with a new idea that I could run with. I thought: What if people could hydrate more with every type of drink that they consume?

Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?

When we first started, we thought we could be everything to everyone in the bar world.

My co-founder and I invited every bar owner in St. Louis to an informal event where we could get feedback on our new hydration concept. Our intent was to partner with the bar owners, so they could offer a hydrating boost to their customers. At least a dozen people said they would attend. We had event space, coordinated parking, ordered 300 dollars worth of food and had a big presentation ready to go.

No one showed up.

We stared at the unopened boxes of pizza, coolers full of beer and ended up inviting complete strangers from outside to come hang out and try the first iteration of our electrolyte concentrate. We drank too many beers and ate too much pizza that night, but the next day we started to plan what we wanted to do next. And when that didn’t work, we moved on to the next thing. And then the next thing and then the next thing until we found a glimmer of success to run with. The lesson we learned is that the only way you fail is by giving up. Never give up hope!

The road to success is hard and requires tremendous dedication. This question is obviously a big one, but what advice would you give to a young person who aspires to follow in your footsteps and emulate your success?

If you want to stray from the traditional career paths and make your own way, I believe there are four main steps that you should follow:

  • First, put your focus into developing an invincible mindset with a clear end goal.
  • Second, find your passion.
  • Third, build a team of people around you that can lead as well as you can.
  • Lastly, believe it and follow it until you become it.

Also, realize that success isn’t just about making a bunch of money, but it is more importantly the independence and sense of purpose you’ll achieve throughout your journey.

This is something we emulate throughout the team at Buoy, as we continue to grow this brand. Together, we’ve learned and experienced more in the past few years than many people do in their entire careers.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

Into the Magic Shop is the best true story that I’ve read about the power of developing a mindset and how far it can take you — even if you’re starting from the very bottom. It clearly illustrates the downsides of only caring about yourself and what happens if money is your sole motivation versus helping others. I’m a believer in visionary thinking and this book can help anyone become better at thinking big.

Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?

Fake it until you become it (shoutout to Ted Talk Amy Cuddy). The most important step to become who you want to be is the first step. It’s that first step where you prove to yourself that you are actually going for it and your dream suddenly turns into an achievable goal. It’s at this point that you are essentially imitating (or faking) who you are going to be. The more you act like the person you see yourself becoming, the more you will convince yourself and others that you are now that person. The more conviction you have, the more likely it is that you will succeed.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?

It is concerning that about 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated and 92% are vitamin deficient. Our core products are centered around these problems and one of the most exciting parts of our business is partnering with other beverage companies to help them make healthier versions of their current offerings.

Many businesses in the food and beverage industry build their product lines by launching new products with new flavors. At Buoy our goal is to help shift companies to introduce products that have function and benefits. Whether it’s making a drink more hydrating with added electrolytes or immune boosting with vitamins and herbal extracts, there is a lot more that can be done to help ensure the end consumer is drinking the healthiest and most nutrient replenishing beverages possible.

OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. This will be intuitive to you but it will be helpful to spell this out directly. Can you help explain a few reasons why it is so important to create good habits? Can you share a story or give some examples?

Healthy habits lead to success and I wish I would have known that earlier in my career, especially during college. By implementing a health and wellness plan, you can start to make little changes that have a bigger, more positive impact later on.

Good habits take work and with Buoy we don’t want you to give up your favorite beverage. We want to help you make better decisions to help you feel better. And that starts with what you drink first thing in the morning. Most people reach for coffee, soda or tea. Great — we love coffee at Buoy. By adding electrolytes into your coffee or tea — you are simply getting into the habit of better hydration. Better hydration leads to clearer thinking and a healthier self. Often times we hear from customers, my goal is to drink more water. We are there for you if your good habit path is to reduce your soda count and stay more hydrated.

On a personal level, before I started my morning routine, I was lethargic and didn’t have a clear head. On those days back in college, I slept late, ate fast food, went to class and drank too much alcohol. The result was that I got sick way more than usual, had some gnarly digestive issues, started experiencing anxiety, and didn’t put myself on the best career path. I knew I had to change. Fast forward to now and that has all changed, and it’s changed because I realized I needed a change and I started thinking of better habits to reduce the bad habits to enrich my life.

How have habits played a role in your success? Can you share some success habits that have helped you in your journey?

Good habits have been critical on my path to success. It all started with a focus on my own health and wellness before jumping into any work-specific habits. The reality is that if your own mental or physical health is suffering or not as good as it could be, often your success is probably suffering too.

If you’re starting work full of stress or anxiety, then your decision making, and high-level thinking is at risk. My morning routine is crucial to ensuring I can be at my best each day. It starts with two large glasses of hot water with Buoy, followed by Wim Hof’s guided breathing, stretching, meditation, and a cold shower followed by a nutrient-rich breakfast. It may sound like a lot, but it takes less than an hour and damn — I feel better starting off work every day than on the rare occasion that I skip it.

Speaking in general, what is the best way to develop good habits? Conversely, how can one stop bad habits?

First develop and maintain the mindset. Specifically, it’s about setting a path for the future self that you don’t hope you’re going to be, but you know you’re going to be. If your goal is to do 50 squats or walk each day or drink more water and eat less sugar. Write down what that future looks like.

Most people seem to forget that your vision for your future is what’s guiding most of your actions. If you truly see and believe your future self as someone who is healthier and more successful, then your brain is going to be thinking about ways to help you get there. The first step is to truly envision that person and what his or her day looks like. Cement that person in your brain and good habits will follow, while bad habits will dissipate.

Let’s talk about creating good habits in three areas, Wellness, Performance, and Focus. Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimum wellness. Please share a story or example for each.

The first is hydration. The reality is that hydration is one of the most important foundations of wellness and often gets the least attention. Our bodies are made up of over 60% water and when we aren’t optimally hydrated, we aren’t functioning optimally. There’s a reason that almost everyone is hooked up to an IV bag the moment they arrive in a hospital.

The next is a healthy diet. What you put in is what you get out. Our bodies run off of the food that we consume. When I used to eat unhealthy food, I would get sick more often and I was not my best self. Now that I have a much better diet, I seldom get sick and maintain overall better health and wellness.

Exercise is the last key pillar of optimum wellness. It’s not only great for your physical health, but mental health too. People who exercise more have improved moods, better sleep and increase confidence.

Can you help explain some practices that can be used to develop those habits?

Hydration is a tough habit to maintain because it requires attention. If you are only drinking water when you feel thirsty, then you are chronically dehydrated. I recommend first getting in the habit of consuming 24–32 ounces of water and electrolytes right after you wake up, helping flush out the toxins that are lingering in your body and putting you on track for a hydrated day. Have a water bottle by your side throughout the day, which will continually help remind you to hydrate. Lastly, throwing some electrolytes in your coffee and other drinks besides water that you are consuming is essential to help your body absorb more of the water within those drinks.

For diet and exercise, I recommend taking a slow but steady improvement path rather than trying to achieve everything all at once. I’ve seen so many people start drastic diets or exercise routines that in theory could be great but are almost impossible to maintain when the initial change is so significant, often leading to a relapsed to their old ways.

Start off with a few easier wins like switching from soda to kombucha or walking at least a mile a day. Once you’ve maintained the easier wins, just make sure you keep improving.

Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimal performance at work or sport? Please share a story or example for each.

It all relates to proper hydration for both work and sport. To achieve optimal performance, you need your brain performing optimally. Our brains are 75% water. At universities in East London and Westminster, students who hydrated while taking an exam improved their scores by 5% over their dried-out classmates.

Organization is another big one. If you aren’t organized, important things tend to slip through the cracks, which not only affects your performance but often your whole team.

Stress management is crucial. When our management team has been working too much and is stressed out, we realize we need to take breaks, look at the bigger picture and rely less on being right, stress really hinders progress. That’s why it’s important to ask for help, learn how a challenge can be an opportunity and take time to assess what’s truly important.

Can you help explain some practices that can be used to develop those habits?

In addition to the hydration tips I listed above, get into the practice of doing self-assessment with your physical self. A habit for realizing if you are dehydrated is not by asking if you are thirsty but looking at the color of your urine. It sounds rather personal, but that is a good habit to gauge your hydration level. If it’s not almost clear, you aren’t optimally hydrated.

The habit that helps me stay most organized is always maintaining a clear email inbox. I’ve created folders that I move each email into so that I can easily pay attention and respond timely to the most important emails but also not forget about all the other ones.

For stress, it’s important to make sure you get enough sleep and time off of work so that you can maintain a level head. And during those inevitable times of stress, do your best to notice it and even tell others about it if needed.

Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimal focus? Please share a story or example for each.

  • Hydration: Staying hydrated makes for a clearer mind.
  • Meditation: Meditation has been significant in helping me to stay focused this year. I get easily distracted and sometimes catch myself spending more time on lower priority tasks. Meditation has helped ensure that my priorities and focus are effectively aligned each day.
  • Movement: Working in the same place/environment all day is not optimal for focus. At Buoy we change up where we work from every couple of hours. This movement is beneficial to restoring my focus. Even if it’s just going outside or a different room of my house, the change of scenery helps me avoid getting bogged down and losing focus. Walking, running or being outside — just moving helps provide new perspective.

Can you help explain some practices that can be used to develop those habits?

For meditation, remember different approaches work for different people. but if you make sure to dedicate 5 or 10 minutes each day to meditation or just to being quiet with your thoughts — that’s the first step and probably the most important first step. Personally, I meditate in the morning so I can plan out my day with a clear mind.

Nothing wakes up the senses like a cold shower and adding breathing exercises into your routine. I highly recommend looking up Wim Hof, who even has a 10-week course which helps you gradually ease into everything.

Hopefully changing your work environment each day is doable — even if it’s just stepping outside or going to a different room of your house/workplace. At Buoy, we change up our work spot every couple of hours and take time to assess what we need to do to stay focused.

As a leader, you likely experience times when you are in a state of Flow. Flow has been described as a pleasurable mental state that occurs when you do something that you are skilled at, that is challenging, and that is meaningful. Can you share some ideas from your experience about how we can achieve a state of Flow more often in our lives?

It’s all about doing things that you’re passionate about. If you spend your day looking at the clock counting the seconds until it’s 5pm, then you’ll never achieve a state of Flow. Find something else to do that you’re passionate about.

Trust me, I’ve been there watching the clock and now that love what I do, and I always find myself wishing there was more time to “work” each day. When I first thought of Buoy and helping people stay hydrated, I channeled my efforts on making it happen. I realized there was a way to change my path and find something more meaningful.

It’s no coincidence that there are a disproportionate number of heart attacks on Monday mornings than any other time of the week. If you don’t like your job and it always stresses you out, it’s literally slowly killing you.

Ok, we are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

Quit-your-bad-job Day. One day a year where anyone who is unhappy with their job is encouraged to quit. This would force all companies to treat their employees with much more respect and it would give everyone a chance to find exactly what they want to do rather than becoming complacent.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them 🙂

Ryan Reynolds and Hugh Jackman are fighting and everyone is concerned about the future of their friendship. The real reason? I’m convinced it’s because they are both dehydrated, which is causing some crankiness.

I would like to sit down with both of them and show them how they can be happier and simply get along better with just one squeezy little Buoy Hydration bottle. If either of them have the courage to join me for breakfast or lunch, even if it’s virtual, my company will donate 1,000,000 servings of Buoy to a chronic illness charity/organization of their choice. They have to consider partaking now, right? #DEADPOOL+WOLVERINEteaparty

How can our readers further follow your work online?

Check out our website JustAddBuoy.com and use discount code HUFFHUFFHYDRATED for 25% off your first purchase.

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