D and Julie Sharma: “Wake up early and do something good for yourself immediately”

D: to accept that world for what is it. This way we know the real situation we are in and can make it better. Julie: to be more self-aware. If everyone was just a little more mindful of their actions and their impact, I truly believe we’d all be a little nicer to each other and […]

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D: to accept that world for what is it. This way we know the real situation we are in and can make it better.

Julie: to be more self-aware. If everyone was just a little more mindful of their actions and their impact, I truly believe we’d all be a little nicer to each other and help each out more.

Many ancient traditions around the world believe ‘wellbeing’ or ‘bienestar’ is a state of harmony within ourselves and our world, where we are in balance mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually.

As a part of our series about “How We Can Cultivate Our Mental, Physical, Emotional, & Spiritual Wellbeing”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Julie Sharma, Co-Founder & Chief Operations Officer of Wellness Coach. Julie has more than a decade of experience spearheading accounting and operations teams, helping businesses to thrive efficiently at scale. She is detail-oriented and highly motivated professional with exceptional skills and knowledge in full accounting cycle, compliance with GAAP and IFRS regulations. As a former Senior Business Analyst for the American Museum of Natural History and Charity Ambassador for xAd, Inc, she has managed international budgets and implemented company-wide giving back programs. Julie now owns a spot as a female founder and entrepreneur in the wellness industry, merging her knowhow in business with her passion for helping people. Today, Julie is responsible for acquiring teachers, overseeing app content and overall company culture, finance and HR at Wellness Coach, helping the company pursue their goal of inspiring people to find their purpose.

D Sharma, Co-Founder & CEO of, is passionate about the future of humanity and the importance of protecting our mental health against the inevitable growth of AI & Machine Learning. As a serial entrepreneur and investor, D began his career at the Nokia Research Center as part of the team that created early access to internet on mobile phones. After moving to the U.S., D launched a series of his own companies and created a speech recognition technology receiving the first patent on multimodal technologies which is now commonplace with Siri, Alexa, etc. D went on to create xAd, an advertising service that uses GPS technology on mobile devices, growing the business to over 200M dollars  in revenue. Today, D is taking his love for meditation and investing by growing and investing in various startups and growth funds.

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?

Julie: D and I both come from humble but very different backgrounds. D was born in the Indian capital, New Delhi, at a time when the emerging nation was pushing towards liberalism to gain a global economic presence. The sense of the people was opportunity: but only if you studied and worked hard. Although he was surrounded by amazing people, D often was exposed to the socio-political issues that India was navigating through at the time — like doing a bomb check after sitting down on a bus because terrorism was part of their daily life. Despite the bleakness that was around him, D learned to adapt and maintain a positive outlook to keep going. At a young age, D was inspired to work hard to create and have the best.

Now I was all the way around the other side of the globe in Southern California, in the very hot Palm Springs (aka Playground to the Stars). The US was coming out of the Cold War, then went into Desert Storm, and that was followed up with social unrest by the not-to-far-away Los Angeles Riots of 1992 — people were on a path of their own as oppression was met with strong individualism. I was born in a blended family, with both of my parents coming from the Midwest. I went through many challenges at a young age, growing up with friends that always had so much more than me and dealing with my parents divorcing, marrying others, and more divorce. Having suffered from mental health issues for as long as I can remember, I took it upon myself to carve out a future for my life — even breaking from the traditions I was raised in to find something that just felt and worked better.

What or who inspired you to pursue a career in helping others? We’d love to hear the story.

D: Julie and I have always enjoyed helping others. When we first started dating, we used to chat about being able to open an orphanage someday. I guess maybe because we both have seen and felt what hardship is, it’s hard for us not to help others when we can. My sisters are probably the biggest influencers in my life for helping others, they are endlessly supporting and giving and are walking examples that the more you give, the happier you are.

The really big moment for making the pivot to helping others was when we both went through a period of great need ourselves. We both got burnt out and received transformative help from meditation monks, teachers, and gurus. This was when it came to me that this type of support was needed for everyone, and virtually, but especially for those in the workforce. Burnout is often discussed in the workforce, and we want burnout to become less and less of a problem for people and businesses. This is why we created Wellness Coach.

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?

Julie: D and I are so fortunate to be surrounded by many people that have helped us along the way — whether they know it or not! If I had to pick one, it would be a monk in Thailand, Toby of the Phuket Meditation Center. Toby helped both of us while we were there on a week-long retreat to reassess what is important to each of us and taught us what it really means to meditate. It was through his teachings that we started to see how meditation could help us, laying the groundwork for a two year period of transformation within us. I cannot tell you how incredibly encouraging it was for both of us to SEE change finally happening because we had tried so many times before. It helped us so much that we made real human to human interaction, what worked so well with Toby and us, the foundation of Wellness Coach.

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

D: I have made so many mistakes, what I would say is the most important mistake was not living in the moment. I confused my brain and my mind as to what should get the most attention in my life and that left me not even knowing who I was. It’s a mistake I have been correcting for the past few years.

Julie: One of the funniest mistakes I’ve made in pursuing my passion was when I went to my very first public speaking event to speak on my passion: helping people realize they don’t have to live in the darkness of perpetual negative thoughts. The event organizers mentioned we would need to get up in front of all attendees and provide a one min intro on what we would talk about before we go to our respective breakout rooms. I had one minute ready to go. I was the last in line to give my minute intro but after listening to about 5–10 mins each of the other speakers, I realized that I was very unprepared. Adding to this, I’m terrified of public speaking. I was a fidgety, sweaty mess — very few people came to my breakout room. Lesson learned: always plan for more but remain agile enough to fit the situation.

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

Julie: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” I even have it as a tattoo on my shoulder. Before meditation changed my mindset, my history of depression gave me a dark view of the world. But this quote inspired me to take the dark world that I saw and make it better a little at a time. It’s empowering when we realize that we can take actions to improve our circumstances and the lives of the people around us by being the change.

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

D: We recently launched a free 7 Day Mind & Body Challenge to start the new year strong. Participants had the chance to win five incredible prizes just by participating daily in our Wellness Coach sessions on mind, body and sleep. Taking it a step further, we partnered with HumanKindNOW, an organization that provides PPE to frontline healthcare workers, so the more people who join in our shared pursuit of wellness, the more we can contribute to an impactful cause that is so important at the present moment.

OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. In my writing, I talk about cultivating well being habits in our lives, in order to be strong, vibrant and powerful co-creators of a better society. What we create is a reflection of how we think and feel. When we get back to a state of wellbeing and begin to create from that place, the outside world will reflect this state of wellbeing. Let’s dive deeper into this together. Based on your experience, can you share with our readers three good habits that can lead to optimum mental wellbeing? Please share a story or example for each.

Julie: 1. Wake up early and do something good for yourself immediately. This can be a workout, a meditation, or even the Navy Seal trick of making your bed. Waking up early and doing something good for you kicks off your day with an accomplishment, which gives us a nice dose of dopamine right away. Dopamine is the feel-good neurotransmitter, boosting our mood and even increasing our motivation. You’ll see a change in how the rest of the day follows pretty quickly. 2. Journal — writing down what your goals are, how you are working towards them, and what you are experiencing as you go provides a record of your progress. So you either see: yes, I’m doing great, or: oh no, I need to keep working on this. Journaling has the added benefit of being a healthy form of stress release, jotting our emotional thoughts on paper before we let them out of our mouths can have a huge positive impact on our relationships. 3. Practice affirmations, these are positive statements that help to rewire your brain’s neuroplasticity to turn to helpful statements rather than the negative statements we have trained our brain to go down as we grow up. For example, at the moment you realize you have made a mistake, we so often become our own biggest critic. However, if you practice affirmations, your brain will automatically turn to a positive statement like “I am becoming a leader every day” rather than “I totally messed up and should just quit.” This works like muscle memory, the more you practice a dance or athletic activity, the more your body just goes in the motion it needs to. Your brain can act in the same way with your thoughts. I strongly recommend practicing affirmations while doing something you already have a habit of doing, like brushing your teeth or folding your laundry.

Do you have a specific type of meditation practice that you have found helpful? We’d love to hear about it.

D: My favorite meditation practice is our live meditation in the Wellness Coach app with Coach John Siddique every Wednesday at 10 a.m. ET. John’s meditations take on a new theme each week but at the core, they are awareness practices. During an awareness meditation, you learn to not just become more aware of your thoughts and how you engage with them, but also the way you feel, emotionally and physically, you notice the world around you more, and because of this you take stock of how you impact yourself, others, and the world around you more and more. Awareness meditations have had an incredible impact on who I am as a leader, being more mindful of my decision making and building better relationships within my company and really with just about everyone in my life. I also take in the world around me more, I breathe in sunsets on my morning runs on the beach, I enjoy my backyard garden and the delicious food it provides us, and I feel like I’m just living more.

Thank you for that. Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimum physical wellbeing? Please share a story or example for each.

D: 1. Drink more water. The benefits of drinking more water are pretty well known at this point, adequate hydration promotes better digestion, healthy skin, promotes weight loss, and so much more. When Julie and I started spending more and more time together I was actually shocked by how little water she drank throughout the day. Helping her kick her soda habit and move to a water one is something she constantly attributes to her improved physical wellbeing. Water should be the last thing you drink at night and the first thing you drink in the morning.

Julie 100% accurate!

D: 2. Work out with other people. Julie and I have a habit of running together every Sunday, our 10k Sundays. This habit changed our lives! Not only did we push each other to go faster (we are a very competitive couple haha), but we also just enjoyed each other’s company which makes us look forward to the runs. Working out with others can be challenging for some, whether it’s due to a pandemic lockdown, shyness, or just don’t have access to a facility with group workouts. This is why we offer two-three live virtual workouts every day on Wellness Coach — so anyone can workout with our coaches and our community for free, from anywhere, and with no equipment needed. This way you still have workout buddies for accountability and a commitment to a specific time. This brings me to 3. Create a schedule for physical activities. Doesn’t always have to be a “workout.” Go on a hike, clean the house, do some gardening — what’s important is that you make a habit of knowing what and when you are going to get moving and sticking to it.

Do you have any particular thoughts about healthy eating? We all know that it’s important to eat more vegetables, eat less sugar, etc. But while we know it intellectually, it’s often difficult to put it into practice and make it a part of our daily habits. In your opinion what are some great ways to begin to integrate it into our lives?

Julie: I use a ‘sneak in healthy’ approach. If I’m craving pasta, I fill my bowl with half a portion and the rest with a steamed vegetable that tastes yummy with the pasta flavor. I think this is a great way to still enjoy all the foods we like, but cut back on the carbs, sugars, fats, sodium, etc that we don’t need so much of in our meals. I also believe that practicing mindful eating helps so much when trying to integrate healthier eating into our lives. To eat mindfully, you practice being mindful of what’s in your food and the sensations while eating. In doing so, you tend to make better choices of what to eat and when to stop. For example, a great way to be mindful of what to eat is to know what is in your food. If the ingredients contain foods that you cannot pronounce, you might not want to eat it. Looking at food labels also helps you to be more aware of your caloric and sodium intake. What’s really amazing about mindful eating is the sensations aspect of it. You will start with seeing your food, take in the colors and presentation. Then you smell your food, the pleasant aroma might start to help you salivate — improving the digestive process! Then you taste the food more, and you do this simply by 1. Slowing down and 2. Paying attention to these things. Lastly, you develop an awareness of how what you are eating is settling with you, is it feeling right or causing discomfort? Do you really need another bit or are you full? Just cultivating that sense of awareness at mealtimes and understanding how it can affect what we eat or how much will help us with our individual wellness goals.

Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimum emotional wellbeing? Please share a story or example for each.

D: The most important one is to accept what is. If it’s cold, accept it’s cold rather than why is it cold, what if it was not cold, and where is it warmer than here. Once you accept what is, emotions change from “what if” to “it is” and then you can do something about “it is cold, let’s get a jacket.”

Echoing what Julie said: Maintain a daily journal. Our emotions change not just every day but every few mins, maybe even seconds. Writing about what your goals, your life’s purpose is, and what you are grateful for every day lets you reflect on the ups and downs. You’ll see that things were never really so bad as our minds or emotions led us to think or feel. I often go through ups and downs, like most of us, when I read my journal it’s pretty clear I am much more negative than positive. This knowledge gives me the ability to treat similar situations differently so I don’t keep repeating the negative reactions.

D: Develop a daily meditation practice, and with others if possible. You have to love yourself to be able to love others, that starts with spending time with yourself. A 10 min practice to start is a good way to achieve that. I have a workout and mindfulness routine. Either I wake up and meditate with one of our coaches at 6.30 a.m. and then go for a run or go for a run and catch a mindfulness class later in the day. For me meditating with other people is so much more powerful as you feel the connection with them, you are not alone, and you can hear others share how they are dealing with difficult situations. This is especially needed right now as the number of people reporting that they are suffering from loneliness is at an all-time high.

Do you have any particular thoughts about the power of smiling to improve emotional wellbeing? We’d love to hear it.

D: Studies have definitely shown that smiling releases endorphins and boosts your neurochemistry to give your brain that little happiness reward, which in turn can help improve emotional wellbeing.

Julie: I can tell you how many times one of our coaches tells us to smile during a virtual workout, especially we are really starting to feel the burn. On their cue, I put a big goofy grin on my face, and somehow I suddenly power through it a little easier, maybe even wanting more! The power of smiling is real — just smile right now and you’ll either start laughing at yourself for looking silly or just feel better as you just signal a little happiness reward to your brain.

Finally, can you share three good habits that can lead to optimum spiritual wellbeing? Please share a story or example for each.

Julie: I have one thing I will say about spiritual wellbeing and that’s find something that doesn’t conflict with what you know is good and right in your heart. As Jiminy Cricket says: “Let your conscience be your guide.”

Do you have any particular thoughts about how being “in nature” can help us to cultivate overall wellbeing?

Julie: Being in nature in my opinion is required in maintaining overall wellbeing. We are a part of this world and cannot survive without a connection to it. Getting out in nature has been my lifesaver in times of depression, and I very much recommend being in nature for anyone who is working on their mental wellbeing especially. There is a powerful thing that happens when you feel grounded, an actual connection with the earth itself. It provides a sense of continuity and familiarity, both of which are comforting and can help us through those tough days. Getting out in nature also has many physical benefits needed for overall well being: being active, getting vitamin D, and getting some fresh air.

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.

D: to accept that world for what is it. This way we know the real situation we are in and can make it better.

Julie: to be more self-aware. If everyone was just a little more mindful of their actions and their impact, I truly believe we’d all be a little nicer to each other and help each out more.

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 🙂

D: Richard Branson. The first business book I ever read was his: Losing my Virginity. This is when I learned what it means to be an entrepreneur — with great risks you can achieve amazing things.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

Readers can further follow our work by joining in on sessions on the Wellness Coach App or visiting to learn more about what we are doing!

Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success.

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