I’m a firm believer in getting out of your head and into your body when dealing with stress. I like to go hiking, exercising, listening to good music while cooking dinner. Stress is around us every day and being able to manage it effectively is key not only to our health but also to business performance. I like to take time in the morning for some rituals that get me more aligned, focused, and energized for the day.
As a part of our series about “Optimal Performance Before High-Pressure Moments”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Milena Regos, the founder and visionary behind Unhustle.
Milena Regos is a rebel entrepreneur, ex hustling award-winning marketer, and founder of Unhustle®.
She helps exhausted entrepreneurs and overworked professionals take back their lives from the 24/7 work culture and create a more sustainable, purpose-filled life with wellbeing, resilience, and high performance.
Milena has worked with hundreds of celebs, world-renowned brands, and entrepreneurs, including Madonna, Steve Nash, and Dr. Weil. Her Unhustle message has gained worldwide exposure and mentions in CNN Business, NPR, Thrive Global, and multiple podcasts.
The Unhustle Movement has been called “Awesome” by Julie Zhuo, former VP of product design for Facebook, “Amazing” by Arianna Huffington, founder of Huffington Post and Thrive Global, and “Legendary” by Christopher Lochead, #1 Apple business podcaster.
Milena has an MBA in International Marketing from the Alliant University in San Diego and is a certified Human Potential Coach trained in mindfulness-based stress reduction. She lives her brand values between Lake Tahoe and Baja with her Australian husband and her rescue brindle Baja dog while working on her upcoming book.
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 Bulgaria and came to the US at the age of 24 to complete an MBA and pursue my marketing career. After 20 years in marketing, I pivoted my career to start the Unhustle movement, and inspire and empower people to slow down, connect with what’s important and achieve high flow lifestyle and work — with courage, well-being, and purpose.
What or who inspired you to pursue your career as an entrepreneur or business leader? We’d love to hear the story.
I was born as an entrepreneur in a non-entrepreneurial country. My country’s regime inspired me to be independent, entrepreneurial, and forward-thinking. But when I reflect on it, it was really my parents who instilled these values in me. I started my first business at the age of 17, a windsurf rental and lesson business at the Black Sea of Bulgaria. This was one of the first private enterprises in post-communist Bulgaria. What inspired me was my desire to spend four months at the Black Sea and pay my own way for it. What can I say — I was always a rebel and freedom is one of my values.
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 bother always believed in me and provided me with the confidence I needed as a young woman to start my first business. He always had my back and encouraged me when things got tough. When my very first partnership ended up in failure, he was there to support me mentally.
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 I was the marketing director for Diamond Peak Ski Resort, I ordered end of season swag for the employees. I worked with a new vendor and asked him to print the season years and underneath say, STAFF. He misunderstood me and printed STUFF instead. I have no idea what he was thinking. I’m sure, he got confused by my accent. Getting a signed approval of the order would have saved both of us from embarrassment. He made good at the end, although we missed our end of the season celebration. Everyone had a good laugh about it. I learned to double and triple check what people think you mean.
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?
Do what you enjoy and don’t make money your goal. If you do what you enjoy, you’ll get good at it and you’ll figure out a way to provide value to people — and make money. Remember that you are in it for the long run — so don’t burnout. Take time to enjoy life in addition to working — this is what I preach with the Unhustle message — when you feel good, when you are taking care of yourself, your imagination and creativity goes through the roof. We need less hustle and more time to be human. It pays off in the long run. Be your unapologetically self — lean into your uniqueness — this is where the gold is.
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?
Oh, so many. But I love the E-myth, 4 hour work week, the 80/20 principle. I also really enjoyed Man’s Search for Meaning — in an incredible story of meaning, resilience, and love during hard times. As someone who is always looking for better ways to manage time and be more efficient, I finally realized that it doesn’t come to time management. It comes to energy management, to being present, to having intention, to conscious living and working, to experience flow more — and this is why I’m writing my book.
Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?
‘Screw it, let’s do it” — Richard Branson. Sometimes you just have to jump in and try it out and see if you like it and if it works. Overthinking leads to paralysis.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?
Thank you for asking. I’m working on the Unhustle book and getting the Unhustle message out to more people. I hope that it helps more people minimize stress and connect with more meaning. We continue to kill ourselves with work when life is going by — having the courage to create an authentic life, with well-being, joy and purpose is our birthright and I hope more people realize this before it’s too late.
OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. As a business leader, you likely often face high stakes situations that involve a lot of pressure. Most of us tend to wither in the face of such pressure and stress. Can you share with our readers 3 or 4 strategies that you use to cope with the burden of stress?
I’m a firm believer in getting out of your head and into your body when dealing with stress. I like to go hiking, exercising, listening to good music while cooking dinner. Stress is around us every day and being able to manage it effectively is key not only to our health but also to business performance. I like to take time in the morning for some rituals that get me more aligned, focused, and energized for the day. I refer to them as the Unhusle Morning — sunlight, unplug, nature, read/write, intentions, stillness, and energy. I coined it the S.U.N.R.I.S.E. method. But I don’t look at them as a routine. It’s a set of rituals you can tap into depending on how your energy is that day and what your mind and body need. You can read more about them on my website.I’m a firm believer in having a consistent mindfulness or meditation practice — it helps me get out of chronic stress and made it more resilient.
Aside from being able to deal with the burden of stress, can you share with our readers 3 or 4 strategies that you use to optimize your mind for peak performance before high pressure, high-stress situations?
This is a great question. I like to do a few things before a high-stress situation- like public speaking, presenting, high power meeting, deadline. Shaking is a practice known to release stress very effectively. So I’d spend 4–5 minutes shaking my entire body. Then, I like to do breathing exercises — the box breathing technique works really well. It’s been known to be used by Navy Seals so I figured, it works in business as well. You inhale to the count of 4, hold to the count of four, exhale to the count of four and hold to the count of four. You can do this anytime, anywhere. No one needs to know you are doing it. And finally, if I have the opportunity to close my eyes and get grounded and centered, I do it and I feel calmer right away.
Do you use any special or particular breathing techniques, meditations or visualizations to help optimize yourself? If you do, we’d love to hear about it.
Yeah, I like to do a presencing practice which only takes a few seconds to do. You close our eyes, take a deep breath, and exhale to the count of 5. So you go 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 and you arrive in your lower belly. This is your gateway to presence. By feeling present and grounded you can manage stress more effectively. Basically, anytime you are more in your body and less in your mind, you can manage stress better. Locating where your stress is and breathing into it to soften it and release the energy also helps.
Do you have a special technique to develop a strong focus, and clear away distractions?
I try to achieve a state of flow as much as possible so I can get my work done in the least amount of time. But I also enjoy the deep work and deep play rhythm. It works well for me. I make sure my desk is clear, I only work on one thing at a time, I listen to brain focus music and I don’t eat sugar in the morning — a bulletproof coffee or matcha works well for me.
We all know the importance of good habits. How have habits played a role in your success? Can you share some success habits that have helped you in your journey?
The habits that have propelled me forward the most have been taking care of my mind and body in a way that fits my time while working with my energy. Having a consistent mindfulness practice, upgrading my mind and body as part my training with the Human Potential Institute and realizing that putting myself first is instrumental to my work and life success are three things that had fundamental transformation for me. On a day to day basis, I depend on my mindfulness practice, the Unhustle Morning rituals, movement, and leaving time to think instead of always doing stuff.
What is the best way to develop great habits for optimal performance? How can one stop bad habits?
The best way is to start small. Taking five minutes a day but being consistent is better than doing something once a week. So if you want to learn to meditate, then start with 1 min a day. Then slowly, over time push it to 2 min, 3 min, 5 min each day. You can combine it with something else to make sure you remember to do it. For example, you meditate for 2 min while waiting for your coffee to get done. Stacking your habits is another technique that works well for me. For example, I like to connect with nature, practice mindfulness and unplug from technology while walking the dog. Add in getting some sunlight in the morning to help me improve my sleep and you have four habits packed into one activity. I like to take people through an assessment to see where they are below the line and above the line — and then together, come up with ways to replace bad habits with good habits. Small steps and consistency are key in changing behavior. Otherwise, we set ourselves up for failure and we get disappointed. This is why most New Year’s Resolutions fail.
As a business 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?
My experience with flow goes back to when I was a ski racer. After that flow for me shows up when I play outside — mountain biking, skiing, kiteboarding. So I’m pretty familiar with the state and work on achieving flow at work. To do so, I make sure my mind and body are at an optimal state — this is why I do the Unhustle Morning rituals. Taking 15- 30 min for you in the morning pays off exponentially during the day. You want to make sure you are working on the right tasks — challenging but not too challenging. Listening to the music and switching between hard work and deep rest help you stay in flow. I take breaks every 60–90 min of work. When I work in flow, I can work for 3–4 hours and then need a longer break. After that, if I’m still working I prefer to deal with nonessential projects — emails, admin, stuff that doesn’t require deep focus.
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.
I’m currently sparking the Unhustle Movement — a revolutionary approach to the way we live and work. I believe that currently, as a society we are too focused on work and we need more balance in our lives so we have more time for play, relationships, health. When we feel good, physically, and mentally, when we create an authentic life-based in our values, when we connect with our purpose and get into flow — we can tap into our unlimited human potential.
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 🙂
Yes, I’d love to connect with Tom Berthal. I think he’s a brilliant guy. I’d love to see how he would position Unhustle for maximum reach so we can save the most souls.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
My website is www.unhustle.com and all social media handles are @unhustle.
Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success.