“Habits are really just neural patterning comprised of repetitive action that make us comfortable”, Jen Batchelor of Kin Euphorics and Parveen Panwar, Mr. Activated

Waiting until a stressful event presents itself to have a strategy (i.e. running defense) is the most common mistake I see leaders make when it comes to stress. After-the-fact stress “relief” is not a sustainable strategy to rely on as stress is inevitable and pressure is a mounting force for any successful leader in growth […]

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres on our open platform. We publish pieces as written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team and must meet our guidelines prior to being published.

Waiting until a stressful event presents itself to have a strategy (i.e. running defense) is the most common mistake I see leaders make when it comes to stress. After-the-fact stress “relief” is not a sustainable strategy to rely on as stress is inevitable and pressure is a mounting force for any successful leader in growth mode — we can’t always be in recovery or we’ll never get ahead. I am constantly running offense when it comes to stress management — this includes a daily regimen of adaptogens, mushrooms, breathwork, journaling, hydration, meditation, and good sleep to keep me able minded and resilient.

As a part of our series about “Optimal Performance Before High Pressure Moments”, I had the pleasure of interviewingJen Batchelor.

Jen Batchelor is the co-founder and CEO of Kin Euphorics, an alternative beverage company revolutionizing the future of social drinking as we know it. Launched in December of 2018, Kin has since taken elevated nightlife culture by storm with over 1 million servings sold of their functional non-alcoholic spirits in under a year. While Jen was raised in Saudi Arabia (where drinking is not legal), she is a proud Latinx entrepreneur. Jen is of Cuban heritage and actually has more family in Cuba than anywhere else in the world. Jen is a third-generation social libation entrepreneur and came to build a decade-long career in strategic innovation at the intersection of tech, wellness, and hospitality. Jen now brings her unique perspective to the ritual of drinking by bringing functional solutions to socializing designed for a global audience.

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 the Middle East, the daughter of an expat aviator by day, desert moonshine distiller by night and my mom, a Cuban immigrant, youngest of 5 girls and a total badass. They had me when they were 17 so my parents were very much like siblings to me and gave me a lot of autonomy over my young life. I felt no reason to betray that trust and so we got along well. I learned a lot about the value of community while living in Saudi. There is a certain unbreakable bond that gets immediately formed with those around you when you know they are your lifeline should anything take a turn — in those days, namely around the time of Desert Storm and later the ensuing War in Afghanistan — we appreciated how delicate our presence there as Westerners was and at the height of those conflicts, depended greatly on this community as fear made its way into the usual comfort of our daily lives. I’d never trade it in for anything though, the cultural acumen and love for humanity that I developed in the KSA and the privilege of touring the world as a child shaped me immensely into the person I am today.

What or who inspired you to pursue your career as an entrepreneur or business leader? We’d love to hear the story.

My parents have both been entrepreneurial since I was young. Neither of them had the opportunity to pursue a higher education post high school because they were busy having me, but that never stopped them from pursuing lofty goals, traveling the world, and starting multiple businesses before they hit 30. I’ve always been inspired by their optimism and resourcefulness.

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?

Yes, my late mentor Tony Hsieh was a huge influence in the way I view success and in turn the way I approach it. He was always very adamant about knowing what personal success meant and not allowing commercial success to interfere with that but exist instead to bolster my individual happiness goals.

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?

I’m happy to say I can look back on most all my mistakes now and laugh for one reason or another — mostly because at the time they seemed like the worst possible thing that could happen and now they seem trivial. One of the best lessons I’ve learned as a third time founder and operator of a business is that the success of that business greatly depends on your ability to see pain for what it is, learn from it and not prolong suffering — which really boils down to right mindset. Probably the most profound of all of those particular experiences was when I found myself nearly running out of money to operate my now business, Kin, only to raise the funds in the nick of time and immediately put them to use on a retail expansion plan rendered completely useless by a global pandemic. Sometimes our job as CEO is to have a foolproof plan and sometimes our job is to the be a fool for our work — when we can be the latter, in all humility, we’re left with passion, drive, and the determination required to persevere through adversity. The lesson here of course was flexibility and faith over fear, relinquishing ego to ascertain the best path forward whether it matches up with the blueprint or not. Helpful still, having wonderful partners around you and having the strength (and flexibility) to ditch the ones that just aren’t on board.

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?

Know yourself first — ruthlessly and lovingly — before pursuing any venture. When you know what core values truly drive you towards a goal and what success looks and feels like for you before you map out what commercial success looks like for any one venture, you’ll never be left pandering to an audience of customers or investors but rather serving them along your personal path to joy. Major key to aligning your life path around prosperity.

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?

There’s so many but I would say if you’re going to read one, read the Bhagavad Gita, followed by BE 2.0 by Jim Collins. The Gita reminds us that we do not have rights to the fruit of our labor — anything we make is a miracle — but we do have exclusive dibs on our labor. This is critical because it forces us to choose a labor we love and not be attached to any one outcome, or allow money or fame to drive us or derail us from the present focus of finding pleasure in the present path. And BE 2.0 is simply the best business book on shelves right now, so much good wisdom from great companies and entrepreneurs.

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

People will have more opinions than words of encouragement when you’re starting out. If they haven’t successfully achieved the very dream you’re setting out for (and often, even if they have) take each of these “thoughts” with a grain of salt. It resonates with me because I don’t think we are well-trained to deal with people projecting their own insecurities and b.s. on us in life in general, and as new founders / creators we’re way more susceptible to negative feedback early on in our journeys when its most critical to believe in our vision. If you don’t see it for what it is, this kind of advice can crush many a dreamer and rob us of opportunities to pursue the thing that we are uniquely designed to do.

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

One of the things we’re creating at Kin that I’m extremely passionate about is the building out of our “Brain Trust”. This is a board of about 6 people that will allow us to learn, in real time as they are, the latest findings across the fields of neuroscience, psychology, addiction, pleasure, endocrinology, and biotech, respectively advising on how we as a species are changing our habits around connection and how Kin in particular can bring more consciousness, more nourishment to the social rituals of the Western world. What we hope to do with this knowledge is to translate what we are learning about the mind and the brain, the brain-gut connection, the impact hormones have on mood, positive psychology, etc. into community campaigns and ultimately consumables and social experiences that can help humanity relate better. Of late, as modern go-getters we all tend to look at practices to improve our minds like journaling or meditation — both extremely useful — but we fail to assess how our minding our everyday mundane habits is critical to the nourishment of our brain. What we watch, who we spend time with, and certainly what nutrients we are or aren’t consuming daily have a direct impact on our cognitive flow and function, which ultimately determines who we are and how successful we become, how much pleasure we attain, etc.

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?

Waiting until a stressful event presents itself to have a strategy (i.e. running defense) is the most common mistake I see leaders make when it comes to stress. After-the-fact stress “relief” is not a sustainable strategy to rely on as stress is inevitable and pressure is a mounting force for any successful leader in growth mode — we can’t always be in recovery or we’ll never get ahead. I am constantly running offense when it comes to stress management — this includes a daily regimen of adaptogens, mushrooms, breathwork, journaling, hydration, meditation, and good sleep to keep me able minded and resilient.

We also tend to underestimate the impact internal rumination (worrying about what might be) and environmental stressors (air and noise pollution as one major example) have on us and their ability to compromise our emotional and physical states when it comes to coping with stress. Tackling those actively can make us infinitely more prepared for external work-related incidents so we can maneuver with clarity and conviction when the time comes. Talk therapy is also extremely effective for me when it comes to a particular problem where rumination is keeping me on the hamster wheel of anxiety. On the opposite end of that spectrum in the more extreme case where I see myself relieving stressful experiences as a sort of perpetual pattern in my life, hypnotherapy has been the best tool I’ve found to unsticking myself so I can heal from a major stress event and avoid similar ones in the future.

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?

Optimizing the mind for peak performance and protecting the mind against stress truly require the same approach. Stress is the ultimate debilitator of the inspired mind, which I think is required for sparks of genius, the very same that turn a good presentation to a moving one, or a sufficient sales pitch into a rally cry for an irresistible opportunity. I am a big believer in preparation which can include a number of things depending on the situation but usually centers around visualization, avoiding toxins, and rehearsing / role-playing ahead of a high-pressure presentation or event in which I’m required to show up for my team. But that’s table stakes in business. The true magic happens when I’ve spiritually prepped and can support myself in finding flow no matter what goes down during the interview / pitch / crisis and that can only happen by 1) knowing who I am and why I’m doing this and 2) running a strong offense against the paralyzing force of stress, anxiety and fear.

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.

Yes, I use a number of traditional pranayama breathing techniques depending on the occasion — warming Kapalabhati breath when I feel lethargic, or Ujaayi breath when my heartbeat feels erratic. Meditations of compassion are helpful before I have to step in to coach an employee. There are so many useful ones. For leadership, a great go to is the 10 minute priming exercise Tony Robbins teaches in his work — there is a lot of neuroscience to support the impact a power stance can have on the psyche in opening the heart and lungs but also tapping serotonin and endorphins for confidence and grace.

Do you have a special technique to develop a strong focus, and clear away distractions?

Journaling is how I take out the mental trash, so to speak, daily. Otherwise implementing strong control mechanisms around my time is key — I don’t just leave my calendar open for anyone to drop any meeting on at any time. I designate certain days for 1:1’s and others for group discussions, for example. For me “distraction” is a state of mind that is best avoided by practicing good energy hygiene. When you can conserve energy and consolidate how your energy is being expended, little unexpected things that pop up don’t derail you as hard. Instilling a culture at the company of people respecting each other’s time is also critical but that will never be taken seriously if it isn’t modeled at the top.

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? See #14

What is the best way to develop great habits for optimal performance? How can one stop bad habits?

Habits are really just neural patterning comprised of repetitive action that make us comfortable. The brain seeks them out as a way to optimize for safety and also to make room for learning in other areas, so the first step to breaking bad habits is having an awareness of the habits that are not serving us and actively shifting gears by replacing them with new learnings and thereby break the cycle. The discomfort we feel when we change out something as simple as our morning coffee, for ex, is the feeling of the brain reprogramming itself so the main thing is choosing to see this discomfort as a reward i.e. active gains as opposed to suffering or deprivation. Only then can the brain ease into a state of habit-building and again return to its state of contentment in habituation around a particular tendency so we can leave room for new experiences and keep the brain limber. When it comes to optimal performance, it’s good practice to do this even with “good” habits — changing our routes on our morning run or reading fiction when we’re in the middle of a business book, these things surprise the brain and help with neuroplasticity.

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?

It’s actually really difficult to experience flow while leading. Serotonin and cortisol are two main factors of leadership that work with the sympathetic nervous system which is how we rise up in fight or flight mode rather than shrink down. It’s not to say leadership can’t be pleasurable but states of flow are best sought solo or when you can be in a place of total surrender with others. Neurochemically speaking, flow is found on the opposite end of the warrior chief experience, by activating the parasympathetic nervous system. This is where we can tap flow, love, empathy, creativity — only when we feel safe to let our guard down can we enter that tantric state of total flow, which to me means cultivating an empowered relationship with vulnerability and allowing yourself the space to create. Ironically for me, that also meant establishing a discipline around doing nothing. When I feel inspired to write on the state of desire or pleasure or connection — three big tenets of the Kin work — I have to just clear the deck and whiteboard or sit and tap into the stream of consciousness that wants to bubble up without attaching myself to the outcome, without the fear of looking silly. It also means doing this when I feel like I don’t have the time to do this. The mind is a fertile landscape of possibility, our job is purely to till the land and water the crops, flow is natures work from there. The Molecule of More and Stealing Fire are great books to read on this topic.

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.

In a sense, we’re doing this with Kin by pioneering a shift in perspective around connecting in a more conscientious way. The movement is evident in the way those who were once exceptionally staunch believers that one can only connect socially when numbed by ethanol or other drugs are now passionately switching to Kin as their new way to get lifted. This is, for me, Step One in the greater mission of helping people of all walks come together in true unity. Our country is being manipulated into a state of divisive “fairness-focused” fear-based hatred for one another. We have no incentive but to tribe up and lash out against “the other”. But this woefully ironic “winner-take-all for the sake of equality” mentality will never be good for the greatest number of people, we will never come together under these circumstances. Only by taking a faith-based approach to healing our societal problems will we be able to see ourselves as individuals and open our hearts to each other, one by one, in empathy and compassion. We’re all about trusting the science, well the science is pointing to collaboration for a just society, and the politics are not. Countless neuroscience studies support this and the movement is not new, and it’s not “my” idea, it’s as old as time itself and that’s the movement of love.

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 🙂

Thank you! Well, I’d love to take Jim Collins to lunch if only to thank him for the work he continues to do for conscious business and leadership. He has done a ton to influence the way I think about organizations and the privilege and grave responsibility we have as creators as we enter into entrepreneurial pursuits.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

@jenofkin on instagram is going to be the most current way, otherwise continue to follow Kin’s journey at @kineuphorics

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

Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

You might also like...


Campari America VP Melanie Batchelor: “The further I advance in my career, the move I value finding a mentor”

by Yitzi Weiner
Kin Insurance Human Resources Hiring Strategies

How Companies Identify Talent, with Allison O’Brien & Kage Spatz

by Kage Spatz

For the Women Who Don’t Feel like Leaders: This is for You

by Tracy Litt
We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.