Community//

“How to live a more focused life” with Vincent Miceli

Like I said, I don’t believe in stress, but I do believe you can live a more focused life. Sleep is important. I turn off my phone long before I go to bed, and I wake up early, long before I have anything scheduled. I use this time to drink water, make a fresh pot […]

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.

Like I said, I don’t believe in stress, but I do believe you can live a more focused life. Sleep is important. I turn off my phone long before I go to bed, and I wake up early, long before I have anything scheduled. I use this time to drink water, make a fresh pot of coffee, read, write and either workout or make myself an amazing breakfast. I try to avoid pointless conflict. If I know I’m going to have a tough conversation, I turn off social media, with its petty bickering, and keep my mind on the task at hand.

As a part of our series about “Optimal Performance Before High Pressure Moments”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Vincent Miceli, Founder and CEO of Verb — an AI accountability partner and life coach in one.

COVID-19 and the subsequent pandemic have escalated the need for daily, accountable tracking and insights into personal well-being, making it a critical part of maintaining strong physical and mental health. Verb is designed to build lasting and measurable changes for individuals looking to improve their overall health and wellness by mastering daily habits.

Verb is the brainchild of serial entrepreneur Vincent Miceli, also founder of the Body Blueprint Gym, who himself successfully overcame obesity and many other difficult obstacles. Verb is founded on the principles Vincent used to achieve his goals, including a high level of personal accountability for small, daily goals.

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?

Thanks for having me. Working hard has always been in my DNA; even as a young teen, I worked in a pizzeria after high school. While growing up, the idea of entrepreneurship or becoming the CEO of any company felt like an alien concept.

When I went to college, I was lucky enough to have been blessed by two loving, supportive parents who wanted me to succeed. Before I ever set foot on campus, they told me that I was there to learn, not earn. Under no circumstances was I to get a part-time job. They would take care of the bills. But did I listen? They were using every penny they had saved to pay for my degree, and things were undeniably tight, and the idea of asking them for $20 felt utterly unthinkable. I wanted to take some of the pressure off, so I started looking for ways to earn money against their wishes. Some of my hustles proved more successful than others. I sold spring break travel packages, even joined a multi-level marketing scheme.

Eventually, I found my niche. I learned to compress my class schedule into a single day, allowing me to work the other six. I joined an international mutual fund while also running a promotions business with two friends. I even found time for extracurriculars, taking leadership roles in my fraternity, and spending time bar-hopping with friends.

Today, I’m the proud founder and CEO of Verb — an AI accountability partner and life coach in one. Verb was built on the principles I used to achieve my goals, including a high level of personal accountability for small, daily goals. The text-based platform connects individuals to highly-qualified health, wellness, and life coaches to help make sustainable changes that positively impact their life.

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?

It’s been a tough road. But success doesn’t come without obstacles.

Let me ask you this. Have you ever been broke? Not just “four days to payday” broke, but actually bankrupt? I have.

In 2012, I lost my promotions business. I remember being so desperate, I was forced to overdraft my checking account to get a train to borrow money from my best friend Anthony so I could buy groceries. John Donne said “no man is an island,” and it’s true — no amount of grit can replace the help I got at that time. Anthony saw something in me I didn’t see in myself. And he was willing to look past my present struggles to get me back on my feet.

Anthony, if you’re reading this. Thank you.

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 Entering the Fitness industry I saw an ad that Rich Froning was in and said to myself, “The CrossFit Games.. How hard could that be?” I registered online and paid the fee, THEN googled crossfit gyms near me. Having never stepped foot in one before I walked and introduced myself to the owner, a CF games athlete at the time and said, “hey I’m Vin, we spoke on the phone. I am here to qualify for the games.” Needless to say I did not. He laughed in my face. We ended up opening my First gym together.

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?

Execution matters more than ideas, and you can’t get anywhere without hard work and sheer determined grit. But more importantly, you need to stop thinking about work as a means to an end, but rather something that builds you into the person you want to be. The more you work, the more you learn. And that pays dividends later down the line. Be stubborn with your gut, and open with your brain.

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?

If I ever need a dose of inspiration, I dip into Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. At its core, Atlas Shrugged is a parable about the importance of self-sufficiency. If you rely on others — be they individuals or institutions — to take care of you, you’re not just putting yourself in a vulnerable position, but you stagnate. You don’t reach your potential.

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

“Success does not come without failure.” I’ve failed plenty of times. My failures outnumber my successes, but without them, I wouldn’t have accomplished what I have. Ultimately, failure is an inherent risk if you want to build a business, and if that scares you, get a 9-to-5.

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

My startup, Verb. It’s an “accountability marketplace,” which is a short way of saying we connect eager clients with coaches to accomplish their goals whether its fitness, nutrition, sleep, productivity etc.

COVID-19 and the subsequent pandemic have escalated the need for daily, accountable tracking and insights into personal well-being, making it a critical part of maintaining strong physical and mental health. Verb’s specialized user experience is designed to build lasting and measurable changes for individuals looking to improve their overall health and wellness by mastering daily habits.

We’ve built a really sophisticated machine learning engine that enables coaches to track an individual’s habits, understand their behavior, and help them align activities to goals. By employing neural networks and natural language processing (NLP), Verb is able to extract insights from unstructured, text-based conversations that empower coaches to provide actionable feedback for the benefit of encouraging bespoke, positive behavior change. It’s all about removing the blockages and bad habits that stop people from becoming who they want to be.

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?

To be frank, I don’t believe in stress. This may be controversial, but I don’t. We all have decisions to make: they’re either hard or not. The only variable is how we deal with them. Knowing everything is temporary, and I am responsible for my own actions makes it easy to cope with the day-to-day. Of course, it helps that I’m surrounded by a brilliant team. I always try to hire people who are smarter than me and are willing to provide direction and help solve problems.

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?

Like I said, I don’t believe in stress, but I do believe you can live a more focused life. Sleep is important. I turn off my phone long before I go to bed, and I wake up early, long before I have anything scheduled. I use this time to drink water, make a fresh pot of coffee, read, write and either workout or make myself an amazing breakfast. I try to avoid pointless conflict. If I know I’m going to have a tough conversation, I turn off social media, with its petty bickering, and keep my mind on the task at hand.

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.

I read a lot. It’s incredible how much better you feel when you’re absorbed in a good book. And it helps to be mindful of your time. I barely watch TV. I don’t have one in my bedroom. I don’t want one. And every day, I try to get to know myself better. Journaling helps, and every morning I spend time deliberately thinking about the person I want to be.

Sleep is important too. I’ve already mentioned that, but I have strategies for when I’m feeling restless. One is called the “dead body.” I lay flat with my arms and legs crossed and breathe as slow as I can. While I’m doing that, I imagine a black void. My heart rate plummets, and within minutes I’m fast asleep.

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

Focus is a challenging skill to master. It’s a skill that needs constant training and real dedication. Everyone is different. Some may focus better in the morning or better in the afternoon. Some even find it easier to concentrate at night.

I’ve spent a lot of time figuring this out, and, to be honest, I’m still mastering the skill. I have learned that external life factors impact my ability to focus, but it’s how I allow myself to adapt to those circumstances that enable me to succeed. Ultimately, I have a complete focus in small increments of time, but this can span multiple activities. By doing it this way, I can ensure that my focus isn’t distracted by outside forces. Little and often is my key to consistent progress.

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?

I’ve structured my life around dozens of tiny habits. A habit is just something we do to receive a reward. Years ago, I listed off the things that brought me joy, and then I systematically checked off everything ephemeral. That wouldn’t follow me through life. It sounds stupid, but it helped to put things into perspective.

Then I looked at each item and started to think about how to achieve that lasting joy. That’s what inspired me to form my habits: to find happiness. I stopped drinking and smoking. I wanted to be financially successful, so I stopped wasting time on TV. Every time I decided, I asked: will this make me become the person I want to be? For once, I had clarity.

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

Start small. Habits work best when they’re achievable, distinct tasks. If they’re too ambitious or too complicated, you’ll lapse. Pick something — just one thing — and make it part of your life. Focused attention is an essential precept in Verb. You’ll be surprised how far you get once you’ve established a footing.

One thing that’s worth remembering — Virtues are easy to build; vices are hard to lose. I know this personally. At one point, I weighed 250 pounds. I smoked like a chimney. I drank and used cocaine as often as I could. Breaking those bad habits required me to have a concrete idea about who I wanted to be. After that, I found it easy to abstain from my vices. And once you have one good habit, others swiftly follow.

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?

Start small. Habits work best when they’re achievable, distinct tasks. Flow is a fantastic feeling. Imagine time melting away. Each accomplishment you knock off your to-do list gives you a hit of dopamine. It’s the best drug I’ve ever taken. And the best part is you can take it anywhere — from writing a chapter in a book to snowboarding down a mountain. There’s no formula for it. It comes naturally.

My first experience came at a time when so much was happening in my life. I was being pulled in hundreds of different directions. My mind felt crowded and overwhelmed. And then it hit me — clarity. The thing is, the more you find yourself in that state of focus, the more often it happens. It’s a life-long skill that is hard to master, and needs constant nurturing. Start by simplifying your life.

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 think people are afraid of being alone. Unplugged and with your thoughts. We’ve forgotten how to be bored. I didn’t always love what was in my brain, but I’ve learned our best friend is ourselves over time. Introspect. Disconnect. Make an effort to spend time alone with your thoughts. Learn to rely on yourself. You don’t know what you can do until you know yourself.

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 🙂

Chamath Palihapitiya. He changed my view of what it takes to succeed in business and life as a whole. He’s one of the smartest people I’ve ever heard talk. His approach to business and personal life is one that I admire, and his sincere devotion to bettering the world is underserved.

One of his core principles, which I live by, is that we shouldn’t spend our life checking boxes and confining ourselves to the social norms. To get the best out of our life experiences, we have to push boundaries, go against the tide, and trust our instincts.

Humans are notoriously habitual, often going through life on ‘cruise control’ and failing to recognize the impact of daily activities on their overall health and well-being. In one of his interviews, he explains the importance of understanding your values, what makes you happy, sad, and angry. Once you figure that out, you can act accordingly, embrace accountability, and push yourself beyond the norm.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

Follow me on Instagram @getverb as well as our blog which features tips and tricks on accountability as well as some amazing recipe ideas!

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...

Community//

Gianna Miceli: “Treat your team like human beings”

by Candice Georgiadis
Community//

Gianna Miceli: “A pill for an ill”

by Candice Georgiadis
Community//

Gianna Miceli: “Hire with your heart”

by Jerome Knyszewski
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.