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Kent Yoshimura of Neuro: “Focus is a muscle that can be trained”

Focus is a muscle that can be trained. Slowly practice your focus by limiting phone use, consciously engaging in your habits, and strengthening your impulse control. Productivity is a combination of making the right decisions alongside hard work. Find that balance and march forth. It also helps with maintaining your perseverance and resiliency…something you’ll need […]

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Focus is a muscle that can be trained. Slowly practice your focus by limiting phone use, consciously engaging in your habits, and strengthening your impulse control. Productivity is a combination of making the right decisions alongside hard work. Find that balance and march forth. It also helps with maintaining your perseverance and resiliency…something you’ll need a lot of.


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

Kent Yoshimura is a multimedia creative and entrepreneur with a love for CPG, art, and cognition.

Throughout his professional career, Kent has directed content for global brands such as McDonald’s, Lego, AT&T, Benjamin Moore, Ford, and many others. As an artist, he illustrated Master Davey and The Magic Tea House, which was released worldwide at all Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf locations, and his illustrations have traveled across children’s museums throughout the United States. He has been featured on NBC for his large-scale public art pieces, the New York Times for his mural work, and in TIME magazine, Huffington Post, Men’s Health, Vice, and NPR for his YouTube videos.

As a martial artist, Kent competed internationally, fighting alongside Muay Thai champions in Thailand and serving as a training partner in Judo for Olympic medalists at the Kodokan and the Japanese royal guards within the Imperial Palace.

In 2015, he co-founded Neuro — a functional confectionary brand revolutionizing the consumable supplement space. With over 15 million pieces sold since Neuro’s successful Indiegogo campaign, the company has been featured in TIME magazine, Dr. Oz, Forbes, The New Yorker, Buzzfeed, Shark Tank, The Joe Rogan Podcast, Fast Company, and the cover of Entrepreneur magazine. It can now be found in over 7500 retail locations nationwide.

Alongside his ventures, Kent currently paints large scale murals as both a freelance artist and a qualified muralist through the Department of Cultural Affairs. As an experiential artist, he co-designed the immersive retail experience CAMP in New York, The Sixth Collection for Jerry Lorenzo’s streetwear brand Fear of God, and Diddy’s 50th Birthday through okidoki, an experiential design agency he co-founded in 2018. Most recently, he painted the mural for Little Tokyo’s Terasaki Budokan — Little Tokyo’s community gym that has been 30 years in the making.


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?

My dad used to work all the time so I didn’t really know him until I was about 13. In fact, he was so busy he wasn’t even there when I was born, but I think his work ethic has been ingrained in me. My mom worked as well, so I would spend the majority of my time after school in karate, which is where I cultivated my love for martial arts, ultimately leading me down a path to pursue it seriously. I spent the rest of my free time playing with action figures and drawing nonstop.

What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.

Balancing my martial arts schedule (travelling to Thailand to fight in Muay Thai and Japan to train in Judo) while balancing school was a catalyst to find solutions to optimize my body. I began experimenting with supplements and mixing my own “stacks” in my room. During a scuba diving trip with my co-founder Ryan, we realized popping pills in public isn’t a great look and energy drinks are…well, terrible for you. We wanted something healthy and approachable, leading us down this path of gum and mints.

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?

Undeniably, my co-founder Ryan. They say to never start businesses with your friends, but Ryan inspires me every day in his mental fortitude and consideration of emotion. Even in the most stressful times, we can work together to get through anything — it’s rare to find someone that will persevere alongside you (and hopefully vice versa)!

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?

Honestly, the amount of stuff we finagled in the early stages of the business is ridiculous to look back on. From having the first shipment of gum (three pallets) at my apartment to putting sticker labels on thousands of tins to send to the New York Fashion Show, sometimes, you have to get your hands dirty to make things work.

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?

Your health and your employees’ health should always be a priority. Without a properly functioning body and mind, nothing will get done…or at least not well.

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?

My favorite business book is Andrew Grove’s High Output Management — it really helped to give me an understanding of the ecosystem of businesses and how they operate.

I’m a massive fan of fiction novels, comic books, and manga, as well. While probably an unconventional answer, One Piece is a manga I have been reading (never watched) since I was in fifth grade. To see my growth while also following the growth of the protagonist continues to resonate with me…although I have to remind myself to separate fantasy from reality!

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

There’s a quote from David Foster Wallace’s last novel, The Pale King, that resonates with me tremendously: “How odd I can have all this inside me and to you it’s just words.” In pursuing my creative side and my business side, I constantly strive to fill the gaps in my communication. Understanding that our perception of people differs from theirs guides your decisions differently and more consciously than a selfish, single point of view.

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

While Neuro and our gum and mint products have the incredible capability of changing the way consumers look at health, we have an internal initiative to bring more awareness to mental health. We believe that everything starts with the mind, and want to provide everyone with the best resources to be able to get theirs in the right place.

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?

I always try to start my day with an exercise routine and end it in the same way — the middle can go through different movements, but as long as the bookends are there, I can start and end the day with a sense of completion.

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

I am a prolific journal and sketchbook keeper, and try to document through both images and words as many of my thought processes as possible. To me, this documentation allows me to constantly improve or look back on fleeting thoughts and actively refine them on a daily basis.

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

Through my martial arts career and business, I’m constantly looking to create efficiencies in everything I do. By simplifying your daily habits and focusing on the ones that lead to the most foundational growth, you can always continue to improve. The Jogging Baboon from Bojack Horseman put it best: “It gets easier…Every day it gets a little easier…But you gotta do it every day — that’s the hard part. But it does get easier.”

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.

  1. Consciously not using your phone whenever meeting face to face with someone.
  2. Keeping a sketchbook on you at most times to document thoughts.
  3. Get your sleep.

All these things build my impulse control and mental wellness, which are constantly challenged in business every day.

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

Start simple. At this point, this advice has probably been repeated a million times, but it’s for good reason. Be patient and build the foundations that you can continue to improve so that those habits become a part of who you are. Then, continue to develop new habits from there. Rinse and repeat.

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

One of my idols, Bruce Lee, said, “I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.” If I were to point out my three best habits based on this, it would be:

  1. Exercise, no matter how long, every day.
  2. Sleep!
  3. Constantly be observing and learning from your peers.

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

Find ways of consciously connecting with people in your vertical. You’ll realize how supportive we all are of each other!

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

  1. Find balance with everything that you do.
  2. Know your limits while challenging yourself.
  3. Sleep.

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

Focus is a muscle that can be trained. Slowly practice your focus by limiting phone use, consciously engaging in your habits, and strengthening your impulse control. Productivity is a combination of making the right decisions alongside hard work. Find that balance and march forth. It also helps with maintaining your perseverance and resiliency…something you’ll need a lot of.

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?

I always have my place to do certain things. My art studio is reserved for exploring my creativity. My office space is used for business. The gym (now my room) is used for my morning exercise. My home is for unwinding. State-dependent flow is a real thing, and segmenting them out allows my mind to prepare itself to maximize my output in any given activity I enter into.

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 always look at the Space Race between the 50s-70s as an unbelievable time, where the entire world came together to reach a singular goal. I’d like to believe sustainability is that next goal for all of humanity to continue existing on this planet together. We are all so interconnected now that learning about each other’s dreams and cultures has become easier and easier. If we can continue to improve the way we communicate with each other, and strive for the greater good of humans as a whole, the possibilities are endless.

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 🙂

Bill Gates has always been an influence to me — not only because of his accomplishments in business, but also because of his ability to expand that into a purely humanitarian perspective. The pursuit of money always has selfish undertones, but the pursuit of improving the wellbeing of others without any financial gain (or need to worry about financial gain) seems like a level of existential self that very few can achieve.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

You can find out more about Neuro at https://getneuro.com, and more of my personal work at https://kentaronic.com.

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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