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Slow Down To Do More: “How To Shift Your Perspective” With Ashley Graber and Sean Hopwood

My grandfather shared with me the quote that I live by today. He said to me: “You are looking at one star when you could have the whole galaxy.” I will never forget this quote. It does not only represents ambition for me, but perspective. Sometimes we get so focused on one issue, on one […]


My grandfather shared with me the quote that I live by today. He said to me: “You are looking at one star when you could have the whole galaxy.” I will never forget this quote. It does not only represents ambition for me, but perspective. Sometimes we get so focused on one issue, on one challenge we are facing, that we forget about what truly matters. But if we take a step back, if we’re able to see the big picture, we realize that the problem might not even be a problem at all, and just a minor star in a whole galaxy.

Mindfulness naturally makes us more curious and encourages us to ask why. When we pause, long enough, we become more aware of what’s driving us and can gain full perspective again.

As a part of my series about “How to Slow Down To Do More” I had the pleasure to interview Sean Hopwood. Sean decided to set up Day Translations, Inc. from the ground up in 2007 because, after learning all about the translations business through entrepreneurial courses and his own personal experiences, he strongly believed that his company could be of great service to individuals and corporations throughout the world. And he finally had the knowledge and courage to do it alone.

He always knew that he wanted to start his own business and work towards his dream of promoting world peace through education, tolerance and cultural awareness.

Day Translations is named after Sean’s grandfather, Francis Day, who was an inspiration to him and his family, and one of the people who most influenced his life and personality. As an ex-marine officer, his grandfather was a disciplined man and instilled old-fashioned values in Sean that he still adheres to today: hard work, professionalism, formality and respect. The Day name continues to be an inspiration to Sean and his legacy lives on in his company’s work ethics, core values and everyday interactions.


Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to this specific career path?

It seems like everything that I’ve done in my life has lead me to build my company. Everything that has happened to me has prepared me to build an international languages company. My passion for languages started when I was five or six years old. I lived in a neighbourhood with a lot of Spanish speakers, and I wanted to understand everything they said. One time a little kid told me I was “loco” and I said “Are you calling me crazy?” That was the first interpretation I’ve ever done in my life.

From that point on, I became obsessed with languages. All throughout high school I studied Spanish and French, and in college I studied Arabic as well. I also tutored Korean students in English.

After I graduated college, I became an interpreter at a law firm for these languages, and after my MBA, it was inevitable. I knew I was going to work with languages. I opened the company in 2007, and the rest is history. We offer translation services, certified translation services, interpreting services and localization services for any industry, and companies of any size.

People seem to find this very strange, but I love watching foreign films, spoken in languages I don’t understand and without subtitles. I guess it is a little strange, but I absolutely love picking up on subtleties, body gestures and social cues.

According to a 2006 Pew Research Report report, 26% of women and 21% of men feel that they are “always rushed”. Has it always been this way? Can you give a few reasons regarding what you think causes this prevalent feeling of being rushed?

I do hear people claim that they feel rushed more than ever. Everyone is always saying they don’t have time, and this feeling of not having enough time is what makes someone feel rushed.

But we all get the same 24 hours in the day, and we certainly can’t say that we’re working more than our ancestors that performed non-stop manual labor.

I think people feel rushed because they don’t manage their time right. I also think distractions are now everywhere, and it’s very easy to lose hours of our day with small “checking the phone” breaks that eventually add up. And then we claim we don’t have time to do what truly matters, and that we’re feeling rushed. Lastly, because of technology, we get constant updates of what’s happening in the world. What new devices are appearing, what solutions industry giants are developing, what inventions 16 year old kids are coming up with. All this constant stream of news can make us feel like we’re not doing enough, and that our time is limited. And even though it is, we need to look at some things with perspective.

Based on your experience or research can you explain why being rushed can harm our productivity, health, and happiness?

Feeling rushed can certainly harm our productivity, because it can harm people when making decisions. If you feel pressured and rushed, your decisions can get affected by your mood. It is very likely that when rushed, we make poor choices, because we’re not thinking objectively and seeing all the options. We’re only driven by this feeling of distress, and we might pick what looks easier or better in the moment, but might potentially hurt us in the future. However, if we take our time, if we sleep on it, sometimes we wake up and come up with the right decision on the spot. I think this happens because when our mind has settled down, when we are able to take a pause, we really can focus on only one thing at hand, and seeing it through every angle.

On the flip side, can you give examples of how we can do more, and how our lives would improve if we could slow down?

Going back to what I said before, people are saying more than ever that they don’t have time.

But I think sometimes, people that say this are not managing their time properly. I truly feel that the best thing someone can learn is time management. We can do more by saving time. A friend of mine built his gym at home so he wouldn’t lose an hour of his day driving to and from his local sports center.

Some people don’t want to pay a person to mow the lawn, they would rather do it themselves. But sometimes, you end up spending two hours doing something that you could have paid someone to do, and do better, while you focus on what you’re good at. And this is the key here: spend your time doing the things that you’re great at doing, and let other people do the things that they’re great at doing. As a leader, learn how to delegate. As a homeowner, learn how to pay an expert to mow your lawn.

We all live in a world with many deadlines and incessant demands for our time and attention. That inevitably makes us feel rushed. Can you share with our readers 6 strategies that you use to “slow down to do more”? Can you please give a story or example for each?

– Delegating: As the President of my company, I need to delegate. It was a struggle for me to learn how to trust people to do things I typically did at work, but it’s incredibly helpful. I make sure to surround myself with smart people that are amazing at what they do. Having the peace of mind that those things are being handled allows me to focus on fewer, crucial decisions.

-Make Few Trivial Decisions: Obama said he only wears grey or blue suits, because he doesn’t want to use his brain capacity for making decisions on what he eats or what he wears. Wearing the same clothes every day, if you work at home, helps a lot. Cooking all your weekly meals on Sunday so you don’t have to decide on what to eat during the week helps as well — not only for saving time, but for making sure you use your brain capacity where it really matters, giving your mind some rest.

-Do Mundane Tasks: Wash the dishes, fold clothes, prepare your meals. All these chores that we dreaded as children can really help calm our mind down when we need a rest. Find breaks during your day to do these.

-Play Sports: I personally love soccer. But engaging in any sport is great for the mind.

-Dancing: Dancing connects you with a person in a way that your mind cannot really think about anything else. You can’t look at your phone when you’re dancing with a partner. You can’t think about work when you’re connecting in that way. I love dancing salsa and bachata, and I find that it gives me great peace of mind.

-Being Social: Spending time with family and friends is also one of the greatest things one can do to take a break. I find that during my week, I spend so much time thinking about my work, my challenges, my own goals that I forget about the people around me. Find time during the week to see a friend, ask them about their week, get away from your own world and know somebody else’s.

How do you define “mindfulness”? Can you give an example or story?

I define mindfulness as a quiet mind. As a mind that can focus on one thing at a time, and let go of distractions. Mindfulness can be implemented in any part of life. For example, I try to eat slowly. I feel like it is my way to “stop and smell the roses.” By taking time to enjoy a meal, you savor each bite, and the company you are enjoying it with.

Can you give examples of how people can integrate mindfulness into their everyday lives?

By taking time every day to unplug. Whether it’s to play a sport, go enjoy a meal with family and friends, or just take a walk outside, I believe allowing ourselves a moment away from the constant pings that light up your phone gives you a chance enjoy the simpler things in life.

Do you have any mindfulness tools that you find most helpful at work?

Speaking with your coworkers. Engaging. Learning about their lives, and getting away from your own for a minute. This is incredibly important. I make sure to ask my employees about their lives, about how they’re feeling, about their weekends, always with respect and professionalism, but establishing a relationship based on trust and camaraderie.

Delegating, again, it’s extremely important. Hire people you trust, and you can be sure that your company will be in great hands. I wouldn’t be where I am if it wasn’t for my great team.

What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources that inspire you to use mindfulness tools or practices

I love Dan Le Batard’s podcast. And yes, it is about sports, but there is a reason behind this.

Sports don’t matter. The results of a match won’t affect people’s lives in any big way, positive or negative. A game will not make the world a better or worse place. And so, I like to watch sports sometimes to unwind. I find it incredibly calming for my mind to watch a match and know that nothing life-changing will come out of it.

Sports podcasts are the same thing. People talking for an hour about something that will not profoundly affect anyone’s lives. I love to listen to them when I’m trying to relax.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

My grandfather shared with me the quote that I live by today. He said to me: “You are looking at one star when you could have the whole galaxy.” I will never forget this quote. It does not only represent ambition for me, but perspective. Sometimes we get so focused on one issue, on one challenge we are facing, that we forget about what truly matters. But if we take a step back, if we’re able to see the big picture, we realize that the problem might not even be a problem at all, and just a minor star in a whole galaxy.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I don’t know if this qualifies as a movement, but I would certainly try to promote respect for the elderly.

Especially in the United States, I feel like older people are not treated with the respect and honor they deserve. They’ve been working their whole lives, they’ve been contributing for so long, but since now they might not be providing as much as they once did for society, a lot of people don’t treat them with respect.

In some cultures, the older you are, the wiser. And you’re treated as such. I think we should implement that here. Older people have so much to contribute with their stories and experience. We can all learn from them.

Thank you so much for these insights! This was so inspiring!


About the Author:

After 15 years working in Commercial Real Estate in New York City, Ashley Graber changed the coast she lived on and the direction of her life from Real Estate to the worlds of Psychology and Meditation & Mindfulness. Ashley came to these practices after getting sober and in the decade plus since, she now runs a busy mindfulness based psychotherapy practice at Yale Street Therapy in Santa Monica, CA where she see adults and children and speaks on the benefits of meditation and mindfulness practices.

Ashley is an Owner and Director of Curriculum for the next generation meditation app & mindfulness company ‘Evenflow’ and launched the company’s one to one online mindfulness mentoring program. Ashley also educates teachers and administrators in schools and presents in businesses across Santa Monica and Los Angeles.

Ashley was trained in Meditation and Mindfulness practices by prominent teachers; Elisha Goldstein, Richard Burr and Guiding teacher at Against the Stream Boston, Chris Crotty. Her Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) certification was done through The Center for Mindfulness at UC San Diego. Additionally, Ashley is trained by Mindful Schools to teach Meditation and Mindfulness practices to children and families. Ashley’s unique combination of psychotherapy, trauma reprocessing and meditation and mindfulness practices make her a sought after therapist and mindfulness educator and speaker. Her passion for the benefits of mindfulness practices as well as her enthusiasm for helping young kids and adults is the drive to teach these very necessary, life long skills and why she wrote and runs the Mindfulness for Families program at The Center for Mindful Living. This is where she teaches groups of families with children ages 6–12.

Ashley was featured on Good Morning LaLa Land, presented on Resilience at the renowned Wisdom. 2.0 Mindfulness & Technology conference, and presented at the TED Woman conference offering an in-depth look at the profound psychological and physiological consequences of chronic stress, and how meditation and mindfulness practices can alleviate these effects. Ashley is also a nationally syndicated columnist on Thrive Global and Medium Magazine.

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