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Slow Down To Do More, “Say No More Often” with Ashley Graber and Caloni Michelle

When it comes to business, ask yourself, “Does this drive my business forward?” For me, an example is: “Will this event allow me to meet people who can help me take my business to another level?” If the answer is no, I kindly decline the invitation.


When it comes to business, ask yourself, “Does this drive my business forward?” For me, an example is: “Will this event allow me to meet people who can help me take my business to another level?” If the answer is no, I kindly decline the invitation.

As a part of my series about “How to Slow Down To Do More” I had the pleasure to interview Caloni Michelle Moses, MBA. Caloni is a Personal Branding Expert and Founder of Brandstrom — a fast-growing personal branding agency for CEOs, business professionals, and entrepreneurs worth $10 million. Caloni is a national speaker, serial entrepreneur, philanthropist, event host and premiere personal branding mentor who leads personal branding events, LinkedIn Local meetups, influencer events & masterminds.


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

I grew up very poor. My father was a struggling entrepreneur. After my father passed away when I was 13 years old, I knew that there had to be more to life than one full of struggle. I thought the path to getting more out of life was to do the opposite of what my father did, so I got a Master’s Degree in Business Administration and began working my way up to the corporate ladder. I was discouraged while working in the corporate world as my potential was limited by my job description, and it was difficult to see the direct impact I was personally having on the end client.

I jumped on the social media train in 2007. In 2010, I started to learn elements of personal branding because I wanted to build a brand online. In 2013, I started my first company. All the while, in 2014, personal brands were beginning to gain a lot of traction online primarily from social media. As I was growing my personal brand, people began to ask me how I was building an online presence, so I began to teach people. Fast forward a few years, I’ve built a personal branding agency and have a team of 16 people who help in developing, building, and scaling brands for CEOs, founders, business professionals, and entrepreneurs around their expertise, knowledge, and life experiences.

According to the 2006 Pew Research 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?

The lack of clear direction and an action plan often cause a feeling of being rushed. When we know which direction we’re headed and the outcome we desire, we can determine what we should say yes to. However, most people fill their calendars with tasks, appointments, and events that don’t drive the needle forward. Being successful in business isn’t a result of all the opportunities we say yes to but rather what we say no to.
We live in a time when people want everything right now. We want our Amazon orders to be delivered in two days. We expect people to respond to text messages, emails and social media comments immediately. We want our businesses to be built in a short period of time.

Rather than being slaves to the word “yes,” let’s develop clarity around our destination and then develop a roadmap to get there.

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

Being rushed can cause extra unnecessary stress on our bodies. That stress can in turn cloud our minds and judgement and severely impact productivity since we can’t think clearly. This added stress on our bodies can cause us to get sick, which in turn affects our productivity, work abilities, and overall happiness. When I find myself being rushed by a schedule that I often create for myself, I can get too stressed and then end up getting sick, being unproductive or unmotivated and unhappy. I’ve reached a point in life and business that I ask myself, how can I better protect my time?

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?

Slowing down can give us the opportunity to appreciate our life, relationships, jobs, businesses, and so many other facets of life. Slowing down can give us the time to reflect on what’s important and what matters most. It’s these periods of downtime that can lead to the most happiness and fulfillment in life.

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 an example for each?

1. Use a calendar: My calendar is what determines my day. I enjoy taking a few hours in the morning to focus on me, set the intention for the day and mentally prepare for tasks and appointments later that day. I rarely take meetings prior to 10 am. If possible, I take off my meetings via telephone or an online video conferencing tool called Zoom.

2. Time block calendar: This ties into using a calendar, but I go a step further by allotting certain times in my calendar for pertinent tasks, and I also block out times in my calendar, other activities such as the gym, date night with my husband, massage, vacation, etc.

3. Prepare: When I’m not prepared, I feel rushed and stressed. I prepare for meetings, sales calls, interviews, events, and other similar activities in advance so I won’t be scrambling at the last minute.

4. Prioritize: I use the notes app on my phone to prioritize my to-do list for the week. Once I prioritize my tasks for the week, I can easily assign tasks to certain days of the week.

5. Take time for ourselves: Block out time in schedule to get a massage, go to a movie, grab lunch with friends and go on a trip. Although scheduling “me time” in my calendar can be tough, I understand the importance of it to my happiness.

6. Say no more often: When it comes to business, ask yourself, “Do this drive my business forward?” For me, an example is: “Will this event allow me to meet people who can help me take my business to another level?” If the answer is no, I kindly decline the invitation.

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

Mindfulness is being conscious of what, as humans, we need. Being mindful is not something that’s done once a week or even once a month; it’s the practice of being aware, on a daily basis, of what our bodies need. Do we need less stress, to slow down, to spend more time with loved ones, to do activities we enjoy, etc.?

An example of what I’m mindful of is understanding when I need to take a step back from my business. I often have many projects going on at once, so practicing mindfulness is important. When I start to feel overwhelmed and overworked, I take a look at my schedule and priority list to see what can be removed or what I can delegate to someone on my team. It’s not about what I can add to my schedule, but rather what I can remove.

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

Journaling and giving ourselves time to just think can help tremendously when integrating mindfulness into our everyday lives. We are in such a go-go-go time period and are constantly filling our lives with unnecessary stress. Taking the time to write and get our thoughts on paper or on a digital notepad can often help clear our heads. Giving ourselves time to think can come in different forms — meditating while sitting on the floor, going for a walk or even driving a car.

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

Although this isn’t a tool per se, having a priority list is very helpful. I can easily see what’s important and what I need to say yes to. The top 3 areas that I’m spending the bulk of my time should reflect the top 3 items on my to-do list.

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

Impact Theory with Tom Bilyeu and The Ed Mylett Show are two great podcasts that are both motivational yet practical. Being an entrepreneur myself, I love consuming content from other successful leaders and how the “hustle and grind” alone does not amount to success. It’s imperative that we slow down.

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

“Most of our troubles in life come from saying yes, too often and not saying no often enough.”

-Amanda Ardagna

During the last year, I’ve had to practice saying no more frequently. It’s not an easy practice. There are months when I’m practicing this more often and things are going great. When I start to get overwhelmed and stressed, I take a step back and ask myself, “What do I need to say no to?” Although it seems easy to say no all the time, it’s not. I have to be mindful of reminding myself to say no more often.

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 would inspire a kindness movement. I see a lot of bullies in the online space. I haven’t really been a victim of this, but I’ve seen many others whose lives have become a disaster due to the negative and judgmental words of people hiding behind keyboards.

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.

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