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“Stop and Listen!”, with Griffin Thall

Whenever I’m feeling distracted or overwhelmed, I return to the things that make me happy to bring me back to the present moment — such as taking a quick walk on the beach to feel the sand beneath my feet and the sun on my face, or having a conversation with a friend in-person (vs […]

Whenever I’m feeling distracted or overwhelmed, I return to the things that make me happy to bring me back to the present moment — such as taking a quick walk on the beach to feel the sand beneath my feet and the sun on my face, or having a conversation with a friend in-person (vs online) to feel that human connection. Try and identify the things that bring you joy and find a way (big or small) to incorporate it into your workday.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Griffin Thall. Griffin is the co-founder and CEO of Pura Vida Bracelets. After graduating from San Diego State University in 2010, Thall and his business partner, Paul Goodman, traveled to Costa Rica, where they dreamed up the idea for their artisan-made bracelet brand. Since then, he’s established himself as a leader in growth and content marketing, and helped grow Pura Vida Bracelets into a multi-million dollar, globally-recognized company, providing jobs to more than 650 artisans around the globe and raising more than $1.7 million for charitable causes. Pura Vida Bracelets has been featured on Inc.’s list of “5,000 Fastest Growing Companies in America,” and Thall was also included in Forbes’ 2015 “30 Under 30” list. He resides in San Diego, where he loves to surf, travel and shoot drone photography.


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

After graduating with a marketing degree from San Diego State University in 2010, I went on a surfing trip to Costa Rica with my best friend (and now business partner) Paul Goodman. During that trip, we had a chance encounter with two bracelet artisans named Jorge and Joaquin. We were immediately drawn to not only the incredible quality of their colorful bracelets, but by Jorge and Joaquin’s notable outlook on life. Despite living in poverty, the two friends were so full of joy and grateful for every opportunity life brought their way, no matter how small. Their philosophy — which Costa Ricans refer to as “pura vida” — of always embracing the little treasures in life no matter your situation really resonated with us. After the trip we headed home to San Diego with 400 bracelets in tow and decided to sell them at a local boutique, where they depleted their stock in just a couple of days. Paul and I saw a ton of potential there, and so we asked Jorge and Joaquin to partner with us to help share the “pura vida” spirit with others, and build the brand into what it is today. Now Jorge and Joaquin manage hundreds of artisans for us and share in our success.

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 think that “always rushed” feeling is pretty heavily powered by the immediacy of social media. Social media has been one of the most powerful tools in Pura Vida’s growth strategy, and while I greatly value its positive impact — it plays a crucial role in how we maintain fluid, open and honest dialogue with our customers — it’s not a secret that there’s a correlation between the overuse of social media and the increase of anxiety in society today. With business, politics, and pop-culture so closely intertwined with social media, there’s this constant feeling of urgency to make decisions at rapid speed, and moments need to be capitalized on in real time. That — combined with the overwhelming amount of content that we need to sift through — makes it hard to keep up with the amount of information that’s being communicated minute-by-minute, as well as to determine what among that is actually worth paying attention to.

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

Beyond the negative effects that stress can have on your physical health, people that are consistently operating within high-pressure environments are much more prone to either make impulsive, rash decisions or just completely burn out. Of course there are always exceptions to this, but ultimately making decisions under duress is more likely to result in a quick-fix rather than strategic solutions that contribute to the greater goal.

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?

I can’t express enough how impactful it is to give yourself a break now and then. We live in an age where an infinite amount of content can be accessed through a quick tap on our cell phones, and it can be difficult to allow yourself to power off for a bit. That’s why I strive to provide Pura Vida’s employees with a space that encourages taking time for yourself. When you are placed in a comfortably paced, happy, and supportive environment, you can operatewith a clear head and an open mind, and you can actually take the time to be thoughtful and strategic. This will help set you up for success, personally and professionally, as it will help you to prevent many of the hiccups that tend to happen when you move too fast. So rather than spending your time fixing mistakes or course correcting, you can allocate that time to other things that contribute to your health and happiness — such as taking a yoga class, spending time with friends or family, or even spearheading an initiative to help you reach your professional goals.

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?

● Practice Self-Care — My passion in life is surfing. Aside from being one of the reasons Pura Vida was created, it has shaped my entire professional ethos. At its core, my company was built on balance (literally and figuratively) — equal parts persistence and effort with purpose and pleasure. For me, surfing is the ultimate form of relaxation and self-care. It’s my go-to activity for clearing my head and helping me feel refreshed so that I can take on whatever challenge comes my way.

● Supplement Your Weaknesses — Think about what your strengths are and — more importantly — what your weaknesses are and how you can supplement them. Paul is business-savvy (he handles logistics, financial operations, etc.), while I oversee the creative branding and marketing alongside our design and social media teams in La Jolla, CA. So the two of us make a great team. Beyond this, we’ve made sure to hire an amazing and supportive group of people who we trust. This took a lot of time and effort in the beginning, but ultimately it helps free everyone up to do what they do best. We all play a part in this company, and when we come together, we do incredible work and continually bring new ideas to the table.

● Stop & Listen — Taking the time to be a good listener will keep you well-informed on the needs of your employees and therefore help ensure you are able to retain talent. Aspiring leaders should keep this in mind and take the time to stop and listen, which is incredibly important to help you stay connected even as you grow.

● Give Back — With all that you do, always remember to give back, whether it is to your employees, to a charity, or to consumers. At Pura Vida, we give back by employing artisans in third-world countries and by donating proceeds from every charity collection sale to global causes. This gives our work purpose, and when you find purpose in what you do, you are constantly striving to do better in your work. We recently partnered with the nonprofit Colton Underwood Legacy Foundation (supporting those with cystic fibrosis), and visited RADY Children’s Hospital. After handing out bracelets to kids, we were struck by the simple message of being present, the importance of giving back and the power of a smile — it helped remind us all that we have a lot to be grateful for.

● Celebrate The Little Wins — There are days when you are going to have lots of high fives, and those when you want to close up shop — so you should always take the time to celebrate the little wins. This will help will help make sure you are not distracted by the losses and that every action you take lends itself to achieving your goals.

● Create A Positive Work Culture — Encourage your employees to live healthy, well-balanced lives. This means time for personal days and vacation, and outdoor breaks for hiking, surfing and yoga. Plus, who doesn’t love having their four-legged friends hanging around the office?! If you’re looking to spice up workplace gatherings, consider monthly happy hours and weekly catered lunches. We’ve taken the time to create a company that people want to work at, and in turn, our employees are as dedicated to contributing to the success and growth of the company as we are.

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

As I mentioned, the name Pura Vida pays tribute to the Costa Rican philosophy known as pura vida, which is Spanish for “pure life” and represents the idea of slowing down to enjoy life’s little moments.The idea for Pura Vida was sparked after my friend Paul Goodman and I crossed paths with two local artisans, who were manning a table of handmade bracelets off Dominical Beach in Costa Rica. We got to know them over the next few days, and despite the fact the artisans were living in poverty and sleeping in a single room with their family, they still embodied genuine gratitude. Inspired by the lifestyle they embodied and after witnessing this firsthand, we developed a deep reverence for “pura vida.” For me, the “pura vida” lifestyle still serves as the best definition of true “mindfulness” by encouraging the appreciation of simple treasures and living life to the fullest.

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

I would truly encourage everyone to adopt the “pura vida” philosophy. Create a life in which you can pursue your passions (either personally and/or professionally) and contribute to the greater good. This will keep you grounded while also giving you a wider perspective and a mindset that will allow you to appreciate those little moments of joy found in the every day.

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

Whenever I’m feeling distracted or overwhelmed, I return to the things that make me happy to bring me back to the present moment — such as taking a quick walk on the beach to feel the sand beneath my feet and the sun on my face, or having a conversation with a friend in-person (vs online) to feel that human connection. Try and identify the things that bring you joy and find a way (big or small) to incorporate it into your workday. For example, if you love music, make a kick-ass playlist to listen to during that 3pm slump. If food is your thing, ditch the sad desk lunch and treat yourself once a week to a sit-down meal that allows you to actually enjoy your food.

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

I regularly listen to “How I Built This With Guy Raz” on NPR and the MFCEO Project — both of which feature an array of talented entrepreneurs and c-suite executives. While I sometimes pick up mindfulness tips and tricks from these, what I really value are the entrepreneurial trials and tribulations they share. These are what inspire me and remind me to put my daily challenges into perspective. Even the most successful people in the world are constantly faced with difficult decisions or obstacles, and if they can handle it so can I!

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

“This is the real secret of life — to be completely engaged with what you are doing in the here and now. And instead of calling it work, realize it is play.” — Alan Watts

I didn’t follow the conventional climb up the corporate ladder, but I honestly believe that is the reason I’ve been able to find success. I’ve created for myself the perfect balance of work/life integration — my personal and work lives naturally meld into what I deem a normal, balanced lifestyle. This quote serves as a reminder to always be mindful of what you are investing your time and energy into, and make sure you value it. By embracing this mindset, I created Pura Vida, which in turn gave me something that fills me with passion and purpose every day. I strive to give others the opportunity to do the same.

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. 🙂

At our core, Pura Vida was built on the idea of spreading the good vibes of the “pura vida” philosophy worldwide. As a company that values ethics just as much as (if not more than) profits, we also hope to serve as a model for what the future of commercial enterprise can become — companies that are both financially successful and operate with the greatest good for the greatest number of people in mind, whether it relates to their employees, the global community, or to their consumers.

Thank you for all of these great insights!

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