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The Thrive Questionnaire with Nicole Centeno

The founder and CEO shares the daily habit that helps her thrive.

When you have the opportunity to ask some of the most interesting people in the world about their lives, sometimes the most fascinating answers come from the simplest questions. The Thrive Questionnaire is an ongoing series that gives an intimate look inside the lives of some of the world’s most successful people. We sat down with Nicole Centeno, founder and CEO of Splendid Spoon, to find out how she thrives.


What’s the first thing you do when you get out of bed?

Brush teeth, scrape tongue, drink a glass of water

What gives you energy?

Riding my bike while pulling my boys in a trailer behind me!!

What daily habit or practice helps you thrive?
Seated, mantra-based meditation (I practice the Vedic method)

Name a book that changed your life.

Journey of the Universe by Brian Swimme and Mary Evelyn Tucker

Tell us about your relationship with your phone. Does it sleep with you?
Ugh, the phone! It’s like kryptonite! I strive to keep it in another room overnight but it creeps back in over time because I use it as a clock. I hope by the time you publish this I’ve ordered a bedside clock.

How do you deal with email?

My key for email is in creating a structure for it. I don’t periodically ‘check’ email, I use it as a tool for organization and moving projects forward. I strive for no more than 25 unread emails and I only mark as ‘read’ once the project or communication has been completed. If I find myself in that frantic, email-checking mode, I know something else is wrong – I’m not spending enough time in deep work or maybe I need another meditation that day!

You unexpectedly find 15 minutes in your day, what do you do with it?

I check in if another meditation might be helpful. If not, I think of the people I love who I haven’t been in contact with recently, and I call or email them.

When was the last time you felt burned out and why?

I invited my boyfriend on a long weekend to the Catskills with my two boys and this was emotionally really difficult. It was the first overnight with everyone and I was worried about the boys rejecting my boyfriend, and that the whole experience would be overwhelming for my boyfriend. Plus, I had gotten it into my head that allowing the boys to watch an iPad while I meditate was not good parenting, so my self-care routine was deteriorating. It was really tough. When I got back to the city I decided to stop judging myself for the way I parent, and if the boys need the iPad while I meditate sometimes, so be it. Ironically, I felt refreshed when I got back into my city mode!

When was the last time you felt you failed and how did you overcome it?

I took too long to report a difficult situation to my board, and I felt incredibly guilty about this once I realized this mistake. I went directly to my most trusted board advisor and we worked through it with a ton of honest feedback. Owning the failure and expressing it to someone I trust immediately disempowers the emotion behind failure so I can view it objectively and move forward.

Share a quote that you love and that gives you strength or peace.

Our brilliance, our juiciness, our spiciness, is all mixed up with our craziness and our confusion, and therefore it doesn’t do any good to try to get rid of our so-called negative aspects, because in that process we also get rid of our basic wonderfulness. — Pema Chodron

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People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

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