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“Unplug!” With Dr. Ely Weinschneider & Tiffany Rafii

Unplug! — Sometimes everything really does work better if you unplug it for a few minutes — including yourself. Prioritize activities that allow you to step away from the screens that have become an even greater part of our daily lives.. We all need time to tune out so we can refresh and be ready to […]

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Unplug! — Sometimes everything really does work better if you unplug it for a few minutes — including yourself. Prioritize activities that allow you to step away from the screens that have become an even greater part of our daily lives.. We all need time to tune out so we can refresh and be ready to tune back in.


Asa part of my series about the things we can do to remain hopeful and support each other during anxious times, I had the pleasure of interviewing Tiffany Rafii, CEO & Co-Founder of UpSpring PR.

Tiffany Rafii is the CEO and co-founder of UpSpring PR, a full service communications agency for the architecture, design and real estate communities. The agency currently serves over 60 clients headquartered in locales including New York City, Washington, D.C, Dallas, London, and Toronto in industries that span the hospitality, commercial and residential sectors. Tiffany spearheads business development, while overseeing and executing key strategies for managing internal operations and client relations.


Thank you for joining us Tiffany! Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?

With an economy at an all-time low back in 2009 and bleak job prospects, Sarah and I (as seniors at The George Washington University) saw an opportunity to start a company of our own and capitalize on the shrinking PR budgets of small businesses. We knew in order to succeed we needed to differentiate ourselves, and with so many PR firms dedicated to serving the lifestyle, beauty, fashion, and financial sectors, we found a niche within the architecture and design community. We decided to take a chance on ourselves, turned away any client that didn’t fit the firm we wanted to be and grew from there. We’re excited to say that we just celebrated our 11th anniversary on April 1st.

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?

I just finished reading Elevate by Robert Glazer. It focuses on how to bring out the best in yourself as well as those around you by building on the power of a positive focus. As a thought leader and visionary in the business world, his book looks at how spirituality, emotional intelligence and intellectual ability can provide us with a path to becoming a better person — and ignite the best in the people we surround ourselves with. It’s a real life recipe for satisfaction in work and life and as a business owner, I especially found it to be an extremely insightful read with some effective strategies that I plan to implement into UpSpring PR’s own work culture.

Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. From your perspective can you help our readers to see the “Light at the End of the Tunnel”? Can you share your “5 Reasons To Be Hopeful During this Corona Crisis”?

I always tell the team that we only grow through discomfort, whether it’s a demanding client, a difficult management experience or a personal experience that challenges us on an emotional level.There is so much good that will come of this experience, so there are so many reasons to be hopeful, but I’ll try to keep it at just 5.

  1. Being Flexible: In most cases, we are being forced to work in a way that is different than we have before. Finding a new system for operating as a team as well as communicating and interacting with team members and clients will challenge us and through those challenges we will become more effective team members, carrying those strategies back into the office.
  2. Gratitude: It often takes the absence of something to develop an appreciation for something that has been lost. We will all come out of this more grateful for our lives, our families and our jobs. It’s up to us to hold onto that gratitude as we move forward.
  3. Community Development: I have been so blown away by the level of understanding, empathy, and kindness (the list goes on), that communities have been showing. We have come together to help one another in every way possible and I think it came at a time when our country felt particularly divided.
  4. Reestablishing Priorities: This pandemic has really given me an opportunity to reevaluate my core values. I’m usually running at 100 miles an hour balancing both my business and my family. But through having this time at home, I’ve been able to stop and think about what I need to fully show in my life, including taking better care of myself, connecting with old friends and being more present with my family.
  5. Letting Go: As a society we strive for perfectionism and many are finding that they don’t need to be. It’s ok to let go, do what you can and realize that it’s more than enough. It’s not possible to do everything and to do it at 100% without it being at your own expense. We’re all learning to show ourselves a little compassion and it’s going to lead to us being happier, more well adjusted and likely more productive.

From your experience or research what are five steps that each of us can take to effectively offer support to those around us who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?

  1. Create a New Routine — People are generally more calm when there is structure in their lives and they know what to expect every day. I encourage everyone to take this time to come up with what their ideal day or schedule looks like within the boundaries and limitations that we’re experiencing. Implementing daily rituals like waking up at the same time every morning, getting dressed for the day, working from different areas of your home or apartment at different times of the day, scheduling lunch breaks, making quality time for family, cooking and exercising, or even setting time to just step away from your desk for a stretch and walk around your living room can become part of a relaxing routine.
  2. Over Communicate — Stress can get out of hand when we’re feeling less connected to our personal communities. Keeping up with friends, peers and loved ones is extremely important to maintain your overall emotional health. Find ways to stay in touch and take advantage of the various methods of communication we have access to — Zoom, Facetime, What’s App, and so many others.
  3. Meditate & Exercise — I really rely on daily self care practices to help ease anxieties and worries that creep up. It can take the shape of a 30-minute yoga flow or a 15-minute walk outside to close out the work day. Meditation and exercise just help you get back into your body and out of your busy mind.
  4. Identify the Source of Your Anxiety — Try to put a name to it. When you’re able to notice your triggers and find the root cause of stress, it becomes much easier to reframe your thoughts and look for manageable solutions.
  5. Unplug! — Sometimes everything really does work better if you unplug it for a few minutes — including yourself. Prioritize activities that allow you to step away from the screens that have become an even greater part of our daily lives.. We all need time to tune out so we can refresh and be ready to tune back in.

What are the best resources you would suggest to a person who is feeling anxious?

Headspace, the meditation and sleep app is one of my favorites. Sometimes I’ll take a 5 minute break if I’m having a rough day to do a quick meditation and reset. Adult coloring books, board games, and even puzzles are making a comeback and something I personally find to be fun and soothing. I’ve also been having fun trying out different exercise streaming programs, something I “didn’t have time for” before has become something I look forward to doing right after I get the kids in bed. If people are feeling extreme anxiety I also encourage them to do virtual therapy sessions, there’s no better time than now to reset.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?

I’m an eternal optimist at heart, so what better quote to lead with than “Don’t Worry, Be Happy”? It’s important to stay positive and have confidence that you have the strength to lead through any situation. There are always going to be challenges, but worrying doesn’t help and very often, prevents you from seeing the solution and taking the action needed to keep driving things forward.

If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

As a CEO and a mom, it would be to come out of this health crisis having a greater understanding and level of compassion for the balancing required of working parents. Lines have been blurred more than ever. I’m a wife, teacher, mom, chef, entrepreneur, peacekeeper, housekeeper and toilet paper keeper rolled into one, and sometimes it’s all in the same hour of the day! I’m going from call to video meeting to lunch and worksheets and everyone I work with, employees and clients alike, couldn’t be more understanding. We laugh when my 3 year old makes a cameo on zoom and it brings us all closer. I hope that this level of respect and understanding extends beyond quarantine and we can maintain a perspective that lends itself to actual work life balance.

What is the best way our readers can follow you online?

Follow along all on things UpSpring on Instagram and connect with Tiffany onLinkedin.

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