“Use humor”, Romy Taormina and Parveen Panwar, Mr. Activated

Use humor. Used respectfully and in an appropriate environment, humor will connect you with others. It “lightens” everyone’s load. Those belly laughs are the best, right?! Or, when you spit out the coffee in your mouth because someone made you laugh, and then you laugh again, now at yourself, because you just made such a […]

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Use humor. Used respectfully and in an appropriate environment, humor will connect you with others. It “lightens” everyone’s load. Those belly laughs are the best, right?! Or, when you spit out the coffee in your mouth because someone made you laugh, and then you laugh again, now at yourself, because you just made such a wonderful mess. You are now energized. Laugh at yourself. Laugh with others.

As a part of our series about “How Anyone Can Build Habits For Optimal Wellness, Performance, & Focus”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Romy Taormina, founder and CEO of Psi Bands® on taking the leap of faith into the entrepreneurial stratosphere. Psi Bands sell at Target, Babies “R” Us, REI, Meijer, Amazon, hospitals, and many other places internationally. Entrepreneur Magazine calls Psi Bands a “stroke of genius”. With approximately 1M sets of Psi Bands sold, she is humbled to provide nausea and vomiting relief to those who suffer from chemotherapy, morning sickness, motion sickness, and anesthesia.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?

What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.

Puking was what inspired Romy Taormina, Founder/CEO of Psi Bands, to take the leap of faith into the entrepreneurial stratosphere. Romy is a mom to an 18 and 21-year-old and wife of almost 25 years. Psi Bands are acupressure wrist bands, a clinically-proven and patented medical device for nausea relief. Psi Bands sell at Target, REI, Sprouts, Pharmaca, Amazon, etc.; hospitals; and internationally. Psi Bands are an Oprah Magazine “O Pick” and Entrepreneur Magazine calls Psi Bands a “strokes of genius.” 1M sets sold.

None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Was there a particular person who you feel gave you the most help or encouragement to be who you are today? Can you share a story about that?

My husband, Michael, of almost 25 years. This year I turned 50 years old, so we’ve been married for almost half of my life. Due to Covid, we implemented a couple of “operations.” We dubbed them “#OperationTeamWork” and “#OperationShovingHappiness.” Both are about our attitudes. Our attitude is the one thing we have control over no matter how much change is being thrown at us. When we feel happy and positive, we are more supportive of one another — and others in our outer circles.

The first operation, “#OperationTeamWork,” started because I wake up early in the morning, long before the rest of my family members, and I can get a lot done in those early morning hours — both personally and professionally. But, I was starting to feel like I was taking on “more than my share” on the home front. And not that anyone asked me to. After talking this over with Michael, he helped me to realize that if I choose to do something, that it is my choice and that if it was unattended by me, then I could wait and see if someone else would handle it or I could ask for help. And I could view my efforts with positivity and be empowered by my choice to handle a task or not without resentment towards others.

The second operation, “#OperationShovingHappiness,” started because I believe that small things do matter. Find and share joy. When we give to others it makes us and the recipient feel good so it’s a win/win. Following are some ways we are extending happiness in our household and beyond. If you walk outside and see a beautiful sunset, take a moment to not only appreciate it, but take a photo of it and text it to someone else to also enjoy. Write a handwritten card to someone you admire and tell them how much you appreciate them and why. Make a household member a cup of tea, coffee, or hot chocolate in a fun, inspirational, and/or meaningful mug. Bake and make the house smell yummy and deliver the item to a neighbor. Do a chore for a household member that they are not in the mood to do, just because. Buy a candy bar at the grocery store and give it to a household member. Call a relative or friend that you haven’t spoken to in a while. Put up items in your house that instill joy for you or others. Examples: My son likes cacti. His room has one planted in a smiley face pot. Our mantle is decorated for the holidays with a “joy” theme (the words “joy” appear in the decorations 2x). Next to our coffee maker, I have a sign that a friend gave to me that says “As for me and my house we shall serve coffee. — Pouring 24;7.” Shove the happiness.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?

Wearing high heels for four days in a row at an international tradeshow is not recommended. I won’t be doing that again. Swollen feet and ankles on day four is not pretty. Take away: wear stylish and comfortable flats.

The road to success is hard and requires tremendous dedication. This question is obviously a big one, but what advice would you give to a young person who aspires to follow in your footsteps and emulate your success?

Life is a journey, not a destination. It is comprised of so many ups and downs and moments. Be true to yourself, make those moments count, and embrace each one as an accomplishment or learning opportunity.

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?

“Quiet” by Susan Cain. Google it to learn about her “revolution”. We each have a strong voice. Sometimes it is quiet. And yet so powerful. Understanding that there are different voices and how people communicate provides necessary perspective in hiring decisions, negotiating, and so many other business functions, as well as in our own personal lives.

Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. There are silver linings to be found. And our attitudes have a big impact on our wellbeing. Silver linings are not meant as substitutions and/or replacements for things lost. But they are positive outcomes.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?

We are expanding our international sales footprint. One of the ways that we are doing so is through grants. We applied for and received numerous grants, including the State Trade and Export Promotion (STEP) Grant and the FedEx #SupportSmall Grant. Advice: seek funding from non-traditional sources that do not require repayment and do not give away equity while easing cash flow and fueling the company forward.

OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. This will be intuitive to you but it will be helpful to spell this out directly. Can you help explain a few reasons why it is so important to create good habits? Can you share a story or give some examples?

We breathe life into whatever we focus on. So let’s breathe hard on those items that bring us joy. When we are happy, we are more positive, giving, grateful, patient, and healthy. It takes less muscles to smile than it does to frown. See #OperationShovingHappiness for ways to surprise and delight.

How have habits played a role in your success? Can you share some success habits that have helped you in your journey?

Ask for what you want and need — without fear of being turned down. No one can read our minds. As such, I have learned over the years to ask, even when faced with a probable answer of no. When we hear the word no over and over again, we get used to it and then it doesn’t become something to shy away from. The answer may be no, but unless you ask, you won’t know. So, polity and confidently ask for the possible yes that may follow.

Speaking in general, what is the best way to develop good habits? Conversely, how can one stop bad habits?

I put it out there. I tell others what I am trying to accomplish so that I am accountable. I practice positive self-talk, remind myself that every day is a new day and I can try again, and pretend as though I am speaking to a friend so that I extend myself some more grace than would otherwise happen.

Let’s talk about creating good habits in three areas, Wellness, Performance, and Focus. Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimum wellness. Please share a story or example for each.

  1. Use humor. I came across a coffee mug that said “I love meetings.” I took a photo of it and sent it to a number of suppliers and colleagues. They totally appreciated the humor and it gave them reason to pause and smile/laugh.
  2. Be grateful. Recently one of our suppliers was having some challenging days. They were taking 100% responsibility for their actions which had put their customers at a disadvantage. They told us what they were doing to resolve the issue and by when they intended to have it completed. I reached out to their team to express my gratitude for helping us to make our business run more smoothly and that we appreciated them and their clear communication. They were grateful to have someone thank them and not get angry with them when they were tirelessly working to resolve the matter.
  3. Give, give, get. I subscribe to a free service called HARO, Help a Reporter Out. HARO connects journalists seeking expertise to include in their content with sources who have that expertise. When I see leads that I feel are applicable to a fellow business owner, I email the opportunity to them for their consideration and possible submission.

Can you help explain some practices that can be used to develop those habits?

  1. Use humor. Used respectfully and in an appropriate environment, humor will connect you with others. It “lightens” everyone’s load. Those belly laughs are the best, right?! Or, when you spit out the coffee in your mouth because someone made you laugh, and then you laugh again, now at yourself, because you just made such a wonderful mess. You are now energized. Laugh at yourself. Laugh with others.
  2. Be grateful. Show your gratitude. Say your please’s and thank you’s. Send an email to a colleague letting them know how much you valued their opinion in that last meeting. Pick up the phone and thank someone for helping you. Random acts of kindness are always appreciated. In the drive-thru, buy a cup of coffee for the person behind you. A simple kind act can have a big impact.
  3. Give, give, get. Give to others with good intention. And give again. When you give authentically to others, you are also giving to yourself. Everyone feels good. And, when push comes to shove and you need a favor, that person will be there waiting to help you. Offer your expertise when you think it will be appreciated. Go out of your way to do something nice for someone else because it will make their life better. Pay it forward.

Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimal performance at work or sport? Please share a story or example for each.

  1. Be reliable. When I say I will do something, I do it. Even simple things. When I say I will call in 15 minutes, I call in 15 minutes, not 30. Don’t keep others waiting. When one is true to their word, trust is established and more meaningful relationships are fostered.
  2. Be solution minded. The impact of Covid on our business could not have been more direct. When Covid hit, it did so first in China where our product is manufactured. As a result, there were significant delays in manufacturing employees returning to work, and when they did, they did so at half capacity. And there were glaring delays and cost increases to ship product. You couple that with lost sales due to U.S. retailers closing their brick and mortar locations, and now you have cash flow issues. One solution that we took to these challenges was to be our bank’s first customer to turn in their paperwork to apply for PPP funding. We received PPP funding in a timely manner. Find a solution and do something about it.
  3. Ask for what you need. I recently asked a prospective supplier for one, all-inclusive quote for a project. They sent me several emails outlining various costs. I, again, requested one estimate and explained that I was not going to sort through those emails and that to have one estimate that we could all reference and be on the same page about was to everyone’s benefit. They gladly did so.

Can you help explain some practices that can be used to develop those habits

  1. Be reliable. Others need to know that they can trust that you will follow through. Do what you say you will do. Stop talking and DO. If you need to change something that you committed to, let others know in advance that you are doing so. Communicate. You will develop respect and others will be there to support and elevate you. You will feel good about yourself and others will share in that sentiment.
  2. Be solution minded. There are always solutions. Some better than others. Yes, cliché, but do “think outside the box”. If you feel stuck, then ask for help from others who you feel can give sage advice on the subject matter.
  3. Ask for what you need. We are not mind readers and we each approach situations differently. Be concise and clear in your expectations. Then there is less room for error and assumptions.

Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimal focus? Please share a story or example for each.

  1. Say no. Every day I say no to something(s). There are so many offers out there and while some may be enticing, I often choose not to participate. Instead, I leave space for those things that are most in alignment with our values and growth strategy.
  2. Calendar your commitments. I read emails one time before they get removed from my in-box. They either get filed into a different folder for referencing later or they get deleted. My in-box remains clear. If something needs follow up, then I calendar that task.
  3. Clear your mind in the morning. I am at my best in the early morning hours. I use this time to have a cup of coffee because I love the taste and aroma, get some chores done (these are actually soothing to me), bake a loaf of bread, and/or do some act of kindness for someone else. I am then starting each day with positivity and it keeps me grounded.

Can you help explain some practices that can be used to develop those habits?

  1. Say no. When you have the choice to say no to something, you are saying yes to something else. You are making room for something that is, hopefully, more meaningful. No doesn’t have to be a no forever. It can be temporary. But, for now, you are allowing yourself to be more productive, focused, and effective. Having a mission statement, business plan, and/or vision board are great tools for articulating what you want and making sure that your no’s and yes’ are in alignment with those objectives.
  2. Calendar your commitments. Do not rely on your memory. Look at the calendar the night before so you know what you’ve committed to for the following day and week. Periodically check it throughout the day. You can then optimize opportunities and minimize missed commitments. Scrambling is an inefficient use of one’s time, it causes stress, reduces effectiveness, and it undermines you and your abilities.
  3. Clear your mind in the morning. We all need quiet time. Even if that is just 15 minutes a day, take it. There are 168 hours in the week. Wake up 15 minutes earlier than you normally do if you don’t have this time already built into your schedule. Go on a walk around the block, journal what you are grateful for and/or list your intentions for the day, sit outside and listen to the birds chirp, watch the paint dry on the wall. Whatever you enjoy doing that is quiet, stress-free, enjoyable, and without distraction. Further, if you need more time in the morning, what can you do the night before to prepare for the next day? Examples: make lunches, lay out the clothes, make the grocery shopping list (look at the calendar!). Do not start your days frenzied. Get grounded which will allow you to be more focused.

As a leader, you likely experience times when you are in a state of Flow. Flow has been described as a pleasurable mental state that occurs when you do something that you are skilled at, that is challenging, and that is meaningful. Can you share some ideas from your experience about how we can achieve a state of Flow more often in our lives?

While I love and value routines and consistency, I also embrace change because change is the only thing we can count on. After holidays like Thanksgiving, my husband and I will sit down and discuss what we most enjoyed about the day and what we least enjoyed. We come up with new strategies to implement for the following year. We don’t just keep on doing for the sake of doing. We fine-tune it which allows us to get closer to flow. Every aspect of our lives, personally and professionally, can be fine-tuned with small steps if one is willing to make the effort.

Ok, we are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

#OperationShoveHappiness. See above.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them 🙂

Malcolm Gladwell. I am a big fan. I appreciate his dry sense of humor and his analytical and creative approach to evaluating and discussing all sorts of fascinating topics.

How can our readers further follow your work online?



Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success.

Thank YOU for allowing me to contribute.

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