Not skipping meals. I used to work through lunches, but no longer. This one is a little counterintuitive, because people tend to work through lunch to accomplish more, but this actually decreases productivity. When I was in the zone and worked without a break, my brain did not appreciate it in the long run. Now I set time aside for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
As a part of my series about “How to Slow Down To Do More” I had the pleasure to interview Alina Trigub. Alina was born and immigrated from what used to be the Soviet Union, now Ukraine. A large part of her family perished in World War II defending the country from the Nazi invasion and in the Holocaust; same as many other Soviet citizens. National patriotism remained high for decades after the war. Her grandparents settled in Odessa, Ukraine after the war. They could not imagine a better place to live than Odessa; her city of birth. The former Soviet Union was a so-called utopian dream only through government propaganda and oppression, and as anti-Semitism escalated (Alina’s family is Jewish) and as some pro-fascist organizations planned pogroms, the dream turned into a nightmare. The short of it was, that it was at that time her family finally realized that it was time to leave Soviet Union. Alina was twenty years old when her family decided to immigrate to the United States to escape growing anti-Semitism in the Ukraine. Alina’s story is really a glowing example of the “Pursuit-of-the-American-Dream” tale. At twenty years of age, Alina knew that she was not entitled to anything except an adventure, and that in order to succeed she had to work hard and learn harder. She pursued a Bachelor degree in Accounting from Baruch college in NYC, while working as a sales person in a nearby busy clothing and shoe store. Upon graduation, Alina joined Ernst & Young as a tax accountant, and a few years later she graduated from Rutgers Business School with MBA in Finance and Management while working full time in the Technology company. Alina was excited to be granted a Green Card after arriving in the US, and five years later she was ecstatic to pass the test to become a US Citizen. Alina is proud to be an American, and she shares a strong work ethic with her husband of nearly twenty years that both passed on to their two children. Alina has been working in the Information Technology field for many years after leaving Tax Accounting world. A little over a year ago she started her own company, SAMO Financial. It is a boutique private equity firm specializing in the commercial real estate.
Thank you so much for joining us, Alina! Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to this specific career path?
Similar to many professionals, one of my primary goals for many years was and continues to be to provide for my family’s way of life, as well as to accumulate funds for my husband’s and my future retirement, and even more importantly, for our children’s education. By the same token, my family’s personal investments in the stock market experienced ups and downs, including drastic decreases due to a number of significant stock market crashes and recessions. Therefore, my chief concern was about conserving the wealth while finding ways to reduce the tax burden. I knew that my education and professional experience in finance and tax industries were absolutely critical for success, and coupled with my ability to establish and maintain relationships with like-minded professionals allowed me to diversify my knowledge and skillset outside of Wall Street investments.
Expanding the investment portfolio into real estate has been on my mind for some time. At first, I purchased out of state single family home and condos with the intent to use these properties for rental income. I learned first-hand that the benefits of real estate ownership are unbeatable, and most importantly I took away the lessons about the risks that accompanied being a landlord. Armed with my new knowledge, I conducted an extensive investigation into best venues to mitigate the risks of being a landlord, and to scale faster and broader. My research led me to invest in real estate syndications. I began my new investment strategy as an equity partner with an experienced and responsible sponsor, and I quickly reaffirmed that syndications offered a great return while being clearly conservative; not only did it allow to preserve wealth, but it also presented tremendous tax benefits.
Out of this experience, a business idea was born! While holding down a successful corporate career, I created my own thriving company. Today I concentrate on helping busy professionals and business owners that are looking to preserve their wealth through tax-saving and income-producing strategies but don’t necessarily have the bandwidth to do it themselves.
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?
Most professionals, especially those on the East Coast do not allow themselves, or worse yet forgot how to slow down; hence they feel rushed all the time. Although counterintuitive, the fault lies with the exponential surges in technological advances, which act as both, a time-savings benefit and detractor. For example, at a speed of a click, we can post to numerous social media apps, buy meals, stream movies, and even date, but our ability to save time by using mobile devices comes with a price tag. This cost is two-fold; the intrusion of social media into our lives drained people’s will power to stop scrolling through numerous, unimportant, and time-wasting social media posts. More importantly, people today are largely incapable to carefully plan down-time that does not include their mobile devices as they are addictively dependent on them.
Based on your experience or research can you explain why being rushed can harm our productivity, health, and happiness?
I have to admit that I have to make an effort to slow down. Like many working parents, I have a daily rush routine at home, at the office, and with my company. I found that as my to-do list increases beyond control, so does my stress level, and as it spikes it’s inevitable that my productivity eventually takes a nose dive. In the past, my constant rushing caused me to work into the night, and to skip meals and exercising. Not only did stress do a number on my attention to detail, but even worse it also makes me irritable, which strained my family relationship. I’ve learned to predict when I am reaching my stress peak, and when I feel too rushed, I purposefully take a five-minute breather to slow down, relax, exercise, or take a break. These activities provide the essential “fuel” for me to continue with a more positive attitude.
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 thrive on some level of stress to boost my performance, but I find that the crucial part of managing stress is finding the equilibrium that’s just right for me. I already covered some of the activities that help me refresh, and I found that by slowing down and allowing my mind to rest, I can achieve more in the long run. For instance, when I get at least seven hours of sleep and put in an effort to exercise daily, I can concentrate on the various family, office and business tasks throughout my day and hence not only enjoy my day a lot more, but also realize more positive outcomes from completing my tasks. The bottom line, is that attaining a work-life balance is a reasonable goal, and I for one, can actually see the rewards.
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?
I use several very workable strategies to slow myself down to do more, and they include:
Exercising first thing in the morning is my favorite part of my routine, and for me it’s a great way to commit to my exercise routine before I have a chance to make excuses. I treat my morning exercise like any other appointment on my calendar; I block my time and make it my priority
2. Waking up earlier
I found that right off the bat I can fit a few tasks at the start of my day because there are fewer distractions. The tricks that I followed to help me wake up earlier was to set the alarm clock ten minutes earlier every couple of days until I trained myself to wake up an hour earlier. Going to bed earlier also works wonders, and sometimes I treat myself to an early night instead of staring at a monitor, so that I am relaxed and ready the next morning.
3. Compartmentalizing the day into chunks of time
I group my entire day into blocks of 15–30 minutes, and I use the Calendar on my iPhone to maintaining a list for tasks I need done in a short amount of time. This allows me to be productive during the smaller time spaces between my major meetings and appointments.
4. Not skipping meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner)
I used to work through lunches, but no longer. This one is a little counterintuitive, because people tend to work through lunch to accomplish more, but this actually decreases productivity. When I was in the zone and worked without a break, my brain did not appreciate it in the long run. Now I set time aside for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
To help me stick to my guns and to save time, I plan out and prepare my meals over the weekend, so all I need to do is grab the prepped containers and go.
I have to admit that I was a skeptic, but I am amazed how doing nothing for 15 minutes a day improves my productivity. I find that daily meditation reinforced my willpower to better manage my urges. Basically, I am now able to be more in control and to treat urges as just a suggestion.
6. Dedicating specific days and/or times as family time
This one is easy. Our meals, whenever possible, are a family affair. We all participate in preparing the meal, setting the table, enjoying our meal together, and cleaning up. We also make time for family game nights; needless to say, these are mobile device-free events. We also plan day trips or weekend trips when we are presented with a long weekend. I treasure our time together the most.
How do you define “mindfulness”? Can you give an example or story?
As I mentioned earlier, meditation is one of my strategies to slow down to be more productive, and mindfulness is a big part of this strategy because it helps maintain full awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment. Essentially, it helps control my impulses.
One example that comes to mind was during my commute home from a personal appointment that lasted longer than anticipated, and I was rushing back to my office for an upcoming meeting. Before long, my stress level was peaking and I started honking at other drivers, but then it occurred to me that honking will not shove traffic out of my way or make it move faster just because I wish it to. I also realized that the worst thing that would happen is that I would have to connect to the meeting while driving. That’s exactly what happened, and guess what; the meeting went fine.
Can you give examples of how people can integrate mindfulness into their everyday lives?
Every time one experiences anger, anxiety, stress, or that something is wrong, they need to take a step back and evaluate the situation to determine why this is happening and what is the worst thing that can happen as a result of it. And then try to figure out whether this worst thing is really as bad as it sounds. If it is not, then move on past it. If it does sound bad, what are the ways to resolve it or who are the people that can help resolve it. In other words, find options to resolve the issue and/or mitigate risk(s).
Do you have any mindfulness tools that you find most helpful at work?
Before entering my office, I remind myself of my purpose in my company and commit to being a leader.
When I walk from one meeting room to another, I purposefully think about the people and the things to whom and for which I am grateful, and I always remind myself that I am lucky to have all of this as a part of my life.
I make sure that I pause to be fully present for the task at hand before undertaking the next critical activity.
I review the day’s events at the close of the day to prevent work stresses from entering my home life.
What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources that inspire you to use mindfulness tools or practices
One of my favorite Podcasts is “Miracle Morning”, and one of my favorite meditation apps is Sam Harris’ Waking Up: Guided Meditation.
My “read-again” books include:
“Miracle Morning” by Hal Elrod
“You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life” by Jen Sincero
“The One Thing” by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan
People — Tony Robbins. Ever since I’ve gone to “Unleash your Power Within” by Tony Robbins last Fall, I was able to pick up a few techniques that force you to take care of yourself.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
My favorite “Life Lesson Quote” is “Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.” By Warren Buffett
When I undertake a task, I always think ahead to see how it will help others. For example, when I meet new people I am genuinely interested in their experiences, accomplishments and goals. As they tell me about their business or career, I am automatically thinking to myself, “I need to connect them with so and so. This will be beneficial for them.”
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. 🙂
Money alone cannot bring happiness to people, but financial balance and well-being can help to live a better more well-adjusted life. I would love to “bring a non-traditional financial well-being education” to our public schools. I would want to teach our kids what Robert Kyosaki preaches in his purple book that most people refer to as “Rich Dad, Poor Dad”. I believe it is essential to know the difference between being an entrepreneur and a salaried employee and making passive income. It is absolutely vital to learn how to work smarter and not harder.
Thank you so much for these insights! This was so inspiring!