from the world's big
Want to Succeed? F-Up Until You Find Your Passion
The story of the world's most successful people is really only half told.
Sarah Robb O'Hagan is described by the media as everything from “Superwoman undercover" to “The Pied Piper of potential." She is an executive, activist, entrepreneur, and currently the CEO of Flywheel Sports. Formerly, O'Hagan served as the president of luxury health club Equinox, the global president of Gatorade, a GM and marketing director at Nike, and the marketing director of the Virgin Entertainment Group. The founder of the “Extreme Living" movement, she is a rare blend of fierce businesswoman, cheerleading Mom, passionate women's advocate, and high-energy motivator. In her new book Extreme You, due out in spring 2017, Sarah lays out a roadmap for becoming the most “extreme" version of yourself by operating at the edge of your potential and by building highly-collaborative, focused, and successful teams and corporations. Drawing on her decades experience at some of the world's most influential brands, she shares practical takeaways including how to make failure your fuel, discover your most competitive playing field, get out of line rather than always following conventional wisdom, and bring out the “extreme" in others.
Sarah personally oversaw the development of several breakthrough innovation efforts throughout her career, including: the Virgin Atlantic Airways-Austin Powers movie collaboration in which the airline was rebranded “Virgin Shaglantic," the roll-out of the game-changing Nike Plus technology developed alongside Apple, the transformation of Gatorade from a declining sports drink into an innovative sports performance company exemplified by the highly-successful G Series line, and Equinox's revolutionary shift from a bricks-and-mortar gym to an always-on, digital-first fitness business. She also experienced what she calls a “canyon of career despair" in her 20s, using major back-to-back failures to learn, to grow and to motivate herself forward to eventually lead a $5 billion global business by the age of 38.
Robb O'Hagan has been named twice to Forbes magazine's list of the “Most Powerful Women in Sports," named a “Woman to Watch" by Ad Age magazine, dubbed one of the “Most Creative People in Business" by Fast Company, and named to “40 Under 40" lists by Sports Business Journal, Crain's Chicago Business, and Sports Goods Business.
Sarah is a passionate advocate for an active lifestyle and believes the lessons learned from sports and fitness can be applied to improve performance in the workplace. She has served on Hillary Clinton's US State Department Council to Empower Women and Girls through Sports, and is a trustee of the Women's Sports Foundation. She is an active member of the World Class New Zealand Network, as she remains committed to helping the country's development, international competitiveness and economic growth. In 2014, she was awarded the Sir Peter Blake Trust Award for outstanding leadership.
Sarah Robb O'Hagan: I think that the wonderful thing that I learned writing the book Extreme You and interviewing some of the most extraordinarily successful people in the world—I mean everyone from Condoleezza Rice to Bode Miller the downhill skier, Mister Cartoon who is a tattoo artist—I’ve interviewed people from all walks of life who have achieved incredible success in very different areas.
And what I found with all of them is that even when they achieved success like what most of us would consider the pinnacle. I mean an Olympic gold medal is about as good as it gets, right? They would then say, “Okay, I’m restless to get more out of myself and I want to break myself down and take on the next challenge.”
And that, to me, was pretty spectacular to see. It’s like for them success is not a goal, it’s just an ongoing journey. And every time they achieve something they realize that there’s more of their own potential to unlock.
So to be Extreme You is to be maximizing every aspect of your own personal potential, and that means really understanding who you are, what are your unique gifts, what are your idiosyncrasies, what are the funny things about you, what blows your hair back and makes you feel amazing?
And also where are you not as strong? Like where do you suck? Where do things not work for you? And then when you understand that and then really push yourself to maximize everything that is great about you and play your game on your own terms, that’s being Extreme You.
It’s incredibly fulfilling because I think when you are playing to your greatest strengths, like we’ve all had that experience when you’re in a job or in an environment that just makes you thrive and you come into work every day and you feel super confident and you just can be yourself. And that is what it feels like.
And the polar opposite is when you find yourself in an organization that just doesn’t sort of fit with who you are and you’re having to edit yourself in and try not to get into trouble or do things the wrong way.
So it feels pretty amazing to be Extreme You, and it also is generally a place when you are kind of pushing yourself outside your comfort zone. Like you have the confidence to take on bigger challenges and things that you haven’t done because you know that you’re playing to your strengths.
So the first thing I definitely say is, it’s about what I call “checking yourself out”. And that means like really understanding what you love and what your greatest skills are.
And it’s funny, like there’s a lot of media around there today saying to young people, you know, “Find your passion and then you’ll be happy.” And I’m like, “You can’t do a Google search and find your passion!”
You actually have to get out there and try stuff, you know? And get in there and really try it. Do it. Like experience all sorts of different things. Because that’s when you’ll notice where you really shine and frankly where you suck.
I mean I personally can speak about working in the sports industry, where I just was like a duck to water and loved it, compared to working in the video game industry where I sucked. I mean I just didn’t have anything in common with the products, the people that chose to work there. And the feelings of being in those two different places were equally as important as each other to help me refine what was the most extreme version of where I would thrive. And I think everybody needs to get in and experience the good and the bad to help sort of refine your own filter.
The reason I actually wrote this book in the first place is I found myself in my late 30s. I had finally, finally achieved some what society would consider successes in my career. I had led the turnaround of a five-billion dollar business as its president which is obviously no small feat. And I started seeing articles that were written that would refer to me, or my bio read out when I’m giving a speech. And it would say, ‘She did this great thing, She did that great thing, She led this company. She’s being called this in the media. She’s amazing.” And I literally would sit there squirming in my chair going, “Oh my god. No one’s telling the truth!!”
Because the truth is I’ve had some really embarrassing fuck-ups along the way. And I think it’s important for young people to see that those who become successful have had all those moments of uncertainty, all those moments of frankly averageness. I mean I was that classic B-student, never made the top sports team, never made the choir solos. Like never got picked for anything. But still I managed to go on learning and refining to figure out where I would achieve my personal success.
And I believe that that path exists for absolutely everyone. But we have a culture of success right now that would say otherwise. Like when you combine the world of social media where all of us are putting these perfectly coiffed pictures into the world, and then you throw in the whole 40 under 40 list, 30 under 30 list—Everyone in the world is apparently crushing it except for you. Like it’s really hard to believe that you can become great, but yet I know from my story that it was possible, and then I went on this mission to interview some really, really successful people to prove my case.
And I totally proved my case, because what I found in the book—and I effectively codified it into a method of how you get the best out of yourself—was that every successful person in the world did not start knowing that they were going to get there. Pretty much every one of them did not start with these natural god-given talents. Most of them ended up succeeding in a field that was completely different to what they originally expected. So it was a real story of willingness to experience and try things and then eventually figure out where you’re going to thrive.
And I think the last lesson in all of it was that even those experiences early on where you feel like you’ve put X number of years into the wrong career or you’re going in the wrong direction, even when you change directions those early experiences actually contribute to what becomes a great success, and nothing is wasted.
What do successful people have in common? They're not satisfied with success. After winning an Olympic gold medal, or filling one the nation's top offices "they would then say, 'Okay, I’m restless to get more out of myself and I want to break myself down and take on the next challenge'," explains Sarah Robb O'Hagan, an overachiever herself. However that's only one side of the story, and it's something O'Hagan grows conscious of every time she's introduced at a conference or reads articles about her work: people always play the highlight reel of her career, but it never shows the full picture. According to O'Hagan, the other thing successful people have in common is that they struggled into success. "The truth is, I’ve had some really embarrassing f*ck-ups along the way. And I think it’s important for young people to see that those who become successful have had all those moments of uncertainty, all those moments of, frankly, averageness." If you want to push your limits and become an extreme success, for O'Hagan it starts with deep self-understanding: dig into your strengths and your flaws. Sometimes the only way to achieve that level of introspection is the hard way: by trying something that is a miserable failure. Experience is the surest way to find where you thrive. Sarah Robb O'Hagan is the author of Extreme You: Step Up. Stand Out. Kick Ass. Repeat.
Chronic irregular sleep in children was associated with psychotic experiences in adolescence, according to a recent study out of the University of Birmingham's School of Psychology.
A time for sleep<div class="rm-shortcode" data-media_id="Mt29uUqI" data-player_id="FvQKszTI" data-rm-shortcode-id="931343dee3c02121445e51e94ba22446"> <div id="botr_Mt29uUqI_FvQKszTI_div" class="jwplayer-media" data-jwplayer-video-src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/Mt29uUqI-FvQKszTI.js"> <img src="https://cdn.jwplayer.com/thumbs/Mt29uUqI-1920.jpg" class="jwplayer-media-preview" /> </div> <script src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/Mt29uUqI-FvQKszTI.js"></script> </div> <p>Previous studies had already suggested a link between persistent nightmares in childhood and psychosis and borderline personality disorder (BPD) by adolescence, but researchers at the University of Birmingham's School of Psychology wanted to see if a similar connection existed between these mental disorders and other childhood behavioral sleep problems.</p><p>To do this, they scoured data from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children, a longitudinal cohort study that followed approximately 14,000 children born in Avon, England, in the early 1990s. The study followed the children for more than 13 years. During that time, mothers filled out questionnaires asking about the children's lives. Factors looked at included housing, parenting, nutrition, physical health, mental wellbeing, environmental exposures, and so on. </p><p>The cohort study inquired about sleep routines, sleep duration, and awakening frequency when the children were 6, 18, and 30 months old, and then again at 3.5, 4.8, and 5.8 years. It also assessed mental health in adolescence using semi-structured interviews, such as the Psychosis-Like Symptom Interview.</p><p>"We know that adolescence is a key developmental period to study the onset of many mental disorders, including psychosis or BPD. This is because of particular brain and hormonal changes which occur at this stage," <a href="https://www.birmingham.ac.uk/staff/profiles/psychology/marwaha-steven.aspx" target="_blank">Steven Marwaha</a>, professor of psychiatry at Birmingham and senior author on the study, <a href="https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/07/200701125431.htm" target="_blank">said in a release</a>. "Sleep may be one of the most important underlying factors—and it's one that we can influence with effective, early interventions, so it's important that we understand these links."</p><p>After compiling the data, the researchers discovered an association between children with irregular sleeping patterns and teenagers with <a href="https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/psychosis/about-psychosis/" target="_blank">psychotic experiences</a>—that is, episodes when the person perceives reality differently than those around them. Even when depression at 10 years old was considered as a mediating factor, their findings still suggested "a specific pathway between these childhood sleep problems and adolescent psychotic experiences." </p><p>Toddlers with shorter nighttime sleep duration and late bedtimes were likewise associated with a <a href="https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/borderline-personality-disorder/index.shtml" target="_blank">borderline personality disorder</a>—a disorder marked by a pattern of varying moods, self-images, and behaviors—in their teenage years. Depression at age 10 did not mediate this particular association, suggesting a separate and more specific pathway. </p>
A more restful tomorrow<p>While the sample size was large and mental health was assessed with a validated interview, there nevertheless remain limitations to this data. For starters, sleep habits were based on mothers' reports. Because they came from memory, versus a more direct observation method such as actigraphy, these data may be prone to imperfect recollection and reporting error. There are also many confounders that could be secretly nudging the results, such as family conditions, prenatal medicines, and a host of environmental factors. Finally, <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6024884/#:~:text=Sleep%20difficulties%20in%20youth%20with,fear%20of%20dark%20%5B13%5D." target="_blank">the relationship between sleep problems and mental disorders</a> is both complex and two-way.</p><p>As such, the study shows an association between poor childhood sleep later mental disorders but does not prove a causal link. Parents need not worry that a string of nightmares or the eternal struggle settle into bed will be the first ingredients in a witches' brew of debilitating mental disorders. The goal of the study, the researchers point out, is not to create undue worry but improve our ability to recognize the signs of at-risk children and deliver necessary interventions earlier.</p><p>"The results of this study could have important implications for helping practitioners identify children who might be at higher risk for psychotic experiences or BPD symptoms in adolescence, and potentially lead to the design of more effectively targeted sleep or psychological interventions to prevent the onset or attenuate these mental disorders," Isabel Morales-Muñoz, the study's lead researcher, <a href="https://www.healio.com/news/psychiatry/20200702/childhood-sleep-problems-linked-to-adolescent-psychosis-borderline-personality-disorder#:~:text=Sleep%20problems%20during%20early%20childhood,study%20published%20in%20JAMA%20Psychiatry." target="_blank">told Healio Psychiatry</a><u>.</u></p><p>If a parent reading this is worried that their child's sleep patterns are deleterious, the take away should not be despair over an unyielding fate. It should be to seek professional help as soon as possible to begin improving sleep duration and quality. Even if you aren't worried, it's worth remembering that childhood experiences lay the foundation for a lifetime of salubrious sleeping habits. It's so much more than beauty rest.</p>
Are we genetically inclined for superstition or just fearful of the truth?
- From secret societies to faked moon landings, one thing that humanity seems to have an endless supply of is conspiracy theories. In this compilation, physicist Michio Kaku, science communicator Bill Nye, psychologist Sarah Rose Cavanagh, skeptic Michael Shermer, and actor and playwright John Cameron Mitchell consider the nature of truth and why some groups believe the things they do.
- "I think there's a gene for superstition, a gene for hearsay, a gene for magic, a gene for magical thinking," argues Kaku. The theoretical physicist says that science goes against "natural thinking," and that the superstition gene persists because, one out of ten times, it actually worked and saved us.
- Other theories shared include the idea of cognitive dissonance, the dangerous power of fear to inhibit critical thinking, and Hollywood's romanticization of conspiracies. Because conspiracy theories are so diverse and multifaceted, combating them has not been an easy task for science.
Construction of the $500 billion dollar tech city-state of the future is moving ahead.
- The futuristic megacity Neom is being built in Saudi Arabia.
- The city will be fully automated, leading in health, education and quality of life.
- It will feature an artificial moon, cloud seeding, robotic gladiators and flying taxis.
The Red Sea area where Neom will be built:
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A growing body of research suggests COVID-19 can cause serious neurological problems.
- The new study seeks to track the health of 50,000 people who have tested positive for COVID-19.
- The study aims to explore whether the disease causes cognitive impairment and other conditions.
- Recent research suggests that COVID-19 can, directly or indirectly, cause brain dysfunction, strokes, nerve damage and other neurological problems.
Brain images of a patient with acute demyelinating encephalomyelitis.
COVID-19 and the brain<p>A growing body of research reveals alarming neurological complications among COVID-19 patients. On Wednesday, for example, researchers from University College London published a <a href="https://academic.oup.com/brain/article/doi/10.1093/brain/awaa240/5868408" target="_blank">study</a> in the journal Brain that describes how some patients have suffered temporary brain dysfunction, strokes, nerve damage, and other neurological problems concurrent with COVID-19.</p><p>Some patients suffered brain inflammation as a result of a rare disease called acute disseminated encephalomyelitis, which can cause numbness, seizures, and confusion. One patient in the study even hallucinated monkeys and lions in her home.</p>
Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images<p>A separate study published in the <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7198407/" target="_blank">Journal of Clinical Neuroscience</a> notes that some COVID-19 patients have also suffered neurological complications like impaired consciousness and acute cerebrovascular disease. The study notes that past viruses like MERS and SARS also seemed to cause neurological problems.</p><p>A troubling finding among this growing body of research is that some patients seem to suffer neurological damage even when respiratory symptoms aren't obvious. Additionally, scientists aren't sure whether damage from the disease will be permanent.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Given that the disease has only been around for a matter of months, we might not yet know what long-term damage COVID-19 can cause," Dr. Ross Paterson, joint first author of the University College London study, said in a <a href="https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-07/ucl-iid070620.php" target="_blank">press release</a>. "Doctors needs to be aware of possible neurological effects, as early diagnosis can improve patient outcomes."</p><p>If you've been diagnosed with COVID-19 and want to enroll in the study, visit <a href="https://www.cambridgebrainsciences.com/studies/covid-brain-study" target="_blank">cambridgebrainsciences.com/studies/covid-brain-study</a>.</p>