What do you love most about Your City?
I’ve lived in Princeton, NJ, and I’ve lived in Jerusalem. Oddly, I like similar things about both of them – both are green, with plenty of fresh air, with a sense of familiarity and almost a small-town feel to them. Both have a lot to offer, and sometimes you have to delve to find it. Or should I say both have enough to offer, which is great for me.
Other cities I have spent a fair amount of time in for my work are New York and London. And I love completely different things about them – the rhythm, the endless options, and the sense of mastery when you’re familiar enough with them to walk places (I love to walk) and to find your way around.
Favorite breakfast meal & restaurant?
I’m a firm believer in eating, not nibbling. As a regular exerciser – I get hungry. I need a proper breakfast to get me going. Two pieces of whole wheat toast and an egg, sunny-side up, and I am good to go.
What are you doing at:
6:00 AM – Sleeping. It’s so important to sleep well. My biological prime time is later in the day, so it’s more efficient for me to be working late and sleeping in a bit. Even when I do set the alarm, at 6 am, I’m quite useless.
10:00 AM – Working. Having a start-up requires endless dedication; as does being a researcher. At 10 am, though, I’m a CEO, speaking with my lovely team members at Buddy&Soul, a platform for personal development offering users the opportunity to change their lives. At 10 am, we’re hard at work creating courses, content, and communities around the issues that make life better.
12:00 PM – Favorite Lunch spot/meal?
A ramen: hot, filling, pure. I’ve had great ones all over the world, so I won’t discriminate by recommending only one.
7:00 PM – Swimming, ideally with my daughter, who is a far faster and more elegant a swimmer than me. This is always something to look forward to, which punctuates my day and allows me to clear my head. In my constant efforts to Create a Pleasant Reality, I work on treating mundane tasks as celebrations, not chores. So this is how I approach the daily swim.
Anyone who’s read my blog posts on Buddy&Soul will notice many of them revolve around swimming. One I particularly like is about being stuck in a lane with someone who is slightly slower than you, but not slow enough for you to simply overtake them. The solution I write about is to look around and find another lane. Victory! You can swim at the pace you like without being slowed down by the other person. What a great metaphor for dealing with stress.
11:00 PM – Not telling. Well, to be honest, probably working again after a much-needed break with family. Writing a book on medical decision making, leading a start-up, doing research, and consulting clients around the world takes time.
What drink do you need to get through the day and at the end (and how many)?
I drink plenty of tea, but only decaf after say 4 pm or I get jittery. I like some red wine with dinner, maybe half a glass, because I’ve never built up the tolerance. I was recently at a lovely dinner hosted by Cambridge University’s Winton Centre for Risk and Evidence Communication. There were pre-dinner drinks, and both white and red wine at dinner, and then a post-dinner open bar at the Churchill College chamber that’s reserved for fellows. I had, all in all, half a glass, but enjoyed it immensely. As I said, I’m not much of a drinker. As we emphasize in Buddy&Soul’s Essentially You community, when you work on things like defining your identity, cultivating authenticity, and reframing painful events, you create a better life for yourself, regardless of how much – or how little – wine you drink.
Most used App/Favorite Instagram Account?
My most used app is my pedometer. I’ve gone as far as to give him a name (top secret). Because I specialize in digital health, and realize there is a tremendous gap between the technological capabilities out there and actual uptake, I appreciate the pedometer for its features, which would ideally be shared by all health apps:
– It’s very clear to use. You know precisely what it measures, and what it means. As someone who’s spent so much time studying patient comprehension, I truly appreciate this.
– It’s highly motivating. You can see your progress throughout the day, and you want to meet your goal. (Obviously, with more complex health goals, it’s a longer story.)
– You know what to do to meet your goal. Just walk!
– It’s gamified. There’s the fanfare and confetti I get when I meet my goal, and the star I get for every day this happens, ideally as a streak I then don’t want to break. While I am not a four-year-old, these still make me tick. But, gamification can only work given the conditions above.
A pedometer is wonderful because it can work very well without the input of one’s healthcare provider, which is certainly not the case with apps targeted at more complex health issues. Behavior change is a tough one, especially when it comes to health!
What should everyone try at least once?
Have a spiritual experience. I’m not saying which one, and I’m not saying a religious one, because the two are connected, but not identical. When I worked at Princeton University alongside Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman, we examined women’s happiness. The activities associated with the highest degree of happiness were spiritual, religious, or related to hobbies. I think there’s a sense of flow in hobbies, but as for spiritual and religious experiences – these can uplift you.
Where do you enjoy getting lost?
I travel extensively, but the one place that comes to mind is the V&A museum in London. There are always new, unexpected finds, and it is magical every time I go (which is basically whenever I’m invited to speak there at the Financial Times digital health event). My first visit was of course the most magical and unexpected of all. I was lost but I also felt at home, if that makes any sense.