Episode 1: Feelings and Problems
Two things I usually avoid sharing.
But something changed this week.
I started a new accelerator.
Part of it is writing these weekly updates on what I learned and how I feel.
If you know me you’ll know I’d rather keep how I feel under wraps…
But you know what?
I’m going to bare everything.
In GIFs. And selfies.
GIFs speak louder than words, right?
Anyway… Basically I’ve realised there’s no point in hiding things. We’re all human.
I like to understand what other people are going through.
Maybe understanding what I’m going through is valuable too.
And maybe — just maybe — sharing how we feel is how humans make connections and bond.
I guess age 29 isn’t too late to learn the basics of human interaction.
Anyway. Back to sharing…
I would say my slightly-scared-but-excited-face with unbrushed hair paints a perfect picture of how I feel this week.
If you’re dying to see how my selfies degrade as the weeks go on (or if you’re interested in the development of my business Vojo) make sure to subscribe to my Medium feed to catch each weekly episode.
And I invite you to do the same. Let me know how you are.
I want to connect with you on a personal level.
Tell Me All Your Problems
OK, not ALL of them. I haven’t got all day.
Maybe let’s start with one. What problem are you trying to solve right now?
If you’re a business owner you already have at least one problem — the one you’re trying to solve with your business.
And if there’s no problem then — I’m sorry to break it to you — you haven’t got a business.
JUST the problem
This week on the accelerator we had to do exactly that — present the problem our business is solving.
And nothing else.
No solutions. No product. No business. Just the problem.
Sounds easy, right?
But if you’re a business owner you might know how difficult it is not to jump straight into your amazing solution.
Usually I’d just provide a few facts and move on to what I’m doing over at Vojo.
You know, something like ‘Scientists say the single most effective thing anyone can do to reduce their carbon footprint is eat more plant-based’.
Or ‘84% of people who try going vegan give up’.
Well, not this time! The rules had changed.
Humans love facts, right?
With all the time I had dedicated to talking about the problem I could really nail it. I was gonna drive home exactly what all the problems are — WITH DATA.
So I added more facts. Stats, percentages, research.
Because people just need more facts — right?
All you need is the data and voila — you understand the problem and you’ll take the right action.
But… If that were true we wouldn’t be in the middle of a climate emergency. Or a pandemic. Or a crisis of identity politics.
Wired to feel
You can spout all the facts you want and nothing will change.
I didn’t realise this until I heard everyone else’s presentation of the problem.
The first few facts are always interesting.
You try and sap them up, memorise them. Cus then you can impress someone else later with your awesome new knowledge.
But any more than a few facts and you’re just awash with meaningless numbers.
You know there’s something in there you should care about.
But it all just feels so… empty.
Tell me a story
(I promise that’s the last Simpsons GIF.)
Then someone told a story. Now, everything changed.
Humans can’t help but empathise. Even me (just a bit).
Adults are just oversized children.
We think they can handle the trust — the cold, hard facts.
But they can’t.
They need to be taken on a journey too.
And rightly so! We’re not machines. Adults don’t become more robot-like just because they’re older.
Actually I’d say it’s the opposite.
Our capacity to empathise and connect deepens, it becomes more nuanced.
A lesson for science brains
As a scientist I’ve learnt everything wrong.
Or maybe I was drawn to science because of the gaping lack of emotional involvement.
Whichever. The ironic truth is this: facts don’t make a single dent on people’s behaviour.
So, here’s the problem I’m trying to solve
Going 100% vegan is hard.
And it’s even more difficult to stay vegan long-term without missing out on something.
Healthy vegan diets are much lower in essential nutrients you really need compared to omnivorous diets. Especially omega-3, calcium, vitamin D, iron, zinc… the list goes on.
So how do you know you’re getting all the nutrients you need to stay healthy?
You could use an app like Cronometer or myFitnessPal to log all your food intake.
But it takes so much time.
Or you could follow a meal plan.
But your needs are totally different to someone elses. And meal plans take all the fun out of food.
So what do you do?
And here’s my story
I went vegan 10 years ago.
It’s so easy, I thought. I’ll never look back! I thought.
Until 6–7 years in. Then the problems started.
My hair started falling out.
My energy levels plummeted.
My brain wasn’t in gear.
And I suddenly realised it might not be as easy as I’d thought.
Here’s the thing — it can be easy for some people.
But what works for others might not work for you.
We all have different needs depending on our sex, age, lifestyle, environment and genetics.
You have to find your own path. And to do that you need to understand your body.
When I took a genetic test everything fell into place. I now knew my tendencies to certain deficiencies. I knew I needed more omega-3 and beta-carotene than others. And lots of other things.
I tailored my plant-based diet to my needs — and thank god I feel great again.
So — how do I really feel right now?
As you got to the end I’ll give you a little reward.
An insight into how I’m really feeling. (Lucky you.)
The truth is — I know Vojo can really help people. Helping people improve their health and reach their goals is all that really matters to me.
But I’m worried I over-complicate things.
If there’s one thing I’ve learnt this week it’s this: more science, more facts, more information does NOT equal more clarity.
In fact it does the opposite.
What if I can’t simplify the science down to something that’ll help as many people as possible go plant-based and stay plant-based?
What if I fail at this task?
And the worst part is this: the more I think about this fear, the more I focus on the details of the information I’m delivering. Because the science is my ‘safe space’. Void of emotion.
But that’s also the problem. And it’s something I know I have to break out of.
So, that’s how I feel.
I guess it wasn’t that bad.