One day, we found ourselves standing in the pharmacy, staring at a wall of homogeneous deodorants. It dawned on us: the only thing worse than going to the store to buy deodorant is wearing store-bought deodorant. We were tired of using products that categorized us into stereotypes, or tried to tell us what type of guy we were. We didn’t need a deodorant to make us feel safe, successful, or confident.

As part of my series about “How to Slow Down To Do More” I had the pleasure to interview Zach Groffsky and Taylor Lane. Zach and Taylor are Duke University graduates and founded Helmm, the first premium men’s antiperspirant & deodorant product that smells great, looks good and actually works. Zach and Taylor were tired of the many functional shortcomings of leading brands, most of which are purchased at drug stores. Most of all, they wanted to change the narrative around sweating in society. Currently, sweat is a maligned, taboo topic — a sweating individual is seen as uncouth and sloppy — yet every single person does it. Zach & Taylor want to bring conversations about sweating to the forefront — educating people on what makes us sweat, how to prevent it, and why it’s not something we should all fear.

Helmm was designed to upgrade the entire underarm experience — from product to application — and brings innovative upgrades right to customers’ doorsteps.

Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to this specific career path?

A few years ago, we graduated from Duke University and moved to New York to pursue corporate careers in finance and law. Given the demanding nature of these jobs, we often found ourselves in situations where we’d be running late for work, always in a rush to get dressed and apply our deodorant. Too often, we’d realize our stock had run out, or it would crumble out of the container when we tried to put it on.

One day, we found ourselves standing in the pharmacy, staring at a wall of homogeneous deodorants. It dawned on us: the only thing worse than going to the store to buy deodorant is wearing store-bought deodorant. We were tired of using products that categorized us into stereotypes, or tried to tell us what type of guy we were. We didn’t need a deodorant to make us feel safe, successful, or confident, and we were tired of the many functional shortcomings of leading brands.

We wanted something better. So, we created Helmm.

Helmm is the world’s first refillable deodorant, and we’re proud with the many upgrades we’ve made. Designed to reduce plastic waste by over 60% per unit, and made with honest ingredients that you can feel good about, we’ve created the first pit-friendly, planet-friendly deodorant.

Designed with pragmatic functionality and expert craftsmanship, Helmm upgrades the entire deodorant experience — from purchase to application — and brings innovative upgrades right to your doorstep.

Get out there and sweat. We’ll take care of the rest.

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?

Living in NYC, it’s natural to feel rushed. There’s so much to do here, so it’s natural to have people trying to squeeze everything in into one day. More generally, we live in a society where we worry about FOMO (Fear of Missing Out), and worry about getting left behind. Everything is an (artificial) competition with our peers, so if we’re “slowing down” or taking a minute to breathe, that means our competition is getting ahead. Since we live in such a globally and digitally connected society, everyone can always see what everyone else is doing, further propagating this need to feel successful, important or envied.

Based on your experience or research can you explain why being rushed can harm our productivity, health, and happiness?

Being rushed often leads to short-sighted decisions, which in the long run end up being counterproductive, often to both business and subsequently health and happiness. From a business perspective, decisiveness is often a good thing, but not if it comes with a lack of foresight. Getting pulled in a million different directions (which can lead to rushed decision-making) often means that we don’t have the necessary depth of understanding to whatever the task at hand might be.

As an entrepreneur, there are obviously a multitude of different tasks that must get done throughout the day. If we do everything in a rushed manner, we’ll get everything done, but the quality is capped at a certain ceiling. If we’re producing things for the business that aren’t to quality, that can detrimentally affect productivity, health, and happiness. It’s better — and much more effective — to do things slowly, and with the highest quality possible. We feel more productive, be more satisfied with our work, and ultimately, happier. The many requirements that go into running a business are enough to stress anybody out. So it’s important to complete them at a steady pace, in control.

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?

Rushed tasks can often lead to low quality work, thus requiring more work later on. The phrase gets thrown around a lot these days, but it is most definitely more important to “work smarter” than to just “work harder”. There are so many ways — especially with today’s technology — where we can automate certain processes or become exponentially more efficient if we implement the proper procedures. Often times, identifying these procedures requires us to step back, and view things and tasks in the entire ecosystem of your business and your life. By focusing too intently on a singular task, it’s possible to get caught up in checking items of the To Do list in a rushed manner, and lose sight of the bigger picture.

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?

A few strategies we use include Headspace every morning, and once after lunch. We get some perspective back. We make time for ourselves each and every day to get in some physical activity — even if it’s just 10 minutes. Sure, it’s great to workout, but there are also innumerable therapeutic benefits to being able to focus on something other than a phone. If it’s sunny out, we get outside and walk. Sunlight does wonders for happiness and stress.

Once a certain task starts to feel tedious, or the quality of work starts to deteriorate, it’s important to take a break from it immediately. This could mean that we finish at 7pm instead of 6pm, but taking a step back and revisiting it later will undoubtedly lead to higher quality work At the end of the day, we are all humans, with finite resources for work, emotional capacity, and other aspects of life. By balancing them all (which often means stepping away from work, even when there’s a ton to do) we are able to devote more attention, energy and care to each.

How do you define “mindfulness”? Can you give an example or story?

We would define “mindfulness” as having a natural ability to be aware of what’s going on in one’s surroundings, and an understanding of how one fits into that greater ecosystem. This means that even when one has a singular, driven goal — such as starting a successful business — they are still aware of the world around them — how their actions are affecting that ecosystem and being able to prioritize between work and life.

Can you give examples of how people can integrate mindfulness into their everyday lives?

We love meditation. Walking around, especially in NYC. We can realize pretty quickly that we’re a small part of a much greater ecosystem. No matter what we’ve got going on in our head, there are millions of others who have their own stuff going on too. This helps put things in perspective. We also love music and dance.

Do you have any mindfulness tools that you find most helpful at work?

We also use Headspace at work. Sometimes we turn on YouTube and watching music videos (personal favorites are Chance the Rapper and Francis and the Lights — all time favorite is May I have this Dance). It reminds us to not take ourselves too seriously.

At the end of the day, we are all here for a finite period of time. No matter what it is we do with our lives, the most important thing is making sure we can enjoy as much of them as possible. It’s important to not only make sure we’re in a good headspace, but make sure our team is as well. Team bonding activities — even a simple 15-minute break in the middle of the day to play a game, or a team lunch — can go a long way.

What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources that inspire you to use mindfulness tools or practices?

Honestly, we prefer reading and listening to things that aren’t specifically about mindfulness (though Wherever You Go, There You Are is a classic and very helpful to learn how to meditate). We’ve read 10% Happier by Dan Harris as well.

Ultimately, we like to utilize books and podcasts as an escape from the everyday grind. So, we opt for things that are entertaining to us (sports podcasts, crime novels, etc.) We’ve found that it’s also helpful to hear stories from other entrepreneurs — it makes us realize we’re not in it alone. How I Built This is one of our favorite podcasts for this.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“If at first you don’t succeed, skydiving isn’t for you”. We’ve got to be able to laugh and have some fun!

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.

One of our biggest goals is obviously to help reduce the plastic waste in our oceans. If we could find a way to eliminate single use plastic bags and water bottles from all our pharmacies, grocery stores, etc., that would be the greatest life accomplishment we could ever ask for.

There are a bunch of really interesting new ventures going on aiming at reducing our carbon footprint. However, most of them require a pretty significant behavioral change — which realistically is the hardest type of change to effect. There’s gotta be a better way, and we already have some ideas:)

Thank you so much!

Thank you so much for these insights! This was so inspiring!

About the Author:

After 15 years working in Commercial Real Estate in New York City, Ashley Graber changed the coast she lived on and the direction of her life from Real Estate to the worlds of Psychology and Meditation & Mindfulness. Ashley came to these practices after getting sober and in the decade plus since, she now runs a busy mindfulness based psychotherapy practice at Yale Street Therapy in Santa Monica, CA where she see adults and children and speaks on the benefits of meditation and mindfulness practices.

Ashley is an Owner and Director of Curriculum for the next generation meditation app & mindfulness company ‘Evenflow’ and launched the company’s one to one online mindfulness mentoring program. Ashley also educates teachers and administrators in schools and presents in businesses across Santa Monica and Los Angeles.

Ashley was trained in Meditation and Mindfulness practices by prominent teachers; Elisha Goldstein, Richard Burr and Guiding teacher at Against the Stream Boston, Chris Crotty. Her Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) certification was done through The Center for Mindfulness at UC San Diego. Additionally, Ashley is trained by Mindful Schools to teach Meditation and Mindfulness practices to children and families. Ashley’s unique combination of psychotherapy, trauma reprocessing and meditation and mindfulness practices make her a sought after therapist and mindfulness educator and speaker. Her passion for the benefits of mindfulness practices as well as her enthusiasm for helping young kids and adults is the drive to teach these very necessary, life long skills and why she wrote and runs the Mindfulness for Families program at The Center for Mindful Living. This is where she teaches groups of families with children ages 6–12.

Ashley was featured on Good Morning LaLa Land, presented on Resilience at the renowned Wisdom. 2.0 Mindfulness & Technology conference, and presented at the TED Woman conference offering an in-depth look at the profound psychological and physiological consequences of chronic stress, and how meditation and mindfulness practices can alleviate these effects.

If you’d like to book Ashley for an inspiring speaking engagement, please click here.