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Balancing the Grind with Paul Taylor, CEO of the Mind Body Brain Institute

Paul Taylor is an exercise physiologist, nutritionist neuroscientist and PhD scholar in psychology and the CEO of The Mind-Body-Brain Performance Institute.

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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?

I did a Degree, followed by a Masters Degree in Exercise Science, then joined the British Royal Navy as an Aircrew Officer, where I specialised in Airborne Anti-submarine warfare and Helicopter Search-And-Rescue. I also underwent Combat Survival And Resistance-To-Interrogation Training, which ignited my interest in all things to do with Resilience. 

In my last 2 years of service, I completed another part-time Masters Degree, this time in Human Nutrition and moved to Australia where I set up a private practice as an Exercise Physiologist and Nutritionist.

Since being in Australia, my entrepreneurial spirit emerged and over the next 10 years I started a Registered Training Organisation that Certified Personal Trainers, create BioAge software which I licenced to a number of Australian and International gyms (including a global deal with Fitness First), launched Australia’s first Body-Brain Fitness gym called Acumotum and pursued a career as a Corporate Speaker in the areas of resilience, peak performance and high-performance teams.

Along the way I did another Postgraduate qualification in Neuroscience and am now completing a PhD in Applied Psychology, where I’ve been designing and testing resilience interventions with the Australian defence force.

2) What does a day in your life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?

I currently split my time between delivering corporate workshops and keynote presentations and doing my PhD, as well as writing a book.

I get up anywhere between 5.30 and 6.30 am and do some exercise before work – either a run with my dogs and little guy Oscar, or a workout in my home gym – followed by a minimum 30 second cold shower to invigorate my body and brain through the noradrenaline release. 

I have a home office where I’ve been delivering a lot of Zoom presentations, but with the easing of restrictions, I’m travelling again for Corporate Presentations. A few days ago I was in Adelaide, delivering a resilience workshop to a group of lawyers and then took them through an ancient Tibetan breathing practice called Tummo, which blew their minds. 

After work I spend time with my kids on their variety of activities and take the dogs out for a run around sunset, as the sun’s rays at both sunrise and sunset help to create a regular circadian rhythm, which helps with sleep.

I also fit in my own training for soccer and karate, which I compete in, but am planning to take up sports fencing and golf this year, so the curtain is coming down on the karate and soccer careers.

3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine? 

COVID has obviously been a big driver in working from home, and fortunately I’ve been able to continue delivering corporate presentations due to sophisticated technology such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams. In an ideal world, the coming year will be a blend of face to face and remote presentations, which will help with work-life balance.

4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?

It’s very important that I get to spend time with my family and play a very active role in my kids growing up, as I’ve spoken to too many successful executives who didn’t do that and ended up regretting it.

Fortunately, I’m the Captain of my own ship and get to dictate my schedule a fair bit. I have had periods with lots of time on the road presenting, but there are always lulls where I can spend lots of time with the family. 

I always make sure that I make time for exercise no matter where I am and make a point of spending the last 30 minutes of the day with no devices on, as the brain needs time to decompress. I think both of these things are critical for work-life balance.

5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life? 

Being a Melbournian, lockdown has had a big impact in the last 12 months, but I used it to create more of a digital business offering, launching an app focusing on developing resilience, augmented with a webinar.

That’s been the silver lining of COVID and I’m planning on developing more online-based training around what I term ‘mental fitness.’ Mental health is too focused on a deficit model and I’m planning on creating digital offerings to help people become mentally fit.

I also decided to start a podcast, called the MindBodyBrain Project and that has been a lot of fun and is doing pretty well, and have started writing a book about the dangers of modern living and what we need to do about it.

6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?

My favourite podcasts are the Huberman Lab podcast and Found My Fitness by Rhonda Partick, as they’re both full of cutting-edge, geeky science stuff. 

In terms of books, clear stand-outs for me would be Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl, Meditations by Marcus Aurelius (Roman Emperor and stoic philosopher), The Little Book of Stoicism by Jonas Salzgeber and an academic book called Biobehavioral Resilience to Stress, which was written by a vast array of researchers, military psychologists and edited by Brian Lukey and Victoria Tepe.

7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?

My vast array of myofascial release gadgets that help me keep this old body on the sports field and in the gym. Without being able to participate in exercise and sport, I’d go mad pretty quickly.

8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?   

A lady called Dr Lucy Hone, who I interviewed on my podcast about resilience. She’s a fellow ‘pracademic’ and has been through a pretty harrowing personal journey, as well as being successful in business.  

9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?

One of the many things I got from reading Meditations was the concept of Memento mori – that you are mortal and could die at any time. The point of this is not a negative one, but the realisation that we should all start the day with extreme gratitude just to be alive.

I find that helps put daily stressors in perspective, and it’s also a great reminder to ensure we spend time on the most important things in life, which is friends and family – so we must make time to cultivate those relationships.

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About Author

Balance the Grind is a work-life balance publication on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.