Royan Kamyar is the founder and CEO of Owaves, a health technology and media start-up founded in Encinitas, California, helping people focus on their health and wellness goals.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
I’m a physician entrepreneur working in health and wellness technology. My proudest accomplishment is Owaves, the first day planner for health, and the positive impact it is having on college student mental health worldwide.
2) What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
Sure. I am currently in Portugal, away from my home in San Diego. My wife is from here, and we just gave birth to our first child. So needless to say, recent workdays have been atypical.
Because I am 8 hours ahead of the majority of my colleagues in California, my Zoom-charged workday doesn’t really start until 4PM Portugal Time (8AM in San Diego). I wake up at 10AM, and try to get my zen time in.
This means catching my breath, turning on Spotify yoga and meditation channel, and taking a shower (also Elon Musk’s preferred wellness activity, FYI!).
As soon as I get downstairs, reality hits, and my wife hands me our beautiful, adored and crying baby. I take charge roughly from 11AM-3PM. We are blessed to be with her parents, who join us for lunch between 1 and 2PM. In Portugal, a glass of wine or two is typical and almost expected, and hearty mid-day meals are followed by a “cafezinho” or espresso.
After helping the baby nap, I recharge on water and bring a glass or two upstairs with me to our at-home office. I am still at a sitting desk, which I’d like to resolve. Still settling into the new surroundings here.
My workday is pretty solid, especially since Owaves’ collaboration with the National Institutes of Health and the Scripps Research Institute; which is another blessing with huge responsibilities. Here, we are helping to grow the All of Us Research Program, DETECT and other citizen science opportunities.
Ideally, I get my evening run at 7PM, before dinner time. Temperature has been triple digits here recently, so proactive and mindful day planning is integral for me to get this done. Meetings wrap up around midnight Portugal Time (4 or 5PM in California); and I usually wind down 1-2 hours before going to sleep.
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
Yes! Fortunately we are blessed with remote working technology for video conferences, long distance real-time communications, texting, kanban boards, efficient file exchange portals, etc. Our company has been 100% virtual since day one.
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
I have a pretty literal definition of “work-life balance.” Technically, to me, as an advocate of lifestyle medicine and proud member of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine, it includes:
- 7-9 hours of sleep,
- a 10-12 hour eating window (roughly sunrise to sunset, of course latitude-dependent),
- 1 hour of vigorous exercise,
- 4 hours of deep and focused work,
- 30 minutes of dedicated mindfulness and
- 2 hours with loved ones.
Owaves is quite literally my solution for filling all these in. I learned the hard way during my medical intern year in Manhattan that physicians don’t practice what they preach – and that it is hard to follow their own advice.
So, it became a huge focus for me, not to be a hypocrite as a health and wellness entrepreneur, and lo and behold it has become my life.
5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
Probably most significant for me has been the exercise shift mentioned above. I am operating 8 hours ahead of my coworkers in California, so early morning workouts are ruled-out by a 2AM bedtime.
This summer has also been extremely hot here with triple digit heat (Fahrenheit of course!) in Portugal. This means my typical back-up of lunch-time workouts are also ruled out due to extreme heat and no readily available well-ventilated, air conditioned workout venues.
So figuring out how to carve the right time in the evenings, and balance against demands from our baby, dinner-timing with family and sometimes extended family, and ongoing California-based meetings has been the biggest and most important balancing act.
6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
For purposes of healthy day-planning, I think ours is the only dedicated podcast at Owaves. It’s appropriately called the “Body Clock Podcast,” and covers advances in circadian rhythms, lifestyle medicine and health and wellness technology.
I feel shy about recommending books, because I know there is so much good content out there I still haven’t had the chance to read. Bill Gates is a personal hero, so I would recommend whatever he recommends. I’m sure Barack Obama has a solid, dependable list as well.
For newsletters, I am really proud of the “My Medical Minutes” newsletter our team has helped build at the NIH’s All of Us Research Program. It transforms the latest peer-reviewed scientific research into bite-sized, 7th grade reading material. No easy task. Unfortunately, it’s limited exclusively to active participants in the program. Interested folks can find out more here.
7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?
I am unfortunately also hooked to leading social media platforms, like much of our society. But Owaves just launched a mindful social platform that I am hoping can permanently unhook me. It’s essentially the world’s first “social clock,” so you can stay connected during pandemic times.
Our platform is totally focused on health, so the primary use case for our app is to help nudge your social circle to complete health and wellness goals. We call it “My Moai,” as a hat-tip to the longevity culture of Okinawa who originally developed integral parts of the concept.
8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
Great question. I have a feeling we don’t get to hear from the best role models. They’re probably quiet, unnamed, doing their work, spreading their authentic love, and preferring to stay quiet and influence that way.
Jon Kabat-Zinn and Tara Brach are spiritual leaders for me; so known names that I couldn’t grow old of digesting include them.
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
This may sound trite, and probably echoed by previous guests, but as a founder of a day planning, work-life balance company – one has to recognize this is a lifelong pursuit and will never be perfect.
Perhaps the biggest complication is that our lives and ultimately goals are always evolving, so what we value and consider important day-to-day can dramatically change. That said, the beauty of health science and circadian rhythms is that it points out certain fundamentals DON’T change.
We will always have 24 hours in a day. We will always require 7-9 hours of sleep, 10-12 hour eating windows, 1 hour of exercise, 30 minutes of mindfulness, 2 hours with loved ones daily. On average and most days for consistency and full benefits. This provides enough guidance and parameters to ward off much of what ails us.
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