Zibby Owens: Sandy Abrams is known as the C.E.’Om founder, not CEO, C.E.’Om. She has written two books, Your Idea, Inc. from 2010 and Breathe to Succeed. She shares her simple and powerful breath and mindfulness tools that fueled her entrepreneurial journey over the past twenty-five years. Now she is a C.E.’Om and currently leads the Breathe to Succeed and Beverages and Breath workshops, customized Breath and Mindset training for entrepreneurs, leaders, employees, women’s groups, and she speaks at a variety of conferences. She also just launched the “C.E.’Om” podcast which she says I inspired her to do which makes me feel just awesome.

Welcome, Sandy. Thanks so much for coming on “Moms Don’t Have Time to Read Books.”

Sandy Abrams: Thanks for having me. It’s a pleasure to be here.

Zibby: Breathe to Succeed: Increase Workplace Productivity, Creativity, and Clarity Through the Power of Mindfulness, that pretty much summarizes the book, but why don’t you tell listeners a little more about it and what inspired you to write it?

Sandy: I wrote Breathe to Succeed after practicing breath and mindfulness on my own in small moments for thirty years. I felt this SOS in the business sector a few years ago. I had written a book in 2010 called Your Idea, Inc. which was to help other first-time entrepreneurs launch their own business. That had me speaking at a lot of business events and women’s conferences. That’s where I began to see that technology had hit the tipping point. We all had this new level of low-grade stress from constantly being connected to our devices. I felt like I had something to share about my simple-but-powerful breath tools.

Zibby: That’s awesome. You have an acronym for 3D breath. 3DB or something?

Sandy: Yeah, I call them 3DB. That was my go-to breath tool, the most simple thing, 3DB. That’s all it takes to actually transform energy. Today, between pandemic and George Floyd and the stress and anxiety of our times right now, we all have time to breath three deep breaths. One of my favorite quotes is from Einstein that says we cannot solve problems with the same energy that we created them. Breath transforms energy. Right now, I’m on this mission to help everyone, not just the business sector, but help everyone just go inward for a few seconds every day with simply three deep breaths. Great for parenting as well. Moms do have time to breath because we can multitask when we’re breathing. We could be making food for the kids. We can be doing whatever and you can take three deep breaths mindfully while you are busy doing all the other things that moms do, right?

Zibby: Totally. I loved how the angle of this skews to entrepreneurs and CEOs and how you call yourself a C.E.’Om. Instead of a CEO, a C.E.’Om, which is so clever. I do think there’s something specific to business leaders or people really stressed out at work who need to reframe how to manage all of that and to give people tools not just at home, but also in work is amazing. Aside from the three deep breaths, what’s a go-to thing that somebody right now who’s sneaking time at work to listen to this could do to have a better day?

Sandy: First of all, there’s a lot of science behind the power of breath and mindfulness for wellness and for mental health and for boosting immunity, so much science behind that. I’d love to read you an excerpt from the book about that. Then I’ll share a tool. Is that okay?

Zibby: Sure. That’s great.

Sandy: Okay, good. I have these pop-ups throughout the book that share just scratching the surface of the science behind breath. Here’s one. “In an article titled ‘Neuroscientists have identified how exactly one deep breath changes your mind,’ Moran Cerf of Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University, says, ‘Breathing at different paces or paying careful attention to the breaths were shown to engage different parts of the brain. Humans’ ability to control and regulate their brain is unique, i.e., controlling emotions. These abilities are not trivial. When breathing changed with the exercises, the brain changed as well. The findings provide neural support for advice individuals have been given for millennia. During times of stress or when heightened concentration is needed, focusing on one’s breathing or doing breathing exercises can indeed change the brain.'” On that note, one rule of thumb with breath is that if you make your exhale longer than your inhale, that taps into your parasympathetic nervous system, which is the rest and digest part of your nervous system. It brings on a feeling of relaxation and calm. I’ll walk you through this. Everybody breathes at different paces, but for people who haven’t had any breath practice before, I love doing an inhale of four and an exhale of six because it’s just very simple. Keeping that exhale longer than the inhale is the science behind getting into that feeling of relaxation. Are you up for a breath or two?

Zibby: I’m up for a breath or two.

Sandy: Through your nose, take a long, slow, deep inhale to the count of four. Two, three, four, and then slowly exhale through your nose or mouth. Six, five, four, three, two, one. Let’s do one more. Inhale. Two, three, four, and exhaling slowly. Six, five, four, three, two, one. That can be done anywhere, anytime when you really want to feel relaxed or calm.

Zibby: It makes me feel like I want to go back to sleep.

Sandy: I’ve got a breath to energize as well. I love to say there’s a breath for every energy that you want to manifest. Breath alone is super powerful, but when you pair it with mindset tools, meaning you tell your body how you want to feel — right now, you just said, now I want to go to sleep. If you start telling your body, I am energized now, I’m rejuvenated, and we do a lion’s breath which I’ll share with you right now, you will feel more energized. That’s where the magic begins, really, is when you pair breath with mindset tools. Lion’s breath is a breath that I taught my kids when they were little. They’re twenty-two and twenty-four now. I’m happy to say they still do lion’s breath. It’s a great tool because it’s immediate. It gets rid of any stagnant or negative energy. If you do three of them, it’s really energizing. I know we’re on audio, but I’ll try to explain this as best I can. Close your eyes. Inhale through your nose, a long, slow, deep inhale. On the exhale, bulge open your eyes, stick out your tongue, and sigh everything out.

Zibby: I’m not doing that.

Sandy: Yes, you are. What happens is this, usually when I do lion’s breath in group settings in real life, it makes everyone laugh like you just did. That’s another thing you can do. Laugh out loud even when you’re not feeling it. It’s energizing. Again, it’s science. It changes the chemistry in your body. You begin to feel happy simply by just laughing. Those are great things to teach the kids too, laughing out loud and lion’s breath.

Zibby: I will do the lion’s breath to my kids because they’re used to seeing me look ridiculous, but I’m not going to do it to you because I just can’t. Now at least I have the tool. That’s awesome. That’s so awesome. I was really interested in your book about how you ended up even becoming someone who’s on the other end of this call helping people with their breath and how you started out as an entrepreneur and sold a business. You had some expression like “unbeknownst to me” or “to my own greatest surprise” or something that suggested that you were as surprised as anyone to have sold a business as a multimillion-dollar sale and became a beauty product that was everywhere. You just killed it. Tell me a little about that and then how you transitioned to this.

Sandy: First of all, I didn’t sell the business. I actually still have it. It launched quickly. I built this business, as I said, much to my surprise. I have a broadcasting journalism background, not a business background. I was just one of those people that saw a void in the marketplace for a product, moisturizing gloves. My product was called Moisture Jamzz. I wanted to make something that I needed. I was really embarrassed of my hands when I was in my twenties. I had really dry, ugly hands. My grandmother told me about this beauty secret that’s been around for generations, which is simply put on any moisturizer — her preference was Vaseline. This was back in 1993. My grandmother, at the time, was ninety-three years old. Then you just slip on white cotton gloves. It helps to heal your hands and make them look younger and healthier. I lived in Los Angeles at the time, beauty-conscious LA. There’s tons of beauty supply stores. The only product that they had was a thin, white, all-cotton glove that just fell off my hands. It wouldn’t stay on. I decided I could make a better version. There was also, at that time, a very robust garment industry in Los Angeles.

I just pounded the pavement. I learned about fabric. I learned about pattern making. I created a product. I started sharing it with people. Before I knew it, I had gone to get a manicure and I had given a sample pair of gloves to the manicurist who was in Beverly Hills at the time. InStyle magazine put it in, I forget, it was one of the first three issues of InStyle. It was a full-page picture of Moisture Jamzz. I was like, wow, this is really working. I had no credit card to accept payments at that time, no merchant account or anything like that. I realized people are interested in this. I just started figuring it out. That’s the great thing about building a business. You can learn it on the go. That’s why I wrote my first book, Your Idea, Inc. That’s what led to this because I tapped into the power of breath and mindset so frequently building my business that I really felt like the time was right to share that. That’s what led to this book. Without those tools, I wouldn’t have had the confidence to walk into fifty sewing factories and find the right one or to ask questions of the Bed Bath & Beyond buyer. I didn’t know what wholesale, retail, what pricings and margins — breath constantly gave me the confidence to keep going every day when I really felt like I didn’t know what I was doing. Long-winded answer, but there you go.

Zibby: Now you lead groups and teach people like Oprah how to catch her breath.

Sandy: Oprah really inspired me. I have shared a deep breath with her, and grateful for Oprah and other people who, as you mentioned, I do call them C.E.’Oms, people who lead mindfully. She is one of those people. I think that it’s so inspiring that some companies like Google many years ago started with a chief happiness officer. Today companies like Vayner Media have a chief heart officer. Hyatt has a chief well-being officer. There are companies, big brands now, that are realizing the power of mindfulness and breath and meditation in the workplace. Workplace wellness is my passion. I’m on a mission right now to share breath one deep breath at a time, really.

Zibby: By the way, in the book you quoted Bill Gross from Idealab. I worked there after college for a couple years. I was the twentieth employee. I never see him in books. It was amazing.

Sandy: That’s a small world. I love that.

Zibby: Too funny. Are you working on another book now? I should ask.

Sandy: No. There was nine years in between my books. After my first book, and I’m sure you can relate to this, I never thought I would write another book. I’m not a writer, but when I feel like I’ve got something to say, then I’m willing to share it and I’m willing to do that labor of love and write another book. As of right now, I feel like this book has so much time and space that I can share with people that I’m not looking for book number three yet. I feel like you do about how writing inspires you all the time and it’s cathartic. That’s how I feel about breath. I just want to share breath for several years.

Zibby: For someone else who wants to write a book but doesn’t even really love writing, what tips you would have having survived two?

Sandy: My number-one tip for people who ask me that is just write like you’re talking to a friend. I made the mistake of starting my first book as using my journalism background and trying to make it sound very journalistic. Then I had asked my editor, “Could you just take a look at my first two chapters? I don’t want to write everything and then find out I’m on the wrong track because I’m not a writer, per se.” She looked at my first two chapters and said, “Okay, hit delete. Let’s start over. When you spoke with me, I felt your enthusiasm and I felt your passion. That’s not what I’m feeling when I read this.” That was the best advice ever. Since then, I’ve written hundreds of articles about entrepreneurs and business and wellness. I’m always using that advice, just writing as if I’m talking to a friend giving advice. Then I realized that it carries my voice that way on paper. That’s the advice I would give people.

Zibby: Amazing. Sandy, thank you so much for coming on my podcast. Thank you for the only breaths I will probably take today that I will be aware of. Thanks for something that will break my kids out of their next tantrum by looking at how crazy I look.

Sandy: I promise you they will love lion’s breath. Thank you for having me, Zibby. Thank you for everything you do for authors and for lightening the energy in the world right now. Thank you.

Zibby: Thank you, Sandy. That was nice of you to say. I’m trying. Thanks. Have a great day.

Sandy: You too.

Zibby: Bye.

Sandy: Bye.