Community Spotlight: Nicholas Himowicz
In the first of a series of interviews with community members, I caught up with Nicholas Himowicz, a coach and solopreneur from London. We talk about his inspirations, motivations and rituals, as well as Ashram and Alptitude, where we met Nicholas for the first time.
What do you do?
I run workshops for large organisations to help their employees think and collaborate in new ways. I’ve been working recently with American Express and Barclays. I’m also going to be doing a workshop for the Museum of Happiness in London which is run by another community member Shamash.
What’s it all about?
I use a methodology I call Mind Apps, which is about how you can take something that’s not tangible i.e. the thoughts inside your head, and turn them it into something that everybody understands and can talk about.
And it seems to be making sense. I did a workshop for a friend of mine who started an organisation called Mentality, which is about helping men with their mental health. I did a workshop with a group of guys, and I got them to talk about their thoughts and feelings in a really constructive way. It helped them have a better conversation, and feel better about themselves.
The concept is: “What if your thoughts are like apps, and your brain is like a smartphone?”
How can we download new ‘apps’ (ways of thinking) and get rid of old ones, i.e. negative thoughts, if they’re not helpful for you anymore? Underneath that concept, can sit all these amazing theories, like Edward de Bono and his Six Thinking Hats, Carol Dweck and Mindset, all of NLP. Then I can do what my hook says — which is teaching everyone in the organisation to think like a CEO, because I think great CEOs do this stuff. Imagine if everyone in the organisation really understood it.
How did you get to this point?
I studied music at university and I graduated in 2009. My mum’s from Colombia and in 2010, I went to live in Bogotá. I worked as a Business English teacher with all these global companies. I was teaching directors and managers English and I helped them get ready for presentations and meetings in U.S. and Europe. I did that for a couple of years and I learnt about business which was really cool.
Then, in 2012 I moved back to the UK and I realised I wanted to move into training, and learning and development. But I didn’t know how to do it, I had a similar background with my teaching experience but I didn’t know much about those topics. So, I ended up doing a course in neuro linguistic programming (at the same time I was becoming a certified yoga teacher, I also did a masters degree in management and innovation).
In 2015, I joined a company called Freeformers that does digital skills training, and that was perfect because I went in there and trained dozens of CEO’s about Lean Startup methodology.
This is how I’ve been able to do what I do now. I’m starting my own business where I’m doing workshops about thinking, it involves neuro linguistic programming-y-stuff. I’m not calling it that, because I think it’s become outdated — but what it teaches is super important.
Who was the first person who believed in you?
Everyone from Ashram inspired me and gave me a lot of guidance. Up until then I was just trying to make it happen, and I’m still doing that obviously, but since then I’ve done my first workshop, from that workshop I’ve gotten another one I’ve been asked to do somewhere else. I’ve also done workshops with Barclays and American Express. It feels like I’m onto something that could happen.
Everyone in India guided me, particularly Laurence. Laurence was huge. And of course Carlos. Particularly Gayle and Kim who were there too.
I know that it’s possible but there’s a difference between watching people like Gary Vee or Tai Lopez on youtube (or whoever) and actually seeing Gayle say, ‘I’m actually doing it.’
There were loads, in terms of people who are really doing it. Everyone from India was inspiring, they all gave me more confidence.
I should also mention Bablu. Carlos Laurence and I met him on the street corner selling books. He’s a good friend of mine now. We message each other all the time.
When was the moment you knew you could make a success of it?
Actually, it was at Alptitude! I pitched my concept of Mind Apps there. When I did that I got the feedback that maybe it was actually a good thing that I should pursue! Following that, I did a full workshop for the Mentality group, and then from that workshop there was a CEO in the room who said “I want you to do this with my management team”. I also ran a workshop at Amex for 20 people. They liked it so much I’m doing another for 200 people.
So those three moments have made me realise this could be a thing.
How do you define success for yourself?
I’ve gotta say, at the moment it feels like success already. I have control of my time, I’m doing what I want to be doing, doing stuff that I’m passionate about.
Now some quick-fire questions…
Early Bird or a Night Owl? I’m a recovering Night Owl…trying to be an Early Bird.
What’s the first thing you do when you wake up? I just bought a tongue scraper, I scrape my tongue now.
That’s the first thing? That’s pretty hardcore. Well, then I do Whimhoff method, so I spend 15 minutes breathing.
Do you have a whole morning ritual? Yep, I get up, scrape my tongue (cause it works — it’s good!) Then I have water, do 15 minutes of breathing, then I might go do some exercise, go for a run or do some weights, or I’ll have breakfast. In fact, last week I’ve started doing HIIT sessions over zoom with my friend Spencer. It’s keeping me motivated to get up early.
Then I’ll try and focus on the number one thing that’s most important for me, the creative task, I’ll try and do that first.
I’ve got a board in my room, so the night before I’ll write down the most important things I need to do the next day. For some reason the board works for me, it’s been the only thing that’s helped me make it happen.
Do you have a pre-bed ritual? I’m reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle maintenance so I’ll try and read a chapter of that, I like to do mediation, and I’ve been doing a gratitude prayer before I go to sleep. And, of course, the plan on the board.
How do you define a successful day? I imagine that has to do with the board. Yeah I think so! Ideally completing what you said you were gonna do, although…that’s probably unfair…because there are so many great days where that wasn’t the case. I do like tangents, I think as long as I’ve enjoyed the tangent I think I’m equally happy that that was a successful day too.
What’s been your greatest reward for your choices? I like eating. I feel like that’s at least part of the answer….?
Oh absolutely! Having three nice meals a day. It’s so basic but it’s so great. Exactly! You get it. I’m also loving not having to have a commute, I’m just staying in my flat, doing as much work as I can there. I live right next to Wimbledon Common so I can go for amazing walks or runs, and I’m cooking all my meals. So I’m saving money, the food’s way better, and I’m getting way more exercise. So, I’m really happy…! It’s so good.
What do you want to gain from The Happy Startup School?
Feedback. I think I really appreciate getting feedback, sometimes validation, sometimes critical feedback. That’s the main thing, I really appreciate that.
I’m getting LOADS of value from this community. I think it’s brilliant. They give you everything you need! They’ve got the secret sauce, the recipe.