At one time, I was at the top of one of Stockholm’s hottest companies. On the verge of going public, and with an executive marketing title and sizable salary, I somehow felt empty. After some soul searching, I realized that I couldn’t
- 20 Jul 16 12.07 pm
Q&A Interview with Noa Fridmark, CEO and Founder of NOA Relax & FocusRead more
Where did you get the idea to create an anti-stress drink?
I was at the top of my carrier as a head of marketing, but my job didn’t feel like it had any meaning and above all, I didn’t buy into the company’s values. So one day I resigned and moved to an island in the Stockholm archipelago. The serenity and peace that I found there was like a balm for my soul. I felt that this peaceful state must also be something that city people would be attracted to, but not everyone would be as prepared as I was to take such a big step. I wanted to try and find a way to package the feeling of the island in order to share it with others. That was when I began researching ingredients that could create that feeling and I eventually came to the conclusion that the product should be a drink.
You went from being at the top of your career as head of marketing for a company that was about to list to throwing yourself into an unknown world. How did you dare to take the plunge?
It is very easy to take risks in Sweden, where the worst thing that can happen to you is that you end up sleeping on your mum’s couch for a month or two. I am surprised that more people don’t take risks, as there is so little to lose. Life is not a rehearsal and I think you need to do what feels right for you, regardless of society’s norms or other people’s expectations.
How have you broken new ground since the launch?
We launched about one year ago and have already won several prizes, broken records, and grown incredibly quickly. We stand for something completely new: an oasis in today’s stressed society. NOA Relax and Focus is not just a drinks brand, it is a new drinks category – a category that has shown itself to be highly sought after by many people today.
Does the drink have the potential to make an international breakthrough?
Absolutely! We have seen interest from some of the world’s biggest players in the drinks industry and we have been contacted by more than 100 distributors from around the world who would like to work with us. The drink’s function and vision are global while the design and tastes are Scandinavian.
The drink should contribute to reduced stress and increased focus – how does that actually work?
When I was going to make the drink, I undertook comprehensive research into all the ingredients that could fulfil these two functions. But I was tough. I excluded all ingredients that made you tired and drowsy, that were not natural, that were toxic in large quantities, or, most importantly, that lacked sufficient resear
ch into their effects. It was important for me that they should actually work.
NOA Relax and Focus reduces stress and increases focus with the help of melissa and L-theanine from green tea. L-theanine has the same effect on the body as yoga or meditation: reducing blood pressure, reducing the pulse rate, and changing the frequencies that the brain is operating on to a level where you are relaxed but alert. Melissa is a mild relaxant, without causing drowsiness.
What makes NOA Relax and Focus different from other similar drinks?
Our primary goal with the NOA Relax and Focus drink was that it should have measurable health effects. That is why I excluded all active ingredients that were toxic, unnatural, made you tired or drowsy, or that did not have any scientific basis for their claims. This has been combined with a unique bottle design and Scandinavian flavours.
I believe that the real key to our success is that I have continued to be true to myself, my staff, and the essence of the brand. For me it is important to listen to my inner voice and do what feels meaningful without becoming caught up in society’s norms or other’s expectations. The drink was created from these insights and I hope that NOA Relax & Focus can be an everyday oasis where you find calm and can take time to reflect. I don’t believe that we are happier with a bigger TV or a flashier car. Rather, I believe we should focus on that which is truly meaningful.
What can we expect from NOA Relax & Focus in the future?
Every day we get requests from distributors, partners, and customers from all over the world. It is fantastic to see such a big demand internationally! We are now working intensively with our international expansion in order to offer more people NOA Relax & Focus and to spread our vision. The goal for the company is to be able to give part of our profits to our own foundation, with the aim of contributing to a world where people can do what is meaningful for them.
Snapshot: Noa Fridmark
Based in: Apartment (in Stockholm) and a summer home in the Stockholm archipelago
Family: My dog (Rawa) and my girlfriend
Food Faves: Avocado and beetroot salad
Currently Listening: Guido’s Lounge
Reading: The Inside Out Revolution
- 19 Jul 16 1.23 pmRead more
The Focus School: 4 Brain Hacks for Better Focus
As we discussed last time, the brain’s focus centers can be thought of as “top-down” (selective focus) and “bottom up” (instinctual). What we commonly think of as focus—what we use to get stuff done—is driven by our top-down mind.
Like all things, practicing does help your focus centers develop. Here are some amazing tips to help keep you in the driver’s seat at all times:
Mix Up the Reading
The most common way to practice this is by mixing up your reading habits. As counterintuitive as it might sound, don’t always read the same way. Our bottom up mind reads for details: it spots keywords or phrases and contextualizes them so that we seem to get the “gist” of what a paragraph is about even if we haven’t processed every single word. (Remember skimming for class assignments?)
To improve the top mind, you need to read slowly, deliberately, and to fully recognize the entirety of the text. Try this: the next time you’re reading a book and thinking of closing it for bedtime, continue reading 2-3 more pages. Sustained practice like this improves your concentration in the long term.
We’ve heard all it before: people claiming to be multitasking ninjas, able to get dozens of things done at the same time, etc. But studies show that not only does multitasking not help with developing focus skills, it actually impacts your IQ too. How do you stay one step ahead? Simply practice concentrating on one thing with a finite end. Do this one at a time, with nothing else going on. Sit yourself into a comfortable position, turn off distractions, and do that thing: read a book chapter, work on a puzzle, or even color a page in a coloring book. Try this for 5 minutes at a time, then 10, then 30, and so on.
Meditation is not just great way to practice focus (and breathing!), it has a long-lasting positive impact on your mental health. By practicing your ability to remain in the present, by not allowing your thoughts to run away, you are literally strengthening the areas of your brain most associated with attention, helping you to focus over the long term.
While not entirely the same as meditation, mindfulness is definitely a key value in promoting relaxation and focus. In fact, there’s reason to believe that there’s a correlation between brain development and being unfocused, which practicing mindfulness techniques helps sort out.
Still can’t put down the phone? Then check out the amazing amount of mindfulness apps out there today!
Take a Break
We know it sounds weird. Right when you’re about to get down and dirty with work, we’re suggesting a brief pause. However, our brain, like any other kind of computer, can’t run on high-speed all the time. In fact, cutting-edge research suggests that taking brief breaks to interrupt your routine actually helps with your focus both in the near and long-term.
These are just a few tips for improving your focus. Try them out, and continue checking out The Focus School for more tips, ideas, and ways to keep staying focused.
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