Suze Yalof Schwartz is the Founder and CEO of Unplug Meditation, the world’s first drop-in, secular meditation studio and the Unplug Meditation App. She offers life coaching and meditation training to help busy professionals and brands stay calm in the chaos. Schwartz formerly worked at Vogue, Elle, Marie Claire, and Glamour, and her experience as the regular makeover guru on GMA, The Today Show, and CBS This Morning, has given her the inspiration to give meditation a makeover of its own.
Where did you grow up and what was your childhood like? Did you have any particular experiences/stories that shaped your adult life?
I grew up in a town called Livingston, New Jersey. It was 20 minutes outside of New York City so I would go into the city almost every weekend – I quickly fell in love with fashion culture and everything Manhattan had to offer. I was fortunate enough to have parents who taught me that I can do anything I set my mind to…they consistently pushed me to be the best that I could possibly be. They never let me give up or feel sorry for myself which I believe is one of the greatest gifts of all time. One of my favorite stories: Two months before I graduated from college, my father asked me if I had a job lined up. I remember I wasn’t even thinking about that at all and he basically made me send out 50 resumes every single day – if I hadn’t done that, I would not have landed my first dream job in fashion.
What is something you wish you would’ve realized earlier in your life?
Honestly, I wish I had discovered meditation earlier in life – it would’ve saved me from so many mistakes because I would have had the power to respond instead of reacting in challenging situations. It would have helped me to focus and follow through on my goals.
What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?
I think there are a lot of teachers in the field of mindfulness and meditation who make students feel as if it’s their way or the highway, which can be a huge turnoff for beginning meditators. I believe that people should explore the many incredible ways to meditate and discover what works best for them.
Tell me about one of the darker periods you’ve experienced in life. How you came out of it and what you learned from it?
My sister and I always laugh at our upbringing because we came from a family where if we were upset about something we would be told to get over it and put a smile on our faces. But the truth is that helped me get through many of my life‘s challenges. Not everything can go your way and you have two choices: you can wallow in it or you can move forward. It’s embedded in my DNA to move forward. But the darkest days of my life were mostly experienced in middle school as I was developing and experimenting and I didn’t feel really comfortable in my body or environment. I feel grateful that I made it out all in one piece!
What is one thing that you do that you feel has been the biggest contributor to your success so far?
The biggest contributor to my success is my enthusiasm for what I do. I genuinely believe that meditation can change the world and it’s an honor to be a part of that change. I feel very lucky that I never allow myself to wallow in the challenges. I am inspired and motivated by accomplishing the things that people think are impossible. I believe if there is a will, there is a way, and that you can do anything you set your mind to. You just have to consistently make decisions and take tiny steps!
What is your morning routine?
I have a ritual and it looks like this: I wake up and the first thing I do is meditate before I even get out of bed – I click the Unplug Meditation app and do the morning meditation of the day. Then I say to myself “Today is going to be a great day!” Then I go downstairs, make myself Shakeology, try to get a workout in, then I get my boys ready for school and head to the office.
What habit or behavior that you have pursued for a few years has most improved your life?
The habit that I have pursued for the past several years that has most improved my life is meditation. It’s a nonnegotiable for me because when I don’t do it, I feel the effects, and when I do it, I feel incredible. People can sense it if I don’t do it because I’d be racing through life versus being able to slow down and savor the present moment throughout my day.
What are your strategies for being productive and using your time most efficiently?
I am most productive when I use this crazy app called Brain FM – it’s basically techno music that gets me focused and feeling like I’m capable of doing anything. I also like to take a blank piece of paper and write down six big goals of the day, and then I try to check off the list within 90 minutes – that’s one of my favorite ones!
What book(s) have influenced your life the most? Why?
I have read so many books in my day! In fact, one of my New Year’s resolutions is to read one book a week so my latest favorites have to do with habits. Two recent ones I love are Tiny Habits by BJ Fogg and Atomic Habits by James Clear – those are both fantastic for helping you incorporate new patterns and behaviors into your life for self-enhancement.
Do you have any quotes you live by or think of often?
“You have to see it to be it.”
“Never confuse what you do with who you are.” – Herb Yalof (my father)
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou
“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.” – Anne Lamott