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Yael Cohen Aris: an authentically awesome person with beauty & brains

Yael Cohen Aris model and influencerModel and influencer Yael Cohen Aris / Photo by Eden Hershaft


Chances are you’re a serious person. You’re probably an entrepreneur, a dreamer, a doer. You may have started your own business, made some cunning investments, or developed an amazing piece of software. You may be a freelancer, a business analyst, an attorney, or an advocate. And surely, your role models are also serious people. Perhaps you like Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos, or Mahatma Gandhi. To inform our actions we often look to prominent, conventionally successful people. But there are role models in unconventional spaces too. While you may wonder what a supermodel could teach you about running a business or living the entrepreneurial lifestyle, you’ll never know if you don’t ask.

Too often, we wouldn’t even ask! Human beings tend to make snap judgments about people based on their appearance. We are almost wired to view beautiful people as vacuous and unintelligent. Models and entertainers are rarely viewed as holistic people; often, they are seen as little more than a vessel to be admired. The age of social media does not improve this tendency. We scroll, judge, approve or disapprove, and move on, perhaps leaving a snarky comment in our wake.

But it’s a mistake to disregard someone based on their looks. Beauty and brains are not mutually exclusive. A guy can have rippling six-pack abs and still speak eloquently on Greek philosophy or forensic accounting; a gal can be the epitome of beauty and still understand astrophysics or molecular biology. A key skill for any person is to look past the superficial and get to know someone for who they really are and what value they really bring you. People can be beautiful, sexy, and smart. Yael Aris is a perfect example.

Who is Yael Cohen Aris?

You may have heard of Yael Aris from her successful modeling career. She is a very beautiful model who has more than a million followers on Instagram and a growing presence on TikTok. She is also an entrepreneur, a software engineer, and a former soldier with four years of experience in the Israeli army. Most important to her, however, is that she is a person who is dedicated to sharing positivity and happiness wherever she goes. “I’m a happy person, exploring life and bringing good, and also having fun with myself.”

Aris’ journey to success is not over – at 25, her journey has just begun – but it has begun with an auspicious start. Aris graduated high school as the salutatorian in her class of about 1,000. Like all Israeli people, after high school, she was conscripted into the Israeli army for her mandatory military service. However, the army recognized that Aris’ intellect would be a valuable asset, and offered her a position as a software engineer and programmer if she extended her service from two to four years. Aris agreed and spent her time in the army developing software and writing code.

Aris’ time as a software engineer for the army provided her with valuable experiences and insight. She learned to lead people and was responsible for training others in her unit. She also learned a lot about herself. Life in the army is, as you might imagine, very regimented. After four years of living on the army’s terms, Aris developed an appreciation for the freedom of civilian life, where she could live life her way. Having control of your own environment and circumstances is something we should all appreciate, and something that Aris’ time in the army helped her appreciate more.

While enlisted in the army, Aris began experimenting with Instagram as a means of self-expression. As her following grew, she found the ability to create and share her own idea to be quite empowering. It also gave her a platform from which to share ideas and concepts with her followers. Aris strives to use this power to drive positive cultural changes.

Yael Cohen Aris model and influencer

Model and influencer Yael Cohen Aris / Photo by Eden Hershaft

Sexy and smart are not mutually exclusive, but don’t tell society that

One thing Aris hopes to change is the perception of women online and in the media. It is an unfortunate truth that women who dare to be sexy or (heaven forfend!) sexual are often perceived to be unintelligent floozies. Consider Shakira. While she is widely known as a singer and entertainer, most people probably wouldn’t think of her as smart. She’s a beautiful woman who dances and sings pop music. Many people would assume, based on those facts, that Shakira is probably not someone they should take seriously. However, Shakira has an IQ of 140, which makes her a legit genius. She is in the 98th percentile of intelligence, the top 2.1% of human minds on the planet. Chances are that Shakira is way smarter than you are. Aris, like Shakira, has been blessed with both beauty and intellect.

However, unlike Shakira or Yael Aris, intelligent women are almost never portrayed as sexy in the media or online. It seems that in order to be seen as anything other than a body or a sex object, women have to give up the physical or sexual portion of their humanity. Even that isn’t enough: when women are not being sexy or sexual, they still don’t get taken seriously. But it’s even worse if you happen to have engaged in overtly sexy or sexual behavior; scientists have actually found that sexy women are not taken as seriously as unsexy women. Sexy or sexual women are often dehumanized by men and women alike. In fact, it’s an unfortunate truth that even women who are just living their lives are subject to sexualization and shaming by society at large.

Social media likely amplifies this trend. Personalities and brands online need to walk a carefully tailored line to create just the right kind of content to keep audiences clicking. The focus on “authenticity” in the social media space is a good indicator of the fact that, as Aris says, there’s “a lot of fakeness” online. Whether or not we want to admit it, most of us can probably relate to this truth. Different social media sites drive and facilitate different versions of ourselves. Who we are on Reddit is almost certainly not who we are on Facebook, Tinder, Instagram, or Twitter. But, regardless of channel, it is very difficult for women to be their true selves on any website without facing abuse. At least one in four women has been abused in some way on the internet.

An authentic space

That status quo can’t stand. Most people would probably agree that there is a lot of toxicity on the internet. While we can all be hurt in some way by the internet, women are uniquely vulnerable and often targeted for online harassment, making many online spaces unwelcoming for women. Aris wants to change that and build a space online where women can be themselves without being shamed, judged, or otherwise maltreated.

After her time in the military, Aris programmed a community site dedicated to letting women be their authentic selves. And when we say she programmed it, we mean she programmed it. Aris does her own work, both on the technical and business end of things. Coding a community site is child’s play for someone who wrote code for military applications. By building her own empire and doing her own work, Aris is leading by example, showing that she can be just as comfortable writing code as she is taking a sexy photo. Aris is actively building a space, both in sociological terms and online, where women can be themselves without being dehumanized or otherwise looked down upon. Aris’ idea for a community site was a great success, and she is now using that platform to launch her own magazine focused on women.

Leadership lessons from Yael Cohen Aris

During her tenure in the military, Aris learned a lot of valuable lessons about leadership, but they might not be what you’re expecting. Military-trained leaders often have valuable advice like “be professional,” “be accountable,” or “know the job.” Certainly, conventional leadership advice like this is valuable: your business is not likely to thrive if leaders are unprofessional people who refuse to be held accountable and don’t know what they’re doing. Sure, the cynics out there will point out that many executives and leaders are, in fact, clueless unprofessional ignoramuses, but the fact is that, especially for entrepreneurs and small business owners, poor leadership skills will collapse your business. Clearly, conventional advice is valuable. But what kind of unconventional wisdom does Aris have for us?

Give your workers space

First, while serving in the army, Aris learned that she really likes to have control of her own situation. Being in control of your own needs and preferences is a critical component of happiness. People who are browbeaten and forced to conform to a specific kind of mold or role may end up withering on the vine. Don’t believe it? There’s science to prove that office workers don’t just joke about being dead inside – in many cases, they literally are.

Leaders definitely need to establish some degree of control over their organizations: an anarchic organization is doomed to collapse. But being subject to constant control is demoralizing.  Consider giving employees as much freedom and latitude as you reasonably can. Does it really matter if your programmers wear a collared shirt? Do you really need your attorney on-site, or could they work remotely? Does a business analyst really need to be working at a desk from 8-5 if they can get their job done from home between 10 and 3? Trying to control every facet of an employee’s life is very old-fashioned and demoralizing, especially to the generations who now comprise most of the workforce. The army has good reasons to make soldiers stand in line, wear uniforms, or march for 25 miles; can you truthfully say that your startup or small business needs to exert huge amounts of control over its workforce? Your small business or corporation is not the 1st Marines.

This has become especially pertinent as the endless stream of chaos that was the early 2020s has unspooled. The early days of the pandemic caused a lot of businesses to fundamentally change how they operate. Workers have realized that most white-collar jobs can be performed successfully from the couch. And while some people are advocating for a return to the traditional office, more savvy businesses are realizing that making your employees miserable doesn’t really serve any purpose outside of building some middle-manager’s fiefdom or making commercial landlords rich. Find a way to balance your need to control the operations of your business and your employees’ need for autonomy.

Don’t slip into the mold

Another lesson Aris took from her time in the service was that one should maintain a strong sense of self. It’s easy to let the demands and pressure of work change who you are. You might begin to lose some of that spark that makes you…you. Maybe you liked painting, but haven’t done as much art because your startup needs attention. Maybe you used to play with the kids more before you began checking email after hours or letting work calls pull you away from game time. Whatever the specifics, it’s easy to let oneself be consumed by the needs of one’s work. Don’t change who you are or sacrifice your identity in the name of your business or your job. Your work is not the entire summary of your existence. It’s okay to work hard, and it’s okay to be driven and pursue excellence, but don’t let a specific job, role, or other container define who you are. Aris uses her time in the military as an example: she’s very proud of having served her country, but she didn’t make being a soldier into her entire identity. You can be proud of whatever it is you do without it consuming your entire being. Develop and cultivate your sense of self, and then be who you really are. It might sound corny but being authentic to yourself has a lot of benefits.

While we shouldn’t be consumed by work, it’s okay to have a passion for what you do. It’s even better if you can pair your passion to your work and find ways to bring your own unique self to the table. Let’s think about coffee. Opening a coffee business sounds appealing. But it would be easy to fall into the trap of trying to replicate a business that has completely dominated consumers’ idea of what a coffee business is. In other words, it seems like the way to succeed is to do what successful people are already doing. On the face of it, that sounds great! But on examination, we can see that falling into a specific mold is not necessarily the way to go. Just because one company or business has been massively successful doesn’t mean you should just copy them. Trying to be like Starbucks is a bad strategy because Starbucks is already doing it – Starbucks is already filling Starbucks’ niche! Do something different, even if it seems unconventional or if it breaks the established pattern. Start a different kind of coffee company that caters to your own interests and does business your way. Focus on a new market segment, a new business methodology. Embrace the changing world and find a way to bring your own unique, authentic interests to bear in the context of whatever it is that you do. Instead of trying to build the next Facebook, Aris brought her love of creating and expressing herself to life and built a successful online community around her ideas. Authenticity in business goes a long way toward success.

Yael Cohen Aris model and influencer

Model and influencer Yael Cohen Aris / Photo by Eden Hershaft

Don’t be afraid to be sexy

Of course, some of Aris’ followers are not interested in her ideas. They may be interested in her simply as an object or a piece of art. But she doesn’t let that get to her. She acknowledges that some people have an interest in her more as a model than as a philosopher, a businesswoman, or a person, and she understands that. But she’s not going to let the presence of those people bring her down. “Some people are here for the nice pictures and I’m fine with that,” she explains.

Despite the fact that some people might be troglodytes about sexiness doesn’t mean you should cater to their delicate sensibilities. Yael Aris embraces the idea of being who you want to be regardless of what people say. You should try to embrace yourself and accept that it’s okay to be sexy. This applies to men and women: whether you’re rocking the dad- or mom-bod or rocking the gym for four hours a day, dress to impress. Aris understands that choosing to embrace a certain amount of sexiness is going to affect how some people choose to perceive you – a phenomenon she describes as “annoying.” Annoyance aside, haters are gonna hate, so you may as well embrace who and what you are instead of striving for an unattainable standard.

In other words, she says, even if others may perceive you in some kind of negative way, go ahead and be sexy. If other people want to make judgments or assumptions about you, Aris shrugs it off: “that’s their problem.” In fact, you can use their rigid, stereotypical thinking to your advantage. Let people think what they want. Let them show their cards and dig themselves into a little hole, and then reorient them to reality by flexing your expertise. People have underestimated Aris because of her looks, but she’s never afraid to put them back in their place. “Don’t let them talk you down,” she says. If you have expertise and knowledge, don’t hold it back just because some dusty old codger has an attitude that’s stuck in the 1940s. You can enjoy knowing that you look good while you’re setting them straight. Nothing is sexier than power, and flexing your knowledge on someone who has underestimated your capabilities is definitely a power move.

Of course, when we say be sexy, we don’t mean showing up to work in leather chaps or something equally disastrous. That might assert dominance in some way, but it is probably not going to be a good career move. No, sexiness is not about showing a certain amount of skin, but about confidence. And to a large extent, confidence springs from how we present ourselves to the world. To bring sexiness to work or any other professional context, dress to impress. Wearing a sharp suit or that high-end outfit to work can make you feel more confident, and can even make others perceive you as more competent. When others perceive you in a certain way, they may present you with different opportunities. A banker might be a little more generous with terms or principal if you look like a real professional than they would be if you showed up in sweats.

The best way to develop a strong and notable personal style is to dress for the body you already have. This applies to men and women: if you’re rocking the dad bod, you should wear a different outfit than the guy who spends six hours a day lifting weights or the guy who is naturally slim. Aris has been blessed with strong genes and happens to be a model. Very few of us are so lucky! Even if we spend some time at the gym and eat right, most of us are going to have regular bodies. Instead of dressing in a way that doesn’t work for our own form, taking the time to think about what to highlight can help you escalate your dressing game to the next level.

The magic of dressing for success expands beyond the workplace. You can dress to impress any time, whether you’re going to the park, hitting the beach, or dining out at the new restaurant. Being put together for whatever context you’re going to be in makes you feel more confident. That affects how you carry yourself and how you engage with others. It might sound silly or old-fashioned in our world of hoodies and stretchy pants but taking a few extra minutes to put yourself together will help you perform in a whole new way.

Dealing with obstacles the Yael Cohen Aris way

No matter how confident and sexy we might feel, we’re going to encounter obstacles. Your perfect hair and tailored duds are not going to prevent things from going bad. Abrupt changes in market conditions, legal challenges, supply chain issues, or even just a stubborn boss or a difficult client can suddenly become an obstacle to progress even if you have your lucky shirt on. How does Yael Aris handle obstacles?

Never see no

An obstacle is an obstacle, not an impenetrable barricade. Acknowledge that there is almost certainly a way around the obstacle. “I never see ‘no’ in my options when I see things that need to be done,” Aris tells us. In most circumstances, there is a way to get what you want or need. Don’t give up! Remember that solving any complicated problem, whether it’s in your business life or your personal life, requires persistence. Your initial approach or solution to a problem may not end up working out, but you can learn a lesson from this kind of failure and recalibrate for success.

Never seeing no as an option also means continuing in the face of struggles. The act of continuing to chase your vision or your dream is a hard one to sustain: it takes resiliency, courage, and maybe even stubbornness. If you don’t chase your dream across the finish line, there’s a good chance that someone else will. There’s nothing more crushing than walking away from your dream only to see another entrepreneur do exactly what you had planned to do.

Even if you never see no as an option, others will. There will be doubters, naysayers, and people who are skeptical about your idea. It’s tempting to simply write them off as a bunch of doubting Thomases who lack your vision, but the truth is that there might be validity to what they are saying. Entertain their perspective. They might shoot down your idea for a rational reason: there could be real-world logistical, legal, or financial obstacles that they see as insurmountable. And although this might feel annoying at the moment, there is real value in their doubt. Having someone challenge your assumptions can force you to re-think your idea, engage with painful realities, and re-imagine your concepts. There’s a reason that “yes men” are seen as dangerous and unhelpful.

This can even be carried forward to relationships with others in your idea ecosystem. The loan officer might have said no today, but don’t throw away their business card or make a scene at the bank. Instead, pick their brain. What drove their decision? Can you come to them with questions to help elucidate yourself? The attorney who says there’s a potential patent issue isn’t just being obstinate; they’re pointing out a potential real-world challenge. How can we navigate around this obstacle? Certainly, some people get a kick out of just saying no and being jerks about it, but most people who tell you no will be happy to further explain what it will take from you to get a yes from them. Besides being an opportunity for learning, a “no” can be a healthy way to challenge your own assumptions.

Chunk it up

Chunking is not just a fun sport involving the flinging of pumpkins; it’s a task-management strategy that can help you succeed. Sometimes, we’re faced with a huge, difficult task that might seem like an obstacle or an impossibility. Perhaps we have to analyze 10,000 lines of code, or produce a lengthy report or proposition. Instead of getting fixated on the magnitude of the task at hand, break it down into more manageable sub-tasks. Think of it like climbing a mountain: nobody climbs from ground-level straight to the top. The climb is broken down into segments: surface to first camp, first camp to second camp, second camp to third camp, third camp to summit. You don’t have to analyze 10,000 lines of code all at once: break it down into manageable segments and attack each individual segment. You don’t have to plan your schedule for the next six months: go a week at a time. Break large tasks down into smaller, more manageable tasks, and you’ll find it easier to handle your workload.

Chunking is also an effective time-management strategy. We all know the sensation of being forced to multitask on a million different things: we have back-to-back meetings, obligations, deadlines, and other extraneous deadlines pulling our attention all day long. Even as people become increasingly aware of the fact that 97% of us cannot effectively multi-task, it remains the standard practice in many aspects of life. We check our e-mail in the car line to get the kids, scroll our Teams messages while we brew coffee, work on tasks while the boss drones on during a Zoom call, and so on. This is not an especially effective way to get work done. Instead, break your time down into chunks and be assertive about your ownership of your time. Block your calendar from 8:00-9:00 and dedicate that time to reporting only. Turn off your notifications, set your chat client to Do Not Disturb, close Outlook or Mail, and focus on that one specific task. The quality of your work will be better, and chances are you’ll feel better too.

While you’re chunking out your schedule, build in time for breaks. We are not machines: we are human beings who need breaks for our mental and physical health. Many people find success with the Pomodoro technique. It’s deceptively simple: select a task, set a 25-minute timer, and work only on that task. After your 25 minutes, take a 5-minute break. Stretch your legs, refill your coffee, go to the bathroom, or even just stare at the wall: whatever you need to do to charge your batteries for a moment. Then, resume the cycle: 25 more minutes of work, another 5 minutes, and so on. Sprinkle in a few longer breaks every couple of cycles to keep yourself fresh. If 25 minutes seems too short, do a 45-minute work cycle followed by 10 minutes of rest. Tweak it and titrate it to your needs. However you do it, chunking your time out can be a very effective way of dealing with time and obstacles.

Yael Cohen Aris model and influencer

Model and influencer Yael Cohen Aris / Photo by Eden Hershaft

3 life lessons from Yael Cohen Aris

Aris stays busy. But despite her hectic schedule and jam-packed life, she maintains her balance and her equilibrium. Far from feeling burned out or crispy, Aris says she feels like a very positive and happy person. We can’t speak for everyone – some people seem to love being miserable – but it’s safe to assume that most of us would love to be happy, positive, high-achieving people who feel a sense of contentment with what we’re doing. Aris has kindly shared three life lessons that she takes to heart to help her stay upbeat, happy, and productive.

1. Keep your autonomy

Autonomy is a condition of self-governance: you have control over your own time, circumstances, and conditions to the largest extent possible. A soldier, prisoner, or salaryman does not have very much autonomy. Indeed, people in such conditions can be said to be engaged in a form of servitude, and servitude breeds resentment and conflict. While few of us are prisoners or soldiers, many of us might fall into the category of the salaryman. How can you maintain autonomy while trying to work up the ladder and improve your circumstances?

The good news is that today’s business world is changing and evolving. The COVID-19 pandemic showed us that many jobs could be done with much more autonomy than they had previously enjoyed: white-collar professionals especially learned that they could be effective employees while enjoying much more freedom than in days past. While many firms are stubbornly refusing to engage with this new reality, many more have seen the light and decided to give their employees the latitude they want. If your firm does not value your time, make your needs known; if the company won’t budge, walk away. There are plenty of better jobs out there that will give you what you want.

If you’re running your own firm, you have control of your time. Exercise that control! If you want to take a day off, take a day off. Build your autonomy into your business model. Find like-minded people and develop a company with a culture that will make people want to work for you.

2. Think of the bigger picture

We tend to get stuck in our own idioms. Our lives can become repetitive, monotonous, boring. We are surrounded by sociopolitical structures that define how things work. But the world is bigger than you think. There are other versions of reality that you can embrace. Just because you were raised in a conservative Catholic household or as a traditional Orthodox Jew or even as a devout Hindu doesn’t mean you’re stuck with that belief system forever. Just because your dad was a devoted and fierce Republican doesn’t mean you have to have the same beliefs. The world is a very large place. Our minds are dedicated to making sense of the world around us, and they like to organize things into simple categories, but objective reality transcends human categorization. Expanding your mind and your worldview to accommodate the true breadth and scope of the human experience is essential to being a healthy person in our connected world.

Not only is it healthy, being open-minded is good for business. Imagine that it’s 1997 and you have a tech firm, and an engineer is proposing the development of a product that will be a combination music player, camera, video recorder, e-mail manager, and more. It would sound outlandish! Given the real technological constraints of the time, it might even sound impossible. A traditional, conservative approach would be to reject such a project as unrealistic. An open-minded approach could lead to a market-dominating piece of hardware like the iPhone.

More modern examples abound. Consider, again, the pandemic: workers have become used to a new way of working, where they can work remotely and not have to waste time commuting just to sit in a soulless office all day long. A closed-minded approach would be to get out the cattle prod and demand that your employees head back to the office at the expense of their employment. This might seem like a good idea if you’re not open-minded, but the reality is that such an action will lead to employees quitting your firm for a more accommodating one.

3. Manage your time wisely

Time is an essential and irreplaceable resource. Every minute of your life that you spend on some pointless task is a minute you will never, ever get back. The irreversible nature of time means that it is essential to use your time to work on your own priorities as much as possible. This ties back in with autonomy: is missing your kid’s soccer game for a meeting really worth it? Of course not! Bumping shareholder value by 0.01% will seem trivial when you’re staring oblivion in the face at the end of your time.

That said, it’s impossible to live completely on your own terms. The key is to find balance, to find a way to accommodate the needs of others while managing your own time effectively. Set aside an hour a day to do your own thing, whether that’s art, reading a book, playing with the dog, or having a brew at the pub. Be a guardian of your own time: push back when people make demands on your time. Do you really have anything to contribute to that meeting? If your presence adds no value for yourself or others, hit that “decline” button on the meeting invite.

This can extend into your own free time outside of work as well. Is it really a good use of your time to stare at some formulaic TV sitcom for an hour a day? Do you really need to go to that HOA meeting or meet up with that Facebook connection you haven’t seen in twelve years who you barely knew anyway? If it’s worth the time to you, then do it – but if you’ve got better things to do, it’s okay to assert your ownership of your own time.

Yael Cohen Aris model and influencer

Model and influencer Yael Cohen Aris / Photo by Eden Hershaft

Yael Cohen Aris on fitness

Fitness and wellness can be intimidating words. They might make us think of gym rats or marathon runners or people who make organic home-grown kale-and-avocado salads. Most of us lack the time and resources to be that devoted to fitness or wellness, but we all need to maintain our bodies. How can we balance our need for wellness with the constraints of modern living?

Aris advises people to reframe their ideas around the notion of being healthy. Being healthy doesn’t mean you have to run a marathon or deadlift 400 pounds; it doesn’t mean you exclusively eat foraged mushrooms and organic food. Being healthy means having a relatively healthful diet and an adequate exercise tolerance. You don’t need to be able to run 26 miles straight, but you also don’t want to get out of breath going from the couch to the kitchen. The key is balance and realistic goal-setting. If you want to be a marathoner or an organic chef, you should totally do that! But if you’re an average person who just wants to be healthy, realize that there are ways to achieve that goal without having to restructure your entire life. You can make small, healthy choices that add up. Pack snacks ahead to avoid eating fast food for lunch every day. Don’t eat that third eclair no matter how good it looks. Take a walk around the block after dinner, or toss the ball around with the kids or the dog. Making small, healthy choices can inform a much healthier overall lifestyle.

All that sounds great, but modern life has so many demands. If you’re finding it hard to strike that balance, Aris recommends combining healthy practices with something else you enjoy. If you work from home, you can get a standing desk or a set of floor pedals to get exercise while you work. You can get a Peloton and do some spinning while you work on e-mails or watch your favorite TV show.

This flows into mental health as well. We are constantly inundated with information, notifications, and demands. The 24-7 news cycle and algorithms designed to get us addicted steal our attention away and keep us constantly on edge. It seems like the only solution might be the nuclear option: is the only way not to go mad in 2022 to hurl your phone into a volcano and retreat to a cave to live an ascetic life? It’s tempting, but probably not realistic. As with physical health, Aris says that attending to our mental health can be done with minimal effort. Simple mindfulness meditation has been shown to have a plethora of mental health benefits, and while one could certainly become a meditation master and spend hours in a tranquil inner world, you can reap the benefits with about ten minutes a day. You can even incorporate this meditation into a morning or evening routine: meditate while the coffee pot perks in the morning, or turn your phone off and meditate for ten minutes before bed. If you’re a religious person, incorporate meditation into prayer sessions. Your mind and body will thank you for taking care of them.

Balancing it all

Even if you’re not a supermodel and a computer genius, you probably have a lot on your plate. How do we balance it all? How can you be a family man and a great executive, or an attentive mom and an entrepreneur? The answer, according to Aris, is simple: just be yourself. Don’t be limited by the constraints that we imagine we face. There’s no rule that you can’t do multiple things, and there’s no rule that you can’t have it all. In the end, you need to follow your own inner compass and let your authentic self be your true north. The trick, Aris says, is to step back and evaluate yourself. What are you doing? Why are you doing it? Does it make you happy? Is what you’re doing worth it to you? Working against the desires of the authentic self is a pathway to destruction: while you might not experience a total psychological collapse driven by cognitive dissonance and long-repressed misery, you will likely feel deeply unfulfilled if your day-to-day existence is not true to who you are.

Living a truly authentic life is difficult. There are social norms and external pressures that want to put us into a specific kind of box and shut us in there: as someone who is both a sexy, beautiful model and a highly intelligent computer scientist, Aris knows all about the boxes people try to put you in. The trick is to realize that their opinions just don’t matter. Harsh? Maybe, but it’s also true. Trying to build your sense of self-worth by using the metrics of another person is going to make you into someone else. Basing your sense of self on the expectations of others is going to make you miserable. Find out who you are and what you want, and live authentically. Life is not a search engine optimization project. Your existence is more than a few data points for other people to evaluate. And at the end of the day, authenticity is attractive. People are more inspired by mavericks and free-thinkers than they are by conventionality. In a world full of people who are trying to optimize themselves to meet the ideals of another, just be who you are. Your authenticity will drive your success.


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