The Tao of Starting a Business

Hi friends, 

In the last post I covered the question of whether to start a blog. The answer was a yes (this is indeed another blog post, but I'll risk redundancy) with a promise to keep the content genuine so that it can be of value to others. Since then, I've mulled over the word "genuine" often. What constitutes a genuine blog post, brand, product? When Sarah--our Grand Master Brand Guru--asked me what three words best described RENÉ HABIE, "smart" "effortless" and "genuine" felt most natural. Today I'm covering genuine because the other two are a consequence of the first. 

The definition of genuine is "truly what something is said to be; authentic." In an age where moral relativism seems to be the norm, even this straightforward definition can be confusing when broken down: are truth and authenticity relative to the individual, or are they validated only through agreements between many people? From my life, I've learnt that circumstances change but values endure. Thus, my instinct when discussing the "genuine" is not to address specific products or decisions but the values behind them. 

But first, a little bit of background for context...

I'm a huge fan of Taoism and Stoicism and the decisions that I make for RENÉ HABIE--from design to business ideas--are processed through these systems of thought. If you haven't read the centuries-old but more-than-ever relevant Tao Teh Ching by Lao Tzu, it can be found online for free. A word of warning before you google; there are tons of translations! I recommend looking at a few simultaneously to find the one that resonates. Personally I find that the John Ch Wu and Brian Browne Walker translations fit best. The first is a more traditional translation (mysterious language intact) whereas the latter is a bit more accessible. In any case, the Tao Teh Ching is one of the books I recommend most to friends. It is the most concise treasure I've ever come across, and unlike a lot of advice out there, doesn't require any special efforts besides being present. The passages are short enough to read in a minute, but legit deep enough to ponder over a lifetime. If I haven't sold you by using the words "treasure" and "legit deep" then you'll be interested to know that the Tao Teh Ching is also the perfect cure for #fomo and comes in pocket sizes and app versions and free online versions (links above) so there's a size for all. 

Ok so there's this magical little book, but how do you use it? I'll often start my day by picking a random passage and mediating on it for a few minutes. Today's passage (#13 from the Browne Walker Translation which I have as an app) was perfect for this post on the genuine: 

"Favor and disgrace are equally problematic. Hope and fear are phantoms of the body.
What does it mean that 'favor and disgrace are equally problematic?'
Favor lifts you up; disgrace knocks you down. Either one depends on the opinions of others and causes you to depart from your center. 
What does it mean 'hope and fear are phantoms of the body?' When you regard your body as your self, hope and fear have real power over you. If you abandon the notion of the body as self, hope and fear cannot touch you.
Know the universe as your self, and you can live absolutely anywhere in comfort. Love the world as your self, and you'll be able to care for it properly."

This passage covers a basic tenant of Taoism (and Stoicism for that matter): cultivate your thinking and outside circumstances will not have power over you. There is so much we can't control in life, but we can control our reactions. The Taoist way is to have a kind of neutral attitude to the good and bad. Of course we have feelings because we are not robots (yet) but the idea is to adopt a flexible path so that when the best and worst (and everything in between) happen in your life, you have a calm center you can hold on to. This doesn't mean dampen your joy or squash your sadness, but rather consider the moment you are experiencing as part of a larger picture. Whatever your religious beliefs may be, we can all agree that we are part of a bigger universe. If you zoom out, personal tragedies become easier to manage somehow, and celebrations feel larger and more expansive.

I try my best to take these ideas to heart, so much so that over the course of my life they have become more than just passages from an exceptionally dope book. If you've gotten this far and still have no plans on reading the Tao Teh Ching all I can say is YOLO so why not do it right, ya dig? 

...Of course, I say this after I've checked my Facebook thrice in the last hour. Tis a work in infinite progress friends, what else can I say? 


P.s. AGH!!! I forgot to punctuate this lengthy entry with images. Here's a picture of Sarah's gorgeous tattoo inspired by passage 5 of none other than the Tao Teh Ching: 

On days like today, we remind ourselves to hold on to the center.

A photo posted by R E N É H A B I E (@renehabie) on