Posts tagged with "Interview"

Headphones illustration by Alex Bogdan for use by 360 Magazine

Interview with Dr. Kraus

By: Skyler Johnson

Learning how to play an instrument can help with the development of the human brain, according to scientist, inventor and Northwestern University professor Dr. Nina Kraus. She outlines this research in her new book, Of Sound Mind: How Our Brain Constructs a Meaningful World. I had the opportunity to interview Dr. Kraus about the book and her findings. 

  1. Can you go over, briefly, what your newest book covers?

My book is a retrospective of what my lifetime researching sound and the brain has taught me. It covers a wide variety of topics ranging from the brain of a musician, to the link between sound and reading, to the perils of noise, to the wonder that is birdsong, to the aging brain. And much more.

  1. How did you get into that sort of research?

As a child, I was fortunate, from a sound perspective, in two ways. First, I was exposed to music at a young age. My mother was a pianist and my favorite place to play was under her piano, listening to her beautiful music. Second, I grew up in a household where more than one language was spoken, regularly traveling between the US and Italy, learning to navigate two different linguistic worlds. These early experiences with music and language left a deep imprint. They stuck with me as I made my way through college, looking for a way I could channel my interest in sound into a career. After a few starts, I got hooked up with a lab studying how sound acquired relevance in the brain. In other words, how the brain itself is changed by sounds it hears! And the rest is history.

  1. How often should people be playing music? 

The benefits of playing music are many, and certainly the more you play the more it enriches your sound mind. However, my research has told me you do not have to be a professional to tune your brain. I would say you need to play (practice) regularly, though. At least a few times a week.

  1. What types of instruments should people be playing to gain the effects? 

As far as I can tell, based on my research and others’, it does not matter. Any instrument, including voice, is a boon to your brain.

  1. When did you first start playing an instrument yourself?

Age 5. Piano. I also play some guitar and drums.

  1. Did your personal experience with playing music influence your desire to start your research?

In a way, I think it did. I did not start my career studying music. That line of work got rolling some 15 years ago. At that time, my research was examining the role of sound processing on literacy in school-age children. That got me connected with teachers and other educators and I was starting to hear the same thing over and over: “The kids that do best in school tend to be the ones who play an instrument.” And that just seemed right to me on a scientific-gut level. I can feel, on a personal level, that my music playing has been good for my brain. Soon, I made some contacts with educators who ran music programs and wanted to know whether and how playing music affected the brains of their young musicians. And, so this whole new rewarding line of research was born. Who knows? If I wasn’t a musician myself, my research would have taken some other course.

Melissa Snover via Caitlin Richards for use by 360 Magazine

Interview with Melissa Snover

Everyone loves good vitamin gummies, but what if there was a way to customize them? That’s the idea behind Nourished, led by Melissa Snover, an entrepreneur and top UK female entrepreneur according to Business Leader. I had the opportunity to interview Snover about her career and Nourished. 

  1. How did you get into 3D modelling and nutrition? 

I founded my first company when I was 23 and have been developing innovative products to bring to the consumer market ever since. When running a gummy candy business called Goody Good Stuff, I became frustrated by the limitations of mainstream manufacturing and in 2015 started looking into 3D printing technology to create bespoke products on demand. This led me to launch Magic Candy Factory which 3D printed customized confectionery in retail outlets, amusement parks and private events – depending on the customer’s requirements. It was this technology that gave me the inspiration and foundation to create Nourished and personalize the way we take vitamins and make our nutrition regimes more enjoyable, convenient, and effective.

  1. What are the benefits of personalized gummies? 

Many of the vitamins made using traditional manufacturing methods can be largely ineffective by the time they reach the consumer. They often come from lengthy supply chains, are sat in a warehouse or on a store shelf for months and most importantly – are not produced with the individual’s needs in mind. At Nourished we combine 7 different superfoods, nutrients, and vitamins into one delicious and sugar free gummy, which are totally bespoke to the end user. We 3D print each stack on demand to ensure optimum efficacy and can change the customer’s customized blend each month as their goals and lifestyle also change.

  1. How did you develop the idea behind Nourished? 

I have been an avid consumer of supplements since my 20s and used to carry around with me a large transparent bag of various supplements and vitamins, and accidentally dropped it on the airport floor in security. Crawling round in my suit and heels picking them, I thought there must be a better way to do this and then I thought, well I have a 3D printing food business, maybe I can do it?

From there I sought to find a way to simplify the way we take vitamins and make the combinations 100% customized to the consumer.

  1. How did you feel about being included in Business Leader’s list of Top UK Female Entrepreneurs to Look Out for?

It was a huge honor to be recognized amongst such inspiring and impressive peers, and I am extremely grateful to Business Leader for celebrating female entrepreneurship. I am a passionate and proactive supporter of women in business, so this is very close to my heart, and I was delighted to involved.

  1. Why use the personalized packaging?

Personalization is at the heart of everything we do at Nourished, and we didn’t want to stop at our packaging! Each of our individual wrappers are printed with the name of the customer, as well as being 100% plastic free and home compostable in just 32 weeks!

  1. How important are visuals when it comes to Nourished products?

Our Nourished stacks not only taste amazing, but they also look beautiful as the 7 layers of active ingredients each come in a different, vibrant color. Our mission at Nourished is to change the way people think about nutrition, and this means upgrading from popping pills and choking back on tablets each day. Our 3D printed vitamin gummies are the perfect visualization of what the future of nutrition can look like.

  1. Why should people choose Nourished?

At Nourished we believe that of all the things we personalize – our health should take priority. We use only the highest quality ingredients and pioneering manufacturing methods to ensure our customers receive truly bespoke nutrition, with the highest impact possible. All our ingredients are vegan, GMO free, sugar free and free from all major allergens and our packaging is 100% plastic free; meaning Nourished is as good for the Earth as it is for our customers!

  1. Do you have plans to release new products in the future?

We are constantly launching new active ingredients into our product range and optimizing our technology to ensure we stay at the forefront of personalized nutrition. We are also currently developing a personalized protein range and are planning on breaking into the pet market next year!

Optimistic Vivacity via Tim Tadder for use by 360 Magazine

Interview with Tim Tadder

If you have ever seen photos of an Olympic athlete, you have no doubt seen Tim Tadder‘s work. As a photographer, he has captured the likes of Michael Phelps and Simone Biles. Recently, Tadder hosted an exhibition at Avant Gallery in New York City. 360 was given the opportunity to ask him about his artistic inspirations and his style.

How did you get into art? Was there a moment you realized you wanted to do art professionally?

I’ve always been involved in some capacity with art as a major thematic in my life. It was always what I most enjoyed in school, as a hobby, & just overall being creative. I left a career as a teacher and pursued photography as a craft and a creative expression form when I was 27, after realizing I needed to enjoy my occupation and creating was a massive part of that. 

When did you realize art was the career choice for you? Was there a moment when you realized you were gaining recognition and success in the art world?

People see me as a highly creative photographer and artist. The way that I see the world has a particular point of view that is sought after. I think embracing that as who you are and what you do and how you perceive and see has value and therefore is a viable career once you can monetize that vision. Everything else falls into place from there. 

People will collect and want to own a piece of your vision and hang it on a wall, which ultimately empowers you as an artist to continue to create and explore your vision knowing that you have the financial support in order to do so. 

When ‘Nothing to See’ first was shared as large format prints, the response was overwhelming. It was at that point that I knew there was serious traction in a new marketplace, one that I had always dreamed of being a part of and was fortunate that this particular series of images was embraced by collectors and galleries. 

How does knowing a multitude of art mediums help you with your artwork?

I come from a background of 20 years of creating advertising campaigns for the world’s biggest brands and our job is to create on demand art that sells a product. And in doing so, you learn to use all the tools at your disposal to make the most powerful image for that purpose. I have been able to use all of that skill and knowledge and channel it into my personal fine art work to create images that convey messages that are important to me and that should be heard around the world. 

What do you look at to get inspiration to create?

Pre-COVID I attended a lot of art fairs and contemporary museums to look at trends, masters, & to find inspiration on how people explore visual presentation. I found that going to those events and seeing the art in person really helped me refine my message and refine my voice. In a COVID world, I try to follow artists on IG and Twitter who I’m inspired by and keep abreast of their new work and from there I try to find my own lane to blend out, be distinct, and be noticeable. Right now there’s so many rabbit holes that one can go down to find inspiration, whether it’s instagram or twitter or the NFT space.

You use bright and vibrant color schemes in your artwork, when and how did that start? What’s your process when deciding about the colors you will use?  

I’ve always been attracted to bold use of color. It’s been a monochord in my commercial work since my career began. For me that’s an instinctual choice. To use bold colors to help story tell. In choosing, a lot of it comes from instinct and a lot comes from what those colors represent. For ‘Nothing to See,’ I chose the bed, black, & white hues because they were historically represented of fascist banners and that collection was born out of a desire to create iconic, anti-fascist imagery. 

You photograph both still-lives (mostly mannequins) and people. Is there one you prefer to photograph? What led to you choosing a humanoid inanimate object as your main subject in many photos/series? 

I choose to use real people and not mannequins. I select models that have very androgynous, mannequin-esque features because I want my images to represent humankind and not just a type of individual, which sometimes comes from casting talent with defining characteristics. It’s not a picture of someone, it’s a picture of something

You edit with high contrast, high-saturation as your signature style. What drew you to this editing style?

Instinctive choices. It’s how I see, it’s how I visualize, it’s what I as an artist feel is beautiful. It wasn’t a choice to follow a trend, it was my own visual aesthetic.

Casey McQuillen via PLA Media for use by 360 Magazine

Interview with Casey McQuillen

By: Skyler Johnson

Since American Idol’s first inception in 2002, no one could have guessed how popular the show would be and how many new musicians would gain popularity through the years, including Kelly Clarkson, Adam Lambert, and Jennifer Hudson. Casey McQuillen performed on the show in season 13 and became a top 48 musician. Since then she’s done an anti-bullying concert series, and was interviewed by Kelly Clarkson, as well as released a lot of great music. I had the pleasure of interviewing McQuillen on her life and career up to this point.  

  1. How did you first get into music? 

I started writing music from a really young age!  It was when I learned to play some guitar around the age of 12, though, that I started performing and posting my music on the internet.  Since then, I’ve been lucky to have an amazing relationship with my audience, and many of my fans have been following my music for close to 15 years.

2. What, do you feel, is your biggest success as a singer/songwriter?

As a singer/songwriter, I think my biggest success has been writing about really difficult topics and conveying them on stage in a way that makes audiences feel connected and understood.  I wrote my song “Beautiful” at 17 about the pressures of conforming to beauty standards, and the response I’ve received from audiences all across the country inspired me to continue to be painfully honest in my writing.  The title track on my upcoming album “Can A Heart Go Bad?” addresses very personal and painful mental health issues, and though I’m a bit scared to share it the world, I’m confident my vulnerability will allow for a deeper connection with the listening audience.

3. Who are your biggest influences and why?

I would say Taylor Swift is my biggest songwriting influence because I’ve been listening to her music at every step of my career.  Other artists I feel very inspired by include Colbie Caillat, Kate Voegele (whom I had the honor of opening for), and Adele. All of these women write beautiful, complex stories into their songs, and I try to emulate that.

4. How important was it for you to campaign for anti-bullying?

I was picked on a ‘normal’ amount as a kid, but it was through self-reflection in songwriting years later that I realized how deeply I’d internalized a lot of the insecurities I’d developed in middle & high school, and how long those issues had continue to stick around in the back of my psyche.  Somewhere in my heart, I assumed the kids saying and doing mean things to me must be right, or why else would they treat me so badly?  In my anti-bullying concert series, I tell my story and sing the songs I wrote about growing up in that environment.  With perspective, we’re able to discuss that bullies bully because they’re insecure, not because there’s anything wrong with you.  And through these examples, I hope to help curb the cycle of internalized insecurity for the next generation.

5. What made you want to campaign for anti-bullying? 

It would have meant a lot to me as a young student to have a role model at school. I think I would have felt a lot less alone knowing that someone I looked up to had had similar experiences to me and made it out on the other side.  I want to be that person for these kids.

6. How was your experience performing on American Idol?

American Idol was great practice in performing under pressure.  I’ve found that my career cycles in these long preparation periods with my team, all culminating in big, high-pressure performances or interviews.  Being exposed to such high-stakes performances at such a young age on American Idol gave me a lot of confidence in my ability to be myself and have fun during those moments.

7. Was it odd seeing yourself on camera? 

I’ve been on camera most of my life, so I’m pretty used to it.  I started posting on YouTube and developing a following at a pretty young age, so it wasn’t that odd.  However, Idol was definitely the first time I’d ever been exposed to stage lighting and cameras, which are so bright and intimidating.  Before my Idol audition, they had me wait in this little box with a red light, and when it turned green, I opened the door and walked out onto the audition stage.  So, I truly hadn’t seen the lights until the moment the cameras were on me.  It definitely threw me for a loop!

8. How was being on The Kelly Clarkson Show, what was that experience like?

Honestly, it was one of the most surreal moments of my life.  It was very nerve-wracking, but Kelly Clarkson is the sweetest person and had even left me a hand written note in my dressing room welcoming me to the show and thanking me for my work in the community.  Small details like that really helped me feel at ease before the show, and she’s so friendly and funny that I felt like the interview was a breeze.  It was probably my favorite experience so far in my career.

9. Are you excited to go on tour?

I am PUMPED!  I was having so much fun touring with artists like Eric Hutchinson and Tyler Hilton before the pandemic, and it was so disappointing to have to cancel so many shows and stay off stage for so long.  But we are BACK baby, and I feel so honored to be hitting the road with the talented Clark Beckham this fall.  Come see us!

10. Are there any upcoming projects you’re allowed to tell us about?

My album “Can a Heart Go Bad?” will be coming out soon, so make sure to follow me on Apple Music and Spotify to stay up to date with all my releases.  I’m really proud of the album and I hope everyone will have a chance to hear it!

Image via Britney Falletta and Intelligent Threads for 360 Magazine

Q×A with Intelligent Threads

By: Matthew Anthenelli

Intelligent Threads is a new brand based from Kerrville, Texas that makes athletic oriented clothing with groundbreaking technology. Their athletic gear is designed to maximize recovery and help with body alignment while still being very modern and fashionable. We got the chance to talk with Intelligent Threads about their mission and what sets them apart in the athleisure fashion world. 

Intelligent Threads is an innovative company that provides clothing that stabilizes bone structure and improves body alignment while also being comfortable. Where did the idea for this product come from?

Synergy release method is a method that I developed to help stabilize the anatomical structure. But peoples muscles when under stress or repetitive motion or pressure will pull the bone structure out of place. I thought to myself if we can get the muscles to stay relaxed that’s going to help keep The anatomical structure in the right position. Which would prevent a multitude of structural problems in the body. So I guess the idea came out of necessity to help people stabilize their body to be able to feel better and perform to their full potential. 

Intelligent threads allow people like professional athletes to train and perform more comfortably. How does the apparel achieve this?

By a technology called Myo Equilibration.  We infuse at a quantum mechanics level Myo E into the fiber of our clothing. When Myo E is in close proximity to the body it will interact with the muscles that hold the structure out of place or pulls the structure out of place, causing the muscle to release. The reason we want this to happen is so now the body can self adjust and correct back into its anatomical neutral position. Helping all kinds of structural problems with the body.

In addition to athletes, Intelligent Threads offers support and comfort to those experiencing the difficulties of pregnancies. What specific issues can Intelligent Threads help prevent? 

The structure starts to shift and change farther into the pregnancies which can cause lots of structural issues. By Keeping the muscles relaxed IT helps the structural  changes before and after pregnancy To help prevent pain and everything else that goes along with it. 

What kind of research went into the design and manufacturing of the clothes made for both athletes and pregnant women?

I spent 15 years studying the body and how it works to come up with Intelligent Threads. The nice part is an athlete’s body and a pregnant lady’s body works the same so the technology crosses over to both. 

What differentiates Intelligent Threads from other athletic apparel brands?

Myo E is the difference. Athletic clothing doesn’t help the structure like Intelligent Threads does. Really the question is why would you want to wear clothes that didn’t have Myo E in it.

Where can we purchase Intelligent Threads and find out about upcoming releases?

Our website also the other social sites.

Make sure to check out Intelligent Threads via Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.

Mental via 360 Magazine for use by 360 Magazine

Interview with Radhia Gleis

By: Skyler Johnson

From Jonestown to the Manson Family, we as a society have been obsessed with the inner workings of cults. Every few years a new documentary explores the secret lives of a society of people much different than ours. But it’s not very often that you meet someone that doesn’t just explore what crimes a cult committed, but how a cult is formed. This is what Radhia Gleis, an ex-member of the Buddhafield Cult, attempted to do in her most recent book: The Followers, Holy Hell and the Disciples of Narcissistic Leaders. I got the privilege to interview Gleis about the book and her experiences. 

Can you tell us a little about the Buddhafield cult and how you became involved with them?

That is a complicated story, and although the documentary Holy Hell shows the frightening transformation of a beautiful little spiritual community into an abusive cult, the details of this thirty-year journey cannot be told in a hundred minutes, like I can in the book. Like the frog in warm water that slowly comes to a boil, it took twenty years for the teacher to develop into the narcissistic sociopath he eventually became.

My journey started back when I was in Catholic school. I was inspired by the stories of the Catholic saints and their transcendental experiences of the Divine. I took a comparative religions class in ninth grade. We were studying Hinduism when we came across a word in italics: Nirvana! I asked the teacher what this word meant. He said, “Some yogis in India, through a certain practice of meditation, experience God directly.” “Is that true?” I asked. “Apparently!” he replied. And from that time on I spent another twelve to fourteen years looking for Nirvana.

I never came across anyone who said that they experienced God directly until I met the leader, Jaime, and the group, who were practicing these kinds of meditation techniques, referred to as “The Knowledge.” The name Buddha-field has little or nothing to do with Buddha or Buddhism. It was just a nickname we called ourselves. We were closer to Hinduism, although we studied Buddhism, Hinduism, Sufism, and Christian Mysticism. Originally that was what the Buddha-field was about—practicing and staying devoted to that meditation practice and a simple life of service and devotion.

In the beginning Jaime’s sharing was always about the “Knowledge.” This ancient technique was introduced to the West by Prem Pal Rawat ji, AKA Maharaji. Jaime was never a disciple of Maharajji; he lied and conned a Premi (one of Maharajji’s followers) into giving him the techniques. Later, when it looked like his guru gig was taking off, Jaime changed the name from the “Knowledge” to the “Knowing” to claim it as his own.  Originally, he used to say, “Connect to God’s love,” but it did not take long before our sycophantic adoration of him fed his narcissism to the point of creating a malignant narcissist, and suddenly the narrative became “Connect to MY love.” 

What do you believe separates a religious movement from a cult?

Chapter 16 of The Followers, entitled “What is a Cult? It’s Complicated,” analyses the definition of a cult. It’s one of my favorite chapters. Certainly one of the more irreverent and humorous. My conclusion is, I’m not sure there is a separation. Or at least they have a great deal in common. One characteristic both share is the opposition to a Socratic method of teaching—a form of cooperative argumentative dialogue between individuals, based on asking and answering questions to stimulate critical thinking and to draw out ideas and underlying presuppositions, to come to your own conclusions. Most religions regardless of their size are the opposite—non-Socratic. They’re more authoritarian and didactic or patronizing. Whether the group’s origin is based on a historical archetype such as Jesus of Nazareth, Buddha, Mohammed, or L. Ron Hubbard for that matter, the ideology is used in many cases as a form of control and to establish order over a society (large or small). The ideology and its history of origin is usually interlaced with fantastic stories and myths applied to abstract notions of God that enlarge the premise, making it difficult to dispute.

If it’s a newly established philosophy from an individual, such as L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology, or Keith Allen Raniere, founder of NXIVM, a multi-level marketing company and cult, the leader develops an exclusive and unique doctrine or dogma that suits the followers’ needs or desires at that place and time. The leader—usually male, usually white—creates, polishes, and purveys the doctrine to use as a tool for their own narcissistic supply. Some leaders rely on an established theme or a variation on a traditional theme, such as Christianity and the Bible. Jaime adapted his creed from mostly Hindu teachings, practices, and texts, then twisted it to make it his own to elevate his status. All social, political, or religious societies can be vulnerable to corruption. Power corrupts, and when we give anyone—a religious teacher, a boss, a CEO of a corporation, a political leader—too much power, it perverts the soul and feeds the narcissistic tendency in all of us.

Do you blame the government for not being able to prosecute leader Jaime Gomez, also known as The Teacher?

I never thought of blaming anyone, other than myself for not following my instincts and the other members of the group for not having the courage to come forward with the truth about what was happening behind closed doors. And I still don’t blame them; I understand why.  It’s complicated, and that is what the book is about. Why do we do the things we do? What makes people give up their will, their sense of right and wrong—give up their moral compass and family ties for a person or an ideal?

 As I said throughout the book, it was a collective deception. If one were to expect the government to step in, where does that stop? Step into what? Most of us had no idea the abuse was happening, and we had no proof or witnesses coming forward. We were all adults. The old saying, “One man’s religion is another man’s cult” applies. And we must be careful of using words like brainwashed.

The definition of brainwashing is the process of pressuring someone into adopting radically different beliefs by using systematic and often forcible means. By that strict definition we weren’t brainwashed. We didn’t adopt radically different beliefs. Most of us were already on the path of beliefs Jaime “taught” before we even met him. And we were not physically forced, like prisoners of war. This is the common mistake when we say that someone is “brainwashed,” that takes the responsibility away from them as enablers.

I heard someone on a podcast discussing Holy Hell. She said, “…and what’s with that Radhia woman? She seems like she wouldn’t take shit from anyone.” We were following the Eastern religious practice of master-disciple relationship. And I signed on to that at the time. The “shit” that I was taking from Jaime was part of the discipline. The ego is the identity of self, and I believed you could not be one with God if there was a “you.” If there is a “you” and God, by the very nature of that duality, there is a separation. That’s why I never believed I was being coerced. I was a conscious and willing participant. I was eager to let someone challenge my ego in order to overcome that ego. Willing to override my instincts and insert myself into the practice whole-heartedly as part of the discipline. What a perfect scenario for a malignant narcissist to take advantage of! But I was exercising my beliefs at the time and would have been very pissed off if the “government” came in, having no understanding of my choices, and tried to take that away.

Do you believe there should be more restrictions on cult activity in the United States and abroad?

Everything is relative and should be handled on a case-by-case basis. We have laws to deal with child abuse, sexual abuse, kidnapping, and so on—whether committed in the context of a cult, a family, a traditional religion, or among strangers. Groups we may identify as cults are not by definition abusive or criminal. The general tenet of the Buddha-field was to live a healthy, virtuous life, practicing meditation techniques, exercising unconditional love and selfless service. We were a cult of love, and we weren’t harming anyone or imposing our beliefs on anyone outside our community. And had it not been for a narcissistic leader taking advantage of our innocence, we would still be living that life in that idealistic community. But if you’re a cult of hate and division, advocate violence or show potential to do harm, or attempt to force your beliefs on others, then yes; restrictions would be appropriate.

What types of people tend to get involved in cults?

In the third section of my book, I talk about several types of people who join cults. Except for sociopaths, I believe most human beings have a conscience that dictates a line in the sand that they will not cross. A place in their soul where their moral compass finally takes the wheel and says, Stop—no more. But that line is usually preceded by little gray lines that we step over before we reach that point. From my observations, I’ve identified three basic types of people who join a cult: the hummingbirds, soldiers on a mission, and the kamikazes.

Hummingbirds are browsers. They are like looky-loos, fluttering through the fanciful world of spiritual communities. They circle around the perimeter, not ready to commit fully, but if it looks interesting, they will hang around for a time. They don’t know what they want, exactly, but they are not satisfied with what they have. They are searching for a place to belong. They will hop over a few gray lines, but when the going gets tough—they’re out.

The second category of people who join cults, after hummingbirds, is a little more complex. I call these people “soldiers on a mission.” I admit I fit more into this box than the others. This group is for those who know what they’re looking for and they are willing to step over a lot of gray lines to get it. For fourteen years prior to meeting the leader and members of the group, I was on a mission to experience God Realization, Nirvana. And when I found someone who claimed he experienced that and could show me the way—I was all in. I was willing to do the hard work and jump over a lot more gray lines to reach my goal of enlightenment.

The third type of people who join cults are the kamikazes. They don’t seem to have a final line in the sand. They come to the abyss of reality and jump off. They can range from benign people who will follow their leader to the bitter end, regardless of facts or morals, to dangerous, destructive, blindly obedient devotees who will kill or die for the leader. Examples of the latter include the followers of Charles Manson; Timothy McVeigh and other domestic terrorists; or those willing to commit suicide at the behest of the leader, such as followers of Jim Jones or the Heaven’s Gate UFO cult; ISIS suicide bombers; or Japanese kamikazes.  

What types of people tend to create cults?

It would seem to me that one would have to be pretty impressed with themself to deliberately create a cult. That type of person would be your quintessential narcissist. It’s one thing to have a prayer or meditation group, a club or gathering of people who share ideas in a Socratic format.  And sometimes it requires a board or organizers or even instructors or teachers. But when one person takes on a leadership role and is allowed to adopt a non-Socratic influence over a group, that has all the makings of a dangerous escalation of corruption and abuse.

It’s important to understand that the narcissist and the followers have a feedback loop. Together they operate on a constantly reinforced message of perceived “specialness.” Narcissism demands to be fed; and when fed it grows, eventually subsuming followers in a toxic tidal wave that forces them to sink or swim for freedom.  It is up to us to recognize and protect ourselves by avoiding the narcissist wherever possible; withdrawing our fealty; or starving their insatiable appetite for self-aggrandizement. We must not expect or wait for them to change. They never will; and the more we feed them and let them get away with it, the more dangerous and powerful they become. 

Do you believe there are cults that don’t get the media attention they deserve?

I don’t know offhand which cults should get more or less attention because I’m not a part of them, so I don’t know their story. When you say “media,” what type are you referring to? The media landscape today is not the same as the media of yesteryear. Much of media business models are about sponsors and ratings, rather than straight journalism that presents factual news or in-depth investigations. They wrap information in partisan pundit opinions and shovel a mixture of selected facts, lies, and biased appraisals into a mini horror series in order to scare the bejesus out of us, because—that’s what sells.

And then there’s the Frankenstein of the internet. The amount of traffic to mainstream social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, and YouTube has exploded since 2017. We find comfort in echo chambers provided by media and in social viewpoints that reflect what we already have been indoctrinated to think because it’s easier and more comfortable than taking in new information, especially if it conflicts with our preconceived notions.

In many cases social media is a rogue thought machine, with little or no filters, editors, or fact checkers. There are hardly any rules or decorum in this mock-journalism today. It’s a free-for-all. And social network platforms do not judge your beliefs. There is limited personal discernment, just algorithms designed to target your interests; so, if you’re posting or commenting on a topic, the platform’s algorithm will gladly send you more and connect you to other like-minded users to interject their latest toxins. Social media can have its advantages when trying to bring awareness, but it can also have a dark side—a recipe for abuse and exploitation.

Very often the complexities of a person or a group of people’s lives can end up as sound bites—fodder for the public’s entertainment and media profit. That’s why I wrote this book. As good as the documentary Holy Hell was, it was snippets out of thirty years of the lives of 150 individuals, each having their own experience. Don’t get me wrong, Will Allen, the filmmaker, did an amazing job telling the story. And the film opened up this important conversation. But when you put a person’s life in soundbites and leave the rest up to the viewer—strangers looking for entertainment at the expense of that person’s very personal, painful trauma—that’s the price you pay when it is put in the hands of the media. So to answer your question, I think it all depends on what media is telling the story and how thorough and sensitive the journalist or pundit is to the situation.

 Do you think the media tends to help or hurt cult activities?

I got a call from a friend one day who said she was driving in her car and heard two people talking on a podcast about me! It’s the weirdest experience to have perfect strangers talk about you on a public forum. I heard another podcast talking about Holy Hell. These two commentators saw the film and they were enthralled, giddy, like two mean girls in high school gossiping and judging about something they knew nothing about. I had to laugh because I get it. All they had was the snippets to make their conclusions and present their case to the court of public opinion. One woman on a podcast opened her episode with a caution to her listeners that Holy Hell was a “disturbing horror story and the leader was literally a hideous monster, and we were all stupid, brainwashed, sex slaves.” Whaaaat?

I will say, those podcasters inspired me to clarify what they thought they saw in the film. But if you don’t happen to have two and a half years and a lot of money to publish a book, the subjects in question are left with an indelible, distorted, and obscure impression of who they are talking about. Whether it hurts or helps—that’s a complicated proposition. Because it’s such a wild, wild West on the internet, and anyone can produce a podcast, YouTube channel, or social network—so we shouldn’t be surprised there are a lot of unprofessional “media” personalities out there, voicing their unqualified opinion. Cults are complicated, dangerous, and traumatizing—no one needs their kind of help. And it takes courage and confidence to tangle with the media.

What can we expect in your new book: The Followers: “Holy Hell” and the Disciples of Narcissistic Leaders: How My Years in a Notorious Cult Parallel Today’s Cultural Mania?

Expect a wild ride. I see so many people in a state of dis-ease, confused, frightened, and overwhelmed by what is happening in America and around the world today. And because of my twenty-five years’ experience in a cult, under the influence of a narcissistic leader, I get it on such a deep level. And like I do in my wellness practice, I conducted extensive research for The Followers from a myriad of scholastic books, articles, journals, and periodicals, but unless you’re a researcher or have a vested interest in this subject, who has time to slog through the academic material? Nobody! Except me. That’s sort of my schtick. I read, studied, digested all that material for you. But I knew if I were going to shine some light on the complexities of our present situation, I had to make it personal, humorous, raw, and entertaining as well as provocative. 

I definitely open the kimono, so to speak, in this book. I knew if I wasn’t real and honest, the reader wouldn’t trust me. Although the archival footage in the documentary Holy Hell on Amazon gives you real footage of the inside of the cult, the story is so much bigger than a 100-minute documentary could tell. I invite the reader to take a journey with me down the road of my life in the safety and comfort of their home, in hopes that they will learn from my experience and not have to take the same road. I have lived an extraordinary life. I’ve done things that most people can’t even imagine. On this journey you might laugh, you might cry, you might get angry, or you might find relief that you’re not alone. I invite you to go all the way to the end with me, even if you find some discomfort along the way. In my life I chose the road less traveled. I spent sixty-plus years in contemplative practice, and at the end of this book I promise I won’t leave you without some pearls from my experience to help you navigate this crazy world. The book The Followers, Holy Hell and the Disciples of Narcissistic Leaders is not a story about me per se, or some broken, gullible individuals, or the past; it’s a story about what’s happening todayto all of us. 

The book is available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble but if you don’t like or have time to read, it’s also on Audible in my voice.

Interview with Ooshma Garg

Meal delivery services have gained a lot of popularity over the recent years and there are now many different services to choose. I was able to sit down with Oosma Garg, founder of one of these delivery services: Gobble.

Given all of the meal delivery services on the market today, what do you think makes yours stand out?

Unlike other meal kit services, Gobble’s meals only take 15 minutes to prepare. Gobble’s army of sous chefs do the prep work; like simmering sauces, marinating meats, and chopping vegetables, so that members can prepare a gourmet meal at home easily and quickly. We prep complex ingredients for 18 unique dishes every week, which gives members variety and new flavors with every meal. 

With freshly prepped meal kit ingredients, Gobble simplifies the process of eating healthy, nutritious, and flavorful food, ensuring that members don’t sacrifice time for taste or vice versa. Convenience is at the core of every Gobble product and experience — The company even launched a text concierge service so that members can chat with a “sous chef” and get real-time, educated answers at any time, especially during their cooking experience.

What inspired you to create the 15 minute meal idea?

I have always been a tinkerer and grew up curious, constantly experimenting. Women have been wondering ‘what’s for dinner’ since the beginning of time. Other companies in this industry approached this question through diets or teaching women to cook. Gobble was encouraged to solve the real problem at hand and fit into the fabric of everyone’s daily life. Gobble’s already prepped and prepared meal kits do the invisible work of solving this timeless mealtime question, in just 15 minutes. Gobble’s 15 minutes philosophy was inspired by the importance of quality time with loved ones, and when dinner isn’t stressful or time consuming, this is made possible. 

Are there meal options to fit certain diets?

Yes there are. Gobble’s Lean and Clean meal options feature lean proteins, healthy fats, and are under 600 calories per serving. This meal plan also includes the same flexibility that Gobble’s other plans do, as members can easily add breakfast and lunch options, or skip deliveries with ease. 

Additionally, Gobble is a great option for picky eaters, as customers can choose their own proteins, grains, and quantities. And, Gobble gives the user full ingredient control. Gobble does most of the prep, but it leaves the final amounts of sauces and most other ingredients going into your dish up to you (unlike oven-ready, or fully prepped/cooked kits).

Tell us about Gobble’s ingredients.

All of Gobble’s ingredients and production are fresh, as if it was cooked in small batches at home, and the production is devoid of shelf stabilizing compounds or preservatives. This makes the supply chain evermore difficult as the company cannot store these complex and custom prepped ingredients from one week to the next. 

Tell us about being a female founder in this meal kit delivery space.

Being one of the only female founders in this space, I was inspired to solve a fundamental aspect of society, mealtimes. I saw my mom working 12+ hours a day while balancing her professional role alongside her role as a mom, that there was a void of solutions that allowed working women to provide for their families without sacrificing time or nutrition. Gobble is designed to solve a real problem and fit into the fabric of everyone’s daily life. I’m proud to be a female founder in this space, and am excited to continue to bring even more solutions to the table. (Literally.) 

How did the pandemic affect Gobble?

Gobble has seen a 200% increase in basket size of non-dinner menu items, as people are home all day and demand increased deliveries for all mealtimes. Throughout this pandemic, many Americans found themselves facing COVID Burnout, which led them turning to other meal solutions. During Fall 2020, Gobble ran a survey to better understand how COVID was affecting its members. 78.5% of respondents reported that the pandemic affected how they shop for and prepare food with 48% of people sharing that they order groceries solely online. We offer members the ability to transform one’s kitchen into a new country and transport one’s tastebuds through unique flavors and ingredients by implementing adventure into everyday life at home.

Interview with Dean Karnazes

Dean Carnazes is a marathon runner known for serious feats of endurance. He recently wrote a book, Runner’s High: A Life in Motion, about running and his experience as a marathon runner. I got the chance to speak with Dean about his marathon career and Runner’s High.

What was your favorite experience while running?

While I was running across the country—from LA to NYC—I got a call from the White House saying that Michelle Obama wanted me to stop in to say hi. Prank call was my first reaction. But it was real. I’ll never forget running down the hallway of the White House and out to the South Lawn to meet with the first lady. She welcomed me with a hug and said, “It’s such an honor to meet you.” I’m not making this up. 

What is your favorite part of the marathon experience?

The pain and the struggle. You remember the joyful moments, but the tough moments leave a more indelible imprint. 

Do you have a marathon that you particularly liked?

How long is the interview? (laughter) I’ve run hundreds of marathons and each is memorable in it’s own way. I once ran 50 marathons, in all 50 states, in 50 consecutive days. That experience in its totality was quite extraordinary.

Do you have a favorite place to run?

Greece. I’m 100% Greek and Greece is the birthplace of the marathon. It doesn’t get more real than that.

What athletes do you particularly admire?

The back of the packers struggling to reach the finish line before the cutoff. Sure, I admire the elite, but watching the last place finisher is more inspiring. 

I’ve been in a 2-week quarantine in a hotel in Sydney in preparation for this crazy 1,000-mile run across Australia, so I’ve been watching a lot of the Tokyo Olympics. In fact, I’ve probably watched more television in the past two weeks than I’ve watched in the past two years! 

Are there any Olympic athletes, in the most recent Tokyo Olympics, that you were particularly impressed by?

So many of the athletes impress me. But I think what impressed me the most this Olympics’ was Simone Biles withdrawal because of mental health concerns. She is such a dominant force but she became very human in showing her vulnerability.

How do you feel about energy drinks and other products that may change/enhance athletes’ performance?

Athletes will always seek anything that can provide an edge. So long as it is not a banned substance, I’m okay with it.

What, in your opinion, is your biggest accomplishment as a runner?

The fact that I am still just as passionate about running as I was when I first started. The stoke is still there after all these years.  

What was it like to write a book about something you’re so passionate about like running?

To capture my authentic running voice, I do a lot of writing while I run (by dictating into my phone). People say I truthfully capture the essence of running in my writing, and that’s because at a time when I’m experiencing the thoughts, feelings and emotions of a runner I’m taking note. To put that passion into words makes compelling reading. 

Are you happy with the way people have spoken about your book thus far?

I got an email from a gentleman this morning who said he had intended to read a couple chapters of my book last night before going to bed. Five hours later he finished the book, he told me. Then, he said, he got up. He just had to go on a run.

Yes, I’m happy with the way people have spoken about my book. That message says it all.

Image via Atria Publishing Group for 360 Magazine

Nipsey Hussle Biography ‘The Marathon Don’t Stop’

Rob Kenner is one of the most prolific and influential voices in hip hop publishing and a founding editor of Vibe magazine. 

After meeting Nipsey Hussle in the offices of Vibe, Kenner spent the next ten years tracking the life and career of the hip hop mogul, artist, and activist. THE MARATHON DON’T STOP: The Life and Times of Nipsey Hussle by Rob Kenner (Atria Books; Hardcover; March 23, 2021; $27.00; ISBN: 9781982140298) ​is the first in-depth biography of Nipsey Hussle, whose transformative legacy inspired a generation with his motivational lyrics and visionary business savvy—before he was tragically shot down on March 31, 2019 in the very neighborhood he was dedicated to building up. August 15th is Nipsey Hussle’s birthday. He would be turning 36 this year.

Combining on-the-ground reporting and candid interviews with Hussle’s friends, family, and peers, THE MARATHON DON’T STOP traces the life and work of an extraordinary artist, placing him in historical context and unpacking his complex legacy.

Some details of Hussle’s life that Kenner can discuss in an interview include:

  • Ermias Asghedom, before he was Nipsey Hussle, was a brilliant, soft-spoken, and underestimated young man who loved hip hop with a passion and was determined to build his own successful music label and clothing business—as well as other businesses that would employ many members of his community.
  • His life in the Crenshaw District starting in 1985, placing Hussle in historical context within the evolution of Hip Hop, Los Angeles, and America.
  • Hussle’s genius as a teenager who built his own computers and went on to push the envelope of technology in growing his businesses as well as innovating new revenue models for independent musicians that have since been adopted by the mainstream music industry
  • Hussle’s life-changing trip to Africa to visit his father’s family in Eritrea, as well as his little-known first meeting with Afeni Shakur, long before he called himself the ‘Tupac of My Generation’ or even took the rap name Nipsey Hussle.
  • Hussle’s impact as an activist, and his efforts to re-align L.A. gang culture with the mission of organizations like the Black Panthers…AND MORE.

Rob Kenner is one of the most prolific and influential voices in hip hop publishing. A founding editor of Vibe, Kenner joined the start-up team of Quincy Jones’ groundbreaking hip hop monthly in 1992. During a nineteen-year run at Vibe he edited and wrote cover and feature stories on iconic cultural figures ranging from Tupac Shakur to Barack Obama as well as writing the acclaimed column Boomshots. Kenner’s writing has appeared in Complex, Genius, Mass Appeal, Pigeons & Planes, Ego Trip, Poetry magazine, The New York Times, and Billboard. He’s also produced and directed documentary shorts on the likes of De La Soul, Nas, and Post Malone. As an editor at Vibe Books, Kenner worked on the New York Times bestseller Tupac Shakur and contributed to The Vibe History of Hip Hop. He went on to co-author VX: 10 Years of Vibe Photography and produced the book Unbelievable, a biography of The Notorious B.I.G. by Cheo Hodari Coker Jr., which was optioned for the motion picture Notorious.

Read here – The Marathon Don’t Stop – a link to the open NetGalley widget. You will need to create a free account to access the egalley.

Mariah Pearson via Trice Browning for use by 360 Magazine

Interview with Mariah Pearson

By: Skyler Johnson

On July 5th, 2021, the Revlon Creme of Nature “Legacy to Leadership” scholarship inaugural winners were announced. The scholarship was meant to provide funding to students attending HBCUs, or historically black colleges and universities. I had the privilege of interviewing one of the students who received the scholarship: Mariah Pearson, who’s currently attending North Carolina A&T State University

How important is it for you to attend an HBCU?

It was personally extremely important for me because I feel as though a lot of times, in society, people of color, don’t exactly get the opportunities as other people would and I feel that at my HBCU and at other HBCUs across the country were given those opportunities. We’re given resources to better navigate, better operate in the real world… in corporate America and professional settings. It also provided me with a community of people who have similar backgrounds as me and similar interests as me. It’s awesome to go to one. 

What is your favorite thing about college thus far?

So far my favorite thing about college would probably be the environment, the way my school feels like a family, and how you can meet new people and it doesn’t feel awkward to introduce yourself. [Talking to a stranger at school] kind of feels like you’re talking to someone you’ve known forever. That’s probably my favorite part, just feeling like I’m at home when I’m not at home. 

Briefly, can you go over what you expect to gain out of college? 

Of course to get a degree. And learn how to operate in professional settings, but also just for personal development. I feel that going to college has opened a bunch of doors and there’s a bunch of opportunities for new experiences that you might not get if you don’t go to college. Knowing who I am and what I like, who I want to be, how I want to grow, the direction I want to grow in. I definitely feel that college helps you figure that out really quickly. 

What’re the most important lessons you’ve learned thus far?

There’s a couple. One of them is definitely: always be on your Ps and Qs, because somebody’s always watching, and you don’t know who’s watching or when, but… somebody’s always seeing you. That’s one of them. Another one is always try and surround yourself with people who you want to see yourself as. You can’t become a winner if you’re not in a group of winners. You can’t be a leader if you’re not in a group of leaders. So it’s important that you surround yourself with people who feed into you positively and of course hold you to a standard that you would hold yourself to. I think those are the main lessons that I’ve learned so far, and I’m sure there are plenty more to come. 

What made you want to get into health care?

So I’m going into physical therapy, and when I was first trying to figure out where I was going to go to school and what I was going to go for I… [didn’t] really know… But as an athlete, who had to experience going through physical therapy, I was like, “I kinda like sports, I kinda like helping people, so let’s find a way to mix the two.” And physical therapy is what came up… I later began to grow a love for it through learning how the healthcare system operates, and of course how it treats different people. Because I personally know that being a black woman I’m going to experience a different type of healthcare than anyone else would. Especially since I had family [members] who had gone through physical therapy and had different medical procedures done and they felt that they hadn’t been treated the way they should’ve been, or wanted, to be treated. [Which is why] one of my goals as a health care professional in the future would definitely be to make people feel more comfortable and cared for and appreciated as a patient.

Do you expect to change the world? 

Yes, I do. In some way, shape, or form I will [change the world], because another one of my goals as a physical therapist is to establish a [holistic] health care system. [I would not just] tap into the physical but also into the mental state, [asking] how [a patient’s] feeling, [if they were] eating, [if they were] exercising. I’m going to establish a facility where I take care of the whole person and not just say, “oh you’re sick, here’s some medicine.” Personally I’m not a big fan of medication which is why I chose physical therapy, because you’re essentially healing your own body by yourself. There’s no needles, there’s no medicine. It’s purely you moving your body and [exploring] how movement can essentially create a better lifestyle for you. 

How excited were you when you received the Revlon HBCU scholarship?

I cried, when I found out, I was so… thankful to Creme of Nature for this scholarship. It’s something that I definitely needed at the time. When I went through the process of figuring out what scholarship I was gonna apply for, and what bubble I fit in, with the scholarship world, they popped up and I [was] like, “this is perfect, this is awesome,” because I [could] make a video explaining who I [was] and what I [wanted] to do and what I [was] passionate about… It [was] purely me telling them about how I really feel about where I want to be in life, and my profession… so it was incredible. I cried. I called my mom. I called everybody.