Vincent Bataoel’s resume makes one suspect that the Ministry of Magic has issued him a permit to use the Time-Turner.
Bataoel (34) and his wife Nelina Loiselle have spent the last decade building Above Green, a LEED Consulting company which helps clients such as Bank of America, San Francisco Airport, and the U.S. military get their buildings LEED Certified. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is a highly regarded green building certification program used around the world.
‘On the side,’ Bataoel has worked over the past several years on super-secret government proposals at Brainwave Fingerprinting Laboratories and as a visiting scholar at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, Potomac Institute for Neurotechnology Studies, and the National Defense University Center for Technology and National Security Policy.
Bataoel is also involved with local government as the Chairman of the Economic Development Advisory Committee of Middleburg, VA. And, believe it or not, he still has time for other things he loves, like writing fiction, being at home with his wife and two dogs, and enjoying the countryside and good food.
Here are some of his hacks for living such a fulfilling (pun intended!) life.
Life Hack #1: Search for it until you find it
“I enjoy the learning process. I’m a lifelong learner. So that’s partly responsible for all the different things that I’ve tried. I’m not afraid to try something and then say that’s not for me,” Bataoel explains.
However, this flexibility wasn’t always a good thing. As an undergrad, Bataoel struggled to direct his love of learning in productive ways.
“I was doing terribly in my coursework. I probably had the record for the most interlibrary loans at the university library. Every week I would have stacks of books ordered from the library, but none of them had anything to do with my studies,” Bataoel recalls. “At the time, I was reading volumes on neuroscience, consciousness, and quantum physics but then taking basic classes like Intro to Biology. I was the worst student in the world and I lacked practical focus.”
Enter Wayne Teasdale, a wide-eyed Tibetan monk and Visiting Professor at DePaul University.
Teasdale’s obscure course “Mystical Consciousness in the 21st Century” was a perfect fit for Vincent, and the two became friends. “I remember doing this report in his class about EEG, EKG, and human potential and I remember thinking, ‘That’s my field.’ Wayne and I hung around a lot and talked about quantum physics, neuroscience, and human potential. No one else was talking about this stuff there. He was kind of my initiator, in a way, into this world of meditation.”
Not long after meeting Teasdale, Vincent found himself typing “unified field and consciousness” into Google.
“Everyone wonders, ‘How did you come up with those two search terms?’ but this was totally my thought process at the time: I want to learn about those two things, consciousness and the unified field.”
The first result to come up was the homepage of Maharishi University of Management (MUM) in Fairfield, Iowa.
“There was a brain lab and quantum physics undergraduate program there. Everything on the site was talking about health, human potential, and consciousness. I knew it was the place for me.”
So, following his heart, and the Google search algorithms, Vincent packed up his car and headed to MUM.
Life Hack #2: Tame the monkey mind
A little while into his studies at MUM, the university disbanded the quantum physics undergraduate program. “I was kind of heartbroken,” says Bataoel, “and I was left with two science-related options: math or environmental science. I chose the latter because there was a cute girl in those classes.”
The Environmental Science program at MUM in which Bataoel decided to enroll not only paved the path to a successful consulting company but also was where he met his future wife and co-founder of Above Green, Nelina Loiselle.
“I was still a terrible student at MUM. I wanted to do everything on my own.” Luckily for Bataoel, the head of the Environmental Science Department, David Fisher, let him complete independent studies for course credit. “If it wasn’t for Fisher, I’d probably still be working on my degree,” said Bataoel. “He let me pave my own way.”
During his independent studies, Bataoel decided to become an expert in LEED Certification. He completed the certification program and received the LEED Accredited Professional credential.
“I would never have imagined that I would go to MUM out of interest in these obscure subjects like the unified field and consciousness and wind up in the most practical and applied field possible,” he says. Bataoel is grateful for how everything fell into place.
“What I ended up studying was so practical and mundane and tangible. There’s nothing more real than a building.”
It also helped that at MUM, all students learn Transcendental Meditation and practice it twice a day.
“I had such an active mind. I needed something to settle it down. TM was very effective for that. TM sharpened my mind to a point where it could be intentionally directed. It was like before I had no control over where my attention went. Now I felt like I had control over where I wanted my thoughts to go, rather than just following the monkey mind wherever it wanted to go.”
Life Hack #3: Pick up the phone and make that call
Having become a LEED Accredited Professional as an environmental science student, Bataoel had to take a plunge into unknown waters to jumpstart his consulting career.
“My wife Nelina and I were in the library, and she said, ‘There’s a new business in town called Cambridge Investments building a new building, I think they might be interested; give them a call.’ So I did. I just picked up the phone and asked them if they were interested in consulting.”
The company invited Bataoel over and interviewed him as a consultant for their project.
“They put their faith in me, and that was the project that started Above Green.”
Even though it took a lot of determination for the couple to deliver, their first project was a success. Getting new clients on board after the initial smooth takeoff, however, turned out to be a challenge.
“We struggled selling a professional service to people who were not our peers. We were two 20-somethings with almost no past project experience trying to sell thousand-dollar consulting services to professionals 2–3 times our age. We sold most of our first clients on the basis of a well-written email. We asked for their business and they signed up. Then when they met us, they were often surprised. I remember hearing one guy say to his boss, ‘There’s a bunch of kids in here to see you.’”
Yet the couple persevered despite setbacks, making some difficult choices along the way.
“One of the jobs we sold was with an architecture company building a LEED Certified Warrior Training facility for the Marine Corps in Virginia. So we decided to move to Middleburg, Virginia, to find more business and keep it going. It was a tough call as we both love the Fairfield and MUM community, but we took a chance. Sometimes you just have to take that chance.”
Life Hack #4. Find what works for you to reduce your stress
It has helped that both Bataoel and his wife have kept practicing Transcendental Meditation – a well-proven tool for increasing one’s resilience.
“We meditate every day. It’s an important part of our personal lifestyle, but also our business lifestyle. We’ve tried to infuse the principles of being stress free and relaxed into our company. Two of our team members are also MUM graduates who meditate. Upon an employee’s one-year anniversary with Above Green, we offer them the opportunity to learn TM. It’s a great tool to have in the toolbox.”
The website of Above Green says “Stress-Free Consulting,” and Bataoel and Loiselle really mean it.
“We’ve made this effort to have a company that is built on the concept of a healthy lifestyle. Nowadays, when people are so stressed out, it’s increasingly important. So besides offering employees the chance to learn TM, our office is LEED Gold certified. This means that the air is of good quality, it’s efficient in its energy use, and the materials that have been used are non-toxic.”
“Often we focus only on the career aspect, making money and defining success in that way, but I think that success is broader than that,” Bataoel says in summing up his approach to life.
“I think that whatever your occupation, hobby, or passion is, there are a few things that are fundamental: getting sleep, eating well, exercising, and meditating. I think that meditation piece is just a basic part of everyday hygiene that I would recommend to anyone.”
Life Hack #5: Set goals and always keep moving
As of today, ten years from its founding, Above Green is thriving.
“We’ll be celebrating our 100th project, and we now have thirteen on our team. Just by sticking with it, we finally had enough experience, knowledge, and relationships to turn it into a business.
“Working as a team—Nelina and I—definitely helped a lot. When one person would have doubts, the other person would say, ‘Let’s just stick with it.’ And then we’d reverse the roles. Having a good partner to balance things out was incredibly useful,” Bataoel recalls.
“It is important to plan for your success. We are often too driven by short-term results, putting out fires, and dealing with little emergencies. I get too wrapped up in that too. It’s just so important to think about what you want, make a plan, and stick with it. Too often we get distracted by the little dramas or the things that we can’t control, but what we have to realize is that if we want to get what we want out of this life, then we have to focus on what we can impact, make a plan, and execute it. It’s okay if you have to change your plan; the important thing is to make goals and keep it going.”