About

Ariel Banayan

“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who come alive.”

– Rev. Dr. Howard Thurman

Hey! My name is Ari and I’m one of the Habit Nest co-founders.

So my name is Ari and I’m part of a startup company dedicated to helping people incorporate healthy lifestyle habits into their every day living, but I guess that doesn’t really tell you who I am at all.

Mikey Ahdoot

Some Background Information

I was born and raised in Los Angeles, CA. I’m 26 years old, I have two brothers who are both 25 (they’re twins) that I’m extremely close with, parents that I don’t feel the need to hide anything from because I consider them my best friends, the perfect girlfriend, amazing friends and a big extended family I’m lucky to have great relationships with.

Some Banayan brother cuddling and a pool party with my beautiful girlfriend.

When I was born I had a heart condition called a Ventricular Septal Defect. In English - a small hole that separates the two lower chambers of the heart. I underwent open heart surgery when I was one-year-old to repair the defect. A microscopic leak in one of the valves connecting to my heart remained after the surgery, but it was completely normal and never adversely affected my life.

Me when I was 1 (1991)!

The Big Move

When I was 15 years old my family moved to Tel-Aviv, Israel. That initial move was one of the more difficult experiences I’ve gone through for all the ordinary reasons. I didn’t speak Hebrew, I had no friends, and I was leaving “my life” behind. In reality, the move was the best thing that could have happened at that point in my life.

  • My family formed a closer bond than we could have ever imagined to have had we stayed in L.A.

  • If you’ve ever been to Israel, you know how safe it is (contrary to what most people think) and how much freedom younger kids and teenagers enjoy there.

  • It opened my eyes to an entirely new culture, mindset, and set of values.

Growing up I was obsessed with basketball. Basketball took priority over school work and all other aspects of my life. I played ceaselessly and trained extremely hard from the age of 5. Basketball was how I adapted to life in Israel, how I made my first friends, which helped me learn the language. I played the first three years of high school as a starting point guard. I’m 5’6, but I was a baller!

The News That Changed My Life

When I was 17 and entering my senior year of high school I went to do my annual physical for the club team I played on – Hapoel Tel-Aviv - I received some news that drastically changed my life. Remember that microscopic leak in one of the valves of my heart after my open-heart surgery?

An ultrasound revealed that the leak had expanded and that although it wasn’t dangerous, it could potentially become dangerous if I continued to exert myself in my training. I was told that I could no longer play sports competitively.

When I say I didn’t stop crying for almost a month, I mean it literally. As silly as it seems now, I was heart-broken. It was the most important thing in my life. I had no idea how I would spend my time, how to focus my attention, and I felt like I was shoved into a vortex of meaninglessness. I also gained a lot of weight.

Everything changed for me when I started to focus my attention in my school-work. I felt like I had no choice but to put my discipline into doing well in school and thinking about my future. For the first time, I realized that I was a lot more intelligent than I previously thought of myself. I always thought of myself as not being school smart, but I quickly found out how inaccurate that image was. That realization was an extremely important one for me because I was slapped in the face with the understanding that if I could put the discipline and work I did into basketball into anything else, I could literally do anything.

Around the same time, I also came across the book, “How to Win Friends & Influence People” by Dale Carnegie. I always hated reading (probably more accurate to say I never gave reading a chance) but for some miraculous reason I opened this book and just started it. The way it changed my thinking about approach communication and relationships brought me to the realization that reading and receiving new ideas was the only way to expand our minds and change how we ordinarily think.

I haven’t put a book down since. This book led to many others, especially in the self-help arena at first. It’s also when I fell in love with habits. I realized that my mind worked best in the mornings, so waking up early to do my studying became an important part of my life.

As a result of my weight gain, I also started exploring alternate ways to exercise and keep healthy. My mom was my first teacher on healthy food, and I realized that I could get a lot of the ‘high’ I got from basketball through body-weight training (and later on, weight-lifting).

College, Law School & Habit Nest

When I was 18 I came back to L.A. and started attending Santa Monica College (community college). I transferred to the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) after two years and received a degree in History in 2013.

I was set to start Law School immediately at the University of Southern California Gould School of Law (USC).

The summer before I started law school was an important one because I spent the entire summer reading with my dad in our home in Israel. My dad is an avid reader and is very much into all different types of disciplines and subjects. For over 40 years he’s been studying all forms of religion, different scientific disciplines, communication, relationships… basically everything.

We spent most of every day reading and talking together about different ideas in a number of different areas of life, and at the end of that summer my eyes had been opened to what seemed like an infinite amount of possible knowledge and understanding. I was hooked on learning and growing.

That is when meditation started to become a big part of my life. My existing ideas of idea of what personal growth and development could mean was completely reformed.

In my second year of law school is when Mikey, Amir and I came together to start working on Habit Nest. The idea started with Mikey’s concept for a mobile application to help people alter their habits with practical information and guidance. As we explored building the application and developing a more well-rounded business, we each got more and more serious about creating a real company based on this idea.

Even though I was in law school, Habit Nest (what was then called Every Damn Day) became my primary focus. I ended up doing a program in tax law at New York University in 2016-2017 to give myself a year to see where I saw Habit Nest going before making a decision on which direction to take my career in. After we launched our first legitimate product – The Morning Sidekick Journal – I came to a deeper understanding about what we were really beginning in this self-help space, and I came to a firm belief that I could also make a career out of it.

I left a lot of money, comfort and stability on the table by foregoing a career in law, but I’ve never thought twice about my decision.

My passion has become my own perpetual growth, and learning to help others who are on their own paths to creating the changes they themselves know they want through my writing.

I’m on a mission to change the way the world thinks about personal development and growth.

My Core Lifestyle Habits:

  • Wake up anywhere from 4-5 a.m.
  • Read for 1-2 hours every day
  • Meditation for 30 minutes
  • Eat healthy (at the very least eat all the vegetables and fruits I need)
  • Workout 6 times a week
  • Choose a topic (or question) to think deeply about for 1-2 hours a week

Fun Fact About me:

My nipples are smaller than a penny!

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