Mental Wellbeing in a Start-Up
"I had this idea, easily built this product that customers love and then had investors falling over me," said no founder. Ever. Overcoming the inherent inertial associated with breaking new ground and innovating requires isn't a stable experience.”
Certainly a thought-provoking statement from a Huckletree member. So, we’re investigating how founders can keep mind and soul together, to have it all – mental wellbeing and a startup. Tactics include startlingly cold showers, mindfulness, walks in nature and boxing until you feel the burn.
We invited 3 founders – a subscription yoga channel founder, a meditation advocate spreading mindfulness via her jewellery, as well as Huckletree member, Hamish Grierson, Co-founder and CEO of Thriva, a smart finger-prick blood tests you take at home – to step up to share their wellbeing techniques.
The steps 3 founders take to support mental wellbeing
Have a wellbeing toolkit and use it
Thriva CEO, Hamish, explains how he’s worked hard to develop a mental and physical toolkit to rely on when things get hard. The challenge, he shares, is finding sufficient resolve to remember to use the toolkit!
“There's no doubt that deciding to control your own destiny comes with a unique set of challenges and opportunities. And you don't have to look very hard to find signs of the strains that startup life can place on founders. However, something that doesn't get talked about much is that being a founder is a very visceral, very real experience.”
“Highs and lows come thick and fast but the one constant is that you're 100% connected to the experience. Something I think founders thrive on that provides a baseline level of fulfilment irrespective of the achievements.”
Organiser of yoga sessions and head of a team famous (inside Huckletree walls) for eating healthily and working out, Hamish tells all. On maintaining mental wellbeing, Hamish said: “I'm going to shamelessly steal a brilliant concept from Tony Robbins: ‘Stay in your head. You're dead.’”
“The intellectual in all of us believes that we can think our way out of a tough time that is proving mentally challenging. In reality though, our bodies can have an enormous impact on how we think and therefore feel.”
“In my case, I'll use some/all of the following:
1) Go boxing until my arms are on fire
2) Have a generative coaching session
3) Flip the shower to cold for the last 30 seconds (something I now do every day)”
Founder advice: a “productivity freak” with a remote team
Kat Farrants, founder of Movement for Modern Life, an online yoga subscription channel, talks about being a success without sacrificing wellbeing. She operates with a remote team from her countryside home, having left the legal profession behind her. And a yoga mat – naturally – is Kat’s go-to place when it’s time to switch off.
“I love having a remote team – yes, there are challenges, but I am a productivity freak – so I just like to focus and work, when I’m working, and then switch off with a yoga practice or training my dogs. But to be honest, I work throughout the day every day - I don’t really do ‘days off’, I do time off, hours off. Because I love my work!”
“Just running MFML is a massive success because my quality of life is so good and the journey is such fun for me. I think it’s really important to run a business which fits into the life which you want right now.”
To support founders, Kat’s shared a 25% discount with Huckletree readers. Use offer code MOVEMORE25 at https://movementformodernlife.com
Improve your focus with mindfulness
Yoga and meditation is said to enhance mindful attention. You’re asked to notice where your feet and hands rest on the mat, to notice the inhale and exhale of the breath and the rise and fall of thoughts in final resting pose or savasana.
Mindfulness can prompt us to view the world differently – to view issues as opportunities, for example – and to question our responses to stress. Perhaps snuffing out bad habits when a breathing practice would be more helpful.
What's more, mindfulness can also alter the way we see and treat ourselves: helping us surrender control and let the challenges of the day pass, not being consumed by worry and losing sleep.
Veroniek Vermeulen, founder of The Silatha Journey, Jewelry for meditation, promotes a morning routine including meditation, list making and letting it all go every evening, by emptying her my mind of work.
“Startups could eat all your time and life balance would be hard to find. For me, it's very important that my life does not only consist of working. Even though, my work is flowing, my passion. To me it's important to see the people I love, travel, do my sports, my meditation and time for me. It creates space. It's like 'by taking of the pressure off great ideas to spark' they come when you let go.”