How top founders deal with stress: Part two

As we discussed last week, stress is a big factor in all our lives.

According to the American Institute of Stress (AIS), forty-four percent of Americans feel more stressed than they did five years ago, while ten percent of strokes are caused by work-related stress.

The AIS breaks down the main causes of workplace stress as: forty-six percent workload, twenty-eight percent people issues, twenty percent juggling work and personal life, and six percent lack of job security.

All of those issues seem to embody the stereotypes of Silicon Valley. The high-pressure startup world is known for pushing people over the edge. Still, it is interesting that the AIS will not compile a list of the most stressful jobs because, as they point out, “It is not the job but the person-environment fit that matters.”

There are many personality types that thrive in boiler room environments. Many of the world’s top founders deal with stress on a daily basis and manage to handle it just fine. We had so many founders happy to talk to us about this topic that we couldn’t fit it into just one article.

So, without further ado, here is part two of how top founders deal with stress.

Jamee Natella, founder & executive producer, Blueyed Pictures
Jamee Natella - Blue Eyed Pictures
“My favorite way to manage stress is to blast a Spotify tune and ‘Run, Forrest! Run!’ I go through phases of the tunes I listen to. I am really into Stereophonics and Sia right now. Otherwise, I try to delegate some of my “to-do” list to others. “Simplify” should be my middle name.”

Jake Goldman, founder & president, 10up
Jake Goldman - 10up
@jakemgold, @10up
“I carve out spaces in my calendar for discrete “focus time” so I have a little bit of flex time each week to catch up on a backlog, brainstorm some bigger picture challenges, or even catch my breath and relax. If I don’t force myself to carve out discrete time for “me” during the day, my calendar will quickly fill up [as I rush] between back-to-back meetings and the regular grind that can consume my day.”

Fred Simon, co-founder & chief architect, JFrog
Fred Simon - JFrog
@jfrog, @freddy33
“Is the answer, ‘I don’t. I’m overwhelmed by it!’ acceptable? Frankly, going back to coding is a big stress reliever for me.”

Paula Tompkins, founder & CEO, ChannelNet
Paula Tompkins - ChannelNet
“I really love what I do. Work in itself recharges me. Though, you have to be careful that you do not burn yourself out. Everyone needs a little down time to recharge to make sure you have the presence to handle the curves and the crises. My favorite way to totally relax is to soak the stress away in my hot tub. It lowers your blood pressure and is a heart-smart workout without the effort.”

Eren Niazi, founder & CEO, Open Source Storage
Eren Niaza - Open Source Storage
“Being an entrepreneur/visionary/CEO is incredibly stressful. In fact, some of the greatest stress that I have ever experienced was during the time crunch when I was building/transitioning the core infrastructure of Facebook to Open Source Storage.

“The practice of meditation became an incredibly useful tool to help recenter myself. I have always been fascinated with the human body and its ability to allow us to free our minds and channel our energy into another dimension, thus allowing us to recharge our mind and spirit.”

Parag Mamnani, founder & CEO, Webgility
Parag Mamnani - Webgility
“My go-to tactic is finding silence or taking a walk. I’m most stressed when I have so much on my mind, so many ideas, so many directions to go in, that I feel frozen. Unplugging from everything, finding a quiet place, or taking a walk enables me to untangle the web of thoughts and emerge with concrete next steps to get me back on track.”

Yngve Tvedt, founder & senior partner, Norselab
YngveTvedt - Norselab
Norselab on Facebook
“Be on top of your mailbox/slack channels, et cetera. If it starts to flow over, reset and reorganize. Stay healthy (mental and physical), including spending time with family and friends. Always strive to delegate tasks to the team around you. The trick is to build efficient checking processes, so you stay on top of what’s going on without stepping into the tasks yourself.”

Jon Carder, founder, Mogl
Jon Carder - Mogl
“Morning routine: I wake up at six, spend an hour chillin’ in bed thinking my way through the biggest challenges we face. Then I do a seven-minute workout. Then I shower, warm first, then a minute or so of cold to get the blood flowing. Then I do a ten-minute meditation using Headspace. After this I’m ready to take on the world.”

Xavier Vaucois, founder, General Internet
“Pressure is good because it forces me to focus on what is important. In the past, I was suffering from pressure because I did not know that it was a natural and positive process to make me progress. Now, it’s different; I drive myself knowing that pressure will go up and down as a cycle, like a sine wave. My concern is not to avoid it but generate it when I will be in the best position to handle it. Instead of fearing it, I generate it to make big steps, surfing on the wave. It’s important to listen to your environment, identify, and follow the curve.

“This is a bit tricky as you need to control the level of pressure on you, your family, and your colleagues. The most important thing is to be on the same page with your environment. Of course, sometimes the pressure is really too high. Then I take a break, look at the situation, and push hard in a direction to change the curve. Sometimes, it’s too low and then I increase it to achieve great results.”

Michael Malone, founder & CEO, Datashield
“I think you have to manage both the mental and the physical parts of stress. Everyone has their go-to solutions and for me the physical/mental solutions are yoga and golf. They both use the body and the mind and help you be in the moment and focused.”

Alex Racioppi, founder & CEO, The Collective
“For me, stress is typically the result of having too much to do in too little time or at least perceiving that I do. As an entrepreneur or business owner, unexpected issues of varying importance are constantly being thrown at you, which can be overwhelming if you can’t prioritize. Like packing your trunk for a road trip, you’re never going to fit everything in if you don’t lay it all out and start with the big stuff first. That’s exactly what I do when stress takes hold. I throw everything I need to do on the floor (or more likely on a piece of paper) and grab the big stuff first.”


Last week we listed a number of resources to help you deal with stress. Here are a few more to help you deal with whatever life throws your way:

  • MindTools: This site offers a set of tools and strategies to deal with different types of stress.
  • Different Kinds of Stress: This is a breakdown from the American Psychological Association showing the different types of stress that can affect your day-to-day life.
  • Fact Sheet on Stress: The National Institute of Mental Health provides some helpful points on how stress impacts our mental and physical health, as well as tips on how to deal with it.
  • Relax Melodies: Everyone needs a good night’s sleep and not getting enough rest has been shown to increase stress levels. This app helps you relax before bedtime and get the much-needed shut-eye you deserve.
  • Happify: Eighty-six percent of frequent users report becoming happier two months after using this app.
Tyler Trumbull

Ty splits his time between Canada and Mexico. He’s been writing for Gigster since early 2016 where he really enjoys learning and sharing clients’ stories. He plays banjo in one of Mexico’s only country bands, wishes he could write like Thomas Pynchon, and is generally a fan of the Oxford comma.