Minimizing Startup Stress

Entrepreneurship takes a toll on your mind and body– a UC Berkeley study found that 72% of entrepreneurs self-reported mental health concerns. That’s not shocking considering the long hours, uncertainty, and everything else that comes with the job, but why are we sacrificing our well-being for our business? Is it possible to achieve professional success without compromising personal boundaries and free time? 

“Something wonderful happens when you delegate responsibilities, not just tasks.”

Colin C. Campbell

Pinpointing Stressors 

Not all stress is bad; sometimes it’s the motivation to meet a deadline or ask for a promotion. Even excitement can manifest in anxiety, so being able to identify the cause helps manage and even prevent stressful times.   

“Don’t create an artificial emergency out of nothing,” Michele advises. Things aren’t always going to go according to plan in business, and reaction is everything. Deadlines will be missed and plenty of mistakes will be made, so there’s no use in going full-panic mode every time. Creating a solution-oriented team rather than a team afraid of making mistakes fosters innovation and creativity, ultimately leading to growth and employee satisfaction. 

Controlling What We Can

The key to entrepreneurship is prioritizing and delegating– business is a team sport, so it doesn’t make sense to spend time doing what you’re not great at. Plus, an entrepreneur’s to-do list is neverending, so focusing on fewer, more important tasks ends up yielding better results. 

“Something wonderful happens when you delegate responsibilities, not just tasks.” Colin C. Campbell 

A large part of delegation is working with a competent and trustworthy team, letting you step away and manage other tasks without worry. It also lets you prioritize what requires your attention and action versus tasks that can be handed off, clearing valuable time on a busy calendar.

Coping with Startup Stress

It’s difficult for entrepreneurs to step away from their passion, especially during trying times, but it’s crucial to create “tools” to manage and keep work stress at bay. Knowing the causes, having preventative and reactive measures in place, and keeping a supportive circle makes the rollercoaster of startups more fun. 

If you’re often feeling underprepared, meet more regularly with your team to plan and track KPIs. If your stress comes from handing control or stepping away, implement systems to prevent and manage any mistakes for peace of mind. Most importantly, sign off and be present after work– research shows that taking vacation time is associated with a greater sense of purpose at work, higher productivity, and better morale. Michael pointed out how crucial it is to create time for personal development, noting that as you grow yourself, your business grows too. 

Check out the full discussion above for more about managing small business stress!

  • Read the Transcript

    The Complete Entrepreneur – EP44: Minimizing Startup Stress

    [00:00:00] Hey, Jeff. How you doing? I’m doing good. If you could invite Michele up, that would be great. This is the Complete Entrepreneur, and it’s gonna be a very interesting show today. We are on Startup Club. Startup Club has almost 900,000 members. If you can believe that it’s such an achievement to see how big this club has grown and what we’ve achieved over the last year, we’re hoping to crack a million members.

    So if you’re listening to this show in the now or in in the, on the website or in a recording, please join our club. It’s really fun and we have a lot of great speakers. We also have an email list on Where you can sign up to. And I’m not gonna tell you the author, but we have a really big author who’s coming on next month.

    And [00:01:00] if you wanna know about that, you really do need to sign up to that mailing list we’ve had on the founder of Reebok. We’ve had on many serial entrepreneurs, billionaires we’ve had on many authors, and you’re not gonna know about it unless you sign up to that mailing list. All right, Michael is back and he is our host for the Complete Entrepreneur.

    And I know today we’re talking about the mental challenges of being an entrepreneur, of running your startup. And I have a study that I’d like to talk a little bit about. Michael, if you gimme a few minutes when you have a chance, not a problem. Can you guys hear me? Cuz I’m right now in an Uber in Boston.

    and get into a hotel. So loud and clear. Loud and clear. And I will say that Michele and I, fantastic. Michele and I are coming from a remote island in the Gulf of Mexico and we just got starlink installed about three hours ago, and it sounds like it’s [00:02:00] working out really well. It’s phenomenal.

    It’s such a game changer to be able to be in a remote part of the world and then actually be able to have high speed internet. It’s amazing. Absolutely amazing. Fantastic. It’s incredible the world we live in. Anyway yes, I, my name is Michael Gilmore and you are listening to The Complete Entrepreneur, and this is where we take a look at not only the business aspects of being an entrepreneur, but the life of an entrepreneur.

    And it’s great to have you all here with us today. And we’re discussing a really interesting topic. And is stress of your startup killing you? Is stress of your startup killing you? Because there’s one thing for certain is that stress is real and it has physical ramifications to it, that’s for sure.

    And just to tell a brief story, I remember many years ago I’d go, I’d periodically get. I would just get sick and one day I was sitting up in bed, the family had gone out somewhere and I was laid up in bed and [00:03:00] and I began to write my to-do list. And I had three or four pages of to do items with two columns back and front of all the things I had to do and really hit me then that I thought, boy I’m doing way too much here and this is really what’s causing me to get sick.

    And so I began to make some big changes to my life and huge changes in fact. And as an entrepreneur, I began to realize that. This is not good for me, it’s not also good for my business. So that’s an example of it and of what it means that some stress will have physical ramifications of upon your life as an entrepreneur.

    And let me tell you, when you get sick because of the amount of work say you’re doing or the stress you’re under and things like that, it’s not good for you and it’s not good for your business. Yeah. I just wanna hand it back to Colin. You had something you said you [00:04:00] really wanted to share and but actually just before we do, Colin, sorry.

    If you are in the audience and you are there and you’re saying, gee, this is resonating with me, this topic, I’m under so much stress right now. Like, how do you guys solve that in your businesses and your lives? Then stick up your. We’d love to invite you up on stage. Or if you’re sitting there going, gee, I’ve got a, a great idea that I did, it really helped me out.

    Then once again, we’d love to have you up on stage. So in the meantime, Colin, I’ll hand it back across to yourself. Oh, that’s great, Michael. And by the way, I just shared the room on Clubhouse, and if you’re on the stage or you’re in the audience and you think that this topic is important, and I know we don’t talk about this a lot when it comes to startup club and startups.

    We’re all super strong. We’re all like these, we’re these icons that just keep producing. But the fact of the matter is we’re human and we do get stressed, and I know there’s other people who would like to hear about this. So that bot [00:05:00] button on the bottom, second to the right is a shared button.

    Please share the room. And I think that there’s a lot of people who could benefit from it. So I don’t know if you know this, Michael, I think I’ve told you, I’ve been writing a book. I signed a publishing deal with Forbes. Last year, and we pretty much had the, the first version is almost complete, the draft version.

    And one of the chapters is dedicated to what you’re trying to do here on the Complete Entrepreneur, which is really the mental state of entrepreneurs. And I came across a study done by uc, Berkeley, and Michael Freeman was the person who pioneered the study. I actually reached out to him, Michele did today, and we’re seeing, we can’t get him on the show or on the club to talk about this, but entrepreneurs, 49% of entrepreneurs have reported one or more lifetime mental health conditions, 30% depression.

    Michael [00:06:00] adhd, 29%. And I always knew ADHD was a talent, not a disorder, by the way. I’ve always known that, but 29%, this is one in three entrepreneurs have depression, one in three have adhd. Substance use conditions, 12% Bipolar? Yes. Bipolar 11%. So you can see that there are these mental challenges and they compared it to non entrepreneurs and found that 67% of, I’m sorry, 49% I mentioned of entrepreneurs had mental health conditions.

    Only 32% of non entrepreneurs have mental health conditions. So what’s going on here? What is it that this startup is doing to us? To, to that, that, that gets us to a point where we need to open another bottle of wine and, deal with our stress through that. Or I don’t know, what is it [00:07:00] these entrepreneurs have that’s causing all of this damage?

    And if we can acknowledge it and understand it, how can we address it, Michael?

    Yeah, it’s an interesting thing. Now I was reading this very similar study on this actually, Colin, and the fact that there’s just so much that happens, I guess mental energy goes into to launching a business. I think of my own entrepreneurial journey when I started my first business when I was 16.

    And it was a big effort as a 16 year old and it just moved on from there and all that sort of stuff. And one of the things I found was that stress didn’t go away. You didn’t suddenly find that even with, I dunno how many years now, it’s 40 years later. It’s not 40 years later. All the stress has gone away and everything is good.

    I know how to handle this all the time. Cause there’s times in my car business where, [00:08:00] hey, you know what, you’re under stress. And it’s how to handle that stress though. Which is, which can be challenging at times. Like for instance, we had a, I had a very big deal to do yesterday as an example.

    And so I was up at 4:00 AM in the morning. Cause you know what? I just couldn’t sleep. I woke up and I thought I just may as well get to work. So I got to work at 4:00 AM in the morning. Yeah. And that happens still even 40 years of being an entrepreneur with Pardon? How many businesses over those years?

    And it does occur column and It can be a challenge. That’s for sure. But I think that, I can’t believe how many times, Michael, I’ve been up at 3:00 AM and you can’t fall asleep cuz you’re thinking about this or thinking about that or thinking about this, and it’s just unbelievable.

    And when everything’s going really well, I sleep really well. When things are not going well I’m up and I’ve been up like a lot in the last few weeks, just given all my companies and where we’re at. But it’s, it doesn’t go [00:09:00] away. And I don’t, that’s not right. How do we handle this?

    We’re not doing this right. Yeah it’s, there’s an interesting one though. I think it’s a, there’s an aspect of entrepreneurs trying to control something that in some instances you can’t control. And I must admit, I said to one of the team my team, I said, look, what you gotta do is divide from the things that you can control and things you can’t control.

    Things you can control. You make sure they’re nailed down and things you can’t control. Then you go along and you work away at those issues. And that’s the way I find I, it helps me manage the stress as such, is that I use this example like, the what’s his name? The actor in the Martian.

    He said Matt Damon said, yeah, you solve one problem at a time and then you get to go home. Or as entrepreneurs, we solve one problem at a time and then you’re able to go and be successful or you achieve your goal, achieve that [00:10:00] vision, or secure that kind or develop a business relationship, yet you just sell one at a time.

    And and I think that’s one of the things that I’ve realized over the years is that, you know what you need to work out though. Which problems you should be working on and which problems you also shouldn’t be working on. And when I was laid up in bed that time I had a really bad cold and everything cuz my immune system was completely shot to the way I was abusing myself basically.

    And I realized I was working on a whole lot of things I shouldn’t be working on that I should have been doing is basically hanging across a lot of things I was doing to other people. Yes, they won’t do it as well as you can because they’re not as immersed in, in what you’re doing as much as you are as an entrepreneur.

    But you know what? That takes it off your plate. And was it three days ago? I had one me member of my team in one of my businesses and and I actually said to him, do you honestly think I want [00:11:00] to put more things on my plate? I don’t. I said, I wanna move them off my plate. So if you could take this off my plate, then I’m very happy to hand that across to you.

    And I think you used the term all the time, handle hand responsibility for something over. Don’t just hand tasks. Yeah. So that’s the, that’s interesting. Interesting. Your taught is delegate responsibilities, not tasks. And that’s one thing that can help you sleep better at night. Because we don’t realize, as entrepreneurs, when we’re responsible for every piece of that business that we’re, we don’t just stop thinking about it.

    It’s three o’clock in the morning, and we’re thinking about, do we make the payroll done or do we do I get the facilities management cleaned? Oh, we’re thinking of these things. But something wonderful happens when you delegate responsibilities and not just tasks. Yeah, I agree with you Colin.

    It makes a big difference. Sorry Jeff, I’ll hand it [00:12:00] across to you in a second. I agree with you on that. It’s about the delegation of responsibilities and I find many entrepreneurs fall into the habit of delegating tasks versus responsibilities. And by delegating responsibilities, you’re actually taking something off your plate.

    And that’s a thing that I think I particularly over the last probably few years, I really focused on is and really came down to the value of my time. And there’s another thing, I should put a spin on this, Colin, for you, and then we’ll come to Jeff and that is, yeah, I got up at 4:00 AM in the morning, but it wasn’t necessarily because I was stressed out of my mind at the 4:00 AM in the morning.

    I was stressed cause I was so excited about the opportunity. That’s why it’s a different type of stress. Not making, be able to make payroll is a completely different stress compared to being excited about an opportunity. Not making payroll is a hideous [00:13:00] place to be in. Securing a really big opportunity is a fabulous place to be.

    And you can still get excited and not sleep in that sort of stuff in both those circumstances and it impacts your health in different ways. But I just wanna come back to you, Jeff, though. You, and then we’ll come down to G. So few things. First of all, I don’t act, I actually don’t agree that delegating responsibilities is gonna help you relieve stress because del you’re still gonna be stressed potentially over making sure and worrying about whether the people you’ve delegated to are going to actually accomplish those tasks.

    And you’re still gonna have to keep an eye on them and inspect what you expect. So I think, while that’s a, I think it’s a very important practice to delegate responsibilities, not tests. I’m not sure if it’s something that’s going to necessarily reduce stress as we’re talking about today. I think he sticks in for a fight.

    He sticks in for a fight. I think it’s, I think it’s, oh I’m, we got the boxing gloves on here. . [00:14:00] I don’t think it’s related to the stress, right? Cause there’s stress when people, when you have a bigger team, and even if they all have their responsibilities and you’re the founder of the ceo, you’re, or the department head or whatever, you’re still gonna have a lot of stress potentially over the team doing their jobs.

    But back to the issue of stress itself and I’m, look, I’ve been doing this, been in business for over 40 years, and it’s, and now I’m finally, after 40 years, getting a lot better at managing my own stress. And that’s two things I wanna mention that I think are important to help you manage your stress as an entrepreneur.

    Number one, dopamine is a stress. Technically. That’s what it does. That’s why we like dopamine hits. Partially I think, and I’m not a doctor or a scientist, but from my readings and experience, I think that’s the case. So we get a dopamine hit when we complete a task. I think multitasking is a stress creator.

    And being mindful, being in the moment, learning to stay focused on a single task until it’s [00:15:00] completed is a skill that will become a stress reliever. And it’s hard to do. I struggle with this on a daily basis. I sit down in front of the computer, I get lost in my inbox. I get bombarded by emails.

    A new email comes in, I stop what I’m doing, pay attention, drop that jumping back and forth. That creates. What I’m trying to do on a daily basis is ignore those emails and check off on my list. Something that I’m gonna do and complete. And I’m not gonna interrupt myself with emails or anything else until I complete this task that’s been sitting on my list.

    And then I get that nice shot of dopamine for having completed something. And it’s a stress reliever. So learning how to be in the moment, be present and stay focused on whatever you’re doing. If you’re in a meeting, close your laptop. Pay attention to the meeting. Don’t sit in a meeting and be daydreaming and stressing out about 10 other things you have to do.

    Or sneaking a look at your phone for text messages or sneaking a look at your email instead of the presentation that you’re [00:16:00] supposed to be looking at. And I’m guilty of all of these things and I’m trying to stop doing them cuz I believe those things contribute greatly to stress. The second thing I’ll mention, and then I’ll shut up, is.

    The the first was just objecting to what you guys said, but , the last thing is, another thing that’s been super helpful for me in terms of managing stress is having a morning routine. In other words, when you wake up in the morning, instead of, diving in to the stress of the day, have two or three or four things that you do every single morning.

    That’s your morning routine. And you can do them whether you’re home, whether you’re traveling in a hotel room, whether you’re visiting family or friends. Just when you wake up in the morning, have a set morning routine. And that could include a lot of different things that also help with stress. For example, my morning routine includes waking up, meditating.

    I’ve been practicing TM for 45 years. I meditate in the morning, then I exercise, and then I write in a journal in a daily journal. And those four things I will do every [00:17:00] morning no matter what, no matter where I am, no matter what I’m doing. And that gives you this sense of. Routine and clarity and purpose, and it helps start the day stress free for me, but I know a lot of people believe it.

    And I’ll be quiet. So let me ask you a question, Jeff. How much sleep did I lose this week because of Good Morning America? Zero. Yeah, you shouldn’t have, I’m not saying you lost seat. Because you’re, you were responsible. You’re the CMO of It was a great segment. You hit it outta the park again like you always do.

    Did I think about it? I almost never even thought about it. I didn’t, honestly. And that’s what I’m talking about here. I’m simply talking about trusting the people around you. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’ve said I, I, we have 10 companies in our incubator, right? And I’m, sometimes one or two companies are just falling apart and that’s stressing the heck outta me.

    And I’m not sleeping, and I’m, then I have to jump in and deal with it. But if we have competent people, [00:18:00] Delegating responsibilities does reduce stress. And I just, I think I just proved it there with the gma, good Morning America that you did this week. I don’t know, I stress out over what people are doing on my team sometimes, so maybe it’s just me.

    Yeah, I think it’s an interesting thing. And I’d like to jump down to Gantz. Gantz, what’s your thoughts on this topic of stress and how do you manage stress, say in your business? It’s great to have you on the complete entrepreneur. Yeah. Thanks for having me. There’s definitely, I was just listening to all your guys tips and, a hundred percent agree with everything.

    Definitely like payroll and that kind of stress is a huge stress, but hopefully we don’t, have to deal with that a lot or ever hopefully that would be the best thing. But I find one thing. I found out early in my my journey, I guess my, my business that I’ve just had for 15 years.

    I’m [00:19:00] not a, I’m not a grinder or like a, in any sense. I’m just kinda, going along. But I found early was a procrastination gives you a lot of stress. I had a situation very early when I took over the business that I needed a certain I needed a tobacco license and I didn’t know anything about it and I needed it just to keep the business going cuz I just took it over and it was a high high money maker.

    And I was just stressed about it. I just thought about it as a liquor license and I didn’t know anything about it and I just procrastinated on it for months and. Finally when I did it, it was one piece of paper and it was about $25. So I just was like, what was I doing? I was just stressing about this thing I had to do, and I was just putting it off and it was just on my mind the entire time.

    And once I did do it, it was easy. And I just learned from that. [00:20:00] Like, when you’re thinking about something too much and you’re putting it off, you just gotta tackle it. And I really like, of course having lists and all. That’s really great thing. If I could just make one more suggestion probably have read it before, but the book, the One Thing is a really great book If you’re stressed out and you got a lot on your plate, which everybody does, and it’s just a good way to organize things and make lists and just tackle one thing at a time.

    I think it’s a great book if you haven’t read it, but I think the one procrastination that probably every startup has Gantt, and I’m gonna ask you this question, is taxes. I’ve always delayed my taxes to the last possible moment, and it’s so stressful. Taxes. Yes. And I was, I got lucky in the beginning because taxes was stressing me out.

    It would’ve stressed me out. And that was another thing. I got an accountant just to handle my [00:21:00] taxes. Like you hear horror stories of maybe accountants. Stealing and ripping you off. And that’s like a knowledge that we all don’t really know about. But if they’re just handling your taxes, they’re just handling your taxes, they’re not writing checks, they don’t have access to your bank and all that.

    And for my taxes it was another small number. It was I believe in the hundred and $50 range. I had this lady do my taxes. And to this day, it’s the best money I could spend. I just put all my stuff in an envelope. I give it to her. I spend the money. It’s the best.

    I don’t ever worry about it. I don’t ever really stress about it. It’s one of those things where you need to pay somebody to do it and just take it off your plate kind of thing. Okay.

    Yeah, it’s an interesting thing, like taxes are quite often something that stress people out a lot and and I [00:22:00] know what the law is in the US but in Australia, where I’m from, it’s the one place where you’re guilty until proven innocent . And so you wanna make sure that you paid your taxes, that’s for sure.

    So thanks very much for that, Gant. It’s really interesting with what you’re sharing there. Like doing, sometimes just doing that little. Then you need to get done and just get it off your plate and it can be so beneficial for reducing the stress. But there’s some other things you can do.

    And I know Jeff tapped, sorry, just touched on some of them a few minutes ago. And one of the things I guess Jeff, you talked about was just the power of distractions. You’re getting constantly distracted by so many different things and and sometimes as entrepreneurs we just need to focus.

    And I must admit, I took this to the next level where I said to myself, I’m not gonna have a things todo list. What I’m gonna do is when something comes in and it has to be going on my plate, then I’m gonna [00:23:00] allocate time for that. So I allocated it in my schedule and and I just do that, and and by putting those like a lot of smaller tasks together, I’ll say I’m allocating the time. That’s the time for all those smaller tasks. And I found that I became eminently more productive versus having a to-do list where you never get to the last thing on the to-do list because it just never gets done.

    You don’t have the time for it. On the other hand does that last on the to-do list, does that really need to be done? Does it really need to be done or is it one of those nice to have done type things? Yeah that’s one thing I know, Jeff, you touched, and the other thing you touched was having a morning routine.

    I know my routine’s been quite disrupted while I’ve been traveling quite a lot last few weeks, but. When I’m back on home base, I have an absolute clockwork morning routine and that really helps me a lot. And part of that routine is spending time and I call it inputting into [00:24:00] myself. In other words, methodically trying to grow myself so that as I grow myself, my business can then grow.

    Because quite often businesses don’t grow cuz the entrepreneurs don’t spend any time in study themselves. Like I’ll be reading a book or something like that. And it could be on the economy, it could be on management, it could be on entrepreneurism, or it could be all sorts of things. And I spend a regulated amount of time every single day doing that.

    I actually typically do that seven days a week. And I find that it’s actually a really precious time for me because it’s something where I’m really focused on myself. But I know there’s other people here. There’s Fong, it’s great to have you on the complete entrepreneur and welcome to the stage.

    And thank you for putting your hand up. And by the way, just before we jump the Fong, if you are in the order, you’re saying I love this topic. I just wanna hear some more in this topic. I had some thoughts on this and I got some questions. Then please stick your hand up. We’d love to have you up here. So Fong [00:25:00] coming to you, you’re listening to The Complete Entrepreneur, welcome for the stage.

    Thank you, Michael. Just on my little lunch break I am speaking from California. I am a medical researcher. Been doing this for 30 years and as a chef said, yeah you gotta get everything in routine and a habit. Just a six I I woke up and I, our alarm clock even way before that.

    And then do the workout, warmup routines either walking or running and then get a very good breakfast. So whenever I travel, I make sure that the hotel has I have breakfast ready because I I don’t know. I wanna get lunch. It could be spending time talking and networking with folks out there in a conference.

    And and I think you touched about taxes. Yeah, I agree. Taxes is something I read about. I not even allow my my adult sons, who is accountant , and I work for a big university here to touch my taxes. My accountant does that for a long time now, 30 some years. And yeah, so that taxes is something that I always I think I would tell [00:26:00] she always call me the last day coming in because she know that I’m not gonna come in earlier.

    And I think you guys touch about pain, Andres? I think that’s fine. I think trusts is okay. I think I like to work with a little bit of trust and challenge, and I know a lot of my clients that I advise sometime they come to me with a difficult situations, usually and a lot of time, the two project I involved with the last three days, I say, I’m thinking about not taking it.

    They immediately replied last they’ve been pushing now. I said, far, we give you another 30% on per hours. If you walk on this, please have us. Yeah, so I think working with a little chess a little bit uncomfortable, I thinks good. I think you don’t wanna be too comfortable. I know I learned that lessons when I was at university of California.

    My professor came in and said, you’re too comfortable. I think it to, for you to move on. And it’s true. I look back, I still look up to him as my dad and he know it, he know that Tom, for me to find new challenges and thanks again for letting me speak and I appreciate. Bye. [00:27:00] Yeah, it’s interesting cuz Master Sheda, who started Panasonic, he had a saying, always push yourself out of your comfort.

    And we do that as startups, right? We get really comfortable, everything’s going well, and then we’re like do we really need another location? Do we really need another distribution deal? Do we really, we can get comfortable, but there is something to the benefits of pushing yourself out of that comfort zone and then having some of that stress come along with it.

    Almost that there’s almost like a healthy stress and sort of an unhealthy stress in business. It’s weird, like you were talking about Michael, this, you’re so excited about something, you’re, in some ways it’s not really stress. It’s it’s whatever. I don’t know. It’s like a drug.

    Entrepreneurs are like, I know that for a fact. There isn’t a, I get so excited when I register a domain name or I think of a new business idea, or we close a deal and we just like party like animals and yeah, we just close this big deal, blah, blah, blah, whatever it is. [00:28:00] It’s it’s endorphins, like you said.

    I think Jeff, like you get something’s just triggers in your brain and it’s like a drug entrepreneurship, startups. It’s a true drug. Colin, I completely agree with you. Look, I am guilty of this. It is a, it really is a drag it, the excitement of the deal. And particularly when you’ve put together something and you’ve done a lot of work on it.

    And yet that could be stressful doing a huge amount of work. The groundwork to finally the day comes and, you’re so prepared and, the proposition you’re gonna put, putting in front of the opportunity is absolutely compelling. And I can’t help it. Like I’m up at 4:00 AM in the morning, I’m really excited about it.

    And you go along, you sit at the meeting and with the person and you have the answers to all the questions. And they can’t, it’s almost what’s the word I’m after? They can’t say no because you’ve knocked out all the nos [00:29:00] and there’s something really special about that. I know.

    I wanna jump to Michele in a second. I know one of the things I know in our discussions, Michele, you’ve mentioned that at times you just send the contract and you get the contract in front of the client. And that’s actually liberating as well. In many respects. You’ve done the groundwork, you know it’s compelling.

    There’s no reason for them to say no, therefore just send the contract. And so is that something you’ve really adopted there, Michele? And I know at times in your business. Yeah, absolutely. You just have to move forward. For me, I’m very much about just moving forward. It’s not perfect, but if you just don’t get out there and you just are waiting to be perfect, you know it, it’s never gonna happen.

    Which I think as a gentleman was saying below, Gantz like that can create this very vicious cycle that’s very unhealthy because it prevents you from doing anything else. It [00:30:00] prevents your brain from having the space that it needs to creatively think and grow and do whatever it is that you need to do.

    So that’s always been my, of course you think, you know what you’re doing and you don’t do things stupidly. It’s thought out. But never be afraid to just move forward. It pushes, your stress down. Even if you don’t get the answer you want, you know that you’re moving forward.

    But if I can mention a couple of other things to Michael is for me, one thing I’ve found is it’s, it’s easy to have a long list of things to do, personal business, everything. But what is absolutely critical, and I do believe that people should document every, their priorities and their tasks that, of course support the company goals.

    But a big part of that is you have to prioritize. As they say, and I think we all know it’s true, is having a list can be [00:31:00] very stressful. And even more if you’re not prioritizing it, then you really don’t have a priority. And that’s a really dangerous situation to be in because you’re just, driving yourself crazy and you’re also creating a very stressful situation especially if you’re in the leadership team.

    For everybody. And that just leads to a massive amount of inefficiency and stress and people don’t want to, support and build and be happy about the company. So that’s a couple things. And then lastly, one of the things that I have learned like Jeff said, it should get, he’s just now figuring some of these things out after 40 years.

    For me, it’s cuz I, like I said, I always wanna move things forward. Like I’m sure most people that are here do because they’re interested in startups and entrepreneurship, but it’s for me is don’t create an artificial emergency. Like [00:32:00] you’re stressed out, you’re just trying to get things done and get people to work and then all of a sudden, somebody doesn’t hold up their end or something slips and.

    It becomes like an emergency, but that also is, could be a really bad thing emotionally and psychologically for you and people around you because you can’t just be flipping to every emergency. So it’s hand in the prioritization is also just don’t create, emergencies. It really does affect everybody and it upsets other people which is not good to move forward.

    Thank you. Wow. Michele, you hit the nail on the head with quite a few things you said is don’t create emergencies. I am actually a firm believer. That an emergency in business should be rare. I’m an absolute believer in that in business, you should have everything actually quite planned out. You will have some emergencies hit[00:33:00] but you should have it all planned out.

    And then if something out of the ordinary happens or whatever you’ve got the systems and everything in place that you can handle and manage it. For instance an emergency for me would be having a ddo attack on our service or infrastructure. That’s an emergency, but it’s not like we’d haven’t planned for it.

    We have the risk mitigation, all that sort of stuff in place. Business should be 99% of things should be business as usual. The other thing you mentioned there, Michele, I thought was great, was prioritizing. I’m a firm believer that the enemy of the best is the good. What do I mean by that is that I’ve seen so many entrepreneurs chase so many good deals.

    They mess miss out on the best deal because they’re trying to race around and do all these different things with a result, they miss out the best deal cuz they don’t have the time that they really, and the focus to really drive that deal, deal home. And my wife has [00:34:00] a great saying. She says, another thing with deals is the deal is not done until the money’s in the bank.

    I love celebrating contracts. That’s great. But you know what? I celebrate more money in the bank. In other words, there’s been a consummation of the deal. It’s come through, you’ve delivered a service, the client has paid for that service, it’s been done. That’s when the celebr. Really begins. And so thanks very much for that, Michele.

    Do appreciate that, that wisdom that you had to share on this topic. But I want come down to Serge. Serge, it’s great to see you here on the Complete Entrepreneur. Welcome to the stage, Serge. I thank you for having me on stage. No, I wanted to share my, like stress search. We can barely hear you. Can you speak up?

    Is it possible for you to speak up louder? I can barely hear you there. Thank you. I hope it’s better now. I switched the [00:35:00] microphone. Much better. Much better. Thank you. Great. Great. So again, thanks for having me. And I want to share like my experience with the stress makers and stress reliefs that I use basically my work.

    As CTO for multiple projects, I have to have communication with lots of people, like more than 50 people in like daily communications. And I have lots of meetings. And those meetings is my main stress. 10 to 16 meetings per day. And then I still want to do my side project, which is my startup in the evening.

    So I have to survive it. So first after all of this But I can say if you consider number of different topics, which I covered, it’s and the problem level of stress there is hell. But after that I have to go like work out or run mostly running. And this is great, as you said, really, which work for me as a said.

    But I want to share my life, like how I do with the [00:36:00] meetings. I classify the meetings in like more or less three categories. One is the meeting when, where I have to be, I have to be because of my status, because of the reporting or something that I have to meet. So in those meetings I have to be careful.

    I have to listen, but not I’m not in control, I’d say it’s not my meeting. So there this type of meeting I allow myself to be a bit relaxed and I have to be present, but not it’s not mostly on those problems. I have to catch just cherry peak things inside. So that’s one of type, and those paintings are typical long and let’s say can be complicated, but this is different styles.

    I’m not in control. I kill them. I’m to control. Second type of meeting is where I have to be present emotionally. And this is typically with like people from my team members and the people I work with. Ideally they are offline meetings. I had to have offline online meetings with where I have to really look and the people understand what are the emotions, they [00:37:00] like it or they in troubles, things like that.

    It’s 1 0 1, it’s ideal example. But also this works with a bigger team as well. So this one when, if I’m online, I have to have cameras on and then I totally like trying to understand what The emotional situation of the people I speak and so on. So this is another thing I have to be totally present.

    And here there was a very nice suggestion. Leave everything aside. No like laptops, no screens, no phones. Everything is off. I have to be there and I have to book a lot of, not a lot enough time for that cuz you cannot be in Russia when you speak with the people and don’t understand their emotions. And third of meeting where I’m in control, this is meetings I organize.

    My team to move in on and so on. And here is life hack. I’m making those meetings short, but I don’t book short time for the meeting. I book still 55 minutes. Actually. I never book one hour. I book 55 minutes or 25 minutes or one hour, [00:38:00] 50 minutes. It’s always at least five or 10 minutes off. And what happens then?

    For example, I book for one hour, but I push the meeting to be much shorter and I push the meeting to finish within 40 minutes. and people after some time, they realize it and they actually expecting this. And this is like life hack. People then really graduated or how to say proper words.

    So they, they have this reward that they have this few three minutes also in the very busy day. But what is my work then is to yes, put a bit of stress on them to be very short and precise and to be totally present. In those meetings I’m totally present, but I also request other peoples to be people to be totally present.

    And I’m asking them to really be listen and be saying straight things without, having any fog [00:39:00] around what they say. Yeah. So that’s that’s it. After some time, yes. Yeah, I’d say so. Can I just say that the, you tapped into something there, which I actually think is really interesting. Concept one.

    There’s a couple of things there and I’ll maybe bounce up to you in a second, Colin, get your thought thoughts on this. The first one was just really being strict around your time management and you’re giving a gift of 10 minutes, 15 minutes to the people in the meeting at the end. Cause you drive everything to become shorter.

    I thought that was quite an interesting concept. The other one was, you said an interesting thing where you talked about being emotionally present and to really be very focused in those times and to realize that it’s not just dealing with tasks and things like that, but it’s the emotions and the stake that people may have in there in the meetings.

    Is that something did I pick that up correctly there, Sege? Exactly. And this is type of meeting when. [00:40:00] They have to understand the next first how to motivate people in the teams. And I have to understand let’s say the problems, which they don’t say straightforward. Many people are not open at all.

    If an OB psychologist might be introvert or somehow, and they have to yeah, understand what is really behind their minds. Yes. Yes. Thank you for that. Colin is this something that you found? Do you do this sort of thing when you have your meetings? Are you very conscious of the time and things like that as well as Sege was just discussing them?

    I don’t, I’m not certain about that. I do know that when we have planning meetings, like strategic planning meetings, we meet generally each company will meet one day per quarter, two days annually. But each quarter so for instance, the beginning of the year, we’ll meet for two days, do a strategic planning session.

    And then every quarter after that, we’ll have a one day strategic planning session. And in that meeting, in that time [00:41:00] period, we’re identifying the problems, we’re identifying the issues, and we’re coming up with very specific smart goals, right? Specific, measurable, attainable, all that kind of Stu Smart, an acronym.

    You could look it up on Google. But the fact of the matter is we’re actually addressing the issues and we’re doing it an organized way. Now let me explain my life. Before I got a CEO coach and begun to bring in these strategic planning sessions and goal setting. It was chaos. We had grown this, it was turned, we had two public companies, a second public company finally went public.

    Our revenue flat lines. The company was just, there were fights amongst the executives. It was a disaster. And the board was ready to move against me as ceo. . And the stress of that environment, this ad hoc entrepreneurial startup environment, which is the way that I just you just go with the [00:42:00] flow and answer one question at a time and make one decision at a time.

    And that chaos resulted in a lot of stress when we brought in strategic planning, when we brought in goal setting, we brought these systems into place, that reduced a lot of our stress.

    Yeah, I think that’s really important, is that Systems. I call it business as usual. This is just normal meat and potatoes business and business processes, which is the it’s almost like life cycle of a business. It goes from that entrepreneurial chaos as such. And by getting those business processes into place, then you can actually accelerate the growth of the business.

    It doesn’t hinder it. You can accelerate it. And I know with I’ve been talking to our team about that, about just meat and potatoe. There’s businesses, your usual guys. That’s the sort of client we’re dealing with this [00:43:00] time or something like that. And it’s actually really important to be able to put those processes in place and to take that.

    So it’s not everyone’s a, everything’s a surprise, but I wanna bring this back a little bit more to the topic of stress. Your stress can be caused by other things other than just even meetings or prior to this, or too much to do all that sort of stuff. Stress can also be caused by things like eating the wrong food, not exercising.

    All those other things can impact stress as well. Or how about stresses about the mindset? And I know Jeff just touched on this very briefly at one point about what he does to be able to really, to bring his mind to a, at there a com comma level. But it’s things such as what are you actually fueling your body on?

    Impacts also your level of stress and how you react in situations. I can guarantee it [00:44:00] because if you only drank Red Bulls continuously all day, number one, you probably give yourself a heart attack. But n the number two, what probably will end up happening is you’ll be making some bad decisions along the way cuz you’re so hyped up and everything versus being very measured.

    If you never, ever exercise, Then exactly the same thing will happen. Like I must admit with Covid and everything like that I piled on some pounds and that sort of stuff. And when I get back home, the job is to get back exercising and all doing all those things, which will make me a more effective entrepreneur and a better person.

    But also, what probably had a longer life, which is pretty, was the downside to that. So I just, when comes to yourself, Colin, so you think about, I had a question for everybody here actually, and I’m just curious about this and everybody on stage is so I know we are stressed [00:45:00] during work, right? We understand that, but 5 30, 6 o’clock we go home.

    Do we keep the stress going and, impact our family and whatnot? Like I know one of the things I do sometimes is I go into a hot tub and I know it sounds weird, but I’ll just come home. Go into a hot tub, relax, and I feel like a different person when I do that. I really do. I all of a sudden I recognize I’m making a transition from work to home.

    And I’m just curious for those on the stage too, if they have any techniques going from this high stress work startup or does the startup come home with you’re

    Yeah, that’s an interesting question. Yeah. For me, because we run a completely distributed workforce where everyone works from home. I found, I actually had to have a mental shift from, say, my study with the four screen surrounding me and all that sort of stuff, and [00:46:00] everything. I’d have a completely mental shift.

    And my mental shift was I took off my shoes and I put my mos on. And that signaled not only to me, but it signaled to my family that, you know what? I was home now. And I had to do that. It became very regimented. In fact, I would never sit down at the dinner table unless I had my moccasins on.

    And it sounds like a silly thing, but it’s the equivalent of, for those you work from home, you’d understand this. It’s the equivalent of the drive home in the car for many people. And it’s, it is a stress relief. But how about yourself, Jeff? Is there something that you do around this?

    What Colin was asking just there.

    I think I may have lost Jeff. Michele, is there something you do as a mental switch between, I think Serge also? Yeah. I’ll talk real [00:47:00] quickly, so on. Nope. And Serge can speak for me. It changes all the time. Okay. But it’s, trying to change my thoughts. Sometimes I go and sit and read.

    I find reading extremely relaxing. When you’re reading, it’s really hard to think about anything else other than what you’re reading. So I find that relaxing. Or it might just be like going outside, just changing modes. But for me, it’s not I wish it was as simple Michael as changing my shoes.

    I, I love shoes, actually, , but it takes me at least an hour sometimes, and sometimes I can, I’ll just be really honest, I’m a person that gets up really early. I wake up at three o’clock, I think about things, I’m always looking for ways to manage that myself, quite frankly. Yeah, it’s an interesting one.

    It’s , I must admit I get after, when I’m at home particularly get up around about five 30 or something. And I find that’s my time and that’s a great time. But I [00:48:00] wanna jump down to Anoop. Anoop, it’s great to have you on the complete entrepreneur and love to have you up. Have, thank you for coming up on the stage and what you got to share on this topic.

    Thanks for having me, guys. It’s very interesting topic. And I’m second generation Silicon Valley, so I’ve seen a lot of different startups and friends and family members doing community members doing companies. And I can definitely say, having done a few myself now, the wilderness period of the startup is when the stress is absolutely inevitable for a founder.

    It is it doesn’t matter how good you are at managing your your stress levels. You’re gonna see a rise in your cortisol. It’s gonna be. Relentless and it should impact your body. It definitely does. People often attribute body harm to what some professional athletes put [00:49:00] themselves through.

    Maybe, players in the NBA or the NFL or what have you. But I feel that startup entrepreneurs impact and injure their bodies. And this is something that we need to bring to the forefront because even if you’re really good at taking care of yourself, you’re watching your diet, you’re exercising, your stress levels are gonna go up when there’s rampant uncertainty and an overwhelming amount of responsibility put on your shoulders.

    So that’s something that I’ve experienced, I’ve seen my friends also experience the same thing, but I think when you get to an inflection point within the company where there’s more stability than those levels can stabilize and then start to come down. But that’s just an experience that I had.

    So I thought it was an interesting topic at the, thanks so much, guys. It’s interesting and new. I’m curious because you said you did multiple startups, right? And as I have, [00:50:00] and Michael has, and everybody on the stage, most of us are serial entrepreneurs. And as I get older, I’m 52 now. And as I get older I don’t think I can do it anymore.

    I don’t think I can do what I did in my twenties. And that’s why you think you see these Silicon Valley startups with the 20 year olds because they’re the ones who they don’t have any responsibilities. They’re up 16 hours a day. They’re just doing this, that and the other. I’ve tried to move on from that model into a whole different model where I invest in companies and it’s more of a family office.

    But I’m just curious from your perspective, as you get older, are you finding it, it changes, it’s changing who, it’s harder and harder to handle the stress of these startups. Yeah, it is. And I, another one, after the current one that I’m doing, I will get into some other things.

    You’re actually gonna quit. You’re actually saying cause this is too freaking su stressful. I’m quit. No. I’m not doing this again. . I’m not gonna, is that what you’re saying? I, it’s not that I’m gonna quit, it’s just that, I’m expecting. [00:51:00] Good success with this current venture. And I think that after this, I won’t be doing the zero to one anymore.

    Let’s just say that. Like I’ll probably get involved at different levels and in different ways, but the zero to one grind for the founders is absolutely the brutal element that you’re talking about. That, hey, I’m 52. This is very, this is maybe a bit too much for me. And from my view, this is very much very similar to doing, like deciding to be a Navy SEAL or deciding to go through medical school, which my brother did recently.

    And now he’s a he’s much younger than me. He’s a resident in a hospital. But that process was again, absolutely grueling. And each startup that you. It has its own challenges. It has its own, tribulations. But there it’s not something you wanna do forever. You wanna get into [00:52:00] bigger companies.

    I think you wanna get into maybe policy, something where you’re not the battery the entire battery , because that’s what the founders are. The founders are the battery. It’s, and I see there’s so many now, there used to be very few VCs in Silicon Valley, like early nineties, even through the nineties.

    Capital was very tough to get. My uncle did a company actually didn’t do well, but, getting capital then was tough. And you needed about a million dollars to start a company. . And now the costs have gone down. So there’s a lot of companies, but there’s a hell of a lot of VCs now. But I wonder cuz I’m talking to some of these guys and I’ve been talking to them over the last decade, I wonder how much experience they have actually making zero to one companies themselves.

    And I don’t know if they have that much. I feel like the, [00:53:00] a lot of the VC community has gone off onto a sort of a tangential path where the VCs were very intimately involved with companies previously and now they’re playing more of a financial management type role for startups, for their startup portfolios.

    It’s very different and I think a lot of people are realiz. They don’t want desert to one, they don’t want to be in an early stage. They wanna be in growth stage. So there’s a little bit of void there and there’s some avoidance, which it’s due to this, the topic of this room, which is the stress of getting that startup going damn hard thing to do.

    I know I have a number of friends who actually have started companies, sold them and have chosen never to go back into a startup again. And I tell you, I mean it for me I keep coming back because the drug at weighs the stress. It’s [00:54:00] interesting. But Anu I love that you kept mentioning zero to one, because zero to one in almost every context is the hardest, zero going from nothing to that first.

    Taking the first step of anything, any project, any race, and anything. Zero to one is always the hardest. Getting someone to go from having something for free to paying a penny for it is the hardest. Zero to one is just a great concept. So I love that. You, it’s the worst, right? It’s the worst. I hate it.

    The toughest zero to one is always the hardest step. I was talking, I love it. I was talking with one of my friends who’s a neurosurgeon, and he was, we were comparing whose job is harder. And he basically told me, and he does these long surgeries, eight, nine hours where it’s just, he’s just sweating.

    He’s just, he’s completely done after the surgery. Like he’s kaput, right? [00:55:00] And he was telling me my job is harder because it’s a different type of intensity and it’s It’s a protracted intensity. It’s an enduring intensity that is required over a long period of time. And it depends again on the wilderness cycle.

    So how long are you gonna stay at zero? If you’re gonna stay at zero for three months it’s gonna be tough. But if you’re gonna stay at zero for three years, then you’re gonna start seeing major impacts on your life and your health. So it depends on each venture. Like I, I must have been, I’m hearing this and I, I’d love.

    I love the cut and thrust of a zero to one. I love launching a new, essentially a, like a new concept. I just live for that. Coming up with new ideas and just really going for it, [00:56:00] and and being smarter each time you do that, but to me it’s the best drug in the world. Yeah, it really is.

    And there is nothing like it, so I agree. It can be grueling. It’s like in Aing Boulder, and you’re trying to push this grapey boulder up the hill. But I’ll tell you what, When you’ve got a good team around you and you’re pushing the boulder up the hill together, there is nothing like that. And you get to the top of the hill and it begins to get some momentum and you can feel it, and you feel the core of your being.

    And there there’s an aspect of euphoria, which maybe we should have a topic on euphoria as an entrepreneur, because there is an aspect of euphoria where you go, oh my gosh, this is the best thing ever. And I just love that feeling. And I love, dare I say I’ve been in many situations where it’s a real grind and you get to the end of each day and you’re completely spent.

    And we’re talking about stress in this session, but you are completely spent. [00:57:00] There’s nothing like it as well. There really is nothing quite like it. It’s it, and that’s why, sorry. No, I totally agree with what you’re saying. Yeah. There’s, and it is very, can be quite addictive. I’m 60, 60 years old and I feel like I’m 21.

    I really do. And and I just love doing what I do. Yeah. It’s there’s nothing like it. But, and that’s why we talk about these sort of topics on the complete entrepreneur. And I hate to say, guys, we’re run out of time, but next week we’re gonna be talking about what’s it like as an entrepreneur when you’re in some of these grind or zero to one times, and the impact that has on your relationships.

    And how do you actually manage that? And it can be really quite tough managing situation relationships. But just before we go, because I really love this conversation. I just wanna take it back to possibly Michele. Michele, what’s going on? Let’s start at the club. Yeah. [00:58:00] Oh, thanks so much Michael. And thanks for all the members that join.

    We really appreciate it. And we’re here every week, Thursday at 5:00 PM Eastern. And we’ve got amazing show actually tomorrow, which is Friday at 5:00 PM Eastern Time, which is two o’clock Eastern. Yeah, two o’clock, sorry. Tomorrow 2:00 PM Eastern Time, which is about the Art of War. I’m sure everybody here knows the book.

    It’s an ancient book. I think it was from five BC or something. But this young lady her name is Russa. Jot has actually taken the concept and broken it down in the most amazing way, so that applies to startups. So she’s gonna be here tomorrow as our special guest at 2:00 PM Eastern Time on the Serial Entrepreneur.

    We really hope you can join, and we’re [00:59:00] looking forward to a really engaged convers. So thanks so much. Michael or Colin, back to you. Yeah, thanks very much for that Michele. Lots of things are and make sure you sign up for that mailly list. Go to and you’re a browser. I know you’re in the the Clubhouse app, but go in the browser so you don’t miss that in those great things.

    And by the way, for those of you who haven’t read The Art of War, I highly recommend you read that book is amazing book. I’ve read it numbers of times and just absolutely love it. So I’m looking forward to hopefully I’ll get a chance. To be in the session with you all tomorrow at 2:00 PM In the meantime, you’ve been listening to The Complete Entrepreneur and it happens every Thursday at 5:00 PM Eastern Time.

    And I just wanna thank all those that came up on stage. Thank you for sharing. It’s been great hearing from you up here. It really has also for the moderators Colin, Jeff, Michele, it’s fantastic you covering for me as I was in my [01:00:00] Uber and Influences hotel here in Boston, and I do appreciate that.

    But for all of you and the audience, you’re the reason why we do this. You’re battling that there in your business and we really hope that you find these sessions incredibly valuable and we can see you next week. So God bless you. Have a great week. Bye. Great show. Michael Annu, I just sent you a text message through the back channel.

    Okay, great.

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