13 Startups Founders Share Their Weird Habits for De-Stressing

July 28, 2014

10:30 am

Highly successful people have kooky and quirky habits that help them be more creative and deal with stress. Thomas Edison and Leonardo Da Vinci would not sleep for days, taking random naps instead, to help them be more productive with work. When it was time to work, Nikola Tesla preferred the company of pigeons. Even Bill Gates was known for rocking his chair during intense meetings.

Seems like the greater the mind, the weirder the habits.

Thirteen startup founders shared habits to be more creative and deal with stress. They are humorous, quirky, and definitely out there.

“I work in an incubator with other young entrepreneurs and we found that coffee wasn't quite cutting it anymore. We went online and found 99.9% pure caffeine. In the morning, late at night, whenever we need to power through some work, we rub some powder on our gums.”

– Tanner Agar, founder of The Chef Shelf

“I sum up what I need to focus on as a startup into a simple ‘How to Win’ approach: Don’t die and keep climbing. I set that as the background image of my phone and it shows up in my browser every time I open a new tab.”

– John Turner, founder of UsersThink


“I just love punching things! It's a huge stress relief. I have a home exercise room with two punching dummies. Even our nanny does Kung Fu!”

– Cindy Engstrom, CEO of Sircle Advertising

“What was I listening to before going on stage at SURGE Accelerator's Pitch Day?? That's right: Guns N' Roses, (what used to be billed as) the ‘World's Most Dangerous Band.'”

– Greg Archbald, founder and CEO of GreaseBook

“I prefer working from a Peet's Coffee and Tea window counter so much I'm having an exact reproduction built in my office. Seriously.”

– David Barrett, CEO of Expensify

“When I finish a project or start a marketing campaign, I set up photo shoots for my parakeets, showing them working on projects and having fun.”

– Jessica Greenwalt, founder of Pixelkeet

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“I always get my hair cut when I am about to go into a new business or pitch meeting. While this might sound like an expensive proposition, it isn't because I have my own clippers, and my wife is my ‘barber.' It's a nice little ritual we have and I think in some ways makes her feel part of the team, even though as the primary breadwinner of the family, she technically is our biggest investor.”

– Ming Ooi, CEO and cofounder of TapTrak

“I have an enormous amount of energy that I'm not always able to expend due to the sedentary nature of much of what I have to do. As such, when I am deep in thought, I will often pace without realizing it, which never ceases to amuse my close friends and associates. In my experience, founders of startups tend to be very ambitious, motivated, and often driven people. They're doers, and that will always manifest itself in one form or another.”

– Brandon Esposito, CEO of Urban Darling, Inc.

“The better you dress, the worse you can behave.”

– Scott Latham, CEO of Colabination, who is known for pulling martial arts moves before important meetings

Karate Kick 2

“Whenever I have a big speech or presentation in front of a large audience, I make sure to have a proper jam session on the guitar before heading to the venue. It clears my mind, puts me at ease, and taps into the creative side of my brain, properly preparing me to give a kick-ass speech.”

– Lisa Besserman, founder of Startup Buenos Aires (SUBA)

“Close out the week, even years later, I still get a kick out of Rebecca Black's infamous ‘Friday.' I enjoy getting down with my proposals and business development, and sometimes sing new lyrics based on assignments of that day. It might not all be fun, fun, fun, fun, but hey, we're all looking forward to the weekend.”

– Dana Marlowe, Accessibility Partners, LLC

“I don’t have lucky boxers, or a lucky pen. My pre-pitch, pre-media ritual consists of two equally important elements: pushups and Lana Del Rey. If a meeting or interview is a particularly high-pressure situation, I take it up a notch and do as many finger pushups as possible – blasting Lana’s ‘Born to Die,' of course.”

Shaun Moore, cofounder and CEO of Chui


“I don't do clocks anymore. In fact, I shut off my phone before I pass out at night, too, in a pitch-black room with an average temperature of 62 degrees Fahrenheit. And every day, I naturally roll out of bed around 6/6:30 am.”

– Nima Noori, CEO and founder of Toronto Vaporizer

Do you have any odd habits that help you cope with startup life? 

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Camila has been heavily active in South Florida’s tech startup community, where she is a co-host of a local radio show called pFunkcast. Camila previously worked at Greenpeace International and the Organization of the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in various communication roles. A proud Brazilian who spent most of he life in Peru, she is passionate about traveling and documentaries.