In today’s episode of The Startup Chat, Steli and Hiten talk about the various things they do to relax.

It’s no secret that running a startup can be super stressful, and being stressed out can affect your performance as a founder and that of your team. So it’s important that you allow yourself to relax when you can.

In this week’s episode, Steli and Hiten talk about why it’s important to relax, ways in which they relax and much more. 

Time Stamped Show Notes:

00:00 About today’s topic.

00:35 Why this topic was chosen.

01:00 Why it’s important to relax.

01:56 One way Hiten relaxes.

03:15 Another way Hiten relaxes.

04:13 A third way Hiten relaxes.

05:06 Why relaxing is a good thing.

06:04 One of the most relaxing things for Steli.

07:25 Another way Steli relaxes. 

3 Key Points:

  • For some startup founders, Relaxing sounds like the opposite of what they need.
  • For me driving is relaxing.
  • Tension breeds more tension.


Steli Efti: Hey everybody, this is Steli Efti.


Hiten Shah: And this is Hiten Shah.


Steli Efti: And today on The Startup Chat we’re going to talk about the ways that we relax and I think this is going to be one where we’re just going to talk about the things we do to relax. But maybe before we jump into sharing kind of some personal stories and ideas. Let’s talk about why is it even important to relax? Relaxing sounds like a bad idea for many. I would imagine for many kind of early founders of fathers that are doing this for the very first time. Entrepreneurs that are doing this for the first time. Relaxing sounds like the opposite of what they need.


Hiten Shah: Yeah, On my end. This is something I have a lot of trouble with.


Steli Efti: Mm.


Hiten Shah: I think if you asked people that either work with me, probably people that work with me, because my family tends to be similar to me. So I wouldn’t count them in this bucket. But people who work with me would probably say that like, he never takes a vacation because that is true. Objectively. That is true. Factually. That is true. And I don’t have a good reason why I don’t take a vacation. It’s not that I don’t like them, I probably just don’t understand them the way other people do for many different reasons. And so vacations are not how I relax. So even if I took one, I don’t think I would call that relaxing, which I know might sound really weird to most people. And that’s what I mean by like people in my companies don’t necessarily understand this and we don’t talk about a lot because they obviously just assume, whatever about me. And so for me, relaxing is more about how do I … The most relaxing thing I do is driving my car.


Steli Efti: Mm.


Hiten Shah: And it’s because I generally drive my car alone the majority of the time. I wouldn’t say it’s relaxing driving when someone else is in the car for me. And I do that typically like multiple times a week, at least three to five times a week. And when I do it, I’m driving for 30 minutes at least and then 30 minutes back to my house. So that’s a whole hour where I kind of get it to myself. Sometimes I do calls in the car, which is another form of relaxation because I’m driving and I grew up in Southern California where driving was a thing. You needed a car to get around. I had one right when I was 16 and so for me driving is relaxing, believe it or not. Speeding is also relaxing, just like driving is. So it’s a little more nuanced than just driving and I really enjoy it quite frankly. And if you asked me what do you do to relax, it’s that.


Steli Efti: I love that.


Hiten Shah: The only other thing I can think of is, I will basically use my time with my kids as much as possible to relax. So the new thing we’re doing right now is that game UNO. I don’t know if you played it.


Steli Efti: Yeah.


Hiten Shah: My son is nine years old and my daughter is five and they’re both very good at that game and can win and they love it. Both of them. It’s fantastic. And so I actually have been playing that game with them sometimes for like an hour, hour and a half straight. And it’s been really relaxing. And the grandparents play it with them. My wife plays it with them sometimes we all play with them. There’s like five of us playing it and it’s very relaxing. Some of it’s stressful for the kids because like they get really anxious about winning or losing or UNO and this and that. But man, those two things are most relaxing things and the UNO, one’s a little bit newer last few months, but it’s something that I really am finding really enjoyable and relaxing for me. So those are the two things I wish I had more. You know what? That’s all I got. I got one more.


Steli Efti: Okay.


Hiten Shah: Got one more. There are some people who I will go spend time with that I know it will be really relaxing regardless of if we’re talking about something really stressful or not. It’s just a relaxing conversation or just the person like just puts me in that state and I’m probably doing the same for them.


Steli Efti: I love that. Yeah. All right. I’ll give you my list. But before that, I absolutely believe that if you cannot relax, if you cannot find moments to let go, and to unplug mentally, physically. It’s going to affect the way you work. That’s going to … Usually leads to an increasing amount of tension, right? That never gets any release. And the more and more tense you get, the more rigid your thinking gets, the more rigid the way you act gets. And I think also tension breeds more tension. So usually people that never relax, they bring a certain level of tension to others, which is really what you don’t want. Attention can be super useful, like not that it’s a bad thing in and of itself, but tension at all times. If anytime you work with people they feel super tense, you’re not going to usually get the best work out of them. They usually are not going to feel most inspired, most creative around you. And so it can be really, really taxing for yourself and for your environment. So I think no matter what you do at the highest level, and taking athletes for this, if you take an athlete at the very highest level of what they do, if they had to be super tense and focused all the time, all day, all night, all week, all month long, they would not perform at their best and they would … Their performance would drop drastically. They have peak moments of high intensity and they have a lot of rest and relaxation to really fill up their battery. So I think it’s super crucial, especially for somebody that’s in a creative endeavor like an entrepreneur. For the things that relax me, it’s not that many things either, to be honest. Like funny enough, one of the most relaxing things for me is a reading a good book. And also reading a book … Like a physical book to me … I don’t know. Something about the physical sensation of reading a book, smelling it can put me in a really relaxed state, so I love doing that. I think good company does it for me a lot. There’s just some people that are so relaxed that are so fun to be around. I can completely unplug. I don’t think about work. I don’t think about anything really I’m just having a good time. I have stimulating conversations, just have fun being around these people. The most powerful relaxation I ever feel is actually being close to the ocean. That’s why I love sailing. I love being on a boat, being close to the ocean. Nothing gets me that deep of a state of relaxation faster and for longer periods of time. I love gazing at the ocean when I’m on a boat. That’s kind of the most powerful internal peace that I can feel. And then the last thing that comes to mind is one thing that is not relaxing. It doesn’t sound relaxing at all, but it relaxes me an incredible amount, which is … We’re Thai training, martial arts training in general. So when I go to kickboxing with Thai training although it’s very … It can be very tense and can be very intense. It is exhausting. It is for my mind, it is incredibly relaxing because I don’t think about anything other than performing whatever the task at hand is and I physically completely red line and completely exhaust myself and there’s just incredible amount of rush of endorphins at the end of a good training session that makes me incredibly happy, balances me out and it relaxes me. Like I’ll be much more relaxed after a very hard training session. So those are the things that I can think of that have been kind of the most relaxing endeavors that I have for sure. Before we wrap up this episode-


Hiten Shah: Pretty cool.


Steli Efti: There’s one more thing that can bring relaxation to people’s lives. There’s a sponsor that we have and a service that both Hiten and I, are customers of, You should go to to get 20% off of that service. So what is Super simple it’s a music player, and it’s music that actually helps you focus, relax, or even sleep. It’s a product that uses science spec music, and it works. Hiten and I, our customers, we love it and we use it all the time. I actually don’t use it that much too … I know that you’ve tried … You’ve played with a relaxed playlist. I’ve mostly been using … A bit obsessing over the focus music that they have because it’s just such a great hack to get me into like a productive focus zone. But they have music that focuses you, music that relaxes you, music that helps you fall asleep. If that’s something that is challenging to you. We love the service. We want you to give it a try. If we recommend something, we want you to do it, we believe it’s going to create a lot of value for you. So please go to You can try out the music, listen to it, see it’s impact, feel the difference. And then you can sign up for 20% off. It’s less than six bucks a month, or like 40 bucks for an entire year of … Basically in a click of a button, within 10, 15 minutes, I get into a focus zone that is worth so much more money than what I’m paying for the service. Check it out both Hiten and I stand behind it and recommended highly to anybody that’s listening to the startup chat. And this is it for this episode. We’ll hear you very, very soon.


Hiten Shah: Later.