In today’s episode of The Startup Chat, Steli and Hiten talk about the heart of your startup.

Sometimes trying to make a decision can be quite a challenge and whether you should listen to your heart or not in that situation can be a challenge for most founders. One reason for this is opening up your heart requires courage, and if things go wrong, feelings can get hurt.

In this week’s episode, Steli and Hiten talk about why most people can’t speak from their heart, one thing that prevents people from bringing their heart into things, how the truth isn’t in the mind and much more. 

Time Stamped Show Notes:

00:00 About today’s topic.

01:03 Why this topic was chosen.

03:28 Why most people can’t speak from their heart.

04:20 One thing that prevents people from bringing their heart into things.

04:54 One thing that helps Hiten come at things from his heart.

05:13 One of the things that makes this podcast valuable to people.

06:06 Why the present moment is an important way to practice bringing your heart into things.

06:04 How the truth isn’t in the mind.

07:17 How Hiten has a hard time speaking his truth sometimes. 

3 Key Points:

  • There is heart, there’s mind and there’s soul.
  • The most esoteric of the three is the soul.
  • The truth isn’t in the mind.


Steli Efti: Hey everybody, this Steli Efti.


Hiten Shah: And this is Hiten Shah.


Steli Efti: Today on The Startup Chat we’re going to talk about the place of the heart in a company or in a startup. Does the heart have a place in business and for you as a startup founder? Here’s why I wanted to tackle this weird subject with you, Hiten. This is going to be a funky episode. For all of you that are only interested in the most tactical and practical stuff, this may or may not be useful. But maybe if you don’t want to listen to it, maybe it’s going to be especially useful to you. We’ll see. Here’s the reason why I wanted to talk about this with you, Hiten. Recently, I had a discussion with a couple of friends of mine. Most of them are entrepreneurs themselves, and one of them kept repeating this new mantra in his life of some big realization that he had recently in his life that he wanted to listen to his heart more. He was like, “The mind has been too much of the boss. I just want to listen to my heart, and just follow my heart.” We were discussing this topic as if it was absolutely clear what he meant. Eventually, I went, “Wait a second, guys. When you say ‘follow your heart,’ I kind of think I understand what you’re saying, and we’ve been talking about the heart, quote-unquote, as an entity that we all… We all talk about it as if it’s the most obvious object in this context, but what the fuck do we even mean when we say ‘the heart’? When I say “follow your heart,” what do I mean? What is the heart? Is that your soul? Is that your spirit? Is that your subconscious? What is it?” Then, we had a epic, three-hour philosophical conversation, that made us go in circles at times, that made us all realize that this is a hard question to answer. It’s a big concept, and I realized, “Shit, I’ve never even thought about my heart for more than, I don’t know, a minute at a time in this kind of context.” Obviously, whenever I have a discussion like that that leaves you with more questions than answers, I’m like, “I need to break this down with my main man, Hiten.”


Hiten Shah: Let’s do it.


Steli Efti: So I wanted to ask you, do you ever talk about your heart as like an entity that helps you make decisions or that has a place in your world? Is that something that was weird from us, have you heard other people refer to, like, “Follow your heart, do what your heart is saying. I listen to my heart”? What, do you think, does it mean and how does it work in the world of business and entrepreneurship?


Hiten Shah: Oh man, how much time do we have? Yes, I think that there is heart. There is definitely heart. I will not say that there isn’t. I feel like most people can’t speak from their heart, act from their heart, feel their heart, and live in that sort of space. One of the reasons is we’re so caught up in our brains and use our brains a lot, obviously. We use our mind. There is heart and there’s mind. So, my take on this is there’s heart, there’s mind, and there’s soul, and congruency between the three is what’s really important. It’s probably the most important thing. The most esoteric of them all is soul, because that has to do with your spiritual, religious beliefs or lack of, depending on how you view that. So let’s just ignore that one, because I think it’s not something that can be objectified, for lack of a better word. So, when you think about your heart and your mind, one of the things that prevents people from taking their mind out of these things and bringing their heart into things is the fact that they’re just caught up in whatever’s going on in the world, whatever happened in the past, or whatever the want to do in the future. So the one thing I would say that I’ve experienced in my life that has been really helpful to come from my heart is when I am focused on this moment right now. One of the reasons is podcast, I think, based on what people tell us, is valuable to them is because you and I are focused on the podcast when we’re on the podcast. Right?


Steli Efti: Right?


Hiten Shah: We are focused on this conversation, we’re speaking to each other about a topic that we just want to talk about, just like this one, and we feel like other people should get the benefit of that. I can’t talk to you for however long we talk every week, an hour-plus sometimes, about whatever randomly, because we wouldn’t make the time for it. We make the time for it, we do it, and one of the reasons it’s wonderful, there’s no edits and it’s raw, and I think people give us that feedback, is because we’re in the moment, right now. We both prefer that. We’re not thinking about anything else, we’re not getting caught up in anything else, we’re talking about what we’re talking about right now, and other people can probably feel that when they listen to us. So, to me the present moment is one way to practice coming from your heart or bringing your heart into things. I’ve had, definitely, very profound experiences, that are amazing, when I do that. Another thing I do is if I’m going into something and I really want to speak my truth… I think the truth isn’t in the mind.


Steli Efti: Mm-hmm (affirmative).


Hiten Shah: That’s a big one. Then I will set an intention before I get into that experience, and literally say, “I want this to be the best experience possible and I want to speak my truth, and that’s what I’m going to do.” I did that yesterday for a meeting. It’s an important meeting to me, it’s one relatively regularly but ad hoc, and I wanted to make sure it was a great meeting for me and the other person. So I set the intention myself, and lo and behold it was a great meeting, both parties spoke from their heart, and we accomplished what we wanted to in that meeting. This is one where I do have a hard time speaking my truth. It’s one where I probably have the hardest time speaking my truth, with this person, but it’s someone who I value doing that with. It’s someone who I’ve made lots of mistakes not doing that and it’s ended up with heartache, literal heartache, for me. Coming from your heart means you’re coming from your heart, you’re not letting your mind confuse you, and you’re having that intention. That’s my take on it.


Steli Efti: Yeah, that’s beautiful. There’s a philosophical side to this that I’m not going to get as much into, maybe another time, where I’m even trying to unpack for myself: when I speak about the heart, I speak about a certain center of emotions in my being, and I’m not quite sure what the source of that is. I don’t believe it’s intuition. To me, intuition is something that’s in the gut, in the belly, and that is very much connected to my brain and maybe my subconscious, this massive database that’s giving me a feeling that is sourced from data and information that I can’t quite compute consciously. The heart is a different center of emotion in the body, and I don’t know where those emotions come from. I don’t think they come from the brain, but where do they come from? What is it? That’s a big topic, obviously, and if anybody that listens has a theory or can point to places with theories, I’d love to hear it all and read it all. Shoot us email, and When it comes to listening to the heart or using the heart, or even setting the intention, as you said, in the present moment that I’m going to speak my truth, which means I’m going to acknowledge my truth and live it, speaking it means living your truth in that moment and following your heart in that moment in some way, the reason why that’s difficult, or the reason I think it is difficult for me when I resist that, is because there’s always a certain vulnerability that comes with that. Saying something that your mind can put together, that you think sounds right, will get the right response, will be safe to say, or whatever, is something that’s much more disassociated. So, if that works or it doesn’t work, there’s distance to your emotional control center. But if you open up and you say something that’s in your heart, usually that always comes with a certain vulnerability. Because, maybe, it’s so true, so honest and so raw, we’re afraid. Putting our heart out there, we can be hurt in ways that are much more impactful than putting our brain out there, quote-unquote, and getting those ideas rejected or those thoughts that our mind came up with rejected. So I feel like opening up the heart always comes with courage. It requires the courage, maybe, to be in the present moment, to listen to your truth, and then to live your truth in a way that may get you hurt or that may hurt if it’s not fully accepted and fully acknowledged. In some ways I’m getting to the conclusion that living your true self or listening to your heart means being courageous in the moment. Asking myself, “What does my heart tell me?” It’s not always easy for me to answer that question, but another way of asking, I think, the same question is: what is something that would require courage of me to do right now that I want to do, or say that I want to say? What’s something that would require me to have more courage than I currently have in this relationship, in this situation, in my business, in my life, in what I have to deal with in this challenge or problem? Courage to me is a good compass back into the heart. So that’s been the experiment that I’ve been running over the last couple of days, is asking myself what needs courage in my life, because that is where, probably, my heart is speaking out of. But this is such a weird, interesting, compelling topic that doesn’t have a right or wrong… But I found profound to even just contemplate or talk with people I really, really respect, like you. Even try to talk about it, like, “What do you think? What’s your heart? Do you listen to your heart, and how much of a role does your heart play in certain situations?” I had one friend in that conversation say, “The reason Steli can be so loud, his personality can come across so larger-than-life at certain situations and people still really can connect with him is because he doesn’t just have a big personality, he also has a big heart. He’s not just super confident and a sales dude, but he’s also somebody that is,” in his words, “a sweetheart.” I’m not sure if I agree with that. It’s just interesting to see what role does the heart play in business or entrepreneurship. How do we figure out our own hearts and what role do we allow them to play in how we make decisions. I don’t know. This is the type of episode that I don’t know has a natural ending: “Two tips about the heart!” [inaudible].


Hiten Shah: I think we can end it like this: there are people that are so in their minds that they’re listening to this and probably stopped 30 seconds into it. Then, there’s people that are like, “Oh, I’m curious,” and are all-in on it and wanted to hear what we had to say. Then, there’s people who kind of want to come from their hearts, they want to figure out what that means for them, and they’re probably still listening to this. So the way I would end this is: if this is a topic you want to hear more about, please email us. These are the kind of topics that we can talk from many, multiple facets from, and I think we would enjoy that. So think of the email as a vote. Even if you just said, “Plus one heart,” that’s cool. It’s or One day I’ll tell the story of why that’s my username on Twitter and my email. Yeah, one day. So, email me, email Steli, and give us a “plus one heart” if you want to hear more around this topic of heart and, honestly, we didn’t use the L word, but love comes into this pretty quickly. Maybe that’s for another day.


Steli Efti: Beautiful. That’s it from us for this episode.


Hiten Shah: Thanks a lot.