In today’s episode of The Startup Chat, Steli and Hiten talk about why founders need to schedule quiet time to think deeply.

The world we live in today can be described as noisy. There is too much information and most of the time we’re consuming this information and not making time for ourselves to think or meditate.  

So in this episode, Steli and Hiten talk about why you need to schedule quiet time to think deeply, how not scheduling some time for can affects you, the importance of meditation and much more.

Time Stamped Show Notes:

00:00 About the topic of today’s episode

00:41 Why this topic was chosen.

01:16 Why you need to schedule quiet time to think deeply.

02:27 How not scheduling some time for yourself affects you as a person.

03:39 How there’s a lot of noise in the world. 

04:01 The importance of meditation.

06:30 A story about the power of having quiet time.

09:43 What Hiten’s quiet time looks like.

10:55 An activity Steli has recently picked up.

12:00 A big goal Steli would like to hit.

3 Key Points:

  • We’re not starving for information.
  • Find your quiet time.
  • There’s a lot of noise in the world.


Steli: Hey everybody, this is Steli Efti.


Hiten: And this is Hiten Shah.


Steli: And today on The Startup Chat we’re going to talk about thinking time, quiet time. Why is it important for you as a founder to spend some amount of time in your day to day life, not doing or listening or watching or communicating with anyone? Quiet time, just being with your own thoughts. Why is that valuable? Why is that important and how do we do it and how do other people do it? And kind of some tips on how to incorporate that in people’s lives. Let’s start with setting up the reason why that’s even a thing and why it’s valuable. I’ll go first and I’ll let you chime in with your ideas or tips Hiten. But the deal is this, I don’t know how hard I have to pitch this to anybody, but in today’s world where we have unlimited access to information, people, content, we’re not starving for information, right? It’s the opposite. It’s like there’s so much nutrition that we now have to learn how to keep a good information diet or a good consumption diet of information just like we have to do now with food. And too many people spend all their day either talking to other people or listening to audio books or listening to podcasts like this one, or listening to music or the scrolling through Twitter or Instagram or Facebook. And so there’s not any moment during the day, now even when people are on the toilet or taking a shower, they’re constantly consuming or interacting with content and information. And so there’s not enough time to now process that, or be even in touch with how you feel and how you think during the day and create the space that you’re mind and body and soul needs to actually process some of that information. And for you to actually be in touch and present with yourself and your own thoughts and feelings. And I think that comes with massive costs associated with it. I think that comes with people struggling more and more with being able to concentrate. I think it comes with people being less and less thoughtful because they never have the time to actually think through things. And it comes with a lack of creativity, a a lack of thinking differently or creatively, or coming up with really high level strategic ideas or insights. And it comes with a certain tension because we’re constantly bombarded by information. We never have the time to just relax into ourselves. And so this is, I think today, a huge topic and something that is really slowing down most people, but especially founders. And I think it’s only going to get worse. So becoming competent at this is, I think, super, super crucial.


Hiten: Yeah. I mean, there’s a lot of noises in the world so we’re inundated with more information than ever, whether it’s through social media or just modern life, honestly. And if we don’t find our ways to have quiet time or time to synthesize, or process, whatever is happening, all these inputs, all these things going on, we can drive ourselves crazy. Because there’s so many things to think about, worry about and do, in theory. I don’t really think there are. I think that we tend to consume ourselves with all this information, all these thoughts, all these ideas, all these concepts. But at the end of the day, life can be pretty simple if you want it to be. It’s just a matter of how you think about it regardless of what’s going on or how complicated things are. And that’s why… There’s a few things in my mind here, but one thing is, that’s why we use quotes a lot. To make us feel good about certain things. Or we… Meditation has become such a big thing now just because I think that being able to find… It’s almost like a word for “Hey, quiet time,” you know? Whatever that means for you. Are you doing walking meditations? Are you sitting quietly? I mean I tend to meditate when I drive, which I know sounds crazy. You know, whatever. What have you. I think there are a number of things like that, that we all do as human beings. And with meditation and things like that when really what we’re trying to do is find that quiet time, find that ability to just not have to think about anything and just be calm and kind of calm down because everything is so noisy or can be. And so yeah, I think this is a brilliant thing that I just want to share just like you do with people, which is find your quiet time, whatever it is for you and use it. And use it to your advantage. When you feel like there’s a lot going, on or you can’t get something off your mind, do something, whatever it is that works for you, do it. For me, sometimes it’s just taking a drive, right. If I’m really at my wit’s end on something or just can’t stop thinking about, I’ll just take a drive and that usually helps me. Sometimes it’s with some loud music, sometimes it’s just going fast, whatever it is that helps. A walk helps for me. If I’m in the right spot in terms of where I am, I’ll close my eyes for a few minutes. You can say I’m meditating, but this stuff’s important because the day to day of work, business, life, people, social media, all these things impact us in ways we might not understand. Sometimes even the way you feel might not even have anything to do with what’s going on in your life. It might be that someone know vented to you and now you feel a certain way because of them and some of the energy that they had. And then they kind of… You were helping them or whatever, or you heard them out and now all of a sudden you feel crappy. Right? that happens too. So getting back to your center, so to speak, or getting back to yourself and realizing that whatever’s going on, it’s 99% of the time it’s temporary or something you will get through one way or another.


Steli: I love it. There’s two episodes that I recommend everybody listen to that’s interesting on this topic, episode number 286 mindfulness for founders, and episode 409 meditation for founders, are super relevant to this topic. I want to share a story here that popped up, that’s kind of coming from a totally different world. Most people that know me, know that I’m a huge combat sports fan, a huge mixed martial arts fan. There’s one guy that I’ve been always a fan of. He’s been kind of in the sport forever. He started doing kind of backyard fights in Florida when he was like, I don’t know, 18, 19 years old. And then became a professional fighter and then has had a career where everybody always respected him as being one of the best fighters. But he was never able to break through and get a championship, was always kind of falling short of that. He just became a little bit of a journeyman of sorts. And he took a break, a year break just recently. He’s been in this forever. Right? And once you’ve been in any kind of sport as a professional athlete for a very long time and you’ve not gotten to the very top, the chances are very low that you’re going to get there late in your career. So with him, he took a break for a year and he was booked in some reality TV show that had all kinds of… Somewhere in South America where it was all kinds of professional athletes that would do these jungle competitions that were kind of athletics based. And he came back and he turned into a completely different person, and his career skyrocketed. He’s now one of the most famous MMA fighters, he’s made millions. He’s made more money probably in the last 12 months since he’s been back then in the 20 years prior in his career. And when they asked him what changed, like “Why were you able to break through now?” He attributed that a reality TV show period for this change. And the reason for it was, he was saying, everybody hated to be on that show because every day you would wake up in that jungle and for many, many hours there was nothing to do. And there’s no television, there’s no smartphone, there’s nothing and people would go insane. He’s like “For me, it was a transformational period. For the first time in my life, I actually was waking up and I could feel how I felt. I could think my own thoughts and I was able to just really understand myself and go, this is how I feel. This is how I feel about my life. This is how I feel about my career. These are the thoughts that I’ve been having. These are the toxic patterns I’ve been in. And to really kind of refresh my outlook on life and myself and my career.” And he’s like, “Now that I come back, I cut out so much noise out of my life and I don’t even touch my smartphone. I just spend as little time as possible on playing video games and being on my phone on Instagram all day long and being around all these toxic people. And just spending more quiet time with myself.” And so maybe a weird example, but to me it’s like a very impressive recent kind of manifestation of the power of having quiet time and how much value that can actually provide in your life. Now let me ask you Hiten, so driving is a big thing for you that’s kind of your quiet time. Do you listen to music or audiobooks while driving? Or do you typically, do you have nothing on while you drive because that’s the time where you think or you meditate and you’re just like quiet?


Hiten: It just depends. Sometimes I have things, music on. It just depends on how I feel. And sometimes it’s just very quiet and I’m sort of zenning out so to speak as I’m driving.


Steli: So for me, I don’t have that type of an activity that I love as much as that. Now, obviously when I do martial arts it’s kind of very intense. One or two hour workouts and I’m not listening to music. It’s not like going to the gym and doing weight lifting or something where I would typically do listen to musical podcast or an audio book or something like that. When I do Moitai or or Brazilian jujitsu, there’s no music, there’s no audio book. I’m just add full extent of exertion and and concentration, but it’s not quiet time. So what I do and I try to meditate every day, but I also don’t see that as real thinking quiet time. So what I’ve started to do recently is that I’ve started to incorporate it in areas with easy but uncomfortable. Weird examples, like when I take a shower, I typically used to listen to music or to podcasts while being in the shower. I now make an effort to not do that. To just be in the shower. When I wait for things, like when I go to a restaurant and I make an order and I wait for my order to come through, I used to be on my phone texting, reading, Twitter or doing things. Now, sometimes, not every time, but sometimes, I make the effort to just wait. There’s actually magic and just standing in line, waiting. Again, observing your surroundings, but then maybe also being in your own thoughts. So I do a lot more of that. These little moments in the day where I could just be doing nothing, just being a human being. And I don’t succumb to the urge to just fill that time with something that’s usually consuming information. And then one thing that I do on and off, I have to say that I struggle with this, but one thing I’d like to do more and a goal that I had set, is to just have 10 minutes of thinking time. Where I’m actually in the office or somewhere and I can go out and go on a walk. But where the purpose is just to just think. And when I do it, it’s always magical. Oftentimes the 10 minutes will then extend to more time. But I don’t always make time for that. But I remember when I had a streak for a couple of days where I had that. And I even sat down and I wrote something and this is something I’ve never done on the podcast. I think almost 500 episodes in and I’ve never actually read out loud something I wrote down for myself on this very podcast. But I’ll do this as a preview here even if It makes me a little uncomfortable. But I had a very, in like a two week period where I had like 10 or 15 minutes of thinking time every day. And it was so powerful that I wrote down something. I wrote down. “Silence provides the space to breathe, feel, think, to confront me with my inner self.”


Hiten: That’s great.


Steli: It is a vacation away from noise and oxygen for my soul.


Hiten: Wow.


Steli: Yeah, I felt-


Hiten: All right.


Steli: I felt very poetic apparently in that moment but…


Hiten: Very good.


Steli: But that is, what it is. And with that, I’ll make a promise to myself and a commitment to the listeners that I’ll get back creating more quiet time and thinking time for myself. Because it does. It does do a lot for me for sure.


Hiten: That’s awesome. I can’t see a better way to end it than you being poetic like that.


Steli: All right, that’s it from us for this episode. By the way, if you have profound, or not so profound moments around quiet time, thinking time. If you have anything to share with us, we always love to hear from you so you can get in touch. H[inaudible 00:00:13:51] Until next time, we’ll see you very soon.


Hiten: See you.