Greg Świerad is the Founder of Mentorist, a company developing mobile apps for personal growth, the latest one: SkillMentor which brings you all the tools you need to implement new skills from books quickly.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
Mentorist is my third company. Before that, I was doing an international online dating service, where we managed to acquire over 8 million users from all around the world.
My current project, under the global brand Mentorist, is focused on providing great tools to put into practice all the different advice we get from self-help books.
In other words, instead of just learning, the app will help you to take action. Especially useful to master soft skills and productivity.
2) What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
One of my biggest discoveries is how to be productive during the day.
For a startup founder, the subject of productivity is very important, because we have to manage time, energy, tasks, projects, pretty much everything. That’s why startup founders have to take special care of their motivation, focus, and energy management.
I wake up after 6 am, naturally, and the first thing I do is the Wim Hof breathing exercise. If you’ve never heard about it, search for it on YouTube, or read a book. At the end of the day, you would have to try it to fully understand the benefits of this, as it’s very difficult to explain the feeling afterward.
After the breathing, I do stretches, pushups, and burpees – pretty much as many as I can do at once. The third step is the most important – cold immersion. As I live in Poland, where is still very cold in the mornings, I just take off my t-shirt, and go for a short run – 10 minutes is enough. yes, 10 minutes of running in around 0 degrees Celcius (or 32 Fahrenheit).
When it will get warmer, I will probably do cold showers. Not as pleasurable as going out, but also effective.
These three steps are extremely important to prepare me for the day. After these steps is standard day: low-GI breakfast, yerba mate, and jump into the work. Every 2 hours of work I take around 30 minutes break – this feels like I work less, however, the energy management is the most important element, not time management. I finish my work at 6pm, when it’s time to relax.
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
I’m working fully remotely. My team is working remotely, and I myself, I was a digital nomad for a few years. So, I learned how to work and enjoy all these beautiful places around the world.
That means, that I work a lot during the week, and trying to explore new places on the world during the weekends. And in order to be productive while traveling the world, I developed this morning routine I explained above.
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
To be honest, I don’t have much work-life balance during the day. As I said, I work with long breaks in between. When I do glowering or some house chores, I do it in the middle of the day, to regenerate from the work and jump in a little bit more rested mentally.
However, what’s important to me, is to take the Sunday off. To not think about the project at all. I found that it’s very important in order to stay creative and motivated.
5) What do you think are some of the best habits or routines that you’ve developed over the years to help you achieve success in your life?
The best habit is the habit of energy management. And this is a very deep and complex thing because our energy depends on so many factors.
It requires constant thinking of what brings more energy, and what may reduce the energy, and only then it’s possible to develop all these small habits that will serve us.
For me, the most important habits related to it are my morning routine, eating only low-GI (glycemic index) food, and food that is good for our guts, no coffee, no alcohol, daily exercise (at least a few minutes, but must be every day), maximum 1-hour work circles.
And let me emphasize how different types of food may affect motivation and productivity. Eating sugar or sugar-like food (pasta, white bread, rice), not only affects our focus and mental energy, but also interfere with our gut biome, and in consequence, reduces our energy for more than just a few hours. I literally stopped eating bananas, because they have too much sugar and it makes me less focused.
6) Do you have any favorite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
I’m a book reader. I do not listen to many podcasts or many newsletters (only one or two related with startups), but I love books. My number one will be Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind. Besides this, I really like Brain Maker: The Power of Gut Microbes to Heal and Protect Your Brain – for Life – this book helped me a lot with understanding what to do to get more energy. Highly recommended.
7) What is the number one thing you do to make sure you get the most out of your day?
I don’t eat processed food and sweets. And if I eat fruits, I eat it only in the evenings.
8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
It would be probably Noah Yuval Harari. He wrote so great and profound books, about something that seems to be so simple. I would like to know how he did it.
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
A few years ago I was following this advice: Work hard, party hard. It was a beautiful piece of advice because it feels like you take most of your life – you don’t waste time on anything.
But it’s wrong. It’s very wrong. Because, whenever you accept it or not, we need time for doing nothing. We need peace and relaxation. We all need something like meditation and taking long walks in nature.
It’s the only way to open for new possibilities, redefine who we are, and learn what we truly want. Not just once, but over and over again.
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