I’m amazed at how many high-performers have serious or chronic health issues like TMJ, severe muscle pain, carpal tunnel.

I’ve dealt with my share of health issues; imho it all comes down to stress.

A story about stress and what I’ve learned from managing it...

**Read On**
I woke up with a pain in my side that wouldn’t go away. Hours later, the doctors were performing an appendectomy.

I was out for 2 weeks and it hurt like hell.

I don’t think it was a coincidence that I was fired 4 months later:

After Udemy, I got healthy and built a fitness routine.

My physical health was better than ever, and people noticed. I was the perfect brand ambassador for a healthy food company.

Problem solved, right?
The good times didn't last. Running Sprig was freaking hard (all startups are) and soon I developed TMJ - severe jaw pain related to grinding one’s teeth.

It would get so bad that at times I couldn’t even get out of bed in the morning.
The problem wasn’t the TMJ or appendicitis. The problem was stress.

I had improved my physical health but didn’t consider my mental health! The two feed off one another. A healthy lifestyle means having both.
It only dawned on me after we shut Sprig down and I went on sabbatical. Within weeks, I started to feel great again.

Walking in 100° heat in Havana, I had more energy than I ever did in San Francisco.

As my mental stress subsided, my physical stress did too.
Now, I’m starting my 3rd company and worried about falling into the stress vortex again.

After 10 years battling this, I’ve learned a lot and thought I’d share my lessons:
1) As always, strategy is everything.

You have more control than you realize. You choose your career, your goals, and how you work. You can learn to negotiate with your colleagues/boss/board about expectations and responsibilities.

Create a work/life strategy that works for you
Don’t just fix the acute symptoms of stress. Go deeper and figure out the real issue: do you need additional headcount? Are you taking work too seriously? Do you need a vacation?

You control your own destiny. Don’t play victim!
2) Physical health. I work out 3-4x/week, try to eat whole foods and drink responsibly. I used to meditate but found I prefer long walks and exercise.

I weigh myself every day to keep me accountable - I know it’s not perfect, but do what works for you!
The most important thing about your physical health: do things that you can do for the next 10 years.

No fad diets, no unreasonable expectations. Sustainable > effective.
3) Mental Health = more important than physical health!

For non-founders: get a good therapist/life coach, build a “circle” of colleagues at other companies with similar jobs, and find a good mentor to provide perspective.

Also, just don’t take yourself too seriously!
As a founder, I spend more on help than I do on rent!

Executive coach, personal assistant, travel planner. The goal is to get everything off your plate that adds to your workload besides the most important stuff.
4) Family & Friends. So many are only friends with other career-oriented people. This is a mistake. Long-term friends, families and significant others are there even if your career falters.

Invest in these relationships; don’t let them go by the wayside because of work.
5) Perspective. When you’re in the zone, everything else fades away. Your work feels like life. Every mistake, every success feels monumental.

Guess what? It isn’t. It doesn’t fucking matter in the grand scheme of things. I *try* to remind myself of this when I'm stressed.
Also, take a goddamn vacation every once in awhile. It really does help.

If you think you can’t, then the act of forcing yourself to figure out how will actually improve your effectiveness at your job. You’ll learn to prioritize, operationalize, and delegate.
6) Monk mode. As an absolute last resort, go into monk mode. When things are really bad, hunker down:
No sugar, no alcohol, self-care weekends, meditate and exercise daily.

“Monk mode” is not an ideal permanent state, at least not for me. But you gotta do what you gotta do.
When your body tells you you're over-stressed, use it as a warning that you are losing perspective, that your habits might need improving and that your work/life strategy is out of whack.
This is a lifelong battle. I deal with it every day. But it does get better - as you get older and have more perspective, the things that used to stress you out seem trivial. Remember that and, if you can, use it to help you relax.

As my mother says, “Health is Wealth.”
I write honest stories about building businesses, life in the trenches and more.

Follow me and subscribe to my (very occasional: high signal, low noise) newsletter: gaganbiyani.com

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More from @gaganbiyani

22 Jan
Before Udemy could succeed, we had to solve a chicken and egg problem.

These problems are a constant dilemma for founders. (ie. Funding is needed to scale but scale is needed for funding.)

Here's how we bumbled to a solution that kicked off our $3B business.

**Read On**
At Udemy, we needed instructors to attract students, but instructors would only come if they could sell their courses to students.

How could we get one party to show up without the other?

To compound this issue, we had no money, no credibility and no backers.
Step 1: Fake the Chicken

We had 0 courses but a built-out product. @erenbali created a crawler that went on YouTube and built courses out of YouTube playlists.

Now we had talks from Marissa Meyer & Mark Zuckerberg on our site so any users who came on had something to learn.
Read 16 tweets
30 Dec 20
OK a bunch of you have asked how I got to 60K followers. Thought I'd share some 7 quick lessons:
1) Tweets keep your followers engaged, but threads get new followers.

Just 3 key threads earned me 70% of my 60K followers:
Thread 1:
Thread 2:
Thread 3:
2) Provide more value than you take.

If you are promoting a company or service, make sure that's less than 50% of your tweets. For me, its probably around 10-25% promotion and 75%+ value.
Read 8 tweets
9 Dec 20
This crowdfunding campaign has me thinking about my start in the Valley.

I knew nobody and had few marketable skills.

I didn’t know the difference between an API and a VC.

Within 3 months, I’d met @erenbali and@caglaroktay and we had started @udemy.

**Read On**
I graduated during the 2008 recession. I was sure I was gonna lose my job at Accenture.

My mother had just lost hers, & I was freaking the fuck out. All first-year analysts were joking daily about the situation.

One day, I got the ominous email from Accenture management...
... The good news: I still had my job.

The bad news: I had to relocate to Washington DC.

I had one friend in DC: Vikrum.

I told him about my dream of working in tech. He gave me my golden ticket: “Check out TechCrunch, that’s what all my tech friends read.”
Read 17 tweets
7 Dec 20
Want to invest in @wes_kao and my startup?

Today, we're debuting a new approach to seed rounds:

... Open Application Investing 💥

We’ve launched a public form where anyone can apply to invest in the company: wk-gb.typeform.com/to/JvGpJetd

Small check sizes welcome!

More details 👇🏾
ICYMI, we closed a super over-subscribed seed round led by @firstround with @naval @shl @ljin18 + more investing over $4M at a $20M cap

More info here - bit.ly/wk-gb

Many saw it and asked to invest, and we worked with @joinrepublic to make this possible
Investing in startups is the ultimate "who you know" game; you must be an insider and have significant access to capital

The open application process helps us provide access to non-accredited, non-traditional investors AND maximize the impact this has on our company's success
Read 6 tweets
16 Nov 20
Advanced Fundraising Strategy:
For most, fundraising is a chore. These days, more companies are fortunate to have competitive rounds.

What do you do when you have options? How do you optimize a competitive round?

@wes_kao and I had options... Here's how we approached it.

👇🏾
We named our priorities up-front:
1. Involve investors who backed us in the past
2. Find a Lead who would help raise the A
3. Leverage Lead + large syndicate to create traction (our market is aligned with this strategy as many investors can be instructors or help promote courses)
To make room, we had to raise $4M. If we raised less, we'd have to exclude too many people. If we raised more, the company would be over-valued or over-diluted.

I do not believe in having a valuation over $25M for a pre-seed company. Too hard to beat those expectations.
Read 15 tweets
12 Nov 20
It's been a year in the making...

Today, @wes_kao and I are announcing a $4.32M seed round led by @firstround for our new company

We're building a platform for Cohort-Based Courses (CBCs): bit.ly/wk-gb

The backstory 👇🏾
In 2009 @erenbali, @caglaroktay shared the Udemy vision w/ me. Back then it was a marketplace for live online classes.

They wow'ed me with a Zoom-like product that was ahead of its time (built on Adobe Flash 😅)

I tried to market it for 1 year but couldn't get any traction.
In order to get traction, we pivoted into video-based courses (now known as “MOOCs”). They took off and the rest is history.

I'm really proud of what the Udemy team has done - 400M course enrollments and counting! 👀

Read 12 tweets

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