Today’s CEOs are facing innumerable challenges: a global pandemic and a sea change in how and where employees want to show up for work, just to name a few. For leaders, the pressure has never been higher. How do they mitigate it? In our new series, we ask executives about their day-to-day wellness habits to gain insight into the tactics they use to minimize stress and maintain their well-being.
Rishi Mandal is the co-founder and CEO of Future, the connected coaching company. Future pairs members one on one with a world-class personal trainer, who trains them digitally. Mandal was previously the CEO of Sosh (acquired by Postmates) and a product leader at Google. Prior to tech, Mandal was an astrophysics researcher at NASA and Stanford University.
Coffee or tea And what do you put in it?
Coffee. I like the morning ritual of grinding beans (I usually reach for something from Ethiopia or Kenya) and doing a pour-over. My favorite roaster is Sightglass Coffee in San Francisco, and I have this cool scale that automatically reorders beans for me just before they run out.
What is your go-to breakfast?
I like to reduce my decision fatigue, so I start every day with the same exact meal: a cup of coffee, a breakfast burrito, a green juice, and lots of water.
Tell us about your workout routine.
My goal is to be strong and athletic, and to have fun with my exercise. So I lift weights three to four times a week in my home gym. I like putting on my headphones and getting into a zone. Twice a week I do some cardio—I mix it up between outdoor trail runs in one of the nearby state parks, playing basketball, and swimming. As a father and a founder, time is tight, so I don’t have a fixed time of day when I work out. I prefer the mornings but have to adapt to each day’s schedule. Best of all, my Future coach prepares each week’s training plan, so I don’t have to think about it too much.
How many hours do you sleep on a typical night?
Typically six to seven hours. I’m aiming for eight hours, and have been trying out sleep coaching to get there.
How do you de-stress?
For me, stress comes from that constant nagging feeling that I’m forgetting something important, or that I have a laundry list of things to take care of. One way that I’ve learned to conquer this is by ruthlessly scheduling my time.
At the start of each week, I carefully allot time for my recurring meetings, my highest priorities at work, time with my kids, time for exercise, breakfast, reading, commuting, you name it. I even have to schedule in dinner with my wife, so that going into any week I know I have time for all of the things that are important to me. This, in turn, helps me feel like I’m always in the right place. When I’m giving my kids a bath, for example, I’m never wondering if I should be doing something for work. Or if I’m working late on a day, I know that I’ve set aside a lot of time in the week to be with my family. That gives me some peace of mind and helps me focus.
According to your phone, what’s your daily average screen time from last week?
Three hours, 37 minutes. That feels surprisingly high to me, but I do a fair amount of work from my phone (email, Slack, and phone calls). One of the best things I’ve done recently is set Screen Time limits on my phone. So after 20 minutes of social media in a day, it locks me out of those apps. Same for news apps. For me, it’s enough to get caught up for the day without going down rabbit holes.
What app do you use the most?
It turns out that iMessage is one of the most used apps on almost every iPhone. That’s true for me, and it also helped inspire the idea for my second-most used app: Future. I co-founded Future to help anyone anywhere become consistent with their fitness. We do this by pairing you one on one with a world-class fitness coach who plans your workouts and texts you every day, in order to keep you on track.
When’s the last time you took a day off? What did you do?
My days off are all about family. My wife and I have two young kids, and we recently took them to Carmel, out on the California coast for a week. We spent every day either in the swimming pool or at the beach.
What’s one thing your company is doing to prioritize employee wellness?
Every Future staffer gets their own fitness coach, helping them work fitness into their busy lives regardless of what equipment or time challenges they have. And it’s a common thing for Future employees to have time held on their calendars to work out!
What’s your favorite treat?
I prefer salty to sweet, so I love to eat popcorn. It’s a fun and dramatic thing to make with your kids too, so they’re into it. If I had to pick something sweet, I’d reach for dark chocolate. I think the folks at Dandelion Chocolate make some of the best stuff in the world.
Show us a photo of your happy place.
It’s hard to beat the Grand Hotel Tremezzo on Lake Como. It’s a vintage marvel (it first opened in 1910) set on the western shore of the lake. It’s glamorous, the views are unbelievable, and one of the hotel’s swimming pools literally floats in the lake.
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