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Voice journaling helped this founder uncover sources of stress, and develop tactics to minimize them

Kintsugi CEO Grace Chang.
Courtesy of Grace Chang

In our CEO wellness series, we ask executives about their day-to-day habits to gain insight into the tactics they use to minimize stress and maintain their well-being.

Grace Chang is the founder and CEO of Kintsugi. Chang was previously in technical leadership roles at several Bay Area startups including a machine learning company specialized in signal processing for authentication.

Coffee or tea? And what do you put in it?
Both! In San Francisco, there’s an amazing indie grocer called Rainbow Grocery in the Mission and they offer an incredible array of decaf beans including Linea Swiss, Queer Wave, and Ritual all of which I enjoy with oat milk as a pourover, and later in the day, tea, particularly Boba Guys’ Hojicha and Third Culture Roasted Matcha with oat are regularly in rotation.

What is your go-to breakfast?
Decaf pourover with Oatly.

Tell us about your workout routine.
I love to start the day at my neighborhood Bar Method. Classes provide a much-needed structure, and people who make me feel connected to the Berkeley community I live in. On weekends, my partner and I love exploring the hills behind us, and even in the evenings, popping out for a brisk walk after an intense day is magical.

How many hours do you sleep on a typical night?
Six to eight hours, preferably more during the weekends.

How do you de-stress?
Aside from conventional wisdom—exercise, hanging out with people you love, and sleep—I find that being aware of my triggers is really important. I became much more self-aware after voice journaling with Kintsugi. And for myself in particular, a lack of sleep or exercise, hunger and quality of nutrition in the foods I was eating, menstrual cycle, and sunshine or lack thereof, severely aggravated physical stressors—IBS, eczema, migraines, and temperament. I could be dealing with the exact same circumstance, but if any of the above is in play, I now have specific tactics for minimizing these in a meaningful way.

According to your phone, what’s your daily average screen time from last week?
4 hr 48 min daily

What app do you use the most?
Surprisingly, Email. I thought Slack killed email? I start and end my day checking emails, my calendar, Slack, texts, and rely on Safari, YouTube, TikTok for news, learning new things, and the latest in culture.

When’s the last time you took a day off? What did you do?
In April, I’m planning a girls’ trip to Belize, our group of friends have traveled together for all kinds of milestones and am looking forward to celebrating the time together. My last vacation was in December of 2021, where my partner and I went to Mexico, had a milestone birthday and closed our Series A just before midnight on New Year’s Eve!

What’s one thing your company is doing to prioritize employee wellness?
We’ve assembled a Culture Committee to address burnout and what has been surprising is that despite having a number of unconventional wellness perks like a $150 monthly wellness stipend, Summer Fridays to spend afternoons with friends and family, unlimited vacation where most on average take two to three weeks a year, meditation activities, boundary setting, and Global Recharge days, high performers just want to do a good job and feel good about their work.

Essentially, what Daniel Pink describes as autonomy, mastery, and purpose [in the book Drive], and the responsibility of leadership to properly manage expectations, have hard conversations, provide a safe space for feedback and to feel heard, and to follow through on what we say we’ll do. The pandemic, remote work, generational differences, political divisions, and economic strife have created an anxiety of never being enough, and somehow, our communities need to pull us out to forge a healthy path forward.

What’s your favorite treat?
Perhaps not a surprise? Boba Guys hot hochija boba with oat milk. I’m Taiwanese American, I can’t help it!

Show us a photo of your happy place.

“At home, looking over the Bay and Golden Gate Bridge in the distance.”
Courtesy of Grace Chang
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