9 Mental Health Tips for Founders
“How many of you are feeling stressed right now?” That’s how Dane Holewinski started our most recent founders workshop. When every founder raised their hand, we knew it was worth it to share his tips with our broader community.
Dane Holewinski is a former CEO and VC-backed founder whose passion is helping mission-driven entrepreneurs achieve their potential and leave a lasting impact on the world. Dane’s coaching is grounded in the latest scientific research, coaching best practices and deep operating experience.
In this workshop, Dane talked candidly about how to prioritize, protect, and preserve your own health, wellbeing, motivation and growth as a founder. He left us with 9 actionable mental health tips for founders:
#1: GET CLEAR ON YOUR PERSONAL VALUES:
Most of the time things aren’t going to go as planned. You need to get clear on your personal values and understand what you are willing to sacrifice vs not. For example, plan times of day to be with your children and protect it. Then be clear with employees so others understand and can plan around it.
#2: KEEP YOURSELF GROUNDED THROUGH BREATH WORK:
As a founder, to keep your team grounded, you must keep yourself grounded. Startups are a rollercoaster and there will always be ups and downs. If you can stay calm and collected you can ground others and keep your team focused.
#3: CREATE YOUR OWN MENTAL HEALTH MVP (MINIMUM VIABLE PRACTICES):
When things are more stressful, it is even more important to invest in protecting your mental health. Create your own MVP (minimum viable practices) that you need to do every day, month and quarter to keep yourself at your best.
#4: HAVE YOUR TEAM OF SUPPORTERS IN PLACE:
Have your team of supporters in place — where you can be authentic and work through the emotional side of things. This could be family, friends, founders or coaches. Then you can show up from a more grounded place for your organization and employees.
#5: CREATE A MORNING PRACTICE:
Staying grounded is something you have to commit to every day. People have the most success when they carve out time early in the day. Keep your phone out of the bedroom and on airplane mode until after you do your morning practice, this can be whatever activities help keep you grounded.
#6: UTILIZE HABIT STACKING:
Once you have one habit or practice down, it is easier to create another one around it. Think about what daily practice you want to add to your routine and stack it around something that you already do well every day. For example, after your morning coffee, write down the top 2 or 3 things you want to accomplish for the day.
#7: BE TRANSPARENT WITH YOUR TEAM, DON’T LEAVE GAPS:
Humans tend to fill unknowns with their fears. As a founder, if you leave gaps in narrative, people will fill those in with fears, which tend to be exaggerated. Be more transparent than not, even if to ease the worst case scenario for employees.
#8: GET YOUR NETWORK TO WORK FOR YOU:
The earlier you create a support system the better. This could be family, friends, other founders (1–1 or groups of 4–8 founders), a therapist, advisors, coaches etc. Then create a cadence with your network to hold yourself accountable.
#9: FIND A COACH FOR YOUR CURRENT NEEDS:
Coaching is beneficial for every human, you don’t have to be a founder. The bigger the mountain you are climbing, the more you can benefit from a coach. The coaching needed is different depending on the stage of your company.
At January Ventures, we’re committed to demystifying venture capital. This workshop was part of our Founders Workshop Series and aimed to give insight into how founders can prioritize, protect, and preserve their own health, wellbeing, motivation and growth. Thank you to our partners Oracle for Startups and AngelList for their continued support and for making this event possible.