This article compiles 40+ ways founders and investors who have gone on the On Call with Insignia podcast de-stress and take care of their mental well-being, from sports to hobbies, hanging out with their kids to meditation. 

Photos by Jared Rice, Luah Jun Yang, and Dvir Adler on Unsplash

40+ ways founders and investors de-stress and take care of their mental well being

This article compiles 40+ ways founders and investors who have gone on the On Call with Insignia podcast de-stress and take care of their mental well-being, from sports to hobbies, hanging out with their kids to meditation. 

This article compiles 40+ ways founders and investors who have gone on the On Call with Insignia podcast de-stress and take care of their mental well-being, from sports to hobbies, hanging out with their kids to meditation. 

In the over 60 calls we’ve had with founders and investors in Southeast Asia from Season 2 to Season 4 of On Call with Insignia, one question we’ve asked the most frequently in our Rapid Fire Round has been, “What do you do to de-stress? / How do you take care of your mental health and mental well being?”

And the reason we keep asking it is because it allows us to get a more holistic picture of our guests, not just founder of X or investor in Y but also human beings, and by doing so hopefully offer some inspiration and empathy to listeners also in a similar boat.

Asia-first mental health tech company Intellect CEO and co-founder Theodoric Chew brings up on our podcast the importance of mental health care especially for founders, especially in light of the reality that it is often understated in the ecosystem. “I think it’s super important. I think being a founder myself and having gone through these things with my co-founders as well. I think it’s very clear that burnout happens to everyone especially for people that are very invested in doing this.”

Rishabh Singh adds more context to this on our podcast as well. “And it’s often ignored. Founders’ anxiety and founder stress is real and it’s often understated and looked down on. And not a lot of people would want to talk about this. I think talking about it and having something that you do that de-stresses you, because running the company day-to-day, raising money day-to-day, you pitch to a hundred investors, probably 99 would say no. I think having a feeling of rejection early on, failing early on and then coming up with a new idea every day is all stressful.”

In a recent article, we wrote about how scaling does not happen in a vacuum between a product and target customers. In the same way, entrepreneurship, leading a hypergrowth organization, or even managing a portfolio of such companies does not happen within a vacuum either. A lot of what happens outside the board rooms and beyond the email app has an often understated influence on what makes an effective leader and forms the foundations of a great company.

We see this most clearly in the way that founders are motivated to start their companies based on real problems they experienced outside of their work, and there many other ways these day-to-day activities and habits that have no direct link with the product or company they are building can have a positive influence on these very products and companies.

In this article, with mental health awareness month on May, we compiled the answers shared across all these conversations and identified seven common practices, based on how often they were mentioned and how differentiated they are versus other answers:


  1. Sports or physical activities
  2. Gaming
  3. Other hobbies (Music, Tech)


  1. Hanging out with the kids, family
  2. Pets


  1. Change in scenery / Travelling
  2. Self-reflection / Meditation

While we categorized the answers for the purposes of this article, every activity or habit is unique to the person and their environment, and so we placed each of their answers from the podcast transcripts as well.

Sports or physical activities to clear the mind and stay healthy

Running, Biking, Hiking

Albert Ho, RateS Chief Strategy Officer: “Exercise.”

Yada Piyajomkwan, Ajaib CPO and co-founder: “Hiking.”

Hendra Kwik, Fazz Financial Group CEO: “I like sports and running a lot, so yeah, I run a lot.” 

Adrit Raha, Symbo CEO: “Running. I’ve used the time through COVID to recalibrate and really spend between two to three times a week going for a run. And that really clears my head.” 

Guadalupe Lazaro, Ease Healthcare CEO and co-founder: “I run, so that I’m actually away from the screen for at least 45mins a day. It has been helping me feel more relaxed and creative as thoughts and ideas usually come up when I’m not working.”

Chang Zi Qian, Intelllex CEO and founder: “I walk and I hike quite a bit. So I hike at least once a week, and try to do 30 minute walks in the evenings.”

Tianwei Liu, Fazz Financial Group Deputy CEO: “I like to run. Don’t forget about your health. Startups are a marathon. I think the COVID has [actually] helped. I actually workout twice a week right now. So that is actually really bringing a lot of additional energy in some sense. And during those runs, I’m thinking about things, right.” 

“So when I am running, I’ll be thinking about things, and then when I come back I might do a few more things that I’ve thought about during the runs, and that’s helped me to be de-stressed quite a bit. So always make time for yourself. I guess that’s super important for anyone who is trying to do anything. Your body is your temple. You need to make sure that it is functioning well. And that is the basic foundation for everything else.”

Hoang Ky Vu, Head of Business at Gojek, angel investor, Insignia Ventures Academy Cohort 2: “During the work-from-home in COVID, I actually bought a bike. So what I do is I bike around the neighborhood, right? Of course, it’s good for exercising, but also just good to be a bit outside, to relax and drive around the neighborhood.” 

Sports Mix

Andrea Baronchelli, Aspire CEO and co-founder: “Cycling (recently) and sailing (best spots in Vietnam!)”

Huy Nghiem, Finhay CEO and co-founder: “Tennis, traveling, hanging out with friends.”

Sanjay Zimmermann, White Star Capital Principal, Insignia Ventures Academy mentor: “I played tennis. I play a lot of tennis, and played tennis in college. I play these days with my younger sister who beats me all the time, but that’s fine. I love playing with her. And it’s my, it’s my best de-stressor and keeps me healthy.”

Rajive Keshup, Cathay Innovation Investment Director, Insignia Ventures Academy mentor: “I cycle a fair bit. I picked that up doing the circuit breaker last year and have sustained it, and it’s been pretty good. I’m not as good as some other VCs, like Michael Lynch, but I do my best.”

Duc Anh Ngo, Medici CEO and founder: “Running and kickboxing.” 

Linh Dang Bao, Edmicro CEO and co-founder: “Sports — football and tennis.” 

Rio Hoe, Ease Healthcare co-founder: “I play a range of sports – football, running, golf – it allows me to take proper time off and reset, especially after a long day in front of the screen.” 

Mark Sng, Gentree VP of Investments, Insignia Ventures Academy mentor: “I run a lot and I cycle a lot, so I road bike. I’m one of those kids, I’m not going to say picked up road biking over COVID, but I was cycling before, but then got really back into it because the last time I cycled was probably back in my JC triathlon days, so it’s been awhile, but I cycle a lot. I run a lot, so I do a lot of endurance sports. I find that it allows me to really de-stress and clear my mind. I know even Yinglan likes to go for walks. I think having these physical exercises is quite important, at least it keeps you healthy, right?”

Mohammed Alabsi, Hypefast CTO, angel investor, Insignia Ventures Academy Cohort 1 and mentor: “I try to exercise as much as I can. I like to go jogging, play basketball or go out for walks. I think that helps me clear my head and reduce that feeling of stress. At the same time sometimes just kind of thinking things through and putting things into perspective can be super super [helpful].” 


Rafi Putra Arriyan, Flip CEO and co-founder: “I like to play Dark Souls. Basically I love all games from software. Dark Souls is one of the favorites. I’m really looking forward to the Elder Ring next February.”

Gabriel Frans, CrediBook CEO and co-founder: “And I play games seriously too, [mostly] FPS online, competitive, and also single RPGs. I play Valorant; I main Chamber and sometimes Jett.” 

Hoang Ky Vu, Head of Business at Gojek, angel investor, Insignia Ventures Academy Cohort 2: “I also got a Nintendo switch from my wife for Christmas. I’m also playing that from time to time to just de-stress. I actually play Pokemon [because of the] childhood memories. But I’m also playing Mario Kart, Super Smash, just fun games with my wife to just relax and then de-stress.”

Jason Chew, Founder of Codeless and KopiDAO, angel investor, Insignia Ventures Academy Cohort 2: “When I do have free time, I actually like playing some games on PS4. I played this game called Destiny, pretty much the only game that I do play nowadays.”

Hobbies (Music, Painting, Tech)

Aaron Tan, Carro CEO and co-founder: “My go-to activity to de-stress, believe it or not, is programming. Either driving or programming, those are two things that I do. And I still do both of them quite regularly.”

Hasbi Asyadiq, Assemblr CEO and founder: “I love to play music. I do play several instruments, like piano, bass, violin and guitar, and sometimes I write music too.”

Rick Firnando, Verihubs CEO and co-founder: “The quick answer is that I listen to Spotify all the time and I’ve been into painting lately. I don’t know why, but every time I paint, I feel really calm.”

​​JJ Chai, Rainforest CEO and co-founder: “I like tinkering with new stuff, new technologies, new apps, new gadgets. That’s one of the things that I enjoy.”

Gabriel Frans, CrediBook CEO and co-founder: “So I have a lot of hobbies. Two things that are the go-to hobbies for me to de-stress are music and games. So I play a lot of musical instruments like guitar, piano, and bass.” 

“I haven’t [published any music] but I usually write some of my songs on the weekend and plan to do maybe some EPs, not albums, within this year, hopefully fingers crossed. And usually music connects people, and I talk with some of the SME owners, they usually also play [some instruments] maybe some guitars and some music and it just connects us.”

Williem Williem, Verihubs CTO and co-founder: “The first one is [listening] to Korean ballad songs and then the second one is seeing my child smile. I love those songs from like Sung Si Kyung.”

Hanging out with the kids 

Ahmed Aljunied, Pinhome CTO and co-founder: “Going for pre-covid brunch with my girls (wife, and 2 daughters) and re-watching anime classics.”

Rajive Keshup, Cathay Innovation Investment Director, Insignia Ventures Academy mentor: “So when I mentioned I have a five-year-old and that’s all the stress busting I can handle. If you ever want to relieve some stress, hang out with some kids. I don’t care whether they’re your own or somebody else’s really doesn’t matter. They have an amazing way of simplifying things, in distilling things down very quickly, and are super fun to hang out with. And so I hang out with my son and all of his friends, and that’s a lot of stress busting. We played Beyblades and I’m currently the reigning champion of my son’s toy room.”

Mesty Ariotedjo, Tentang Anak CEO and co-founder: “I think Garri is good at playing to the kids while I’m very poor at it. So I really love to read good books and also play musical instruments with my kids like playing piano, usually I play like Mozart, but now I play Baby Shark — it’s enjoyable.”

Garri Juanda, Tentang Anak chairman and co-founder: “The thing that I always do every night is read good books around 8 pm, before we turn off the lights. That’s a routine that we have, and hopefully we still keep that routine until they’re in high school.”

Sara Sofyan, Wifkain CEO and co-founder: I like the same thing with the kids, but I feel like sometimes it might really be a distressing activity, really depending on the situation. I like to take them outdoors because we live in Jakarta. So it’s such a metropolitan city and everything is very [crowded], a lot of traffic, as you know. So I like to take them outdoors, at least once a while, once a week, during the weekends, to get them to feel more open. 

Oliver Suendermann, Intellect Clinical Director: “Yeah, that’s very good. We have to practice what we preach. If I have to name one thing, it’s playtime with my two year old daughter. That’s a lot of fun and it allows me to switch off as well, which is super important, and not always so easy, with the whole work-from-home boundaries a little bit blurred, but running around and having fun with [my daughter] is probably what helps me to switch off the most at the moment.”

Playing with Pets

Dayu Dara Permata, Pinhome CEO and co-founder: “Play with my cats, watch movies, or do some gardening at home.”

Rishabh Singh, Dishserve CEO and co-founder: “At Dishserve, we have a chief happiness officer, which is my dog and her name is Fiona. So we play with Fiona and we invite all the people that are going to kind of come to my place. And we all know Fiona and have played the Fiona at some point in time. So I think that’s really de-stressing for me personally.”

Nathaniel Yim, Janio Head of Marketing and co-founder: Play with his ten cats (Hot tip: feed them on time, invest in an automatic feeder)

Time to unplug

Garret Koeswandi, Super VP of Operations: I go to a mountain nearby Surabaya. There are about three mountains here and I just go there. I have a staycation there and I just chill out, usually bring my cello as well. I’m learning the cello, so I just go there and I play every now and then. 

Theodoric Chew, Intellect CEO and founder: “I think what has helped me a lot, and I think it’s important and I’m sure people do this in their own [ways], but really taking time to unplug. I forget it sometimes myself. Having a circle that supports and drives this with you is important, but taking them to unplug, on weekends, evenings, just making sure you detach every now and then. Your mind is going to be on the work most of the time, but trying to at least kind of unplug a bit of time, that’s a good amount and I try to remind myself and my team [as well].”

Todd Schweitzer, Brankas CEO and co-founder: “Mainly just getting out of the city. Even though we’re working from home, you and I are fortunate to live in tropical paradise. And so just in a couple hour drive, you can get to the beach, you can get to the mountains and the cool mountain air. And so getting out, changing scenery, getting into kind of fresh air is, I find really de-stressing.”

Vinita Choolani, Float Foods CEO and founder: “To have a nice massage.”

It starts with the mindset

Windy Natriavi, AwanTunai CPO and co-founder: “Meditation and watching spiritual gurus on Youtube. (it’s also great to reconnect with family!)”

Paul Schulte: “Every day I do morning meditation which is vital for me.”

Daniel Hazman, Nimbly CEO and co-founder: “Well before it was travel. So I couldn’t do that anymore. So swimming, reading fiction in this case, and also just reflecting. Now I actually built in a time in my calendar to reflect on a daily basis, these 15 minutes in the morning, 15 minutes in the afternoon. And then even half-day on Friday, not only to reflect but to actually execute on things, cause usually, you’re in meetings. You don’t get a chance to execute on them.”

Syarif Rousyan Fikri, Pahamify CEO and co-founder: “Writing in my personal journal.” 

Budi Handoko, Shipper COO and co-founder: “I think that as an entrepreneur, how to deal with stress is an art. For me, I have practiced that art because of the practice that I did in religion, where I learned that everything is not permanent. So I know that everything that happens in the company, whether that is a bad thing or whether it’s a good thing, it’s not something that’s permanent. It will come and go away.”

“So when things are running very well, I always remind myself that I can’t enjoy too much but when we are in that position good things will come as long as we solve the problems here, and don’t get too attached to the problem, but really understand what the problem is and how to solve it.”

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Paulo Joquiño is a writer and content producer for tech companies, and co-author of the book Navigating ASEANnovation. He is currently Editor of Insignia Business Review, the official publication of Insignia Ventures Partners, and senior content strategist for the venture capital firm, where he started right after graduation. As a university student, he took up multiple work opportunities in content and marketing for startups in Asia. These included interning as an associate at G3 Partners, a Seoul-based marketing agency for tech startups, running tech community engagements at coworking space and business community, ASPACE Philippines, and interning at workspace marketplace FlySpaces. He graduated with a BS Management Engineering at Ateneo de Manila University in 2019.