Rivo Uibo, Tuum
How did fintech leaders unwind this summer?
Want to try something different to destress? AltFi spoke to several industry leaders about how they unwound this summer.
Stress, if nothing else, seems to be a constant in the world of fintech, making self-care a must and occasional burnouts the norm.
But with the holiday season largely over until December, many of us are left only able to think about and plan for our next getaway as work piles up.
We spoke to some of the biggest players in fintech about how they de-stressed this summer without leaving the country—and how you can too.
Living in the moment with motocross
Uibo thinks Motocross—or off-road motorcycle racing—is the only activity that can take his mind completely off work because “it's simply not possible to think about anything else other than racing at that very moment”.
The act of riding a motorcycle, and managing all the jumps, curves, deep rails, and the distance to other riders requires “100% commitment” according to Uibo.
“My mind can't wander to work related topics, not even for a millisecond, so it really enables me to get a break,“ he said.
However, motocross can be an expensive hobby, particularly for those of us who aren’t coming off the back of a €15m funding round, which Uibo would be the first to admit.
“I think it's overlooked as a sport because it's not as easy to do as going to the gym or jogging (which I occasionally do as well),“ he said.
Uibo notes that besides acquiring the gear, you’ll also need to take the time to drive to the off-road circuit somewhere outside the city.
Prospective motocross newcomers will also need to deal with “the not-so-glamorous parts“ of the sport, like regular oil changing and getting the mud off your bike and clothes after each ride.
Self-awareness with birdwatching
If you don’t need the threat of certain or serious injury to take your mind off your workload, a lower cost (and potentially much safer way) to destress is birdwatching, even if it doesn't pump up the adrenal glands to quite the same extent.
Stress seems to be a fairly common denominator among fintech top brass, but self-care isn’t “all about bubble baths and meditation”, according to Justina Tartilaite founder and CEO of tax credit specialist Adsum, who believes birdwatching may be just the ticket for those looking for an alternative way to destress
Birdwatching “can help reduce stress levels by forcing you to slow down and concentrate, and spending more time on your own in a calm environment can help you to do some self-examination,” according to Tartilaite.
The founder believes the level of introspection that birdwatching enables can provide an almost meditative experience.
“Birdwatching experiences are an excellent inspiration for practising mindfulness," said Tartilaite. "Use each watching session to pay attention to your breath and the senses you’re feeling in your body".
"That will range from calm and stillness to the flutter of excitement when you see a bird.”
Tartilaite believes this practice can be “great therapy” for getting a bit of control over your strong emotions.
Giving up control with horse riding
Delegating and giving up responsibility to another party can be a huge stressor when going away on holiday, particularly when you're used to being a micromanager or the alpha boss.
Samantha Seaton, CEO of Moneyhub thinks horse riding can be just the ticket for learning to let go of any anal retentive tendencies.
“With a horse you’re always in a position of subservience,” said Seaton. “You ask, not tell.“
“A horse weighs in at 600kg of pure strength and is built to cover ground at unprecedented speeds, a quarter of a mile in 21 seconds.”
“You’re with the horse, but you’re never in control and I think it’s very good for someone to be in that position,” she added.
This obviously skewed power imbalance can also help you to learn about the value of teamwork, according to the executive.
“The horse is in the driving seat”, she said. “You have to trust your horse to look after you, to do what you believe is coming next and when it doesn’t go according to plan the two of you can work around it to achieve a good outcome”.
Like motocross, riding can be a costly hobby with Seaton admitting that it's “a big commitment in terms of time and the space they need”.
Seaton pointed towards schemes that allow people to mitigate some of these upfront costs by sharing horses.
“It doesn’t need to cost any more than many other hobbies,” she added.
Holidays, forget it!
Farbod Sadeghian, founder of Dubai-based blockchain companies artèQ and Qlindo, has a harsher attitude towards letting himself go.
In fact, in Sadeghian’s eyes, if having lots of me time is your absolute highest priority, you might be better off looking for a different industry.
”I rarely have free time to do my own thing, and due to this, I wouldn’t recommend my lifestyle as a fintech founder to anyone,” he said.
“What most people overlook is that fintech founders don’t have holidays. There’s just not enough time to grow a company and take a holiday. Your business becomes your life.”
Sadeghian can’t get away from the fact that if his business fails then his employees' livelihoods are at risk, saying that ”going on holiday isn't my priority - my employees are”.
So regardless of your approach to unwinding (or your decision not to), taking some time off for self-care may be a great idea.
A 2019 survey from BIMA, found that out of all respondents in the tech industry, 52 per cent have suffered from anxiety or depression at some point. A figure at least five times the national average and on par with NHS workers.