Paul Graham Thinks You Should Exercise

We all know that exercise is good for one’s brain and body. The benefits are well documented. That didn’t stop me from making a decision many entrepreneurs make – I decided I no longer had time for it after starting Amicus. In the time it would take to head to the gym, I could get through a dozen emails, mockup a new feature, or talk to some customers. So I spent more time working and less time working out.

Soon I was having trouble dealing with the stress of Amicus’ ups and downs. I had trouble sleeping and even started snapping at my teammates. It got bad enough that I turned to mentors for advice on what to do. I was surprised by the feedback I kept hearing: “exercise more”. So I started irregularly hitting the gym. I didn’t make a real lifestyle change, however, until Amicus got accepted into Y Combinator last year.

Our first day of YC, PG stood up in front of the batch and said:

If you’re ever unsure if you should be doing what you’re doing during YC, ask yourself this question: ‘Am I building our product? Am I talking to users? Am I exercising?’. if you’re not doing one of these things, you’re doing the wrong thing.

This drove it home. YC is a 3 month sprint when entrepreneurs are supposed to focus on nothing but their startups, and here was PG saying we should all make time to exercise – that tending to your body is essential to being a successful founder.

Yesterday Foursquare alerted me that I had been to a gym at least once a week for the past year. Not making time for exercise now seems akin to cutting out food because you have no time to eat – “gotta tend to my startup!” If founders hustling through YC can find time to exercise, so can you. Join a gym. Bike to work. Go rock climbing. Make these things perks so your teammates exercise too.

And remember, exercise makes you a better entrepreneur.


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