Knocking Down Doors

Smart start-up lessons for smart start-up people

How You Can Relieve Stress Like These 7 Tech Billionaires

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It’s the entrepreneurial dream. You think up some fantastic product, work hard, grow demand, takeover the market, and make a truckful of cash for yourself and your hardworking team.

Then you, sit back, relax, and—well, hmm.

After you pour everything you have into building your product, how do you fill the void that’s left behind?

Luckily, you have all kinds of cash to do anything you want. Money can’t buy happiness, but it can buy a private island where you can wallow in sadness. That’s something. Right?

As it turns out, most people relax the same way you and I do, no matter how much money they pull in. You can easily replicate these hobbies and pastimes on a small—or, in some cases, nonexistent—budget.

Here’s how seven tech billionaires spend spend their spare time. But more importantly, we’re also showing you how someone with a net worth closer to $1,000 can use these methods to get their mind off work.

Paul Allen

Paul Allen co-founded Microsoft with Bill (William) Gates, which means he’s got a bunch of money and plenty of intellectual curiosity. So maybe it’s not surprising that Allen spends his spare time treasure hunting in his massive ship, the Octopus. He and his boat have been involved in a number of research, rescue, and recovery operations.

This looks like your boat, right? (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

When he’s not yachting around (who knew “yachting” was a word?) Allen indulges his music and pop culture addiction. He founded the Museum of Pop Culture (formerly, Experience Music Project and Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame) in Seattle, which is a showcase of all things pop.

How to find Allen’s calm seas

If you love the idea of looking for sunken treasure, but don’t quite have the megayacht money, you might enjoy getting into geocaching. Geocaching is a worldwide, treasure hunt where the fun is in the finding, not the having.

As for the collection of pop culture memorabilia, maybe you could get into those vinyl, big-head things—they’re pretty cheap.

Sergey Brin

Sergey Brin and Larry Page co-founded Google. (If you haven’t heard of it, just Google it.) In his spare—and incredibly well-funded—time, Brin has taken to practicing acrobatics, skydiving, and other intense physical activities. This isn’t a completely new thing; Brin was apparently an avid swimmer during his stint at Stanford.

This dude skydives. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Part of his drive for fitness is driven by Brin’s potential future. Around 2008, he discovered that he has a genetic disposition toward developing Parkinson’s disease. Exercise can help pre-emptively fend off Parkinson’s.

Juggling work and life for the thousandaire

If you’re interested in finding out what genetic predisposition you’ve got, Brin’s ex-wife Anne Wojcicki founded the DNA genetic testing and analysis company 23andMe, where anyone can order a home testing kit.

As for exercise and gymnastics, those can be easily found at your local YMCA or public park.

Daniel Ek

OK, Daniel Ek isn’t a billionaire—at least, not yet. His net worth is around $800 million, but the founder of Spotify seems well on his way. He also seems like a pretty normal guy. He’s made his fortune from music, but he also uses music to relax.

A born rocker (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Ek tells Billboard, “I pick up a guitar and I start playing. It’s the most relaxing thing I know.”

How pleasant is that?

Rock your quiet time

Buy a cheap guitar and get learning. You can be the campfire classics mom, the headbanging uncle, or the virtuoso grandparent. The choice is up to you.

Jack Ma

Jack Ma founded Alibaba when he was 35 and has spent the last 18 years turning it into $375+ billion company. When he’s not working, Ma spends his time learning and teaching tai chi. Actually, since 2009, Ma has taught tai chi classes at Alibaba with other famous practitioners, such as Jet Li, so it’s not just something he does away from work.

Developing minds and plug-ins (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Ma’s calming moves for everyone

As it turns out, most of these folks have pretty straightforward hobbies. You, with no money down, can easily get into tai chi. There are plenty of online videos, books, and clubs centered on the practice. So get out there and calm your mind.

Just know, you probably won’t bump into Jet Li.

Elon Musk

Elon musk co-founded Tesla, and he founded SpaceX. He’s just 46 and yet he’s already built rockets and sent them into space. He also works something like 90 hours a week.

Here’s a man who loves his work (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Musk takes a more prosaic approach to his time off—he plays video games and hangs out with his kids. I suppose when your job entails building the car of the future and making your own private NASA, you might be happy to spend some time on the couch. Apparently, he’s a pretty big Overwatch fan.

Jump online with Musk

You already do. Last year, video games brought in $91 billion in worldwide revenue. The film industry—all films from all countries—pulled in just under $40 billion. You already play video games.

Larry Page

Other co-founder of Google, Larry Page, is a little less boisterous than Brin. Whereas Brin once gave a speech while trying to stand on a huge red ball, Page gave Google’s public relations department just eight hours of allotted public appearance time for an entire year.

Not pictured: Larry Page. Larry Page. Pictured: Imminent failure. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

He pulled a Bill Gates and got married on a private island, which was owned by his best man and founder of Virgin, Richard Branson. Page was one of the early Silicon Valley adopters of kitesurfing, which he occasionally takes part in with Branson. Page also surfs with Richard Branson.

It also appears that Page relaxes by continuing to work on new Google products.

Go fly Page’s kite

Kitesurfing is high-adrenaline, expensive, and esoteric, but you can get all kinds of water thrills with normal surfing, boogie boarding, or just plain old water skiing. As we’ll talk about later, it’s not the specifics, it’s the mental release.

As for developing new Google products, you too can code, hack, and generally futz about with all kinds of Google tech. Just check out the Google Cloud Platform, a place where anyone can build.

Mark Zuckerberg

Mark Zuckerberg founded Facebook and has since purchased brands including Oculus and WhatsApp. Zuckerberg has never struck me as the sort of person that’s afraid to have fun or take time for himself. He took advantage of Facebook’s generous paternity leave policy, for instance, spending two months with his newborn daughter.

Mark Zuckerberg and a Jet Li callback! We did it! (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Currently, he’s work/relaxing by traveling around the U.S. to meet people across all 50 states. Feel free to swing by when you’re in Maryland, by the way.

In the past, he’s said having a hobby is a sign of leadership, as it shows a passion for something other than work.

Hit the road like Zuck

First, you can get a job with a company that takes care of its employees. Having the time to relax is as important as having the tools to relax.

Second, two words: road trip. Road trips are the great American pastime. Skip the interstates and hit the back roads, stopping in small towns, at historic sites, and at as many ice cream stores as you can manage. It’s a great way to see the world.

The importance of relaxation

What lesson do all of these tech leaders understand? That it’s important to step away.

For some, that means shifting their view and giving their system a jolt. Being able to be free and play is an important step in development, even from an early age.

Conversely, too much stress can affect your mental health, lead to relationship problems, and even give you heart disease. Stress is work’s way of killing you without you even noticing.

The tech industry is especially susceptible to stress. Long hours are easy and often encouraged. You can eat free food at your office, you can get online at home and keep working, and you never need to walk around or engage physically with the environment.

Computers can easily take over your entire life, which means that you have no time left for play.

Integrating play into your daily routine

Here at Capterra, we have book clubs, stretching clubs, flexible vacation, and sports leagues to give us some contrast. We support employees who want to take a few weeks to work from an exotic locale or even just work from their backyard.

The more structured your day is, the more you need to plan for your stress relief. Put some time on your calendar to get out of the office. It can be as simple as going for a walk or getting a coffee—or better yet, making a coffee.

When you’re at home, put the computer down and write poetry or ride your bike or build a table. Stress relief can be anything that shifts your mindset. Even activities that seem to induce stress—like skydiving—can be helpful if they engage you in a different way. All stress is not created equal.

If you’re having a hard time carving out spare time, swing by Capterra’s task management software directory to find some support. Structured time is important, even in play.

Let me know what you do to relieve stress by dropping a line in the comments below.

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About the Author

Andrew Marder

Andrew Marder is a writer for Capterra. His background is in retail management, banking, and financial writing. When he’s not working, Andrew enjoys spending time with his son and playing board games of all stripes.


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