Bootstrapping your way to a Healthy Company in 2013

Photo by Alessandro Prada

Let’s be honest. The founding of a company takes long hours and a lifestyle that doesn’t naturally lend itself to health. Below are my five favorite tips that foster a culture of wellness without having to raise another round.

1.) Business on the Move: This is by far the number one change you can make. Set a time to take a walking break. 3pm works great. Get some fresh air with your team. Take a break and get some solitude, but get away from your desk. Make all of your staff one-on-ones into walking meetings. Not only will you get in some exercise, but often the ideas and relationships you are building improve as well. I know it seems funny, but once it becomes routine you’ll wonder why you didn’t make the change sooner.

2.) Standing Meetings: We all have these regular meetings on our calendar. Try standing for part or all of the meeting. We’re not suggesting anything distracting, but simply standing. If your team is willing to take the leap as well, standing meetings can often be shorter and more efficient. Getting the team focused on exactly what you need to achieve and keeping that alert posture can keep time-wasting tendencies in check.

3.) Non-Food or Healthy Food Rewards: Workplace “treats” are often more challenging than they need to be. Many schools have restricted unhealthy snacks as they realize the negative impact on kids’ diets. We are no different. Just think about how the calories add up each time you pass that candy bowl with Hershey’s Kisses:

A long meeting with the bowl in the center of the table:
4 kisses = 104 calories, 5.6 grams of fat

A visit to a coworker’s desk, passing that bowl:
5 total kisses = 130 calories, 7 grams of fat

One more meeting, just a short one this time:
6 total kisses = 156 calories, 8.4 grams of fat

It’s January, so ditch the candy bowl and get a big bowl for fruit. An apple is a terrific snack that’s cheaper to provide for your staff short term and long term.

Brad Feld of Foundry Group and David Cohen of TechStars (also FC Members) made this change when they joined our program. Brad shares, “At the end of the meeting, there’d be a little pile of chocolate wrappers. Now it’s like, Hey, let’s go for a walk. If you follow their lead, you’ll get credit for hitting both my #1 and #3 tips.

4.) Free and Fabulous: It turns out that the best drink option is completely free. Make it easy for your employees to drink water. If you have water fountains, make sure they are clean and attractive. And I’m not talking about putting a bow around them. Are they located in a spot where folks walk by them and are encouraged to use them? If not, provide pitchers and drinking glasses for meetings or ask people to bring glasses from home. With a little more of an investment, you can bring in bottled water Costco style or the old-fashioned water cooler. Tea and coffee can be excellent options as long as they’re not loaded down with cream. But making soda a little more difficult to get might just be the encouragement your team needs to make a better beverage choice. Making it easy for your teams to drink water will also make them less vulnerable to overeating, as it’s easy to mistake thirst for hunger.

5.) Walk the Talk: What are your personal goals for the New Year? Write them down. Set an example by prioritizing your own health and wellbeing. Set small, achievable goals each week that you CAN do, such as carving out time for lunch away from your computer or taking calls on your cell so you can walk and talk. Trust me, your teams are watching. One of our investors shared with us the flack his team gave him for pacing in the parking lot as he chats, but his team is doing more walking and talking and that is well worth the teasing. If you pack your lunch or use the stairs, know that you will be doing something good for yourself and encouraging others to do the same. Actions speak louder than words. Be the change that will lead to greater momentum for the health of your team.

Healthy regards for a wonderful 2013!

 Retrofit CEO and Founder Jeff Hyman is a serial entrepreneur with a relentless passion for creating innovative companies. He is driven by the belief that every individual is capable of doing incredible things once given the opportunity and knowledge. Prior to Retrofit, he was founder and CEO of three internet-based services companies in the talent management field. He also served as SVP of Sales & Marketing for Ameritox and as VP of Marketing for Dyson. He can now be found at


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