Thrive Global: What’s the first thing you do when you get out of bed?
Steve Hoffman: I weigh myself. I know it’s awful, but I’m trying to lose weight, and I have to check. It’s almost like a game. I want to see my score. Did I shed half a pound? Or was that second plate of pasta too much?
TG: What gives you energy?
SH: Ideas give me energy. When I hear new ideas that challenge me to look at the world another way, I get excited. I can’t help myself. I’m an idea junky. I’m always searching for new ideas in podcasts, books, movies and on the job.
TG: What’s your secret life hack?
SH: I’m a fanatical consumer of audio books. I devour them. I can’t get enough. I listen to all topics, including great literature, philosophy, business books, science fiction, history—you name it! I’m so obsessed that I listen to audio books in the car, when exercising, when cooking, even when brushing my teeth or taking a shower. And I listen at double speed, so I can get through twice as many books in the same amount of time. My goal is one new book a week, but I often exceed that.
TG: Name a book that changed your life.
SH: My own book changed my life, but that doesn’t count. Seriously, I love the book Shoe Dog by Phil Knight. It taught me how to run a successful business. It’s a brilliant example of combining an autobiographical story with business and life lessons.
TG: Tell us about your relationship with your phone. Does it sleep with you?
SH: I never sleep with my phone. It’s not cuddly enough. And it’s definitely not sexy. It’s just plain bad in bed. I turn off my phone before I sleep so it can’t bother me. In fact, I’ve turned off all notifications on my phone. No more tempting red dots and flashing messages on my screen. I send all voice calls to voice mail, and my voice mail tells everyone to email me. My life has become so much simpler and more enjoyable since I made these changes. I don’t want my devices controlling me, so I have to control them.
TG: How do you deal with email?
SH: I try to clear my inbox every day. I delete everything possible, and I never use threaded emails. I have only a few folders, and I dump everything that needs to be saved into one of these folders. The fewer the folders, the less thinking I have to do. My goal is to minimize email time and maximize people time.
TG: You unexpectedly find 15 minutes in your day, what do you do with it?
SH: I often find myself eating, which is bad, bad, bad. Snack foods are the bane of every writer. My goal is to exercise with those 15 minutes, but I find that painfully hard to do. It’s not just the act of exercising that’s a pain, which it is, but the act of making myself do it. Push ups? Too strenuous. Sit ups? I don’t want to get on the floor. A walk to the kitchen? Yes, that sounds much better.
TG: When was the last time you felt burned out and why?
SH: When things go wrong, terribly wrong, that’s when I feel burned out. Usually it’s because of something stupid I did to myself, like overcommitting, or else it’s because someone said something that disturbed me. You know those situations, where someone says something about you or your work, and you just can’t get it out of your head. Dwelling on negatives is what burns me out. So I try hard to avoid getting sucked in. I’m pretty good at it now. Just let it all wash over me. Time sweeps everything away, even the most exhausting things in life.
TG: When was the last time you felt you failed and how did you overcome it?
SH: I’ve failed so many times that I lost count. The last time was when I gave a talk and people came up to me afterwards saying that I was overly passionate, overly animated and a bit too much. They weren’t that blunt, but that’s the message I got. So I analyzed my performance and re-calibrated my energy level. On my next talk, my speaking style actually improved. Feedback, no matter how harsh, can be the best thing.
TG: Share a quote that you love and that gives you strength or peace.
SH: “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” — Dr. Seuss
Steve Hoffman (Captain Hoff) is an angel investor, LP in August Capital, serial entrepreneur, and author of the book Make Elephants Fly. Hoffman is also the Captain & CEO of Founders Space, one of the world’s leading incubators and accelerators, with over 50 partners in 22 countries.
Always innovating on his life, Captain Hoff has tried more professions than cats have lives, including serial entrepreneur, venture capitalist, angel investor, studio head, computer engineer, filmmaker, Hollywood TV exec, published author, coder, game designer, manga rewriter, animator and voice actor.
Hoffman was the Founder and Chairman of the Producers Guild Silicon Valley Chapter, Board of Governors of the New Media Council, and founding member of the Academy of Television’s Interactive Media Group. In Silicon Valley, Hoffman founded three venture-backed startups in the areas of games and entertainment.
Hoffman went on to launch Founders Space, with the mission to educate and accelerate entrepreneurs. Founders Space has become one of the top startup accelerators in the world. Hoffman has trained hundreds of startup founders and corporate executives in the art of innovation and routinely works with the world’s largest global corporations and venture funds.