The Self-Care Routines & Practices Of Busy Entrepreneurs & Business Leaders
An Interview About Self-Care Routines with Maria Angelova
Don’t skip the workout! It’s so easy to let working out fall off of your to-do list but physical health is vital to mental health. Schedule time in your day to work out so you feel your best.
All of us know that we have to take breaks in our day to take care of ourselves. “Self-care is healthcare”, the saying goes. At the same time, we know that when you are a busy leader with enormous responsibility on your shoulders, it’s so easy to prioritize the urgent demands of work over the important requirements of self-care. How do busy entrepreneurs and leaders create space to properly take care of themselves? What are the self-care routines of successful entrepreneurs and business leaders? In this interview series, we are talking to busy and successful entrepreneurs, business leaders, and civic leaders who can discuss their self-care practices and self-care routines. As a part of this series, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Maurice Harary.
Maurice Harary is the co-founder and CEO of The Bid Lab, a consulting company dedicated to helping small and medium-sized businesses find, manage and build their RFPs and proposals.
His experience building a company that started with just $1,500 into a company that has grown tremendously is a great way to help with stories and pitches outside of just procurement and the RFP process. Furthermore, he has helped countless small and medium-sized businesses win their first multi-million-dollar deals, and helping smaller businesses drives The Bid Lab’s mission!
Thank you so much for doing this with us! It is an honor. Our readers would love to learn more about your personal background. Can you please share with our readers your personal backstory; What has brought you to this point in your life?
When I was in college it was my goal to work for a large tech company. I had my heart set on working for a specific firm, but the only opening they had was on the ‘RFP’ team. Even though I had no idea what that was, I went for it. (I was on spring break in Chile at the time, so of course, I accepted!) Once I started actually responding to RFPs, I found that it was work that was both challenging and rewarding, and I worked my way up to be a top performer on my team. Eventually, with a little encouragement from my Co-Founder and wife, Jordan, I took the leap and went out on my own starting The Bid Lab.
What is your “why” behind what you do? What fuels you?
My oldest daughter was born prematurely. I realized if she could fight to survive, and eventually thrive, then I was going to fight for her to have whatever she needed once she was out of that incubator.
I am also passionate about helping small and medium-sized businesses grow and expand. Many clients come to us with no previous experience in the bidding process. Or, they come to us at the eleventh hour, stressed and overwhelmed. Unlike our competitors, we focus on our clients, understanding what makes them unique and walking them through the process with complete transparency.
How do you define success? Can you please explain what you mean from a personal anecdote?
Success is a fulfilling work/life balance. Hands down the most difficult time we faced when starting The Bid Lab was when my oldest daughter was born extremely premature just as our business was exploding with new clients and revenue. The fear and the stress surrounding all of that is just impossible to describe. Fortunately, I was smart enough to choose a wonderful partner in life and start a business with her. My wife and I really leaned on each other to succeed as both parents and business founders. I am proud to say that both my daughter and The Bid Lab are healthy and thriving today!
What is the role of a growth mindset in your success? Can you please share 3 mindset mantras that keep you motivated, sane, and propel you forward?
1. There is an old Japanese proverb: “Fall seven times and stand up eight.” Throughout the years as we have continued to expand and grow, there have been inevitable hiccups along the way. The key to overcoming these hiccups is that we EXPECTED them to happen. You have to be prepared for and accept bumps in the road when you are trying to do something great. What’s great is that we always get back up, even if the fall was so hard it sometimes takes a second to heal.
2. “You can find an excuse or you can find a way”: Often we run into crisis and panic. But if you anticipate the hiccups, crises, and even failures that are a part of running a successful organization, you will be in a far better position to view a crisis as a part of life. Crises bring to our attention things that need to change or improve or they can be used as motivation to push through and prove your resilience. My oldest daughter was born extremely premature at a point when my business was starting to grow at an extremely fast rate. Seeing my daughter fight to be healthy gave me the motivation I needed to push on with my company because if she could fight to be here, I could fight to create something for her to rely on and be proud of. When launching our new search engine, Bid Banana, we had plenty of technical difficulties: an employee retire, and another child was born earlier than expected. Any one of those crises could have caused me to throw in the towel. But I knew hiccups would occur and used those unexpected events to focus more and encourage me to launch Bid Banana by our goal date.
3. “Just focus on what you want“: What’s key for most people, and is often missed or not realized, is to not think about huge wins but to instead think about what small steps you can take each day to improve with a manageable and realistic to-do list. Start with the easiest and quickest items to complete so you start to feel accomplished and work your way upwards. This will help you gain the traction of feeling motivated and successful.
You are by all accounts a very successful person. How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I, too, used to go into a 52-story skyscraper in New York City in a full suit every day. But, when I founded The Bid Lab, I remembered that the people I worked most closely with on my previous team worked out of the UK and India. Why couldn’t I work closely with people who weren’t located geographically nearby to me?
The Bid Lab is, and always has been a remote company. While there are myriad reasons why remote work is worth championing (environmental impact, productivity, work/life balance, etc.) one of the reasons why I think it works best for The Bid Lab is because it allows us to hire from a unique pool of individuals. I’m looking at you, an amazing writer, living 3 hours outside of Albuquerque who needs to be available to her elderly mother in the afternoons. And I’m also looking at you, a sales superstar who wants to homeschool her kids but can also sell ice to an Eskimo.
I’m proud of the fact that The Bid Lab is made up of a team of individuals who have individual needs but also a common ability to log into work wherever they may be.
Can you share a mistake or failure which you now appreciate, and which has taught you a valuable lesson?
I made some foolish assumptions about who my first clients would be. I learned that it’s not about the size of a client, but about how much you can assist a business. One of our best clients came to us with just over $100,000 in revenue, and we have grown together to be multi-million-dollar businesses!
You are a successful leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
1. Failure is Success — The absolute most important trait to have as a successful leader is the appreciation and expectation of failure. You cannot succeed without failing. The sooner you accept, and plan for this, the sooner you can recover and continue building your business. Remember every failure contains a valuable lesson. These lessons can be effectively utilized to grow your business in a more efficient and smarter way. Anticipating failure as part of the path to ultimate success really takes the fear, and thus the hesitancy, out of trying which lets you get on to bigger and better things.
2. Be Your Own Guide; How to Trust Your Intuition — The first step to getting in touch with your intuition is to learn to slow down and listen to yourself. Once you’re able to clearly hear your own inner voice, something a lot of us have been taught to drown out, you then need to work on trusting that inner voice. Get comfortable asking yourself why you are feeling something — is it just anxiety, an unfamiliar experience, or something deeper? The more you practice listening to your inner voice and comparing what it is telling you to your actual experience the better you will get at understanding what is a gut feeling and what is just a fleeting thought. Once you are truly comfortable listening to and trusting yourself you can rely on your intuition to guide you in making decisions.
3. The Success of Giving — I am a big fan of ‘Go-getter or Go-giver?’ By Assia Riccio. The book The Go-Getter had a huge impact on how I live my life and run my business. Success is about personal connections and social impact so much more than mere financial gain. I designed my business to help small and medium-sized businesses grow to reach their maximum potential through RPFs. I have created deep bonds with my clients and helped their businesses grow which helps local economies. Additionally, I work with companies that help children, and people in the prison system, and increase DE&I goals for other businesses. I like to think that by helping small businesses that are focused on helping society as a whole, I am, in a small way, contributing to the quality of life of hundreds of people. It is the duty of successful businesses to give back where and when they can to fully contribute to the world we all share.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting new projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?
At any given point our firm is working on dozens of projects simultaneously (and we think they’re all exciting!). A current project I am particularly proud of though involves assisting the Colorado Office of Respondent Parents’ Counsel (ORPC) with finding a vendor for their new invoicing system that will enable more families to receive government aid in an effort to keep their families together.
OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview about Self-Care. Let’s start with a basic definition so that we are all on the same page. What does self-care mean to you?
Self-care, to me, means taking care of yourself so you can go after your goals and thrive both personally and professionally. As a father who runs his own business, I can tell you it’s easy to let self-care fall by the wayside. But I can’t take care of my family or lead my team the way I want to if I don’t take the time to care for myself both physically and mentally.
As a successful leader with an intense schedule, what do you do to prioritize self-care, and carve out regular time to make self-care part of your routine?
You really do have to schedule self-care the same way you would a business meeting. Put that time to work out on the calendar and treat it like an important meeting with your health. It can’t be canceled; it has to be given attention. Self-care has to be a priority. It’s just like if you want to help someone in a plane crash you have to put on your mask first. Schedule and prioritize time to care for yourself if you want to be able to care for the people and things that matter to you.
Will you please share with our readers 3 of your daily, or frequent self-care habits?
Since I founded my company with my wife, I am fortunate to be able to spend time every day with someone I love. That’s an easy self-care habit to achieve every day. I also try to socialize frequently, especially since I founded my company to be remote by design. And, as much as possible, even though I have a six-month-old at home, I try to prioritize good sleep habits.
This is the main question of our interview. Based on your own experiences or research can you please share 5 ways that taking time for self-care will improve our lives?
1. Prioritize good sleep. Get on a consistent, restful schedule and stick to it. A solid night’s sleep allows you to tackle big decisions the next day.
2. Don’t skip the workout! It’s so easy to let working out fall off of your to-do list but physical health is vital to mental health. Schedule time in your day to work out so you feel your best.
3. Socialize. It’s important to maintain friendships and focus on relationships outside of work. Good friends are so sustaining. Starting a company is very lonely in the beginning, even if you are constantly pitching potential clients and working with vendors. You lose out on that built-in cohort of people in a traditional work environment that you see day-to-day and makes the work easier. Working alone means you are constantly needing to seek out socialization, which can be challenging especially when you’re working day and night to get your business off the ground. I recommend taking time to network with old college friends or co-workers. There needs to be a time for you to socialize without discussing work. Just like you schedule a meeting, schedule time to grab dinner with your best friend or have a date night with your spouse. This should happen regularly, not once in a while, and will make a world of difference in your mental health. Starting a business allows you to manage your own schedule, so use it accordingly to make plans that work for you!
4. Surround yourself with loved ones. It’s impossible to be successful without support. Know who is in your corner and don’t be afraid to reach out when you need help. Whether it’s business advice or just a kind ear after a long day, you need to feel supported to have the energy to keep pushing and create your business.
5. Doing it all at once. My company is remote by design because I prioritize not only my own work/life balance but those of my employees. Running my company from home allows me to successfully grow my business while being right there for my family if needed. I’ve had two daughters since I Founded my business and being able to work and be with them has been life-changing. I can take a call while my baby sleeps. We can pick my older child up from school. I founded The Bid Lab with my wife and for our daughters to grow up seeing us balance home and work life while growing and feeling fulfilled with both is something I am very proud of. It also allows me to hire the best employees who can also prioritize their families and provide stellar work products. We’ve hired single mothers who need to be able to be home with sick kids, parents who homeschool, and employees who are taking care of elderly relatives. My company is able to benefit from their talents because we prioritize a work/life balance that other, more traditional companies just don’t capitalize on.
Sometimes we learn a great deal from the opposite, from a contrast. Can you please share a few ways that NOT taking time for self-care can harm our lives?
I could tell you more than a few! But I’ll keep it brief. Simply put when we don’t take care of ourselves, especially as parents and leaders, everything else falls apart. When you are running on empty you are more likely to get sick, make poor decisions, and lose your temper with people you shouldn’t. You can’t give from an empty cup. If you want to sustain the people you care about, you have to start with yourself.
What would you tell someone who says they do not have time or finances to support a regular wellness routine?
I’d say I understand. Financial pressures are high right now and we often think of self-care as an extravagance.
Thus, it’s the first thing we cut when we’re trying to stretch our budget. While these are serious concerns, I would encourage people to find alternate ways to work in wellness. A walk is always free. So is fresh air. YouTube has plenty of free videos from self-help ideas to workouts to yoga. It’s not always easy, but it is vital to find whatever ways you can to take care of yourself.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them 🙂
I’d love to meet Jeff Dean, the head of AI at Google. We use Google products all the time, and we are currently exploring some cool ways to implement AI through our newly launched software. He is brilliant and has been with Google since 1999.
How can our readers follow you online?
Check out all that we’re doing at The Bid Lab or Bid Banana. From articles in our Learning Center to our extensive list of Case Studies you can find information to grow your business or inspiration on how we’ve helped others grow theirs. You can also check us out on:
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent on this. We wish you only continued success.
Authority Magazine Article Link: Maurice Harary Of The Bid Lab On The Self-Care Routines & Practices Of Busy Entrepreneurs and Business Leaders