The Hobbies of Successful Entrepreneurs

Posted by Nailah Morgan on 2014-08-20

Life as an entrepreneur can be chaotic: you’re the first and last one in and out of the office, Saturdays turn into ‘bring your kids to work day’, and by Sunday you’re lucky if you get enough time to unwind and relax. Most may argue that entrepreneurs should separately manage their work-life balance, but others recommend forging these two aspects of life together.

One way to do so is by crafting a hobby, activities that will help you escape from everyday stresses, while also contributing to your personal and professional development. Hobbies have been proven to make us more well-rounded, clear our mental plate, open our mind to new possibilities, provide physical health benefits, and best of all, hobbies teach us how to live in the present. In a Business Insider article by Cynthia Ramnarace , “Why you need to have a hobby”, women’s health and success coach Jennifer Racioppi explains,


 In this day and age, with so many distractions and responsibilities and the complications of technology, if we don't set aside time to lose ourselves in a project, we're doing ourselves a disservice.”

Research from Psychologists at San Francisco State University confirms that hobbies help professionals conceive creative solutions for work-related problems. Those more engaged in creative activity often scored 15 to 30 percent higher on performance rankings than those who were less engaged. In a NPR article by Maanvi Singh, “Got a Hobby? Might be a Smart Professional Move,”  Kevin Eschleman, the assistant professor of psychology reinforces this idea, stating,"We found that in general, the more you engage in creative activities, the better you'll do.”

So before you forfeit your leisure time, here are six hobbies capable of boosting your productivity in and out of the office.

1. Golf

In a Forbes article "Golf And The Social Entrepreneur: Five Vital Lessons From The Links", Tom Watson  Founder of CausedWired, explains how golf helps entrepreneurs engage in social ventures, 

All successful golfers know their limitations on the course, even Tiger Woods. We all have limitations, especially in social entrepreneurship. Funding. Specific talents and training. Scale. Opportunity. Partners. Markets. These all have upsides, sure – but you’re foolish if you don’t realize they have limits as well.

2. Gardening

Traci Bild, Founder of, Get Your Girl Back and Bild & Company, enjoys the relaxing, therapeutic effects of gardening. In the recent Huffington Post article by YCE, "16 Hobbies That Will Help You Run Your Business", she admits,

The hobby that brings me the most peace is gardening. There is something about getting my hands dirty, picking out new plants, seeing them come to life, watering, fertilizing and nurturing them to grow. No matter what's going on around me, when I get done gardening I feel restored, calm, happy and proud of what I just accomplished out there.”

3. Sailing

If your green thumb isn’t up to par, and you enjoy the competitive nature of sports, sailing may be a better fit. Coachup.com Founder Arian Radmand shares what sailing has taught him about running a company,

Similar to business, winning a competitive fleet race is often not about doing things right, but rather about making as few mistakes as possible. The best sailors minimize errors and are consistent on the racecourse. If you strive to be consistent and learn from your mistakes, you're better off than most other entrepreneurs in the world.”

4. Horses

Numerous business ventures have sprung from the love of horses. This hobby has also assisted entrepreneurs like David Ehrenberg establish an equilibrium in everyday life,

 I ride my horse as often as I can. This hobby hasn't added to my practical knowledge about running a business, but it has taught me a lot about balance, both literally and figuratively, which serves me well in my professional life. Being an entrepreneur is a daily balance exercise. My horse helps me better manage this.”

5. Card and Board Games

Although it may take time to become a poker wiz, successful entrepreneurs utilize this game to improve their technical skills, and evaluate risk. Next Step Test Preparation Founder, John Rood, roots his passion for poker to his love for business and data,

Poker is a game of incomplete information. You know what cards you have but are making educated guesses and playing odds based on your opponent's cards. Business is similar. You can collect data all day, but ultimately you have to act before you have all the information. Learn to play the odds rather than to wait for certainty.”

Rather enhance your strategy skills? Chess has helped Corey Blake, founder of Round Table Companies understand the importance of preparation,

Chess has taught me to look four, five, or six moves down the road. Always know the long-term strategy, but be flexible enough to adapt when an unexpected opportunity or challenge arises.”

6. Running

Running is not only an exhausting exercise, it also serves as a tool to improve concentration. Michael Quinn, CEO of  Yellow Bridge Interactive affirms,

Running involves discipline and a lot of hard work. You can't fake it when it comes to finishing 26.2 miles. You definitely get out of it what you put in. Not only does it involve physical toughness, but a considerable amount of mental strength and focus as well. Comparisons can be drawn to business when it comes to knowing your capabilities, working hard, using your wits and not giving up.”

Another way to decide how to choose your next hobby, is to evaluate what you’d like to accomplish socially, Adam Rich, the co-founder and editor-in-chief of Thrillist Media Group, explains it this way,

You have to think about whom you’re trying to attract… Go and do ‘rich people’s stuff’; Go golf, go sailing, play squash. If you are looking for investors, or people to be that critical connection, that gets you in the room with the right people, that’s a really good way to go about it. It goes towards that saying, ‘Go for the job that you want, not for the job that you have.”

 The Bottom Line

Choose a hobby that sharpens transferable skills, in the article "Habits of Highly Creative People: Hobby Collecting", Dr. Alvaro Pascual-Leone, a professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School states,

Your brain, it turns out, isn’t a fixed mass that shapes your behavior. Your behavior also shapes your brain. If a gardener takes up a serious interest in engineering, for instance, her neurons form new pathways between previously isolated regions... It may well be a mistake to do just one thing. If you practice multiple things you actually get better at any one of those things.”

(business man playing chess game selective focus back makes first move by Shutterstock)

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