Fit To Lead | CoinSwitch’s Ashish Singhal: Prioritizing self-care is essential to overall success

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Fit To Lead | CoinSwitch’s Ashish Singhal: Prioritizing self-care is essential to overall success

Note to Readers: Fit to Lead is a series of interviews with business leaders about their approach to fitness, leadership and navigating the new normal.

CoinSwitch CEO and co-founder Ashish Singhal was a studious and serious boy who grew up in Meerut, a small town about three hours from New Delhi. His life was going as expected: degree in computer science, job at Amazon, life in Bengaluru. But then the entrepreneurial bug caught up with him and he launched Urban Tailor, a failed home tailoring service venture. He finished it quickly and joined LivSpace in 2016.

However, Singhal, 34, is first and foremost a hacker. “My two co-founders and I have been friends for 16 years and together we’ve won almost every hacking competition in India,” Singhal says during a ragged video call. He and his friends had created a blockchain and crypto currency trading hack. “This hack was so successful that we decided to take it public and founded CoinSwitch in 2017. It started as an aggregator and then evolved to become the platform it is today,” he recalls. Today, CoinSwitch has 20 million users, and Singhal’s goal is to get the millions of Indians who have an average of 100,000 rupees “sleeping” in the bank to try new ways of investing, such as cryptocurrency.

Life in a startup is exciting but hectic, and for those who run it, the work never stops. For Singhal, exercise was “time out of work.” Also, his way of dealing with stress was to turn to food. Before he knew it, he weighed 100 kg. Then he made a conscious decision to pay more attention to his mental and physical health. He returned to playing badminton, walks every day and started learning tennis and swimming. Singhal, who lives in Bengaluru, also realized the importance of prioritizing mental health and getting eight hours of quality sleep every night. “Making these habits part of my routine has been really helpful for both my personal and professional life,” he said. Edited interview excerpts:

Your fitness routine…

A daily 45-minute walk, healthy eating and practicing meditation.

Favorite fitness activity…

Badminton, at this point. I play with friends in my gated community in the evening several times a week. I plan to do tennis and swimming.

The most difficult?

Eating healthier. I used to deal with stressful situations by overeating. This led to high blood pressure and cholesterol and weight gain. But through a lot of trial and error and some education on how to eat healthier, I’ve noticed a significant improvement in how I feel overall.

The new normal for you…

Personally, the best way forward is to return to a pre-pandemic work environment where we all collaborated in person. There’s just something about being physically present with your coworkers that helps foster a stronger sense of connection and can lead to a more collaborative culture overall. It’s a win-win for everyone involved.

Has your fitness routine helped you deal with insecurities lately?

Since I started making a conscious effort to prioritize my health, my productivity has increased. By continuing to put in the same number of hours, I noticed a significant improvement in my creativity and efficiency.

One change you would encourage your teammates to make to take on the current challenges?

I encourage my colleagues to prioritize their physical and mental health. It is important to promote healthy habits not only in the workplace but also outside of it. We have created programs within our organization that provide access to resources and support for anyone who needs guidance or assistance. I truly believe that when we take care of ourselves, we are better prepared to show up and do our best work.

Any leadership lessons in your fitness journey?

It taught me the value of celebrating the small victories along the way. Whether it’s setting a new personal best, improving my form, or completing a particularly tough workout, small victories have helped me build momentum and ultimately achieve bigger goals.

The same principle applies to all aspects of life. When we break down our larger goals into smaller, more manageable tasks, we can build a sense of progress and accomplishment that propels us toward success. It can be easy to get overwhelmed or discouraged by a big goal, but by focusing on incremental success, we can stay motivated and encouraged to keep going.

So whether it’s at the gym or the office, it’s important to celebrate those little victories along the way. They all come together and help us achieve greatness.

What impact does your image as a “strong leader” have on your team?

By demonstrating that self-care is a priority, I can show my team that self-care is a fundamental aspect of overall success. I hope that this way of thinking can motivate my team members and create a culture of wellness in the workplace.

Personally, I strive to embody discipline, dedication, and perseverance through my own fitness pursuits, and I hope to inspire my team members to apply these same principles to their own work and goals.

Has being fit helped you become a better leader?

By prioritizing regular exercise and healthy habits, I have been able to improve my overall quality of life in a number of ways. I noticed a significant increase in my energy levels. I feel more awake and alert throughout the day. It also improved my overall stamina and endurance. This has allowed me to tackle my daily tasks with greater efficiency and enthusiasm, both in my personal and professional life. I’ve also found that prioritizing my health and well-being also has a positive impact on my mental clarity and focus.

Goals and challenges for next year…

At CoinSwitch, we are all working together to achieve our goal of becoming the leading wealth technology platform. As for me, I’ve made it a personal goal to acquire one new skill every quarter. I am currently concentrating on improving my tennis and swimming abilities.

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