The unusual way Pinterest president Tim Kendall starts his days

A warm cup of coffee might be the preference for many when it comes to kick-starting the day, but outgoing Pinterest president Tim Kendall’s morning routine involves a more chilly approach.

Kendall, who is set to leave the social media platform by the end of the year, told the BBC earlier this year that, amid “long and intense” days, starting the day with an ice bath gives him a “lot of energy, wakes me up, resets my mind and my body”.

“I now have a freezer on my back deck that I put water into, and now I get into that because the bath with ice wasn’t quite cold enough,” he said.

“So, it continues to escalate. It’s like people having coffee in the morning. It’s a slightly more extreme version of that.”

During the interview, Kendall also shed light on why he has been wearing variations of a T-shirt with the word “focus” on it for almost five years.

It started out as a bet with a colleague over who could wear it longer, he said. Kendall won.

But it also taps into a technique favoured by many other business leaders, including Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, who wear a ‘work uniform’ of the same clothes each day.

“The whole point is that we philosophically think that if you do fewer things, you can do those fewer things much better than if you are spread across too many things,” Kendall said.

“It’s important that we remind ourselves of that.

“Sometimes I’m not great at focusing, but if I put this shirt on every day, in a small part it reminds me that I need to stay focused and remember to say ‘no’ a lot, which I think most people — including myself — are not great at.”

This effort to remain focused also extends to Kendall’s aversion to bringing laptops and mobile phones into meetings.

To his mind, a thoughtfully set-up meeting should contain “content you should be paying attention to, and if you’re on your phone or on your laptop you are definitely not paying attention to it”.

“I’ve been in meetings where I’ve been on my laptop and I’ve missed critical information that I needed to hear, so we try to make it somewhat informal but a bit of a rule that we try to … follow, so we’re all engaged with each other,” he says of the technology-free approach.

“When you leave the meeting, get back on your laptop, get back on your phone. But when you’re in the meeting, be in the meeting.”

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