Derek Belch: ‘I Don’t Do Social Media’

The founder and CEO of STRIVR Labs on his ‘silent ring tone,’ the book that changed his life and overcoming failure.


When you have the opportunity to ask some of the most interesting people in the world about their lives, sometimes the most fascinating answers come from the simplest questions. The Thrive Questionnaire is an ongoing series that gives an intimate look inside the lives of some of the world’s most successful people.

Thrive Global: What’s the first thing you do when you get out of bed?
Derek Belch: The better question is, what’s the first thing I don’t do? And for me, that’s easy: I never, ever, hit the ‘snooze’ button. The snooze button is the enemy of greatness. It may sound corny, but I get out of bed quickly and ready to attack the day, every day. I feel pretty strongly that hitting ‘snooze’ means you’re already starting the day off on the wrong foot.

TG: What gives you energy?
DB: I exercise every morning at 6 a.m. Time is at a premium these days, so I keep my workouts short and intense, usually something involving interval training, sprints, etc. Daily exercise is essential to keep me productive throughout the day. It seems counterintuitive, but not exercising often leaves me feeling lethargic and inefficient.

TG: What’s your secret life hack?
DB: I don’t do social media. Meaning I have lots of hours in my life to instead devote to my family, work, and personal interests.

TG: Name a book that changed your life. 
DB: I recently read Shoe Dog by Nike founder Phil Knight. Given the journey we are on right now at STRIVR, it spoke to me so much that I made it required reading for all of our employees.

TG: Tell us about your relationship with your phone. Does it sleep with you? 
DB: When I get in bed, it’s bed time. I put my phone in ‘silent’ mode, and it’s truly silent. I actually bought a “ring tone” that makes no sound at all for texts or calls. I use this mode when I sleep, during meetings, during meals, etc., any time I don’t want to hear it, but still be able to get a message or see a missed call. During the day, I’m unfortunately on my phone quite a bit, but mainly for work purposes.

TG: How do you deal with email?
DB: I have a pretty obsessive approach to email. And by that I mean I treat email (and texting, for that matter) like I would a face-to-face conversation. I respond to pretty much every email I get, even random in-bounds from people trying to sell us their services that aren’t a fit. Why? Because it’s the respectful thing to do. I would never completely ignore someone talking to me in person, so why do the same in an email? I also know what it’s like to have someone not respond to an email I’ve written, and it’s not a good feeling, so I try to treat others like I want to be treated.

TG: You unexpectedly find 15 minutes in your day, what do you do with it?
DB: Turn on Golf Channel and watch pretty much anything.

TG: When was the last time you felt burned out and why?
DB: We’re moving fast as a company, and in addition to being our CEO, I’m our quasi head of sales as well. So I travel a lot for work. Last year, I spent 120 days on the road. There are times where I’ll go Sunday through Thursday for a month straight, usually three or four cities per trip. Those types of trips add up, and I need to hit the reset button to make sure it doesn’t kill me.

TG: When was the last time you felt you failed and how did you overcome it? 
DB: We believe in what we’re doing so much at STRIVR that any time I walk out of a meeting without a commitment from the customer, I feel like I’ve failed. So, by that measure, I felt like I failed last week! How do I overcome it? Selling a product or service is like dating; you can’t control what the other party is looking for. All you can do is be yourself, have a positive attitude, and put your best foot forward. If it doesn’t work out, then move on to the next opportunity.

TG: Share a quote that you love and that gives you strength or peace.
DB: “Idolization is the glove through which complacency slips its hand.”

Derek Belch is the founder and CEO of STRIVR Labs, Inc., a Palo Alto based company that uses VR to improve human performance. Belch laid the foundation for STRIVR during the 2014 season with the Stanford Cardinal football team, when he was an assistant coach for the team while completing a masters degree in VR. His thesis project was exploring virtual reality applied to sports training and he worked with the Cardinal during the season to build and test the technology that is now STRIVR. STRIVR currently works with 25 professional and collegiate sports teams and several Fortune 100 companies, all of whom use VR to improve the performance of their players and employees. Belch holds three degrees from Stanford (BA Communication, MA Journalism, MA Media Studies), as well as an MBA from the University of Southern California. He resides in Menlo Park, CA, with his wife, Amelia, and son, Preston.

Originally published at journal.thriveglobal.com

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