How I Thrive: Red Giraffe Advisors Principal Sapna Shah

How I Thrive takes an inside look at founders, entrepreneurs and leaders and the behind-the-scenes self-care work they do to in order to live balanced, happy lives. Today's edition is with Red Giraffe Advisors founder Sapna Shah, whose reading habit is inspiring, and whose "Top Chef" obsession will make you laugh out loud. 

Name: Sapna Shah

Age: 49

City: New York, NY

Company: Red Giraffe Advisors, which makes preseed investments in startups that are creating the future of the retail.

Role: Principal 

Beyond the role: I'm a mother of two teenage boys, love to travel, go to concerts, play tennis, and read fiction.

Morning routine: 

I normally wake up around 7 a.m. The first thing I do is make sure that both kids are awake and getting ready for school. Then it's a cup of coffee with stevia —Nespresso's Adacio flavor is my go-to in the morning. Once I have a coffee cup in my hand, I read the news headlines and go through my email (always with the goal of inbox zero!). I look at my calendar as well — since I work from home but usually have meetings all over the city, each day is different for me and I need a refresher in the morning to plan my day. Some days I work out with a trainer or do yoga in the mornings, but most days I shower and get dressed to get going to my first meeting of the day. The last thing I do before leaving the apartment is choose my bag for the day - I'm a huge handbag aficionado and like to mix up my bag each day.

The first thing I do after work:

My days really vary depending on which startups I meet, mentoring founders, events that I attend (and some that I run under a program called Retail X Series), etc. So there is no "normal" day for me. Work can end at 4 p.m. or at 10 p.m., depending on the day. But no matter when my day ends, when I get home, the first thing I do is talk to my teenage boys, ages 15 and 17, to hear how their days have gone, what happened at school and their plans for the next day.

Dinner ritual:

Dinner completely varies! We are a foodie family, so we love to eat out, which we do as a family most weekend nights. On the weekdays (during non social-distancing times), my husband and I sometimes meet friends out for dinner or have work-related dinners out maybe once a week. Most weekdays our schedules don't sync up, so I eat dinner whenever I'm hungry — there is always some Indian food in the fridge that I can just warm up. I can't cook to save my life, so microwaving things is really all I can handle. 

Nighttime routine: 

I wish I could say I stop checking email and doing work after dinner, but that isn't true most days. Typically I do stop working by 8:30 or 9 p.m., and unwind by reading a book. I am a huge fan of mystery novels (particularly series) and historical fiction, and sometimes I read the YA novels that my sons recommend as well. I read for at least an hour, sometimes more, before bed. 

Self-care guilty pleasure: 

Cooking shows, particularly Top Chef. Which my family finds hilarious since I can't cook at all!

Workday self-care hack:

If I can make the timing work and the weather cooperates, instead of taking the subway, I'll walk between meetings — even if the walk is 30 minutes or more. Walking around the city helps lower my stress level and reminds me what an amazing place New York is.

How I define self-care: 

I don't like massages, facials, getting manis and pedis, the list goes on — which are things I always associate with self-care. For me, self-care is finding time to do things I love, even if it's not just "me" time  that can be reading a fantastic book, going to a concert with my husband or playing tennis with my family.

Favorite childhood toy or hobby:

This is where my nerdiness comes out. I've always been a voracious reader. If I wasn't doing schoolwork, I was reading fiction, to the point that my mom would sporadically take away my books and tell me to go outside and play. For me, books have always been more interesting than watching TV or going to the movies.

State of your (email) inbox: 

I strive towards inbox zero every day. How often do I get there? Not often! My inbox isn't my only to-do list, but it is definitely one of my to-do lists. As I write this, I'm at inbox eight, which is generally as good as it gets.

Want to kick your self-care game up a notch? Subscribe to Silk + Sonder today.

Illustration by Megan Behrendt

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