October 17, 2021

Acqua NYC

Fit And Go Forward

Bolt’s CEO explains how 5k walks can help you ace a 12-hour workday

  • 27-year-old CEO of Uber rival Bolt Markus Villig walks a five-kilometer commute every day.
  • The CEOs of Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, and Apple also back walking meetings and commutes.
  • Research has shown that walking meetings bring people together and that walking supports creativity.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Running a startup is stressful — it can interfere with your health, your family life, and your peace of mind.

But one startup CEO, Bolt’s Markus Villig, has found a way to combine running a business with healthy habits.

The 27-year-old Estonian entrepreneur has run the company for eight years after founding it at the age of 19.

Bolt has now become a unicorn startup, operating driverless cars and bicycles as well as shared scooters and food delivery services.

Valued at around $1.9 billion in May 2020, the company’s worth has increased substantially in the last year thanks to annual revenue and the raising of a $182 million sum for its geographic expansion.

Estimates by TechCrunch in December put the Uber rival’s value at just over $4 billion.

Villig’s secret to coping with his 12-hour working day is walking five kilometers each day, covering a round trip to and from the office.

In an interview with Business Insider España, he revealed how he juggles his working life with maintaining a healthy mind and body.

FILE PHOTO: A Bolt (formerly known as Taxify) sign is seen on the taxi car in Riga, Latvia April 9, 2019. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins

Estimates by TechCrunch in December put Bolt’s value at just over $4 billion.


A five-kilometer commute

Villig’s primary driver is his desire for longevity, and so fitness is a natural part of that. He wants to run Bolt for decades to come and has no intention of selling it for a big cash payout and moving on.

“I walk to the office,” he said. “It’s a very simple trick. I do it for the exercise, but it also helps you clear your mind and get ready for the day, as well as to cool down at the end of it.”

It’s also a technique he recommends to his team and to other CEOs and their employees.

“You have to make sure your employees don’t get too stressed or burn out because that’s not productive in the long term,” he said. “So we tell people they have to take care of themselves.”

For Villig, that means ensuring he gets enough sleep and playing sports several times a week. He also makes a point of clocking off at the weekend for a bit.

Other CEOs back walking commutes and meetings too

He’s not the only one, either — Jeff Raider, co-CEO of men’s grooming company Harry’s, told Insider his walk to work is a “sacred” time to have a think about the direction of his company.

Austin Russell, CEO of lidar startup Luminar, also said he copes with 100-hour weeks by walking eight kilometers during phone calls as it “keeps you going and reduces the fatigue.”

According to CNBC, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg reportedly takes potential employees for a stroll through the woods, whilst others including Google’s Sundar Pichai and LinkedIn’s Jeff Weiner also enjoy walks.

Perhaps the most famous example is former Apple CEO Steve Jobs, who Inc said used to hold meetings on the go.

Research published by the University of Hong Kong in 2020 showed it was a valuable way of bringing people closer together.

A 2014 Stanford study also proved that walking improved creativity with a person producing twice as many creative responses when walking as opposed to when sitting down.

Earlier this year, the ex-CEO of car rental company Amovens and current leader of startup Vamos, Mario Carranza, told Business Insider España it was important to get your priorities in order.

“This isn’t the most important thing in the world,” he said. “Sure, it’s very important and for me it comes first but I think everything will work out better if I’m happy.”

Villig also subscribes to the same mindset, and his work is a great source of happiness. “I’m not doing this for money, but because I like it,” he said.

The walks are no doubt helping Villig to deal with the continued successful expansion of Bolt, which launched its own electric scooter model in May last year. This was followed by the introduction of their electric bike in June after Uber backed out of the market.

Axel Springer, Insider Inc.’s parent company, is an investor in Uber.

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