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Morning routine with founder Lin Jiang.

BTW, you can also watch a video of our founder Lin's morning routine HERE.

Some CEOs/entrepreneurs get up at 4:30, run 10 miles, meditate, read a whole book, and eat an all-protein breakfast before 7am. While this can be inspiring, sometimes it feels like an impossible standard to live up to.

As an entrepreneur yourself, what have you found as actually critical to do in the morning to help you succeed, and what do you sometimes skip because there aren’t enough hours?

I used to read those crazy morning routines and thought I would never be successful. I wish I liked to get up early and meditate but the reality is I often work until late for my startup and business school. While juggling everything in life, I realized I need a routine that works best for my body and mind.

I need 7-8 hours of sleep to concentrate, work efficiently, solve challenges, and most importantly, have a good mood. I like to wake up slowly and take a moment to think about what I want to do and achieve that day. Sometimes if I wake up early, I will make pour-over coffee and do some quick exercise. If I have a busy morning, I will do the bare minimum to get myself out of the apartment.

It comes down to what routines help us be our best self, and everyone needs different things to be their best.

On mornings you wake up stressed, how do you use your morning routine to reset and regain a positive outlook?

I enjoy having a peaceful moment in the morning – it could be spending five more minutes in bed or making a “fancier” cup of coffee. I usually use this time to think about what I want to achieve. But if I wake up feeling stressed, I will use the time to find peace. I close my eyes, let go of the chaos in my head, take a deep inhale and a long exhale, and gather my strength and the energy from my surroundings. I also use this technique during the day whenever I need a reset.

What do you remember from your mornings growing up in China? Is there anything from those days that you continue today?

A bit of context: I went to boarding school in 9th grade and came to the U.S. by myself in 2014 to attend college. As someone who spent so many years on her own, I have tried many new foods, developed many new routines, and called many places home. However, I'll always remember the old apartment building in Qingdao where I grew up, and all its home-cooked food filled with love and gratitude. My mom would wake me up every morning with the delicious smell of crispy fried eggs and pork porridge. Every Sunday morning, I would wait eagerly for my dad to bring home fried dough sticks and silken tofu soup from the farmer’s market. Being half a globe away from home, I think about these memories all the time. So, in 2020, I made a cookbook with breakfast stories from my childhood and drew the illustrations for each recipe.Today, I often cook with my mom’s recipes on the weekend, as my way of celebrating food, family, and love.

What do you enjoy doing on weekend mornings, when you have a bit more time?

I enjoy making a big breakfast at home on the weekend. If the weather is nice, I have my coffee and food on the balcony, enjoy the view of the city, and read a book (currently reading Ben Horowitz’s What You Do Is Who You Are).

You started a company that blends Asian flavors with one of the most classic breakfast foods, oatmeal. What did you feel was missing in your morning that inspired you to start this company?

Before I started Yishi, I ate a lot of instant oatmeal. They were either plain, bland oats, or tasty-but-sugary oatmeal like maple brown sugar. I was frustrated by the lack of healthy and tasty options, and I was bored of the limited flavors available.

I thought oatmeal could be more enjoyable and nutritious – it is a great platform to add flavorful and functional ingredients that provide better, more complete nutrition.

That’s when I thought of my mom’s black sesame cereal that she used to make for me. It uses a variety of seeds, nuts, and grains, so it provides rich and diverse nutrition. And she made it so tasty! Following my mom’s approach, I decided to “re-create” oatmeal and make it tasty, functional, and healthy with innovative flavors.

And finally, ending with a tough question: what’s your favorite flavor of Yishi?

Toasted Black Sesame. Nothing beats my mom’s magic touch!