The Productivity Giants Series with Nathan Chan, CEO & Publisher of Foundr Magazine

Photo: Yaro Starak


Nathan Chan is on a mission to make his entrepreneurial magazine, Foundr, a household name. Foundr is the essential digital resource for the “growing ranks of craft, self-made entrepreneurs – at every level of experience.”


Millions of people read Foundr’s content every month, and their covers have been blessed by successful entrepreneurs like Sophia Amoruso, Richard Branson, Arianna Huffington, Mark Cuban, Tim Ferriss and many more.


It’s a challenge juggling a fast-growing startup, while also disrupting and navigating the quickly changing publishing industry. We talked to Nathan about the importance of delegating and why work doesn’t feel like work to him.


What does the first 90 minutes of your day look like?


I’m guilty of being that person that checks their phone when they first wake up. From there, I triage all important emails and also check Slack. After that I usually go to the gym – if not I will have something scheduled in my calendar, usually a call with someone overseas, since our head office is based in Melbourne, Australia. However, we operate on a US timezone as most of our customers and audience are there. I live and die by my calendar – if something is not scheduled, it’s not happening.


What’s your number one productivity/time-saving tip?


Delegating as much as possible. The more I can delegate, the more I can free up my time to do the most impactful work to drive the business forward.


Any favorite tools?


Trello hands down. We run our whole business off it and I couldn’t live without it!


How often do you check your inbox?


At least 10x a day, maybe even more.


#1 Email tip?


Have a “say no to this person” folder as part of your email structure and have an assistant that constantly looks at that folder and writes back to people politely declining things. One of my mentors once told me your email is everyone else’s to-do list. Once you begin to view it that way, so many of these emails are much easier to decline, say no to, or archive.


What’s the biggest hindrance to your productivity? How do you combat it?


Constant interruptions, whether it’s email, Slack, calls, phone messages, social, etc. The way I combat it is by setting deadlines with really important tasks and telling others to keep me accountable. One of our values at Foundr is “Determined to Deliver – we do what we say we will do” – my word is extremely important to me and I want to lead by example.


When you lose focus, what do you do to regain it?


Take a break, go for a walk, do something that is not mind-stimulating, then come back to it!


What bad advice do you hear often?


That I should work less (to me it’s not work if it’s fun!)


The most worthwhile investment in time, money, or energy that you’ve made?


Paying a business coach that has built a 9-figure business to show me the ropes and help me shortcut to build something as impactful as he has.


What’s your definition of productivity?


Producing at a really effective rate with insane output/caliber of work in the time given.


In the last 5 years, what new belief, behavior, or habit has most improved your life?


That when you start something and are extremely consistent with it over time you will get results – even if it’s 1% per week, it compounds.


What have you become better at saying no to?


Everything that has to do with people wanting something from me (my time, features in the magazine/podcast, introductions, can you teach me x, can you be my mentor etc.)






Follow Nathan on Twitter.