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9Mile Labs co-founder and partner Sanjay Puri.
9Mile Labs co-founder and partner Sanjay Puri.

Three years ago, Sanjay Puri co-founded the 9Mile Labs incubator with a vision to help enterprise and B2B startups flourish. Since its launch, the accelerator has invested in 48 startups across five cohorts.

Mentorship is a key aspect of Puri’s role but he spends the majority of his time networking within the Seattle community.

“I meet with entrepreneurs, investors, prospective mentors, large company executives, other accelerators, press and media, sponsors, entrepreneurship organizations and many other people on a regular basis,” he said. “I love the breadth of professionals I meet and enjoy the opportunity to leverage their skills and influence to help the 9Mile Labs companies.”

But despite his demanding work life, Puri manages to prioritize his family and health above everything else. We caught up with him for this installment of our Working Geek feature, to find out how he keeps it all in balance. Continue reading for his answers to our questionnaire.

Current Location:  Galvanize in Pioneer Square (we just moved and super-excited about our new space and partners at Galvanize)

Computer types: Surface Pro 4

Mobile devices: iPhone 6s

Favorite apps, cloud services and software tools: Software tools on Surface — Microsoft Office (Excel, PowerPoint, Word, OneNote, Outlook), Slack, Skype; Apps on iPhone — Outlook (love the integrated email/calendaring functionality), OneNote, Cluster.

Describe your workspace. Why does it work for you? Messy (so I can find anything I want…under a pile); Collaborative (Kevin [Croy, co-founder and partner], Caitlin [Goetze, cohort director] and I share an office); I always need a stress ball or another object to throw around, it helps me think.

9mile sanjay

Your best advice for managing everyday work and life? You need to have a clear statement of priorities, which arise from core values; the way I think about that is, “When push comes to shove, what do I value most?” My priorities are quite simple — family, health, work…in that order.

Your preferred social network? How do you use it for business/work? LinkedIn; Facebook — I kept my business contacts out of Facebook for the longest time, but finally relented about a year ago. The floodgates opened!

Current number of unanswered emails in your inbox? Business email: 53; Personal email: 13,585

Number of appointments/meetings on your calendar this week? 19 (things have slowed down significantly after Milestone9 on Mar 3).

How do you run meetings? It depends — for first-time meet and greet meetings, it’s primarily understanding the background of people involved (thank you LinkedIn), their motivations and how I can help them. For normal business meetings, ensure there’s an agenda and a follow-up post-meeting that contains 2 things – Decisions and Action Items

Everyday work uniform? Denim pants, cotton fleece on top of black t-shirt, Ecco shoes

How do you make time for family? As an entrepreneur, you’re free to choose any 24 hours of the day to work, so it is incredibly hard to separate work time from personal time. However, the clear statement of priorities really helps. The simple fact is that if either family or health are not optimal, you can’t be effective at work. It’s not like I’ve never missed a volleyball/soccer game or a PTSA meeting. However, the clear priorities for myself and the people around me helps keep things in perspective.

Best stress reliever? How do you unplug? I play squash and/or badminton two to three times a week. Nothing distracts the mind like mindless pursuit of that squash ball or shuttlecock (yes, that’s exactly what it’s called, not a birdie).

What are you listening to? 94.9 KUOW; Bollywood music; 710 Sports FM (addicted to NFL, even during off-season); Guilty Pleasure — John “The Professor” Clayton’s podcast

Daily reads? Favorite sites and newsletters? WSJ; GeekWire (of course!); TechCrunch; Mattermark; Bleacher Report

when religion becomes lethalBook on your nightstand (or e-reader)? Currently reading “When Religion Becomes Lethal…” by Charles Kimball. The book is a factual account of the history, mythology, theology and the current situation of the three religions and their people. Not being Christian, Jewish or Muslim, it’s fascinating to me how closely tied the three religions are and how many common roots they share.

Night owl or early riser? What are your sleep patterns? If left to my own devices, I’d be a night owl. However, once you have kids, your preferences don’t matter! Now I’m available on demand! ;-)

Where do you get your best ideas? Walking or in the bus (I take the bus from the Eastside to Seattle daily). If I’ve been thinking about a problem for some time, the unconscious mind works best in the twilight zone – when I’m getting to sleep at night or when I’m not quite awake in the morning.

Whose work style would you want to learn more about or emulate? There’s no one person really. I continue to learn from people around me and those I read about. However, I’m quite comfortable in my own skin.

Writer and journalist Madeline Vuong contributed to this story.

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