Cordel Robbin-Coker on Early Rising & Keeping Things Simple

This week, Dr. Chinara Tate caught up with our friend and PSC advisory board member Cordel Robbin-Coker. Based in Cape Town, South Africa, Cordel is the co-founder and CEO of Carry1st, the leading mobile game developer in Africa, serving their first generation of smartphone users. Read on to learn about this easy-going, early-rising businessman gets it done. 

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"I'm appreciative of personal time and clarity of thought.  Meetings are overrated. Pants are overrated. Fixed addresses are overrated." 
-Cordel Robbin-Coker

Cordel, At A Glance

What gets you out of bed? 

Latent anxiety that I'm falling behind in my business and in life…

Healthy Habits 

Home cooked meals, low intensity pilates-style exercise, boxing and therapy.

Vices 

Binging on chocolate / pastries, if they're around.  Procrastinating mercilessly.  Wine and whiskey...

One piece of health/wellness advice 

One - Take a hard look at your daily schedule and structure it to make good habits easier to maintain... Two - Eat caviar!

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Cordel’s Morning Routine

Covid has given me the opportunity to dramatically change my routine for the better.  I typically wake up around 4:30 or 5am and chill in bed for about 30 minutes doing whatever I feel like --- play a mobile game, read frivolous articles, answer that nagging text, whatever.  Then I do about 20 minutes of low intensity pilates-style exercise with a video on my ipad.  Then read 15-20 pages of whatever book I'm working on. And finally start working around 6am and try to get something meaningful done before lunch and the deluge of afternoon / evening calls.  

Early AM Self-care.  Kicking off the day by engaging in activities that ground you, realign focus and improve your physical and mental health is a surefire way to dive into the work day with a greater sense of clarity, purpose and accomplishment. What this looks like is different for everyone but one common thread is setting up a routine that ensures you start off running the course of your day - rather than letting everyone else’s priorities completely overtake and overrun any opportunity to focus on your own well-being. 
To Get Started:
  • Set an alarm for 30 minutes earlier than your usual wake-up time
  • Plan to do an activity that solely focuses on you - whether it be exercising, journaling, meditating or sitting with a new book with tea/coffee in hand

What other healthy habits do you have?
Nowadays I eat pretty clean although that also has been spurred by being forced to stay at home and cook my own food.  Prior to this I have probably eaten no more than like 25 home-cooked meals over the last decade.  I've lost about 25 pounds during lockdown without really trying... makes me slightly curious about what exactly the restaurants have been putting in my food!  I like to box with a trainer a couple times a week, if I can swing it.  And finally, I speak with a coach (therapist?) once a week which is a useful check in around life priorities.

Home Cooking. While it’s perfectly fine to order restaurant fare on occasion, regularly outsourcing cooking often places responsibility for your physical well being in the hands of someone whose vested interest may not align with your health goals. For many dining establishments the primary goal is to make your food taste great so you come back. By taking this responsibility back into your own hands you:
  • Know what’s going into your food
  • Have control over how much you add
  • Can make sure you meet your specific dietary needs
Accountability Partner. Whether with a trainer via zoom, a family member at home or a socially distanced friend, engaging in physical activity with someone else can help keep you accountable for showing up for yourself repeatedly and more motivated over the long term.
Mental Health. Albeit far from ubiquitous or equitable, tremendous strides have been made toward both destigmatizing and increasing access to mental health care. Uncertain of where or how to start? Check out this link on finding the right mental health care professional for you.

Speaking of home-cooked meals, any recipes to share with us?

I cook mainly fresh meat and vegetables quite simply. Everything in 2 large pans on high heat with avocado oil, because it's fast and delicious. I typically top with something extra flavorful, like pickled ginger, chopped peppadew peppers, olive tapenade, or actually caviar.

Fast, flavorful and nutrient dense. The best recipes are the ones that are simple, require little fuss and help you eat healthfully consistently. Two of the primary reasons many people regularly order in are 1) convenience and 2) feeling overwhelmed/intimidated by cooking. Keeping things simple and boosting flavor with marinades, sauces and nutrient dense toppings can expand variety and prevent boredom. Pinterest and PSC caviar are my go to’s for these!

What's one of the best pieces of advice you've received from your coach and how did you put it into action?

Setting and maintaining boundaries is essential to any healthy relationship.

Life under quarantine - what are you more appreciative of? What’s highly overrated?

I'm appreciative of personal time and clarity of thought.  Meetings are overrated. Pants are overrated. Fixed addresses are overrated. 

What's something new/interesting you've learned recently?

A cow-bison hybrid is called a “beefalo”...

If you could acquire any one skill overnight without even trying which would you pick?

The ability to speak French fluently and/or write clean code.