Rachael Rapinoe is the co-founder and CEO of Mendi, a company that empowers athletes to recover better through innovative products that disrupt the status quo for pain relief. She is a former soccer player who played for Stjarnan Women in Iceland and the United States women’s national under-23 soccer team.

Where did you grow up and what was your childhood like? Did you have any particular experiences/stories that shaped your adult life?

I grew up the youngest of six kids but an older twin in rural northern California, in a small town called Redding. Very conservative, very off the beaten track but also has a certain country charm about it. Growing up in Redding absolutely shaped who I am today. However, what has shaped me the most is my beautiful family. My parents, older siblings and my twin sister mean everything to me. We are far from a perfect family, but there has always been an abundance of love.

What is something you wish you would’ve realized earlier in your life?

The concept of ‘yes and’. Life isn’t rainbows and butterflies, it’s really hard. I don’t think most kids are taught how to cope with hard things, so once you become an adult you’re literally slapped in the face by life and all the responsibilities associated with it. However, life is also beautiful, wonderful and can provide a deep sense of joy and belonging. In many cases, there are multiple truths happening at one time. This is the concept of ‘yes and’. We do not live in a binary world and it has taken a long time for me to understand this.

What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?

Fake it until you make it. I really dislike that expression. I’m someone who doesn’t fake anything I do, if I don’t know something I’ll work tirelessly to figure it out and become proficient at it. I think it’s really important to fully know your strengths and weaknesses, avoiding either one can be very detrimental long-term.

Tell me about one of the darker periods you’ve experienced in life. How you came out of it and what you learned from it?

I’ve been through a few dark periods coming out as gay in my mid-twenties and also in my entrepreneurial journey later in my career. Being an entrepreneur is extremely hard, there are some days when nothing is going right and you feel like you’ve been climbing a mountain for months. At the end of the day, it’s all about trusting your gut, having some faith, and putting in the work.

What is one thing that you do that you feel has been the biggest contributor to your success so far?

My twin sister, Megan. She’s my rock, my confidant, my biggest supporter but also not afraid to give me the harsh truth. You need people in life who are willing to be brutally honest. Not only is it a sign of true love but also genuine care for your future.

What is your morning routine?

My morning routine is my favorite part of the day. It’s truly what gets me out of bed. Okay, you ready… I am usually woken up by my sweet pup, Angelo (morning snuggles, of course). I make coffee and journal on the couch. I love my quiet, mindful mornings. If I don’t start the day off from a place of mindfulness and peace, my day can quickly turn to chaos with the whirlwind of work. Once I finish my coffee and journaling, Angelo and I take a walk to the park for some fresh air. I’ve never been a morning exerciser, but morning walks I can get behind. : )

What habit or behavior that you have pursued for a few years has most improved your life?

Journaling has undeniably made the biggest positive impact on my life. I’ve always struggled with meditation, but journaling is another form of mindfulness and being completely present with my thoughts. I am a visual person as well, so it’s very helpful for me to write down my thoughts, feelings, and intentions in front of me.

What are your strategies for being productive and using your time most efficiently?

Well, there are to-do lists that always help. Aside from productivity or project management tools, I’d say the most important tool to keep me productive and thinking clearly is movement. There’s nothing that can replace the hormonal, metabolic, and neurological effects that exercise has on the human body. Exercise and sleep are the two best things you can do for yourself!

What book(s) have influenced your life the most? Why?

Emotional Agility by Dr. Susan David – incredible book on being able to stay emotionally agile through life and not get stuck on our own hooks. There are a lot of amazing teachings here, especially for leaders

The Hard Things About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz – a must-read for all entrepreneurs, CEOs, and people in leadership roles. Business is filled with hard decisions, so a good entrepreneur needs to be able to make hard decisions frequently. It’s a no-fluff book, which I appreciate because being a business owner is anything BUT fluff.

Do you have any quotes you live by or think of often?

Hard things are hard. Period. This sounds simple but it’s guided me through a lot of very difficult life and business decisions. I learned early on that I need to go through hard things, not around, underneath, or avoid them. In my experience, doing the right thing is usually the hardest thing.