Steven Sashen is an entrepreneur, athlete, and teacher. He is the co-founder and CEO of Xero Shoes, a complete line of shoes, sandals, and boots that let feet function naturally. Prior to jumping into the footwear business, Sashen was an internationally-known Internet marketing expert, search engine and social media marketing consultant, and software designer.
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 outside of Washington, D.C. I don’t know how to respond to what my childhood was like – that could take a LONG time.
The 3 things that stick out as “life-changing,” though, are:
My junior high school gym teacher happened to be one of the world’s best gymnasts and the world’s best teachers of any sort. Under his guidance, I became an All-American gymnast. He taught me how to set a goal and work towards it, how to be a fierce-but-fair competitor, and how to have FUN doing it.
For some reason, from a young age, I liked finding ways to make and save money. So, I learned how to take my interests and turn them into profit. At one point my father was stunned to discover that I had $60 in my piggy bank… at age 6. I’m still frugal and save rather than spend, and I’ve only worked by doing things I find interesting – I’ve never even interviewed for a job and have never had a resume.
What is something you wish you would’ve realized earlier in your life?
That there are government jobs that have pensions which would have been creatively satisfying.
What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?
Our business — https://xeroshoes.com – exists because I discovered that the common designs of modern athletic shoes (pointed toe boxes, narrow designs, elevated heels, cushioned soles, motion control, arch support) actually CAUSE the problems they claim to cure.
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 can only answer this in an odd way: At a party once, my wife once made a comment about the challenges we had at the beginning of our relationship. I said that I had no memory of what she was talking about. She replied, “That’s one of the reasons I love you.”
What that means is, for whatever reason, I don’t seem to think about my past with labels like good/bad/dark/light.
What is one thing that you do that you feel has been the biggest contributor to your success so far?
What is your morning routine?
I wake up somewhere between 5:30 – 7:00 (I don’t have an alarm clock), go to the bathroom, jump online to make sure everything in the business is still okay (it’s amazing how many things go wrong overnight when nothing has changed to make them go wrong), workout (lately, a 25-minute kettlebell routine), shower, make some breakfast that I’ll actually take to work and eat sometime between 9-noon), head to the office at 8 or 8:30.
What habit or behavior that you have pursued for a few years has most improved your life?
Questioning my beliefs.
What are your strategies for being productive and using your time most efficiently?
I don’t have any strategies. I don’t do well with strategies and techniques to change the way my mind naturally works. So I’m definitely not efficient, but I’m productive to the extent that I work hard and that I’ve gotten good at what I do by having done it for a long time.
What book(s) have influenced your life the most? Why?
Both of these books changed the way I think about, well, thinking. They helped me take a broader view that has helped me see the world more clearly and, I’d say, accurately.
Do you have any quotes you live by or think of often?
I don’t (though, perhaps, it should be “Don’t live by quotes to live by” 😉 )