Note to readers: Morning Stars is a series of interviews with achievers across fields about their morning routine and how they get ready for the day ahead. Mornings bring optimism and a fresh start. And how we spend them sets the tone for the day.
As an overworked student at IIM-Ahmedabad, Lalit Mehta did not have the luxury of starting his day on his terms. One sleep-deprived morning, he even had an LLTT - Looking London Talking Tokyo - moment when he gave an unrelated answer to a professor’s question.
Mehta is now the CEO of fintech company Decimal Technologies. How he begins his day is in his control. And while he is not fussy about his breakfast, he is particular about 30 minutes of me-time.
Excerpts from an interaction.
Are you a morning person? What time do you get up on working days?
I am a morning person who likes to wake up by 6 am or at the break of dawn. The peace that time offers and the chance to be with oneself start off the day on a positive note. This ‘me time’ sets the base for the rest of my day.
How many hours of sleep do you need?
I used to get about five hours of sleep before COVID-19. Now I get 6-7 hours of sleep as there is no travel or long-distance commute required anymore.
What would mornings be like during college/ university days? Can you share a funny anecdote?
I studied at IIM Ahmedabad from 2007-2008. IIM-A was a place with late nights and syndicate groups to work on case studies and assignments. A typical day used to end at 2 or 3 am and we would have our first lecture around 8:30 am. Or 9:30, if we were lucky.
Once I reached the class half asleep. The professor asked me to explain my analysis of the case he’d given us as an assignment. I confidently held forth. The class was silent and I could see that something was wrong, but I continued. After some time, I noticed that my classmates and the professor were smiling. The professor had to tell me that not only was I wrong about the case but also the subject.
Do you reach for your phone for news/ messages right away or do you stay offline for a while?
I spend about 20-30 minutes with myself before I access any electronic device. That half an hour in the morning is the time for me to reflect and analyse any thoughts that I may have had on the previous day and also check if the intuitive mind and logical mind concur on strategic stuff. After this, the daily dose of digital starts.
What are the two or three things you do in the morning that are important for you to start the day on the right note?
As I said, the first 30 minutes of the day are crucial for me. I need the first half an hour to be peaceful and quiet.
What is your regular news source in the morning?
I usually prefer to get my news from mobile apps. InShorts, Mint, ET and Moneycontrol are some I frequently use. With mobile phones becoming our primary source of information, news apps are a great way to keep yourself updated on real-time happenings in the world in an easy to read format.
What do you like to see on the breakfast table?
When it comes to food, I’m pretty easygoing. When at home I love to have some fruits and light Indian breakfast like poha or upma. My favourite cuisine is Thai. I like to go to a Thai place whenever I have an opportunity.
Are there two or three cities that you worked in and know well? If yes, what did you like about mornings in those places?
Over the years, I’ve worked in a few places. The ones that stand out are Gurgaon and New York.
I currently live in Gurgaon. The best thing about being here is my family. I get to start my day with them around.
I’ve worked in New York for a few years. The energy in the city in the morning is amazing. I remember feeling as if everyone around is out on a mission towards positivity.
Any song or tune that you like to listen to in the morning, or which captures the morning mood for you?
I like listening to light meditational music in the morning, but my favourite is Sufi and fusion music. I like Nescafe Basement and Coke Studio.
What are weekend mornings like?
Weekend (Sundays) are different in more ways than one. I like to eat a large Indian breakfast and sometimes I like to cook for everyone. I like to ride a bike too. The winter chill makes it all the more fun.