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Healthy Under Pressure wants to make health a priority for founders

Amber Pankonin

Entrepreneurs and startup teams spend countless hours paying attention to things like validating business ideas, developing products and raising capital. Burning the candle at both ends sometimes means that health and nutrition take a back seat. Amber Pankonin is on a mission to help.

“Startups fail for a number of reasons, and burnout is one of them,” said Pankonin, a Registered Dietician. “We assume failures happen due to poor cash flow, a poor business model or competition. We rarely attribute failure to health or stress.”

Pankonin has started a podcast called Healthy Under Pressure, featuring interviews with entrepreneurs, startup founders and busy people about the health challenges they face.

“I definitely feel like my audience is this community,” she said. “They were engaging me online, messaging me in the middle of the night about nutrition and diet. People want to have this conversation and want a place to go to for credible information.”

Ben Pankonin, Amber’s husband and Co-Founder/CEO of fintech startup Social Assurance, provides a handy test case.

“I had the front seat of watching Ben launch his startup and really the emotional and financial rollercoaster that follows,” Amber said. “It was really conversations with Ben and other startups that made me realize very quickly that they were taking care of important things in their business but not taking care of themselves.”

Ben confirms that health is often not a priority for founders.

“It’s a hierarchy of needs and keeping the lights on is usually at the top,” he said. “Somewhere on that list is your own health, but it’s not in the top five.”

Conversations and stories are key components of the approach to the podcast.

“The podcast is a way to offer help to startups through stories and narration,” Ben said. “A lot of it is evolving into conversations. A lot of offline conversations are happening.”

Amber Pankonin’s career started out on a more traditional track before changing focus.

“I originally thought I’d be a clinical dietician,” she said. “As Ben and I started dreaming about future businesses, I decided I wanted to do freelance nutrition communications.”

Amber Pankonin and husband Ben

Amber uses the podcast to supplement her blog, newsletter and social media communications. She also has a presence on local radio and television.

“I do a weekly interview on KFOR radio and a weekly segment on 10/11,” she said. “Now I have a podcast.”

As the holiday season approaches, Amber hopes the podcast will be particularly useful.

“For a lot of people who are struggling this time of year, it’s a nice thing for them to listen to on their commute or run,” she said. “Startup founders can’t really afford a wellness plan or director or personal dietician.”

The podcast stories are likely to hit home for many founders.

“Founders are incredibly honest,” Amber said. “They’ll open up about health and what’s going on at home.”

Individual health and nutrition are important to a startup’s success, but so are relationships.

“We saw a lot of founders struggling in relationships with spouses or significant others,” Amber said. “When those fell apart, so did the startup.”

Both Amber and Ben see the podcast as a service to the startup community.

“It’s more about offering support to this community because both Ben and I are seen as leaders and community builders,” Amber said. “We want to support founders that might be struggling.”

Amber’s podcasts, blog and other health and nutrition resources can be found at http://www.healthyunderpressure.com/. Watch for Amber’s guest post in early January with tips and hints for the new year.

Rod Armstrong is Vice President of Strategic Partnerships for AIM in Lincoln, Nebraska. He is a regular contributor to Silicon Prairie News.

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