Drop Ins: Adrian Alfieri

We believe in the power of routines and finding meaning in the ways we sew comfort into our everyday surroundings. Drop Ins is a series that explores just that, taking a dressed-down look at the lives of people who inspire us.

Adrian Alfieri has the morning all figured out. The morning, he says, is key—the day, quite literally, rolls out from there. Alfieri has learned about the importance of the morning routine from all the bright minds he’s interviewed for his must-read newsletter The Proof Wellness. (Seriously, look at the archive: it reads like a who’s who of founders and investors.) Alfieri is candid and kind and very happy to discuss his own relationship to wellness. We called him up at his New York apartment and talked about sleep, the morning, and how to balance it all.

What does your day-to-day wellness routine look like?

It always starts with sleep. During the week I would say kind of Sunday through Thursday I try to make sure I'm in bed at 9:30, lights out at 10:00 if not earlier. That means I can get up at 6:00 or 6:30 and really start my day. Pretty adamant about blackout shades, no noise, wear an eye mask, I have an Eight Sleep. I highly recommend investing money if you have it in upgrading your sleep because it's massively important. That's kind of how I think about sleep.

I recommend investing money if you have it in upgrading your sleep because it's massively important.
Do you monitor your sleep with like a Whoop or a Garmin?

Yeah, I wear an Oura Ring and then I also track it with Eight Sleep. I think this is like a Tim Ferris line—and it's probably overused—but “what gets measured gets managed.” A good example of that not only in sleep, but recently I realized that I kind of fell off the nutrition horse.

I try to eat kind of paleo. Basically just a lot of greens, a lot of lean meats, not a lot of carbs, no sugar, that kind of thing. I just started tracking it. I wasn't tracking macros or calories. I don't really recommend that route.

Yeah, I don’t like counting or quantifying weight and calories. I don’t like to think about the number on the scale—you should worry more about how you feel, not how much you weigh.

Exactly, yeah. I don't track it quantitatively, but I literally just made myself write down what you're eating for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It's really not rocket science and when I started making myself check-in at the end of the day I was like "Oh, I want to be writing down that I'm eating good things." 

What’s your work routine like? How do you balance work with wellness?

Someone recently wrote about basically there's increasingly a divide between synchronous workers and asynchronous workers where synchronous workers meaning you have to show up 9-to-5 at the same thing every day and work usually longer (especially if you're in finance or consulting). 

As a result, you only look forward to the weekend and you have to batch all of your community interaction and vices into your weekend, where if you're working asynchronously that completely changes. On weekends sometimes I'll work just because I want to. Then sometimes it's a Tuesday and I know I have some work to do but I'm like, “I really want to hang out with a friend.” A lot of my friends are kind of people I met through work or digital communities and they're also asynchronous and so they're like, "Tuesday? Hell yeah. Let's grab dinner and a couple of drinks."

What are some of your favorite interviews you've done for The Proof Wellness and the best wisdom you've learned from those interviews?

That's a good question. I would say the recurring theme of "high performers," which is kind of what I focus on. Founders and investors that are ridiculously ambitious and have some degree of success at least on paper. I would say the recurring theme is—I know I lean too much into Tim Ferris territory here [Laughs] but he uses the term—winning the morning.

Each of them has a ridiculously structured morning routine bordering on insanity but it matters. It really matters and the morning routine starts the night before. Having a really dialed-in sequence of how you're preparing for sleep, getting good sleep, and then the first one to two hours of the morning dictates my entire day.

Having a really dialed-in sequence of how you're preparing for sleep, getting good sleep, and then the first one to two hours of the morning dictates my entire day.
On a good day, what does your morning look like?

Waking up at 6:00, 6:30. I don't set an alarm. If I'm going to bed early I'm waking up. That is one thing I've never done in my life is set an alarm. 

I'll pick up my phone, sit in bed for 10 minutes and make sure there are no fires that need to be put out. That means Slack, email, text, Twitter, that kind of thing. Quickly check that stuff and then respond to anything urgently and then once it gets more than 10 minutes I force myself out of bed even though it's kind of cold and just get in the shower. From there, my day will be perfect. If I can get myself in the shower, then I'm awake. I go downstairs, clean up the kitchen, pour some coffee. Then open my laptop and start working. 

That boot-up sequence is usually about 30 minutes. Again, it's nothing crazy, it's just the biggest reminder for me which sometimes literally I have to say this out loud, “Adrian, momentum breeds momentum”—and the minute I'm out of bed for the rest of my day, I know what to do. I'm just following my momentum.

Whereas if I don't do that if my momentum is static and I'm just sitting in bed I can't start, right? For me, it's always a battle every morning of like, just get the hell out of bed and get in the shower. Then once you're in the day will take care of itself.

What does wellness mean to you?

It’s funny. I get this question a lot. Everything today seems to be wellness or wellness adjacent. Wellness at its core for me is pretty simple. When I get up in the morning am I happy? When I get up in the morning am I feeling good mentally, am I feeling good physically, emotionally—whatever you want to categorize it as. It's really that simple. When I think about “wellness” it's basically spread out between five pillars: Sleep, exercise, nutrition, community, and mindfulness. 

Any time I'm thinking through how I'm scoring myself in terms of wellness I'll run through those. Am I sleeping well? Am I eating well? Am I working out well? Do I have a really healthy community around me? If I'm checking the box on maybe four of those every day I tend to be in a pretty good spot.

Adrian was photographed by Kimber Capriotti in Brooklyn on May 14, 2021. To sign up for Adrian's newsletter, The Proof Wellness, click here.

Bill BradleyBill Bradley Bill Bradley is a writer and the co-founder of Three Point Four Media, a creative agency and editorial studio. He lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Likes: Black coffee, bonfires, Beefeater martinis, all four seasons.
Dislikes: 42 and rainy.