The Art of Managing Yourself In Style
#HashTagLunchBag Founder Ajay Relan Gives Us Three Tips on Managing Ourselves
Today we exist in a hyper-stimulated environment, easily the most rapidly moving that has ever existed. It’s not uncommon to find yourself juggling multiple careers, and hopping from event to event. Schedules change instantaneously, and so your style has to match your always-on attitude. In order to deal with your complex lives, you need to rely on shortcuts, especially for dressing.
One style short-cut perfect for any occasion is the Bonobos Chino. Versatile, comfortable and form-fitting, these pants work for every type of guy. To show you why these Chinos are a universal style solution for every guy, Complex collaborated with three successful moguls in different fields. In the first of a three part series, we met up with serial entrepreneur Ajay Relan in L.A. to chop it up about his schedule as it relates to his style.
Born and raised in Los Angeles, Relan is the definition of a successful 21st century man. A lifelong multi-hyphenate, his background includes establishing his own VC fir m, Queensbridge Venture Capital LLC., owning the Melrose Avenue sports bar The Parlor, launching a new mission-driven coffee concept, Hilltop, and leading a marketing agency dubbed The Magical Threads Company. He is also one of the founders of the popular free meal movement #HashTagLunchBag. On top of all this, he is a husband and father; Ajay has a two-year-old daughter and a son on the way.
While Ajay makes success seem effortless, he shares three tips on managing yourself, and prescribes three of his favorite Bonobos Chinos for every occasion.
Be more self-aware. If you have access to therapy, use it as a resource.
Relan grew up in a single-mother household, and remembers working as soon as he could walk. Ajay’s mom, who was the sole employee to her own business, is a big inspiration for his entrepreneurial mindset. Ajay remembers selling candy out of his locker and, as he got older, buying clothes, car audio, and other recreational things to sell out of his car. As he gained momentum, however, he hit a roadblock while managing his VC firm trying to seek more meaning and purpose for his life.
Inspired by his therapist who suggested he start giving, Ajay launched #HashTagLunchBag with some friends in 2012. #HashTagLunchbag is a movement which gives out bagged lunches with written messages of love to those in need. #HashTagLunchBag uses the power of social media to share the benefits of giving.
“I think a kind of misconception being a serial entrepreneur, or having my hands in different projects all aligned with different missions, is that it’s do-able,” he tells Complex. “But it takes a toll on your mental health.”
After the success of #HashTagLunchBag, Ajay and his partner combined what they had built, #LunchBag and their sports bar The Parlor, into a mission-driven coffee and kitchen concept called Hilltop Coffee and Kitchen. The new concept is meant to be a platform for those with ideas to come together in underserved communities and make their dreams happen. Ajay believes that giving is receiving. “It’s everyone’s job in this world to become who they were meant to be. In order to become, you need to be self-aware so you can learn how to contribute in a way that’s unique to you.”
Here Ajay chose the Bonobos Stretch Washed Chinos in Grey Dogs for his day-to-day work look. Of the pants, he says, “I could wear these taking my daughter to the park, pitching at a board meeting with investors [for Hilltop], or grabbing a beer with my friends. It’s something that is good for every occasion.”
Be grateful for the things you already have.
When asked what he would tell his younger self, Ajay says, “Chill the f*ck out, right? Get over yourself. You're not the only person in the world that's going through anything. The sooner I could have the realization that by being grateful for the things that you have, will get you so many more of the things that you want.”
Meditation is a key tool for helping Ajay slow down. Through his meditation practice, the entrepreneur recognized entrepreneurship requires a huge amount of work. He tells Complex it took him some time to see the consequences of starting and owning multiple businesses. Continuously creating is certainly a challenge for him, but he also recognizes it’s a challenge for his partners – whether it’s his wife or his business partners. He remembers a time where money meant everything to him, and then a period where he over-collected money, and it didn’t mean a thing. Ajay declares he still wants all the money, but also all the impact. He says, “I want to inspire as many people just through my actions today. I hope that I can do that.”
Meditation is a form of checking in with yourself, and a reminder to check in with others like your family, spouse, and anyone else who you’re grateful to have in your life.
Here Ajay wears the Bonobos Stretch Washed Chinos in Summer Greens at his marketing consulting agency Magical Threads’, which delivers powerful content strategy for brands.
Always write down your goals, even if it’s the same goal everyday.
Ajay tells us, “There’s something fundamental about writing things down that helps you be intentional in achieving goals.” He carries a little notebook around with him to remember his commitments. He says, “Results will show what you’re truly committed to.”
Just as he’s very intentional about how he spends his time, he brings that same level of attentiveness to the items he picks to wear.
Ajay claims he doesn’t have a big closet and believes style is relative. He is a big fan of a good pair of fitted pants and a nice T-shirt. “I think that, in the line of my business, being a creative, being an entrepreneur, being in this space, talking to investors...dressing is dynamic and a nice Chino helps me stay fluid and flexible wherever I go.”
Here Ajay picked the Bonobos Stretch Organic Cotton Chino in Olive Green for a more relaxed look while working at his restaurant, The Parlor.