The Desk

The Items That Twisted Road’s Founder Needs To Lead

Members of the tech community make us who we are, so we're celebrating Built In users in an article series called: #TheTechLife.

By Alton Zenon III

Staying “in the zone” — one that’s equal parts productive and relaxing — is something Twisted Road Co-founder and CEO Austin Rothbard takes very seriously. Rothbard has a routine that helps him lead a team with a shared mission: to connect motorcycle enthusiasts with bikes nationwide.

Winnetka, IL




Rothbard is a creature of routine, but also one of complexity. He’s a die-hard motorcyclist that loves the thrill of tearing down backroads. But each day, he also chills out with incense and cozy slippers after updating the heirloom wooden calendar blocks his father gave him.


Learn more about the items on Rothbard’s desk — and how they fit into his daily ritual.

What's on his desk:

1. Motorcycle Helmet: Duh.

Rothbard’s helmet is never out of sight. Literally. He even takes it with him when he travels because he loves being able to rent a bike anywhere he goes.


2. Day Blocks: “I have a set of calendar blocks that show the month and date,” said Rothbard. “They used to be my dad’s. I remember seeing him change the blocks every morning growing up, almost like a ritual. A few years ago, he gave them to me. Now, the first thing I do in the morning is change the date.” 


3. Cigar Lighter: Rothbard has been smoking cigars for almost 30 years. He keeps a lighter close by to smoke one to two cigars per week when he needs to let off the throttle of work a bit. He said there’s a ceremonial aspect to smoking that helps him relax, particularly when he pairs a cigar with a crossword puzzle.


4. Incense: “When I want to get work done, I close the door, make sure the lighting is right and light some incense,” Rothbard said. “I have about 30 different scents. It creates a mood of relaxation that helps when I’m working.”


5. French PressRothbard loves black coffee, and not because of the caffeine. He said he enjoys the taste and uses his french press to make cups from his favorite small-batch roasters. The daily habit of brewing that first cup in the peace of the morning centers him and kickstarts his entrepreneurial energy. “Whenever I’m on the road, I always look for a local coffee shop to stop in and get my work done,” Rothbard said.


6. Slippers: Twisted Road was founded in 2017 as a remote-first company, so working from home is nothing new. Rothbard said it’s important to be comfortable when working from home, and a pair of sheepskin slippers helps him stay cozy.

Meet more pros in #TheTechLife Series