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Day in the Life

A Day in the Life: Chief Executive Officer

For our Day in the Life series, we look at the daily work habits, schedules and routines from people in a variety of roles and careers around the world.

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Ellen Chisa, Co-Founder & CEO of Dark

Ellen Chisa is the Co-Founder and CEO of Dark, a programming language with a mission to democratize coding by making it 100x easier to build software.

My days are often really interesting. I try to get at least three focused blocks of time, and I also answer Slack messages & emails from our users throughout the day during downtime.

When I’m focusing:

  • I talk with our team. It’s really important to be all on the same page and working together on our primary challenges.
  • I write tutorials and documentation. I’m still the primary person who makes videos, tutorials, and other content that helps people to learn Dark. I also sometimes write external posts or talks that I give at conferences.
  • I write code in Dark! There’s no better way to get feedback than to use your own product. I build our internal tools, and side projects. Recently I set up my journal to send me management prompts to reflect on, and created a small book club to share recommendations.

Robyn Sefiani, CEO & Reputation Counsel at Sefiani Communications Group

Robyn Sefiani is the founder, CEO and Reputation Counsel at Sefiani Communications Group, a strategic communications firm based in Sydney.

My day begins and ends with exercise as I’ve always believed a healthy body and healthy mind go together. On days I’m in the office, I have a brisk half hour walk each end of my ferry commute across Sydney Harbour and that’s my creative and strategic thinking time. 

When you run your own business you never really stop thinking about what you can do better or differently for your clients and your people. But it’s a privilege, not a chore!

Then it’s a busy day filled with meetings or calls with clients and colleagues and conversations with global affiliates or prospective clients who are looking to engage Sefiani as their communications advisor or agency. 

I also work closely with our leadership team on agency operations, business development and ideas for professional development of our people. It’s important to me that we are providing a working environment where our people can flourish.

An important aspect of my work is providing issues and crisis management counsel to clients, when they or their companies are facing high profile challenges. This can fall at any time of the day, evening or weekend. Two of my senior colleagues are also reputation management specialists and we share the load on this work which is highly valued by clients.

Stefan Vetter, Founder & CEO of Wortspiel & Friendly

Stefan Vetter is the founder & CEO of digital marketing agency Wortspiel and marTech start-up Friendly, helping companies do better marketing.

My workday usually starts at 9 am. As a remote worker, my commute to work is usually only a few meters – from the kitchen to the laptop.

Sometimes the working day starts with a (mostly virtual) meeting. Otherwise I go through my e-mails and decide which ones I answer immediately and which ones I answer later. This takes about 15 minutes.

Afterwards I try to work as focused as possible on my tasks. Sometimes these are very creative tasks, like developing new services and products. However, on many days I also have routine tasks such as billing, accounting or server maintenance.

I make 1-2 more breaks for e-mails, mostly after lunch and before finishing up. I usually work until about 6:00. If I don’t reach my daily goal, I often continue to work 1-3 hours in the evening. Currently I have a six-day week rather than a five-day week.

Domm Holland, Co-Founder & CEO of Fast

Domm Holland is an Australian entrepreneur, living in Silicon Valley. He is the co-founder and CEO of Fast, the world’s fastest online login and checkout experience.

I’m definitely an early morning person – usually I wake up at 4:30 a.m., sometimes earlier if my toddler has already woken up. Then I’ll do some sort of physical training from 5:00 – 6:00 a.m. before getting started on work for the day. 

I usually work from about 6:30 a.m. until 6:00 p.m., and my days are mostly full with back-to-back meetings. I’ll get home just in time for a walk with my family before dinner and getting the kids ready for bed. After that, I’m often back on my laptop for a bit of work before bed.

One of the things that I love about my job, which a lot of other people despise, is context switching. I really enjoy engaging with lots of different things.

On any given day I’ll come out of an engineering meeting, into an interview with a journalist, then a new hire interview for a candidate and will finish the day on a completely different topic than what I started with.

My favourite part of the day – work wise – are internal meetings with the team.

Alaina Percival, CEO & Board Chair at Women Who Code

Alaina Percival is the CEO & Board Chair at Women Who Code, a non-profit organization dedicated to inspiring women to excel in technology careers.

A typical work day is waking up and going for a walk with my family in the park closest to my house, then spending much of the first hour focusing on planning my day and getting through email and Slack to see if there’s anything urgent that came through overnight.

I then jump on a couple of calls ranging in topic from launching our new digital programs, to applying for grants, or strategic planning, to HR needs, regulations due to COVID-19, or financial meetings.

 Nick Morgan, Co-Founder & CEO of Vudoo

Nick Morgan is the Co-Founder & CEO of Vudoo, which specialises in pioneering interactive video for marketing use. Their clients include Westpac, the AFL, the ATO and more.

I’m still living in isolation with my wife and son (thanks COVID-19!) so I wake up most mornings to my son screaming “Dad! Wee!” – since he’s just three and a half years old and needs a hand getting to the bathroom. 

From there I usually get stuck into some Lego with him until about 7.30am, when I gulp down two espressos and get on with the day.

My wife and I both work full-time, so we have had to quickly learn how to juggle our jobs and parenthood together during the day. Generally we tag-team throughout the day, depending on whose meetings fall when, and when I hop online I’m usually on call for my team, supporting and answering questions as we go. 

From about 5-7pm we eat together and pop our son in bed, then head back online to get more done before bed.

It’s not an exact science but we’ve managed to cobble together a routine which works for us. I’m sure I can express many parents’ feelings in lockdown when I say we’re doing the best we can, and that’s good enough for now!

Rojie Tadros, Founder & CEO at Payday Deals

Rojie Tadros is the founder and CEO of Payday Deals, a leading Australia-based online marketplace, featuring deals on over 25,000 products across a variety of categories.

I like to wake up in time to fit in a quick HIIT workout before getting stuck into the day. I’m usually out of the house and making my way to the office by 7 a.m. 

On the way, I stop off at the supermarket to pick up some fresh pre-made meals and fruit for the team, because I’m a big advocate for providing a healthy and well-balanced working environment, filled with a happy and energetic team. 

This little pit stop also means our employees don’t have to worry about the expense of preparing or buying food throughout the day – unless they want to.

Once at work, I usually have an hour on my own to work through a few operational tasks before the team arrives. 

I make sure I block out my mornings so I can spend time with them, assisting with professional tasks, going through department updates and getting to know everyone on a personal level; that means no external meetings or appointments until after lunch.

At 12.30, we tend to eat lunch together and have some real down-time and after that, my calendar is filled with meetings and appointments, and generally getting stuff done. 

After 4 p.m., I block out my calendar again to make sure I’m available for the team.

I’m usually out of the office by 6.30 and spend evenings catching up with friends and family, working in my home office or just relaxing.

Anthony Gregorio, CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi Australia

Anthony Gregorio is the CEO of advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi Australia, where he oversees offices in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide. 

I’m not sure I have a typical routine and COVID-19 has certainly changed things dramatically. I’d say an ideal workday in the new normal starts with getting an early walk in with my wife and our Jack Russell ‘Rocky’. This always helps put me in a positive frame of mind. 

Then I might drive our youngest to school as we are trying to avoid her using public transport. Then it’s a mixture of team calls with staff or clients, from home or office. I get into the office two to three days a week depending on my schedule, as there are some staff in and I enjoy the face to face interaction. 

A benefit of the current situation is I’m doing dinner with the family every evening. And, if I’m lucky, I might fit in an episode of something my wife and I are currently watching before bed. Then rinse and repeat.

Kris Grant, CEO at ASPL Group

Kris Grant is the CEO at ASPL Group, a management consultancy, training and recruitment firm with offices based in Brisbane, Canberra, Sydney, Adelaide, Darwin and Melbourne. 

My days have changed significantly during the pandemic as I normally travel 4/5 days throughout Asia Pacific.  Pre COVID-19, I was on a plane 100x throughout the last year.

Now that I am in lockdown, I am grateful that we have a Pilates reformer in the house and I always start my day with an online workout. I really prioritise movement and mindfulness as a way to prepare myself for the work day.  

I also am a passionate believer in journaling and practising mindfulness, consciousness and meditation which I also do each morning – we all should make time for the mat ☺

Normally, I’m busy travelling around the country, meeting with clients, presenting and running leadership training packages or executive coaching sessions.  We have now embraced technology so I’m replicating this online through Zoom, Teams and Webex. 

I make sure I schedule breaks in my day, I take some time away from screens and usually go for a walk with my beautiful Cavoodle, Apple. She has loved having me working from home over the past few months.  

With all of the upheaval and change, I have been increasingly focussed on my team’s wellbeing and check in regularly with them individually to see how they are travelling. For the last couple of weeks, we have had team exercise sessions via Zoom with an exercise physiologist. 

We’ve looked at the ergonomics of our home office spaces (and all lifted our screens to eye level) and learnt some useful stretches and breathing techniques. I would highly recommend organising a team exercise like this, everyone really enjoyed it. 

Drew Sterrett, Co-Founder & CEO of LEX

Drew Sterrett is the co-founder and CEO of LEX, an early-stage startup focused on building a commercial real estate securities marketplace.

A day in the life includes one certainty: a jam-packed calendar where I live and die by my schedule. The workday typically starts with an important ritual around 5:30 am: email and coffee, my first of the day.

From there, a quick workout to get energized leads to the official start to my workday around 7:30 am. I’m goal-oriented so any day starts with planning goals. Those could be daily, weekly, monthly or quarterly goals that we’re working towards as we grow the company or I’m pursuing personally.

As a company we kick each day off with a standing all-hands which is the first in a whirlwind of meetings, both internal and external, primarily relegated to Zoom these days.

I have had the privilege of a few socially distanced in person meetings as well. With so much exciting growth at LEX, my day rarely ends by 7 pm and there are often days where it ends after midnight.

Richard Fifita, Co-Founder & CEO of Veyor

Veyor 9th of October. PICTURE: Adam Yip/ Second Story

Richard Fifita is the co-founder & CEO of Veyor, a cloud based, live logistics scheduling and planning tool for the construction industry.

My days are very varied and prior to COVID, involved a lot of travel for client meetings. Now with video conferencing being more prevalent in the construction industry, and of course border closures restricting travel, we are able to hold meetings remotely with clients and my schedule is a bit more balanced.

A recent workday, which is fairly representative of my general schedule is as below:

  • 8:00-9:00 – Get in to the office in Darlinghurst, whip up a coffee, sort out priorities for the day and review emails.
  • 9:00-9:15 – Stand up meeting with sales team to review feedback from previous day and priorities for the current day.
  • 9:15-10:30 – Responding to client emails, sending out proposal emails from the day before.
  • 10:30-12:30 – New project kick off meeting in North Sydney.
  • 12:30-13:00 – A chicken schnitzel deluxe sandwich is devoured.
  • 13:00-14:00 – Feature prioritisation review with Product Manager in response to client feedback. 
  • 14:00-15:00 – Video conference with a new client opportunity in Melbourne.
  • 15:00-17:00 – Testing soon to be released features. Better I find any potential issues first!
  • 17:00-18:00 – Video conference call with our UK Account Manager.
  • 19:00-20:00 – Boxing training aka “letting off steam”
  • 21:00-0:00 – Steak dinner and veggies, followed by getting on top of outstanding work from the day, and drafting emails to issue out for the next morning.
  • 0:00 – Zzzzzz 

Brendan Malone, Co-Founder & CEO of Raiz Invest Australia

Brendan Malone is the co-founder and CEO of Raiz Invest Australia, a financial services business offering customers a micro-investment platform. 

A typical day – is there such a thing? Recently my days have changed significantly with the early arrival (11 weeks early) of our little baby girl Isobel. 

Me, my wife Belinda and our two-year son Thomas are all desperate for her to come home from the special care nursery at the RHW – so my days are a little different juggling work, home and visits and care at the hospital.

But the normal workday would be a gym session or run down to the beach with our 5-year-old Labradoodle, Piper. I have an awesome commute where I can walk to the Rose Bay Wharf, catch the 6.30am ferry and head into the office. 

The day is pretty full of meetings with the team, investors, partners and general operations etc. The team knows I like to be on time and run meetings efficiently. I am usually home by 5-5.30pm and play hard with Thomas before we do bath time.

At 6.30pm there is a scrum call with the development team. I then spend as much time as possible with the family before Thomas is put to bed and then Belinda and I have dinner and try to watch a show together (bit of a date session – I know how to treat her). 

Belinda will usually head to bed and I will open up the laptop to clear all my emails and update my to do list – I find it much easier to sleep when I have nothing lingering from the previous day.

Blake Hutchison, CEO at Flippa

Blake Hutchison is the CEO at Flippa, an online marketplace to buy and sell sites, stores and digital properties, with offices in Melbourne and Austin.

I will tend to reply to Slack and email at 6am before spending some time with my daughter. I have calls beginning from about 7.30am daily with US based staff or customers. 

At 8.30am I write down the two or three things I must accomplish before the day is out and then it’s on. It’s a barrage of decisions and short sprints to help the company to go fast, build the right things, improve our customer offering and connect buyers with sellers. 

I will typically respond to messages and emails until late into the night. It’s not that healthy unfortunately, though more recently I have tried to add two gym workouts weekly. 

Radek Kaczyński, Founder & CEO of Bouncer

Radek Kaczyński is the founder & CEO of Bouncer, a Poland-based company that provides powerful and affordable email list verification and email validation.

My days are nothing like the ones of truly successful people you can find in different magazines, and I need to admit, on a high level they look a bit chaotic, like my recent workday.

I wake up around 8:30am (after 8:30 hours of sleep), and I do my morning routine, have breakfast and a coffee at my own pace, until around 9:00.

First thing I do every morning is an analysis of my schedule to see what kind of energy blocks there will be during my day. When will there be some activities that will be draining my energy, and when will be those that will be creating it? With this assessment I’m able to plan my day and prioritise the activities.

Usually before noon I have a couple of meetings with prospect customers, partners or potential investors, from Asia and Europe. These interactions definitely boost my energy levels. This good energy helps me to go through my emails and reach or get close to inbox zero soon after that.

After a short lunch break, I usually have a meeting with my teammates, and after I’m again able to get back to some alone activities. Then I take a short break to cook dinner, and as my fiancé ends her workday then, we usually eat and spend some time together.

After that 2 hours break, I take a meeting or two with customers from America, and for an hour I finish the day by dealing with some tasks and emails.

Then, if I need to unwind, meditate for 19 minutes or go for a walk. I do my best to spend the rest of my day with my family and close ones. Lately, since the elections in Poland and then in the U.S. I’ve been finishing the day watching the news for an hour, to go to bed before midnight.

Raphael Bender, CEO of Breathe Education

Raphael Bender is the CEO of Breathe Education, a Pilates training company that has certified more than 2,750 instructors all over the world.

We are a completely distributed workplace, so there is no HQ and everyone works from home. For me, most of my days look like this: 

  • Wake up at 5am, sip a double espresso on the sofa and read or think until 6am
  • Head downstairs to my gym for a 90-minute workout, then a shower & breakfast (usually fruit & yoghurt)
  • We have a morning positive focus Zoom call where everyone on the team shares 1 thing we’re feeling positive about, then I get into work…

Most days ‘work’ involves various phone and Zoom calls with team members throughout the day. I generally manage to schedule breaks every 1-2 hours so I can stay fresh and inspired. Plus when I’m on the phone I’m usually moving – folding the washing or ironing, doing the dishes or any other light housework.

I finish work at 5pm and sit down for dinner with my wife and daughter, then relax on the sofa with a book. I’m in bed with the lights out at 8pm.

Susie Jones, Co-Founder & CEO of Cynch

Susie Jones is the co-founder & CEO of Cynch, an Australian-based cybersecurity company focused on helping small businesses build “cyber fitness.”

A day in the life of a start-up founder can be pretty chaotic and unpredictable. 

Now that I have an amazing Head of Operations who manages most of the business side of owning a startup, my focus is on responding to customer enquiries, speaking to potential partners, drafting and delivering webinars and other lead generation activities. 

There’s also reaching out to various government officials who are tasked with helping small businesses with cyber to let them know there’s a home-grown solution right here! 

Pre-COVID this meant face-to-face meeting after meeting and carefully managing my diary so I had time to get from one place to another. Now it’s video call after video call from my apartment and trying to make sure I have time to eat in between! 

I’m also really passionate about supporting our team, so I spend quite a bit of time on calls with each of them to make sure they have what they need to succeed.

Pippa Hallas, CEO of Ella Baché

Pippa Hallas is the CEO of Australian skincare company, Ella Baché, and the author of BOLD Moves, which told the story of her family building Ella Baché.

I am a morning person, so I try to start my work day at about 7ish when everything is still quiet and still. This is my maker time when I can be most productive before meetings start.

No day is typically the same, but I am a big believer in having a really structured diary and week, so I can maximise my time and not let my emails dictate my day – I work really hard on maintaining this practice.

I spend my days with my team on future projects, new products and treatments as well as visiting our salon partners and therapists – mainly via Zoom over the last 18 months. 2020 was certainly a very different year but with all its challenges it made us work differently so I still try to work from home two days per week.

I have two young boys so my evenings are typically filled with homework, reading books, swimming in the ocean together or exploring the beach. The events are slowly starting up again, but haven’t returned to the craziness of pre-2020.

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About Author

Balance The Grind gives me a platform to talk to these people about how they're achieving their ideal lifestyle. I'm inspired by the passion, the work ethic, the hustle; and these conversations motivate me to live life the way I want to live it.