Adnan Ebrahim is the co-founder & CEO at MindLabs, a live mental wellness app he started with his co-founder Gabor.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
Sure thing! I’m the co-founder and CEO of MindLabs, a live mental wellness app. We’re trying to make the world a happier place by making taking care of your mind as normal as going to the gym.
I’ve actually been immersed in the digital world since I was 16. I’ve been obsessed with the idea of building communities. The first community I built got acquired just before my 18th birthday, which definitely surprised my parents!
After I graduated, I decided to jump full-time into the world of media, creating a brand for petrolheads called Car Throttle, which eventually grew to become the largest social auto community with over 12 million fans.
In 2019, Car Throttle was acquired by Dennis Publishing and after a short break from startups, I decided to tackle the rising mental health pandemic with MindLabs, alongside my co-founder Gabor.
We believe in a new science-first approach to improving your mental health. Our app serves live and on-demand video classes to improve sleep, reduce stress and increase energy led by qualified instructors and we just raised an exciting $3.5m seed round.
2) What does a day in your life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
Over the years, I’ve made a lot of sleep mistakes fueled by a work-induced, grueling, international travel schedule through my late 20s. But I learned – through obsessive tracking with sleep apps, an Oura ring and Apple Watch – that I’m one of those people who needs a constant 8 hours worth of sleep to be at my best.
So I tend to wake up at 8am and spend the first hour reading emails, newsletters and Twitter, so that I’m up to speed with what’s happened overnight and industry events.
I’ll have my morning coffee, and then it’s time for our first daily standup at 10am where I get to see the team’s smiling faces. From then until 6.30pm, I’m in one-on-one meetings, catching up with our Product leads, interviewing new potential hires and meeting investors. I try and break for lunch for 30 minutes but I tend to eat at my desk if I’m working from home.
I recently got married, so at 7pm I’ll try and turn the screens off and spend some time with my wife. We’ll either head to the gym to do a class, or cook together. Later in the evening we might binge a couple of episodes of our favourite series on Netflix. Currently watching Squid Game!
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
MindLabs was born during the first lockdown of the pandemic. As a result, we built the business to be remote-first, but we have a hybrid approach. We decided to keep a dedicated, smaller office in London, close to our filming studio, that the team is welcome to use if they’re feeling lonely or want to meet face-to-face.
I find that I’m a lot more productive working from home. There are minimal distractions and I can get into flow state easier, but I’m lucky that our office is only a 10-minute walk away so I can switch up my scenery if needed!
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
I’ve always thought that work-life balance implies that work and life are at two opposing ends of a spectrum. In reality, I prefer to think about work-life harmony because for me it’s about how the two can co-exist.
With MindLabs we’re trying to be more mindful about how we approach work routines so we don’t get to the point of burnout, which when you’re working from home without a commute, unfortunately can rear its ugly head.
I tend to step away from the laptop at 7pm, and we try not to send messages internally after that time so team members don’t feel that pressure of having to reply. It’s rare that things are so critical that they need an urgent response.
We are also mindful about respecting weekends. Again, digital businesses have seen huge increases in productivity because of time gained back from commuting and distraction-free environments, so I don’t think we need to burn the candle at both ends.
5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
I restarted regular therapy and business coaching in 2021. This is also something we offer as a monthly benefit to all MindLabs employees. It’s important we remove the stigma around talking to someone and we need to lead this change from the front. I find that being able to regularly talk through scenarios helps me gain perspective.
I’ve also continued to meditate, and given the company we’re building, I’m lucky to have a wealth of instructional videos at my fingertips. I find sleep meditation to be most effective for me, allowing me to unwind after a long day.
6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
I’ve got a few favourite newsletters covering topics that I’m interested in:
- Fitt Insider – a great insight into the world of fitness and wellness startups
- Matt Levine Bloomberg – to get my daily finance fix
- CoinGecko – a recent addition for all things crypto & NFTs
7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?
I can’t live without my AirPods. They’re pretty much glued into my ears for most of the working day and when I’m walking to work or in the gym.
I also got an Apple Watch this year and love seeing higher resolution health metrics. Come to think of it, I also can’t live without my iPhone or MacBook Pro, so consider me to be the complete Apple fanboy!
My favourite apps are MindLabs, Twitter, and TikTok. The algorithm is just too good.
8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
I’m always interested in hearing about work-life ‘harmony’ by other business founders. I think we’re living in an age of maximum distraction so I’m particularly keen to hear from the likes of Jack Dorsey, but also British entrepreneurs like Ben Francis (Gymshark) or Johnny Boufarhat (Hopin).
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