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Balancing the Grind with Aleksander Dahlberg, Co-Founder & CTO at Sahha

Aleksander Dahlberg is the co-founder & CTO at Sahha, a behavioural data analytics platform for mental health.

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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?

My career has been a mish-mash of odd-jobs, picking apples and washing dishes – in my late teens I started getting into design and website building, this led me to start creating projects which I tried to turn into companies (mostly “failures”).

I think I’m one of those people who is more or less unemployable, I say that only half proudly – I don’t have an impressive resume/CV, I’ve failed or dropped out of every attempt at a qualification since high school so from my perspective I really only have one path – to create employment for myself and ultimately others, I’ve tried to stay true to that for a very long time.

I’m now the CTO & Co-founder of Sahha, a company that’s making behavioural data analysis objective, and more accessible to healthcare technology companies through a simple API platform. I work alongside 10 (currently) brilliant team members including Sam, David, Tim, Erica, Matt, Krishna, Nathan, Zach, Min and of course my co-founder Doug MacDonald who I started the company with back in early 2021.

Right now I feel like I am doing my life’s work, I feel super blessed to be working with my team and the problem we are trying to solve.

2) What does a day in your life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?

Haha! I wish I could tell you that I’m some sort of high performing entrepreneur (the classic troupe) who lives life by a list, eats/drinks mostly kale and doesn’t answer you calls (Although I am terrible at answering calls – but I have an excuse, I’m completely deaf in one ear), but I am not that guy, I’m pretty normal although I do try to eat healthy food.

An average day in my life is probably more relatable than you think – I have a coffee and a light breakfast, jump in my car and put on really heavy techno to wake me up while I drive to the office, jump onto Slack and Notion and start planning what tasks to tackle in a day.

I normally will get through about 50% of these tasks. This is something I have come to expect as each day will yield a new set of challenges and often some of those will take precedence over the current tasks. It’s important to be flexible here. 

3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine? 

It does, in fact our entire team works remotely – we do have an office in Dunedin, NZ however as our team is spread from NZ, through Australia and the US so that office is pretty hard to access for most! 

In all honesty, I like to work from the office – it removes me from the distractions of home and it’s a place I like to think about anyway. I’m addicted to my job.

But the value that the remote working option brings to many in the team is excellent – some have kids and activities that they have to build their schedules around – if working from home allows them to achieve the things that complete their lives outside of Sahha then I am 200% for it. 

4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?

I have to admit, I’m new to the whole work life balance thing. To me, having a work life balance comes in the form of a feeling, if you wake up every day happy that you are about to go to work – you’ve probably got a balance there. 

Outside of Sahha I focus on 3 things – music production/performance, yoga and climbing. One for creativity, one for mindfulness and one for physical activity. I will do each one at least twice a week. I think making sure you’ve covered creativity, mindfulness and physical activity at least a couple of times a week will give you some form of work-life balance. 

5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life? 

Yes, I’m one of those people who follows through with their New Year’s resolutions.

6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?

Favourite book: The Lord of the Rings

Favourite podcast: The Economist Radio

Favourite newsletter: any with a simple unsubscribe button. 

I recommend all of the above multiple times a year.

7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?

I’m somewhat minimalist, I don’t have a lot of things, but:

All of my synthesisers! There is something about sonic waveforms that take me to places just so far out of this world that I cannot live without them. My computer of course. As for apps, probably Spotify – access to music is important to me. 

8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?   

Every person in my team so far – I’m curious as to how they do things, and how I can improve it for them.

Many of my friends, some are aspiring designers, creators, single parents, people chasing their projects, careers or other goals or trying to explore the world – I’m curious as to how they would answer these questions. 

That’s just an example of many people who I’d love to know how they manage various areas of their lives while also trying to conquer the world so to speak.

If I read an interview about someone who wakes up at 4:30 am, does 150 push ups before hitting the gym at 4:45am then heads to scuba lessons at 5am before continuing to do a 15 hour work day I switch off immediately. That’s obviously an exaggeration but you know what I mean.

9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?

Sure, try to do the things you love outside of your work – chase your childhood dreams or challenge yourself – be it creatively, physically or mentally. Life’s short (unless someone solves that problem).

If you’re reading this you’re likely in a position where you can make or influence some form of a change for yourself if you’re struggling – so yolo, just start and if that’s not working, well, the bus leaves the station every day (you’ve always an option to try something new).

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About Author

Balance the Grind is a work-life balance publication on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.