Alex Franch Tapia is the Co-Founder & CEO at Privasee, a self-compliance tool that helps SMEs comply with the GDPR in record time and share their compliance status.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
I’m Alex – from Barcelona but based in London for the last 6 years. My background is in computer science and cybersecurity. When I moved to London, I was pissed off that I had to keep my social media accounts open just to “stay in touch with people”.
So I built a “social network” but with a twist. No personal data would be stored on the cloud in a way that could be accessed by us. We built a novel encryption technique that would give companies the ability to decrypt data in real-time and create a (yes I’m going to say it) Blockchain-based audit trail.
It was an amazing idea – thinking big – but maybe too big for the time. However, we did end up spending £4k of our pocket money on getting GDPR ready. This is where the idea for our current company, Privasee, came to mind.
Currently, I’m the CEO & Co-founder at Privasee – we automate GDPR for SMEs and we’ve simplified the process so that you don’t need to be an expert to comply with GDPR and it doesn’t take forever.
2) What does a day in your life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
On a good day, I wake up at around 7:00 and will start working at 7:30. I’ve learnt to prioritise sleep recently, and it’s paying me dividends. I start with a two-egg omelette (no bread) and an iced coffee.
Around 9:00 we have a standup with the team and then I answer questions from clients and do boardings. These are some of the most important things so I get them done early.
Additionally, if there are any other important decisions to be made, I normally want to start a meeting or think about them at around 10 am. I’ll also meet with our remote marketing and dev team to discuss the new features we are working on.
Data privacy regulations change very often, there are always new cases, court proceedings, regulations, and clarifications. This means that I need to keep up to date. I normally throughout the day will send any relevant bits of information to a backlog to read for later.
I will then work until like 13 or so. I then have lunch, and I rarely eat while I work. Being from Spain, meals are important and I have wired myself to treat them as such. I normally go for low glycemic index foods as I have realised that my body reacts strongly to everything with sugar. This means I don’t sugar crash at 16:00.
If I can I also take a stroll or go to the gym at this time. Although not the best time, it’s the time I’m least mentally productive, so it’s nice to get a workout in instead of sitting on my desk trying to concentrate really hard.
¾ times a week I will then do some sport. Sport is key for my mental well-being. Sometimes when running a Startup you face a lot of failures. The hits sometimes don’t stop coming so at least I go to the gym, play padel or squash and I feel like I’ve accomplished something positive.
Finally, all but 1 or 2 days a week I will work until around 22:30 (or at least I try to stop then) but never later than 23:45. I take a small break for dinner and I try to get it in as early as possible.
The earlier the better not to affect my sleep (I normally will cut off caffeine at 12:00). The other 1 or 2 days a week I will normally stop at 19:30 or 20:00 and I will use that time to see friends or loved ones. I’m very social so I need this.
3) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
Ultimate work-life balance for me means buying my time. Aka not needing to work at all. I want to achieve this by 35 – it’s very ambitious. However, I love my current job so it’s a weird feeling to split work and life. I think I have created a healthy (at least most of the time) balance where I work and do other things.
However, a good work-life balance for me is working enough but also taking care of my physical and mental health and I see that socialising twice a week and sports 4 times a week plus a nice meal sometime in the week is all I need.
4) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
I vary my sleep time, the time I eat, when I do sports and so on a lot. In the last year I think I’ve changed having a day off a week, normally a Sunday and a “cheat day” – a day in which I can choose to work however much I feel, normally a Saturday.
Sometimes I feel like working and sometimes not, and that’s okay. That way I normally get around 1 day of work done at the weekend and I’m happy with that. Of course, if there are customer requests or it’s an intense moment at the company – then I’ll work.
5) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
The 4-Hour Workweek changed how I see the value of time – it’s an idealistic book and I do basically none of the things it says but it taught me the value of my time and how important it is to protect it.
6) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
I’d love to know how Leonardo Da Vinci looked at work-life balance. He did so much in so many disciplines that nowadays wouldn’t be connected.
7) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
Yes, I’ve learnt that one needs different types of focus at different points in your life/work. Sometimes you need to grind – in this case, try not to but if you have to compromise sleep do it. Do that repetitive thing, show up to that event or meeting and grind. But sometimes you need to make a lot of decisions and there you need to be very well rested. So be hyper-aware and adjust.
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