Alexandra Mills is the co-founder and director of Biztech Lawyers, a company on a mission to offer legal services to tech companies.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
I’m an ex-ballet dancer turned entrepreneur and after running a few scale-ups until exit, I helped my husband start Biztech Lawyers, with a mission to offer legal services to tech companies by lawyers who actually get them and the uncharted space they operate in.
I am now about to launch my latest venture, Nimbus, aiming to disrupt the plant-based milk sector with a zero food and packaging waste solution. Coming very soon!
2) What does a day in your life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
I have two small children so no two days are alike! They are either at preschool, with grandparents, or by my side whilst I try to get on with things. As I have been working on starting up Nimbus, I haven’t had a big team to manage, so it works well around kids.
Yesterday, for example, I dropped my 4-year-old at preschool and took my 2-year-old to bootcamp at the beach with me. We met my mum there who took over the childcare and I went home to start work.
I worked until dinner time, then ate dinner with the kids before starting their bedtime routine. I don’t like working into the night, so I rarely do. Work has definitely become more about efficiency rather than hours since having kids, but I’m more motivated than ever!
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
100% flexible so far, and that is how I plan to keep it for as long as I can! I don’t think it suits everyone, but it suits young families. I want to spend as much time as possible with my kids especially before they start school, and I always work with this in mind.
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
When I used to get really busy at work, exercise was the first thing to go. Now I regard exercise and nutrition to be as important as teeth cleaning – they are non-negotiable. Success and achievement aren’t worth anything if you don’t have your health…
5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
Not in the past 12 months, but 2 years ago we transitioned to whole food plant-based eating as a family, and it was absolutely life changing. I rarely cooked before, but now I am passionate about it, and my kitchen is my office so that every spare moment/thinking time is spent pre-cooking or batch cooking for the family.
I now have a great repertoire of quick, delicious and super-nutritious meals and it is extremely satisfying. Cooking in this way did take a bit of getting used, but now it is second nature and really relaxes me.
I’ve also started placing huge emphasis on sleep. I used to go through horrific phases of sleeplessness, but now I know how important it is for all aspects of health such as brain health, I have made a massive effort to improve it.
I used to get drawn into all the articles I’d read about successful entrepreneurs who sleep 5 hours a night and have had a run, done yoga and read all the papers before starting work at 8am.
Now I know that does not need to be the case, and 8hr+ sleep makes for a much more productive and happy day. Obviously this is only possible now my kids sleep through the night, and that is probably why I appreciate sleep so much now too!
6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
My favourite is the Plant Proof Podcast which is the most balanced, realistic, and evidence-based healthy lifestyle podcast imaginable. There are no quick fixes to health, and anyone who tries to tell you otherwise is usually out to gain popularity or sell something.
I also was profoundly influenced by the book Cradle to Cradle, the forerunner to the Circular Economy.
7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?
My favourite tech feature is aeroplane mode!
8) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
I’ve had a few careers and taken time off between them – actually years off between them. This has helped me to reset, live life, travel, and enjoy my family. But for a while I felt under intense social pressure to go back to work, especially after having kids.
Every event or social setting I’d be in, people would ask me what I was working on, and when I’d say “I’m being a mum”, some would literally turn around and talk to someone else. I felt worthless and as though I was a failure. It took me a while to get over this and I wasted too much time worrying about it.
Society shouldn’t be like this – we should highly value any time we can take off for ourselves or for our kids, and our identity should not be tied up so tightly in our work. When I meet new people now, I consciously try to go as long as possible before asking about work (if at all). In this way I get to know the person first.
I know it’s not always possible financially, but if you can take time off, don’t worry about your CV and worry about yourself and your health instead. I’m much more likely to hire people who have taken time off for one reason or another, as they are usually more interesting, energised and ready for a challenge than those still recovering from their last job…
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