Andrew Akib is the co-founder & CEO at Maslow, a voice enabled rehabilitation assistant for young people living with paralysis.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
I’m the CEO of Maslow – we make it easy for people with disabilities to manage care and rehab from home.
I spent 5 years as a management consultant – focusing on digital product and customer strategy for media & entertainment, social enterprise, and healthcare companies in APAC. I got into tech while pursuing a career as a musician and interactive artist.
2) What does a day in your life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
Everything I do revolves around creating the environment for people more talented than me to succeed. Everyone has their super power. And my job is to give them the best possible opportunity to use it.
Before I start work I go for a run, have a coffee, meditate, then start journaling.
Before the team starts I review our strategies, targets, and the projects people are working on to achieve those strategies. If someone is working on something that doesn’t support a critical strategy – we kill it. It gives them more time to do what really matters.
The rest of my day is spent keeping all our work targeted, managing relationships with our partners, investors, and mentors, and keeping our team happy and productive.
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
We’ve transitioned to a remote-first company, and take pride in our “let my people go surfing” culture. This means if the waves are good – go get them!
We see putting yourself first as an investment in your happiness, productivity, and wellbeing. And everyone’s needs are a little bit different.
As a disability-tech company, this is incredibly important as many people with disabilities have been excluded from the workplace because the standard 9-5 work expectations simply don’t work for them.
By going completely remote we’ve also been able to hire globally and regionally without worrying if people can make it to the office – or afford rent in Sydney.
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
I don’t believe in striving for work-life “balance”. I believe in work-life synergy.
Work-life synergy means actively shifting your workplace culture to enhance your life, as opposed to just “making enough time” for the things you love.
Just like anything else in your life, your workplace is an environment built up of habits, expectations, and most importantly – people.
Your workplace should surround you with like-minded people that you are energised to be around, who understand and respect your personal goals, interests, and lifestyle, and who can add to that beyond what you’re working on.
To achieve this just like in any relationship, it takes intention, self-awareness, and proactivity – but the payoff is immeasurable.
5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
I meditated every day for about 8 years on my daily commute to work. When the Rona happened, that habit was wiped out because I anchored it to my commute.
I recently started meditating again, which helped improve my self awareness, listen to my own instincts and feelings, and to act on them.
6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
As a startup founder, there’s a LOT of fluff coming from the wrong places. Hustle porn, biassed advice from VCs, and people celebrating the wrong wins.
There’s also a lot of anxiety (investors, competition, growth, people, fear of failure).
I’ve found the podcast Startup Therapy to be great at cutting through the bullshit, and talking about what it’s like to just be a founder.
I also highly recommend Let My People Go Surfing by Yves Chouinard. Patagonia was pivotal in challenging the archaic-norms of standard workplaces, and showed that investing in your people translates to long term profits.
7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?
My Theragun, for getting rid of all that built up shoulder tension!
8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
I’d love to have a beer after a surf with Yves Chouinard.
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
Whenever people early in their career feel stressed about the workplace they’re in, I ask them to do this simple exercise.
Draft your resignation letter. Put it in your back pocket. And then go to work.
It will make you realise just how insignificant the pressures, stresses, and anxieties that are presented to you by toxic workplaces really are.
You don’t have to use it, but it’s a great reminder that you should not be serving a toxic workplace, your workplace should be serving you.
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