Andrew Cross is the founder & CEO at GooseChase, an online platform that helps organizers create and run digital scavenger hunt experiences through players’ mobile devices.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
My academic background is in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Waterloo, Canada. I was interning for Apple in California when I realized Mechanical Engineering just wasn’t for me.
I then shifted gears to Polar (then Polar Mobile) in Toronto, and quickly found the passion I was looking for in software. I also loved that working for a smaller company meant I could do more and make a bigger impact.
In my last year of university, I was accepted into Velocity, the University of Waterloo’s Entrepreneurship Residence. GooseChase was born a few weeks into the final term at a Hackathon on campus.
We built the platform for the weekend and afterward, we were bombarded with questions about when it would be ready for launch. The idea grew and now we’re here! Today, I am GooseChase’s CEO.
2) What does a day in your life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
Because I’m based in the UK for now, I have most of my mornings free for deep work, which has been awesome. By the time the North American arm of the team comes online at around 2 PM, I’ve freed my mind and am ready to dive headfirst into meetings and collaborative work.
We also recently onboarded a new Head of Product, so my focus has shifted from building GooseChase the platform to GooseChase the company: its vision and culture, hiring, and brand.
Regardless of the day and location, my morning does not start without a coffee. I’m not a naturally early riser – I need sleep! – so caffeine is a must.
I’ve built a peaceful routine out of it and will enjoy my cup somewhere quiet before going into any work. Some people have meditation, but for me, coffee is my meditation.
My routine is highly dependent on my location. Because I’m on UK time, after a morning of deep work, I’m able to break my day up with some movement. Before I go into an afternoon of meetings, I like to jump out for a 30-40 minute run.
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
As we’re a fully distributed team, very much yes to this! It’s funny how much my day changes depending on my location. When I’m in North or Central America, I tend to start my day earlier at around 8 AM, and finish up earlier to then attend to personal things like working out and errands.
When I’m in Europe, it gets mixed up depending on the region, but I tend to start and end later, breaking up the day with errands. The only constants in my routine are coffee and flexibility, which bodes well for the travel I love to do.
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
I don’t subscribe to doing the same things every day. I start every morning with a to-do list, but I’m relatively flexible about how I get there. Work-life balance, for me, doesn’t look like shutting the computer off at 6 PM and not thinking about work.
For me, it’s not hours or schedules, it’s the flexibility to put whatever I want into my week – surfing on a Tuesday morning, a walking food tour on a Thursday afternoon, for example – while still getting work done.
5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
Honestly, not really. I’ve been working remotely for so long that I feel like I’ve ironed out the kinks in my personal “routine” – which isn’t to say it’s easy, but I’ve learned to go with the flow!
The biggest factors in changing up my routine tend to be timezone and location. I like to give myself time to absorb new settings and enjoy life like a local, so I’d say those drive the biggest changes in my day to day.
Another thing that has made a marked difference in my life is our introduction of Flock Fridays, GooseChase’s 4 Day Week structure. With the extra day of flexibility per week, I don’t find myself using it for much downtime; I spend it reading up on new things I’m interested in.
6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
I just got hooked on a newsletter called Unchartered Territories. Tomás Pueyo, who pens it, really understands exponential growth and decay and was one of the preemptive writers on COVID-19. He dives deep on a variety of interesting topics, mostly about how the world as we know it came to be, and puts out newsletters about them.
I also read a fair bit about building products, product management, and a lot of random books. There isn’t really a common thread that runs through what I read, other than my fascination with learning how things work.
7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?
Todoist – my whole life runs on Todoist! I can’t recommend it enough. Despite being a Product person, I find I’m somewhat of a minimalist when it comes to my personal tools. I like apps to integrate seamlessly into my life, and Todoist is one that fell into place really organically. I can’t live without it.
Of course, building GooseChase constantly motivates me and brings excitement into my life. To have my passion for awesome experiences translated into a product that does the same for others clarifies my vision and sense of purpose.
8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
I’d love to find interviews with people who successfully built businesses without external investors while maintaining a healthy work-life balance. I know I could learn a lot from someone further along in the bootstrapped journey than me, so that’s what I’m curious about!
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
The way I see it, at the heart of striking work/life balance is knowing what you value. It’s not about how many hours you work, it’s about figuring out how you can do what you want to do alongside what you have to do, and being able to prioritize from there. Take the time to figure out what makes life fulfilling to you, and then find a way to make that your reality.
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