Balancing the Grind with Anna Wollaston, Entrepreneur In Residence at Zinc VC

Anna Wollaston is an Entrepreneur In Residence at Zinc VC, which builds new companies that solve the developed world’s toughest social issues.

Learn about the daily routines from the most successful people in the world by signing up to our newsletter

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

I’m a brand marketer by trade. I spent the past 16 years in various marketing roles at some of the world’s most iconic lifestyle brands, like Burberry and Red Bull developing strategies and initiatives that grow brand health and sales.

Over the past few years I became increasingly interested in sustainability, so I joined an eco-cleaning startup called OceanSaver as Head of Marketing. All of this led me to my biggest professional adventure to-date.

In October last year I took a plunge and joined an impact-driven venture builder programme organised by Zinc VC. I am currently an “entrepreneur in residence” in their climate tech focused cohort, working on solutions to transform the industries that have the most impact on the environmental crisis. 

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

It is impossible to describe a typical day in my life at the moment as every day is completely different! The first couple of weeks of the programme were spent immersing myself in the climate crisis “mission space” – specifically the four verticals: Construction & Built Environment; Food, Fishing & Farming; Transportation; Manufacturing & Supply Chain.

These four areas combined, account for the vast majority of global GHG emissions so this is where we will focus our solutions. I have also been getting to know the other people in the cohort and testing working relationships with them as my aim is to not only come up with a business idea that helps tackle the climate crisis, but also find a co-founder to start a business with. For the next few weeks I will focus on customer research, before moving on to product development.

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

Work-life balance is more important than ever. Hybrid working is great, but it does blur the lines between “work” and “life”. Add to that being a startup founder and “work” can quickly take over if not managed properly.

Luckily, my two kids help to book-end my work days. I also make a conscious effort to take lunch breaks and manage my time more effectively by e.g. scheduling in deep work periods and avoiding meetings where I am merely a “passenger” (aka just sitting in on meetings). I am learning to say No and be more deliberate with my time.

It feels uncomfortable at first, but a really important step to that holy grail of work/life balance. Outside of work, I am trying to be more relaxed about how I spend my “spare time”. It’s ok not to do something or go somewhere to “make the most” of your weekends which can create a degree of pressure itself. It’s ok to just be lazy and potter around the house. 

Elon Musk, Kobe Bryant, Naomi Osaka, Simone Biles, receive a new daily routine each week about some of the most successful people in the world.

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

Not necessarily a habit, but I am getting better at self-compassion. Being more kind to oneself is quite transformational. 

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

I’m a big fan of Exponential View by Azeem Azahar who aims to make sense of the rapid transformation of our society as new technology platforms become ubiquitous and drive transformation across the economy.

I also love Digital Native by Rex Woodbury who writes about the intersection of people, culture and technology. My favourite book is The Midnight Library by Matt Haig. It explores the question “Would we really make better choices if we could step back in time?” It’s thought-provoking, uplifting and poignant, examining humans’ relationship with regret and what really makes a perfect life.

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

Sanna Marin, Jacinda Ardern, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Politics is a high-pressure, tough, often dirty, all-consuming job and being a woman in that kind of job makes it twice as challenging. Not succumbing to the pressure of that kind of job, while maintaining integrity and being able to live a “private” life is the pinnacle of work/life balance.

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

I love this quote from Steve Jobs about the importance of doing work that is meaningful to you: “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.”

Before you go…

If you’d like to sponsor or advertise with Balance the Grind, let’s talk here

About Author

Hey there! I'm Hao, the Editor-in-Chief at Balance the Grind. We’re on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.