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Balancing the Grind with Anthony Kwok, Co-Founder & CEO at ZILIO

Anthony Kwok is the co-founder & CEO at ZILIO, a platform that allows online shoppers to visualise how their purchases will look with Augmented Reality.

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

I was a professional fighter in my previous career, competing in Muay Thai, Kickboxing, K-1 and Boxing. I started martial arts because I was bullied as a child, so one day I had enough of being weak and joined a gym to learn to fight back.

Over my professional fight career, I had the opportunity to fight for the ISKA Victorian Title, be sponsored by 9 brands and have my fights be broadcasted on FoxSports. During my fight career, I was also completing my double business degree in Marketing and Management at Monash University, as well as working part-time as a Sales Professional in the Fashion Retail industry at David Jones.

Once I completed my double degree at Monash Uni, I decided not to take the typical corporate route like all my friends and instead, pursue my own venture in the Fashion Technology space. This brings me to my current role. I am now the CEO and one of the Co-Founders of ZILIO – a Virtual Fitting Room company solving online shopping’s biggest obstacle, the trillion-dollar Sizing and Returns problem.

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

When it comes to the workday, every day can be so different for an early-stage founder. One day you’re an accountant creating intricate forecasts and reports, the next you’re a graphic designer creating beautiful slides for investor and client pitches.

Generally though, workday starts off with some light and easy tasks to get my mind warmed up before tackling the big monstrosities of tasks. Then comes the numerous meetings with the team, investors, clients, advisors, mentors, partners, hires, etc. Like I said, a founder schedule can be pretty chaotic but it’s nothing some solid planning and proactivity can’t handle.

​3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?

My team and I work remotely, which works really well as we’re a pretty small team right now. When it comes to affecting my life and routine though, I think it would all be the same. In fact, my life and routines are actually designed and fitted alongside my career. It all works together like one big well-oiled machine in a sense. Let me explain.

Life as a founder can be chaotic, so I create as much order in that chaos as possible through religious habits and routines. Every day, I start my morning off with my morning routine – I drink lots of water as soon as I get up, have a cold shower, then find a spot in the lounge next to the window to meditate, journal and read.

Once my mindfulness routines are completed, I head to the gym for a workout and then come home for breakfast where I plan my day in my notebook. I also try not to go on my phone until all of this has been completed as I find that all the notifications and noise from my phone clouds my mind too much in the morning.

I generally try to finish work by 9:30pm if there are lots to do, and that’s when I’ll start my evening routine. I try to follow the 3,2,1 rule – 3 hours before bed no more eating, 2 hours before bed no more working and 1 hour before bed no more screens. Having a solid evening routine helps me get some solid sleep and be able to start the following morning on a strong note. Saying that, sometimes I finish work at 1am and that’s just the life of a founder.

In a way, I’ve designed my life and routines to work in a way that lets me perform the best and be the best leader I can be for ZILIO.

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

I have to admit, work-life balance doesn’t mean as much to me as it would to others. The career path I’ve chosen for myself isn’t a light choice, and I came into it understanding the sacrifices I would need to make in order to get the job done and done well.

Saying that, I do make sure I see my friends and family at least once a week to make sure I’m in a healthy headspace. Aside from that, I’m either working or going through my habits/routines to turn my dreams into reality.

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

I started journaling again after a small hiatus and it’s completely changed the game for me. Last year during COVID, there was so much running through my head at once that I always felt emotionally drained, stressed and scattered mentally.

I’d like to think that I can handle a high-level of stress like I have before, but the last two years just chipped away at me and I couldn’t catch a break. When I started journaling, it was liberating.

Through talking to myself and writing all my thoughts down, I found clarity through all the big complex issues I was facing, and it also freed up my mind to stop carrying all the accumulated weight of stress. I’ve now incorporated journaling into my morning routine and do it after my morning meditation!

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

My top 3 book recommendations would be:

  • Tools of Titans by Tim Ferris
  • Limitless by Jim Kwik
  • How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

Bonus recommendation: Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill.

7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?

I feel so dorky by saying this, but I cannot live without Google Calendar haha. Not only does it help with planning my weeks, it also acts as a diary so I can remember when certain events occur e.g. when my last appointment with my Dentist was, or when I last walked my dog.

Google Calendar helps me organise and schedule my life in an effortless way so I can focus on what matters. (I know, I sound like an ad. I’m not sponsored, please believe me haha.)

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

Professional athletes and their lifestyles fascinate me. They push the limits so hard that they either crash and burn, or break records and become the best in the world. Because of this, it would be a dream to read an interview on work-life balance from Conor McGregor.

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

Over these past few years, I’ve come to understand and respect work-life balance a lot more. When I was a professional kickboxer, there was no work-life balance – you were the first in the gym and the last to leave.

That’s what it takes to compete with the best. When I took that mentality into running a business, it was rough to say the least. I realised that I wasn’t in a sprint anymore, and that I needed to play the long-game.

It was important for me to find the right balance in performing at a high level but in a sustainable way. It’s much more enjoyable as well, rather than killing yourself every minute of the day without a break.

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About Author

Balance the Grind is a work-life balance publication on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.