Bailey Schroeder is the Co-Founder & CEO of Petcademy, an online platform that offers customized training plans and behavioral support to new pet parents.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
In 2013 I founded my first company focused on helping animal shelters to raise money. The company was called ResQwalk and it was the first mobile app that enabled people to earn money for animal welfare organisations across the United States and Canada, just by walking.
After Best Friends Animal Society took over the app, I took a role at a B2B startup in New York called Emissary. The CEO of the company became a good friend and encouraged me to focus on building my skills as a product manager. He had worked in Big Tech, understood the value of working within a large and established product team, and ultimately supported my decision to take a role as a product manager at Turo in 2019.
Around the same time as I moved to San Francisco and started at Turo, I rescued a dog named Harry. Harry struggled with fear, anxiety, relationships with people, other dogs, etc. I had so many questions about how to support Harry, and saw an opportunity to provide new pet parents (like me!) with support.
With this in mind, and using my product experience, I launched Petcademy – an online platform that enables rescues and shelters to offer pet parents accessible training and behavioural support for their animals.
For the past 2.5 years I’ve been running Petcademy on the side and using early mornings, nights and weekends to build a product that tens of thousands of pet parents now rely on. That is until earlier this month when I quit my (admittedly awesome) full time job at Turo and decided to go full time at Petcademy!
2) What does a day in your life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
To start, I’m a morning person! I think this is very helpful because I can get a lot done , and drink a lot of coffee, before my team comes online and I need to jump into meetings.
For me, this usually means getting up at 5am checking emails, finalising pitch decks (we are pitching a new product at the moment!), and then taking a break between 8am and 9am to walk my dog and eat breakfast.
Once I’m back at my desk, the majority of the day is spent talking to our rescue and shelter partners, identifying how we can support and integrate with new partners, reviewing product data, and working with my co-founder to scope and prioritise new product features.
I almost always break for lunch and end my day between 5pm and 6pm. Thankfully my dog has a pretty consistent internal alarm clock (i.e. he wants dinner) and will get me up for a walk. That’s when I call it a day, get some fresh air, make dinner, and chill with my partner.
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
I am fully remote and love the flexibility, autonomy and having the opportunity to travel and work from different locations.
When I used to go into an office, I found it challenging to get any work done and often had to work late to make up for (what I would characterise as) unproductive hours.
While I do believe there are a lot of amazing things about being in an office – social interaction, in-person collaboration, etc – I find it very challenging to focus when in the constant presence of others.
When working from home I can control when I’m around others, structure my time in a way that enables me to get into deep thought, hold efficient meetings, get the most out of my working hours, and then be more present with my family when the work day is over.
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
For a really long time my focus was on working hard and working often. I believed working was what I needed to do in order to be happy and successful. I had the perspective of “if I can be working, I should be working”. I had only two wants: I want to make an impact and I want money.
Now, to the credit of age, experience, relationships, etc, my wants have changed. I want to end my day early, I want to go hiking on Saturday, and I want to peruse the aisles of Costco and watch Netflix on Sundays. Making space for all these wants, and recognizing that they’re just as valid as having an impact and making money, is what work life balance means to me.
5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
There are two routines that come to mind. First, I started taking a lunch break with my partner every day (she also works from home). Even though lunch may only be 15-30 minutes, I find this ritual really enjoyable and refreshing. After lunch I feel ready to tackle the day.
The second routine that comes to mind is time tracking. When I was working at Turo full time, and Petcademy on the side, I started tracking all of my hours worked. At the end of each day I put my Turo and Petcademy hours in a spreadsheet and, over time, saw daily and weekly trends emerge.
This process gave me clear visibility into where I was spending my time, helped me quantify the value of my time, and ultimately understand how much I could gain if I focused full time on Petcademy. With this knowledge, I quit my full time job at Turo and am now fully focused on Petcademy.
6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
I read the NYTimes daily, skim the IndieHackers newsletter looking for tricks and tactics that have worked for other bootstrapped startups, and really enjoy listening to audiobooks when walking or driving.
A few books I’d recommend are:
- Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig – I learned a lot from this book about the importance of focusing on the quality of my work, appreciating milestones, not only defining professional success by final outcomes, but by incremental wins and the memorable moments that happen along the way. My favourite quote:
- “To live only for some future goal is shallow. It’s the sides of the mountain which sustain life, not the top. Here’s where things grow.”
- Algorithms to Live By: The Computer Science of Human Decisions by Brian Christian and Thomas L. Griffiths – For people trying to become more efficient with their time, improve their ability to prioritise tasks, and think through problems, this is the book. It’s grounded in a number of common engineering principles, but don’t let that deter you. My favourite quote:
- “Even the best strategy sometimes yields bad results—which is why computer scientists take care to distinguish between “process” and “outcome.” If you followed the best possible process, then you’ve done all you can, and you shouldn’t blame yourself if things didn’t go your way.”
- Getting to Yes by Roger Fisher and William Ury – I have read this book a few times and the negotiation style outlined changed how I think about everything from contracts with partners to picking a restaurant with friends. My key takeaway from the book is the value of articulating my motivations (what matters to me and why), understanding the other party’s motivations, and focusing on these underlying interests more than the original solution you came to the table with. Solutions are flexible if both parties understand, and are willing to focus on, each other’s interests. My favourite quote:
- “If you want someone to listen and understand your reasoning, give your interests and reasoning first and your conclusions or proposals later.”
- The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown – I think Brene Brown is brilliant and could recommend any one of her books. She gives very actionable advice for living with intention, self-acceptance, and her books (particularly The Gifts of Imperfection) have helped me gain more perspective on the importance of (and how to cultivate) work life balance. My favourite quote:
- “No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough.”
7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?
AllTrails! Hiking is one of my favourite activities and I would certainly be lost in the woods without this gem of a technological companion.
8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
I’d like to hear from one of the many animal rescue founders Petcademy partners with. Oftentimes, these folks have full time jobs and are simultaneously facilitating care for hundreds of animals that come to their organisation each year. I really respect their work and dedication, and would love to hear how they think about work-life balance.
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
If Algorithms to Live By taught me anything, it’s do whatever you can to avoid 30 minute gaps in your work schedule (unless it’s a 30 minute break)! Little to no work can be done in this amount of time, and the time ends up going to waste.
What I like to do is use a portion of the day for meetings, and then allocate a large block of time (at least 90 minutes) to getting tasks and deep thinking done. I put “Heads down time” on my calendar and my team knows not to schedule meetings during this time.
This small change in scheduling increased my productivity, provided better structure to my working hours, and ultimately gave me more time for hobbies and time with my family.
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