B / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Linda Blank, Chief Operating Officer at Feedr

Balancing the Grind with Linda Blank, Chief Operating Officer at Feedr

Feedr is an online marketplace empowering a healthy and artisan community of food vendors to produce and supply meals for the workplace. Our platform connects the most innovative vendors with the workforce in a way that’s simple, affordable and scalable.

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

I started my career in strategy consulting, advising the C-suite of big corporations on how to achieve business model innovation. It’s a really fun job – perfect for natural problem solvers but you never see the direct impact of your strategy. So after nearly five years, I really wanted to move beyond just writing playbooks and “make my hands dirty” by executing some of my ideas. I also wanted to be somewhere fast paced and dynamic, so I joined a travel media start-up, where I spent three years focusing on growth, operational improvement and profitability. Now I’m the COO at Feedr, which is a marketplace connecting businesses with high street vendors and allowing them to provide nutritious subsidised food at work. Next to travel, food is my other passion so I am really lucky to work in an industry I love so much.

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

It’s true what they say about startups, no day is the same! Generally, I wake up early because I have an energetic pup that needs a lot of exercise so my day starts with a long walk and clearing my head. Sometimes this means I’m multitasking and take my pup out for a 10k run so I get some exercise too. When I get back to my desk, I always start by planning out my day over a coffee. I oversee five different functions, so I need to be organised. A lot of my time is spent catching up with team leads to understand performance, hearing their concerns and helping them move blockers, so I tend to be in meetings most of my days. Therefore it’s really important for me to set realistic expectations of what I can actually achieve in a day. I split my to do list into daily tasks as well as more long term projects that I work on every week. 

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

Absolutely, at Feedr we implemented a hybrid working policy, so we come to the office 2-3 days per week. This goes hand in hand with my philosophy of “manager vs. maker days”. Years ago I read Peter Graham’s essay on this and have been trying to follow it ever since. Essentially, he says that meetings interrupt your “maker” flow and you are way more efficient if you have dedicated time in your diary for actually “doing stuff”. Therefore I try to move most of my meetings to when I’m at the office – interacting with the team is also so much nicer when in person – and plan time for concentrated work when I’m at home. My office days are also when I can share some fun experiences with the team, such as trying out a new food vendor or comparing the spiciness levels of dressings in our Feedr-delivered salad box.

As a result, Fridays tend to be when I catch-up on everything, allowing me to also finish the week with a sense of accomplishment. 

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

For me it doesn’t necessarily mean to work less but to be more flexible around how, when and where I work. Sometimes this means that I start my work at 7am to get some quiet time and then do a quick HIIT workout at lunch. Sometimes it means I take my dog out for a walk at 6pm sharp to get back to some emails afterwards.

Additionally, being able to work from home some days of the week also allowed me to spend more quality time with my family. They are based in a different country so the ability to work from there from time to time made my visits less stressful as I’m not trying to cram everything into a 2 day weeked.

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

Rather than starting something new, I got back into the habit of reading in bed in the evenings. It really helps me switch off and reign in all my different thoughts to concentrate on one thing – and that thing isn’t related to my daily worries! This helps me control my insomnia, which in turn gives me more energy during the day.

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

I have so many favourite books, it’s difficult to choose from. Recently, I really enjoyed the Thursday Murder Club series, which is really easy to read because it’s so gripping and funny.

I love true crime podcasts – that keeps me wanting to run more to find out the next part of the story. Some of my favourites are, of course, Serial, The man in the window, and The Teacher’s pet, which is now back after a three years break. 

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

I love the productivity app Sunsama – it allows you to organise your day and pushes you to set out realistic expectations towards what you can achieve in a day by prompting you to add a time estimate to a task. I also love the report at the end of each week – super insightful in terms of where you spend your time so you can see why you are or aren’t progressing on certain projects.

I may be biassed but I couldn’t live my life without Feedr when I’m at the office. I can choose the food I want and it gets delivered to me  so I don’t need to worry about finding the time to get out. Now I can actually use my lunch break to catch-up with my team rather than queuing at the local High Street vendor. 

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

Whitney Wolfe Herd who is the youngest woman to have taken a company public at the age of 31 – I would kill to know her secret!

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

Life, including work and balance, is not a linear progression. There are times when you have to give more but also times when you can take more, so don’t expect that you get into a set daily routine that cannot be moved. And be kind to yourself!

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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.