Monica Limanto is the CEO and co-founder of Petsy, a pet insurance provider and one of the fastest growing pet insurance companies in Australia.
This conversation is sponsored by graphic design platform Canva. Empowering millions of people around the world to design.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
I started my career working in design before delving into the world of pets. I completed a Bachelor of Design in Visual Communication at university and the design jobs I had post-graduation taught me how to utilise creativity and solve problems within a commercial context.
I moved on to a project management role after that where I was no longer ‘hands on’ in design but focused instead on making sure the projects I managed for brands such as Accenture were delivered to a high standard, on time and within budget.
My first online start-up which I started initially as a side hustle was my first taste of entrepreneurship, business and the pet world. The process of starting the business and making the transition in turning it into a full time gig exposed me to new heights of uncertainty and risk but it also gave me the ‘shock’ that I needed to learn, survive and grow.
The experience of developing new products, cold-calling, hitting the pavement and pitching the product to hundreds of people was character building to say the least. I used this time to learn as much as I could and most of the valuable lessons I learnt came as a result of making a lot of mistakes and picking myself back up again.
A few years later, the passing of my father prompted me to re-evaluate life. I moved on to take a leap into fintech and pitched the new business idea to my co-founder, who has over a decade of insurance experience and runs one of Australia’s best travel insurance companies.
We started the company and today, I am the co-founder and CEO of Petsy, one of Australia’s fastest growing pet insurance providers. My role is to grow the business, lead the company and make sure we execute all of the exciting goals that we have set for ourselves over the next few years.
2) What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
This year, we’re focused on growth so all of our projects and efforts fall in line with that.
Things are moving and changing fast so I have a daily morning check-in with marketing to make sure we’re taking the right opportunities, staying agile and working on the most important things. It also offers an opportunity to address any challenges, new developments in the business and to accommodate any new changes.
A weekly WIP helps to map out the projects and tasks for the following week and each day is a breakdown of the week’s tasks.
I set aside time in the mornings to get through problem solving and decision making, making sure the team has everything they need, and using un-disturbed desk time to get through my most important tasks.
The rest of the day is a mix of working on our projects, partner meetings, strategy sessions, emails, reviewing financials and data, briefings and workshops.
At the end of each work day, I’ll fit in daily exercise which helps to clear my mind before coming home to walk the furkids, making dinner and spending time 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?
Fortunately, our team is set up to be able to work from home or remotely if they wish. Apps like Asana, Slack and Zoom help us to stay connected virtually and to stay on track of our projects online.
Prior to COVID-19, the majority of our time was spent in the office which is what my routine was structured around however I’m thankful that we’re able to continue with our work and projects without being bound to a physical location.
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
I’ve personally found work-life balance very difficult to achieve in the early stages of building a business and experiencing some form of burn-out was inevitable. During busy periods, days can easily become more full-on with work creeping into early mornings, late nights and weekends.
When this happens, I try to make time to do things that I love outside of work like spending quality time with my partner, taking the dogs out for a walk, making something delicious in the kitchen or spending time off-grid in nature.
Constantly burning yourself out is of course an unsustainable way of working and most companies don’t take months but years and sometimes decades to build. Balance for me is not so much about separating life from work but having the two complement each other.
Things like developing healthy eating habits, meditation, daily exercise, getting enough sleep, quality time with loved ones and being present all help to bring a better self to the table, no matter what it is you choose to dedicate your time to.
5) What do you think are some of the best habits or routines that you’ve developed over the years to help you achieve success in your life?
Being really clear on what you want in the first place is a good place to start. If you’re really serious about making it happen, routines and habits can serve as a structure to help you achieve those things. One small change is all it takes to trigger a series of positive effects.
Being organised has helped me over the years to stay accountable for my goals and my habits and routines are structured around the type of life I want to live, the things I want to achieve and the positive impacts I want to create.
I wake up early, exercise daily, practice gratitude daily, meditate and plan my meals in advance to help minimise food waste. I make sure I fit in a few hours of deep work everyday with no distractions like checking my phone or emails and this helps me to get the most important things done.
Behaviours and ways of thinking can also become powerful habits. For example, when things don’t go as planned, there is an opportunity to break down the specific problem, the attitude and the approach which opens up a space to try something new or to do something differently.
The conscious process of showing up every day no matter how difficult things get, reflecting, making progress and trying to do better than the last time can also be invaluable.
6) Are there any books that have helped you improve over the years?
- The Obstacle Is the Way by Ryan Holiday
- The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It by Kelly McGonigal
- Principles: Life & Work by Ray Dalio
- Blue Ocean Classics by Renée Mauborgne and W. Chan Kim
- The Laws of Human Nature by Robert Greene
- The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell
- Stretch: Unlock the Power of Less and Achieve More Than You Ever Imagined by Scott Sonenshein
- Ego Is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday
- Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy by Sheryl Sandberg
I’m currently reading Antifragile: Things That Gain From Disorder by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
7) What is the number one thing you do to make sure you get the most out of your day?
I work backwards in the sense that I think about where I want to be in five, ten, twenty years from today. At the start of each year, I decide on something I want to achieve by the end of the year and I write this goal down at the start of every morning.
On a day-to-day level, I write down 3 non-negotiable tasks to complete for the day, 3 things that I’m grateful for, followed by my other list of tasks. I complete my most critical tasks first when my mind is at its sharpest before moving on to everything else.
Looking at the destination everyday helps provide a visual check to make sure what I’m spending my time on day-to-day is aligned to the future I want to build.
The simple act of working on the right things consistently, not just ‘being busy’ can be life changing in shaping and creating your future.
You may not see the results at the end of the work day, the week or even the end of the month. But at the end of the year you look back and you’ll notice that all of the small things done diligently have accumulated to immense effect.
8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
I’d love to see the unfiltered schedule of Melanie Perkins, Emily Weiss, Mike Cannon-Brookes, Scott Farquhar, Ori Allon, Wesley Ng and Nick Molnar.
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
As momentum builds, it can be easy to be crippled by opportunity and learning to say no becomes imperative versus the yeses. Being able to distinguish which opportunities are the right ones to seize from the ones that are temptations to be resisted becomes an important skill to tune into.
Going too far into one extreme or the other like saying no to everything because you think it’s the right thing to do or saying yes to everything without thought or strategy leaves no room for serendipity.
A nice healthy balance is being able to fit in the things that aren’t obvious ROI but can often be the things that make the entire investment worthwhile.
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