Founders / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Sharon Lee, Chief Creative Officer & Co-Founder of Asendium

Sharon Lee is the Chief Creative Officer & Co-Founder of Asendium, an AdviceTech solution designed by ex-financial planners for financial planners.

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

I am a co-founder and creative officer of Asendium, an AdviceTech solution that enables financial planning businesses to produce advice more efficiently to help them service more Australian clients who are seeking financial advice. 

Prior to Asendium, my co-founders and I operated a financial planning business under one of the largest licensees at that time. The manual nature of advice creation and the regulatory obligations had become so overwhelming that we were spending 80% of our time on manual compliance documents, and only 20% of our time spent with clients. 

We realised that there was an opportunity to build a solution that removed the friction of advice creation felt by financial planners and enable them to produce more affordable and accessible advice. 

Prior to my experience in the corporate world, I was a professional contemporary dancer, graduate from QUT in Bachelor of Fine Arts (Dance Performance) and lucky enough to be able to tour Australia with Disney’s The Lion King Musical. 

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

My days tend to vary depending on what the business needs, however, a typical day starts by waking up at 7am, having breakfast and if there is no team meeting, I will begin by writing a list of things to achieve for the day.

I then send/reply to important emails in the mornings and check them again in the afternoon. I find that constantly checking each email as they come through to be distracting, so setting time in the morning and afternoon for emails helps keep me focused.  

From my list of priorities, I complete the easy tasks first and then move onto tasks that are high priority that have a deadline coming up.

Lunch generally is from 2pm-3pm where I will fit in a 20 mins gym session and head back to work at 3pm where I work on the rest of the items on my list. I try to finish things up between 5pm-6pm.

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

Our team all work remotely and we offer a flexible working environment. I absolutely love this working environment and I find that there is more time in the day as I don’t need to travel into an office. The flexible working environment allows me to have greater control over my work/life balance. 

From my team, I have observed that they also have greater control over their work schedule. For example, a few of our software developers are night owls and they prefer to code at night. We allow this flexibility. Some team members are early birds and so their day starts before 9am. They can finish early which allows them to take care of personal affairs if needed. 

As long as everyone is reachable between 9am – 5pm and their work is delivered on time, remote work and a flexible environment can be productive. 

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

Work-life balance is challenging to achieve when you are starting a business because there are not enough people to evenly delegate the tasks required to keep a business operating daily and plan strategically for long-term sustainability. Work-life balance may not be a feasible reality for the first few months (or years) of your startup life. 

Having said that, working seven days a week can become addictive and it’s unsustainable long-term – it can drain your creativity and decision-making ability. When it is possible, it’s important to begin to set boundaries for yourself and carve out time to switch off from your business. 

For me, it’s doing something completely different to what I do at work – whether it’s going for a hike, axe throwing with friends or visiting an art museum – exploring other hobbies on my weekends and purposefully spending the day not talking, thinking, or engaging in work is how I maintain my work-life balance. 

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

Following on from the previous question, I work with my partner and so often the work week can spill into after hours and weekends. One habit that we have stopped doing (or at least tried to consciously not do) is talk about work after hours. This is definitely easier said than done. 

Prioritising time off is something I’ve started doing. I think that when people think about entrepreneurship, particularly when you are in the early stages of their startup journey, you think about the hustle – the constant grind of doing what it takes to get your idea off the ground.

While I do believe that entrepreneurs need to hustle, it’s definitely not a healthy approach. It’s about being productive, not just busy.

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

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni. Lencioni writes fables centred around key organisational lessons that are engaging, easy to read and packed with lessons for any sized business. I would encourage those in entrepreneurship who are growing teams to read his full suite of books. 

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

My phone or laptop! The necessities for an entrepreneur.

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

Elon Musk – that man runs several businesses, has 8 children, is trying to buy Twitter and wants to colonise Mars. How does he do it?! 

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

The journey is best shared with people.

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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.