Vasja Veber is the Co-Founder & Business Development Director at Viberate, a service that joins artists, places, events and festivals in the first truly global music network.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
My formal background is marketing. I finished my master’s at one of the top business schools in the region, Faculty of Economics at the University of Ljubljana. However, I never really worked directly in marketing, because soon after I started my first job, I took over the management of one of the world’s greatest techno DJs, UMEK.
Music management then led me and my partners (including UMEK) to start a music-tech startup. Now, I’m in charge of business development, which is quite a challenge for a young startup because it takes a lot more effort to get anywhere than if you do the same job in an established company.
2) What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
I wake up at 5:40, do the morning routine and then take my daughter to daycare. The entire commute takes about an hour. Then I have my morning coffee in the office I share with my partner, who is the company’s CEO and we usually go quickly through open topics.
After that, the routine stops and every day brings something different. I try to navigate effectively through deadlines, projects, follow-ups, and meetings. To exercise my creativity, I also often take part in creative writing. Not only to nourish the skill but also to improve my ability to communicate efficiently and tell the story clearly and within a tight time limit.
In the world of startups, being short and punchy means a difference between raising a round and going bankrupt. We finish at 4PM strictly because we want our employees to get the needed rest and family time.
Still, as a founder, I sometimes need to attend to business even when at home, but I try to limit those tasks only to calls with partners from distant time zones.
I travel often, but I try to avoid long-haul flights as much as I can because such a trip usually takes a whole week. If it is only one meeting, then I prefer a call.
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
To some extent, I could work remotely, but our company culture requires all hands on deck unless we have an employee who lives really far away from the office. In those rare cases, we only require their presence at least twice a week.
We invested a lot of money into making our offices pleasant to work in because we believe in human interaction and teamwork. Also, working from home often messes up your workday routine, especially if your family is home when you work. Some candidates can’t accept those terms, but we stick to this rule and so far it works quite well.
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
The older you get, the more it means to you to keep a balanced ratio between work and life. For founders, a big part of our life is our work.
It’s important to understand that employees often don’t share that mindset and the same level of responsibility as the founders, so asking all employees to work overtime and on weekends because the founders do is highly inappropriate for a healthy corporate culture.
Still, even as a founder, you need to limit the time you attend to your company and focus on your family and private life.
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?
This has a lot to do with the previous questions. You need to hack your work-life balance. Personally, I try to be as effective as possible when in the office. I only take one break (for lunch), which is a bit easier because I don’t smoke.
During weekends I check my e-mail regularly, but I usually only flag messages I need to answer on Monday. When I’m on vacation, I dedicate an hour each day to answer really important e-mails. Everything else gets redirected or flagged for after I’m back.
You need to learn that most of the time people who want something from you will wait if you let them wait. Sure, if you have an important client requesting something, you will probably go the extra mile to make it work. But if you only filter out unnecessary requests, you will be more effective without any negative consequences.
You can do a simple test: we all have someone who calls us every time they need help. Try not to answer your phone and call them the next day, asking what they wanted. In most cases, they will tell you they already solved the issue.
6) Are there any books that have helped you improve over the years?
Not really. I mostly learn from mistakes and by observing others. The last book I read was Elon Musk’s biography but he’s really the worst case of work-life balance. Still, I admire him for his dedication to really important projects, not only for him but for humanity in general.
7) What is the number one thing you do to make sure you get the most out of your day?
Wake up strictly on time. I don’t ever use the snooze function, because I have an extremely strict morning routine, planned by the minute. I even went so far that I intentionally let my daughter stay up a bit later, so she sleeps through my morning routine.
If you mess up in the morning, you’ll be nervous on the way to work and even more nervous in the office. And the last thing you want is to start your day already completely stressed out.
8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
Donald Trump’s Chief of Staff. I would really like to find out how that person takes out the number of fires the president manages to burn each day, while still remaining sane and having a relatively normal personal life.
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
Start young. The older you are, the harder it gets and not the other way around as many would think.
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