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Balancing the Grind with Ben Tossell, Founder & CEO of Makerpad

Ben Tossell is the founder & CEO of Makerpad, the world’s leading educational hub for building online businesses, software and apps without the need for code.

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

I’m Ben, the CEO and founder of Makerpad. We help people build business ideas without writing code. I launched Makerpad in 2019 and in 2021 it was acquired by Zapier – an automation tool that connects thousands of apps and tools together to automate business processes.

At that time, Zapier was a major partner of Makerpad – we’ve always featured it extensively in our tutorials, and to run our own business.

Wade (Zapier CEO) and I had met several times virtually and in person in San Francisco at the No-Code Conference. The more we spoke, the more we realised our vision on the future of no-code was aligned.

Then someone from the community tweeted back in 2020 that Zapier should buy Makerpad. Wade reached out to say we should chat about it, and it all went from there. We started talking about what we both wanted, and it was clear we both wanted the same thing: to spread knowledge of no-code and automation as far as possible. And we knew it’d be much easier to do it together.

Makerpad officially became part of the Zapier family in March 2021.

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

A typical day would be:

  • wake up between 6.15-7am and have a coffee
  • exercise (tennis or at home stuff)
  • walk the dog
  • have breakfast (99% of the time is porridge!)
  • I’ve likely responded to any emails, slack, messages throughout all of that too
  • ‘work-day’ starts around 10ish. I’ve got a document that I’m always updating with my to do’s and try to prioritise them so I make sure all that’s in order and I know what I’m looking to do that day. 
  • 11am – a call with my assistant. She makes sure I’m on top of things, helps me with work and takes care of organising me/my life. 
  • Quick lunch then on to my heads down time
  • Rest of the day I try to do as much ‘creative/building’ work as possible – that’s what I love most. So it could be figuring out a new feature, creating content plans for our tutorials etc. 
  • I front load calls to Monday/Tuesdays so I’m not disrupted the rest of the week
  • 6.30-7ish Dinner with my wife
  • Clean up
  • Sit in front of the tv watching netflix etc – often with my laptop open just getting on with some less-heavy work. 

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

Yes I’ve been remote working for over 6 years now. I do really enjoy the flexibility but have found points in time where I just need a change of scenery – whether that’s a coffee shop or just making sure I go out of the house at some point. Exercising, then walking the dog then going to the loft where my office is really makes me switch it up enough that I don’t get cabin fever. 

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

I don’t think I’m great at this but my remote roles have always been more US-time based (teammates in the US) so I was used to always being online in the evenings while watching tv. I try to be more intentional so that my tv/work time at the end of the day is easier/more enjoyable work and I now start much later because I know I’ll be online later too. 

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

Using reflect.app to try and note down everything I’m doing, to-dos, anything on my mind and what I need to be doing/prioritising etc. Also hiring an assistant! She’s hired by me personally (not through the company) and helps organise travel, house renovations, chasing people and actually she’s training to be a therapist for stress in founders which I tend to feel often so that’s been great help too. 

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

Jimmy Carr – Before & Laughter was a recent book I loved. He’s a very out-there comedian but it’s kind of got some self-help thrown in. It’s really well done and I found myself highlighting a bunch of things. 

I read Milk Road – my daily crypto summary email which is the perfect dose of coverage I need. 

My First Million is a podcast I listen to every episode. I also try to consume as much comedy as possible so Off Menu Podcast and This is Important are two others I listen to every episode. 

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

reflect.app at the moment is my daily go-to. 

Currently monitoring my glucose levels as they’re apparently not great so I have that. 

Zapier – can’t live without it. It automates a lot of the work we do at Makerpad and plenty of personal tasks too.

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

Packy McCormick.

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

Figure out what works for you. I’m currently trying to split my time into 3 buckets: Do’s, Free and Fun. Do’s are things I just have to do; payroll, engaging with customers, promoting our site etc.

Free is what I’d end up doing if I didn’t have to do anything – for me, that’s building or being creative which is often in the form of no-code products/workflows/content. Fun is anything social; tennis, dinner, tv etc.

Then trying to rank my days of 1-5; 1 being I had my whole day of just Do’s. 5 being it was all Free & Fun. So the aim is to get as many 5 days as possible. It’s a new system so we’ll see how it goes!

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About Author

Balance the Grind is a work-life balance publication on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.