Balancing the Grind with Brian Borowsky, Founder of Hive Growth

Meet Brian Borowsky, the founder of Hive Growth and a mentor in various startup and scaleup contexts, including healthtech and climatetech.

Brian shares insights into his daily life, which is anything but routine, involving work with startups like Hey Lemonade, a mental health app, and coaching various other startups in different aspects of their businesses. His approach to work-life balance involves incorporating hobbies like reading fiction, listening to podcasts, and staying fit through running.

Let’s start with your background! Can you share with us your career journey and what you’re currently up to?

I have always been fascinated by how technology can transform businesses and empower people. My career has taken me to different continents, industries, and roles, where I have helped to create, grow, and innovate technology or technology-enabled businesses. Most of them were in the PeopleTech space, which was a happy coincidence for me.

I started out as a developer of business simulations, where I helped business leaders learn and apply skills in strategy, finance, marketing, and leadership. I soon expanded my scope to consulting and training, and eventually led one of the business teams. This was during the first Internet boom, and I got more and more involved in the online learning subsidiary of the company. This was all in the US, where I studied and worked for many years.

Then I moved to Australia, where I joined Seek, the leading online employment marketplace. I was the Product Manager, and later the Product Director, responsible for enhancing the system’s capabilities and adding new features, functionality, and sub-sites. I also grew the Product team and was part of the senior leadership team.

My next stop was London, where I joined Imparta, a business growth consultancy that specialised in B2B businesses. I was the Head of Project Development, overseeing anything bespoke that the clients needed, such as technology, simulations, infrastructure, business programs, or training. My team and I delivered innovative and effective solutions that met a wide range of B2B clients’ needs and situations.

Imparta wanted to expand its presence in Asia, so I took on the role of Head of Asia Pacific. I built a network of partners across the region, while being based in Australia and Vietnam. I also serviced the regional needs of our global clients and developed new customers in Australia and Asia. I worked with a wide range of businesses and business models, and had a significant impact on their growth and capabilities.

After working with large corporates for a long time, I decided to use my skills to help smaller organisations. I started my own consulting business called Hive Growth, which focuses on working with startups and scaleups in HealthTech and ClimateTech. I help them create sustainable and viable business models and find the growth strategies they need to scale their revenue, team, offering, and capabilities.

In 2020, I had the opportunity to run a HealthTech startup called My Occ Health Record (MOHR), which is a data platform that digitises the occupational health space for organisations. I launched the platform, acquired customers, won a major contract with the federal government, grew the team from 5 to 30 people, and created an offshore technology team. Most importantly, I built a senior leadership team that allowed me to step away from the business two years later and return to consulting.

Now I am working as a coach or mentor in various startup and scaleup contexts, such as What the Health (healthtech), Climate Salad’s Global Growth Program (climatetech), RMIT Activator LaunchHUB (pre-accelerator), and LaunchVic’s CIVVIC Labs program. I also work directly with some companies that need my expertise and guidance.

Besides work stuff, I am very passionate about local issues. I run a beach clean-up volunteer organisation, participate in many local entities and organisations, advocate for recycling and waste reduction, and support sustainability initiatives.

We’d love to know what a typical day is like for you. Could you describe a recent workday?

No two days are the same for me, as I juggle different projects and tasks that keep me on my toes. I always start my day with some self-care, which includes exercise, walking the dogs, and a healthy breakfast. But let’s skip that part and get to the exciting stuff.

One of the main things I’m working on right now is a fractional role with a brilliant HealthTech start-up called Hey Lemonade. They have created a mental health app that helps people manage stress and motivation, and prevent small issues from becoming big ones. I work closely with the team to plan strategies, pitch to potential clients, develop the product roadmap and features, and ensure everything runs smoothly.

I also coach some start-ups, helping them with various aspects of their business, such as customer discovery, business model, or pitch deck. I love seeing them grow and succeed in their ventures.

Throughout the day, I also have meetings or calls with clients, partners, or mentees, where I offer my feedback, guidance, or support on their challenges and opportunities. Sometimes, these meetings are on behalf of a company that I’m working with, where I help them find customers, partners, or financing.

Once a week, I try to do some networking, which is not my forte. But I’ve learned to overcome my shyness and awkwardness by practising and forgiving myself. Networking has opened many doors for me and connected me with amazing founders and people in the ecosystem. So a typical day might include attending a startup, healthtech, or climatetech event.

As you can see, my days are quite varied and dynamic, which is a lot of what makes it sustainable and fun.

Can you define work-life balance for yourself and share with us your approach in maintaining it?

Work-Life balance is a challenge that I face every day, because I am passionate about what I do and I often get immersed in my projects.

However, I know that it is important to take a break from work and enjoy other aspects of life. That’s why I have some hobbies that help me relax and recharge my mind. For example, I love reading fiction books that transport me to different worlds and scenarios, listening to podcasts that make me laugh or learn something new, watching tv shows or movies that entertain me and inspire me. I don’t completely avoid anything that reminds me of work, such as business books, documentaries, or podcasts, but I actively include non-business content.  

I also like to stay fit and healthy by exercising regularly. Running is my favourite activity, because it helps me clear my mind and release stress, even though I am not very fast or competitive. Running makes me feel good and balanced.

Change is constant, and it’s essential for growth. Have you made any lifestyle changes in the past year to improve your work-life balance?

One of the most significant changes I made this year was to embrace the power of No. I realised that I spread myself too thin when in a full-time role that consumed all my energy and left me no time for my passions. I decided to focus on my consulting business instead, and to be more selective about the projects I take on. This way, I can create more space for myself and enjoy a more balanced and fulfilling life.

I don’t know who said it first, but the quote “No is a complete sentence” struck a chord with me this year. It reminded me that I have the right to choose to do what matters to me and not what doesn’t.

We’re always on the lookout for new resources! Can you recommend any books, podcasts, or newsletters that have helped you in your journey towards balance?

If you’re looking for a quick and easy way to boost your mood, cope with stress, and grow your self-esteem, you should definitely try the Hey Lemonade app. It’s a collection of inspiring and motivational pep talks that you can listen to anytime, anywhere.

Whether you need to break out of a funk, prepare for a challenge, or build your resilience, Hey Lemonade has got you covered. Each pep talk is only three minutes long, so you don’t have to worry about wasting time or losing focus. Just give Hey Lemonade 3 minutes, and you’ll feel better.

Before we wrap up, do you have any final words of wisdom or insights on work, life, or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?

I keep coming back to the idea of empathy. And I say coming back to it because it is a skill that requires practice, retraining, and upskilling. It’s not something you have or don’t have, it’s something you learn and improve. The more that we can understand the perspective of the people that we are talking to, the more effective we’ll be at leadership, sales, and community-building. 

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.