Balancing the Grind with Callum Yap, COO at Okra Solar

Callum Yap is the COO at Okra Solar, an Australian technology startup that works with local utilities to transform off grid communities into energy abundant mesh grids.

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

As an undergrad I did an engineering internship at d.light – an off-grid solar appliance company. After receiving a Bachelors in EE, I jumped into the startup world by working at a couple of early stage companies, and then eventually starting one myself (which failed soon after).

I was fortunate to meet the founders of Okra through this process. A year following, I joined them. Over the years I’ve jumped between roles in engineering and operations. Now my focus is on team leadership and growth.

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

8am wake-up. Big drink of water and some light exercise, then into meetings. Usually at least half the day is spent in meetings but I try to keep the rest of the time for deep focus and to-dos.

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

“Work-life balance” means different things to different people. For me, it means enjoying both together as much as possible, even if they are one and the same at times. Basic good habits help a lot – to name a few: curiosity, healthy eating, exercise, meaningful relationships. I’ve experienced burnout when neglecting these things.

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

  • Running (started) – helped my general cardio, mental focus and overall energy levels.
  • Practising gratitude (started) – helps me to stay positive and appreciative of others. 

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

(Podcasts) Lex Fridman podcast – Fascinating interviews with experts from all walks of life.

(Book) Crossing the Chasm – Marketing and Selling High-Tech Products to Mainstream Customers – How to do B2B marketing for disruptive tech.

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

Jimmy Chin – he seems to have a ton of fun whilst being immensely productive.

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

Most adults spend at least 40% of their waking hours at work. So I think the key is to think about it in terms of “how can I synergize these two foundational parts of my life?” instead of viewing them as counteracting weights on a scale. It’s a matter of trial and error to figure out what works best for you!

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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.