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Balancing the Grind with Chloe White, Independent Crypto-asset Consultant

Chloe White is an independent crypto-asset consultant, and the managing director of Genesis Block, where she leads an expert team of fintech consultants specialising in blockchain and digital assets.

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

I’m a crypto-asset specialist. I’m fascinated by the potential for open source technology to advance human rights, and to create economic opportunities. In my work I advise start-ups and policymakers, and work with wholesale investors.

The types of services I provide include educating professionals about the industry, developing policy positions, and helping companies to develop strategies and problem-solve roadblocks. 

My interest in digital assets began when I was working at the Australian Treasury over four years ago, and it has been truly fascinating to watch cryptocurrency go mainstream in that time.

Prior to fintech, I’ve had a thrilling career working in foreign relations, economics, and private sector advisory. Each role has taught me different skills and provided me the opportunity to learn new things.

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

I start each day by deciding whether I want to work from home, an office, or a cafe. Depending on the climate and what city I’m in, I’ll crave a different environment, and I’ll usually change locations at least once during the day which helps to reset my focus.

I try to schedule my meetings in clumps, so that my deep thinking time is not always interrupted. Recently I’ve been more mindful about scheduling particular types of work around my energy levels, and it’s helped my productivity. 

I’ll sometimes catch up on phone calls while driving, but I also advocate for asynchronous communication for everyday information flow – voice memos are a favourite tool of mine.

Yesterday was a ‘meeting day’ and today I’m working while in transit, so I’ve selected a few priority tasks that can be knocked off quickly at airports. Tomorrow is the weekend, and next week I’ll be at a conference. The variety is exciting!

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

I’m currently living the lifestyle of a digital nomad, which is one of the biggest benefits of self-employment. When I’m in Australia I split my time equally between Melbourne and Sydney, but so far this year I’ve only been home for about a month – mostly time spent recovering from COVID!

It’s great to be back on the road, even though travel is a little more tricky post-lockdown. I arrive at the airport much earlier these days, and I use the time to get work done. I find that having access to an airport lounge helps me use the time productively.

I’ll sometimes work mid-flight, but being up in the sky is also a great excuse to turn the phone off – I focus on meditation, hydration, and will take healthy snacks on board. Then I’ll connect to aeroplane WiFi in the last hour of the flight to respond to missed messages.

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

I used to think of work-life balance as the ratio of time spent working versus doing other activities. It caused me guilt, because I have thoroughly enjoyed working hard in my career and being in a flow state – I don’t want to feel pressured to start or stop work at an arbitrary time, that may not fit with my energy levels!

Nowadays my career is so intermingled with my social and travel life, it’s hard to know where work ends and life begins. So my new perception of work-life balance is all about choice and flexibility.

If I need to take a day off to rest, being able to make that decision on a whim no matter what day of the week it is – that’s more important to me than measuring my weekly work hours. But It means I need to be mindful about how much I commit to, which is hard, because I’m interested in so many things.

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

It’s great when people reach out to connect with me, often wanting to explore collaborations, ask for mentoring, or to seek feedback on their work. However I can’t say yes to the full volume of requests I receive, and my clients are my priority.

So I have had to introduce filtering processes to keep unnecessary meetings out of my diary. One very simple but effective strategy is to invite the other person to write down their initial ideas before committing to a call.

It helps to clarify how serious and progressed their thinking is, and whether the conversation is truly valuable at this time. Another change I’ve made is installing messaging apps on my laptop (Signal, WhatsApp, Telegram) and I’ve stopped using SMS entirely.

It means I can respond across all platforms very quickly in tranches, and not have to deal with the hassle and distraction of a mobile. Hiring a local assistant is also a great way to free up brain space – knowing that a task has been delegated means you can erase it from your to-do list, and they can also act as an extra filter for protecting time in your diary.

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

I used to fill every moment of the day with audiobooks, music, podcasts and video streaming. But more recently I’ve been appreciating the simplicity of silence, and opting to focus on one task at a time.

There is a certain pressure to keep up with every information source, but there are diminishing marginal returns. So I’m consuming less content now, but my current favourite is the Lex Fridman podcast. I enjoy his nuanced exploration of complex topics that are often tech-adjacent but also extend to science, philosophy and society.

I almost exclusively listened to work-related podcasts during the past few years, so it’s refreshing to be exposed to big picture ideas and new perspectives.

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

I’m a fan of meditation and mindfulness apps. Calm is great for breathing exercises and sleep stories. Waking Up is more mindfulness-focused with philosophical themes. Insight Timer has a bit of everything.

To get the most out of these apps, a pair of noise-cancelling headphones are essential. I’ve also got a subscription to Class Pass, which can be convenient for people who travel a lot and can’t commit to one location for exercise.

But a simple neighbourhood walk and some pilates or yoga is great for injury prevention. Working on the road is not always ergonomic, so I’m very aware of my postural strength and overall health.

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

For this, I would love to nominate Dr Prash Puspanathan, a talented entrepreneur who also lives out of a suitcase!

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

Post-lockdown, I’ve noticed a lot of people are very keen to get back to face-to-face meetings, and will even defer meetings for weeks at a time rather than have a remote conversation. Socially too, there is a sense of wanting to re-integrate and connect.

I think an honest discussion about work-life balance in 2022 should acknowledge that the pandemic is not ‘over’ and, in most of Australia, we are still dealing with the aftermath of extended isolation periods and serious disruptions to life. We will all need to continue to be flexible and compassionate in how we work, while we adjust to the ‘new normal’.

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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.