CEOs / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Chris Evans, Founder & CEO at Quipmo

Chris Evans is the Founder & CEO at Quipmo, a surf, bike and snow gear rental marketplace that lets individuals, charities and businesses rent their gear to like minded travellers and locals.

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

I’m founder and CEO of Quipmo – the surf, bike and snow peer to peer gear rental marketplace that lets individuals, charities and businesses rent their gear to like-minded travellers and locals who share a passion for adventure!

For those looking for an adventure whether travelling abroad, away on business or maybe just wanting to try something new, Quipmo gives you choice right at your fingertips!

Quipmo has listings in over 20 countries, strategic partnerships with world sporting tours, along with national and state peak sporting bodies, and provides gear for both able bodied and adaptive adventurers.

We’re still a young business but we have a very bold vision to fundamentally change how people access great gear, along with everything they need to enjoy adventures more often.

My professional background is quite unconventional in many ways and Linkedin gives a more in-depth view, but I started out in surf retail, setting up the hardware division of what was at the time the largest surf shop in the southern hemisphere.

After finishing my undergrad BCom with triple majors in finance, management and marketing, I went on to work in marketing in education and training. From there, things took a very different direction – commercial / corporate finance / strategic alignment roles in oil and gas, mining, and industrial services, and finally as Director and COO of an engineering consultancy.

I sat on the senate of a university, and also founded and ran a global charity for fun, and completed a Master of Applied Finance and an MBA too. I always chased any opportunity to learn, and to understand as much about business as I possibly could, and every day in startup world makes me realise how very much more there is to go!

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

I’ve never been in a role that has required the level of constant context shifting like this, and I don’t mean managing different functional experts or teams, I mean actually individually grinding out the work myself in vastly different functional areas.

Whether it’s talking to customers, building a financial model, coding the site, drafting / negotiating a contract, writing copy, or designing a poster, my hat collection grows by the day, and most days require a good portion of those hats.

As a function of this, no two days are alike, which is both a wonderful blessing as it satiates my natural intellectual curiosity, but is also desperately frustrating as it’s unequivocally inefficient and suboptimal.

In terms of scheduling, my usual day starts around 8:30am where I’ll go through critical emails, company socials, and our platform so as to enable an immediate hit list of anything critical that needs to be tended too.

The rest of my day is a little more structured, for I finish each day with an open task list and thus my day is spent working my way through that, punctuated by video calls with stakeholders, ad hoc email responses, and setting up the myriad of virtual meetings coming up.

I try to get to the gym, go for an hour walk, or have a surf / hit of tennis each day, following which I will then work through to somewhere between 11pm-1am most nights, finishing with me writing my task list for the next day.

Weekends, are mainly similar, but with only a few hours usually worked on a Sunday and with lighter tasks that don’t require too much horsepower.

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

Very much so, wherever I’ve got my laptop and phone I can work. Given the challenges of Corona, I think the idea of remote work with distributed teams will become the new normal for many industries, and Quipmo’s team expansion will be very much focussed around this new model of work.

Flexible work, I think is also going to become more and more standard. Hire good people, trust them, and give them clear guidance on what success looks like along with the tools, support and resources needed to succeed.

If they choose to go for a surf when it’s pumping, and then work in the night to catch up, and they deliver amazing outcomes, are great team members both in terms of delivering outcomes and building company culture, and they’re happier because of it – all the power to them and, furthermore, what a fantastically fun and capable person to be building a company with!

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

I naturally have quite a binary, compulsive, type personality where I tend to devote myself to efforts entirely – I naturally go ‘all in’.

I’ve had periods of my life where I’ve lived what would appear to be a charmed life, such as when I spent eight months as a 19 year old on my great surfing safari travelling around Australia, or years in my late twenties in professional life, working 100+ hour weeks, week in week out, striving for both career advancement as well as financial gain.

Neither of these approaches has been right for me, for neither of these paths weren’t without major costs.

In the former, a complete lack of mental stimulation nor financial sustainability, and the latter, as it was a complete abuse of my body, and as it meant sacrificing all of my relationships with friends and loved ones for I was always working, stressed, and exhausted.

In this context, some time ago I came across the philosophical concept of arête, which considers one’s own, individual version of excellence to be the fulfilment of one’s capability in all aspects of life, including but not limited to character, body and intellect.

This fundamentally changed my perspective of what success is, of what being one’s best is. To be wealthy, but without love, altruism, or community is not success, and nor is a life that foregoes using the capability of one’s faculties for continual learning, along with societal contribution.

Being devoted, being dogged, being ‘all in’ are fine – but for me – the idea of what success is, now looks far more rounded, and healthy, then it once did.

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

My past 18 months has been decidedly challenging as a number of old sporting injuries finally caught up with me.

Knee surgery, shoulder surgery, and then post op complications led to frozen shoulder which effectively forced a complete stop to anything fun – from surfing, to tennis, to gym, to even picking up a guitar – the activities that I’ve always gravitated to for ‘balance’ and wellbeing were all off the table – and for an extended period of time.

This, coupled with a decidedly unpleasant physical rehabilitation process has meant that this period has been tough. I am however now on the mend, and whilst not quite yet 100%, I’m active again.

My energy levels are up, I’ve lost weight, I sleep better, and my mental sharpness is again returning to more familiar levels. Exercise, sport, and the comradery of healthy social competition with mates are things I’ve missed so very deeply – having them return has certainly given me a big spring in my step once again.

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

Three books immediately come to mind:

  • Why People Fail: The 16 Obstacles to Success and How You Can Overcome Them – Siimon Reynolds
  • Questions of Character: Illuminating the Heart of Leadership Through Literature – Joseph L. Badaracco Jr.
  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time – Mark Haddon

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

I couldn’t live without my laptop or phone, and there’s not a lot of hours where I’m not in front of them.

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

This is a great question, and I’m not sure that I have a specific person in mind but perhaps more of a view on what this person would be like.

In that context, to learn, to listen to someone who has faced great adversity and challenge, and who has triumphed, but who hasn’t lost their humility and compassion along the way.

Someone who has enjoyed great professional / financial success but who has maintained a wonderful family life – full of love and great relationships – throughout the entire journey.

Someone who seeks to benefit the world rather than plunder it, who seeks to add value to relationships rather than view them for their utility, and who seeks not fame, but the opportunity to contribute.

I guess someone who reflects the traits that are a combination of Kipling’s: If, and Coolidge’s: Press On.

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

I definitely don’t think there’s a one size fits all and that’s what makes humanity wonderful and special. At its heart, people need to live a life that is consistent with their own values, their own moral code, and to do their best.

Comparing outcomes is fraught with danger for everyone’s circumstance is different, everyone’s path has been different, but if one strives to be their best, with integrity, and honesty and compassion along the way, whilst maintaining devotion to their health and relationships, then irrespective of whatever outcome falls their way, they have lived with balance and their life has been a success.

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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.