CEOs / Founders / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Chris Withers, Founder & CEO at klikit

Chris Withers is the founder & CEO at klikit. which helps restaurants across Southeast Asia grow their business with more efficient food delivery and extra revenue from virtual food brands.

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

I’ve spent most of my career building and scaling large, online, multi-sided marketplaces and have found it incredibly rewarding. I started my career as an early employee of Uber in Australia, where I scaled the ridesharing business for roughly 18 months before moving to Singapore to become the Regional Head of Growth for Uber Eats (APAC).

It was this experience that really sparked my fascination in the on-demand delivery space, and in particular food delivery. From there, I eventually worked for Grab and then Gojek – on and across a range of different roles – all of which I supposed provided deeper insight into a range of areas that eventually coalesced into my own startup, klikit.

We at klikit want to become the one-stop software solution for the restaurant industry; a next-generation point of sale that integrates and aggregates multiple brands, channels and locations across food delivery apps, social networks and more. The best part? We’re able to then use this network to connect kitchens to creators – YouTubers, TikTokkers, Instagramers and more – to launch their own food brands.

We’re truly building the future of food.

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

I’m monastic on how I typically run and schedule my days. I wake up at the same time every single day – 06:15 – at which point I’ll have a small amount of caffeine, briefly check my emails and then head out for a 5km run.

I run at least every second day unless I’m travelling; it allows me to clear my head, and focus on today’s tasks. From there, I’ll eat breakfast – and then I generally block the first two hours of morning (before 9am) and dedicate it to deep work.

I think far too many CEOs are fast to give up their individual execution in favour of people movement and management; by contrast I think the warrior-scholar archetype not only suits my personality better – but is also essentially for building a culture of high performance at any startup. 

From 9am onwards, I’ve generally had some form of sync with my management team and we kick off the day. Our company is entirely remote – which means mostly meetings throughout the day collaborating on key initiatives.

These typically last back to back until roughly 17:00-18:00, at which point I’ll pause for dinner. After that I generally will jump back online to complete anything that still needs attention, and will invite anyone else online to co-work with me via Hangouts or Meets.

It’s a pretty rigorous schedule, but given our early stage – it’s necessary.

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

I think that many people tend to think about ‘work-life’ within a daily constraint or time frame; I tend to take a much broader view. Everything is actually all about phases – you need to understand and control those phases, or you’ll burn out.

At Uber, we used to talk about ‘finding the red line’ which was always a helpful way to think of the problem. If you know there is a ‘red line’ N metres in front of you, and periods of intense work or intense life move you closer or further away from that line – then it is entirely on you as to how you manage that. 

For me, I tend to operate high peaks and low troughs; I will work explosively for certain stretches – and then I will recharge for two or three days entirely at a time. This is certainly not for everyone, and I would encourage people to experiment with whatever they feel comfortable with.

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

Not that I can think of; however the most important habit I ever built in my life was prioritising physical fitness – specifically running. As a child I hated physical activity; but as I got older I came to the realisation that as humans, we are organic machines that need exercise in order to maintain a state of general well being.

Further, I really resonate with stoicism – and the idea that of an infinite number of uncontrollable possibilities – one you can control is whether or not you went out and pounded the pavement.

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

The majority of non-fiction books I read are all historical – some of my favourites are The Last Mughal by William Dalrymple and Prisoners of Geography by Tim Marshall. As someone who grew up in Australia and had to rapidly adjust to a swathe of new cultures and perspectives, both these books have been fascinating. On the other side, fiction, I spend most of my time reading science fiction, and my favourite has to be Do Android Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick.

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

Despite the current spectacle playing out – I would be fascinated by how Elon Musk spends his days and how he views all these things. While he’s notorious for promulgating hustle at all cost, I wonder how it all really is.

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

There are many things beyond your control – but the one thing that is always within your control is how to respond to them. Remember that, and to take care of your body – and the mind will follow.

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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.