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Balancing the Grind with Christina Sok, Founder & CEO of ClassBubs

Christina Sok is the founder & CEO of ClassBubs, a platform helping parents discover, book and review kids’ extracurricular classes.

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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 TCK. (Do people use that term anymore?). Third Culture Kid. I was born in Seoul, Korea but raised in the UK, Hong Kong and Singapore. I went to international schools like United World College and that really shaped my identity as a global citizen.

After high school in Singapore, I went to New York City for college, where I studied English Lit & Art History. I was living my dream in my 20s of being in NYC with a stint in Paris – the 2 centres of the art world. 

After college, I started out as an Ad Exec in NYC then eventually went back into the Art World, did my Masters in London specialising in Asian Art History, and moved back to Asia. I built a career as an Independent Art Curator, curating exhibitions/projects, freelance art writing and teaching. During that time, I also got into business and coaching. I’ve always wanted to build my own company and think of ideas. 

Then in 2018 when I had my daughter, life changed in ways that I had never imagined as a first-time mom, and this next chapter of my life is what really paved the way for entrepreneurship.

One Sunday night when my daughter was about 15 months, I had spent 3.5 hours researching on Google for classes to take her to the following week and felt frustrated by the lack of a unified platform where I could search for kids’ classes and also book them on and manage my scheduling.

Instead, what I found myself doing was emailing, texting and waiting until Monday so I could phone someone to find out what the schedule of the classes were and if there were any spots left for us. This was the start to my current venture – ClassBubs.com. 

I have been blessed to have an extremely supportive spouse who has always been my greatest champion, which has given me the confidence to take risks and venture into many unknown areas including where I’m at today – building an Edtech startup. 

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

Mornings are sacred for me and I’m big on morning rituals – it’s key for me to win the day. I like to wake up before my daughter to do a short meditation, get my mind right and slowly ease into the day on my own terms, before the hyper ball of energy that is my 3-year-old tornadoes out of her bed.

Thereafter, we have breakfast as a family, which is always full of laughs and quality time to spend together before we each go about our separate days. By 8:15, I’m taking my daughter to school and doing a run or a walk or a yoga class in the Botanic Gardens (my sanctuary!), sometimes followed by a workout at the gym.

I love to start the day moving my body as it recharges me and gives me the energy that I need for the rest of the day. 

I’m all about flexibility with discipline. To me, designing my life means being able to set aside time for all the things that I find important and not feeling like ‘I don’t have the time’ or I have to make compromises, because I’m in control over my own schedule. 

I take care of myself first before anybody or anything else, as I cannot run on an empty cup. There is always room for flexibility in my week and making impromptu decisions like suddenly spending the afternoon at the beach; however, most weekdays, I like to have the discipline to keep within my structured schedule as I do run a startup and have many work obligations as well as family of course. 

I usually start my work day around 10am and it’s a mixture of ‘deep work’ and online meetings. Midday is when we check back in as a family over lunch (beauty of working from home & having a preschooler who comes home for lunch/nap).

Daily bonding around the dining table is important for us. Then by 1pm I’m back to work, either at my home office or sometimes having meetings outside. In the late afternoons, I usually spend time playing with my daughter and having an early dinner with her before she goes to bed. 

As a mompreneur, I also tend to break up my day and structure my schedule around my daughter’s schedule so I can be productive yet also spend quality pockets of time with her throughout the day. It’s all about setting boundaries!

So far, in the last 3 years this has worked really well for me. “When mommy is working, she’s working, and when mommy can play with me, we have fun!” Once the house is quiet again, I get back to work around 8pm for a little while and finally unwind around 10pm. This is what a typical weekday is like for me when I don’t go out in the evenings. 

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

Absolutely! I couldn’t have it any other way. I can work from anywhere if I wish – be it by the pool or a café or even another city.

However, my favourite place to work is my home office with my standing/sitting desk and dual monitor setup and being near my daughter, in case I need little kisses and a cuddle in the middle of the afternoon (she also has a little desk next to mine and on occasion she joins in on the action with her fake keyboard and play phones as she imitates me doing a call or typing away). 

I’ve actually worked from home/remotely for a long time now, way before the pandemic, so this has become a natural way of being for me and how I maximise my productivity. But of course the pandemic has made WFH/remote working the norm now, which levels the playing field for many people.

What’s ironic for me though, is that since becoming a mom, I don’t think so much about working from exotic locations but prioritise being at home near my daughter – how times have really changed! 

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

I’m all about work-life integration, aka ‘life by design,’ which I’ve previously mentioned. For me, there’s no separation between work and life, just healthy boundaries.

Forget about the typical ‘work-life balance’; what work-life integration means is learning how these 2 parts of our lives can co-exist harmoniously and building our schedules around both areas so that neither work life or personal life feels compromised. It also helps when the ‘work’ itself is fulfilling and not just a means to an end. 

This way of being is much more fulfilling as we are being our authentic selves both personally and professionally. So how does work-life integration come about?

For me, it’s about reframing our minds about work & life, being clear about our goals and priorities, being truly honest about what is important to us, building a support system around us, systemising what ought to be systemised, delegating and removing things that can be delegated & removed, and overall being a master of our time and having a clear action plan week-by-week that will move the needle forward. 

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

Building habits and routines are the most simple yet difficult things to do in life. Even though the steps to forming new habits and establishing new routines seem so straightforward, implementing them on a daily basis and sticking with it consistently takes a lot of brain power, will power and bodily motivation. 

So in 2021 I can boldly say that I have started, stopped & re-started my practice of mindfulness, habit of daily reading, habit of gratitude journaling and the routine of daily exercising, several times over. 

I do think that part of the trick to sticking with these things is having an underlying motivation otherwise known as the big ‘why’ as well as a consequential why (so we can feel what it would be like if we don’t stick to these daily practises), and connecting that to a bite-size action plan that lowers the resistance to daily practice, with a little kick of forced action to get past the initial inertia.

That should do the trick in maintaining a regular routine that will form new, healthy, productive habits we strive to achieve. 

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

I’m currently taking a mindfulness course and I’ve been really focused on practising mindfulness throughout my day. So I am re-reading Eckhart Tolle’s Power of Now alongside another book called A Year of Living Mindfully. There’s another book called Time to Think that I am reading from time to time. 

I tend to have a lot going on and because the speed in which I work is generally fast, I sometimes don’t have the patience to finish one book completely before moving on to another, so I dabble read and get what I need out of a book and go back to it if I need to at a later point. I’ve always got a selection of books on entrepreneurship, leadership and business on hand and go to them when I feel that there’s an area I need to learn about.

I get overwhelmed by how much news and newsletters there are so most of the time I delete everything that comes to my inbox without opening them to keep my mind clear. I’m one of those neurotic people who always needs my multiple inboxes to be emptied and not have outstanding unopened messages.

However, there is one newsletter I enjoy reading regularly and it’s called “Change That Up.” They give very practical advice on all kinds of personal development topics and it’s just in a short daily dose format. I also read some parenting newsletters on a weekly basis.

And lastly, I love podcasts as I usually listen to them during my morning walks/runs and they are a combination of mindfulness, personal development, business and entrepreneurship topics with some parenting thrown in once in a while. There’s one that I’ve recently been into called “Buddhism Guide” by Yeshe Rabgye on Spotify. 

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

If you haven’t guessed already from this interview, my most-used app would be the calendar and along with that I wouldn’t know what was going on with my day without my iPhone & all of the Apple products that sync to each other. Then other than that, I use my various messaging/video conferencing apps along with Spotify (for music & podcasts) and the baby monitor apps on a daily basis. 

Social media is strictly for business and I make a conscious effort to be on it very minimally for my personal use, except for LinkedIn, which I think is the most useful one out of the bunch. But even then I avoid the endless scrolling (it’s so easy to lose track of time doing this). 

Otherwise I want to unplug from devices and technology as much as possible since I’m on it most of the day working, so no further gadgets for me, thank you! It’s been hard being stuck on a small island during the pandemic to unplug from technology, as in the past, frequent travel would be my time to have a tech-detox. So now, I have to be really mindful of having time away from all devices like on the weekends. 

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

Ever since a friend of mine gifted me the Sara Blakely Masterclass at the start of the pandemic, I’ve been following her journey and I love her sense of humour and how she shares about her life as well. She is definitely a role-model in business and I’d love to hear more about how she built her Spanx empire, becoming a self-made billionaire while having 4 kids along the way and managing it all like a badass. 

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

Find your joy.

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Start-up Founders, Venture Capital, Private Equity, Accelerators – hear them all talk about their stories where they went wrong, what went right and what they learned!

Before you go…

If you’d like to sponsor or advertise with Balance the Grind, let’s talk here.

Join our community and never miss a conversation about work, life & balance – subscribe to our newsletter.

Start-up Founders, Venture Capital, Private Equity, Accelerators – hear them all talk about their stories where they went wrong, what went right and what they learned!
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.