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Balancing the Grind with Christopher Borrett, Chief Officer at Flip

Christopher Borrett is the Chief Officer at Flip, a disruptive on-demand insurance business aimed at active and adventurous young Australians.

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

I have a background in management consulting both with Accenture and The Boston Consulting Group (BCG).

I moved from London to Sydney in 2013 and since then have been involved primarily in the venturing arm of BCG (BCG Digital Ventures) where I led the build and launch of several new businesses across Australia and SE Asia.

More recently I have left BCG to head up a new InsurTech called Flip (www.getflip.com.au) where we are fundamentally changing how the young and adventurous buy insurance. I sit on the board of Directors with Leaders For Climate Action (LFCA) here in Australia and work closely with the UTS Start-up program.

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

Sure!  I typically wake up between 06:00 and 06:30 and try to do something non-work related. I might take my daughter out in the carrier listening to an audiobook or on some days I will surf or get a few holes of golf in.

I am back home and at my desk around 08:15 when I check in with my wife and daughter, maybe help with a change or a nappy before making a coffee, grabbing some toast and heading to my home desk. I try to not look at a screen before 08:30.

The first thing I do on my laptop is put on a chilled playlist and do a few breathing exercises before I take a look at my Trello board. I will take a quick look at emails and slack, pulling any actions into my Trello board which I prioritise and cut down to the things I want to achieve in the day.

This could be anything from preparing a pitch deck, to thinking about our product strategy, reaching out to new partners, consolidating our financials, or even sending out merch to our favourite customers! 

I usually try to get the first one or two things on the list done right away before our team stand-up at 09:30. Post this I usually have a few meetings either with the team or with potential partners or business associates that take me through lunch.

Around 13:00 I usually grab a quick bite to eat either picking up from a local café or something quick at home. I will take this time to also check-in with the family for 20 minutes.

I try to keep my afternoons free so that I can get my head down and complete my priority tasks for the day. Towards the end of the day around 17:00 I usually have one or two sessions scheduled, sometimes end of day syncs with the team or other commitments like mentoring sessions with UTS Start-ups or sessions with Leaders For Climate Action.

Around 18:00 I come back to my Trello board, review my actions, move things into done or drag things into to-do for the next day and wrap up any final tasks I think I can complete.

By 19:00 I am usually with my Family cooking dinner, going for a walk, seeing friends, or getting an hour of exercise in. I try to limit any screen / TV time to 1hr each evening instead aiming to read, play a board game or play music, and get to bed around 22:00. 

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

Yes, currently our company is adopting a fully flexible model which has been working very well. My team is empowered, and I trust them to be able to work when they need to and to live the rest of their life when they need to.

This means each day becomes more effective and allows an amazing and fluid balance between family life, personal life and business life.

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

If you love what you do, does it work? I prefer to think of it as just life balance. I have a number of values and priorities in my life, for example, impact through business, family, friends, learning etc. And I feel balanced when I think I am making progress and achieving elements across all those values.

If I feel like my focus and time is being spent on things that do not contribute to these, then I assess and then redefine what I am spending my time on (in the past I have broken my days into 30-minute internals and tracked every interval for a week to identify where my time is going).

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

Task based timeboxing. Any one thing, if you let it, can evolve into a huge time sap. Take an email, you need to respond to an email, and then before you know it you have spent an hour in your inbox.

Or you read one article and before you know it you are in a hole reading about how to create your own NFT (yep I did this last week). One thing that has worked well for me is to have your prioritised tasks on a Trello board and when you start one, allocate a time, after which you need to stop and check back in with your list of actions. This breaks the cycle of getting ‘caught up’ in time sucks.

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

I like The Hustle newsletter for its speedy summaries of things I find interesting. I am a pretty big reader, Influence by Robert Cialdini is a classic and I think extremely valuable for life in general.

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

I have been finding Audible very effective, it allows me to learn and ‘read’ on the go and if I am really enjoying the book, it acts as a motivation to get me out of bed and on a job or a walk!

I also use Evernote as a place to journal, to record my goals, my books, my ideas, everything!

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

I find the way philosophers think about the world extremely interesting and helpful. So I would love to hear from someone like Noam Chomsky.

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

I believe self-awareness and curiosity is a huge and fundamental unlock to us all. Understanding yourself, defining what you truly value and remaining open to change are critical in helping you achieve whatever you want to in life.

I am constantly learning and have recently brought on a coach to work with me on my own values and self-awareness. I see a lot of people who are going through life with blinkers on, focussed purely on the next promotion allowing the people around them to dictate their goals. These people wake up at 60 and wonder what they did during the best years of their life. Why wait!? Life is short and you’re the one living it!

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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.