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Balancing the Grind with Conner Nudd, Co-Founder & CEO at Jamworks

Conner Nudd is the co-founder & CEO at Jamworks, a company on a mission to revolutionise the way that students relive their lecture content.

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

I always wanted to be successful but I had the idea that I also wanted to do good for others too. Having struggled at school, where the standard education setting just didn’t work for me, I left with average grades, and went to college to study Art & Design.

I was on the path to go to University, honestly something I wasn’t particularly keen about, but felt it was perhaps the only real route into getting a career in Graphic Design, which was my passion.

I’d started designing after I’d received my first digital camera as a birthday present, and by the time I had finished college I was doing evening classes, teaching teachers about best practices and techniques. Skipping forward (quite) a few years, I’d worked at agencies for some incredible brands and then moved to in-house marketing management roles.

After a life-changing experience and being diagnosed with PTSD and depression around 4 years ago, I knew that a change had to happen. Suffering with burn-out is a real thing and shouldn’t be taken lightly (I certainly learned that the hard way). Moving into freelance was the best decision I ever made, giving me the freedom to work at my own pace on engagements that I was passionate about.

This confirmed my decision to only be involved in companies that build products that change, enrich and fulfil lives. From technology that automates tedious processes to applications that allow more people to be seen by therapists when they need it. It was this that started my journey of building Jamworks (www.jamworks.com).

As the co-founder and CEO of this revolutionary EdTech platform, I aim to give students the tools to learn at their own pace, in their own environment, removing any of the anxieties that come with back-to-back lectures and ever-increasing deadlines.

It’s about being part of a community, sharing, collaborating. It’s about personal empowerment and improvement. It’s about the individual, and it’s also about fun stuff too. Who wouldn’t feel great about helping to create a great British EdTech company?

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

Jamworks is still in ‘start-up’ mode at the moment, we’re building a fantastic team, increasing our traction and enjoying every step of the way. A typical day starts around 7am with a gym workout.

I always used to go to the gym in the evening as a method to blow-off steam, but having that mindset leads to you going to the gym and only thinking of the things that haven’t gone well that day, that’s not healthy for anyone. So starting my day with some exercise energises me, gets my mind focussed for the day and sets me up for success. 

I like to get to my desk at 8am – the calm before the storm. I check and update my to-do list in Notion and clear off any small tasks that can be done before the team checks in for the day, which we start with our morning huddle, discussing how we did yesterday, what went well and what didn’t and then what we want to achieve today.

Being a fully remote team, we’re always communicating on Slack, jumping on “Jam’s” as we call them and collaborating across all areas of the business.

I’m supported by two fantastic co-founders who have far more experience than me in traditional tech business, which makes us such a fantastic team as I always like to push the status-quo, so we’re in constant communication on general business ops, partner strategies and product status.

Regular breaks are important for me and the team, taking time out when needed – even just for a walk. 

What I love the most about my usual days is that I go from talking about marketing in the morning, to product development status midday, business operations in the afternoon and then sitting back in the afternoon and looking at every fantastic step that the team has made in such a short time.

My day can be long, particularly now that I am spending ever more time on the road, meeting Universities right across the Country. And that’s just the start, as we are now starting to expand into the US and Asia.   

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

We’re lucky perhaps because we started as a fully remote, work-from-anywhere team. We do have offices off-shore for our development team to use as needed, which can really aid collaboration on pending releases, product brainstorming and so on. Our UK team is completely remote, but we always try to make time to meet in person regularly. 

The pandemic has certainly been a driving factor in the approach we took to remote working and I’m happy just how well it’s working. As we grow we’ll look at returning to an office mode, but that absolutely won’t be mandatory, rather it will be a way to enhance our collaboration as a team.

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

For me, work-life balance is an ongoing cycle, it’s not something that you just ‘have’. It’s about constantly making adjustments that suit you as an individual and as part of a team. There’s that famous saying: “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life” and I want every individual that joins the team at Jamworks to feel that way. 

Choose to work, when you work and how you work. We’re all working to achieve the same goal and I want every person to feel empowered to do their best work and enjoy every minute.

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

For me exercise has always been important, and really makes me feel like I’ve set my day up right. One habit that I’ve more recently adopted is cutting the ‘bull’. I always used to be scared of bad news, often digging my head in the sand which I’m sure led to some of the problems earlier in life. If something isn’t working right, I want to hear about it sooner rather than later, and just tell me straight, nothing is unfixable.

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

My partner has recently introduced me to The High Performance Podcast – having an insight into high-achieving, successful individuals and how they worked their way to the top, and stayed there. It’s a truly captivating series and I highly recommend it.

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

I use Notion every single day, it’s my ultimate brain-dump. Every single idea I have, every target I want to achieve goes into it, and then I break it down into smaller digestible chunks of how I’m going to get to that goal. 

Slack is one of the first apps I open in the morning, not least because we get a notification for every student that has registered for Jamworks, so it’s always nice to wake up with the notification bubble in 3 digits! 

And of course Jamworks, it’s single-handedly the most important application in my life, every single meeting I have is documented and clipped in Jamworks, it means that if any of the team have an outstanding light-bulb moment, I can easily find the meeting that it was brought up in, what was said, relive the section of the meeting as I need to and share that fantastic idea with whoever needs to see it.

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

From a very young age, I always admired Steve Jobs. Rather controversially he seemed to have absolutely no balance between his work life and personal life and almost completely favoured work over family, but I’d like to know why, what really happened and what he was thinking during those years.   

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

The final thought I can share with you, and I absolutely had to learn the hard way. Don’t settle for OK. If you’re not happy, change it. If you’re struggling with anything, tell someone and don’t ever be afraid to speak out when something is getting too much. Life is too short, there are always ups and downs but to succeed you need to really feel those ups.

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About Author

Balance The Grind gives me a platform to talk to these people about how they're achieving their ideal lifestyle. I'm inspired by the passion, the work ethic, the hustle; and these conversations motivate me to live life the way I want to live it.