Founders / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Daniel Sandaver, Co-Founder of Codafication & ABC Group

Daniel Sandaver is the co-founder and managing director of insurance builder company, Australian Building and Construction Group and tech startup, Codafication.

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

I’m the Co-Founder and Managing Director of two businesses. We have an insurance builder company, Australian Building and Construction Group, and a tech start-up, Codafication. I’m also the father of two sets of twin boys. Lots of twos!

I got my start working in the web industry, building applications for large enterprises. I worked my way up into a senior management role, working with the likes of Telstra, Energex, and DHL.

I’ve had a range of jobs – from web development, to construction, to managing music festivals for tens of thousands of people. Regardless of the industry, my experience has always focused on project management.

Over thirteen years ago, I started Australian Building and Construction Group with my co-founder and childhood friend, Drew Butler.

Five years ago, we founded Codafication, and have grown from a single team member to over 40 staff members. We launched our latest innovation, Crunchwork, at the end of 2020. It’s an end-to-end project and job management platform for your entire supply chain.

We started with a simple idea, and today we’re working with the biggest names in Australian insurance and are partnered with Microsoft and Amazon.

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

I spend the first 30 minutes of my day tech-free. I do some walking or running outdoors before I start thinking about work. Then my wife and I wrangle our four boys and get them ready for the day, and we have breakfast together as a family (when possible).

Once I’m in the office, the first thing I do is action any urgent emails or requests straight away. I then set some clear goals and priorities for the day. From there, every day is different. I meet with our key clients and various stakeholders across Codafication, including sales, projects, product, design, finance, customer success, and marketing.

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

I do work from home or head off early some days to be with the kids, but for the most part I like to be in the office and keep a regular routine. It’s important to me to take care of my team and I feel accessible and productive when I’m in the office.

The entire business went remote during the first COVID-19 lockdown. It inspired us to set up a work from home policy that we’ll be rolling out shortly – we’re moving towards more of a hot desk setup to enhance our agile way of working.

I always want to empower my team to work however they work best, and to pursue their own work-life balance, so I’m excited to see the benefits of regular remote working on the wider team.

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

To me, work-life balance is about investing my energy equally into myself, personal relationships, and my business.

Of course, there’s times where one aspect of your life needs more of your time, but I never want to sacrifice the health of one for the other. I never want to get so carried away with chasing success and building businesses that I lose sight of what’s really important.

At the beginning of the year, I carved out my annual goals and an actionable path to get there. When you’re busy it’s hard to prioritise time for yourself, and it’s the first thing to slip when you’re under pressure.

I know that if I’m taking care of myself, I can show up better in my work and relationships. So, I make sure to schedule in time for myself, family, and friends. It’s a work in progress.

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

I’ve stopped checking my phone (or laptop, or e-mail, or anything) for the first 30 minutes of the day. I’ve also gotten back into a regular exercise routine.

It sounds simple, but as Codafication took off, my personal health was one of the first things I put on the backburner. The pressure of work made me feel like I didn’t have time to exercise. Really, I can’t afford not to.

I’ve recommitted to daily movement – whether it’s walking or running (or rather, trying to run). I’m also making a conscious effort to take holidays with my family more frequently, instead of letting it build up.

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

I read Unicorn Tears by Jamie Pride in our early days – I took a lot from that book on developing laser focus, how to prototype, etc. It’s great for anyone on a start-up journey. I’m also reading Winston Churchill’s biography at the moment which is a great lesson on leadership under pressure.

I’m also a big fan of TikTok. It’s my new go-to for conspiracy theories, self-improvement, home cooking, whatever it is. It suits my attention span and is a bit of fun.

Overall, I intentionally don’t consume too much entrepreneurial or start-up content. There’s a lot of pressure to be a certain kind of founder – someone who wakes up at 4am and “hustles” 24/7 and sacrifices everything for success. Which is great for some people. But it’s easy to get caught up in an idealised version of what’s optimal instead of what works best for you in practice.

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

My iPhone is like an extra limb. I rely on my emails, calendars, and to-do lists to keep my work on track. I’ve also just bought a whoop band – I’m loving all of the stats and graphs, and working on improving my sleep at night.

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

I’d love to read more from Jeff Bezos. I’ve heard titbits about how he doesn’t set an alarm and eats breakfast with his family every morning, while reaching incredible heights of success. He views work and life as a circle, instead of a balance between two opposing forces. That’s something I really resonate with and I’d love for him to dive deeper into.

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

Balance is an incredibly individual thing. You need to find a rhythm that works for you, your goals, and your family. It’s easy to get caught up in success, but it’s important to maintain strong relationships with family, friends, and yourself. Sometimes that means taking a reality check: is what you’re working on worth the sacrifice you’re making?

There’s a lot of content around hustle culture and work life balance out there, so don’t feel pressured to adopt the latest guru’s morning routine. Take what works for you and leave what doesn’t. If you put energy into taking care of yourself, you’ll be more effective in every other area of your life.

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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.