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Balancing the Grind with Elise Peate, Head of SEO at HealthMatch

Elise Peate is the Head of SEO at HealthMatch, a digital health company transforming the way patients connect to clinical trials.

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

My startup journey kicked off back in 2015 at a company called AutoGuru, here on the Gold Coast. That’s where I found my passion for growth, technology and product. I grew a lot during my time at AutoGuru, I was given a tonne of autonomy to explore and solve business problems.

I then moved down to Sydney and joined Airtasker where I started off leading SEO. I then moved into a Growth Ops role and finally VP Growth Marketing. The marketing team grew from around 5 to 20 people during that time and as a result I was exposed to the art and science of scaling teams while needing to execute and get runs on the board in parallel.

Today I am leading Organic Growth at HealthMatch where we match patients to clinical trials. We’re on a mission to speed up the process of bringing life changing treatments to market.

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

  • 6am – Down to Tallebudgera creek for a swim with the dogs
  • 7am – Breakfast, coffee, respond to slack, check work and personal emails, have The Squiz podcast playing in the background (daily news)
  • 8am – Deep work for a couple of hours – exploring a new product idea and did some competitor research and market analysis
  • 10am – 3 back to back meetings for the next two hours
  • 12:00 – Mowed the lawn (find this oddly cathartic)
  • 12:30 – Have lunch
  • 1:00 – SEO deep dive session where my colleague and I pick a topic to explore… whether its a current problem, idea, or knowledge sharing
  • 2:00 – Threw the ball for the dogs, had a snack, New York Times mini crossword and Wordle (yes Wordle is so much better)
  • 2:30 to 4:30 – Preparation for quarterly planning the next day
  • 4:30 – 5:00 – Caught up on a few newsletter emails
  • 6:00 – Bouldering with my partner
  • 7:30 – Dinner
  • 8:30 – Writing confluence docs
  • 9:30 – Read a book for half an hour before bed

Perfect day.

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

I joined HealthMatch as the first fully remote employee and in the 4 months I’ve been at the company that number has grown to 4, which represents approx 10% of the company.

I would say I’ve actually readjusted my life to suit remote work. Being in the office really dictated what my work/life balance looked like and set the guardrails in terms of how I could utilise my day.

Now I can control my day and optimise my work hours and style of working to what best suits me.

One thing I’ve learnt is that I can multitask while working from home. For example when I worked in the office I would eat my breakfast, have a coffee and watch the news before I started my commute. This would consume 30-45 mins.

Now I can do the above while checking emails, looking at daily reports and responding to slack messages. Some tasks are classified as shallow work and don’t require deep thinking and it’s this type of work I can integrate into other activities.

I’d say the other part of remote work that fits into my routine, is that I am variety seeking by nature. I get bored sitting in one place and nature really stimulates me from an energy and motivation point of view.

I am truly blessed to live on the Gold Coast right near the beach, and I will often take my laptop down to the beach and do work, or find a funky coffee shop to work from. I also work at a co-working space 2 days a week which is great for building social connections.

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

My view of work life balance has changed a lot over the years. I was chatting to someone about this recently. When I first started at AutoGuru I was working incredibly long hours, I would be in the office at 8:30 (with a 45min commute) and quite often stay until 7pm.

I am a really motivated person so I did this by choice, but I was also starting my career and felt like I needed to overcompensate my lack of experience with execution. I don’t regret doing this because it opened a lot of doors for me and I was truly passionate about what I was doing.

As I hit 30 I started to value different things in life such as my health, mental wellbeing and made these more of a priority rather than an afterthought.

Prior to covid I was a ball of anxiety. While living in Sydney I would be up at 6am taking the dog for a walk then jump on a 7:30am ferry to the city. In the office at 8:30 and in meetings most of the day. Get off the ferry at around 6pm, head to the gym at 6:30pm then make dinner at 8pm. It was go-go-go for 14 hours straight with not a second of silence, or time to think. But this was the norm back then.

COVID then opened my eyes to the life I was living and how exhausting that routine was. I also have anxiety and found I was a lot less anxious during covid despite the chaos that was happening around us.

I then realised I could work hard, but maintain a balanced and healthy life, and remote would allow me to do that. I definitely don’t take it for granted and consider myself very lucky to be in the position I am.

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

  • No emails, slack or social media when I wake up, I would always check these first thing in the morning and it was sunk time and I felt flat rather than energised
  • Always start my day with some form of physical activity both to get my body moving and avoid cluttering my head with stimulus first thing in the morning
  • Embracing async communication – was really inspired by BaseCamps philosophy on this topic and have been incorporating async as much as possible
  • Super late to the party but I got an apple watch and make sure I close my activity and exercise rings every day
  • Change my work location whether its working from the backyard, the beach, a cafe or coworking space

Since moving back to the Gold Coast last year I’ve made a conscious effort to reach out to people for coffee as a way to get the social fix that I’m not getting in the office, as a result we’re getting a growth community set up here on the GC, and I’ve formed a lot of friendships 

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

  • TLDR crypto daily newsletter 
  • Lenny’s newsletter which discusses product, growth and scaling
  • What The Health newsletter which discusses updates in the HealthTech space
  • Steve Toth’s SEO Notebook newsletter
  • The a16z podcast
  • Quartz Obsession podcast
  • The Shit Show podcast
  • Continuous Discovery Habits by Teresa Torres
  • Product Led SEO by Eli Schwartz
  • Deep Work by Cal Newport
  • Atomic Habits by James Clear
  • Zero to One by Peter Thiel
  • Working Backwards by Bill Carr and Colin Bryar

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

  • Apple Watch for fitness tracking
  • I’ve started using an app called Ausum which delivers bite size news in audio form from a range of well known publications
  • Lucid is my new and only way of reading books, it’s an app that summarises books in visual form using infographics and highlights the key points

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

Ken Yarmosh publishes fantastic LinkedIn content on the topic of remote, hybrid and work-life balance. He advises global companies on how to scale remote, operations frameworks, productivity and collaboration with an async focus.

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

I would say finding the optimal balance does not come overnight, and just like growth I think it’s an experimentation process to find what works for your individual needs. Where you find energy and how you can funnel that into your work and personal life.

I’ve gone back to first principles and what motivates me in my personal life (maslow’s hierarchy of needs-esque), and making that my priority. I’ve found my work is benefiting as a result, I feel more energised, motivated and generally happier.

I’d also say taking ownership of social connections, and learning and development has been a game changer. I love going to Sydney and hanging out with my work team & doing virtual events, but building connections in my local community and talking through other people’s business problems is eye opening and gives me ideas to apply to work.

As you can tell I’m quite passionate about remote work, if anyone ever wants to chat and share their experiences hit me up.

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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.