Founders / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Elisse Alexander, Co-Founder at Ziinkle

Elisse Alexander is the co-founder at Ziinkle, an Australian dating app that is designed so singles can match and meet in real-life, in real-time.

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

I was always fascinated by technology and humanities growing up because my dad was an IT engineer, and my mum was an ancient history teacher.

I was a digital native by the age of 5. I would constantly take things apart and put them back together to understand how things worked and how they could be enhanced. I also grew up with a passion for learning about different cultures and social interactions between humans.

Because of this love of technology and humanities, I chose to do a Bachelor of Arts in Communications at the University of Technology Sydney. This led me to my first role as an Account Manager in a boutique brand agency. I led brand experiential campaigns for brands such as Huggies, Coca-Cola and NRMA.

I then moved over to Telstra to work in the Brand & Experiential Team. This role made me realise how passionate I was about bringing brands to life through technology. I was fortunate to develop several innovative platforms and apps over my four years at Telstra. Next, I moved over to the Telstra Thanks team to lead the marketing for our Movies, Art and Soccer portfolios.

I moved over to CommBank in 2017 and led the marketing for their Retail, Professional Services and Not-For-Profit industry verticals. In addition, I built their industry content program and worked on various sales enablement strategies to build brand trust and advocacy.

After my best friend went through a break-up, I realised how broken dating was. I was vicariously frustrated by her dating app experiences. I couldn’t understand why there was never anyone out at bars/clubs and how anyone could make a connection with a 2D photograph on an app.

I became obsessed with the problem and was determined to develop a solution for all singles, and that’s how Ziinkle was born. Ziinkle combines my two favourite things – technology and human social interaction. It’s designed so that singles can match and meet in real life, in real-time. We’re on a mission to help people find and nurture meaningful and organic romantic connections.

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

My day is a constant balancing act between mum and work life, especially now during the lockdown. My day starts when my son comes bouncing into my room at 7 am, so I’ll spend the next hour making breakfast/school lunches and getting him and myself ready. Then, after school drop off, I’ll do a 30minute workout and start my workday.

I’m not a morning person at all. I do my best creative thinking in the afternoon, so I will try to do admin tasks in the morning and anything relating to finance or our operations.

My husband and I always try to make time to have lunch together. Even if it’s only for 10minutes, it’s a small but significant act that we have found keeps our connection strong. 

After lunch, I’ll focus on any strategic/creative work tasks until 6 pm, when I go back into Mum mode (dinner, bath, reading time and bedtime routine). I then like to spend about 30-60 mins on my own decompressing. As an introvert, this is the most critical part of my day, particularly when I’ve had a lot of meetings. I then try to get a TV show in with my husband before bed.

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

Yes, we work flexibly and remotely at Ziinkle, which fits perfectly with my life and routine. As a working mum, I love having time during the day to prepare dinner if I need to, help with home-schooling/homework or put a load of washing on.

When you work in the corporate world, there is a lot of pressure to be constantly ‘visible’ and in the office. I didn’t enjoy this aspect of it. It caused me to feel a lot of guilt as a wife and a mother because I couldn’t spend the time I needed to with my family.

Now that I run my own business and have the freedom to work remotely and flexibly, my life is far better balanced. As a result, I’m a better co-founder/co-CEO and mum.

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

Work-life balance means being there for my family whilst still maintaining the high standard of co-CEO, colleague and worker I’ve come to expect from myself. To achieve this, I have a fantastic support network of family and friends around me.

For example, my grandmother cooks dinner for us once a week (and being Greek, the amount of food she cooks lasts for around three days), which takes some pressure off me. My husband is also essential to achieving a work-life balance. He helps with home-schooling/school pickups, prepping dinner, washing up, etc. This allows me more time to do what I need to do for my business without the ‘invisible load’.

I still need to be very organised, so I write a daily task list in the morning to keep me focused and on task, and I plan our meals for the week so I know what food needs to be prepped each day. 

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

I’ve made exercise a crucial part of my morning routine as that helps clear my mind for the day ahead. I’ve also stopped saying yes to everything. Instead of doing everything at once to keep people happy, I’ve put boundaries in place to protect my time.

I’m very selective about who I give my time and energy to, so I’ve cut out any negativity I previously had in my life. This allows me to focus on the things that matter instead of worrying about people or things that don’t have my best interests at heart.

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

I love all content from The Remarkable Women. Shivani and her team have many valuable insights, content and resources for women in business and the corporate world.

I love reading autobiographies, and my favourite book is Becoming by Michelle Obama. I love her candidness and vulnerability throughout the book. I’ve taken a lot of lessons and inspiration from her journey, both from a career and personal level.

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

I am a bit of a gadget geek, so it’s hard to narrow it down. I love my Google home, but I honestly couldn’t live without my Samsung smartwatch, which shows me my day when I wake up, makes me get up and move around and tracks my sleep.

I also love my smart water bottle – Botell. I don’t drink enough water during the day, so it flashes a light and sends a message to my phone to remind me to drink water.

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

Amal Clooney. She’s a wife, mum to twins, an activist, a human rights lawyer, and she always looks so glamorous.

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

As a working mum, I know first-hand how hard ‘mum-guilt’ can be on your mental health. It can affect your sleep, your mood and stops you from being present. Instead of being so hard on yourself, be true to your values.

Don’t be afraid to say no to things, cut out people that make you feel bad, and don’t be afraid to ask for help from your extended support network. And most importantly, don’t try to pressure yourself to be the ‘perfect’ mother. You already are in the eyes of your kids.

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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.