CEOs / Founders / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Fiona McKinnon, Co-Founder & CEO at The Moment Company

Fiona McKinnon is the co-founder & CEO at The Moment Company, a company on a mission to raise awareness and increase access to the benefits of short mind breaks.

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

I am the CEO and Co-Founder of Moment Company, based in the UK.

My career background is in the AdTech and Media industry.  For 20 years I lived, worked and travelled around the world as an executive for brands such as The Guardian and Warner Media. 

It sounded glamorous, but I was burnt out!  I suffered from severe adrenal fatigue as my body responded to the late nights, early mornings and constant travel. 

As a result of enforced rest and lifestyle change,  I started to be curious about the connection between my mind, stress and my body’s reaction to what had happened to me.

I explored work by Abraham Hicks, Marianne Williamson & Shawn Achor and learnt Transcendental Meditation.  The cumulative effects of small changes in my routine and mindset over time were life changing. 

It is this appreciation of the benefits of learning simple mindful practises that led me to join Alex and Charlie at the Moment Company and to deliver on our shared vision to make mindfulness, breathwork and meditation accessible to everyone, in just a Moment. 

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

COVID restrictions are beginning to ease in the UK which is making the best part of my role come to life again, meeting people face to face.  

I recently travelled into London, had a few hours together with my co-founders, a rare treat, to talk about our new courses launching this month, the logistics for a wellness event we are attending next month, and to simply spend time together. 

In the evening I attended a networking event hosted by the Scottish Business Network. It was great to connect with people again and to explore new opportunities, something just not possible when working from home.

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

Like most people around the work, we are working remotely and my office is at home. I previously spent 4 hours a day commuting to get from my home on the beach into London.

It is fair to say that I do not miss train life and find the flexibility of spending time at home much better for my mental health.

I am a morning person, so I use my commuter time to meditate, do some yoga, swim in the sea or say hello to friends over a coffee, all before 9am.  This to me is a true luxury I do not take for granted. 

I also enjoy being able to cook during the day which has really changed when and what I eat.  I now eat more intuitively rather than to prescribed collective office meal times and I feel better for it. 

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

In my opinion, ‘balance’ is an overused and misunderstood concept. Life is full of ups and downs, expecting a flat sea at all times is unrealistic and perhaps even uninspiring. 

Balance to me means appreciating the highs and lows, feeling what I need to feel as circumstances change.

It means continuing to be curious and open minded as to what makes me feel good in those moments, and what I need to do to be able to maintain positive health habits.  I am willing to try most things at least once!

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

My daily routine is always evolving.  I practise transcendental meditation every morning followed by a Mel Robbins technique where I give myself a bathroom mirror high 5!  Then it’s hot water and lemon before the first coffee of the day.  I am 3 years sober, which goes without saying has changed my life, but I can’t kick the caffeine. 

I take regular short breaks throughout the day, taking 5 rounds of deep breathing with my Moment Pebble between Zoom calls. 

At night I journal and it is a routine that I never miss.  For 10 years I travelled when I travelled.  I found being up in the air, suspended in time and space, the perfect reflection time.  I would carry a notebook with me everywhere I went and found it very therapeutic. 

This went to a new level in 2020 when my Dad was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumour, and I moved home with my sister and Mum to care for him 24/7. 

I found writing a great source of comfort and strength.  No matter how tired I was, every night I would write, ‘I am grateful for….’ and reframe my day from a place of gratitude.  Even on the most challenging days I was able to see things through a positive lens.  For example I would write,  I am grateful for the nurses that came to look after Dad today, for our time together and for cooking dinner for my family. 

It is impossible to feel sad and angry at the same time you show gratitude, so when I look back on 2020 I have a perspective that comes from a place of appreciation. 

This simple habit is life changing. 

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

I have many!  I listen to a mix of sports, business, music and wellness podcasts. 

I am an F1 fan and listen to ‘Beyond the Grid’ with Tom Clarkson, ‘High Performance’ with Jake Humphreys and balance it with Ferne Cotton’s ‘Happy Place’ and BBC Radio 4 Desert Island Discs. 

A lovely book I discovered this year was Into the Magic Shop  by Dr James Doty. It is a beautifully written reminder of what’s important in life and has practical tips for living more mindfully. 

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

My Moment Pebble is with me everywhere I go. Just seeing it is a good reminder to take a break. 

I don’t use a lot of apps, but as I have friends and family all over the world I would be lost without WhatsApp and group chats! 

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

You already have so many inspiring people on the site. 

Someone who I greatly admire and who brings together my love of F1, fitness, business, style, and being Scottish, is Susie Wolff.  

She is one of a very few number of female drivers to take part in a F1 race weekend, she is team principal at the Formula E team Venturi, she is married to Toto Wolff (the, team principal at Mercedes AMG F1), a mother and the founder of non for profit organisation Dare to be Different which encourages girls in the UK into motorsport and STEM subjects.  Susie does all of this while looking cool, calm, strong and fabulous – I want to know how she does it! 

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

My final thoughts would be to maintain an open mind, be curious.  Sometimes it’s the things that make us feel uncomfortable and challenge us that are the things that make us grow the most.   

Small changes build up over time, by making small adjustments to your routine you can achieve long lasting lifetime benefits. 

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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.