CEOs / Founders / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Gary Zurnamer, Co-Founder & CEO at Vouch

Gary Zurnamer is the co-founder & CEO at Vouch, a Q&A platform that enables teams to collect, edit and share authentic videos with a single link.

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

The path to founding Vouch wasn’t straight forward, but looking back, it’s easy to see how the dots connect. 

My first proper job was at the NRL in the digital marketing team. A dream for a footy fan and marketing and sports management grad! I then headed to The Iconic as employee #30, before moving to London to work at some great independent creative agencies.

I fell into SaaS/software with Stackla who were scaling their team globally and was with them for five years in London and NYC, before heading home to Sydney to join Canva.

Each of these roles had a few common themes: video, high-quality brands, top-tier software products and uncomfortably fast growth. I guess if you put that together, it’s a perfect equation for what we’re trying to achieve at Vouch. 

It was a tough call to leave Canva, but the pull to start Vouch alongside my co-founder, David Stirk was too strong. We launched in March 2021 and officially went live in July. We’ve since added 14 wonderful people to the team and now work with 1500+ global teams, including Culture Amp, Canva and Dropbox.

Our vision is that whether you’re in marketing, recruitment, sales enablement or comms, you can use Vouch to easily collect, edit and share authentic video.

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

I (somewhat reluctantly) wake up at 5:30am and catch up on any Slacks, emails or support requests that have come through overnight. Ideally I wouldn’t grab my phone first thing, and realise that’s not the best start to an interview on balance, but it’s just how it is right now. 

I’ll then make a quick coffee and head to the gym for a 6:45am session. I really need to get that exercise box ticked before the day starts.

Post-training, my mornings are usually a mix of customer calls, team meetings and lots of human interaction. I’m sure there’s a study that says otherwise, but the morning feels like the best time to get this type of work done before lunch and spending the afternoon on admin, writing and follow-ups.

From 6pm – 8pm I try to decompress a little. Tennis with mates, a walk, spending time with my wife, or all of the above. It’s a time for me to wind down and be present, so I try to honour it. I usually get back online at 8:30pm for a couple of hours, but aim to be asleep by 10:30pm. I’m not someone who can run on minimal sleep. However, we’re expecting our first child in July, so expect this wonderfully regimented structure to change when he arrives!

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

We’re an outcome-driven company and fully support a flexible, hybrid working model. Lots of people in our team have young families and we want to support them with that balancing act. Everyone at Vouch chooses when they’re online and when they’re in the office. 

I personally tend to feel more energised around the team and get things done faster face-to-face, so I head into our Darlinghurst office four times a week. I keep Thursday reserved for deep work at home and try to slow down my whole routine on that day, swapping my workout for a walk and using that time to focus.

I’ve found that having a day to break up a high-frequency week can inspire more creative, strategic thinking.

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

Most of us are working in roles where it doesn’t all kick off at 9am and end at 5pm, and few of us have a ‘work’ and ‘home’ version of ourselves. I think balance only comes from accepting it’s all inter-related and finding moments in your day that energise you. Not flicking the off switch at 5pm.

Many of our team will train during the day or spend time with their kids after school. Work gets done in windows that suit them and there’s no guilt. We think this is the best way of helping them achieve the elusive ‘balance’. 

For me, those moments in the morning and evening are enough to feel in sync. But it’s a constantly moving target to be aware of and adjust around. 

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

I’ve tried to cut down my booze intake recently. I felt like drinking during the week wasn’t sitting right, so I did dry January to kick off the change.

Sitting at the pub with a soda water stinks, so discovering non-alcoholic beer Heaps Normal definitely helped (shout out to them!). I’ve also restarted intermittent fasting. Monstrous cliché I know, but it helps to keep me focused.

Meditation is unfortunately something that I’ve stopped due to being so busy. I reckon it’s had a negative impact, I need to start again.

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

For a book and a newsletter, James Clear’s are excellent. His book Atomic Habits helped me see how big goals are driven by seemingly small changes and his 3-2-1 newsletter is always on point and well-written.  

I don’t have a podcast recommendation because I’m listening exclusively to podcasts about my football team, Aston Villa. They are always on the cusp of an upwards trajectory, until they inevitably return to the median of being very, very average.

It’s miserable to follow them so I like to wind down by sinking into that pain a little more. There’s something so soothing about listening to a Birmingham accent complain for 45 minutes. Potentially a little niche for this audience.

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

There is a fasting app that I use called Zero which helps keep you on track and sends you reminders when you can eat. Always helpful.

I also like to go down rabbit-holes on Reddit. I think it’s one of the most underrated websites for product research, interesting discussions on movies, or other topics. I recently went looking for pram reviews and emerged hours later with an extensive list of pros and cons for each model from wonderful strangers on the internet.

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

Without a doubt, it would be our Head of Marketing, Liz. She’s a mum of three and has built an incredible career while raising a family – all with radiant positivity. That combo of focus and drive, balanced with being present for your family, is something I’d love to learn.  

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

One of the metaphors on balance that most resonated was the four burners theory. If you imagine your life is four burners on a gas stove, with each representing family, friends, health and work, the theory suggests you can’t have all four on full blast. You don’t have the energy to maintain them all at once, so you have to turn at least one burner down to focus on the others. 

It’s a great visual cue and good reminder that we all get to control which ones we dial up and dial down and when. 

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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.