CEOs / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Geoff McQueen, Founder & CEO at Accelo

Geoff McQueen is an Australian technology entrepreneur based in San Francisco and Denver, and the founder & CEO of cloud-based ServOps software company Accelo.

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

I dropped out of University (or college as the Americans would say) to start a digital agency, Internetrix, in 2000.

Over the next 10 years I built it up to a couple of dozen staff and clients from small businesses to the Department of Prime Minister & Cabinet.

In the process of building the agency I realized how hard it was to run a growing professional service business – where no two clients, projects or team members are the same – and wondered whether technology could help. Turns out it was more than helpful – it was essential.

From that experience I joined forces with three colleagues and friends and we co-founded what is now Accelo to take our hard-won experiences and our passion and talent for technology to build a SaaS product to run all of the client work in a service business, from quote to cash, in one easy to use, affordable and automated system.  

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

I’m usually up by 5:15am and go for a 20km bike ride in my local area, usually listening to a podcast, a recording of something my team has presented recently or thinking about how to solve a specific challenge/problem (stopping occasionally to dictate a note to my phone).

I then get home in time to get my 2.5 year old daughter up and ready for the day, before getting into my work around 8:30am.

My days vary a lot, from being back to back in Zoom calls (with team members from Toronto to Seoul, with most folks in Denver, San Francisco and Wollongong, there’s a lot of timezones to cover) to blocking out collaborative sessions for three hours at a time through to blocking out half a day for deep planning/research/review work.

I tend to be back on family time duty around 5:30pm and will often get back into some work (given timezones, often calls with Australia) from 8pm and then try and be done for the day by 11pm.

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

The pandemic has forced this on almost all of us; not being able to travel to our other offices has meant less time on the road so more consistency with exercise/family time while also spending more time working than I was pre-pandemic. 

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

It means sustainability. I love what I do and it is (for now) my life’s mission – I don’t buy into the dichotomy that there is “work” and then separately and in opposition there is “life”.

I think that view is a false proposition promulgated by people who aren’t aligned to the purpose and mission of their work (which is unfortunately a lot of people). But I also don’t buy into the workaholic mindset of having your life being defined by your work or using work as an excuse not to address non-work issues in your life (outside of those crunch periods around deadlines).

When I think about balancing the competing demands, I think about it in terms of sustainability – not neglecting work, not neglecting relationships, not neglecting physical and mental health.

There’s never enough hours in the day, so then it becomes about tradeoffs to maximize sustainability across the board.

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

I did “Dry July” because I wanted to get in better shape, and have since continued with a “no alcohol on school nights” policy which has me feeling better with more energy and less excess weight. 

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

Start with Why by Simon Sinek. Get that right, and work life balance will stop being a term that people use (instead replaced by sustainability across 4+ axis tradeoff set) 

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

For a long time my smartphone (Google Pixel), and more recently Zoom. I also couldn’t run Accelo the business without Accelo the product.

It is transformative for anyone running a business to finally have a system to run it with (and if you don’t have one, you’re the system and that’s why you can’t take time off and why things keep going wrong when you’re not paying attention) 

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

Someone who makes the case why work-life balance is a false dichotomy. 

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

Life is a marathon, not a sprint. You – the person – are not defined by your work or its success or failure. People who succeed are most commonly beneficiaries of things they don’t control and aren’t responsible for, as are those who experience failure.

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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.