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Balancing the Grind with Gerardo Rodriguez, Co-Founder, COO & Head of Product at fethr

Gerardo Rodriguez is the co-founder, COO and Head of Product at fethr, an app for making more meaningful connections.

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

I am COO and Head of Product at Fethr, an app for making more meaningful connections. It’s a broad role that blends everything from operations, to marketing, and of course product design and development.

I’ve spent a large part of my career in large organisations but have also spent a lot of time in and around start-ups. I knew for a long time that entrepreneurship and the start-up ecosystem was where I belonged, as I found the most growth and joy here.

Before co-founding Fethr, I operated my own analytics and research consultancy – Data Catalyst, and prior to that I was a senior leader in analytics and research at both Qantas and Commonwealth Bank in Sydney.

I consider myself a generalist, and much of my career background can be summarised as being the go-to person to help understand, synthesise, communicate, and build large scale changes in organisations. 

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

My days are never really the same, so I try to keep a couple of things consistent no matter what. 

I’m a night owl so my days start around 7:30am with a walk, a visit to my local independent coffee shop, and a solid breakfast loaded with eggs and greens. 

I typically log on to work around 8:30am each day. My remits cover several areas from operations to marketing, to product, so a recent workday looked like;

  • Dial into my daily stand-up with my Developer and UX/UI team members
  • Speak with my co-founders in our strategic planning session, ensuring priorities are aligned
  • Join an advisory call for a business that I have recently become a board member
  • Review a marketing plan and release for a new partnership

Throughout the day I make sure I meditate and also exercise, whether that be strength training, spin, HIIT or yoga. And the day ends with a good meal, some admin, planning, and then something that disconnects me from the day, whether that be Duolingo or something on Netflix.

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

We started this business remotely and scaled it from Sydney to London, growing our workforce across 5 countries. As a result we’ve maintained a 100% flexible arrangement in our London office given we have demonstrated that it’s possible to work remotely and remain productive.

The ability to work flexibly, and the general openness and acceptance of this by companies, albeit accelerated due to COVID, is an important step in recognising that different people need different solutions to be most effective at work, not to mention happy in every facet of their lives. 

Prior to Fethr, I worked 5 years remotely or in a hybrid set-up. This afforded me the time to pursue travel which is another passion of mine, however I always ensured that I went into the office at least 2 days a week. This is something I’ve maintained in my work life at Fethr so that I can collaborate with the team and meet advisors, investors and partners.

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

When I think about work life balance a few words come to mind; freedom, fulfilment, equity, happiness. But, without exception, it is a goal that’s always in constant motion.

I’ve often thought of work life balance as something binary – either ‘balanced’ or ‘imbalanced’. Rather unsurprisingly I often found myself feeling more imbalanced given I wasn’t channelling my energy into goals or actions that would make me feel centred.

The first thing I did was stop thinking about work-life balance as a 50/50 split and instead ensured that I always focussed on a goal or action that aligned to one of my passions. 

The second thing I changed was my perspective on how I viewed success on any given day. I used to think that unless I were able to dedicate equal amounts of time to work as well as those things I loved outside of work, that somehow I was a failure. 

So on any given day I ensure that I work, but also do things I care about – exercise, meditate, think creatively, eat well and sleep well.

It is important to take the busy moments with the slow ones and aim to average out at some level of balance for our own mental wellbeing. 

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

I have recently reintroduced meditation and yoga into my routine. Both tend to ground me, and each helps me to think clearly and with intention each day. 

I’ve also put more emphasis on ensuring I get a good night’s sleep – for years I would power through the day on minimal rest only to find myself crashing after several weeks of working myself to the bone without rest or reprieve. My productivity has gone through the roof since making this change!

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

My go-to podcast is TED Talks daily, whilst my go to newsletters are TechCrunch, which keeps me connected to the ins and outs of the tech ecosystem, as well as Out in Tech which keeps me in the loop with LGBT+ developments in the technology sector.

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

Gadget – Apple Watch, despite loving all of my classic timepieces, I absolutely adore my Apple watch when it comes to exercise, yoga, and keeping myself accountable alongside my friends.

Apps – Spotify, Duolingo, News. 

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

No one has all the answers, we’re all individuals and the best person to learn about work-life balance from is yourself. On that basis I struggle to think of someone I’d think better placed than myself to guide me on a path towards balance. We all know what must be done to amplify our inner voice when it feels neglected. 

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

You cannot achieve balance unless you’re doing what you love, only then can you be content with dedicating at times unequal amounts of energy to either work or the things you love outside of work.

Our deepest desire is to search for meaning and purpose that should apply to all parts of our lives.

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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.