Balancing the Grind with Glenn Yee, Managing Director at Robot My Life

Glenn Yee is the Managing Director at Robot My Life, a premium service and product business focused on robotic products and accessories for the home and business.

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

I have had a very unconventional career path, that has seen me transition from Military to Martial Arts instructor to Management Consulting to Executive Management. It has not been a linear path, but the resilience and mental fortitude I developed as a child has enabled me to deal with failure and to keep pushing until I succeed. 

My journey was not planned or some odd rebellious outcome of teenage years, but rather an outcome of being bullied for being half Asian. Racism was alive and strong in the 80’s and 90’s in Melbourne. I even tried to change high schools and the principal said I wouldn’t fit as I looked Asian. 

When you live in fear of being beaten up each day of your school life you only want one thing, to defend yourself. My daily norm was being called racist slurs, shoved into lockers, being punched or threatened. It had eased by year 11 and 12, but the damage was already done. Being half Asian you never really fit in anywhere, not the Asian side, not the Anglo Saxon side.

So, my first career involved military training, martial arts, bouncing and bodyguard work. Trying to prove to the world that I was strong and able to defend myself, but in reality, it was the fallout of my childhood years impacting my adult life.

Whilst teaching martial arts, I was fortunate enough to have had a friend that worked for McKinsey & Company, who inspired me to study and focus upon becoming a management consultant. It was a turning point in my life that helped me focus upon specifically what I really loved, business, rather than what I feared.

This change in career enabled me to work with some of the biggest franchise brands in the country working for DC Strategy and PwC. More importantly it enabled me to correlate the hallmark signs of a successful fast growth network. 

Working in advisory is a great experience, but it is theoretical, the key to any business success is execution, not theory.

My next role was another turning point in my life, as it was my first role as General Manager for a large business, that business was Jetts Fitness. My first role was to restructure their company clubs, grow the network and improve profitability. Within two years I had restructured the culture, systems and built a team of 60+ across three states. This led to a promotion and a job mandate that was a career highlight.

Whilst finalizing my EMBA I was promoted to Director of Asia and a mandate to identify which country to enter and why. It was critical as the initial venture into Europe had not been the success they hoped it would be.

I spent nearly 2 years completing on the ground research in 12 different countries, with my conclusion being Thailand as the right country. I found country partners and executed the roll out in Thailand, opening two clubs before Jetts was sold to Quadrant Private Equity. Today Jetts has more than 20 clubs in Thailand.

Post-Jetts I continued to find roles that required someone to help restructure and grow a brand in foreign markets. This had seen me in various roles such as COO for KX working in Indonesia and Back In Motion Health Group working throughout New Zealand.

A myriad of events occurred that led me to where I am today. Despite a successful career, there was always void and a burning desire to be the best I can be. Several people whom I respected said, ‘Why aren’t you building your own business?’ It was a valid point, I had spent a decade either rebuilding business units or starting new business units for founders. 

At the same time, I was wondering how to make my life easier. Our family lives on an acreage and home maintenance seems to be every weekend. So, with lots of research, I discovered home robotics that made my life easier, now it was time to make all Australian lives easier, hence Robot My Life was born.

Today I am the Managing Director of Robot My Life. We distribute a range of home robotics products to make people’s lives easier and we have our own robot mower product line called MoeBot.

It has been a wild journey to get to where I am, but I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for all of the good and bad experiences life has afforded me.

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

I get up around 6.30am, I have some water, coffee and breakfast. I spend the first 30 minutes reading the world news, I then check emails and final sales for the day before. Like many business owners, I’m consumed by thousands of swirling thoughts a day. 

To centre myself, I complete a daily journal in the morning focusing upon:

  • What I did that day before
  • What I learned
  • What I did for health
  • What I’m grateful for 
  • What I will achieve today

I find this clears my head, provides me with perspective and enables me to plan my day well.

I always have a daily list of 30 things to do, clearly the person who said 3-4 tasks per day was not a business owner. I start my day trying to focus upon the big rocks that are preventing revenue generation and momentum, really a process of triage. 

I have a team that I work with that are specialists in their respective areas. I find my best daily contribution is guidance and direction, as I know our customer type better than anyone, my best contribution is not grinding out every bit of work that needs to be done. My team has skills and abilities that are better than mine, which is what a team is all about.

My days are long, I’ll often switch off around 6pm, make dinner, go for a walk, watch some Netflix then do some more work before bed (around 12.30am). However, my passion has always been centered around business, so my working hours are a mix of enjoyment and the challenges of business, akin to mixing your job with a hobby. 

I see life as one big collective, not segmented. 

Weekends I often spend outside maintaining the property, which I find great to switch off and think of something else. When I can, I also love to jump on the mountain bike and zip through the forest. Again, all you think about when mountain biking is riding, if you don’t you come off, a great way to clear the head.

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

During my corporate career I was often on the move travelling the world, so I was either working on a plane, at a lounge, in a café, in a hotel or at my home office. I had always found that working away from an office was far more productive, as you can focus on a task without office banter, random interruptions and a plethora of unnecessary meetings. 

We have a key mission at Robot My Life, to make life easier. Part of making life easier is where you work. Forcing team members to drive to a central location, dress a particular way, clock off and drive home doesn’t increase productivity. In many circumstances it impacts team members lives and makes life harder, especially with housing affordability forcing people to live further from the CBD.

So, I spend much of my office time working from home, which increases my productivity as I do not have to travel unnecessarily. If needed I can chat with team members via the phone or Zoom. There are also times when I’m working from the factory, which is often dictated by shipments arriving which is quite frequent. 

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

Like many businesses owners I am guilty of working long hours every week. I would work on average 60 hours per week, from an external perspective this may seem unbalanced.

I believe work life balance is dependent on the individuals needs and wants. My motivational driver is success in business, I love smashing goals and my work life and personal life are intertwined. So, it is not a burden to work long hours, as I love what I do.

But, anyone can risk burning the candle at both ends. Walking most evenings with my wife and dogs helps me switch off and consolidate thoughts. Weekends I’m more akin to a landscape gardener, but it helps me maintain physical and mental health.

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

I have reduced alcohol consumption this year. I for one had seen a rise in my consumption during the Melbourne lockdown which is not good for clear thinking and long-term health. 

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

Great by Choice by Jim Collins is a fantastic read. The key take out of planning, test and measure is something that can be lost in the daily grind. 

Another favorite book is Megachange: The World in 2050 released by The Economist. There is no doubt the world is on the precipice of change with global superpowers and technology.

This book provides insights to what the future may look like, which is thought provoking. Often business leaders focus upon historical numbers, rather than possible future scenarios and their impact upon the business. 

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

I’m lucky, Robot My Life is the ultimate gadget business. But, the one gadget I cannot live without is my MoeBot! I save so much time not having to mow my lawns.

Plus, there is something pleasing about waking up and seeing freshly cut lawn (MoeBot being so quiet I often mow overnight). My MoeBot saves me 40 hours per year, being able to convert that 40 hours into business or personal activities is amazing!

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

Ruslan Kogan, he has done an amazing job of taking on some e-commerce giants and challenging the status quo. I wonder if his daily grind is more relaxed now, or still consumed by his business. 

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

My ultimate end game is when I retire and how I spend those years, retiring at 70 does not seem like a great age to enjoy the world.

So, I try to approach work life balance from a long-term perspective. If I enjoy what I do whilst working hard, I can hopefully reduce the age I retire at, enabling me to enjoy a more energetic and fun retirement with my wife.

To place life into perspective, try this. Calculate the number of years until you turn 82 (average lifespan for an Australian), then multiply that by number 365 (days in the year), then ask yourself the question, how do you want to spend the years you have left? 

Personally, I want to enjoy each day and make life easier. 

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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.