Grace Petherick is founder & CEO at Age Up Health, an aged care provider offering a more flexible approach to in-home support.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
My background is primarily in service industries, I have worked in various countries around the world in venue management and tourism. I have also done some freelance work in marketing for some well-known Aussie brands.
I founded Age Up Health back in 2019 when my family had a terrible experience trying to get aged care support for my grandparents in their home. I was flabbergasted at the time that these huge Not For Profits were taking a huge slice of their government funding in fees but would take literally weeks to return their phone calls.
I knew I could do better, so I quit my job and poured my savings into starting my own company. Almost three years later we now can’t keep up with the demand for our personalised home care support.
As founder and CEO at Age Up it’s my job to keep us steered toward our true north. I try to spend the majority of my time working on the business rather than in it but of course that’s easier said than done, especially as I know most of our clients personally after being our front line sales person for a couple of years.
The reality of my days are that they are largely unpredictable; I could be doing anything from speaking at public events to answering phones within the same morning.
2) What does a day in your life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
A typical day for me starts around 7am when I wake up. I like to be in a café drinking my first coffee and doing some focus work by 7.30 and then around 9.00 I usually enjoy a 20 minute walk to the office and listen to a podcast or audiobook.
Once I’m in the office I eat some brekky and catch up with individual team members via Slack or face to face and respond to any urgent requests. My calendar is almost always jammed with meetings but I try to get at least 15 minutes between them to respond to things on Slack or urgent emails and phone calls that come in.
If I have a gap of 30 minutes or more I will jump into some focus work. Some days I spend my day out on the road onboarding new clients in their homes, so those days I take my meetings in the car and drink a little more coffee than usual!
At 5pm I work out with my personal trainer or go for a run, and this helps me to reset for a couple more hours of focus work in the evenings. My partner and I both have start-ups so dinner is always a chance for us to come together and debrief on our days.
Before I go to bed I organise my to-do list for the following day and respond to semi-urgent emails from the day (non-urgent emails get relegated to Saturday mornings!) I am in bed by 10pm at the latest – sleep is my secret weapon!
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
Absolutely. Age Up was forged in the very early days of the pandemic and so flexible and remote working is just the way we do things. We have team members across three states so we have embraced remote working and will continue to do so into the future.
We also have unlimited paid leave for our permanent staff, which people find mind-boggling but which is my absolute favourite thing. It means you can be super productive and work hard, then unwind regularly on ski trips or gourmet foodie tours or whatever you are into.
I believe that work should be a part of your life, not the centre of your life, and even though I can’t personally achieve that yet as a founder in an early stage company I can at least get close to it with our flexible work culture.
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
As a founder of a fast-growing start-up my definition of work-life balance is somewhat different to the commonly accepted one.
I accept that 70-80 hours of every week will probably be spent working, and the other 20 or so waking hours will likely be spent thinking about work, so balance for me is about making time to engage in the type of work and strategic thinking that energises me.
I get drained by the day-to-day ‘to-dos’ so zooming out regularly and working on interesting projects and ideas is a must for my wellbeing. I also fit in audiobooks and podcasts wherever I can – if I ever have downtime I spend it listening to audio and stepping into another world temporarily.
5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
Yes I stopped drinking on weeknights – a glass of wine to wind down after work interrupts my sleep and puts me a little off balance the next day so I save the pinot’s for weekends now. I also stopped responding to all my emails every day.
This is just an impossible task and not a good use of time, if it’s important I will respond within 7 days and if it’s not important it’s not worth responding to!
6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
There are so many. If I had to recommend one beloved podcast it would be No Such Thing As A Fish. I hang out for this podcast every week – so nerdy and funny. I also buy all new team members a copy of Measure What Matters by John Doerr.
It’s not that I think this is the world’s best operating system or anything, but I like my team to be on the same page about the importance of focus and this book puts that into context well.
7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?
Strangely enough for a tech founder I have never been a gadgets person. I have always been a laggard when it comes to adopting new technologies and I hate having screens around me more than is necessary.
In saying that, I have come to love some of our remote working tools like the Meeting Owl, which is a special camera that helps people dialling into meetings feel more like they are in the room. I also love my wireless headphones which I only recently discovered when my partner gave me a pair – what a revelation not to have to untangle headphones anymore!!
8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
Former CEO of PepsiCo Indra Nooyi – I remember when I was a teenager agonising about my identity as a woman in the world, my Mum gave her as an example of a woman who ‘had it all’ – meaning a family and a career. To this day I still see her as an inspirational figure in the world of business – she’s a total ass kicker!
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
I think that the idea of achieving a “balance” can be misleading – there is no real balance, there’s only trade-offs, so you have to know what’s important to you and actively make the space in your life to prioritise those things. Similarly, you have to let go of the things that aren’t a priority because you just cannot do it all.
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