Balancing the Grind with Grant Shaddick, Co-Founder at Tella

In our latest interview, we feature Grant Shaddick, Co-Founder of Tella. Grant recounts his transition from the hospitality industry in Auckland to the tech startup scene in Amsterdam, eventually leading to the creation of Tella.

He opens up about his typical day, which includes early workouts and managing a remote team, and shares insights on how he strikes a balance between work and personal life.

Let’s start with your background! Can you share with us your career journey and what you’re currently up to?

I grew up and studied in Auckland, New Zealand. After university I worked a few odd jobs while I was figuring out what I really wanted to do. In 2015 I decided it was time to get out of New Zealand for a bit and head overseas.

I started looking for jobs in different parts of Europe — the only requirement I gave myself was that it couldn’t be the United Kingdom — that would be too easy! I ended up getting a job in Amsterdam at a startup called Bynder.

After a few years there I started working on a side-project with some colleagues called Kopie was a design collaboration app to help copywriters and designers work together in Sketch. We ended up selling it to InVision and joining the team there. It was at InVision that my cofounder, Michiel and I came up with the idea for Tella.

We quit InVision and joined Y Combinator in mid 2020 to work on Tella full time and that’s what I’m still doing today! Tella is a screen recorder that edits video for you. Our goal is to make it as easy as possible for entrepreneurs and business owners to create professional demos, tutorials, and online courses.

We’d love to know what a typical day is like for you. Could you describe a recent workday?

I try to get up around 7am and then get a quick workout in. I live next door to a huge gym which is handy but unusual in Amsterdam (normally all the gyms are tiny). The Tella team is fully remote so I work from home.

After breakfast I’ll head upstairs to my office to start the workday, usually around 8.30 or 9am. My apartment is on the first floor of the building, but the top floor has a bunch of storage units for the residents. I converted mine into an office. The workday usually begins with catching up on emails, customer support and other random small things.

Then we do our daily standup at 10am to make sure everyone is on the same page for the day. The rest of the day is split between my priorities for that day or week. Usually some combo of working with customers, design, marketing, hiring or fundraising. Workdays at an early stage startup can get pretty long, but I generally try to stop or have a decent break for dinner around 7 or 8pm.

Can you define work-life balance for yourself and share with us your approach in maintaining it?

To me it’s just about happiness and tweaking the “inputs” to that. Sometimes being happy means more work and less “life” and other times it’s the opposite. Outside of work I think one of the keys to being happy is feeling fulfilled by the things that you spend your time doing.

That could be sport or community work or hobbies… or just work. So as long as you’re getting that fulfilment and it’s also not at the detriment to other things that contribute to happiness (like health, and love and friends and family) then that’s work-life balance.

Change is constant, and it’s essential for growth. Have you made any lifestyle changes in the past year to improve your work-life balance?

I try to switch off more on the weekends. I’m also trying to become more of a morning person, so that I can also switch off more in the evenings.

Before we wrap up, do you have any final words of wisdom or insights on work, life, or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?

It’s always been helpful for me to think about balance or happiness as the result of fulfilment, health, social life (love, friends, family). Whenever I’ve felt unhappy or out of balance in the past it’s usually because one of those things has been neglected. Breaking it down like this means you can usually correct things quickly. It also means you can avoid falling out of balance when you know the things that contribute to it.

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.