Balancing the Grind with Hayk Hakobyan, Serial Entrepreneur & TEDx Speaker

Hayk Hakobyan is a serial entrepreneur and business expert specialising in innovation, behavioural sciences and emerging technologies.

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

I’m a serial entrepreneur (2x failures and 1x exit) and business expert specialising in innovation, behavioural sciences and emerging technologies.

Previously, I’ve held senior roles in digital transformations with HP, TAGOrg and Vonage in Europe, Africa and Asia. In 2019, I co-founded, the most comprehensive customer intelligence and risk assessment solution provider in Asia.

I’m also a regular speaker and previously spoke at TEDx (Egypt), Chaos Asia (Singapore) and Blockchain Economic Forum (Singapore and San Francisco), among others. You can find out more about me here.

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

First part of my day starts at around 7am when I normally wake up and start my day with a routine breathing exercise (Wim Hof Method) and creative visualisation (Jose Silva method – many studies confirmed the high impact of this).

I then start my day by looking at messages and emails, and sorting out which are important+urgent and which are just important or just urgent. If I have calls early in the morning – which I normally do – I take those calls and before 12pm try to clear out all important+urgent and urgent (but not necessarily very important) emails and related tasks. 

After those morning calls, my second part of the day starts with a cup of coffee, and I settle into a more steady, less urgent pace of going through important emails/meetings/tasks that normally include client, product, revenue and recruitment aspects. Until recently they also included fundraising which was taking 70%-80% of my day, especially as I was doing our fundraise while in London (our company is HQed in Singapore with clients in six Southeast Asian and two African countries). 

I normally have a To-Be-Done list constantly open in my Notes (difference of ‘To-Be-Done’ and ‘TODO’ lists is that the former isn’t one specific task nor it may have a specific deadline, and the latter might have both specific tasks but also items such as ‘work on new product roadmap’ which is an ongoing work).

Third part of my day is in the afternoon – by which time I have cleared or almost cleared my urgent and important things and can start to more proactively think/do, mostly related to partnerships, product strategy and recruitment. 

Also I skip lunches and breakfasts – I eat once a day in the evening – and hence no time lost or digestion-induced cognitive or physiological slow downs for me. Around 5pm or 6pm, I hit the gym for either a HIIT class or stretching and after a cold shower and a dinner, I am back to work from around 7pm or 8pm. 

If my wife is around – she travels a lot due to her work – we then spend a few hours together, relaxing, watching TV, talking. If she isn’t around, I continue working until 11pm or so. I finish my day with some non-fiction reading (compulsory), usually a biography or business related. Before I fall asleep, I do some journaling of the day and creative visualisation. Then the story repeats the next day.

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

For me that means spending time with loved ones, especially my wife. We are both extremely busy and engaged with our work day, but we make an effort to spend the last parts of the day together and have quality time with each other or our social circle during weekends.

For me personally, it also means I need to nourish my brain meaningfully every day, which means no crappy novels or just newspaper articles but quality books.

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

Yes, I started to regularly do Wim Hof Method for breathing, cold showers everyday and Jose Silva’s Ultramind method. I also went from eating 2x/day to eating 1x/day. 

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

Yes, I have a few, but just to quote more recent ones I can recommend (especially for entrepreneurs and businessmen):

  • Build by Tony Faddell 
  • Priceless by William Poundstone
  • Behind the Cloud by Marc Benioff
  • Shoe Dog by Phil Knight

I like/read Farnam Street and listen to podcasts on Secret Leaders.

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

Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos, as both built multiple successful businesses and products, so I constantly think of and would like to know how they do it.

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

I think the Western concept of work-life balance may be a little overhyped. If a person aims to build a business or product or is at the beginning stage of his/her career, it should be assumed and accepted by the husband – and the wife (boyfriend and girlfriend or partners) that at least for a period of 6-12 months there isn’t going to be a work-life balance.

Businesses, products and successful careers haven’t been built by people who thought to prioritise work-life balance, if I am being frank. Of course that being said, once you settle into the flow or reach a certain stage of your career/product/business, you need to start prioritising work-life balance not because it’s good-to-have but it’s a must-have, otherwise risking to go insane or incur some serious health problems.

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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.