Hunter Jay is the founder & CEO at Ripe Robotics, a company developing robots to automate the harvesting of apples, oranges, and stone fruit.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
Sure, my name is Hunter Jay, I am the CEO of Ripe Robotics. My background is in software engineering – particularly A.I. – and I have been doing largely technical work at Ripe since founding it in mid 2019!
2) What does a day in your life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
It’s pretty straight-forward. I spend each morning doing meetings – updates for investors, strategy discussions with the team, hiring interviews, one-on-one review sessions with employees, and so on.
I also go through and answer all of the emails that have accumulated since the previous day, which is usually stuff like giving details for events, introductions for future meetings, sorting out invoices, and that sort of thing. Put together, that would usually take maybe three or four hours per day.
After lunch, I get to sit down and get into deeper work – solving a problem like “How can we get this particular piece of the system to work better?”, which could involve all sorts of things – 3D modelling, programming, physically assembling stuff, calling people who might have ideas, and so on.
A recent example of that was an issue we were having with our silicone suction tube tearing something, which was solved by designing and printing a new tool which can be used to easily dull the sharp plastic edges that the silicone was rubbing against.
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
Ripe works in cycles that are six weeks remote and two weeks on site. This lets us integrate and test our work in person, and with the physical machinery there, when we deploy upgrades. It also gives everybody the flexibility to work from wherever they want – rather than having to come live in regional Victoria!
Personally, I live on site permanently, which I actually really like. I get to keep going during lockdowns (because I live here!), I have no commute, and I work a lot more effectively.
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
I am trying to maximise my productivity – I care extremely deeply about the long term future, and I want to take the sequence of actions that make it most likely that humanity can capture all of the resources in our lightcone and apply them to maximise morality.
So, to that end, there isn’t really a distinction between work and not-work, except for optics. I take time to socialise, sleep, and relax because I think that helps my total productivity increase – at least that’s how I justify it to myself. I know that when I don’t sleep enough, or do the same kind of work for too long, my productivity goes down. Friends are helpful too.
5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
I had trouble forcing myself into a set sleep schedule, so I scheduled all of my meetings to start at the exact same time everyday as an external motivation to get into something consistent (which worked!).
I also started getting microwave meals delivered, rather than cooking every week (I still cook once a month, when I feel like it). This has helped improve my diet and save a tonne of time on cooking and washing up.
Oh, and I started following these 15 minute exercise videos in a routine each evening, which seems to be working so far. Minimum effort fitness!
6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman! is a brilliant book! Also rationalist fiction like The Metropolitan Man – a fanfic told from the perspective of Lex Luther trying to deal with the terrifying existential threat that is Superman – is fantastic and educational. A good audio version is available on the hpmor podcast.
7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?
Fast computers and fast internet is essential. I recently got Starlink internet here in the country, which is great.
8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
Elon Musk – does he even have a balance?
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
When you are working to trade off one hour for $20 so that you can eat, work sucks. It’s the most frustrating thing in the world. If you can manage to work for a larger, longer term purpose (that you would have done even without a salary), it’s so much easier!
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