Ian Chong is the co-founder & CEO of OSbiome, a personalised digital health company, combining gut microbiome technology and AI to provide bespoke nutrition and lifestyle recommendations.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
My background has always revolved around technology and the startup scene.
Prior to becoming a founder, I spent some time in a boutique VC prior to bridging the gap between startups and corporates during the wave of corporate innovation. Since then I’ve founded and exited 2 companies, the latter being a company providing alternative foods to the health and wellness sector.
I’m currently the co-founder and CEO of OSbiome, generating precise health recommendations based on one’s unique microbiome DNA. My partner is Dr. Maria Corliano, who has a PhD in microbiology and specialises in the microbiome field.
2) What does a day in your life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
I divide the day into half, before and after lunch. I typically start at 9AM, and in the AM, I allocate this time to get actual execution work done – from setting up new campaigns or optimising existing ones to setting up partnerships and building investor relations.
In the PM, I will allocate the time for meetings and calls. Day ends for me as much as possible at 6PM where I’ll head to dinner with my wife and take our evening walks to decompress and review the day prior and ahead. Sometimes we do have to take calls in the night but that’s between 8-11PM after family time, as we have to converse with parties in other timezones.
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
For most of the time, yes, remote working is pretty much forced upon us for covid. Currently we do have an office but it’s predominantly used for storage and logistics, most of the team works remotely from home.
Actually, I started my professional work life working remotely, so that’s the norm for me personally. It fits very well with my life and routine because it allows me to shift my time around and determine the day’s flow based on my body response that day.
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
Work-life balance to me just means different aspects of my life are not being over neglected. It’s not an end state but an ongoing process regardless of remote/physical, working during the day/night. For example, I don’t mind working nights if that means I’m not sacrificing family time or over exerting my body.
The first step for me is to set up a structure or framework as I mentioned above. But thereafter it’ll be a constant habit of reflecting if the different areas of my life are getting the attention they need or are changes needed.
Lastly, planning for what’s coming ahead as much as possible is essential, so the entire approach is controlled and not reactive. (e.g. preparing the other areas of my life when a product launch is coming)
5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
I’ve started dividing my day into halves after noticing that my performance lull period comes after lunch, until about 4-5pm. Hence I plan meetings and calls where it’s mostly interaction and active rather heavy work that requires a lot of focus and thinking.
I also started to take more frequent walks (daily if possible) with my wife in the evenings in parks because I realised that it decompresses me and stimulates new ideas. I also converted to a standing desk, and alternate the positions to serve as mental (or physical) checkpoints between tasks.
6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
I’m a podcast guy because I can listen to them on the go. Some nice ones that I like are:
- Naval (to stimulate thinking and rejig perspectives)
- Perpetual Traffic (for digital acquisition)
- Few other sports related podcast (I’m a NBA fan) run by pro players to look at the game in a deeper mindset perspective
7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?
- My MacBook
- Standing desk
- At least 1 monitor
- OSbiome app
- Normal communications app
- Flux on the laptop to reduce blue light
8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
Any top performing NBA players.
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
Find your own formula or state. Don’t be influenced by the latest ‘hot take’ on what work life balance is. If you’re waking up unhappy, overly stressed then take some time to reflect and review on what’s truly wrong.
Don’t be afraid of being judged for your decisions if that’s what matters to you at this point. Finally, don’t take your family and health for granted. There’s always time for them.
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