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Balancing the Grind with Jack Howell, Co-Founder & Chief Design Officer at KodyPay

Jack Howell is the Co-Founder and Chief Design Officer at KodyPay, a company on a mission to make payment acceptance easy.

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

My professional background stems from my constant desire and drive to build things. Even since I was 13, I would constantly be playing with Photoshop. That slowly led to questions like: “how can I make this image move?”; “how can I interact with that?”; “Can this be programmed to do things for me?”.

This dropped me quite quickly into rapid prototyping and UX. In my limited years of professional experience, this has already taken me to innovate for John Lewis, Publicis, and now my current role at KodyPay.

KodyPay was born out of my co-founder Yoyo and I’s high school plan to get rid of payment terminals in-store. They’re clunky, slow and create a terrible user experience. So far, we have launched products that our customers love and raised $6M to continue our mission.

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

I consider myself very lucky when it comes to my workdays. Every day is entirely different. I get to work with an incredibly talented and kind-hearted group of people, and we’re all working toward a goal that we’ve set for ourselves.

On a typical day I’ll often find myself dabbling between launching with new merchants; working with our legal specialists on intricate compliance pieces; building prototypes of new products to share with merchants and to iterate on; bug-busting with engineers; or working with our amazing partners to bring more pieces of our proposition to life.

3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine? 

When I’m not out and about speaking to customers or whiteboarding with the team, my work is almost entirely remote now. Like many people, this has proved such a blessing.

That said, the concept has never really been alien to me, as I’ve watched my parents working from home ever since I was a toddler. If there’s one thing I’d say it has done, it’s made my routine far more predictable. No more cancelled trains or traffic to contend with in the mornings!

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

Being at the helm of a startup will always make work-life balance a difficult topic. There is lots to do and very little time to do everything. In my opinion, work-life balance is a curious term, since it immediately implies that work isn’t a part of your life.

You might really enjoy your work and consider it a part of your life. Ultimately it’s all about what somebody wants to achieve in any given period. If you want to quickly build a business that’s going to impact a lot of people, work is obviously going to take up a lot of your time. If you want to build a family, that’s likely going to need to come ahead of work.

Everybody’s priorities are different, and they change with time too. My only caveat to all of this: whatever you do, you’ve got to do it without damaging yourself in the long term. Burnout is real, and so is losing out on career opportunities. Both are difficult to come back from quickly. Never impossible, but difficult.

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

One habit that’s really solidified over the past year for me is getting a good long walk in at the end of every day. Even if it’s 10 pm – I’ve always found it better to have been out for a stroll, to gather my thoughts and then to empty my head again before going to bed. Walking is great, and nearly everybody can do it.

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

Absolutely! If you’re into learning about totally random, yet incredibly interesting stories, I’d recommend you give 99 Percent Invisible a whirl. Literally, an hour ago I found out all about how dog breeds were completely fabricated in the Victorian era, and somehow started with chickens!

If you’re in the tech sphere and don’t always have time to keep up with everything that goes on, I’d highly recommend the TLDR newsletter too. It gives you really short snippets of all the coolest stories every day so you don’t miss out on a thing!

7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?

Three things: Webflow, Zapier and Notion (and a computer to use them with!). There’s nothing you can’t build between them. Amazing products with limitless potential.

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

In all honesty, it would be anybody with the totally opposite opinion to me. Everybody has an incredible story to tell, and a highly valuable opinion. The more somebody’s approach differs from yours, the more you can learn from it.

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

In my opinion, nobody’s ever doing it wrong. Whatever you do leads to success in some form. You might raise an incredible family; see the stars; nurture livestock; rock an awesome hairstyle; build a business; or travel the world. Whatever it is you do, somebody’s picture of success will be exactly what you’re doing. It’s all relative, and it’s all about how you frame that picture for yourself.

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About Author

Balance the Grind is a work-life balance publication on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.