Balancing the Grind with Jahin Tanvir, CEO of The Australian School of Entrepreneurship

Jahin Tanvir is the CEO of The Australian School of Entrepreneurship, a community-led and purpose driven business for good that delivers education, entrepreneurship and employment programs to Australians of all ages.

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

Absolutely! Heyo, my name is Jahin, I just turned 22-years-old and I’ve recently been appointed the new CEO of the Australian School of Entrepreneurship (it’s been a crazy month to say the least!). I was born in Bangladesh, moved to Australia in 2003, and was raised in Western Sydney.

My academic background is in Optometry (I’m South-Asian, that should explain that!), and I’m a very proud advocate for young people, diversity, and accessibility. I’m a big believer in the idea that whilst being a life-on learner, I want to be a life-long advocate parallel to anything I do in my career.

In my role at the Australian School of Entrepreneurship, we are Australia’s largest youth innovation and entrepreneurship provider – working with over 180,000+ every year, with the goal of 1 million in 2023.

I also love public speaking (seriously, I’m obsessed with being on stages), and regularly speak at different events across Australia, and flying off the U.S next week for my first ever international keynote speech.

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

When I say no two days are ever the same, I mean it! But for the days that I can control, this is how it goes.

On weekdays, my day starts at 6:30am.

I start the day off with prayer, an iced long black (I love a good cold coffee!), and 10-mins of guided meditation.

Then straight into my emails. I go through about 100+ emails daily, but I do enjoy it. For many, emails are a nuisance. For me, the opportunities and speaking invitations I see from emails gives me so much dopamine it’s not even funny.

I do intermittent fasting so I don’t have food till 2pm. It’s helped me stay lean and in shape for nearly a year now. Then my day either involves a bunch of meetings, a flight, speaking at an event, team meetings, networking events, or putting out fires on other days. It’s always exciting and I prefer it that way!

I also go for my hourly walks every day – it started as a habit during lockdown in 2021, and it has remained as a prominent part of supporting my mental health.

I am the first to say that my work-life balance isn’t always the same or the “greatest” – partly because being a 22-year-old South-Asian CEO, I do know that there is a massive question mark on my forehead because of my age, and the pressure to perform in the role, and so my work time varies, and I can tend to sometimes work longer into the night.

But to maintain balance, I always make sure going to the gym and exercise is a daily thing, that I spend quality time with my family (even if it’s just barging into my brother’s room and annoying him for a bit), and most importantly, time with my parents.

I travel a ridiculous amount (I’ll be approaching 80 flights in 2022), and so any time I get to spend with my loved ones, I’m grateful and mindful of every minute.

I also still am at university, and doing it slower than I was the first few years because of work, and so that’s a joy to balance. 

On weekends, my day starts whenever my eyes feel like opening – could be 10am or 12pm. Unless I have an event or family commitment, I allow myself the autonomy to relax and not be stuck to a schedule on weekends. Rest is as important as high performance!

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

Work-life balance to me is about doing what I love and what makes me feel fulfilled. I try to follow what makes me feel energised every day, and do more of that, instead of constantly comparing myself with others. For instance, people hate doing emails – to me, emails are very enjoyable because of the opportunities and events that come from them. 

People that know me in my personal life know that I’m very laid back. I’m the type of person that will ask, “What do you want to eat?” And I will respond back with, “Whatever you want!”.

In my professional life, however, I am incredibly obsessive. I want to be the best at what I do. I’m highly competitive and want to make the most impact possible in every room. My brain is filled with words, numbers, and ways to reinvent processes – and how to get that extra 1%.

Sometimes, that pervades into my personal life and I do feel burned out. I do feel that I’m not living in the moment, that I’m distracted. But it’s all part of the process. I am eternally grateful for the support system that I have around me who keep me accountable, and show so much love and affection that I don’t have words to explain the impact.

I love what I do. It is the reason I love getting out of bed every morning, after one snooze or two. But it is tiring, and takes a massive toll on my mind and body. I’m learning how to adapt to that, and be the best version of myself constantly.

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

2021 was the hardest year of my life, particularly the second half of the year. Being in lockdown for so many months, I was a different person, and mentally in a difficult place. I said and did things that I look back on with pity. 2022 has been the greatest year of my life thus far.

I’ve grown as a person, professionally it’s been surreal, and I feel that I’ve become such a different human being. I owe my routines and habits to that. I picked up small things like being more mindful, showing gratitude, balancing my time and giving undivided attention to people. I go for walks every single day, and I make sure I communicate more than I ever have.

I’ve given up on habits that were self-limiting. I no longer worry about the past. I no longer compare myself to others. I look at life through a “what could go right” lens.

Being a 22-year-old CEO, I always tell myself – even if I stuff up and make grave mistakes, realistically, I still have 8 years till I’m 30 to recover and mend those mistakes (that’s me catastrophizing). Instead, what can I do right – I can change so many lives, and show that it is possible.

My life philosophy is that you can’t be what you can’t see. I want to show every South-Asian kid that you can achieve whatever you want, irrespective of your age or cultural background. I am more than happy to be a sacrifice and go through the bamboo ceiling to pave the way.

My goal is for someone to look at my life and say, “If he can do it, I can do it even better.” I want to set a standard of self-belief, and build a legacy of service, and adaptive leadership. That’s what my migrant parents taught me and instilled in me.

I can’t uncry their tears, or the struggles they went through when they gave up very successful careers and lives to move to Australia, and build everything from scratch. I’ve seen the struggles first-hand and what it took for them to build the life we have now.

My life’s mission is for them to keep their chin up and feel that their son has made an impact – that their sacrifices were worth the struggles and tears. That’s what keeps me going through the darkest of tribulations.

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

Favourite podcast – The High Performance Podcast

Favourite book – Atomic Habits by James Clear (I know, I know, very cliche, but I owe this book the start of my leadership journey when I first read it when I was 19)

Favourite newsletter – Sahil Bloom’s Newsletter

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

Patrick Cummins, Australian Cricket Captain. Huge responsibility before turning 30, and I want to know his mentality and agility to adapt.

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

There is no formula for work-life balance. No one shoe size fits all. In my opinion, good work-life balance prioritises your mental health, high performance, and your level of fulfilment. That comes in different forms for every individual. 

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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.