CEOs / Founders / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with James Gabb, Co-Founder & Co-CEO of Sauce

James Gabb is the Co-Founder & Co-CEO of Sauce, a startup building the mission control room for product managers.

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

I started my career testing out different paths: analytics, cyber security, business analyst, software development. Alongside these experiences, I was always developing new ideas on the side. These could be anything from building iPhone apps to growing a tutoring company across Sydney.

After not feeling attached to any of the professional roles I tried, I found out about Product Management and became a PM at Atlassian in their Mobile and Smarts (AI) teams. This allowed me to continue to build upon my product building skills in a structured environment.

Wanting to try out building products from scratch, I then shifted over to Eucalyptus to help launch their weight offering to the market. This experience definitely gave me the tools and confidence to build upon my own ideas, raise a funding round and jump out into my own startup.

I’m currently the Co-CEO of Sauce along with my cofounder Matt Hinds and CTO James Szklarz.

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

At our early stage, especially having just launched our beta, we spend a majority of our time talking to customers and building out the product.

A typical workday looks like:

  • Multiple customer calls
  • Synthesising feedback into our roadmap and identifying new potential opportunities
  • Syncing with designers for larger design user journeys
  • Jumping into Figma to do some quick design fixes
  • Getting engineers to fix anything critical + communicating any changed priorities
  • Continuously regrouping with the team altering strategy based on new feedback

Workdays usually go from 7:30am – 6pm. Still practising getting up early. Then there’s space for some downtime, including seeing friends/family or exercising. I’ll usually jump back on around 8 or 9pm for a few hours to prepare for the next day before some meditation or reading to wind down.

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

I absolutely love the process involved in startup life, but the key risk is burn out. There’s always unlimited things to do, which means you need to be extra mindful to protect the time for yourself.

It’s nearly impossible to always keep to a standard schedule of exercise/seeing friends/etc., but I try to make sure I’m aware of what I’m giving up so I can figure out another way to get that time back.

Planning and setting times in advance helps me a lot (i.e. blocking time out in the calendar). This makes it easier to plan ahead and make sure the team is sorted if I’m away. This also encourages me to consistently put aside time for myself and the people close to me, as these are the moments that reinvigorate me and help prevent burn out.

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

Waking up earlier:

This gives me some extra time to myself, to collect my thoughts and prepare myself for the day, making me feel more energised and ready to go.


I’ve found this to not only be a super efficient way to get some exercise in at any point in the day, but also great at energising me during the days that need a bit of a push. It helps me to get in the zone and switch off a little for the duration of the run.

Stopped drinking coffee:

This was extremely hard to give up at the start, but it helped me become more in tune to my energy levels. Also, now when I do need that caffeine boost to get me across the line, a little bit of coffee does the trick.

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

I listen to a lot of start-up podcasts – it’s a fun way to learn new things and feel connected to other founders.

All-In podcast: Overview of the market

Acquired: Great story-telling and interviews

Books to get you pumped to start a business:

  • Shoe Dog (Phil Knight)
  • Steve Jobs (Walter Isaacson)

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

Steph Curry.

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

  • You have to be intentional with your time and truly understand the opportunity cost. Is that extra hour on a report really outweigh going to lunch with a mate?
  • Figure out where the inefficiencies in your schedule are today. Is the train ride into work actually a time to get rid of emails and review work for the team?
  • Find a team/work partners that you’re aligned with and support each other, both through work and through life. I would never have jumped into a business without finding the right people first.

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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.