CEOs / Founders / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Jay Marcano, Founder & CEO at Wippli

Jay Marcano is the founder & CEO at Wippli, a smart workflow platform for clients and suppliers to engage and manage digital production from start to finish.

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

My current position is Founder and CEO at Wippli, a smart workflow for clients and suppliers to engage and manage digital production from start to finish.

The idea of Wippli started more than five years ago, beginning with the need for a solution that helped Brannium (my creative services business), manage the creative production hand in hand with our clients, employees and contractors.

As Brannium got more international and sophisticated, we never found a “supplier-client friendly” solution that could help us manage production remotely from initiation to delivery — so we decided to tackle this gap in the market by developing Wippli.

My Wippli idea started to become a reality a couple of years ago, but the kick was the pandemic — once we realised the “8/7 office paradigms” were being sent to oblivion and the opportunities that arise from it, Wippli took off because we suddenly had a huge pool of people who work from home. Thanks to this Wippli is now in (close) Beta testing and the feedback and engagement has been extraordinary.

I’ve been working remotely for more than 20y when working from home or remotely was everything but “a thing”. That remote experience and skills gave me the base to map-out and build Wippli, a digital platform that makes work easier for everyone, wherever we are.

My background combines creative and business strategy – with education in design, marketing, business, branding and digital strategy.

The combination of creativity and business strategy has helped me engage in numerous problem-solving projects, resulting in compelling business/creative deliverables and value propositions for big firms globally.

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

I start my day with a bowl of cereal, eating as I gaze at the ocean and checking the schedule on my iPhone. Then I go to my local coffee shop, sometimes to do some work there, sometimes to pick up my coffee and come back to my desk. After that, I attend meetings and start knocking things off my day’s to-do list. 

Depending on my mindset, I focus (and wear the hat) on the managerial or creative side of the business, trying to split them by halves of the day. Although I work with several time zones, I avoid meetings early in the morning and late at night.

After I finish work, a good end of the day is having friends come for dinner and wine. Still, I am also very good at lying on the couch doing nothing other than watching TV and enjoying a Deliveroo meal (while doing some management over the phone).

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

Yes, definitely, being part of an 8-5 routine has never been for me. 90% of my +20 years of professional life has been working from home in three different countries (and paying the price for it). There is nothing that I value the most more than having the freedom to organise my life, my working days and my agenda without asking for permission from anyone.

When I have the time, I take some time to surf, and, if the day is slow, I simply take it easy and rest, go out to do my things or catch up with friends – in the end, to me, this is what being your own boss is about.

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

Work-life balance means everything to me. That said, I am madly in love with what I do, so work plays an essential role in my work-life balance.

Our work ethos is based on existentialist principles, where freedom, excellence and responsibility are not negotiable. These values are from building and nurturing solid relationships with our stakeholders to delivering outstanding services on the go, from anywhere in the world.

These principles empower us to break the mould and run a business with a genuinely international user-base; a bus in London, a scooter in Bali or stranded in Moscow’s Airport in the middle of a snowstorm are just a few stories to share in our live and remote experiment. 

I believe it’s on us to raise our hands and shamelessly claim our headspace and work-life balance; easier said than done, as all have our particular situations and complexities. A good start is not feeling guilty or ashamed to call it off when we’re pushing too hard or reaching our limits.

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

Building and running an international-based startup is a very demanding world that requires a mammoth effort.

We at Wippli are located around Australia, the US, Singapore and Russia, and we deal with partners, contractors and believers from 16 different countries and timezones so accommodating and sync our agendas play an important part.

The most significant change during this crazy period is to manage not feeling guilty when the people around Wippli or I need time for a break and headspace the moment we feel we’re pushing too hard — in essence, I’ve learned how to make sure the people around me, myself included, take time to themselves when things get crazy. It’s just work.

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

One of my most significant and revealing units was Foundations of Management Thought during my MBA studies. Coming from a design background, I was barely exposed to philosophy, and this unit had a very profound impact on the way I see the world now.

From Homer to Sartre, An Eye for An I: Living Philosophy from Robert Spillane is an easy-to-read and well-written compilation of the main western philosophies.

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

I am the geekiest when it comes to technology and gadgets. I love testing, scrutinising, adopting and/or dismissing technology.

I enjoy and get very immersed in teaming with developers to produce scripts and automations, purely dedicated to taking care of those repetitive and tedious tasks. We have shortened things that could take days to just double clicks, and by incorporating these automations into our processes, we gain massive savings in terms of speed, time and frustration.

Technology should simplify our lives, there are a lot of amazing apps in the market, but sadly we still need to juggle them to manage our tasks, and that’s why I invented Wippli. Wippli was conceived to optimise the “work in progress” process.

We aim to bring back around one hour a day by stopping us from juggling apps and emails when undergoing tasks from initiation to delivery, all packaged into smooth and intuitive experiences for all. So, our mission is for Wippli to be a tool that people can’t live without.

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

I feel fortunate to live and thrive in the best country that anyone could live in, right by the beach; I work from home or anywhere in the world; I am my boss.

I am producing an app with the support of more than 40 outstanding professionals across the globe that will help everyone reclaim time and headspace.

I believe we’re writing our own story and living our dream. That said, I’d love to hear any of Wippli’s collaborators talking about Wippli’s remote experiment from their own standpoints and personal journeys.

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

“Burnout” is a concept that is becoming particularly trendy these days. I am not a specialist in the matter, but I believe one of the best ways to prevent burnout is to love the work we do. When we love what we do, it comes spontaneously, we become very good at it, and it feels effortless. 

I don’t do it all the time, but I can tell I’ve experienced significant differences and rewards just by taking a break to go for a paddle, catch up with friends or take a stroll when going for a coffee, 30 min meditation breaks work like a charm – all this within working hours.

In the end, it’s about a balance between what we have to do and what we enjoy doing; nirvana would be enjoying what we love doing, and, ultimately, to me, it all comes down to being efficient and productive to making time and gaining freedom to do what we value the most.

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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.