Balancing the Grind with Jesse Bouman, Co-Founder & CEO of Slice Group

Jesse Bouman is the Co-Founder & CEO of Slice Group, a creator management solution that helps agencies and brands manage reporting and payments to creators.

Let’s start with your background! Can you share with us your career journey and what you’re currently up to?

I’m currently the co-founder and CEO of Slice Group. Slice is a creator management solution that helps agencies and brands manage reporting and payments to creators. Our integrated CRM platform makes influencer reports, payments, and taxes a breeze, whether you’re working with one or one hundred creators at a time. 

My career has not been linear. I’m living my dream, being the founder and CEO of a venture backed startup, but it took me longer than most to get to this point. 

I’ve worked at digital agencies and started a few companies back in Los Angeles. I moved to Jakarta seven years ago to work for a global media agency. Once I was here, I felt Indonesia was ripe for innovation and I decided to stay and build my company here. 

We’d love to know what a typical day is like for you. Could you describe a recent workday?

Ha! There is no such thing as a typical day at a startup. I do however try to structure my days or specific days so that I can proactively get stuff done, instead of reacting to the current fire. 

I start the day at 7am with a walk or workout and then head to the office. Our team is hybrid, but I like to come to the office daily. My first 90 minutes is spent planning and thinking through some of the bigger problems on my plate. 

Context switching is the bane of my productivity. It takes me forever to get into the flow state between meetings and individual work. To combat this, I try to schedule all my meetings between 10am – 4pm. That way I can talk to internal teams, customers, potential customers, and investors without it decreasing my individual productivity. 

After 4pm, I have flexibility to get into deep work mode and knock out emails, presentations, look at designs, manage our product roadmap, set up future meetings, etc. I try to leave the office by 7pm since the building’s air con turns off at 6pm. 

I live alone, so this is where I have to be careful with balance. I don’t have family obligations so I could work all night if I had to. When our developers and designers were abroad, I basically did that. I’d do calls and unblock issues for them between 9pm – 1am. That’s just not sustainable.

Instead, at night I try to focus on rest. I like to be alone during the week after work and let my batteries recharge. But after dinner, I inevitably will pick up my laptop. For 1-2 hours I’m working on some small tasks related to the business (i.e. customer research, scanning CVs, future projections). I can never just sit and watch Netflix or YouTube. I always have to do something. I usually half-watch something in the background while I’m doing these tasks. 

I try to shut down by 10pm and go to bed by 10:30pm-11:00pm. I don’t sleep well, so I try to make sure I set aside at least 7-8 hours to allow my mind and body to reset. Lack of sleep is the biggest disrupter of balance, so I make sure to rest. I’m no good to anyone if I’m up until 1am and back grinding at 6am. 

Can you define work-life balance for yourself and share with us your approach in maintaining it?

For startups, I don’t think founders can have true work/life balance. It’s a constant struggle. Even when you’re not working, your mind is racing through multiple scenarios. But it’s important for founders to be able to step away. That’s the most important thing I’ve learned. 

Don’t feel guilty if you need to go out and have dinner with a friend. The mentality of “I should be working” is toxic and reduces your overall effectiveness.

I would say it’s better to focus on quality breaks that recharge you than trying to find a true balance within your day. 

Change is constant, and it’s essential for growth. Have you made any lifestyle changes in the past year to improve your work-life balance?

About a year ago I made an effort to get out of my apartment or office on a regular basis. This began with 45-60 minute walks to start my day. It’s a meditative practice that gets me outside and the blood flowing. I’m much more relaxed to start my work day and I usually generate one or two ideas for my biggest problems. 

I also picked up golf as a hobby. Golf gets me outside the house on the weekends and keeps me away from the computer for at least four hours. 

Whatever your hobbies may be, make sure you find time for them and get outside. 

We’re always on the lookout for new resources! Can you recommend any books, podcasts, or newsletters that have helped you in your journey towards balance?

Don’t F*cking Panic by Kelsey Darragh. I’m an anxious person and anxiety is a trigger that kills balance for me. This book approaches anxiety in a relatable manner and helps me stay focused on the important things and not the made up scenarios in my head. 

Before we wrap up, do you have any final words of wisdom or insights on work, life, or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?

Be kind to yourself. If someone came to you asking for advice, what would you tell them? Would you be that kind to yourself in the same scenario? Probably not. Most of us are hypercritical to ourselves and that can be damaging and will ultimately lead to burnout. Be as kind to yourself as you would someone asking for your advice. 

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.