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Balancing the Grind with Jonny Clark, Co-Founder & CEO of GDPR Defender

Jonny Clark is the co-founder & CEO of GDPR Defender, a company helping to protect businesses from future data protection-related fines.

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

I’m a geographer by academic background who worked in the recycling and refuse-derived fuel (RDF) industry before going into economic development.

From there, I worked a lot in business growth consulting – looking at programmes, funding and strategies to help companies adapt to a changing business environment. It led me to working at a tech startup incubator, doing some policy work and consultancy, and then launching my own startup in the GDPR space and doing some angel investing.

I just enjoy working with interesting people who are building things that solve problems. I also run a community night once per month where people working in tech can come along, network and have pizza and drinks and talk about whatever is on their mind!

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

I try to get up a bit earlier at least a couple of days per week to go for a walk and listen to a podcast or go to the gym. I’m not great at making time for working out so I find it easier to get it done first thing in the morning so it’s out the way.

I try to keep mornings for emails and any writing tasks, break for lunch around noon and then try to keep any calls or meetings in the afternoon. Honestly, I’m not great at sticking to this – and the result is that sometimes I’m working longer than I’d like to be, but that’s the nature of the game sometimes. I try to get myself to jiujitsu a few evenings a week.

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

I’ve been mainly remote for a while now. I enjoy it, but I make sure I’m working in different coffee shops, co-working spaces and friends’ businesses’ offices regularly as well, to keep the cabin fever at bay. 

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

I think we have to accept that we’re human and although we might have ideals and plans, they often go awry. The whole hustle porn culture is definitely toxic and is a fast track to burnout, though.

I find it best to work really intensively for a few hours, then relax for a few hours. We’re not meant to be constantly chipping away constantly. We need to switch off and have fun, creative pursuits as much as we do work-related tasks.

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

Morning coffee walks with a podcast was more of a mental boost than physical, but consequently it helped me shift some of the weight that I put on in the first lockdown. I’ve learnt to be more strict with my bedtime – but I’m still a late riser and night owl. Instead, now I embrace it but in as healthy a way as possible.

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

I’m going to shock people a bit here and say that I actually think reading is overrated and a lot of people definitely only read so they can tell people they read, so they look smart. That said, Zero to One by Peter Thiel is a classic. I also like The Green Grocer by Richard Walker, the Iceland CEO. I don’t really read non-fiction, it’s just never really interested me.

The All-In Podcast with Jason Calacanis, David Sacks, David Friedberg and Chamath Palihapitiya is great to listen to if you’re into tech, investing and politics, and Diary of a CEO by Steven Bartlett has a good set of interesting guests.

For newsletters, I’ve subscribed to a couple of free ones; Lenny Ratchitsky’s product manager newsletter, ‘Exponential View’ by Azeem Azhar and ‘Cities’ by Daniel Naqvi. Also ‘The Browser’, which is a daily and weekly collection of free articles on random interesting topics online.

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

My Fitbit is great at reminding me how awful my sleep quality is!  Beyond that, I am, ironically, a bit of a technophobe. I use this thing called the dental pod which keeps my Invisalign braces clean, does that count? I run a lot of my life from WhatsApp and Google Suite. 

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

Naval Ravikant is really good at this – I love his philosophy of working the least for something. It forces you to find things you are uniquely good at and not expend pointless energy. Also, I wonder what the work-life balance of some of history’s most infamous evil do-ers was like; say Pablo Escobar? How does time get split between family, leisure and running a huge global narcotics empire?

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

Everybody is different and I think the most sensible thing we can all do is listen to our bodies. If we’re constantly tired and feeling unfulfilled, we need to take a step back and look at how we reorganise our affairs to be more conducive to good health. Experiment with new things and don’t be angry at yourself if things don’t work on their first iteration.

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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.