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Balancing the Grind with Jonny Shannon, Co-Founder & CEO of Postharvest

Jonny Shannon is the co-founder & CEO of Postharvest.com, a company that has created a micro-sensor to measure produce health and ripeness stages within storage.

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

I have a background in start-ups. Four friends and I started Pushpay, a payment app that is now worth over $1 Billion. After that, I started gamify.com – which created video games for large companies. This year we would have created over 10,000 video games. 4 years ago some friends and I started postharvest.com. We control the ripeness of produce in fridges so no produce goes to waste. Currently a trillion dollar a year global problem.

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

Yesterday was like 6 days a week for me. I get up at 6 am and walk across to my work cabin next to my house and have a coffee. Having a place that is separate from your house is amazing for deep work. While I’m waking up I over-view my to-do list, usually set from the night before. I generally do low-brain power tasks like emails to get them out of the way first thing and get me time to wake up. Yesterday there were just over 50 email replies before 9 am.

9 – 11 I methodically go through my to-do list for 3 hours. For each task, I write down the exact thing I need to do & the estimated time it should take me to do it. Ie. I won’t say “see employee 7”. I wrote “email Mr x about catching up next week to walk through priorities 1,2,3 and progress”. I’ve found I have two “modes”. Thinking mode and doing mode. When I’m in thinking/planning mode, I write out everything in detail so when I get into the “doing” mode there is little pause for switching to thinking, etc.

11-12: gym. I drive 2 mins to the gym, workout for 30mins hard, 2mins back, and 5 min shower. Within 1 hour I’m back and have a protein shake with banana, peanuts & fats to keep my energy up. This helps break up my day and feel like I’m not in the office for 12 hours straight. This is also when I have my first meal. I don’t eat until 12:30 as I’ve found (for me) that eating before lunch slows my brain power down and makes me foggy. Been doing this for over 10 years. 

12:30 – 6 pm: 5+ hours of the straight to-do list. Most of my tasks these days are putting together training videos and employees and working on systems. I believe the best use of any CEO’s time is to work on these two factors. At the end of the day, I’ll spend just 5mins writing notes about how I could improve and writing my to-do list for tomorrow.

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

Yes, my team and I work on both remote and flexible hours. We use a software called ‘time doctor’ which tracks people’s time and screen. Sounds invasive I know but when you work for me that is the condition and the hard workers love it cause I measure over time down to the minute and reward accordingly.

The team also loves it as it means they can work anytime as long as they get their time in. It’s also meant for me I have clear documentation on employees who don’t meet their hours & keep everyone more accountable.

Regarding flexible hours. It’s hard as I’m a fan of flexible hours but also have only seen my best work from people who have habitual set times they work. I’m yet to find someone who works sporadically (for me) which works as well as someone in a routine.

For me, it’s more about time & space. I have my little cabin next to my house. There are no distractions. No tv. Just my computer and a clear mission statement on the wall. I go there to work & I do my best to leave it there. There’s something about having a place that is dedicated. Something the book “atomic habits” echos throughout.

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

I found that to be a real competitor you’ll likely work a lot in any field. For me, I designed a life that allows me to work a lot but still have enough variety in my work and time with people I love. I believe we are all created to work, contribute & learn. I could have retired 10 years ago but life is about the journey, not the destination.

For me, I have found I can work all day every day as long as there is variety and I’m learning and feel I’m progressing. The thing that takes it out of my old self and a lot of people is when you are on the treadmill, you don’t feel like you are gaining traction and moving ahead. Even a little bit of traction can be a large energy booster.

I break my priorities down in my life. Faith, Friends, Fitness, Fun, Follow your dream. This was taken from a Bear Grylls book I read 10+ years ago. At the start of every month and week. I book out time to do things that represent these, i.e. prayer in the morning, see friends/family twice a week, workout 5 days a week, and do one thing a week I feel is ‘fun’. Following your dream is about working towards something. 

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

I’m a big believer that I can’t focus on more than 3 things at a time. About 6 months ago I started using an excel spreadsheet that has the days of the week on it and the top 3 things I think are the most important for me.

This way it shows the ‘boxes I ticked that day, week, month’. For me, my properties are; 10 calls (employees, clients, friends), 1 training video & going to the gym. This is the measure of a successful day.

Every now and then I’ll have a day when I have 7-8 back-to-back meetings and I’ll go home and remind myself. There were a lot of good meetings but it wasn’t a success unless I did the basic things. It’s the simple things that build up like training videos and scaling your business with systems and automation every day. Not the one-off large sale. 

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

Two books changed my life: How to Win Friends and Influence People. Covers the basics of working with people. The jobs I got growing up were not due to grades, or lack of but from connections. I’m a big believer in “Your network is your net worth”.

Most great companies (and lives) are built from knowing and spending time with great people. Growing up I would do random things. I mowed my neighbour’s lawn for free. I would wash my older brother’s friend’s car when they came around. Do enough of these types of things and you get offered jobs. A man who starts working for free will soon be paid or as Napoleon Hill said “The man who does more than he is paid for will soon be paid for more than he does”.

Think and Grow Rich. I read this every year too. This is less about “money” and more about finding your purpose. Your One Thing. It’s about having no excuses and taking 100% responsibility for everything. This book gave me the mindset to reach out to people and close deals with people whom my old self would have said I shouldn’t even be in the same room as.

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

I am religious about using my notes on my iPhone, synced to my MacBook. Every night before I go to bed I write down my to-do list in order of importance.

For meetings; “Krisp”. It sync’s into your laptop and makes it so you are 100% clear on zoom. You can have a crying baby right next to your mic and the other person can not hear it. It’s amazing + free.

Loom: we have a question in the office; “will I have to do this again?”. It’s meant to make us think about automation. For example, When we were raising capital for this company we applied for over 1200 VC firms. Instead of doing them myself. I did the first 5 and recorded myself doing it while also writing down the top 45 questions that were asked on a google doc then paid a VA $1 per application to continue.

These brought in over 119 meetings within the month. Loom is a great way to record yourself doing any repetitive task and sending it on so you never have to ‘tell’ anyone to do it again. We have a workshop manual full of every task you could think of. The moment an employee says “how do I find new prospects”. Go to the employee handbook doc and search “prospect”. Full video there.

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

Richard Branson. He’s done so many great things and lived such an amazing life but still seems like he prioritises balance. For instance, he lives on an island and doesn’t have an alarm. He wakes up to the sun coming on his face. Things like this I think I could learn from. I don’t want to live on an island as I love being close to my family but love how he knows what works for him. I still see a lot of people I know worth a lot of money being pushed and pulled by their companies. 

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

Prioritise then automate and delegate the rest. I think for anyone wanting a certain amount of ‘success’ and for this I mean enough to not have to worry about money, health or time. You need to know what you do which brings in the most value, then automate and delegate the rest. 

For me. My best use of time is two things; speaking and training videos. Speaking is a high-value task and brings in a lot of cash and a lot of leads. Training videos allow me to ensure the company has my DNA in it and runs smoothly. EVERYTHING else is automated or delegated. 

For instance prospecting and selling. Perhaps the two most important parts of nearly any business. I use VA’s to find prospects and VA’s to book meetings. The ONLY thing my team does is the actual zoom meeting itself. I think in the 21st Century to have ‘success’ you will need to know how to put systems together which automate your business, which in turn gives you time, and money to spend more time on health & relationships.

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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.