CEOs / Founders / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Joy Joseph Abisaab, Co-Founder & CEO at Mast

Joy Joseph Abisaab is the co-founder & CEO at Mast, which is building cloud-native mortgage technology infrastructure to help lenders increase capacity, reduce costs and strengthen operational controls.

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

I am the CEO and co-founder of a fintech startup called Mast. We’re building cloud-native software to help banks and lenders process mortgages much faster and efficiently. We want to help bring speed and transparency to the borrower.

I started my career in 2008 as a trader in equities and derivatives at Amber Capital, which was the spin-off of the risk arbitrage proprietary trading desk of Societe Generale in New York. I stayed with the firm for nearly a decade across offices in London and New York and when I left I was co-heading trading and in charge of the Americas region.

I was exposed to very important decision-making in business at a young age and the learning curve and exposure were really steep until I felt I had to leave and forge my own path. Growing up with both parents entrepreneurs, following the same direction was a natural move for me.

Being tech savvy, I joined a Bootcamp and learned how to code properly. This led me to start the first company that I decided to leave early on because there was no founder-market fit. That’s when I joined a startup accelerator called Antler and co-founded Mast with my two partners.

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

During the week, I am up at 6/6:30 AM. I have coffee and either read quietly in bed or go to a workout class. Having time for myself before work is important for my mental health after years of stumbling out of bed on my blackberry checking markets and running to the trading desk.

I mostly work from the office and I am there between 8:30 AM and 9 AM. I go through my emails and write down my 1-2 most important tasks to achieve that day so I make a conscious effort to ignore the rest. It’s important to do that because I am half the day on calls and pulled in different directions, so I need to be productive in between.

After the daily morning stand-up with the team at 9:45 AM, I get on with my tasks. At lunchtime, I either meet prospective clients/partners or I have no problem eating at my desk browsing the news to keep up to date with what’s happening and I get on with the rest of my day trying to complete my important tasks.

After work, I typically try to attend network events that can be beneficial for our business or satisfy my curiosity. It’s important to keep an eye on the future to get ideas on what will be our next move

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

I think most entrepreneurs or people who love what they do obsessively will agree with me; work-life balance lines are completely blurred and I like to say that my work life is integrated into my personal life. I set up my work regimen in a way that works for me and I encourage everyone in our company to do the same. Everyone is productive optimally in a different way.

 I do whatever I need to do to move the needle forward and keep my sanity at the same time. To do that, you need to make conscious efforts on saying no to a lot of things and events. I think Naval talked about doing something each day that will move one aspect of your life forward; mental, physical, spiritual and social. I try to satisfy those as much as I can every day.

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

I used to do lots of strength and conditioning and I recently got into cycling. I blame covid and some of my friends for this. But cycling on the turbo trainer at home or for a few hours outside became a very good way to unwind, breathe and blend physical and spiritual together. Initially, I thought it was a very individual sport, but I was very wrong about that.

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

The Fish that Ate the Whale: The Life and Times of America’s Banana King by Rich Cohen is one of the most interesting and captivating biographies I read. It’s very well written and mixes advice, politics, business and resilience.

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

I have recently enjoyed reading the biography of James Dyson and would be very curious to understand how he mentally approaches life from a work-balance perspective. He is in a unique position having achieved what he did while owning 100% of his company and building it to that magnitude.

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

I really believe that you don’t think about it when you achieve the balance that works for you. Whether it is blending the two or separating both completely, the work-life balance nirvana is achieved when that concept never crosses your mind again.

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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.