Founders / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Joy Yichuan Guo, Co-Founder & CFO at CorBook

Joy Yichuan Guo is the Co-Founder & CFO at CorBook, a company that powers borderless collaboration for the future low-carbon economy.

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

I started my career with Citigroup in New York on the capital market side working with fixed-income derivatives. The finance world could be cutthroat at times but filled with exceptional talents and colourful characters. Besides, there is no better place to spend your 20s than the one and only big apple. Until this day, I am incredibly grateful for the friendships and learnings from my New York days.

After a decade in the State, I grew increasingly curious about the other side of the pond. So in 2015, I moved from New York to London to pursue my MBA degree at London Business School and explore new career possibilities.

I was drawn to the venture capital world as it creates new economic value by supporting promising entrepreneurs and their ventures. Working in venture capital also exposes you to the latest technologies, trends, and industries. Interestingly, spending time in VC woke up the entrepreneur inside of me. I left VC to build my own startup around the end of 2020.

At the moment, I am building CorBook, a B2B platform that helps Climate Tech companies set up global supply chains and enter international markets. Meanwhile, with solid finance training and operator experience, I also provide fractional CFO/FD services to support fellow early-stage startups.

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

I didn’t come up with this, inspired by a tweet, I divide my day into three sessions, six hours each. The three sessions are: 6am – 12pm, 12pm – 6pm and 6pm to midnight. I then create a to-do list for each of the three sessions. If I lose out on one session, I will try to make it back in the next one. So every day is like a little game I play with myself.

It is hard to describe a typical day because it is rarely repetitive. Product development is a huge focus for me right now. So my recent workday comprises morning meetings with the operation team based in China to go through testing outcomes. I then feedback the major issues to our development team who will then deploy fixes.

During the day I will have meetings with prospective users to communicate the vision of the platform and hear their demands and pain points. We are hiring at the moment so in-between meetings with prospective clients and investors I will meet with candidates. Evening time is for me to focus on long-form documents and catch up on any admin items that require immediate attention.

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

To me, work-life balance means staying healthy, and not screwing up relationships in life while getting things done at work.

Exercise plays a big part in it. Aside from a 30-minute indoor session each day, I make sure I get to a park run at least once a week. Running is my way of unwinding, and nature is healing. That is why I make sure I live next to a park no matter which city I move to. Life is a marathon, not a sprint.  When all else is equal, the competition is on energy level and endurance.

Another thing I do is to drop a little happiness here and there in my daily life. For example, I like to keep an Orchid plant nearby at home and at work. Watching the flowers blossom one by one brings me great joy.

I also call my parents every day to hear about how their day is going and share with them my progress at work. I am incredibly blessed with a pair of great parents who support me unconditionally. Speaking with them keeps me energised.

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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?

2022 was a difficult year for me with lots of unexpected challenges. Although it is behind me now, what I learned from last year is to love yourself and be mindful of negative self-talk. Always prioritise self-care. Make time for activities that promote physical and mental well-being, such as exercise, hobbies, relaxation techniques, and spending quality time with loved ones.

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?

I am a subscriber to Ben Meer’s Sunday emails which write about tried and tested systems that help you achieve quality and high-performance living. I am a big believer in the power of creating a repeatable, personal system that can consistently generate favourable outcomes.

Shameless to say I am not there yet. That is something I am still working on. In life, you see some reach their peak performance once. But I am always in awe to see those who can achieve satisfying results time and time again, in whatever field they choose. That is something I strive for.

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?

Work-life balance is a very personal journey. What works for one individual might not work for another. And the formula might as well change as your circumstance changes. We live in a world that features heightened volatility. It is on us to reassess regularly and be ready to adapt when the circumstances change.

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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.