Karam Kanan is the founder of Boost, a QR code payment method, allowing you to get paid instantly and for free.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
I’m a computer science graduate from New Zealand. I spent the first 5 years of my career in a healthcare startup in New Zealand and Australia being a jack of all trades before moving to London in 2013.
That’s when I started my career as a product manager in B2B at Experian. I launched a global SaaS API helping merchants increase conversion at checkout through address capture, with >$1m in revenue in the first year.
Then moved to B2C, where I launched the first UK CreditExpert app for consumers. Then moved to Wise aka TransferWise, by the time I left I was leading 4 teams as a group product manager focusing on the debit card, we grew card MAUs by >1000% and launched in 40+ countries.
Now I’m the co-founder at Boost, helping merchants reduce the cost and liquidity time for merchants to accept payments.
2) What does a day in your life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
Quite varied, from speaking to merchants trying to either get feedback or convince them to join Boost, processing payroll, designing the app in Figma to hiring or managing runway. After work there’s usually a squash game. I really enjoy the variety during my days.
3) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
To me work life balance means I’m able to enjoy both regardless of the time I spend on either. If I enjoy working 15 hours a day on a particular topic then I’m all for it. Equally it’s important to switch work off regularly and do what you love outside of work. Balance is really the word here and it’s unique to each individual.
4) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
For a while I removed my daily alarm and just set a different time depending on what I had going on in the next morning. That lasted a month or so. I quickly reversed it back to a set time.
Not having a routine wake up time became difficult and it meant I wasn’t able to sleep properly and I’d worry each night about when I’d have to wake up the next day. Also now I drink coffee again after having stopped for 5 or so years – just once a day in the morning.
5) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
I just finished 1Q84, a great book by Murakami. It’s quite absorbing. My favourite podcast is You Are Not So Smart, which delves deep into psychology and how it’s evolving. It’s great if you want to learn about reasoning, biases, judgements and decision making.
6) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
Maybe it’s a cliche but Elon Musk. He’s founder and CEO of several high profile companies while being able to maintain a meme love language, Tweet and play games.
7) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
Don’t be too worried about the particular time or activity – I don’t think there’s such a thing as normal. But generally as a guide, as long as you’re enjoying your work and life activities, it’s ok to have spikes in each as long as generally the mean is steady and that’s unique to you.
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