CEOs / Founders / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Lauren Clinnick, Co-Founder & CEO at Lumi Interactive

Lauren Clinnick is the Co-Founder & CEO at Lumi Interactive, a start-up that’s building a new category of wellbeing games for Gen Z and millennial women.

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

From data encryption to marketing, I’ve spent the majority of my career working in industries where work-life balance was (and still is) a foreign concept.

I spent countless hours going the extra mile for my employers and clients, which seemed like a good idea at the time, but in hindsight I can see that it was a completely unsustainable way to live.

These days, I’m CEO of an independent Naarm (Melbourne, Australia)-based video game developer called Lumi Interactive. We’re working on a free-to-play mobile game called Kinder World, all about houseplants, healing, and practising kindness.

It’s an evidence-based wellbeing companion, built from the ground up to help people heal from the stresses of everyday life – including the chronic overwork that’s so ingrained in society today.

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

Half my team are in Australia and NZ, the other half are based in the US – so Australian mornings are the ‘sync up’ crossover time with our US team and US-based investors.

Generally I catch up on Slack and check emails with my morning coffee, hop into various alignment meetings, and mostly spend the afternoons in deeper work sessions.

As a CEO my workday is highly varied based on our opportunities and challenges of the day, aiming to balance short and longer term goals. The games industry moves incredibly quickly with constant innovation in creative, technical and commercial areas, and that daily variety is super exciting for me.

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

In the early days of Lumi Interactive, my co-founder Christina and I knew that we wanted to do things differently. From the very beginning, it’s been our mission to make the world a kinder place, and this starts with how we treat ourselves, each other, and the world around us.

Our goal has always been to create a supportive, inclusive environment that helps our employees do the best work of their careers, while still having enough time to go to the gym, play video games, spend time with their friends and family, or just enjoy a fulfilling life outside of work.

So to me, work-life balance is exactly that: finding the right balance that makes going to work an enjoyable and fulfilling part of life, without taking it over completely.

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

Over the last few months, we’ve started a 4-day work week at Lumi Interactive.

At first, we had concerns that people would feel the pressure to squeeze 5 days of work into 4 days, or end up doing some work on their extra day off, which would defeat the purpose of having a shorter week in the first place.

There was definitely an adjustment period, but now that we’ve mostly settled into the rhythm and expectations of each week, we couldn’t be happier with how things have turned out – and the feedback we’ve had from the team has been overwhelmingly positive.

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

Honestly most of all I recommend working with an executive coach and/or an organisational psychologist to understand your own strengths and challenge areas, and formulate a plan to work through resources for the skills you want to develop. Your own personal context and quirks will absolutely show up in the way you navigate your work-life balance journey and professional growth. 

I’m getting a lot of value from the Manager Tools podcast and resources to improve the way I support my work team, and I’m currently reading The Great CEO Within – I can see why it’s highly recommended! In terms of newsletters I subscribe to the After School substack to understand emerging trends and subcultures for Gen Z consumers, but that might be a bit of a niche marketing interest for most of the readers here.

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

I don’t think I’ve met that person yet. Honestly the journey and personal ‘fit’ for work life balance is so individual, I don’t know that reading the details of someone else’s approach would make a big difference for me at this particular stage. Maybe I’d like to hear from my future self and see how I’m managing it in a few years time!

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

As CEO, I’m in the extremely privileged position of being able to make work-life decisions that benefit our employees with the support of my co-founder Christina, like introducing the 4-day work week, or the monthly wellbeing stipend to help our team members pay for things like gym classes and therapy.

But I didn’t come up with these ideas on my own.

It’s only through constant, open and honest communication that we’ve been able to make work-life balance a reality, and we’re only just now starting to understand what ‘balance’ looks like for ourselves and our team. It will be a constant process we can’t just ‘set and forget’.

So whether you’re a co-founder, CEO or it’s your first day on the job, I would say that it’s important to start talking (and self-reflecting) about life, work, and everything in between. Let’s get creative and open-minded about the future of work.

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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.