Founders / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Lauren Crystal, Co-Founder of Hassl

Lauren Crystal is the Managing Director of Your Creative, a digital branding agency practising experimental design, and the co-founder of collaboration tool Hassl.

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

I started Your Creative, a digital design agency five years ago with my two co-founders. We built Hassl our collaboration tool to run the business.

Before starting the business I worked in project strategy roles for an investment firm. Then going back, I lived in Budapest as a cultural researcher before moving over to Australia.

I now manage both the agency and the growth of Hassl as a product. My time is split between Hassl and consulting on certain agency projects, particularly in the technology and social impact space.

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

I get up at 6:30am and do an hour of concentrated work. Then I squeeze in Pilates, or a run with my dog. Work starts at 9am with a managers meeting, before a day of strategy with our team of 12.

I manage a lot of feature and app builds with our development team, so my day is usually split 50/50 between creative projects, and running design and development meetings. It’s quite busy!

I do try to take some time out in the afternoon to do a quick stretch session with the team over Zoom, while Friday evenings are reserved for online team activities since we couldn’t do social drinks through COVID-19.

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

We built the business to be flexible from the ground up. I am firmly of the belief that a lot of good ideas come from being out of the office. Hassl allows the team to work from anywhere, although our office is awesome, so a lot of people like to come in and work together.

Before COVID, I attended and spoke at a lot of conferences in both Europe and America so I’ll often do a month of the year overseas and was still able to successfully manage projects and keep up to date with my staff via Hassl. I even used the mobile app on the plane.

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

Work-life balance for me means loving your job, whilst at the same time your work environment respecting the boundaries of your personal life. My time in the mornings are very important to me, so I put my phone on airplane mode so I get no calls.

Since building and using Hassl I’ve managed to reduce the staff’s and my emails by 95%, which I think is key to achieving a work-life balance. No more annoying pings on your phone each time you get one new email.

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

I think brand strategy is largely a creative process. Before COVID-19, art galleries and exhibitions would usually inspire me, but that’s no longer an option. I’ve actually started to read poetry now, it’s becoming a bit of a quirky habit but it helps me think outside the box.

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

Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz is a great book about trends in human behaviour online. It was especially helpful for work as we like mapping out customer journeys and personas.

How I Built This is also a great podcast that I keep going back to.

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

Hassl obviously, honestly it does the majority of my project planning so I have more time to focus on big-ticket items.

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

Melanie Silva, the MD of Google. I met her via the Telstra Business Awards, and she’s given me some great advice about how to manage big projects.

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

It’s different for everyone based on your commitments, health, family situation. It’s really important to take the time to figure out what you need to get the balance right.

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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.