Founders / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Lina Gedvilaite, Co-Founder at Seek Sophie

Lina Gedvilaite is the Co-Founder at Seek Sophie, an online platform to book uncommon local experiences & nature getaways.

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

I started my career in a niche segment of finance called credit and political risk insurance. I selected transactions for an insurance portfolio, covering companies for various risks such as political violence and government default.

Typical transactions were billion dollar government sponsored infrastructure projects in places like Angola and Kazakhstan. I loved learning about each country’s macro environment, evaluating complex transactions and knowing that my work supported economic development.

After completing my MBA, I started Seek Sophie along with my co-founder, Jacinta Lim. Seek Sophie was created out of our mutual passion for travel and the idea that it can be a force for good by promoting understanding and exchange as well as stimulating economic growth at the grass roots level.

In practical terms, we are a marketplace where travel and leisure segment entrepreneurs can list their thoughtfully designed experiences for travellers to discover and book.

As a co-founder, the number of roles I have are many, but primarily I manage a team to acquire supply partners, set strategy for new market entry as well as work on developing sales channels partnerships. 

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

I start my morning at 7am, and usually kick off with a run or bike ride. This gives a quick energy boost powering me for the rest of the day. Next I go through the ritual of making coffee. Grinding the beans and pouring the water is my meditation. 

At 8:30am I start work in the form of a call with my co-founder. We go over the most important upcoming tasks, discuss progress and spend time checking in on each other at a personal level. Being aware of your business partner’s and team’s wellbeing is as important as tracking the numbers. At the end of the day that’s the most important measure.

After that my days can vary quite a bit – from calls with my team to working on setting financial targets to meeting our supply partners. I do try to segment my week into meeting and solo desktop work days. It helps to make sure I don’t lose time regaining concentration for thinking/writing tasks after hours of in person meetings. 

I try to finish the most mentally taxing tasks by 7pm and give myself a few hours break for dinner or socialising with friends. After that, oftentimes I’ll need to come back to work to cross off a few more items from my to do list. I aim to have an hour or so of downtime before sleeping, usually this involves writing my evening pages and reading. Most nights I can turn out the lights by midnight. 

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

I believe that to lead a meaningful and interesting life, one must seek to interact with the world in various ways – through work, family, friends, nature, your own thoughts, just to mention a few.

There’s always a hazard that one of these may eclipse the others, but if you can pay close attention to your mind, body and environment, it will pull you back into balance.

The hard work is being in tune enough with myself and my surroundings to interpret the cues. I try to look for examples from others by reading, actively listening and writing to engage with my own thoughts.

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

Early in 2022 I started a daily writing habit. Every evening before I go to bed I write for about 15-30 minutes. Usually there are some thoughts which predominate the day and once they come down on paper, I have an opportunity to have a closer look and reflect on the deeper meaning of those ruminations.

Other days I may start out just to say that I have nothing to write about, but after some free flow musings, frequently interesting ideas come about. Ultimately this helps to declutter and organize my thoughts. 

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

A recent book that gave me some interesting food for thought was Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals by Oliver Burkeman. The title is deceptive, it’s not the usual self-help book chock full of hacks.

My key takeaway was that in the 4000 weeks of an average life span, we will never get everything done that we need to do, and that the best time management trick is to get comfortable with that very uncomfortable idea. Once you do, you can focus on doing the things that matter most. 

I’m a bit of a podcast nerd, so I have lots that I listen to on a weekly basis. “How I Built This” with Guy Raz is still one of my favorites for inspirational founder stories. A recent addition to the rotation has been “Making Sense” by Sam Harris, which is great for delving deep into societal and philosophical topics.  

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

Oprah Winfrey before she was the big name that she is. I think it’s far more interesting to know how people got to where they are rather than what they are doing now that they are a big success.

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

What I’ve found to be the most important thing for myself while seeking balance is to have a regular check-in to evaluate whether what I’m doing (whether it be in regards to work, family or anything else) is still the right thing.

Maybe continuing to burn the midnight oil is exactly the thing to do for the next year or two or maybe it’s time to change gears. But most important is to get off the conveyor belt, quiet the mind and have an honest conversation with myself.

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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.