CEOs / Founders / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Lisa Sørensen, Co-Founder & CEO at Zengage

Lisa Sørensen is the co-Founder & CEO at Zengage, an Antler portfolio company that uses customer feedback data to grow sales for online retailers.

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

I am the Founder of Zengage, a B2B SaaS startup for e-commerce sales growth. I spent over a decade in the corporate world before pursuing entrepreneurship, which has been a very exciting journey so far.

I started my career at one of the big global media agencies in London after graduating with a Master’s in Social Sciences in Norway.

From there, I went on to work for PR agencies in Singapore and Amsterdam, before joining British American Tobacco as their Benelux Insights Manager. My roles and experience span insights, business intelligence, marcomms, research, PR and communication. 

After a rewarding career in business, I decided to take some time off to travel. I went solo backpacking through South and Central America. This experience was the turning point when I discovered how important travel and flexibility are to me. I created a travel platform called ZenMap to help travel bloggers and content creators get more site traffic and increase their revenue. 

Working on the travel platform was exciting and we noticed that there were opportunities to expand the product to other verticals. In July 2019, I was accepted to the Antler startup pre-accelerator program in Singapore, where we pivoted Zengage and raised $100,000 in pre-seed funding.

I also run a coaching and mentoring program based on a career confidence coaching method that I’ve developed, manage several side projects and offer consulting for tech startups in my spare time. 

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

I’ve spent the last few years living in Singapore. During the lockdown, Singapore was under tight restrictions but as things started to open up I’ve spent more time working outdoors again.

My favorite spot to work is a cafe that overlooks the beach with outdoor tables and ceiling fans. Working outside is a very liberating feeling and I always feel like the fresh air helps me think clearly.

I’m extremely lucky that my days are very flexible and I get to create my own schedule. Several times a week, I start my day with a run along the beach at Singapore’s East Coast park. I love sitting on the beach and going for a swim midway through my run. My morning run is one of the highlights of my day. 

After my workout, I continue my day by setting a few goals for the day that I want to achieve and stay focussed as much as possible on those tasks. I spend some time communicating with clients and I really enjoy these interactions.

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

My career has let me live and work all over the world. I’ve experienced life in global cities like Shanghai, Singapore, London and Amsterdam.

My current role gives me a lot of flexibility but also requires that I make myself available to clients at all hours of day. I have to be ready to get on a zoom call first early in the morning or very late at night. 

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

I learnt this the hard way in my corporate career. I had a really hard time saying no to new tasks and often worked long hours.

Conscious boundary-setting is key to creating a healthy work-life balance. Now that I run my own business, I have to keep reminding myself of this. As someone who is quite passionate about what I do, creating that balance between work and private life is a lifelong process.

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

I think the most life-changing habit I’ve adopted was moving my exercise routine from evening to morning. I started running and working out early in the day. As I’m a morning person, this has really benefited my productivity and wellbeing. 

I’ve always enjoyed spending time outdoors and the nature around where I live plays an even bigger role in my decision about where to live these days. I sleep a lot better than I used to and I have developed very good sleep habits with evening and morning routines. I also picked up meditation and I make sure to spend 20-40 minutes a day meditating 

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

I read to unwind and I love biographies and autobiographies. I find it very interesting to learn about other people’s motivations, trials and journeys.

I generally like to read about topics that are unrelated to my work because I like to use it as a source of learning and broadening my perspectives. My favorite podcast these days is actually about Neuropsychology because I’m fascinated by the relationship between the brain and behavior. 

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

I spend a lot of time on educational sites like Coursera, Udemy and Khan Academy – usually consuming content outside my current field of work. I’m obsessed with the fact that learning has become so easily accessible. Not only are quite complex courses readily available to everyone, the content is also more easily accessible but also more relatable than even just a decade ago. 

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

I think it’s great that you’re dedicated to opening up a public discourse about work-life balance. When I look back at my time in the corporate world, I wish that more successful corporate professionals and CEOs had spoken up about how to climb the ladder without sacrificing our personal wellness. 

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

At the start of the pandemic, I hired my former intern to be my lockdown accountability partner.  Times were tough for entrepreneurs; I was having a hard time staying motivated and pushing forward at the pace I needed to.

I reached out to my intern Travis and asked if I could pay him to help motivate me. I explained to Travis that I needed someone who would help me keep track of my tasks. We set up weekly status calls and scheduled regular motivational chats. 

Working together with an accountability coach, it became apparent that I was trying to do too many things at once so we reduced my daily workload. Another reason this was successful is that it can be pretty annoying to have someone check up on you all the time. Having an accountability coach pushed me to become more intrinsically motivated again.

I highly recommend hiring someone to be your accountability partner if you’re feeling stuck or overwhelmed and need a way to find back your inner drive or carve out more time for yourself.

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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.