Luke Littler is the co-founder & CEO at payFURL, a company facilitating payment connectivity for every step of the payments process.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
My background is in the petrochemical industry where I predominantly worked as an SAP & IT project manager across industry sectors. In 2010 I combined my passion for sports and technology and worked with the largest global sports technology company Active Network.
It was here that I was first exposed to the challenges of online payments for platforms and identified what I believed was a gap in the market.
Then I did some consulting work in payments and met some amazing people who, like me, saw what was playing out in the global payments landscape.
I am currently the Co-Founder and CEO of payFURL, where we help our clients manage their online payment in a new, very cost effective, no code/low code way.
2) What does a day in your life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
We have adopted a “work from home strategy, it works for us especially as we have people spread across 3 states. We have also noticed that being location independent allows us to draw from a larger pool of great people as we expand our team.
Juggling a growing startup is always busy, and can be all consuming of my time especially as every day is different. I have found having a fixed schedule can also be problematic so we tend to have critical weekly meetings scheduled, and the day to day more flexible for the team.
I do try to have some family time each morning, even if it’s just 20min driving my daughter to school a few times a week. As well as some sort of evening family time eg dinner, movie, chat, games, walk, etc. In reality with meetings and global time zones we work in, this does not happen every night, but I do make an effort to make this happen when possible.
I also try to ensure I have some form of physical movement each day, this helps me clear my head and allows the opportunity to think about things from a different perspective. Physical activity gives me energy and helps me be more present and engaged with my day to day as well as strategic business focus. I have found this critical, for me.
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
Yes, with COVID I converted my garage at the back of the house to a dedicated study. Being a growing startup everyday is a work day, having a place a few metres away from the family where I can switch into work mode has been a huge plus for me.
We are very lucky that at this point all of our team have worked with at least one of the founders in the past, so the trust is there from day one. Equally all of our team go above and beyond, so we are very supportive of family first. If someone wants to go to their child’s award presentation, it’s not just allowed, it’s encouraged.
Many people believe, mistakenly, that running your own business provides complete flexibility in how and when you work. Whilst there is flexibility to choose, there is also a huge responsibility to be flexible for your clients. Juggling this is a challenge but achievable.
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
Being the CEO of your own business generally means you love what you do and therefore it is not work, it is fun. This is absolutely the case for myself. However I am also very mindful of the fact too much of anything is not also sustainable.
To me it’s all about time management. Sure running a startup is crazy busy and demanding, you just can’t take your foot off the accelerator, but equally you can’t ignore your health, family and friends.
5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
COVID and a knee operation has dictated change for me, but it has also given me an appreciation of the things that are important in life. Having a healthy mind and body has become very important in this new world, as has living life without fear.
6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
Yes, I read and listen to a lot of interesting material. For startup founders I still like Peter’s Zero to One. It keeps a lot of challenging topics very real. Also the All-In Podcast is just great to listen to from what is going on in the current markets.
As there is a lot of change going on in the global markets I have just started listening to this newcomer StoicFinance. I like the way he breaks down complex economic problems.
7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?
Clearly my mobile phone, I seem to be on it half the day, plus video conferences with meetings and pitches, they are clearly critical tools for working remotely. We have also found Slack and Trello have been invaluable for internal efficient communication.
8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
There are a lot of inspiring people out there doing amazing things and juggling considerable work life balances. For me the ones that have been successful and have stayed at the top of their field for an extensive period of time are of most interest.
So for me I would like to read about Keanu Reeves (actor) and Andrew Messick (Ironman Global CEO). Both are in very competitive markets, both have faced huge challenges, both have to travel a lot for work, and both are still at the top of their game.
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
The evolution of technology over the last 30 years has moved office work into the home, no longer can you leave the office for the day, or even the weekend.
Work, especially for CEO’s & Founders ends up being anytime, anywhere. In many cases this awesome evolutionary technology has negatively impacted people’s health, family and friend relationships.
The impact of COVID to our working lives I believe is an opportunity to reset this workplace evolution and correct some imbalances that have evolved for many people. Many people have found that travel time into the office is just not an efficient use of time for either employee or employer.
Equally, when someone has a complex work task that needs to be completed ASAP, the office can be distracting (as can the home office during school holidays). That said COVID has also shown us that for groups of people trying to work through complex tasks, nothing beats face to face workshops and meetings..
Post COVID is a great time to reset our beliefs around work life balance with these realisations.
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