Balancing the Grind with Lyndon Galea, Founder of Eat Up

Lyndon Galea is the Founder and CEO of Eat Up, an Australian not-for-profit organisation feeding hungry, disadvantaged school kids.

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

I’m the Founder and CEO of a non-profit organisation called Eat Up.

In 2013 I was living in my hometown of Shepparton and I read a story in the paper about how 1 in 8 local kids were going to school without lunch. I quickly enlisted the help of my mum and a couple of mates and just started making sandwiches to drop off at these schools.

In the 7 years since then Eat Up has grown into a fully fledged charity and we now service 500 schools across Victoria, NSW and QLD. We recently hit a major milestone of delivering our 1 millionth sandwich.

I started Eat Up when I was in uni, but before that I worked at Triple J magazine and then I founded X Magazine, which was an events and music publication for regional Australia.

I also spent two years working with OzHarvest, which really helped me develop the skills needed to manage a not-for-profit organisation.

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

My days at Eat Up are incredibly varied, which I really enjoy. There’s no such thing as a ‘regular workday’ around here, just this week I’ve driven 30 hours to get our last delivery out for the school year!

However, my days will generally involve sandwich making, meeting with the team or partners, and then doing deliveries. These various elements of my job are all completely different, but really enjoyable and fulfilling.

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

My current role does allow for some flexibility, and as a team we’ve always worked from home some of the time. Deliveries and sandwich making obviously need to be done in person. We try to keep our work fast paced, but at a pace that’s enjoyable.

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

This year has been especially tricky for this. To be honest, I’d say it’s been pretty unbalanced in 2020. Normally speaking, we try to work consistently during school or work hours. As a team we try to be 100% in or 100% off.

Once I’ve finished work for the day I don’t answer emails, I love running and seeing friends, so I always ensure that I make time for those things. In normal times my wife and I go to the movies at least once a week, it’s really important for me to have designated non-work time, so these routines and rituals help me schedule that.

I also think it’s important to set a precedent of not being ‘on’ after work, I don’t want other members of my team thinking they should be answering calls at 10pm because they’ve seen me do it. The work life balance is really important and I’m definitely still figuring out what that balance is for me.

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

This year I started having cold showers every morning and I’ve really noticed a difference in how I feel during the day. It did take a bit of getting used to (and it’s probably not for everyone), but it just wakes your body up.

I do a lot of driving, sitting in the van for hours on end gets really uncomfortable, so I find the cold showers really invigorate and heal any stiffness in my body. There’s always the initial shock of cold, but you get used to it very quickly.

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

I listen to heaps of audiobooks doing the Eat Up roadtrips. I’m a big fan of biographies, one I’m currently listening to is from the ex-CEO of Disney, Robert Iger, The Ride of a Lifetime, which has been really fascinating.

Like most people I loved Boy Swallows Universe from Trent Dalton and The Resilience Project from Hugh van Cuylenburg. I’ve actually just started listening to Obama’s memoir, The Promised Land, which he’s narrating. Hearing it in his tone and voice just adds so much to the experience.

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

At Eat Up we use Slack for all of our quick internal communications, and with a couple of external agencies and partners that we work with.

As we’ve always had some members of our team working remotely, it’s so useful to be able to just quickly get an answer for something without it getting buried in my inbox. We also use the calendar app Team Up, which helps us schedule work and meetings easily.

Also, just podcasts and audiobooks – they save me so much boredom on the road!

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

I’d be interested in reading about someone who was just doing it perfectly: a CEO, founder, small business employee, anyone. Just someone who is a great partner, friend, parent and employee.

I’d be interested in getting some intel from Hamish Blake and Zoe Foster Blake, they seem to be great partners to each other, as well as incredible business people and parents.

They’re both doing some really great work and, from the outside looking in, seem to be really happy. My wife and I are expecting a baby next year so I’m in need of some tips!

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

I read a piece of advice somewhere about how life is made up of three pistons working simultaneously. These are family, work and fulfillment, and it’s almost impossible to have them at the same level at the same time.

Instead, finding a work-life balance is about how you drive and manage those, sometimes work may be the highest and fulfilment is down, sometimes it’s the other way around. It’s about being aware of their levels and what you need to put your energy into.

I also agree with the saying ‘Find something you love to do and you’ll never have to work a day in your life’, because I find so much fulfilment from the work we do at Eat Up. I think when you find work that you really enjoy doing, when what you do for work closely resembles what you do for play, the balance almost comes into effect more naturally.

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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.