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Balancing the Grind with Maite Otero, Head of People & Culture at Relive

Maite Otero is the Head of People & Culture at Relive, a platform for people who love the outdoors. Over 14 million cyclists, runners, hikers and skiers have joined Relive to share their passion and adventures.

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

I was born and raised in Uruguay. I moved to Barcelona 16 years ago where I started my professional career.

I studied clinical psychology, specialising in trauma. Somehow after graduating I found myself in the tech world and never looked back. I love blending what I’ve learned as a psychologist with my day to day work as a people leader.

My passion is to build solid foundations at high-growth startups, to grow in a healthy and organic way, with happier and more resilient teams.

In a nutshell, I started my career in tech at King (makers of Candy Crush) focusing on office management. After three years I moved to Typeform where my role became more about employee experience. After Typeform, I moved to a fully remote fin-tech called Paymentology where I stayed for a little over 2 years. Now I lead the people team at Relive.

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

My routine changed a bit in the past month as I became a first-time mother, but I’ll talk about my routine prior to that.

I love the idea of waking up at 6 am and taking a walk on the beach or meditating daily, but I was able to do this only for a couple of months. I’m a late owl, mornings are more difficult for me. Perhaps now with a baby this will (have to) change!

I usually get up around 8 AM, have a coffee a couple of days a week and meditate before starting to work. I check my calendar and to-do list, then start my working day.

I try to organise my work so that in the mornings I only work on things that require high focus, like projects, new initiatives or people strategy. At mid-day I have lunch with my boyfriend (we both work from home) and, if we have time, we’ll go for a quick walk on the beach.

In the afternoon I have more meetings and I do workshops and training, things more interactive that require less intense focus.

I wrap up my workday by checking my to-do list and my calendar for the next day.

At night we make our house “gezellig” with candles and dimmed light and enjoy some home-made food. Before going to bed I read a bit or sometimes we’ll put on some Netflix.

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

Before the pandemic, I switched to fully remote working and I’ve always worked in flexible environments.

The great thing about remote and flexible work is that you can blend your personal time with work, so you do both at your best. Instead of time management, you do energy management.

You get to do your work when you are best suited for it. Sometimes this means in the morning, sometimes at night.

The same for your personal time, you can go to that Yoga class in the middle of the day where there are only 3 people and not at 7 pm when the class is packed! (same example with the tedious supermarket experience)

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

I would rather call it work-personal time balance, as working is also part of life.

I believe work and personal time are balanced when I feel I can be equally satisfied with the outcomes. Meaning, I can feel fulfilled emotionally, with my relationships and with myself, and at the same time have the impact I expect at my job.

Sometimes this balance requires dedicating more time to my personal things, sometimes to my professional ones. Both are interconnected: I couldn’t be personally fulfilled without meeting my work expectations and I couldn’t meet my work expectations without being personally fulfilled.

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

Many! I love trying new habits and seeing how they feel. For some months part of my morning routine was waking up at 6 am and going to the beach to watch the sunrise before starting my day.

That lasted only a couple of months in the winter, summer nights are more appealing! But as I said before, I’d love to come back to this routine as it had a great impact on my mental wellbeing as well as motivation and energy.

One of the latest routines I’ve started is planning the week. Every Saturday, my boyfriend and I plan the next week and make each other accountable for things we want to achieve, like daily meditation, weekly sports sessions, etc. This plan includes meal planning, our personal to-dos, and planning time with friends and family. So far it’s great!

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

Fiction book: Blindness by Saramago (I read it many years ago, it would be very interesting to read it again in this pandemic period).

Nonfiction book: The Culture Map by Erin Meyer, Atomic Habits by James Clear and Unconditional Parenting by Alfie Kohn (not only for parents!)

Podcasts: Mental [email protected] by Oliva (of course), Pat Flynn podcast, and Dare to Lead with Brené Brown

Newsletter: Recommendo

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

Products: Muji pens and bullet notebooks.

Gadget: Coffee grinder, batch brew maker, Sodastream (I love to have control over how bubbled my water is LOL) and Apple watch cellular (now I can forget to charge my phone without suffering it!)

Apps: Siri reminders (Siri is my second brain), Notion (my life is in there) and Headspace.

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

Carl Rogers.

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

When you love your job it can be more difficult to achieve this work – personal time balance as your passion can drag you and make you deprioritize or even neglect yourself.

Some people think I’m a bit ‘coo-coo’ for this but, I like to use systems and tools that work professionally, in my personal life. Like retrospectives.

Retrospectives are also powerful to reflect on those things that are important to me in life (family, friends, wellbeing, travelling) and push me to take action on those. I have monthly reminders to review how I’m doing in those areas and pivot if I’m not looking after them as I would like to.

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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.