Balancing the Grind with Markus Albert, Managing Director at EatFirst

Markus Albert is the Managing Director for Australia, New Zealand and Singapore at EatFirst, the premier food ordering platform.

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Let’s start with your background! Can you share with us your career journey and what you’re currently up to?

So, I kicked off my career in investment banking, but soon ventured into entrepreneurship, co-founding a startup in Berlin focused on employee benefits. This gave me a taste of building business models from scratch. In 2016, I packed my bags and moved to Australia to join HelloFresh, where I helped lay the groundwork for their expansion in Australia and New Zealand.

Two years later, I jumped on board with EatFirst as their Managing Director in Australia. When COVID hit, it was a real test, but it also toughened us up and honed our corporate capabilities.

We’re now back on track with our growth plans that we had before the pandemic. We’ve grown quite a bit since then, and I’m super lucky to be leading a lively and talented team of 50 across Australia, New Zealand, and Singapore. We’re all pumped and ready to tackle our ambitious plans head-on.

We’d love to know what a typical day is like for you. Could you describe a recent workday?

A regular day for me starts at 5am with some exercise and a bit of vipassana meditation. Then it’s coffee time, and a bit of reading or whatever I feel like doing. By 7am, I’m at the office and I dive straight into the most important task of the day—that’s when I’m at my peak.

As the day goes on, I switch gears to helping my team and checking on our key projects. I also rework my to-do list as needed. I usually hold off on the regular stuff like emails and Slack until after lunch. When possible, I swap out lunch for a run.

Afternoons are blocked out for team meetings and 1:1s. My day wraps up after some calls with our team in Europe. After work, it’s time to relax—I might have dinner with my partner, take our dogs to the beach if it’s summer, squeeze in another workout, or just unwind in my infrared sauna.

Can you define work-life balance for yourself and share with us your approach in maintaining it?

When I think about work-life balance, it’s all about drawing a clear line between work and personal life, but doing it in a way that takes care of my health, keeps me grounded, and manages my time effectively. I’m an early bird, and I like to hit the ground running with the big stuff first thing in the morning.

When it comes to business, it’s all about zeroing in on the one thing that’s really going to make a difference—it’s not always a walk in the park, but it’s worth it. It’s this kind of approach that helps me strike a balance I’m happy with, keep my performance on point, and just generally keep my sanity intact.

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Change is constant, and it’s essential for growth. Have you made any lifestyle changes in the past year to improve your work-life balance?

I’ve picked up a couple of pretty good habits over the last year. I’ve started running during lunchtime about once or twice a week. Let me tell you, it’s a game-changer—keeps me focused and pumped for the rest of the day.

Also I’ve started to ask myself more which problem I’m really solving before diving head-first into solution mode. Sounds simple, but it’s been a real eye-opener.

Next on the list? My partner and I are planning to set aside a whole day each weekend just for fun stuff—think walks, sports, massages, going out for meals.

We’re always on the lookout for new resources! Can you recommend any books, podcasts, or newsletters that have helped you in your journey towards balance?

When it comes to favourite reads and listens, I’ve got a few I’d love to share. James Clear’s book Atomic Habits is a go-to for me—I’m all about those baby steps leading to big changes. And The Road Less Stupid by Keith J. Cunningham? A goldmine of advice for anyone looking to make smarter decisions. I keep reading them again and again.

Podcast-wise, The Tim Ferriss Show is pretty great, and I also get a kick out of MFM by Sam Parr and Shaan Puri—depending on who they’re chatting with.

As for newsletters, I’m all about Ryan Holiday’s The Daily Stoic, Ben Thomson’s Stratechery, and Tim Urban’s hilarious Wait but Why. And if you’re like me and hate a cluttered inbox, give Kill the Newsletter a shot. It’s a neat tool that turns newsletters into RSS feeds.

Before we wrap up, do you have any final words of wisdom or insights on work, life, or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?

On a more personal note, work-life balance isn’t just about juggling time—it’s really about syncing up with your own goals and squeezing fulfilment out of every corner of life. This balance is a bit like a dance—it’s fluid and needs constant tweaking. 

Lastly, the Stoic principle of “memento mori” (remember, we’re not here forever!) keeps me grounded. It’s a solid reminder to use our time wisely, not just chasing professional wins but also soaking up those personal moments of joy.

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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.