CEOs / Founders / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Matthew Carpenter-Arevalo, CEO & Co-Founder of Centrico Digital

Matthew Carpenter-Arevalo is an CEO & Co-Founder of boutique managed marketing services company, Centrico Digital, with clients in North America, Latin America, and Australia.

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

I’m originally from Atlantic Canada and in 2000 I traveled to Mexico to learn Spanish and I got the Latin America bug. I studied Latin American literature and philosophy both in Canada as well as at Oxford. After finishing my masters’ degree, I was recruited to work at Google, but I took two years to take up the offer.

During those two years, I lived in Ecuador where I was a high school teacher, political consultant, and I started my first company: a web design company that used talented Ecuadorian designers to develop web pages for businesses based in North America and Europe.

In 2008 I went to Google where I was a manager in their Online Partnerships Group for three years. In 2011 I was looking to take a break from digital marketing and I ended up working at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland.

I was part of the team that founded the Global Shapers Community, a network of 20-30-year-old change agents the WEF was interested in engaging to ensure world leaders did not lose touch with an emerging and increasingly influential segment of the global population.

In 2013 I returned to Ecuador, and I was hired by Twitter to help set up its Latin America sales operations. In 2014 Twitter decided to open offices in Colombia and Mexico and requested I relocate. Instead, I started my company, Centrico Digital, a boutique managed marketing services company.

The idea behind Centrico Digital is that developing countries like Ecuador have an abundant supply of talent but often lack access to the demand for that talent. At first, it was difficult to convince clients abroad to work with a provider in Ecuador.

Now 90% of our revenue comes from clients outside our home country. As a CEO I focus on business development, talent development, and company culture.

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

My day is highly regimented, especially during the quarantine, because both my wife and I are entrepreneurs and we have twin newborn boys that require a lot of work. I usually wake up around 6 and I walk my dogs and spend some time with my kids.

From 730 until 900 I exercise and meditate, and by 10 I am working. I work from 10 until 1, at which point I eat my first meal of the day, and walk my dogs again. I try to squeeze in another hour of work from 2 until 3, and then from 3 until about 8pm I am usually with my boys, though my wife and I trade off depending on who has non-negotiable meetings.

If we’re able to get them to sleep by 8, from 8 until 9 I’m preparing and then eating our last meal of the day. From 9 until about 11 my wife and I spend time together and unwind.

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

Yes. My wife’s pregnancy was high risk and immediately after she gave birth I took a 3-month paternity leave during which I’d work maximum an hour a day, so even before quarantine I was working remotely for 6-7 months.

I enjoy cutting travel out of my schedule and optimizing my time. I’m also very grateful that I get to spend this critical time with my kids as they develop, something that likely would not have happened if I was forcing myself to go to the office.

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

I used to try to find a balance between work and life until I realized they are one and the same. As I’ve described, the first part of my day is really about getting myself in the right mindset to bring the best version of myself to work.

Then, when I’m finished working, my family deserves the best version of me as well. Right now I can only work 5-6 hours a day and my job just has to accept that. My experience has been though that my contribution to my business is not in quantity but quality, and when I’m taking care of my mind, body and spirit, I’m far more productive and produce far higher quality work.

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

I decided that 2020 was going to be my year of fitness because in January 2021 I turn 40. In addition to my workout routine, I practice intermittent fasting. I used to think it was a yuppie trend, and then when I started at the suggestion of my nutritionist. I not only started burning fat at a much faster rate than before, but I also developed a healthier diet and started consuming less alcohol.

After the first week, I no longer experienced hunger as I got to the end of my daily fast, and my blood sugar has stabilized. Intermittent fasting became a way of organizing my diet which in turn had a positive impact on my overall health.

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

I’m currently reading Why Buddhism is True by Robert Wright, which is an examination of meditation from a biologists’ perspective. Prior to that, I re-read The Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe, The History of Debt by David Graeber, and The Infinite Game by Simon Sinek.

I listen to a wide variety of podcasts when I’m walking my dogs. I enjoy The Ringer’s re-cap of the Wire, Way Down in the Hole, as well as podcasts about business and economics, such as Acquired. I occasionally listen to the New York Times’ The Daily, but I’m careful not to overexpose myself to negativity.

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

I really enjoy ReadWise, which finds quotes you’ve underlined in different apps and surfaces five different ones to you each day.

Google Health helps me track my activity, and Headspace is my main guide to meditation. I’ve enjoyed getting to understand TikTok during quarantine, as I see it as highly subversive.

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

There are some people whose productivity astounds me, and often times those people end up on Tim Ferriss’s podcast and he’ll dissect their routines.

If there is one person I’d like to understand better it’d be Jack Dorsey. He runs two publically-trade companies and still finds time to focus on wellness and mindfulness. He sometimes gets criticized for being unfocused, but I’m certain he’s more productive thanks to his eccentric routines.

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

The most important decision I made was to return to Ecuador and set up my business here. In 2013 I was already thinking that “work from anywhere” would become a trend.

Then, after we started the business and found ourselves trying to serve toxic clients, we made the decision to fire them, even when it meant economic uncertainty, and instead focus on clients we liked and with whom we could have a major impact.

In other words, the theme that connects my work over the past 6 years is refusing to buy into the accepted trade-off of career advancement and quality of life. I’m still growing as a person and as a professional, and over time the services industry has continued to globalize. I’m convinced that making the right decisions for me as a person has lead to the best results for the business.

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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.