Micah Gabriels is the co-founder & CEO at Mooven, a software platform providing a holistic view for contractors, infrastructure firms and governments.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
I’m an environmental economist by training, who made the transition into the corporate world. More recently, I was Head of Product at Spark’s big data and analytics venture business, Qrious, where I spent three years developing new SaaS products.
Now, as a co-founder at Mooven, I’ve bridged these two experiences, with the aim of transforming environmental and social outcomes for society by enabling us to transition to the cities of the future more quickly.
We do this by giving construction teams real-time insights into the effects of important infrastructure projects and maintenance activity on road users and surrounding communities, covering aspects like journey times through the area, delays, queuing, average speeds, noise and dust.
2) What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
I’m usually up bright and early at 6:30am. Before heading to our offices in the city I get the kids fed and out the door ready for school. Occasionally, I’ll stop off at a cafe on the way in and work remotely for a few hours. It’s always nice changing things up!
I reserve mornings for customer deliverables or meetings that are booked in. At the mid section of the day I tick off tasks such as working on product strategy, meeting with the marketing team or adjusting UX product and website features.
From 1-4pm I block out time in my diary for sales calls where I speak to current customers or develop relationships with prospective customers. When I’m at home, I’ll dial back in and attend to anything pressing that I’ve missed throughout the day.
Recently, we’ve been busy onboarding new customers and scaling at pace, so it’s been a challenge to switch off while I’m at home. But for a good reason, as it’s lots of fun.
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
It does. I try to work at least one day of the week remotely, whether that’s in a cafe, at home or going up to my hometown Hoikanga.
When driving up to Hokianga the other week I took a really important customer engagement and had a board meeting the next day, which I dialed into remotely.
There’s little reception up there, so I had to find a spot outdoors where I could take the call so the connection wouldn’t drop out! It’s amazing what you can achieve now, from anywhere.
Although I spend a lot of time with our customers, I think it’s important to work in isolation from time to time. Having minimal disruptions gives me time to think, and sometimes I’ll end up solving a business problem that’s been nagging at me for weeks because of the silence.
The shift to flexible work opened up a world of conversations that I previously never had. Just the other day I had a coffee with a parent from the school that my kids attend and I worked remotely for the rest of the day.
She runs an angel investment society, so it’s great to bounce ideas off each other. People are always up for a chat in the NZ startup community, and it’s something that I love about it. Flexible work makes that a whole lot easier.
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
I don’t necessarily think work and life need to be completely divided. Achieving a balance is important but it’s also good to have a deeper passion for what you do. That’s what Mooven is for me.
As the founder of Mooven, it’s important to create an environment where we put care and empathy into what’s going on in people’s lives. I don’t believe we need to be locked into fixed hours, rather work should be structured around your life and what works best for you.
The more that we understand where work life balance sits the easier it is to create a positive environment on both sides.
5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
Probably more unhealthy habits. Starting your own business is just as time consuming as it is rewarding. Little things like my fitness levels are starting to drop off, which I believe to be a sign of poor work-life balance.
When I’m exercising in the morning, I’m definitely more clear headed throughout the day, however as I’m pressured with time contrainstins this tends to drop off. The irony being, I’m probably doing things slower because I’m not exercising!
6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
I’m a big podcast listener. I like The Greylock podcast and Masters of Scale by Reid Hoffman because they’re really insightful and provide a slightly counter view to what’s talked about in mainstream business circles.
Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point book on revisionist history is another favourite of mine, as he looks at a lot of major product and cultural developments that are misunderstood and overlooked.
For current affairs type stuff, I love the Freakonomics podcast. I don’t really pay attention to traditional media for news, but I’m a big fan of long form journalism like medium or public radio as they do a really great job in unpacking complex ideas and problems.
7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?
I’m an outdoors type person, so Strava and my Apple Watch are very useful for work life balance and having more empathy for where you are at in a physical sense.
YouTube is my go-to for learning new climbing techniques, skating tips for my boys and improving my woodworking skills.
I recently chopped down a gum tree while I was up at Hokianga and converted it into a surfboard for my Dad’s birthday! LinkedIn is a favourite of mine for networking.
8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
Satya Nadella, the CEO of Microsoft. He’s been at Microsoft since the early 90s, and seemingly transformed what Microsoft is overnight from being quite functional to more outcome focused and customer centric to what they were before. I’d love to understand how he approaches leadership, as it feels like it’s been genuine and flows without effort.
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
I think it’s really important for founders and those working at early-stage companies to appreciate the journey as opposed to being focused on the final destination. This flows into Mooven – we’re always thinking about the next step and enjoying the process, rather than reaching a final end goal.
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