CEOs / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Michelle Akhidenor, CEO at The Peers Project

Michelle Akhidenor is the CEO of leading Australian podcast agency, The Peers Project, and the host of the Peers2Peers podcast.

Interested in talking about how you balance the grind? Get in touch with us here!

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

I’m the founder & CEO of leading Australian podcast agency, The Peers Project. Launching in 2018, we produce podcasts for visionary brands from Fortune 500s including global tech giant, Alibaba Group to global and national powerhouses such as and Forever New.

The company and our podcasts have been featured in Marie Claire, SmartCompany, B&T, Mumbrella, Ragtrader and more. I was recently shortlisted for the 2021 B&T 30 Under 30 Entrepreneur Award.

Prior to founding The Peers Project, I started a global podcast, Peers2Peers, where I continue to host conversations with some of the worlds’ most inspiring millennial entrepreneurs.

From an archive of 150+ episodes, past guests include Forbes 30 Under 30 listees and TEDx speakers. In 2021, Shopify signed on as the podcast’s major sponsor.

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

Sure! My workday starts bright and early with a 30-minute workout to help clear my mind and get me in the right mindset to conquer the challenges of the day ahead. After that, I have my morning shake and tea, and get ready for the day.

I typically sit down to start work at 8:30am and will often start by mapping out the urgent tasks that I need to get done that day. I typically work in 3hr blocks and like to have breaks in-between to get up, stretch (sometimes jump up and down, and blast music!) and clear my mind.

By the afternoon, I head out for a 45 minute walk while listening to my favourite podcast series (drum roll), School of Greatest by Lewis Howes. By 4pm I like to start wrapping up and finishing any final emails or jumping on any last minute team calls. 

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

Yes! I WFH and always have since starting my business in 2018. I love the freedom and flexibility of running a remote company and having team members across Australia, U.K., U.S. and other parts of the world.

Being primarily a digital business, my team and I have the kind of flexibility that many have only now experienced due to COVID. We don’t take it for granted and count ourselves extremely lucky to be able to work on our own terms wherever we choose.

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

I like to call it “work-life integration” because I personally believe that striving for “balance” isn’t always going to lead to a life of fulfillment.

By learning how to integrate both work and life however, you can start to view work as something that’s just part of your day and life rather than “your whole life”.

For me, the goal has always been to create a life for myself that I am completely in love with and of course, with work being a huge part of that, I wanted to make sure I did something that I was passionate about and genuinely enjoyed.

I feel extremely privileged to be able to say that I love what I do and although the early years of business were tough (to say the least), I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.

Although I haven’t yet mastered “work-life integration”, I feel as though I’m getting there as I’m now prioritising rest and “me” time a lot more than I used to and have started to see the positive impact this has had on my overall wellbeing, business and work. 

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

Yes! Most recently, I’ve stopped having alcohol on weeknights (school nights) and it’s done wonders for my mental health and overall wellbeing. Highly recommend it to my fellow wine lovers. 

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

Well podcasts are obviously my jam! I’ve already mentioned one above but will take this opportunity to plug some of the podcasts that we produce: 

  • Peers2Peers Podcast powered by Shopify – for the ambitious millennial looking to gain clarity on what they’re most passionate about and how to go about turning that into a business/ side-hustle. 
  • The RED Tales Podcast by Modibodi – for teenagers looking to feel seen, heard and understood. This podcast is one of my absolute favourites to listen to and produce as it’s all about the stories of the awkward and all-too messy parts of our teenage years.
  • The Build Up Podcast by Alibaba – for Australian entrepreneurs looking to find a (virtual) friend who understands the struggles and challenges that we face as small business owners.  

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

My iPhone and MacBook – hands down! 

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

Oprah Winfrey – my forever idol. 

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

Life is messy. Let’s not be too hard on ourselves. 

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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.