Mika Siddiqui is the Co-Founder & CEO at Focia, a platform for aspiring content creators and social media analysts.
Let’s start with your background! Can you share with us your career journey and what you’re currently up to?
My first job was working as a Data Science intern, and initially landed the role because of some stuff I worked on during a case competition at University. This role started my career as a Data Scientist for about 3 years.
My startup journey started recently, but was always on the back of my mind. It’s not so much the fact that I always wanted to build a startup, my goal was to do what my 16 year old self did for fun but professionally!
I grew up watching VFX tutorials as a kid, because it made me feel like I had superpowers. Watching a tutorial for 20 minutes would give you the ability to create something amazing. I felt that nothing was hard to learn if you had the time, which is what led me down the path of programming and machine learning.
My co-founder Umesh and I both went to high school together and found common ground with creating VFX, photography and coding projects after school. We always knew that we would eventually work on something cool together, and kept this up even throughout our working lives.
A little project my co-founder Umesh and I were working on after work was this tool that could predict how much engagement your online content would get before posting it, which a bunch of our friends found quite useful. We both decided to take it more seriously and it eventually turned into a startup which became Focia!
We’d love to know what a typical day is like for you. Could you describe a recent workday?
In all honesty both of our schedules are unusually chaotic and change quite often. We typically have one or two overarching goals that we want to encompass the next month (e.g. next iteration product launch).
In terms of how that translates into day-to-day tasks, it’s usually 1-2 main focus areas daily that contribute toward that main milestone for the month.
My usual day starts off by either picking up yesterday or starting on the next focus area. I make time for Muay Thai training in between as well as cooking and meal times. My schedule is normally as follows:
- 9AM-12PM – Work tasks
- 12PM-1PM – Food break
- 1PM – 4:30PM – Work tasks
- 5PM – 7PM – Muay Thai training
- 7:30 – 9PM – Food break
- 9PM – 12AM – Work tasks
Can you define work-life balance for yourself and share with us your approach in maintaining it?
Work-life balance to me is always making time for physical and mental health. One aspect of my life that I always want to keep close is my Muay Thai training. Muay Thai is the national Thai sport of kickboxing and is what keeps be mentally and physically positive. I usually don’t have a choice as to when I can train due to the fixed class schedules, so I always try to revolve startup life around the classes.
Another aspect of my life that I really enjoy is cooking, which I always try to make time for during the day. Some days it’s hard to either make a class or have the time to cook, and in all honesty I would say that 2 days out of the week are completely out of whack. I always anticipate things not being perfect so it gives me flexibility to adjust during the week.
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?
Making time for hobbies (Muay Thai) is one of the biggest physical and mental improvements of the past year to my work-life balance.
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?
I find strangely similar parallels between startups and fighters. Although not quite related to startups and balance, I feel this video reinforces the idea of mental character and focusing on what is truly important. This mindset is what helped me get through tough times during this journey!
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?
It is very likely I will look back at this and have a completely different lifestyle and schedule. I feel like everyone has completely different ways to balance their lives with work and it’ll always be evolving and adjusting depending on what gets thrown at you, but that’s what makes life so interesting!
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