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Balancing the Grind with Nathan Yun, Co-Founder & CEO of Paire

Nathan Yun is the co-founder & CEO of Paire, a fashion brand created out of frustration because he was tired of having holes in his wool socks after his cold morning surfs.

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

I came from a creative background, working in the film industry with Jackie Chan, during the early periods of my career. I found interest in marketing and branding later on and shifted my career into working for startups such as Brosa furniture. 

I am currently the co-founder and CEO of Paire. Managing the brand creative direction, content, IT departments, while closely liaising with the Growth Team and Operations Team. 

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

Every day is different. Normally I start my day with a homemade coffee and a short session (15 minutes) at my local bouldering gym.

I’m still in the middle of setting up our new office, so there’re many mornings where I need to pick up some essentials for office housekeeping from stores. I’ll cycle to work and get to the office around 9:30, check my emails and to-do list of the day, which never goes to plan. I like to schedule meetings in the morning between 10-11 am, and then early afternoon between 1-3 pm. 

In between meetings, for bigger pockets of time (15-30 minutes), I’ll be checking the progress and testing the website with new tech builds. For smaller pockets of time (1-10 minutes), I’ll be replying to emails and Slack messages. 

I’ll always block out a big pocket (2-3 hours) in my daily schedule to support my creative team in producing creatives, doing post-production, graphic designs or planning for new content production.

I’ll go for another short bouldering session (30 minutes) before dinner. And open my laptop again after dinner for another 1-3 hours of work. Catching up on the things I’ve missed on my to-do list. This is my quiet time and the time I’m most productive. I’ll also respond to customer tickets whenever I pick up the phone in my casual time, instead of scrolling through social media.

I try my best to have 7-8 hours of sleep every night.

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

No, it doesn’t. I work in the office with my team and manage most of the office housekeeping. 

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

I don’t tend to think about ‘work-life balance’ in such a way that ‘it has to be balanced’. I’m well aware that ‘work’ has already become an important part of my ‘life’. And I love my work. If enjoying ‘life’ means doing what you love most of the time, that means I should be working most of the time. 

I’m trying to achieve a stress-free life. Even though I love my work, it can still bring an enormous amount of stress at times. Identifying the sources of stress, making a plan to solve the problems step by step helps ease the stress, but not enough.

Having a fixed exercise routine, such as bouldering twice a day, even for such a short time, helps a lot. Having sufficient sleep every day is another habit that helps with stress management. And eat well, staying healthy. I guess looking after my physical health has been the most important way of achieving a stress-free life.

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

I started cycling to work last month. It helps me clear my mind before and after work, it’ll stop the work noise in my head when I’m riding. Also getting that extra bit of cardio makes me feel energetic when I arrive at work every morning and less fatigued when I arrive home at night.

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

I enjoy books and podcasts that are not business-related but still informative in some way. It takes my mind off work while being entertained. For podcasts, I always loved Radiolab, Stuff you should know and Ted radio hour. 

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

I feel ashamed to say this but I think I can’t live without my Apple Watch. It tracks all my daily activities and workouts. I always jokingly say if my watch didn’t track my workout, I didn’t do it. The sense of accomplishment gives me the strong motivation to stick to my workout routines every day. 

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

I would love to know how Elon Musk manages his work-life balance between all the projects he’s managing.

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

I wouldn’t blindly look at the word ‘work-life balance’ and start working towards it. It’s more important to know what ‘work’ means to you, and what you love about ‘life’. So you can start prioritising the right things and see clearer pictures of the problems.

Sometimes the real problem isn’t ‘work’ itself, but the stress that comes along with certain parts of it, or your choice of food isn’t nutritious, or you’re not getting enough sleep, or your incapacity to love your work. 

I’d say identifying problems individually and solving them separately, rather than throwing all work-related problems into one bucket and calling it a ‘work-life balance’ problem, will be a more efficient problem-solving approach.

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About Author

Balance the Grind is a work-life balance publication on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.