Founders / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Nikhil Krishnan, Founder of Get Real

Nikhil Krishnan is the Founder of Get Real, where he’s creating an online-offline community using prompts and events. He is also on a mission to make healthcare more accessible with comedy via Out Of Pocket.

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

My first job was at a company called CB Insights in 2014, where I did a lot of market research around trends in tech. I helped build out our healthcare research team, doing a lot of reports about how tech was changing the healthcare industry.

Afterwards I worked at a company called TrialSpark in the clinical trials space doing partnerships and business development.

Today I’m working on two companies. One is called Get Real, which is an online-offline social network. The goal is to use prompts in an online forum + events to make it easier for people to learn about each other online and then meet each other offline.

The second company I’m working on is called Out Of Pocket. The goal is to make it easier for people to understand how healthcare works by using comedy. It’s started with a newsletter, and will be branching out to some new products that I’m excited to announce soon.

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

Well as you can imagine during a pandemic a workday looks pretty weird. I typically wake up at 10ish, play a quick round of jeopardy on Alexa. I make breakfast.

Then I’m usually doing some combination of reading healthcare papers/articles, responding to things in the Get Real forums or the Out Of Pocket slack channel, writing the next newsletter, and some consulting work on the side for some startups and VCs.

I take a break for lunch, a break to workout, and usually try to zoom or play video games for an hour or so every night. I know people say that no day looks the same, but there really isn’t a day that looks similar.

Yesterday for example I was trying to find an accountant to help me with my books. Another day I’m building a searchable database for Out Of Pocket members to see specific interesting chats that have happened in the channel. Another day I’m spending helping a startup with their fundraising deck. 

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

Starting a company means it’s definitely flexible. I’ve realized that I’m way more of a night owl, and generally do my best work from 10-1 am. Those flexibility in hours let me experiment way more with my schedule. 

I can work from wherever I want, but with the pandemic that doesn’t mean a ton of benefits. But it’s nice to be able to work from home since I can do more types of cooking/cocktail making that require longer periods of time (slow cooking, dutch oven, infusing, etc.).

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

Personally – there is no difference between work and life for me, and that’s a somewhat an intentional choice. Work has become a core part of my identity and become a key way for me to find other people that have similar interests and drives. No matter what you do, work is going to be 1/3rd+ of your waking hours, so you can either be miserable for 1/3rd of your life, reframe it so that it’s fun, or find a job you genuinely love.

I also tend to look for jobs that have people that I would genuinely want to hang out and spend time with. Many of the people I’ve worked with have become very close friends, and that’s partially because we’ve spent so much time together, have gone through conflicts and commiseration together, and know each others interests.

I also find that by not compartmentalizing work and life, I don’t view them as antagonistic and figure out ways to separate them. This actually brings me more harmony internally than trying to treat them so separately. In fact, many of my side “passions” e.g. helping people connect, end up being beneficial for me career wise because it helps build and strengthen my network, even if I don’t think of it that as the end goal.

So short story – I’ve reframed work to be more casual and fun, and play to have benefits in work. This means there’s no line, but that ends up being beneficial.

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

I’ve switched to doing home workouts 2x for a shorter time each, and found it’s a great way to re-energize myself when I start losing steam. I’ve also basically stopped eating out (both for monetary and health reasons) and started cooking way more, which has also been therapeutic.

I’ve picked up cocktail making for fun and it’s a very cool way to experiment with ingredients.
Frankly I’m not great at sticking to new habits – I always like to dive into something and change things up.

I think a lot of people talk about how sticking with things equals compounding growth yada yada yada but honestly I’m too unfocused and too eager to try other stuff. Spontaneity is underrated, and we should do more things just because their fun instead of sticking to too many routines IMO.

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

Other than my own obviously, Matt Levine’s Money Stuff newsletter for Bloomberg is great and was a huge inspiration for the healthcare x humor approach to Out Of Pocket.

If you want to learn about healthcare as a non-healthcare person, Catastrophic Care is a great start.

I’m a big fan of Planet Money podcasts – I think they’ve done a great job with storytelling around different niche parts of the economy. 

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

A slow cooker has now become my best friend for bulk cooking. Definitely recommend if you’re getting started, because it’s hard to mess it up if you’re just starting to learn how to cook.

The Great Suspender chrome extension has saved me a ton of space when I have a million chrome tabs open so I highly recommend that for anyone that finds themselves hoarding tabs.
I use Things 3 to help me stay on top of tasks, and it’s very powerful if you invest in it.

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

Would be interesting to hear how a famous actor/actress thinks about work-life balance, especially one that plays a wide diversity of role types (Christian Bale, Will Smith, Natalie Portman, etc.). It must be extremely difficult and emotionally complicated to separate the two, if it’s possible at all.

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

I think we’re always conditioned to draw lines between our work and personal lives, when for a lot of people work is what gives them meaning and identity. I think the default reaction is that it’s a bad thing if your job becomes everything.

But honestly I don’t see it that way – I don’t view work and life as needing to be at odds with each other. I think it’s more interesting to think about what you do in your personal life that you love that you can potentially turn into a business or income. 

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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.