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Balancing the Grind with Paulwyn Devasundaram, Founder at Medoo

Paulwyn Devasundaram is the founder at Medoo, a purpose-built coaching companion tool that helps people design and live their best lives.

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

I am a software engineer by background, having studied Computer Science & Electronics Engineering at university. Some of my past roles have been as an engineer in the Jira team at Atlassian, where I was fortunate to experience the transition from a pre-IPO scaleup to a high-growth public company.

Likewise, at Canva, I joined as an engineer, and grew into a senior leadership role in the span of 3.5 years, which was an incredible experience. My current role is the co-founder of an early stage startup, Medoo, where we are building a software tool for career, leadership, life and transformative coaches, and their clients.

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

My days at the moment are a mixture of many different types of activities, as I currently wear the Founder, CEO and CTO hats.

This means that in a day, I will usually have some combination of the following activities: writing/reviewing code, chatting with our engineers on any issues we might have run into, writing technical design documents, working with my co-founder Allard to plan our roadmap & sprints, having ‘big picture’ brainstorms to figure out key strategies, meetings with potential investors discussing our product and plans, or discussions with lawyers on essential legal paperwork.

I find this to be a very exciting phase in our product and business journey, so I love having this variety in my days. However, I find that it’s important to plan my day/week as much as possible, because some activities (like writing code) require solid chunks of uninterrupted focus time. So if I don’t plan ahead to make this time, it’s very easy to fall behind. 

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

Yes! Being flexible with the hours and location of work allows us to manage our schedules in a way that makes the most sense for our individual needs.

Personally for me, this means that I can be much more at ease with organising calls with people in other timezones, without feeling like I need to eat into my personal time, for example.

I can now structure my days so that I have yoga, meditation and dog-walking breaks when we need them during the day, and still complete my daily goals, which is a win-win!

I find that changing up the location from where I work can be an incredible driver of creativity: it can help me break out of ruts, look at problems in a new light, and make new & interesting connections. Serendipity can be the engine of creativity and innovation; and with flexibility in work, there is more room for serendipity.   

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

For me, there is often no clear delineation between ‘work’ and ‘life’ at the moment. Some of the reasons for this being:

1) I genuinely love what I’m doing, and what we are building with Medoo, so I often find myself losing track of time when I’m working

2) my co-founder is also my partner, so we naturally discuss ‘work’ over walks, dinners, drives, morning coffees, etc, and

3) we have, like many other people, been working from home for over two years now, so work has blended into our lives more than it did previously.

While all of this means that work is a big part of my life, I intentionally ensure that I make time for activities I love doing like yoga, scuba diving, paddle boarding; and spend quality time with friends.

Collectively, this intentional apportioning of time helps create a sense of balance by helping me capture all dimensions of wellness. I find that this is always a work in progress though, and I look back at the last few years with pride in how far I’ve come with finding my balance.

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

Started: doing morning and evening yoga sessions every day relatively recently. The meditative nature of yoga helps me start and end the day with a calm state of mind, while the stretching and movement helps me overcome the discomfort that comes with being at a desk for a large part of the day.

Stopped: ordering takeout and buying coffees frequently. Partly motivated by trying to be thrifty while being a bootstrapping startup founder, and partly motivated by wanting to be healthy, making all my meals at home has helped me maintain much better energy levels through the day and feel a lot healthier overall.

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

Books: Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar . . .: Understanding Philosophy Through Jokes, by Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein. Loved the fun way of exploring complex (and often serious) philosophical theories! Highly recommend to anyone who also thinks that Philosophy can (and should) be fun. The Fabric of the Cosmos, by Brian Greene. Being a little bit of a theoretical physics enthusiast, I loved this book by Brian Greene. 

Newsletter: ACM magazine. Slightly trad I suppose (and perhaps not quite a newsletter), but I love the broad perspective that ACM provides on the latest developments in various technology areas, my particular favourites being computer hardware and artificial intelligence.

Podcast: The Startup Playbook Podcast by Rohit Bhargava. Rohit’s sensitively (and thoughtfully) conducted interviews with founders were my go-to for motivation when I was trying to find the conviction to go full time on my startup. Shout out to Rohit, in case you are reading this!

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

1Password and Google Authenticator/YubiKey. 

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

Grace Tame. She’s had incredibly traumatic experiences in the past, and yet she’s turned that around to become a source of inspiration for others. She’s extremely passionate about her work and advocating for change and I’d love to hear about what balance looks like when you are that passionate about something.  

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

I’d like to share the words of someone far wiser than myself, Ronni Kahn:

I’d say be brave and courageous because all you have is now. You might think that you could stay doing what you do and it will give you security, but we have no idea what’s around the corner. Life is too short not to live a purposeful, meaningful, joyous, enriched life.

Ronni Kahn: ‘Be brave and courageous, because all you have is NOW’ | Business Chicks

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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.