Balancing the Grind with Rebecca Holdt, Venture Manager at Antler

Rebecca Holdt is the Venture Manager at global VC & startup generator Antler, recently working on the company’s new global initiative, Antler Education.

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

I started at Bain & Company (a global management consulting firm) and for the past 3.5 years have primarily worked on growth strategy, customer experience and commercial excellence with executives across a broad range of companies and industries.

I was lucky to work in the Bain Australia, London and Singapore offices and mostly lived the stereotype of weekly flights to work, but loved it!

I recently started as the first employee at Antler Education, an invested global business of Antler (an early-stage venture capital fund) with a mission to educate and empower exceptional people.

We build products to share Antler’s startup generation and company building playbook with aspiring entrepreneurs across the world. Here I am tasked with creating and mobilising our global strategy.

In 5-weeks we designed, built and launched our first product, the Antler Launch Academy, a free online course where participants join a powerful community and learn from Antler’s venture builders, founders and investors.

We have had great traction so far and am excited for what’s to come! 

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

As you can imagine when standing up a new business, each day is rather dynamic but exciting!

A few times a week I come in early to the office to run our Antler Launch Academy Masterclasses.

This week I interviewed Mark Tanner (Co-Founder and COO of Qwilr) and Amy Smith (Managing Director and CMO of Hello Fresh ANZ). We then head for team coffee to properly wake up and align on priorities for the day.

The next few hours are dedicated to focused work time. Currently I’m developing our growth strategy, determining the evolution of our product, the next countries we are expanding to and the playbook to get there.

During the afternoon I switch gear to meeting mode. This week I interviewed candidates to join to our growing team. I also conducted ‘office hours’ sessions, where participants from the Launch Academy can call in to discuss their business idea or seek guidance. Our team can’t go long without jumping on the whiteboard for a brainstorming session.

After the gym and dinner with my housemates I might jump back online to get through some tasks such as replying to emails, check how our metrics are tracking and read through customer feedback. 

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

As with most companies, we have been working from home the past 3 months but have now transitioned to a hybrid model, spending 2-3 days at office and the rest at home.

This model is ideal as I’m highly efficient working from home but can’t resist the social side of work – I miss a spontaneous joke and corridor discussion! 

A new working style we have introduced is brainstorming sessions over hikes and walks, sometimes a desk and computer aren’t conducive to thinking outside the box!  

I think it is helpful to be outcome driven – what do we need to achieve this week vs. how many hours should we work, which helps drive flexibility around work schedules.   

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

Perhaps the biggest thing I think about is intrinsic motivation. I wake up excited to go to work as I really want to build and achieve our mission. When I’m intrinsically motivated, I am energised. This helps me achieve work life balance as I’m not grinding. 

Otherwise, big drivers of balance for me include regular exercise, enough sleep and predictable time off for family and friends. Working with an engaged team that is having fun makes work feel less like work! 

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

  • Defining ‘must do’ vs. ‘to do’ and becoming comfortable with an unfinished list (it will never be done) 
  • Walking meetings, so simple yet effective
  • Making more time for reading and learning on interest topics 
  • I hear meditation is all the rage, it’s on the to do list (I’ll get to it soon enough!) 

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

Each week our team shares something interesting we have learnt or read over the weekend, so I have been accumulating some good recommendations! 

  • a16z podcast – Andreessen Horowitz is a VC firm in Silicon Valley with a great podcast on tech, culture trends and the future
  • Benedict Evans does a fantastic newsletter on tech and media, they explain the news that matters so you get smart quickly 
  • ‘Educated’ the memoir by Tara Westover, provides a great perspective on the power of education, I had to keep reminding myself this was a true story 

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

I’m not sure I would know what day it was without my OneNote organising my life, although I’m about to make the overdue jump to Notion, it looks pretty slick and I’m partial to checklists and colour coding! 

I do have a soft spot for a soda stream (yes, it does make water more fun). 

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

I would love to hear more from Jacinda Ardern. Attending the United Nations with her baby was such a boss move more of this!

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

I always come back to the fact that we spend such a large portion of our lives at work, so how can we enjoy and make the most of this time. 

I think about finding the right crew to work alongside that motivates and inspires me, having a big picture mission or goal to work towards, defining and gravitating towards the type of work that gives me energy and taking time to celebrate the many wins along the way! 

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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.