Salman Raza is the founder and CEO at Razalution Bureau, and the author of Life’s Non Conformities which shares insights on how to have a happy and productive workplace.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
I’m a biomedical engineer (BSc and ME in Biomedical Engineering) and started my career working as a Biomedical Engineer in hospitals across the UK.
Then, I worked at a medical device manufacturing company as a Regulatory Compliance Engineer and since then I’ve worked as a medical device regulatory auditor for more than a decade.
My interest in business and strategy led me back to academia where I completed my MBA in Innovation and Entrepreneurship as well as a master’s in strategic management. What can I say is that I’m a lifelong learner. Apart from my academic qualifications, I’m a licensed practitioner of national and organizational culture working in association with Hofstede Insights.
Now I run a business consultancy called Razalution Bureau where we help businesses realise their potential by providing holistic solutions from vision, strategy, management system development to effective team development and productive work culture.
2) What does a day in your life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
The beauty of my job is that every day is different. It really depends on what project I am working on. For example, my day can range from delivering a medical device regulatory training, conducting a regulatory audit, or even delivering a session on cultural awareness.
If I’m conducting an audit, I can be on-site at a medical device manufacturer. When this occurs, you can find me assessing their processes and ensuring that everything is compliant.
If I’m not completing an audit, I’m probably leading a training and awareness session on soft-skills, leadership, and helping clients formulate a strategy for their new launch in a different country (based on cultural dynamics).
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
We now live in a post-COVID world, and a lot of work is being done remotely. Irrespective of where I am (home or away), my day always starts at 5:30am. From 5:30 to 6:30, I spend my time reading online newspapers, articles, books, or whatever may be on my agenda to read.
If I’m lucky to work from home, I help prepare my kids for school, make their lunch, and drop my daughter off at primary school by 6:30. I usually squeeze in a coffee and make a cup of tea for my wife before dropping my son off at junior high by 7:20am.
Then, the grind begins. From 7:45 to 15:15 it’s pretty solid non-stop. At 15:15, I take a break for another school run and then for the rest of the day, I have a stop and go routine with regards to work. I break for dinner, for exercise and also to have some family time. I usually stop working around midnight and go to bed.
If I’m away from home for work, then I do my exercise in the morning before I start. But the rest of my hours remain the same. I also make time for reading and for doing exercise.
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
It’s a very personal thing. Everyone has their own way of defining work-life balance. Possibly, there is no one right or wrong way. To me, work-life balance is not a buzz word and it’s not a divine script that’s ordained for me to follow. It’s about making choices that are aligned with my life’s vision and objectives.
What I’ve learned from Clayton Christensen’s book How Will You Measure Your Life, is that, just like any business, you must identify your important projects and allocate your best resources to them. You can spend resources elsewhere but never at the cost of compromising resources for your core projects.
So, for me, my core projects in priority order are:
- Family / Kids
- Helping others including clients
- Financial security
- Personal development and personal care [learning, healthy lifestyle etc.]
- Personal luxuries (selfish things that only I enjoy – watching sports, TV shows, hanging out with friends etc).
Once you have your priorities set, the balance becomes easier. Whenever I have to make a choice, 90% of the time I compare my priority order and the choice becomes clear. I still make mistakes and deviate from this sometimes, but I always try to come back to this reference point.
5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
I have started to be more physically active each day – I try to bike five miles and walk three miles most days of the week.
I have also been working a lot more on ‘taming’ my ego and learning to accept uncontrollable things as they are. Even though I’ve been working on these things for a few years, there is always room for improvement. It is a constant struggle but the ultimate key to success.
6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
I have numerous books to recommend!
Firstly, How Will You Measure Your Life by Clayton Christensen was a life changing book for me. Additionally, I learned a lot from Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh. Good to Great by Jim Collins is another great book to read.
More recently, I really enjoyed Quiet by Susan Cain. All these books have really helped me formulate my life strategy and I’ll always be indebted to Clayton Christensen for helping me find my vision. If you read my book, you’ll find a lot more about how I find them useful.
7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?
I truly hope that there will never be any product or gadget (definitely not an app) that I cannot live without. That’s a scary thought!
My daily espressos and my favourite meal, lentil soup, which has been my daily staple for more than 40 years, might be a close category though.
If I have to choose one gadget, then it has to be my phone. Like almost everyone these days, I use it for many things such as reading, listening, watching etc. But as I said, I hope I’ll be able to live without it.
8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
I’d love to learn from anyone who feels they have achieved their life’s vision (or feels they’re on track to doing so) . They don’t have to be a millionaire or business tycoon. A cobbler, a schoolteacher, a barber, a plumber – anyone who feels they’re on track to meet their life vision (not just career goals) would be interesting to read.
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
Identify a vision for your life (not only financially but from a legacy perspective). Once you have identified the vision, identify objectives, set priorities and keep trying to meet your objectives, and never give up.
Like Les Brown, I believe “It is better to aim high and miss than to aim low and hit.” Once you have found your life vision (not career vision), only then will you find your own way to balance your life.
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