CEOs / Founders / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Sanjeev Rao, CEO & Co-Founder at Syrax

Sanjeev Rao is the CEO & Co-Founder at Syrax, a decentralised cryptocurrency payment solutions provider that specialises in proprietary gateway technology.

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Let’s start with your background! Can you share with us your career journey and what you’re currently up to?

After completing my undergraduate degree I started a career in Retail & e-Commerce working across buying, pricing, marketing and operations functions. 

After entering larger leadership roles I wanted a competitive edge to potentially help further my career. So I went back to university part time to start my post graduate degree. Unfortunately after two years of work and study, I was physically exhausted and didn’t have any sort of work life balance. I was no longer enjoying work or study as both were no longer fulfilling. 

I wanted a change so I decided to defer my study and invested my time into various start-ups. I then realised how hard it was to fund a company and still maintain a profit. 

I was now even more exhausted and ended up selling most of my start-ups just to get my life back. I was obviously not as smart as I thought and had not managed to improve my work life balance at all.      

I decided to go back to university with a view to actually learning and improving myself. I completed my postgraduate degree with a different mindset and transitioned into strategy and consulting.

Start-up was always on my mind and I wanted more support to scale effectively and utilise my key strengths. I then joined the Antler VC Founders program and met my now Co- Founder Babak Rafat. We were fortunate enough to gain funding for the creation of Syrax, which is a decentralised cryptocurrency payment gateway. 

We’d love to know what a typical day is like for you. Could you describe a recent workday?

I try to be as structured as possible to give time for uncontrollable factors and variability of work and life. If I don’t organise myself I can spend the whole day doing tasks that don’t build up to the overall fundamental objective. 

As everyone states, no day is the same in start-up but if you are structured, you can prioritise what is important.

  • I start the day with my to do list and review key tasks for the day
  • I check my Calendar for appointments and check all messages 
  • I have my daily morning meeting with my Co- Founder to ground ourselves on what is important for the day, week and month.  
  • I normally go for a walk or run at lunch time but recently I have pushed this out until the end of the day.  
  • I try to have all meetings between 9am and 7pm however two to three international meetings a week do push these rules around.   
  • I spent the evening reviewing the latest Web3 and finance related news and content. 
  • I finish the day with creating my new to do list with key things I need to complete the following day. 

Can you define work-life balance for yourself and share with us your approach in maintaining it?

In the past I have always been terrible at work life balance. I have always prioritised work and it has led to poor health. Being single minded and focused has its advantages with any task. However, working for days without a break unfortunately only leads to poor health, either short term or longer term.  

The approach I now take is to incorporate health and family activities into my day. I used to separate work and personal life as recommended. Now, however with more time spent working from home I prioritise my personal health around work in my diary. I am still not very good at this and it is a work in progress but I am conscious and more self-aware to make an effort to put myself first.   

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Change is constant, and it’s essential for growth. Have you made any lifestyle changes in the past year to improve your work-life balance?

The most major change I have made in this last year is making a point to go hiking once a week with friends or family. It allows me to engage with people away from any interference, especially technology.      

We’re always on the lookout for new resources! Can you recommend any books, podcasts, or newsletters that have helped you in your journey towards balance?

Harvard Business Review January 2001. “The Making of a Corporate Athlete” by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz

The article discusses how business executives continually manage stress and workplace demands. It has many insights into the body, mind and offsetting stress to restore positive energy. The technique I use the most is doing a mindless activity like going for short walks or a run. It works for me on most occasions and tends to activate solutions or next steps to solving potential problems.  

Before we wrap up, do you have any final words of wisdom or insights on work, life, or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?

Everybody is different and the amount of time you allocate to work will depend on your lifestyle. You can only build a balance that is right for you. There is no right answer for work life balance as it changes all the time. I did the preparation for this interview at 11pm. Is that bad? Or will it help someone who reads this to maintain balance? All I know is that I was highly motivated to share my mistakes so others don’t have to make them.       

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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.