Sarah Chee is the Senior Marketing Manager at Style Theory, Southeast Asia’s largest circular fashion platform.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
I’m in Growth Marketing, and I currently work for Style Theory, a circular fashion platform for designer bags and apparel. I started working after getting my Diploma in my early 20s and after three years and three jobs, I decided to start my own thing because I was deeply unhappy and hated every job I had, and I thought being my own boss would make me happy.
I started a beauty e-commerce store and worked with a few US and UK brands to bring their products to Singapore. After three years, I was burnt out and lost all the passion that I initially had. But I’d taken a keen interest in the startup world and learned a lot from running my own business and generating online sales.
Around that time, I chanced upon a startup focused on social change that was hiring for a Marketing role. I emailed the CEO and said I’d like to do Growth for them, and that I can generate users for them the same way I brought in sales for my own business. I got the job and my Growth career began there.
2) What does a day in your life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
I start my morning early around 7 AM. I usually go to the gym first thing in the morning or do a morning meditation, and then I start my workday. I write down a list of things I want to get done for the day, in order of importance, and I just work through that list at my own pace.
If I’m feeling really tired or distracted, I stop and do a 10 to 30 min NSDR mediation before getting back to work. And I usually end my work day around 6 or 7 PM.
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
My current role is fully remote. My current routine isn’t that much different compared to when I was working in the office. I still enjoy starting my day early, getting a workout done in the morning or at lunchtime, having a productive day, and not working past 7 PM.
I think the only difference is that I don’t travel to the office anymore. Everything else has remained the same and I still stick to the same routine as it works well for me.
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
Work-life balance for me is having the freedom to do what you want, when you want, in order to be the most productive you can be. And that will be different for everyone. Some people work better early in the day and some people work better at night. Some may feel that they’re more productive with a 4-day work week while others really need the “traditional” 5-day work week to get stuff done.
I think I have a good work-life balance because I’m disciplined and I know exactly what lets me do my best work, and I set up my entire routine and habits around that. So that’s working out early in the day, or at lunchtime, so I can ride on all the endorphins and mental clarity that comes after a workout.
I also eat well so that I feel good and think clearly. All of that allows me to do my best work so I can completely log off work and fully relax at the end of my workday. It also allows me to take an off day if I need to and without guilt.
5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
1. Intermittent fasting – this has been a game changer for me because having a set eating window prevents me from snacking non-stop. I also feel more energetic and focused when I’m in a fasted state.
2. Going to bed early and waking up early, preferably around the same time every night and day – having a consistent and healthy sleep schedule is so important for your circadian rhythm and mood.
3. Meal prepping so that I don’t have to think about what to eat and I eat well so that I feel good mentally, emotionally, and physically. This is so important because it’s sort of like working when you’re hungover VS. working when you’re feeling really focused and motivated – when you’re hungover you can’t think properly and you feel shit, so you could be working for hours and realise you didn’t really do anything of value at the end of the day. But when you feel good, you’re tackling hard problems and checking off things on your list so much easier and faster.
6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
My favourite podcasts at the moment are the Huberman Lab podcast (using neuroscience to improve health, mind, and body) and the Lex Fridman podcast (very interesting and deep conversations with various people).
My favourite newsletters are The Curiosity Chronicle by Sahil Bloom, James Clear’s 3-2-1 newsletter, and Lenny’s Newsletter by Lenny Rachitsky.
There are so many books I like and it really depends on what I’m trying to learn at that time, but the one book I’ve given as a gift and that I consider a classic and applicable to almost anyone, is Principles by Ray Dalio.
7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?
1. Zero app – it’s the best app IMO for people who do intermittent fasting! I’ve recommended this app to so many people who were just starting out intermittent fasting and they’ve stuck to it largely because of the app. It’s incredibly useful and powerful for building that habit.
2. Google Calendar – my life would be so much more disorganised without this app. The UI is great and I use it both for work and personal life. The iPhone’s calendar app just doesn’t cut it for me.
8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
It would have to be Elon Musk. I don’t think he has a good work-life balance, but it would be fascinating to see how he manages to do so much and what his day looks like.
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
It’s cliche but it’s true, don’t just focus on working hard, learn how you can work smarter. So it’s not really the number of hours you were sitting in front of the computer working, but what you were able to achieve in that X number of hours.
Help yourself out by setting up your environment in a way that lets you be the most productive you can be. Eat well and move your body so you feel better – mentally and physically – you’re more likely to do your best work when you can think clearly and when you feel good.
You’re more likely to be able to check out completely and enjoy yourself outside of work when you know that for that X number of hours you were working, you were smashing it!
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