Balancing the Grind With Sean DeLaney, Podcast Host of What Got You There

Sean DeLaney is the host of What Got You There, a podcast that focuses on the journey behind some of the world’s most successful people, uncovering the strategy, tactics, and routines that helped them get there.

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

My career started off while playing professional lacrosse which led to me starting a camp and elite travel lacrosse company. Having this entrepreneurial endeavor early in my career fast forwarded my growth in terms of running a business, marketing, learning how to sell and the thousand others things you need to do when running a startup.

This led to a job with Nike which helped me develop some of those skills while managing a territory that expanded across 30+ states. During this time I began investing and working with other companies to help with growth.

Those opportunities continued to develop and coalesced into where I’m at now hosting the What Got You There podcast where I have long form conversations with change makers and learn about the path they took for their success.

In addition I have started and become involved as an investor and advisor with a handful of other companies. I’m interested in many different things and having the conversations between the podcast, investments and companies has helped me develop more then I could have ever imagined.

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

My day is the culmination of a strict routine and having a blank calendar to let my creativity thrive and find serendipitous opportunities.

Each day I have between 2-3 strict “deep work” time slots of roughly 90-120 minutes of little distraction where I can dive into work. This work can be preparing for an upcoming podcast interview, studying different investment opportunities, writing an article, reaching out to people who are the best in their field to help understand different problems and help discover opportunities.

I’ve found that if I have structure to certain parts of my day it allows me to get a bunch of work completed and then I leave huge gaps in my calendar for more creative endeavors and more reading. I have found that during these open times slots where I can step back and think I have the biggest breakthroughs in my businesses.

Each day I try to have physical activity, read at least an hour and have unwinding time with friends and family to let my mind relax.

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

Yes after spending years on airplanes and on other peoples schedules I’ve restructured my entire life to have flexibility in regards to amount I work and where I work.

If working remotely is something you want but isn’t feasible at this point in time work at finding ways to create that in your work life. Having this flexibility can also have its disadvantages because you can constantly be bombarded with opportunities that take you away from work so it will help if you are self motivated in order to remain focused.

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

I don’t view it as having a work life balance but instead I try and pursue work opportunities that I find joy in. That doesn’t mean they aren’t difficult or aren’t stressful at times but the satisfaction I get out of them allow me to now view them as work.

Many of the businesses I’m involved with are with people I view as great friends so drawing a line in the sand between work and life doesn’t apply. With that being said there are times with my family and friends where I put away my phone and don’t think about work and there are times when my family know works going to demand more of my time.

It’s going to be difficult to find a good balance if you view your work as “work” so I feel lucky that I love what I get to do for work. If there is someone looking for that balance I would try and find what type of “work” you can do that feels like play.

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5) What do you think are some of the best habits or routines that you’ve developed over the years to help you achieve success in your life?

Growing up playing sports instilled many great habits that have stuck with me overtime. A few that have stuck with me for at least a decade now are:

  • Everyday do some sort of physical activity to get your blood moving and maintain your overall physical fitness.
  • Become a lifelong learner where each day you’re reading books, consuming content or having conversations with people you can learn from.
  • Find the time of day you do your best work and be brutally protective of that time. For me it’s very very early in the morning when no-one else is awake. This is the time I do my best thinking and reading so I make sure I do this everyday without fail.
  • When you’re trying to hard to solve a problem the best thing you can do at times is get up and go for a walk or do something to clear your head.
  • Have a long term approach and understand how little improvements each day have a tremendous benefit in the long run. A 1% improvement each day results in a 37X improvement at the end of the year.

Having systems that I do each day instead of having specific goals is the single best thing I’ve done to get the most out of my day.

6) Are there any books that have helped you improve over the years?

Most of what I’m reading can be found at my reading list. Some of my favorites are:

  • Shoe Dog by Phil Knight
  • Seeking Wisdom: From Darwin to Munger by Peter Bevelin
  • Principles by Ray Dalio
  • Poor Charlie’s Almanack by Peter Kaufman and Charlie Munger
  • Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr. by Ron Chernow
  • Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
  • Pre-Suasion by Robert Cialdini

7) What is the number one thing you do to make sure you get the most out of your day?

Having systems that I do each day instead of having specific goals is the single best thing I’ve done to get the most out of my day.

Some of those systems include minimum of 2 “deep work” sessions of uninterrupted time, reading for at least and hour and doing something physical to clear my head. If I do these things everyday I know without a doubt overtime I will be a better person who’s capable of better work.

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

Sir Richard Branson. When I think about what an ideal life looks like for me I often picture Sir Richard Branson. He’s involved with 300+ companies, travels constantly, challenges himself, takes on big challenges and appears to be having fun during all of it. How can one person be capable of so much?

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

The times I have started to have the biggest breakthroughs with my personal and business life are when I’ve taken the time to step back and not just focus on “grinding” it out. When you can realize you can’t go 100mph at all times is when you start having your best work.

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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.