Seb Robert is the CEO & Founder at Gophr, a tech platform that enables the booking of professional couriers by business customers and manages the process in real-time.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
I started my career in the music industry doing digital distribution and some label management. After that I moved into the digital agency space doing all sorts, then left that industry to work in logistics.
Not sure what the link between all three industries is, but I think branding and the intersection of technology and network effects has always been hugely appealing to me so let’s go with that!
2) What does a day in your life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
I get up around 7/7:30am, drink water, meditate and shower. To start my actual workday I’ll journal for 20 minutes to clear my head for the day ahead. Then I’ll take about 30 minutes to go through as much of my email inbox as possible before getting on with the day.
No two days are the same but generally, Mondays and Fridays are busy as I’m setting up the week and closing it off. I normally keep Tuesday to Thursday mornings free for focused work and then do meetings in the afternoon.
I try to take at least half an hour away from my desk for lunch. And I tend to leave my phone at my desk – it’s hard to resist the temptation to continue working on it otherwise.
My workday finishes around 6:30/7pm, but if I’ve promised to get something done by a deadline, I’ll work for as long as it takes to get it done.
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
At Gophr we’re entirely remote-first to make it easier for everyone to try and fit work around their lives. It’s a little harder for roles where you need to respond in real-time, such as sales or customer service, but it’s broadly true that it provides a lot more flexibility.
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
I’m not entirely sure to be quite honest. I’ve given it a lot of thought in the past as it’s important that everyone who works for Gophr is happy at work. It’s a bit like being on a rocketship that’s accelerating like crazy – even though it might be stressful, it’s incredibly exciting. The main thing is to keep your eyes and ears open to make sure no one is struggling. And if they are, find a way to address it. We’ve all struggled at some point.
5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
Yeah, in the last three months I’ve tried hitting 10,000 steps a day. It doesn’t happen every day but I’ve found that even 3-4000 steps helps clear my head. I struggle to find motivation for exercise everyday so 10 minutes of daily meditation works much better for me as it really helps to clear my mind.
At the end of the day I always (try to) review that morning’s journal entry to see how I’ve performed against it and identify ways I can improve. I’ve found that establishing a habit of self-reflection is important for personal and professional growth.
6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
The Knowledge Project podcast. It’s consistently great. Probably the most useful podcast I could recommend.
7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?
I really want to say my phone, but that seems pretty boring. Looking at my home screen I’d say Evernote and Shazam are key for me.
My MacBook Pro is the gadget I can’t live without. Even though I’ve set up my laptop and phone to be as distraction-less as possible (removing all notifications, etc) my phone feels more about entertainment and chatting to friends and family. My laptop is where I go to get stuff done.
8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
Steve Jobs because there’s not a lot of clarity on his approach to work-life balance. Some days he worked round the clock and others not. There seems to be records of him not getting into work until 10am or 11am (I think Jeff Bezos also officially starts his working day at 10am).
There’s a lot of lionisation of being available around the clock but I’m not sure it would live up to scrutiny. For example, you hear tales about Sundar Pichai (CEO of Alphabet) never sleeping but that can’t be true.
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
I’m a strong supporter of people exploring solutions to find one that works for them. Some people prefer consistency every day, others prefer to work round the clock in bursts and then relax.
I read an interesting article about June Huh, a mathematician who recently won a Fields Medal. He works about three hours a day and his work is incredibly taxing mentally so it’s understandable he can only work for that long. But it clearly pays dividends.
In contrast, I’m rubbish at maths but a large part of my role is supporting others to do their job, so Huh’s approach wouldn’t work for me! The point is that everyone’s different.
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