Balancing the Grind with Shem Wadowski, Co-Founder & COO at Iodo

In our latest Balancing the Grind conversation, we chat with Shem Wadowski, Co-Founder & COO of Iodo. Shem shares his unique journey from the hospitality industry to the fast-paced world of startups.

Shem gives us a glimpse into his daily life, from early morning routines to strategic planning at Iodo, and talks about how he balances his busy professional schedule with personal time and self-care.

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

I began my professional career in the hospitality industry, working across Poland, Ireland and the UK including Edinburgh and London. I’ve had the privilege of managing operations in various settings, from fine dining Michelin-starred restaurants to more casual establishments like Jamie Oliver’s Jamie’s Italian.

My roles primarily focused on managing and shaping operations, creating new brands, and overseeing national and international expansion.

In 2020, amidst uncertain times, I made a significant shift from the hospitality industry after over 15 years of climbing the ladder to the exhilarating world of start-ups.

My role at Getir marked this transition during its critical phase of international expansion in the UK, where I played a crucial role in operations and internal growth.

My journey took another innovative turn in June 2023 when I joined the Antler incubator programme, co-founding a team passionate about redefining last-mile delivery.

We launched Iodo, a data-driven, real-time optimisation platform for urban delivery logistics.

As COO, I leverage my extensive operational expertise to navigate the complexities of building a business that challenges and innovates within the industry.

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

Each day begins with reading news from selectively chosen channels like Bloomberg and LinkedIn, accompanied by my morning herbal tea.

Following a brief reading session, I head for an energising workout in my home gym to set a positive mindset for the rest of the day.

My workdays are filled with fresh challenges and opportunities, starting with strategic team discussions that set the tone for the day ahead.

By midday, I will pivot to engaging in dialogues with our early adopters and customers who are testing our software. This enriches our perspective and guides our product development.

As a hybrid worker, I seize the opportunity at home to have lunch with my partner, who also works from home. This allows us to pause and enjoy a homemade meal, nourishing ourselves for the rest of the day.

The early morning interactions with customers blend into my afternoon schedule, focusing on raising funds and navigating the complexities of securing financial support essential for our growth.

Networking events in the evening are crucial to our growth strategy, allowing us to foster vital industry connections. If I’m not networking, I head to the gym with my partner for a cardio session or choose this time to indulge in a book.

This dynamic blend of strategic planning, customer interaction, community engagement, and personal work-life balance encapsulates the essence of my role, ensuring every day is both productive and rewarding.

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

For me, work-life balance is the art of harmoniously and sustainably weaving professional ambitions with personal passions. It’s about managing time effectively to dedicate moments to personal passions, shared happiness with loved ones, and professional life without compromising any of them.

In the hospitality industry, work-life balance has been an abstract term for many years, with success often measured by target performance metrics and time spent at the workplace. I’ve rigorously tried to change this perspective.

I’ve advocated for years for providing balance for hospitality employees, proving that this approach brings gains not only on a personal level for the employees but also boosts the company’s performance.

Beyond the flexibility required in a start-up, I dedicate time to personal development and relaxation. I’m learning new languages and enriching my cultural understanding. Leisure time is spent adventuring outdoors, hiking, travelling, or immersing myself in London’s rich cultural tapestry through theatre visits and culinary explorations with my partner.

This blend of activities fuels my creativity and resilience, ensuring a fulfilling and balanced life.

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?

I’ve embraced significant lifestyle changes in the past year to enhance my well-being and productivity.

I’ve continued my practice of a Dry Q1, abstaining from alcohol to start the year on a strong note, which has significantly benefited my focus and overall health.

Additionally, I’ve leaned into my passion for cooking, committing to a diet devoid of processed foods. This supports my physical well-being and serves as a creative outlet.

I also regulated my sleep cycles by adding a strict routine around pre-bed time activities and by monitoring my sleep and analysing my data from the device.

Adopting regular digital detoxes, especially over weekends, has been another transformative step, allowing me to return to my entrepreneurial endeavours refreshed and more focused than ever.

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

I recommend various resources for those interested in business, personal development, and the intersection of technology and business. The Lean Start-up by Eric Ries and Gap Selling by Keenan are pivotal books offering insights into efficient business modelling and the nuances of sales, respectively.

Podcast enthusiasts will find valuable perspectives on life optimisation from The Tim Ferriss Show and practical business advice from Give It A Nudge. Additionally, The Exponential View newsletter by Azeem Azhar provides compelling analyses of future trends, essential for anyone keen on staying ahead in the rapidly evolving landscape of technology and business.

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

Chart your path with the awareness that evolution is at the heart of life.

Aim to cultivate a harmonious lifestyle where professional ambitions and personal fulfilment intersect.

Allow your passions to guide your pursuits, treating innovation not just as pursuing new ideas but as an opportunity to see the world from fresh perspectives. 

In the dance of life, embrace adaptability, curiosity, and resilience.

These qualities will empower you to create a legacy reflecting your deepest values and aspirations.

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.