Growth / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Shivali Goyal, Head of Growth at Pillow

Shivali Goyal is the Head of Growth at Pillow, a company on a mission to make participation in DeFi as simple as possible.

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

I spent my childhood in a small city in India, and I always had a natural inclination towards technology. I was curious about everything — fertilizer production at my Dad’s company, NASA’s space missions, computers and all their applications. 

This curiosity led me to pursue engineering at one of the top engineering colleges in India, IIT Delhi. Post undergrad, I worked as a Consultant at Boston Consulting Group. Here too, I was mostly involved in projects that involved the use of technology to improve customer experiences, internal operations and more for clients. 

After BCG, I decided to venture into building and growing startups. I worked at an ed-tech startup where I helped scale the product across six countries.

My quest with new technologies eventually led me to the crypto space. After a few side projects of my own and just tinkering with the technology, I realised the potential it held for not just disrupting traditional finance, but collaboration at scale. That’s how I started working on, where our mission is to make crypto accessible to everyone.

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

I like to spend my mornings doing things that just help me recharge and set the right tone for the day. This includes a workout at home, followed by a small mediation routine. This is usually followed by breakfast and coffee. I also use this time to roughly plan my priority to-do’s for the day.

Sometimes, if there is critical “think” work or something that just needs me to immerse myself without any distractions, I spend 1-2 hours just doing that at home before heading for the office.

At the office, my day is usually packed with back to back meetings — both with my own team and external stakeholders. I also try to squeeze in a quick stroll or coffee in between meetings.

Once I’m back home by evening, it is just dinner followed by some TV and spending time with my family. I like to read a bit before calling it a day.

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

For many people, work-life balance is about limiting the number of hours you put into work. For me, it’s not necessarily about that. 

Firstly, I feel it’s really important that you truly enjoy what you do. If you’re spending more than 50% of your conscious time on something that you don’t feel connected to, what’s even the point? Over the last few years, I have actively tried to seek roles and missions that I feel passionate and energetic about.

Secondly, I think work life balance is also about the ability to ‘switch off’ easily for other things that you love doing — like spending time with family, focussing on your health, finding time for vacations.

Over the years, I’ve taken small steps that have worked really well in that aspect — like putting away my phone once I’m home, or resisting the urge to reply to that email or message right away. 

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4) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?

I started meditating for 10 minutes a day a few months back, and it has had a huge impact on my life. I had never expected this, but it has really helped me gain more balance and perspective in how I react to people and situations, especially the tough ones.

I have also tried to consciously reduce ad-hoc work on weekends. Sometimes, when there are critical things to be done, or even for planning out the coming week — I have started fixing up one or two hours on Sundays to go through these things all at once. This helps me avoid sporadic work spread out over the weekend.

5) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?

Aside from the books I read on startup and business growth, I’ve recently enjoyed reading Ikigai by Francesc Miralles and Hector Garcia. It offers a wonderful perspective on what a balanced life truly looks like – in terms of food, work, community, health and more.

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

I’ve always been impressed by Indra Nooyi, the ex-Chairman of PepsiCo, of how she managed such a demanding job while having a good sense of life outside work and family. After her retirement, she’s also actively pursuing passions like learning ballet while also working on interesting projects like writing her own book, so that’s definitely inspiring. 

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

I think the biggest learning for me has been that — for every positive change that you want to introduce into your life, start small. 

Finding time for a 10 minute stretch on a yoga mat is far better than signing up for a two hour gym routine, which you probably won’t be able to stick to. 

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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.