CEOs / Founders / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Silja Litvin Founder & CEO of PsycApps

Silja Litvin is the psychologist, founder, and CEO of PsycApps, developer of the multi-award-winning eQuoo – the Emotional Fitness Game. Her Techstars portfolio company uses gamification and psychology to help young adults help themselves.

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

I’m a clinical psychologist specialising in digital prevention and early interventions for depression anxiety and depression in young adults. After finishing school I travelled the world modelling for 10 years before starting my education in psychology at the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich where I am now a doctoral candidate while being a research fellow at UCL as well.

In 2016 I founded my company, PsycApps, to develop mobile-first evidence-based mental health products to help those with low access to mental health care. During my startup journey I learned that retention was the Nr1 challenge for mental health apps and decided to harness the know-how of the gaming industry to develop a tool that young adults actually stick to.

That led my team and I to building eQuoo, an evidence-based emotional mental health game that builds resilience while lowering depression and anxiety. We partner with secondary schools, colleges, and Universities to support young adults during their education.

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

I get up at 7, make breakfast for my toddler twins, get them dressed and down to breakfast around 7:45. I drive them to Kindergarten at 8:45 and then go to my home office to work until around 4:30/5. That’s when I join the kids for the rest of the day. Every now and then I do something with friends or family, but I try to reserve that time for the twins.

7:30 they’re in bed and I usually work a bit longer and then join my husband for dinner and a show or a book. Most of my workday revolves around product development, strategy and clinical research. I usually have 3-5 external calls and a lot of Slack Huddles during my day.

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

My work-life balance is a tight-rope-balance making sure I don’t drop the balls of being a present mother, a good CEO, a present partner and having some semblance of a social life. If anything falls too short, it’s my personal self-care time. And the balance is easily disturbed.

My husband had an emergency operation a few weeks ago, and while he was out, I nearly crashed. My approach is constant internal and external reflection and making small adjustments to keep things going.

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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 work out 2x a week with a personal trainer.

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

Oh yes, I find the Dr Huberman podcast great. Very insightful, with actions one can take and it’s all evidence-based. Because of him I started ‘sun-soaking’ for a few minutes every morning and breaking my fast a bit later than I used to.

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

If you are a mother and you have a startup, gear yourself for a marathon of a few years: fast and long. Keep an eye on your inner emotional compass and don’t get blinded by things that retrospectively weren’t worth your emotional resources or time. Practice gratitude and celebrate small moments in life. 

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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.