Balancing the Grind with Sophia Shluger, Venture Partner at VNTR Capital

Sophia Shluger is the Venture Partner at VNTR Capital, an investment syndicate and investors community focusing on investments into fast-growing startups from Series B+ to Pre-IPO rounds. 

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

Currently I am a Venture Partner at VNTR Capital, which is a dynamic community of established investors who collaborate, share deal flow and co-invest.

Previous to that I was the Europe Managing Director for Amber Group, a fintech unicorn and crypto native market maker, responsible for institutional expansion both in the UK and across EMEA.

I am a financial services executive and global business development professional, with 15+ years of track record and deal-making experience from Goldman Sachs, XP, Santander Investment Securities and American Express, among others.

Before transitioning into digital assets, I worked in an investment advisory capacity within FX, equities, equity derivatives and private debt, with a focus on Latin America and responsibility for building out new commercial relationships and investment businesses. 

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

A day in my life is usually very busy! Ultimately it depends on the month and the geography. As the digital assets’ industry ethos is one of decentralisation, I often work on a remote-first basis and travel to speak or participate at global events or conferences.

A normal day starts with catching up on industry news, my portfolio and emails, followed by calls and virtual or client facing meetings mostly related to deal sourcing or the distribution of different investment opportunities.

I try to find time for short productivity breaks but am often back to back with meetings and calls. What gets me through a busy day are quick scheduled breaks to get up and stretch and keep the blood flowing.

I have a goal of hitting 11K steps a day, which I rarely miss. In the evenings I try to decompress with a social or cultural activity as well as reading time. I don’t subscribe to any ultra regimented schedule of waking up at the crack of dawn.

Having a consistent work and sleep schedule and eating well is crucial to me for staying healthy and productive and there are only so many hours in the day, it is all about trade-offs.

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

Work life balance is increasingly challenging in a 24/7 world regardless of your role or industry. Our increased connectivity is a double edged sword allowing for more productivity but also more opportunities and hence work overall.

Being proficient at multitasking has been critical for me as I’m often working on multiple initiatives at the same time, but it’s a skill I have honed over many years. I’d attribute that to long days early in my career at Goldman Sachs as essential training for my stamina to put in 10+ hour workdays.

Work-life balance, if I had to define it, means being able to operate at my highest capacity with little to no negative cost to my health or overall well-being. Whether it’s hitting the gym 2-3x a week or seeing an exhibit or theatrical performance, it means having the time to plan and enjoy other things outside of work on a weekly basis that rejuvenate my mind and soul.

I always make time for loved ones and for activities that use a different part of my brain. But my secret is staying in top physical shape, which I do by walking a lot, eating well at home and running at least 6-9 miles a week. 

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

Yes, I recently stopped drinking caffeine which has improved the consistency of my energy levels throughout the day and allows me to wake up more rested and alert.  I’ve also been more careful to not imbibe at work events or conferences as it can drain energy the following day.

If I were to provide one piece of advice about a habit that has had an outsized positive impact on my work-life balance it would be this: don’t underestimate the benefit of home cooked meals. Food is your fuel and it’s easy to get carried away buying pre-made food or ordering in and getting takeout.

If you have agency over the quality of the food that fuels you throughout your day, you will experience remarkable short and long term benefits. Sure it takes more time and some forward planning but it’s my number 1 hack to living a productive, energetic and healthy life (not to mention the benefit of learning a new skill of cooking and eating well).

Always beware of shortcuts, there are hidden costs to them and most times those costs are not always immediately apparent. 

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

Many! At the moment I’m finishing up the book Blockchain Revolution by Don and Alex Tapscoot, which I highly recommend. I’d also recommend some of the more popular crypto podcasts like Bankless and The Defiant among others. Outside of digital assets, I love reading macro research and top news sources like NYTimes.

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

No one in particular comes but generally I’d love to understand how working mothers in the C suite successfully manage both their career and home life as I have heard that can be very difficult.

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

I truly believe (and know) that if you find the work that you love, work-life balance will be more easily achieved as your work will become a part of your life and not feel like work anymore. 

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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.