CEOs / Founders / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Sunil Sandhu, Founder & CEO at In Plain English

Sunil Sandhu is the founder & CEO at In Plain English, a publishing and learning company that runs the publications: AI In Plain English, JavaScript In Plain English, and Python In Plain English.

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

I’ve had a somewhat nomadic career so far. Having graduated from university with a Law degree (and quite quickly realising that it wasn’t the career for me), I spent the subsequent years working in recruitment, then as a manager for a communications company.

In my mid-twenties I decided to scratch an itch I had as a teen and pursued a career in software development – this involved spending about 18 months teaching myself how to code while also working the full time job I had at the communications company.

I then spent the next few years working for various creative agencies and startups. During this period, I set up a publication based around the JavaScript programming language (a popular language used in millions of websites).

The publication (JavaScript in Plain English) grew massively, to the point where I decided to quit my job working for a healthcare startup in London in order to focus solely on growing the publication and brand (In Plain English).

We developed partnerships with several high profile companies in the tech space, set up three more publications, took on full-time paid staff, and continue to excel in our space. I have now assumed the role of CEO.

This typically entails the running of weekly meetings with staff, making decisions on current matters, occasional liaising with clients, and outlining the vision for the future of In Plain English.

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

As sole Founder of the company, my role typically revolved around liaising with writers, copyediting duties, management of social media channels, copying bits of software to help automate processes, and general administrative duties.

Since taking on two Editors and a Social Media Manager, I’ve been able to step away somewhat from the usual day-to-day running of In Plain English, in order to be able to focus on developing partnerships, and planning what the next five years will look like.

3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?

The role is completely remote. Owning your own company can simultaneously feel flexible and restrictive. I can pick and choose when I want to work, but at the same time I have to ensure that work is running smoothly every hour of every day.

Although I have staff working for me, it’s near impossible to be able to switch off completely. I’m also not working staff into the ground, so don’t expect them to be working around the clock. While it may not sound all that glamorous, I wouldn’t change it one bit.

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

A work-life balance to me simply means working and living enough that you feel productive in both areas. Neither should feel rushed, and exhaustion in any area means you’re probably doing too much of one or the other.

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

I’ve taken up daily meditation and yoga and have started learning French and Spanish. This may sound like a lot to take on, but you’ll be surprised at how much you can achieve with 30-60 minutes each day – less scrolling on social media helps!

While I don’t necessarily feel like any of the aforementioned will change my life in the short-term, I think that each can help you to live a more fulfilled, enriched life.

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

  • Algorithms to Live By by Brian Cristian and Tom Griffiths (book)
  • Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman (book)
  • ‘Last Week in Plain English’ by In Plain English (newsletter)

7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?

  • MacBook Pro (for running my company)
  • VSCode (for coding whenever I feel like building something)
  • Notion (for storing all of my notes in a structured manner)

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

I think Elon Musk would be an obvious choice, given his serial entrepreneurial streak.

I’d also like to read more about how elite-level, high-performance athletes manage their work-life balance. Someone such as Cristiano Ronaldo could be an interesting one. Given his on-field exploits, his well-documented training habits, coupled with all of his off-field duties such as companies and sponsorships, it would be interesting to see how he manages work and play.

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

A measured work-life balance that brings happiness on both sides is rare. Swinging too far towards either work or life can help to bring joy, whether that be short, medium, or long-term, but it often comes at a price.

That price could either be working a job you don’t derive pleasure from, where you simply live in anticipation of the moment when you get to clock out so that you can enjoy down time with friends and family.

Or it could be that you work so hard for something that you ultimately neglect the people that mean the most to you. Each has its own price to pay, if you can find a balance that has happiness on both sides, I salute you – and also ask that you share your secrets with us!

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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.