Balancing the Grind with Tom Kaldor, Founder at Ajust

Tom Kaldor is the founder at Ajust, a resolutions and retention platform that turns difficult customer issues and complaints into stronger customer relationships.

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

My career so far has taken me from being a lawyer to running a tech startup. Here’s how it happened…

After uni, I worked in traditional legal environments. I was a researcher at a court, a lawyer at a corporate law firm and an associate to a High Court judge. I decided I wanted to try something different, but I wasn’t brave enough to completely leave the law behind.

Luckily I found LegalVision, which was on a mission to transform legal services. I joined as a lawyer and ended up staying for over 6 years, working across a wide range of business roles.

LegalVision was my apprenticeship in startups, but I always knew I wanted to build my own business. So in 2022, I started Ajust – a platform for consumers and businesses to resolve complaints.

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

I’ve learnt 2 things about a typical day for a startup founder: (1) you’ll work on many different parts of the business and (2) there’s always more to do!

Here’s some weird and wonderful things I’ve done this week:

  • Facilitate a day of in-person workshops for our hybrid team.
  • Shoot videos for social media about a recent outage on a telco network.
  • Test new AI prompts to improve our product.
  • Call consumers for feedback about our platform.
  • Send a monthly update to our investors.

Oh and I also did some accounting in Xero – so it’s not all glamorous!

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

This is a tough question for me, because I’ve never accepted that “work” and “life” have to be on opposite sides of the scales. (Although that thinking has been tested a bit since I’ve become a parent!)

For me, what’s important is “balance”, not necessarily “work-life balance”. For example, I’m working hard on building Ajust at the moment – but I still feel a strong sense of balance. I feel balanced when I’m living in line with my values and I’m able to prioritise the things that matter most to me – at work and at home!

A simpler answer: running. It burns off the nervous energy and it’s when I do my clearest thinking.

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’ll share 2 changes: one about routine, one about mindset.

Like I said above, there’s always more to do in a startup. But also like I said above, I have a young family – so I can’t just keep working endlessly. I’ve found balance by being more intentional about when I’m going to work and what I’ll be able to get done in that time. Surprisingly, by being more disciplined about my schedule, I’m freeing myself from the feeling of never having enough time.

This year I’ve also become obsessed with a mindset of “curiosity and action”. As I move through the world, I’m trying to learn fast and then work out what I’m going to do next. I’m convinced it’s the key to growth – for my startup and for myself too!

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?

Everyone will know it, but I’ll say it anyway: Brené Brown’s Dare to Lead.

I read it this year and it’s the gift that keeps giving. (It took me almost 10 months to read because we had a newborn in the house and I was too tired at the end of each day. But I stuck with it – which says a lot about the book!)

The language and terminology Brown uses doesn’t always speak to me – but the concepts and mindset she outlines resonates loudly. Reading the book, there were more than a few moments when I felt like I’d uncovered a transformative insight that I could put straight into action in my life.

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?

I’ve been thinking lots about values recently (another gift from Brené) – and the role our values play in our careers.

Early in my career, I was very impatient to go somewhere. But I didn’t have a strong sense of where that should be – and I didn’t step back and reflect enough on what was important to me.

Now that I’m slightly older (and questionably wiser), here’s my take: before you can know what to do, you need to know who you are – and that takes time and testing. In practice, that means we need to be patient (although it’d be hard to convince me of that in my 20s). More importantly, it means we need to prioritise “learning and growth” over “position and progression” while we’re still testing out who we are.

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.