Vishvesh Suriyanarayanan is the Co-Founder & CTO of Sugar, a startup focused on addressing a merchant challenge of collecting deposits and final payments.
To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
Of course! I have a background in computer science and engineering and started my journey as a software engineer. Over the years, I’ve been fortunate enough to work at several startups and gain valuable insights into building and scaling products.
Currently, I’m the Co-Founder and CTO of Sugar, a startup focused on addressing a merchant challenge of collecting deposits and final payments. As CTO, I collaborate with a talented team of designers, software engineers, and product managers to bring our product vision to reality.
My responsibilities include overseeing the technical direction of the company and guiding the product development process. While I have a technical background, I am equally passionate about creating a work environment that fosters positivity, support, and growth for my team.
What does a day in your life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
A typical day for me begins at around 7am, or whenever my furry friend decides to start the day. My workday officially commences around 9am, where I start by checking my inbox and to-do list for any pressing tasks or updates from my team.
We have a virtual stand-up on our discord channel, where each team member provides a quick update on their progress. Then, I have a more in-depth meeting with my team to discuss current projects and identify any potential roadblocks that need to be addressed. I also have recurring meetings with our product managers to align on the development of new features and our overall product strategy.
I like to carve out some dedicated time for lunch and to recharge, so I block off my calendar for a mid-day break. Later in the day, I may spend some time testing our products and providing feedback to our engineers, or working on developing new features or enhancing existing ones. This can involve market research, design and system architecture work, or collaborating with other teams within the company. As the day comes to a close, I catch up with my Co-Founder and we reflect on our day, discussing what went well and what could be improved for tomorrow.
What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
Work-life balance is not about making compromises, but about striking a harmonious balance between your work and personal life. It requires a thoughtful approach, where both your professional and personal needs are given equal importance.
I recall the advice from one of my mentors, which rings especially true for those in the startup world: don’t equate your success with that of the company. It’s easy to get carried away in the highs and lows of the company’s performance, but it’s crucial to remember that the company’s success is not the sole determinant of your own success.
I strive to keep this in mind and maintain perspective, reminding myself that even if the worst were to happen and the company were to shut down, it’s not the end of the world. Similarly, if I’m in a meeting that runs late and I miss a family gathering, it’s not the end of the world either.
In order to achieve a healthy work-life balance, it’s important to prioritise both your professional and personal responsibilities and find a way to balance them effectively. This could involve setting boundaries, managing your time effectively, and taking time for self-care. Ultimately, it’s about finding a balance.
In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
Last year, I was all about working out every day. But then our new furry friend came along and messed with my sleep schedule. So, I took a break from the gym for about 6 months. Lately, I’ve been getting back into it with some boxing and Muay Thai. I’m trying not to make excuses and just go to the gym.
In terms of work, we said goodbye to virtual or in-person stand-ups. You know, those meetings where one small issue can turn into a marathon discussion and suddenly become the only thing anyone can talk about. No more of that! We’ve switched things up and started using a “stand-up” channel on Discord (because, why not use a gaming platform for work communications?) instead. It’s been a total home run! Everyone just types out their updates and we’re good to go.
Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
- The Lean Startup by Eric Ries
- Founders at Work: Stories of Startups’ Early Days by Jessica Livingston
- How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
- Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future by Peter Thiel
- How I Built This by NPR
- Startup by Gimlet Media
- The Pitch by Gimlet Media
- a16z Podcast by Andreessen Horowitz
- The Startup by Medium
- SaaStr by Jason Lemkin
- Founders Weekly by First Round Capital
- Techmeme Ride Home by Techmeme
If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
Vishal Harnal, Global Managing Partner at 500Global.
Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
Work-life balance is like a choose-your-own-adventure book – what works for one person might not be the same for the next person. So don’t be afraid to try new things and find what fits best for you. And just like a book, don’t expect to reach the end and be done – work-life balance is an ongoing journey, not a one-and-done deal. And let’s not forget about self-care! It’s like the cheat code for a successful balance between work and play. Exercise, mindfulness, and quality time with the people you love are all key to keeping yourself in tip-top shape and finding that balance.
In conclusion, finding balance takes effort and some self-reflection, but it’s totally worth it for the happiness and success you’ll gain from it. Game on!
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