Balancing the Grind with Wes Sulzberger, Senior Country Manager for ANZ at Zwift

Wes Sulzberger is the Senior Country Manager for Australia and New Zealand at Zwift. He is also completing his MBA at the University of Queensland. 

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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 am a former professional cyclist, having lived and worked predominantly in Europe, as well as competing across Asia, the USA, and Canada. After victories across several countries, I signed a professional contract with the French Professional Cycling Team, Française Des Jeux (FDJ) and went on to achieve my childhood dream of racing the Tour De France in 2010.

During my cycling career, I represented Australia five times at World Road Cycling Championships, where I played an instrumental role in helping Cadel Evans win the World Championships in Mendrisio, Switzerland.

After retiring from competition in 2016, I coached numerous high-level athletes with the training programs I created in my own coaching business and cycling tours. I have since transitioned to work for Zwift, Inc, an indoor fitness tech start-up based in Los Angeles, USA, where I am the Senior Country Manager for Australia and New Zealand.

I am also studying part time at the University of Queensland as an MBA candidate which has been the perfect opportunity to further educate myself while continuing my growth as a leader.

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

I’m an early riser around 4.30-5.00am each day, where I’ll head out with my wife and our energetic beagle! I’ll then settle into my work day around 8.00-8.30am running over my weekly priority tasks. 

One of those tasks is organising our Esport Club and Elite Series in partnership with AusCycling. It’s an exciting project as the Esport series has proven a successful pathway program for athletes like Jay Vine who participated in the series and went on to win our global competition of Zwift Academy.

Zwift Academy has over 160,000 athletes from around the globe compete to win a pro cycling contract with either the CANYON//SRAM Racing Pro Cycling Team or the Alpecin-Deceuninck Pro Cycling Team! The best way to describe the program is ‘from couch to Pro’!

Once I’ve wrapped up my work for the day I’ll head out for an evening run with our beagle or jump on Zwift. Post dinner, I’ll start to get into my nightly routine to reflect and get ready for the next day.

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

Working between the timezones of Zwift’s two main offices in the US and UK can mean early morning and late night calls. For me, I’ve found that setting clear boundaries between my work and personal life, and sticking to them, is key in making sure I’m able to give my best each day to whatever task I’m focusing on.

For example, I avoid checking my work email first thing in the morning (that wasn’t easy at first) and use that time to connect with my family. This helps me to avoid having a reactive day and allows me to stay connected to the present so I can focus on completing my high-value tasks.

I tend to find it more challenging to switch off in the evenings, especially if I have late calls, but I am making a conscious effort to stick to my nightly routine of going for a walk, switching my phone to aeroplane mode and leaving it in the living room before bed, and making sure I read for 15-20 minutes.

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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 was using a R.A.P. (Read, Assess, Plan) Night Routine back in 2020 , although I wasn’t consistent so I’m now making a conscious effort to follow through with it so it becomes habitual.

I am also making sure I read something relating to my current purpose, mission, and goals – even if it’s only a small amount each day. Currently for me that’s my MBA study reading materials.  

Finally, I’ve found it’s so important for me to plan ahead to ensure my mind is as calm as possible. That means organising what needs to be done tomorrow before I wind down for the night. I write out my to-do list, have my work clothes and sports gear ready to go, and a bottle of cold water in the fridge to grab on my way out the door. All of these small things make a huge difference to my mornings as I’m not spending extra minutes on menial tasks.

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? 

My favourite books and audiobooks for people wanting to understand themselves better, and which have helped me find better balance, are: 

  • The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
  • The Untethered Soul by Micheal A Singer
  • Start With Why by Simon Sinek
  • 12 Rules for Life by Jordan B Peterson.  

My favourite books on resilience: 

  • Born a Crime by Trevor Noah
  • Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey
  • Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins

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?

Always aim to level up, and make sure to ask ‘why’ more than once. From my experience it has stopped me from doing things, just to fill in time, that might not be aligned with my values or mission. In addition to that I’ve found that the best thing is to be honest with yourself and always hold yourself accountable so that you don’t stray from your purpose.

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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.