Founders / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Yssine Matola, Co-Founder of Thriving Tribes

Yssine Matola is the co-founder of Thriving Tribes, a London-based people consultancy helping tech businesses set up the people foundations.

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

I am Yssine, the Co-Founder of Thriving Tribes, a London-based people consultancy helping tech businesses set up the people foundations that are right for them and that will enable sustainable growth and high-performing teams.

I have been in the People space for about 10 years and I am passionate about facilitating a slick & inclusive employee experience in an engaging way. Over the years, I’ve worked across Europe with innovative startups, scale-ups and corporations across a wide range of industries (aeronautics, artificial intelligence, fintech, cybersecurity, entertainment).

I’ve always had day jobs and side activities, as I get bored easily unless I can learn from and experiment with multiple things at once.

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

I spend most of my day talking to people, whether it’s advising a client on their People strategy, interviewing candidates for roles, coaching managers to deliver feedback or tough conversations, running workshops or discussing someone’s career development. 

I’m usually blocking 2 hours daily to be able to do deep focus work: strategising, producing content or writing policies. 

As I’m working across timezones, I usually have a few late meetings, but I always make sure I have time to cook and/or eat something delicious.

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

Whether I’m in a full-time role or consulting for clients, working in a way that brings the best out of me and allows me to perform at my peak is paramount. 

Being able to autonomously decide where from and when I work is key. I enjoy starting my day slowly, spending time in bed and having a nice breakfast, so I’m usually not taking early meetings.

I try to do deep focus work at home and save any sort of group activity and social interactions for the days I’m in the office. My family lives abroad so I also highly value being able to work remotely for 2 weeks in France every 2 or 3 months. 

I currently would not consider working in any other way.

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

Enjoying what I spend most of my waking time doing and evolving in environments where I feel valued, respected and where I can be my authentic self goes a long way. It allows me to not worry about work when I’m not working, and to give it my all when I am.

Deactivating notifications also helps with this balance. I don’t spend my day interrupted by Instagram notifications, so I can work efficiently and in return, I’m not seeing slack messages with “Monday problems” coming through during the weekend, which provides an uninterrupted break I thoroughly enjoy.

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

I am terrible at keeping up with the classic routines and good habits. I can’t stick to yoga for more than 3 weeks in a row, I dip in and out of books, I only go running when it’s sunny and I never go to bed at a reasonable time.

As I can’t stick to strict routines or habits, I’ve developed routine “categories”. Creativity is one of them, so I would usually do something creative that’s non-work related every week: drawing, playing music, doing DIYs, curating mood boards. It varies all the time as I find it more enjoyable when it’s not prescriptive. 

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

There are a few newsletters I enjoy. Maker Mind by Anne-Laure Le Cunff is a weekly newsletter on mindful productivity that always arouses my interest and curiosity.

The Harvard Business Review’s Management Tip of the Day is a daily newsletter for people managing teams that I find mostly useful.  I also read a few People and Employment law related newsletters to make sure I’m not missing anything new in my area of expertise.

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

I really enjoy Having a virtual assistant managing my calendar and blocking time for me (when I would forget to do so) has really improved my working life. Since using, I broke up with these awful days of 8 hours back-to-back zoom meetings without even a moment to eat. Never again!

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

I don’t really read work-life balance interviews, to be honest. It always sounds so far away from my reality. I mean, I’m still in bed at 9am most days and I only ever take hot showers!

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

Two thoughts:

When working in a fast-paced startup, there is this urge to be reactive and productive all the time. Instantaneity brings burn-out and oversight. I’ve found that slowing down on purpose allows for deeper thinking, more creative ideas and for a more comprehensive analysis of a topic.

I’ve always taken full ownership of my personal and professional development and it has allowed me to always learn and grow, and to see clearly when it was time for me to move on from a role or environment.

Taking the matter into my own hands means I perfect my craft and skills above what standard expectations would be, and I never let anyone tell me I’m not ready or good enough for something I know I am.

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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.