I joined First AML in March 2019 after spending the last 9 years at various start-ups as a software developer. I’ve found start-ups to be a great place to get a lot of experience quickly on all aspects of business, and was eager to get involved from the beginning this time.
What time do you wake up?
6.30-7.30am. I prefer not to set an alarm and just let my body wake up once it’s had enough sleep.
What’s the ideal way to start your day?
During the week: Coding. I’m quite a morning person and the few hours after I wake up tend to be my most productive with little distraction. On the weekends the morning is my alone time before my partner wakes up, she’s definitely not a morning person!
What is your morning routine?
Just a bowl of cornflakes – I’m not a coffee person. If I’m working from home for the day I don’t even get dressed before sitting down at my desk, I leave that for later when I need a break. If I’m in the office that day then I listen to a podcast on my walk in, usually tech or politics related.
How soon do you begin doing work-related things each morning?
Working from home, within about 5 minutes of waking up. On office days I leave home as soon as I can, but don’t look at anything work related until I get to the office.
What’s your media consumption or interaction like?
I get quite a big mix in. Being from the UK I consume a lot of UK as well as NZ news. I’m into politics so try to spread my sources out across the spectrum to avoid echo chambers as much as I can. I listen to a lot of podcasts, mostly tech and politics related but occasionally I treat myself with a history podcast (I know how to have fun!). I read a lot, but not as much as I want. My books tend to alternate between fiction and non-fiction. I play a lot of video games too. I avoid social media entirely, it’s the most time consuming and least reliable source of information going, though I do maintain an Instagram account for my photography hobby.
What would you do during a typical day?
My role covers a lot of things, and what takes up the most of my time changes every day. My role varies between people management, writing code, ops, security, product, hiring, tech support. It’s what I love about working in start-ups, you never have enough time to get bored!
Where do your best ideas come from?
Always in the shower or the bath. It’s why I was so stoked to have a full bathroom in the office, though I’ve been informed it’s weird to have a bath in the office so I settle for a walk around the park or staring at a whiteboard to get the brain going.
What does inspiration look like for you?
The team sharing ideas and cracking a problem in an elegant way. My best ideas are always made better by others. Having a variety in viewpoints really does generate the best product.
What has been the most transformational business practice you’ve implemented at your work?
I’ve been fortunate to always work in small companies with modern working practices. To me the two principles of working effectively are: 1) don’t be afraid to change things. Organise your business to embrace change. You can spend a long time debating the merits of an idea, or you can try and test it. 2) Don’t be afraid to fail. Failure is the most valuable feedback you can get, it’s what helps us improve. Coupled with an ability to change, you’ll quickly find what works best for your own team.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
Seeing others succeed. Nothing puts a smile on my face like a team member going out of their comfort zone and smashing it.
What about the least enjoyable?
Sometimes the many hats I wear mean it’s difficult to find a solid few hours to dig into a difficult problem. Days with lots of context switching are always frustrating.
Do you have any side hustles you’re juggling?
Life is too short to spend all of it working. I dabble in a variety of hobbies from photography to woodworking. Learning things completely unrelated to my work helps me relax. I usually spend my weekends making the most of the NZ countryside.
What’s your best productivity hack?
I try not to get too hung up on measuring productivity. It’s difficult to do so at a meaningful scale. Some days are amazingly productive, some days are not. Getting caught up on it will just cause unnecessary stress. In terms of accomplishments, we try and celebrate the small wins. If we can push something useful every day then we’re doing well. If we go a week without doing so we start to ask questions of ourselves.
Do you get stressed? If so, how do you manage it?
Who doesn’t? Though I like to think I keep my stress under control. Plenty of sleep and taking the time to enjoy life outside of work are usually enough to keep it at bay. Luckily NZ has plenty of beautiful countryside to get lost in.
Any food and drinks that help you throughout the day?
My diet is terrible. In the first few months of First AML when grinding was necessary I was usually seen at my desk into the evening with a big can of Pepsi, a tube of Pringles and a bag of jet planes.
What time do you go to sleep? How many hours sleep do you aim for?
I’m usually in bed at some point between 10 and 11pm. I always aim to get 8 hours sleep. Everyone’s different when it comes to sleep, I find a routine helps and make sure I relax for at least an hour before bed. I’m usually asleep within 5 minutes, but if I can’t sleep after 20 then I just get up and read a book for a while.
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