Founders, Interviews

Balancing the Grind With Anne-Laure Le Cunff, Founder of Ness Labs

November 7, 2019

Anne-Laure Le Cunff is the Founder of Ness Labs, an award-winning venture studio building products that focus on wellness, creativity, and culture.

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

I went to business school then worked at Google for a few years, where I was looking after marketing and partnerships for digital health products such as Google Fit. I’m now running Ness Labs, a company building products that help people live happier and healthier lives.

These products include Teeny Breaks, a Chrome extension reminding people to take breaks at work, and Maker Mind, a weekly newsletter about mindful productivity. I’m also studying neuroscience at King’s College, and using what I learn there to inform the product and content strategy at Ness Labs.

2) That’s a lot! What does a day in your life looks like?

Every day starts with writing. I block an hour and a half every morning to write a daily article for Maker Mind. That’s the first thing I do. Once that’s done, I check my email and do client work, helping companies with marketing, product strategy, and consumer psychology.

Around lunch time, I go to the gym. Then, I grab some food on my way home. The afternoon is usually spent working on longer term projects, such as creating an online course, writing an eBook, or coding. In the evening, if I don’t have an event, I just hang out with friends or relax at home with a good book or a series.

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

The great thing about running your own company is that you can design your own company culture. Ness Labs is fully distributed. All the contractors I work with are based in different countries around the world. We do most of our work over email, with the occasional call to brainstorm and align.

I personally love working from home, but some people I work with like to go to a coffee shop or a coworking space. Everyone has the flexibility to design their routine around their needs, so they can perform at their best while taking care of their mental well-being.

I thinks it’s a great, sustainable way to build a business by collaborating with the best talent, wherever they are based, and whatever their work style.

4) That sounds pretty flexible. Do you have any strategies to help you manage your workload and schedule?

Mindful time blocking works great for me. It’s not about filling your calendar with everything you need to do. It’s about blocking time for the tasks that really matter—the tasks you would feel guilty about not completing at the end of the week. Everything else should be pretty flexible and designed around these meaningful goals.

The method I use is called the PARI system of mindful productivity. PARI stands for Pact, Act, React, Impact. It’s all about focusing on outputs rather than outcomes. Goals should not be an end in themselves, they should be fuelling continuous growth.

5) Talking about continuous growth, what does work-life balance mean to you and what do you do to achieve that goal?

I don’t believe in work-life balance in the traditional way. I think that your work should fuel your life and your life should fuel your work. I don’t think blurred lines between the two are a bad thing. The energy from one can fuel the other. Personal and professional growth are deeply intertwined.

6) What do you think are some of the best habits you have developed over the years to help you strive for success and balance?

Building a writing habit is the most precious skill I have developed over the years. It has helped me on so many levels: creativity, mental clarity, critical thinking. I would recommend to any entrepreneur to start building a writing habit.

7) Are there any books that have helped you improve over the years?

My favourite non-fiction book is How to Change Your Mind by Michael Pollan. It’s about all the weird ways our brain works. It has made me feel much more connected to the world around me. As for fiction, there are so many!

8) What is the number one thing you do to make sure you get the most out of your day?

I write! As I said, that’s my one meaningful action I want to make sure I do get to do. It impacts so many areas of my personal and professional life, I have a hard time imagining a day without writing.

If you found the above conversation helpful and inspiring, be sure to check out Balance the Grind’s guide to achieving a healthy work-life balance.

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