David Walsh is the founder & CEO at CIM, a company that creates innovative data analytics software that helps run large buildings at their peak performance.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
I was working in property and construction in Ireland when, during the GFC in 2009, I lost it all. I fondly remembered my experience backpacking through Australia and, with my wife’s support, moved our family with young children to Australia 12 years ago. We had just $5,000 and were in search of new opportunities and a better life.
My background in computer science and property helped me see a new way for technology and automation to dramatically improve building efficiency. I started CIM in 2015, bootstrapping the company with only $1,300. I worked on the business during the day and took a job at night paying $38 an hour stuffing satchels for a freight company to fund my vision.
CIM is now used in major airports, shopping centres, museums and commercial buildings across Australia and will reach $10M in annual recurring revenue by the end of 2021.
2) What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
As the business has evolved, my workday has significantly changed. When I started CIM, I was involved in everything. Over time I’ve built a brilliant executive leadership team. They all efficiently run their own function.
These days, I’m much more informed of how things are operating versus being accountable for what we need to deliver. As a team, we agree on strategy together. Our priority at the moment is to open an office in Europe and encourage large high-tech manufacturing companies as customers.
My focus is on seeking out market trends and being available for a degree of support, as opposed to being too much of a hands-on manager.
I work closely with my executive chairman on raising capital and I spend a considerable amount of my day speaking with the team during one-on-one meetings and hiring people. My focus is looking after the team and especially now during COVID, communicating more because you never know what is happening behind screens.
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
From the beginning, our development team has worked remotely. At CIM across Australia, Germany and Ireland, we were working remotely, long before it became the norm. It’s very natural for us.
The team we have built is incredibly efficient because we hire the right people, motivate them and look after them well. When you hire the right people, trust them and give them autonomy to get on with the task, great results naturally happen.
My priority is our people and creating a great culture. When we get that right, I know our customers and shareholders are happy.
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
I have to monitor and balance my mental health and energy constantly. Running a business is busy and if you’re not looking after yourself and keeping your health in check, you can’t be the best version of yourself and of benefit to those around you.
For me, it’s keeping the basics in check, what I’m eating and how much sleep I’m getting. I use the Oura Ring App, which tracks and measures sleep and activity and the physiological signals of your body. It understands your lifestyle and produces interesting data, whether you’re run down or lacking sleep – it keeps you on track. I love the data.
5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
Again, the Oura app as I love learning how certain things positively or negatively affect my sleep. Optimally, if I have a bit more data on myself, I find I can make better decisions. It increases transparency and I become more focused.
I’m also a huge fan of breathwork as it’s the one thing you can control in your body. It’s an innate thing for humans to use their breath when they’re anxious, scared or have an influx of emails. It helps me to perform optimally, allowing me to focus on work more calmly and be more productive.
6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
Dr Andrew Huberan, an American neuroscientist, has a podcast, The Huberman Lab, which highlights science-based tools for everyday life. He does excellent work on exercise and mental health and the link between breathwork and anxiety.
I recommend A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle, it’s a great book, and I regularly refer back to it. I read management books and many new books on neuroscience and emerging trends.
As well as university content, such as The University of Bristol’s Science of Happiness course, which is relevant now because people have a lot of anxiety in their bodies and it delves into this topic. Deep work: Rules for focused success in a distracted world by Cal Newport is another great read.
7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?
I have deleted a lot of apps and social media which has allowed me to wind down and focus on work. I find those apps interrupt time and aren’t great for your mental health. I turn off all my notifications and the only people that I get notified by are my wife and children.
Removing the constant flow of notifications allows me to focus on work without distraction. Humans weren’t meant to be continuously interrupted, in the past great scientists, mathematicians and thinkers like Albert Einstein innovated without distraction.
If you want to be present, focused and happy and do exceptional work, turn all of those platforms off. What can take you a short amount of time to complete a task, can take hours due to those interruptions.
8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
There’s no specific business leader or sports professional. I am most interested in reading about people who have achieved an incredible amount, while maintaining a close relationship with family and friends and who have a significant positive impact on the world.
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
When it comes down to work life balance – I’d recommend switching off social channels, devices and notifications. Keep the basics – sleep, exercise and nutrition in check. If there’s too much going on in my head or I’m on the accelerator for too long, then it’s time to reevaluate and get back on track.
I’ve learned this over the years, because I do work incredibly hard, including late at night with the Europe office in a different time zone. If I don’t prioritise balance and my mental health I can’t focus and work optimally.
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