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Balancing the Grind with Prisca Ongonga-Daehn, Founder & CEO at baresop.

Prisca Ongonga-Daehn is the founder & CEO at baresop., a company revolutionising the personal care industry to eliminate the need for single use plastic packaging.

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

My career background is quite varied. I began my career as a journalist then moved to public relations and recruitment for advertising and PR agencies based in Shanghai.

A move to Beijing coincided with my long life plan to start my own gig in sustainability led product development (I have a passion in designing products that improve lives and most recently, make businesses better).

As a solo founder, you have to wear many hats. My current role involves juggling a number of competing priorities. From high level strategy to execution. Once you have the strategy mapped out, you have to create time to execute on that – there’s no one to pass it on to

There’s lots of external collaboration at this early stage so l’m constantly in meetings with our marketing and brand campaign partners, suppliers and mentors, mostly on zoom during Covid. 

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

I immensely enjoy what I do. I love it, actually. But it’s a hustle and takes a certain level of discipline. I am usually up at 5am on most weekdays for a 5 minutes meditation before a 10KM run. Back by 6am to make breakfast and school lunches ready for the kids. If working from home, I am usually at my desk at 7.30am and if working from Melbourne CBD, I’ll leave with the kids around the same time. 

I am most productive in the morning so I try to do high level strategy when my brain cells are still at peak. The second half is execution and the third bit is responding to emails and f/ups with our marketing or manufacturing partners.

Usually switch off at 5.30pm to get dinner ready and have dinner together as a family. I’ll switch on again around 7.30pm and catch up on what’s left of work for the day but try to be in bed by 11pm.

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

We’re a very lean and flexible team. I work from home or office depending on the structure of that particular day. It’s about the results and quality of your output, not how many hours you spend doing one task.

Therefore, I’m very flexible with myself and my team to allow a culture that’s based on results regardless of location. My vision is that as the team grows, we can foster a culture that prioritises wellbeing and quality of life. Which in turn, increases output/results. 

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

I think work-life balance is a myth. If you are doing something meaningful, it’s going to consume you, and it will take more time than other things in your life. That’s the reality of life.

It’s about finding a manageable balance that allows you to perform at your best so you don’t burn out. You can’t perform at your best when your well being is compromised. Creating space for those things that nurture your wellbeing is super important.

Personally, l always fall back into mindfulness activities such as regular yoga practice, meditation and spending quality time with my friends and family. I enjoy going out with friends for great food and wine that this state has to offer. We’re in the process of getting a pet Dog and looking forward to the value he will bring to the family’s downtime.

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

Yes, mostly because work demands have increased significantly. I don’t have as much time to catch up on my reading as I would like. I have become very time conscious.

Everything needs to be scheduled, which means I sadly can’t be spontaneous. I hope this will change as I start to delegate some of my tasks. Like most people across the globe, am not travelling as l’d like. 

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

Books:

  • The Lean Startup – By Eric Ries
  • Daring Greatly: How the courage to be vulnerable transforms the way we live, love, parent and lead – By Brene Browns
  • The Shoe Dog – By Phil Knight
  • Elon Musk – By Ashlee Vance

Podcast:

  • The NFX Podcast

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

I can’t live without my phone, my AirPods and my MacBook Air. 

Apps: Spotify, Medium, Netflix, Google Drive, UberEats.

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

This is a hard question as I actually don’t believe work life balance is a thing. It’s an unattainable concept that sets you up for failure. But If I were to read an interview about work life balance it would be one from Barack Obama. How he managed to lead with compassion and still raise a family with good values that’s close and fully-connected. 

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

Life work balance is quite a personal journey for everyone therefore I can only share my truth. I am a Libra so balance is at the core of my lifestyle.

When I feel like the lever is not in balance, it affects my output with work and my mood. That’s why I strive to find some sort of balance, not the idealist view but the little bit that I need to ensure that I don’t burn out.

The definition of what work-life balance is situational. We all need to be authentic to what that looks like for us. And set attainable objectives  without making comparisons to what that looks like for others.

Be gentle with yourself, try the best you can and if you can’t do anything else, prioritise time with yourself, family and key friends that add value to your life journey and bring wholesome, positive energy to your life.

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About Author

Balance The Grind gives me a platform to talk to these people about how they're achieving their ideal lifestyle. I'm inspired by the passion, the work ethic, the hustle; and these conversations motivate me to live life the way I want to live it.