Balancing the Grind with Harikesh Pushpapathan, Investor at Stoic VC

This conversation is brought to you by Balance the Grind & scale-up recruitment agency The Nudge Group. Connecting you with world class talent, from start-up to unicorn.

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

When I was 9, my dad brought home a piecemeal model of the Brain. Three years later I received an award at school for a presentation called “ Do we really use ten percent of our brain.”

Last year, I led my first investment into a Neurotech startup treating psychological disorders.

I’m a strong believer that the most formative life experiences occur when you’re young. You just don’t realise it until it manifests years later. In my case, 14 years later.

The time in-between, was spent figuring out what the hell I wanted to do with my life. This involved a lot of trial and error.

In Year 12 I studied Legal Studies, Music and Chemistry, In Uni I studied Neuroscience and Finance. During this time I coached Tennis, founded my own Telehealth startup, worked part-time for a startup accelerator in Melb, interned at an early stage VC, worked in corporate development for a PFM Fintech and released three singles on Spotify.

Last year, I started full time at an early stage venture fund called Stoic VC. We’re a life-sciences and deep tech investor, meaning we invest in high R&D intensive companies from first-class therapeutics to high speed wifi halow chips.

I’m fortunate enough to work with people crazy enough to tackle the world’s most pressing problems. It’s not exactly a career in Med my parents wanted, but it might even be better. That’s the beauty of serendipity.

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

7:00: Wake up, bathroom.

7:15 I make a beeline straight to my sun-light lounge room and stretch for 10 mins. With my dog of course.

7:30: Breakfast

8:00: Work

6:30: Once I’m home, I play piano for around 20 mins. This is just to relax and refocus.

7:30: Dinner for me and my dog. Mum loves cooking for us, no complaints. She won’t be around forever.

8:00: Send off some outstanding emails, watch some YouTube/Stan/TV.

10:30 Turn my phone off.

11:00 Sleep

During the 9 hours of work, there’s a lot I can get up to. In the morning I’ll generally have scheduled a couple of founder meetings either on zoom or at a coffee joint in the city. Bonnies, Black & White are my go to’s.

After lunch and a quick gym session you’ll find me in a pipeline meeting with our Partner(s) or doing a host of diligence work. Emails, customer calls, general market research, excel or just tic tacing with Geoff (Managing Partner at Stoic).

In some weeks I will have board or strategy meetings (as an observer) with the portcos I closely work with. I wrap up most days with more emails, report filings or some personal writing.

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

Balancing the two is a little unrealistic. I try to focus my energy on finding harmony instead.

Picture an orchestra- multiple instruments with different colours, different entry points and different melodies. On paper it’s far from balanced, but to the ear, it just works.

Life isn’t too different. Here are some hacks that help me stay the course.

  1. Schedule priorities, not time. Obliging yourself to time stamps throughout the day will create unnecessary stress.
  2. Listen to your body, and act accordingly. Accept that some days will be more productive than others.
  3. Cut the noise. Just because your friend does an ice bath every morning, doesn’t mean you need to.

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

Routines I’ve started – allocating 15 mins every morning to stretching and getting sunlight. I’ve found that to not only increase my focus during the day, but the quality of sleep during the night.

Routines I’ve stopped- checking my phone, as soon as I wake up. Avoiding the unnecessary spike in cortisol will mean less “morning grumpies.”

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


  • Lifespan
  • The Basic Laws of Human Stupidity


  • Invest Like the Best with Patrick O’Shaughnessy
  • Exponential View
  • Stuff You Should Know

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

Two people: Vinod Khosla and Joe Hisashi.

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

I believe life is really long, if you know how to use it.

Hao Ngyuen, Editor-in-Chief at Balance the Grind.

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