Boss It Like

How To Boss It Like… Melinda Nicci, CEO Baby2Body

By Kitty Knowles 18 May 2017

These leaders are changing our world for the better. We find out how they get the job done.

There are a handful of business leaders and industry figures in Britain who are changing the world.

From Justine Roberts to Anne Boden and Chris Millington, these smart people seem to get an incredible amount done, in an impossibly short space of time.

Each Thursday we get one great leader to share their secrets.

This morning we’re talking to Melinda Nicci, CEO at Baby2Body, who is undoubtedly a productivity guru.

A sport psychologist, fitness trainer, serial entrepreneur, consultant in health technology and a mother of two, Melinda Nicci’s list of achievements is impressive.

And that’s all before you realise that she’s the founder of Baby2Body, an incredible online platform “for every woman who has a baby on her mind”.

Read more: Modern motherhood – Baby2Body puts “outdated” apps to shame

Nicci is also a visiting tutor on innovation at London Business School, a published author and sits on the health technology working group of Tech London Advocates.

A busy woman, with big ideas, The Memo asked her how she gets it all done.

What time do you get up, and what part of your morning routine sets you up for the day?

I’m typically awake by 6 and I check my work emails before even getting out of bed. I just have to do that to make sure I don’t have any fires to put out, or things that need immediate attention, and it gets my mind in gear for the day ahead.

Getting that out of the way allows me to focus in on my morning routine – which includes a some yoga stretches, spending a bit of quality time with my kids, and a quick breakfast of a hardboiled egg, fresh fruit, and a small coffee.

On my way into the office, I keep up to date on relevant industry news and I always check my daily email from Baby2Body

Everyone in the Baby2Body office has fake babies – no real pregnancies or new babies at the moment!

We all get daily emails that keep us in touch with our users’ experience and reminds us why we do what we do.

I’ll also check, The Pool, and of course The Memo!

What smartphone do you have?

I have an iPhone 6S in Space Grey with 128GB storage.

What apps do you use to be more productive?

I use Slack on a daily basis to keep up to date on everything going on with my company, and to stay organized and in touch with all the projects we’re working on.

It’s a necessity for my company as I’m traveling so much and often out at meetings – also outside of our London office we have team members in NYC and Madrid so it really keeps us connected and focused no matter where we are in the world.

I also use Asana and Steak when we are fundraising, as it allows me to track my contacts and easily see where we are in the process.

For my own productivity, I’m a huge advocate of mindfulness meditation.

Even if I spend just a few minutes in mindfulness, I’m able to step outside of the crazy hectic life of a CEO and all the noise around me. It gives my brain some quiet time and helps me make better decisions and stay as productive as possible throughout the day.

How many people, outside of family, do you meet in a day?

I talk to a wide range of people throughout the day, whether meeting face-to-face or on the phone!

Along with my team – there are 5 of us that have a daily meeting. Right now I’m also meeting with several investors almost every day, and then in a normal workday I usually have at least 5-10 meetings with other people in the industry, or at Wayra, or with potential partners and potential new hires.

At the end of the day I try to meet up with a friend or two when possible – which probably happens twice a week.

I also receive invitations to industry events almost nightly, but it’s just not possible to go to all of them. The ones I do attend, often involve meeting another couple dozen people and making new network connections.

I’m definitely not short on having conversations and meetings throughout my day!

What book have you read, either recently or in the past, that has inspired you?

The Gene by Siddhartha Mukherjee and I Contain Multitudes by Ed Yong have been some recent inspirational reads for me.

These are what I’d call my scientific indulgences, and I’ve really enjoy reading about how our bodies work on different levels and how our lifestyle can affect thoughts, actions, emotions, energy and ultimately longevity.

The whole gene issue and new conversations around genetic theories are truly incredible and this will shape our future in more ways than we can imagine – we’re just beginning to understand the impact that we can have in this space, and it really excites me.

Read more: 6 stellar science books that ‘normal folk’ will love

What advice would you give for people who are eager to get into your industry?

Make sure you love what you do. It would be incredibly hard to push through the tough times without a passion for what is at the core of what you’re doing, and believing in your project in mind, body and soul.

Plus when it’s something you really love that you’ve created and are working towards, when you eventually find success within that, it makes it all taste so much sweeter.

But always understand that not every day will be fun and being in a start-up means that you have ‘4 seasons in a day’: you wake up to spring, full of hope, about an hour after you get to the office after a good meeting its summer and everything is wonderful, then you have some bad news or find a bug in the system is not giving you the data you thought – and then it’s winter and the wind and the storm seems too much to bear!

At the end of the day that passion and trust in yourself and your vision is everything.

When do you work until? Are you still sending emails in the night?

There’s such a thing as until?! I guess it’s usually until I finally close my eyes at night.

Creating a start-up is like having a baby – there’s never time off.

But I do aim for a healthy disconnect around dinner – where I can spend a some time at the gym and then come home and enjoy a meal with my kids or friends, and dive into meaningful chats without work distractions.

That break where I challenge myself to not be in a business mindset is so valuable to the success of my company; I come to the best solutions and realisations when I’m not actively thinking about work..

I’ll always log back on for late night work after that. Usually from 9-12pm I’m working again or plugged into the business in some way. I’m definitely still sending emails into the night.

My Head of Content is based in New York and sometimes she’ll email me back and say “Mel, I’m done work for the day, why are you still up??”. There are often not enough hours in the day.

I do use an unwinding process called downloading at the end of all this to help me sleep better at night: you let your mind go through any unresolved issues of the day or do a recap on things you might still be thinking about.

Giving myself this time to process all of that extra stuff before bed allows me to get better rest because I’m not trying to work through those things in my sleep. It leaves me feeling more refreshed in the morning and ready to take on anything that may come up the next day.

If you could ask your idol one question, who would it be, and what would you ask?

If there is anyone I would like to talk to it would be Nelson Mandela – he managed to maintain his vision for an apartheid-free South Africa while in jail for 27 years – and he was never bitter. He had the most incredible attitude and showed immense grace and fortitude, under the most awful conditions and for such a long time.

I want to know how he did that – how did he hold onto his vision and never give up even when it seemed futile and as many many people were dying around him.

He managed to create the South Africa that he had dreamed of.

I would love to understand how he held true to his dream every moment of his life.

Come back next Thursday for our next #BossItLike interview, and get in touch if you know a leader who’s also a productivity guru for us to talk to.