Rocket scientist Flavia Tata Nardini, co-founder and CEO of Fleet Space Technologies, devotes 10 hours each day to sleep and 10 minutes to email.
The first thing I do every morning is open my curtains because our house is on the Esplanade [in Semaphore, Adelaide] and the sea is amazing. The second thing is check on the dogs, [border collies] Cookie and Laika. Then I make tea – lemon and ginger – no matter what the time of year. I have two kids and three days a week I do the school drop off so this is the time I get everything ready: pack their bags, shower and dress. Years ago I used to really dress up and think that through but now it’s pants, a T-shirt and sneakers, always. I dress fast, like a pure entrepreneur. If I have a talk or a conference, I’ll bring high heels and wear make-up and it looks fantastic.
The kids [Caterina, seven, and Vittoria, four] and I have Coco Pops or something healthy, depending on how we feel. Their dad [engineer Stefano Landi] would prefer them to always eat Weet-Bix but I don’t like that.
Usually I have phone meetings on the way to work but today I check in on friends.
I arrive at work. Other days I’m in at 7:30am but on my drop-off days I start work late. The first thing I do is open the door to the garden so the dogs can go up and down the warehouse then I touch base with the entire team: a 10-minute stand-up meeting where everyone talks for 10 seconds – what they did yesterday, what they’re up to today, any blockages or issues they have.
I love mastering my email. It takes 10 minutes. I’m a master flicker. If I receive an email, I delegate it straightaway. If I was to reply with “Thank you Simon, thank you so much” then write another email, “Kay, can you do this?”, it’s just a mess. The thing I don’t like in a startup is that you hold the entire thing together. Now when I go to sleep, everything is actioned, there’s nothing to be done. I’m an email guru. My team loves it and it makes my life better.
I have a debrief with my executive assistant, who organises me into meetings – three or four each day – with staff, partners, investors, anyone, and they never exceed 20 minutes. Today, I meet with the satellite team [Fleet has launched four nanosatellites – shoebox-sized satellites that deliver Internet of Things connectivity – into space and has a target of 100]. I meet with my CCO, Sasha [Baranikov], to see where we are with sales and then there are two meetings with potential customers. Normally they’re back-to-back but there’s time for me to take a quick walk around the office between each.
Before lunch, I talk with my co-founder, Matt [Pearson, COO]. We used to go to every meeting together but for the past year we’ve split them.
Unless there’s something very important on, Matt and I have lunch together and bring the dogs. We like this place in Findon called 94 West because the food is healthy. I get a big salad with pumpkin and chicken and we chat about all the meetings, you know, “What do you think?”
I always try to keep two to four hours free. That’s my time to prepare contracts, review documents, look at roadmaps – the things that need time.
Between 3pm and 6pm is usually when employees have a million questions. I like to have this time free for “fires”, which are not always work-related. I’m a female CEO and I say that’s good and bad. People want to talk to you about life things almost every day. They come in and talk about a tool they need or the satellite then the chat turns to their kids, their life. Today, for example, I go for a walk with someone who wants to talk about her role and needs reassurance about herself and her journey. We take the dogs; they’re always on the move.
On the drive home I listen to disco music and don’t really think about anything. I’m not a big fan of podcasts. Besides, I have a car from 1998 and it only has a radio and cassette player.
The family takes the dogs to the beach, we have a swim then shower. The kids watch something with superheroes or documentaries about animals while I make ravioli because that’s Caterina’s favourite.
At 8pm the kids are in bed and at 8:20 I’m in bed. If I read it’s on the weekend and I don’t drink coffee to keep me alive during the day. I sleep 10 hours a night and I’ve always been this way.
In his 2019 book, Indistractable: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life, Nir Eyal recommends a two-touch approach to managing what he calls “perhaps the mother of all habit-forming products”, email. It works like this: whenever you open an email you either delete it immediately or decide when you’re going to deal with it, moving it into “Reply Today” or “Reply This Week” folders. Later, you actually do deal with it during scheduled times – both daily and weekly – to empty the folders. Eyal says the system has reduced his time on email by 90 per cent.