How Finder's Fred Schebesta Makes the Most of Every Day

Fred Schebesta

Why sleep when you can make a zillion? The Sydneybased founder of financial comparison site Finder eats what he wants, works when he likes and strips out choice from the everyday.

01:00 I wake up with an idea – I can’t avoid it; this is the moment – and write a narrative about earning interest in the Finder app. Then I send the document to my team for comments. I do this every night. I love working in bed and most nights it’s an idea that wakes me up. Multimillion-dollar concepts have been developed from my bed. My partner, Brenda [Saveluc, a lawyer and founder of BlackGold Legal], sleeps through. She’s on a different timeline.

03:00 Super-tired so I sleep again. I’ve been doing segmented sleeping [see Your Own Good Time, opposite] for about 20 years. I believe in playing flow; moments just come and when they do, you need to play them.

05:30 Wake up and check the price of cryptocurrency and how my stocks are trading. I love Bitcoin – it has a long way to go – and I’m very into DeFi [Decentralised Finance] and yield farming.

06:30 I take our baby, The Wolf [Frëderick Wolf Schebesta, 11 months], for a walk. I dress only in black because you don’t want to spend time figuring out what goes with what. Also, what did Coco Chanel say? The beauty of black is “absolute”.

SEE ALSO: Why Sleep is a Non-Negotiable for This CEO

07:45 Brenda makes me porridge and we have breakfast with The Wolf and my two girls [daughters Portia, 12, and Tsaatchi, eight]. Because I don’t drink or smoke, I eat comfort food. I love a good bacon and egg roll and usually outsource eating plants to other animals.

08:15 Have to get the girls to school at 8.30am then drive to the office [on Sydney’s York Street], listening to the Acquired podcast about Berkshire Hathaway.

09:00 I have only one coffee so I try to nail it – you have to hunt for the right barista at the right time of day – and normally set up a meeting with it; today, it’s with Finder Ventures’ head of product. We go to Bonnie on Margaret Street because they make their own soy milk [Happy Happy Soy Boy].

10:00 I’m working on a new product, Finder Earn, so there’s a financial meeting, customer interview and legal review meeting. I have 12 people in my Finder Ventures team – all self-directed, proactive, highly competent, committed, hungry, ferocious builders of companies. You need to support people emotionally, set a focus and say no to certain things but once you curate that crew and set a very high expectation, if someone’s not up for it, leave. I don’t mind. I’m probably a bit of a ruthless manager in that if you need to be managed, you probably need to be managed out.

12:00 Three days a week I run around Mrs Macquarie’s Chair, go up and down the stairs and do a few pushups. I run alone – no music, no telephones – just me and my thoughts. Same route every time so I don’t have to think about it. I’m not a world-class athlete but you know what? I only wear one brand of jeans, Wrangler, and just bought two new pairs a size smaller. I turned 40 this year and thought my pants were supposed to get bigger.

13:30 I never go to lunch – too long – so I shower then get a takeaway sandwich with Frank [Restuccia, Finder’s co-founder]. He always has the tuna and I always have the chicken. I went into business with Frank because we share the same three values: family, wealth and legacy. When we’re recruiting, someone’s tested from the first time we speak to them. I set little tests, like never giving the address of the interview. If you can’t figure out where our office is, don’t turn up. I’ll say, “Can you find time to send this thing across by three o’clock?” And if it’s not delivered by three o’clock: nuh, you just missed out. And if you’re not negotiating with me when you’re signing, you probably need a different team.

14:30 I meet with the United Kingdom team to discuss the app’s launch strategy then have an hour at my desk to prepare for the evening.

16:30 My team dials in from Poland, the UK and Australia for the fortnightly product leadership meeting. This is the meeting I run the business from; it’s up to three hours long and not negotiable. We have a strict agenda: reporting, marketing, growth. Any proposal is written as a narrative that we stop and read so there’s a silence in the meeting. One of our principles is to show, not tell. I walk through the feature where you can buy Bitcoin in the Finder app. It’s magical.

19:30 I get up the energy to drive home, listening to an audiobook, Working Backwards, about Amazon. I don’t read news because it’s the same to me as Netflix – a distraction and an entertainment. I don’t own a TV. I don’t feel like eating. I check in on everyone and read the girls Real Pigeons by Andrew McDonald.

21:00 I’m cooked. I tell myself, “You’re done for today”, and go to sleep.

Your own good time

Fred Schebesta says sleeping in two stretches, also known as a biphasic sleep pattern, comes naturally to him. Every day he wakes and happily works from around 1am to 3am before catching a second set of Zs. Leon Lack, professor of psychology at Flinders University in Adelaide, says the standard wisdom of getting a solid eight hours in a single overnight block is relatively modern. There’s evidence that before the Industrial Revolution it was common to split a night’s sleep with an hour or two of work or pleasure. The sleep researcher also points to the prevalence of the afternoon siesta in many cultures. “This suggests there is no health consequence to sleeping in two shifts as long as a 24-hour sleep need – seven to nine hours – is obtained,” says Lack. Still, “a randomised control trial of thousands over many years has never been carried out and probably never will be so the health benefits or impairments of sleep in two shifts cannot be guaranteed.”

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Image credit: John Appleyard

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