Written by Adrian Li
I’m currently the founder and managing partner of Convergence Ventures, an Indonesia focused early-stage venture fund that I started about four years ago.
I’ve been in tech close to 20 years, working on internet-based business ideas while at University in Cambridge. However, I started my first company, an online education business in 2005 while at Stanford.
Then, I later moved to China to build the business. I ran the company for five years before it was acquired. I then worked with Rocket Internet before helping co-found a Indonesian food directory called Qraved. I started Convergence Ventures with Donald Wihardja in late 2014.
Here’s a day in my life now.
On a standard day, I’d wake up pretty early—generally somewhere between 5 am and 5:30 am.
My day starts with a very standard three-part ritual: When I wake up, I do about 10 minutes of mediation—breathing and composing myself for the day. This is also the best time of day for me to read, so after meditation, I spend 10 minutes reading. I generally read non-fiction and have several books which I read in parallel on my Kindle.
Currently, I’m reading Bitzscalling by Reid Hoffman.
I follow this with 10 minutes of writing in my journal about my prior day, any insights, wins, and what I’m grateful for. I’ve kept a journal now for almost three years, and it helps remind me about my journey.
These daily morning habits help me feel like I’ve gotten a great start every day.
I’m very big on staying fit and healthy, and my “drug” of choice is triathlon. I spend about five to six hours a week training. On a weekday, this would generally mean about 40 minutes of either swimming, running, or biking.
I try and get my exercise done before my kids are up (normally at about 7:30 am), so I can see them off to go to school.
After my exercise, I try and get through any emails that have come in from the night before. Once I’ve done this, I hit the day.
Internal meetings until “lunch”
For Mondays, we kick off with a meeting at around 9:30 to 10 am. This is an all-hands meeting with everyone in the team, where everyone shares quickfire learnings and wins from the prior week as well as a snapshot of some key priorities in the week ahead.
After that, we hold the Monday investment team meeting, where we run through all the updates and requests of our portfolio companies and investment leads that came in from the prior week. We also take time to discuss companies that we have met that we found interesting.
From there, we structure out the follow-up meetings we need to have during the week with the investment team, review our portfolio, and share notes from board meetings, follow-ups, and any upcoming meetings in the week with our portfolio companies.
We now have 36 portfolio companies, so keeping abreast of them needs more structure. Hence, we have this routine.
After the investment team meeting, I meet with our operations team. This includes meetings with our recruitment team and our business development (BD) team. I have an overview with our head of recruitment, looking at the open positions in our key companies and our pipeline of candidates and share information on talent issues within the portfolio.
I then move on to the BD team, looking over our various initiatives to support our portfolio and our work supporting the technology ecosystem.
I try to get all these internal meetings done by just after lunch. But Monday is my fasting day, so it keeps me efficient by not having to get up for lunch to eat. I’ve been regularly fasting for the past three years and fast twice a week now (Monday and Thursday) for 24 hours just drinking water with the occasional black coffee. It helps to keep myself busy so I’m not even thinking about food.
My afternoons will change from day to day, but generally I will be in a meeting. As a VC, I find we can add a lot of value through connecting people in the ecosystem and developing strong relationships. Hence, I could be meeting with our portfolio, new startups, corporates, investors, entrepreneurs, or other helpful stakeholders in the ecosystem.
For example, if meeting with a startup that we’re interested in, I would generally schedule 40 to 45 minutes. They could be fundraising or just wanting to meet up and develop a relationship. I think it’s important to meet with entrepreneurs even when they’re not fundraising. We could offer insight into the market, better understand what they’re doing, or see if there are eventual ways we can work together.
I also meet with a few LPs or investors in the fund who are based in Indonesia. I try to meet them regularly to give updates on the fund and give our perspectives on the ecosystem. It’s also important for me to figure out ways they might be able to work with or support our portfolio companies as well.
Another key meeting I have is with our portfolio. I meet with several founders every week to sit down with them and discuss strategy and ways that we can be supporting them.
So, any one day is probably made up of about at least seven to eight meetings.
In between, I try and squeeze in reading and evaluating company reports, putting our comments in, and making sure they’re ready for investment committees or LP advisory committees, where they go through the performance of our portfolio.
After work hours
I try and get most of my formal work day done by about 7 pm to 7:30 pm.
I do my best to be at home for dinner with my family. This is the time when I put the phone away and focus on spending some quality time at home. Where possible, I avoid business or work dinners, which would mean I wouldn’t see my kids at all.
When I head home, I see my kids off to bed because they’re normally in bed by around 9 pm.
If I’m doing some light reading or finishing some light work off, that’s fine, but I avoid any conference calls and frantic WhatsApp-ing because it gets my brain working hard and affects my sleep.
I’m normally in bed and asleep by about 10 pm to 10:30 pm each day.
I do Ironman triathlons because it’s a great way for me to take my mind off from the intensity of what I do professionally. On weekends when I train for a race, I can spend three to five hours running and cycling, which has become a big part of my “me time.” I like this quiet time because I get a lot of good ideas when I let my mind semi-wander while I focus on training.
I do try to make sure I have time with my kids to take them somewhere in Jakarta. Both my wife and I are foodies too, so we enjoy a nice glass of wine and make sure we have time for each other over a meal or with the kids.
But a lot of my social time is also intertwined with my work. I could be getting weekend brunch with my portfolio founders, meeting for a drink with fellow investors, or meeting with my LPs for afternoon coffee.
If there’s one piece of advice I can offer, it’s doing what you love.
It’s really important as an entrepreneur to be passionate about what you’re doing because it’s going to take so much of your time. So, it’s not so much a matter of balance between your life or work. As an entrepreneur, your work is a large part of your life and vice versa.
I sometimes say, “I’d like to live my life in a way that I can tell it as a story to my grandkids—with all its highs, lows, bumps, and its bruises.” And I think the most colorful stories are the ones in which you are really pursuing what you believe and what you’re passionate about.