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Balancing the Grind with Angus Bower, Head of SEO at Atomic 212º

Angus Bower is the Head of SEO at Atomic 212º, an Australian owned independent media agency, with offices across Sydney, Melbourne and Darwin.

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

My career background is a little strange. I guess my first real job post university was when I went to Phnom Penh, Cambodia and started a swimming school. We did some television commercials to promote the school and won business through visiting expat communities and Government officials.

After that I got into marketing and sales, but really didn’t like the monotony of the job so I left to do a Masters in Creative Writing – thinking I’d become some sort of novelist. I’m a big fan of Cormac McCarthy and Bret Easton Ellis and that’s kind of how I pictured things going.

But while doing this degree I joined a startup in its very early stages – an e-commerce platform which facilitated global B2B seafood trade into China. This company grew at a ridiculous rate and I found I got a lot more into digital marketing as it seemed to me to be a place where I wasn’t constricted and could combine the commercial & analytical aspects of my brain with the more creative ones.

If you let yourself you can really go a long way combining analytics and data with some creativity. Then I started working in agencies, which led me to where I am now at a company called Atomic 212.

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

I’ve got a pretty regimented day, particularly at the moment with the Covid lockdowns, so let’s go with Wednesday.

3:30 AM – Wake up and eat breakfast.

4 – 6 AM – I’ll go for a long run or walk – if I’m walking I’ll be on the phone to the UK as I’m working with a couple of people there on a project.

6 – 7 AM – I’ll do weight training – usually at the gym, but at the moment not so. Instead I’ll do whatever I can or swim laps. It’s really important for me to exercise – more for my brain than anything else.

8 – 9 AM – Do some language exercises – I’m trying to learn Russian at the moment.

9 – 6 PM – Work, work work.

6 – 7 PM – Work on a side project or do some writing.

7 – 8 PM – Dinner and relax.

8 – 9 PM – Read.

3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?

Currently due to the Covid-19 situation we are required to work from home – as are most people. Given my work is primarily online, it’s not such a difficult transition to move into a remote arrangement.

The main difficulty comes with managing people remotely – having face to face communication which doesn’t require a meeting setup I’ve found is really important and something greatly missing from a remote work model. Bouncing ideas off someone off the cuff is incredibly valuable to me.

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

To me it means finding what works for you. For some people ‘work’ in this context is a word that comes with an array of negative stigma, and therefore the opposite, (positive stigma), is ‘life’.

But really I aim to make the two synonymous, not that my life becomes work or that work becomes my life, but that they aren’t mutually exclusive and each is intertwined to deliver an overall rewarding experience of living.

Life would be boring without work and work would be pointless without life – i don’t think it’s an exact ledger of X hours are work and Y hours are life and the two must balance.

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5) What do you think are some of the best habits or routines that you’ve developed over the years to help you achieve success in your life?

Exercising in the morning serves as a meditation for me. Going for long walks, listening to music, gives me a good platform to build every day upon. I’ve had some complications with my heart previously so it helps that this sort of thing serves both my physical and mental health.

I also don’t really consider anything to be dire. I’m naturally quite an anxious person, so to avoid any kind of ineffectiveness in my work with regard to over-thinking, over-analysing, succumbing to fear etc. I try to not care as much about outcomes and dissociate a little.

Most things are simple to achieve if you get over the hurdle of thinking that they aren’t – as soon as you remove fear of doing something and then give little thought to any negative consequences of failing, 50% of the job is done (if not more).

6) Are there any books that have helped you improve over the years?

Yes, definitely:

They’re all very different, and none of them offer direct practical advice – but they all contain themes, characters, passages etc. which have heavily shaped my way of thinking.

7) What is the number one thing you do to make sure you get the most out of your day?

Get up early, keep fit, concentrate on myself and things I can improve about myself – the rest comes as a consequence.

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

Anthony Bourdain.

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

Don’t feel pressure to get somewhere or achieve something. If you want it you’ll do it – if you don’t do it then you likely didn’t really want it anyway. And a great quote, “Scared money can’t win and a worried man can’t love.”

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About Author

Balance the Grind is a work-life balance publication on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.