Adam Boland made his name shaking up breakfast television in Australia. At just 24 years old he became the executive producer of the Seven Network’s Sunrise and took it to number one in the ratings.
While at Seven, he created The Morning Show and Weekend Sunrise and was co-executive producer of Sunday Night. He was also the network’s Head of Social Media.
Since leaving television, he has served as Head of Video at NewsDNA (News Corp) before co-founding Bohdee Media: a social video company with a social conscience.
Balance the Grind had the opportunity to speak to Adam about his extensive media career, taking a break from the grind, a day in his life running Bohdee Media, and more.
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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your background and career?
I started off as a cadet radio journalist in Brisbane before taking a reporting gig at Channel Ten in Cairns. Got fired a year later after a very bad night out (long story) and ended up at Channel Seven in Sydney where I spent 12 years.
For most of that time, I ran a little show called Sunrise. Actually, when we started, it really was little, but it grew over that time to be the market leader.
We took the show around the world and hosted some massive concerts and events – including some that got out of control, like the near-riot when Justin Bieber performed!
I was really lucky to be given a lot of freedom at Seven and ended up creating a few more shows. Some worked, some didn’t.
Overall, it was the best time of my life. But the long hours did take their toll. I struggled a bit to control my health, particularly my mental health.
2) What is your current role and what does it entail on a day to day basis?
These days, I run a humble production company called Bohdee Media.
We basically experiment with different formats of video, mainly in the social space. I’m fortunate to have a backer who will indulge us while we try different things.
We have some awesome clients, such as the Australian Academy of Science. We make them a few videos each week which are then distributed to their social audience of more than 1.5 million.
It’s a good reminder that these days, audiences are accessing content wherever they are, rather than just sitting in front of a box in their living room.
My company is also spending a lot of time getting to know Chinese audiences. They’re often ignored by mainstream Australian media, which I think is a serious mistake.
3) What does a typical day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
After leaving TV, I spent a few years out of Sydney including 12 months in Vanuatu, which I loved. I’m back in Sydney now but I have tried to make my life as simple as possible.
My office is in Waterloo and my home is in Waterloo. I’m lucky that I can just walk to work each morning. I actually don’t even own a car these days. Traffic does my head in and I find it pretty easy to get around on public transport.
So, I’m up at 7am. Early mornings tend to be the only time when I have free-to-air television on (outside of Monday nights on the ABC).
It’s basically background noise until I hear something that grabs my attention. I get most of my other news these days from online sources. Chill out time usually means Netflix (and mainly British crime shows!).
At work by 8am. We tend to spend half the week working on videos for clients and the other half experimenting with videos and formats.
I’ve never been disciplined with my daily schedule. I tend to get to things when I think of them, which is the worst possible strategy, but I can’t see it ever changing.
It does mean that while you’re sitting at bed at night, you suddenly remember something you should have done. And then out comes the laptop.
4) In between everything you do and all your responsibilities, how do you ensure you find some sort of balance in your life?
Balance is something I’ve been working on across the years. I think during my time in TV, I didn’t care about having any life outside of work.
I was young and enjoyed what I was doing. And while that helped my career, I don’t think it was healthy.
The days were ridiculously long and weekends were usually consumed by work as well. I don’t think I had any friends outside of work.
It’s a serious mistake when you live for work and define yourself by your work.
I guess that’s sometimes easier said than done and I have no idea if I would have had the same success if I had more balance, but I suspect I would have been way more rounded and grounded.
These days, I enjoy work but don’t live for it. I have friends outside of the media and really enjoy spending time with them. I’ve realised the world is much bigger than my industry, so I try to enjoy stuff I missed in my twenties.
That said, running a small business is never easy. You don’t have the security of a big company’s bank account, so I prioritise work without sacrificing other things entirely.
5) What are some of the things you do to take time out and recharge?
I don’t have the salary I had when I worked in TV so I’m more conscious of money these days. And that’s a good thing. It’s made me appreciate little things.
Sounds cliched, but it’s true. I love exploring Sydney suburbs. The city has so many dimensions and it’s sometimes easy to get trapped in your bubble.
My friends and I tend to jump on a train most weekends and get off at random stops and eat at random places. That said, I do have some favourite hangouts, like Newtown and the northern beaches.
Every so often, I hire a car and head out of the city to play with my drone. It’s a hobby that I reckon really does calm your mind because you’re so focused on where you’re flying and what you’re filming.
6) Are there any gadgets, tools or products that you can’t live without?
My friends used to complain I spent way too much time on my phone. And that’s true. I was glued to it for many years. These days, not so much.
It’s always with me, but I’m no longer obsessed. I probably use it more to take photos than checking emails or news feeds. Outside of that, I guess the only thing I need is my Opal Card!
When I’m at home, the only thing I probably couldn’t live without is my Netflix account. Well, I could. It just wouldn’t be as fun.
7) Do you have any books that you love and would like to recommend?
I tend not to read fiction. I find the truth much more bizarre. I read a fair bit about Chinese politics and history. Sounds highbrow, but some of the twists and turns are better than Married at First Sight.
A doctor once told me to read before bed and I’d sleep a whole lot better. That’s so true. I try to avoid TV and gadgets for an hour before sleeping.
8) What is the number one thing you do to make sure you get the most out of your day?
I’ve suffered a lot of anxiety in life, even when flying high at Seven. Someone once told me that anxiety is only ever about what’s happened in the past or what might happen in the future.
The now is usually just fine. I remind myself of that most days and it really does help me stay focused.
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