Cameron Smith is the Managing Director at ENTHRAL., a creative content marketing agency specialising in video content and digital media strategies, with offices in Melbourne and Sydney.
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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
My current role is Managing Director and Founder of Enthral – a content marketing and storytelling agency.
Prior to that, my background was in journalism. When I was 15, I did work experience at the Kyabram Free Press, a small country paper in Northern Victoria. I loved the week so much, I returned week after week rewriting press releases and doing stories unpaid until I finished Year 12.
The body of work I gained from that time gave me the right experience to get a cadetship at the Herald Sun as a 17 year old. I then did the media merry-go-round as a journalist at the Herald Sun, then Senior Producer at A Current Affair (Nine Network), Crime Reporter at Ten News, then back to the Sunday Herald Sun as Chief of Staff.
Then was lured back to Nine as the Chief of Staff and then Melbourne Bureau Chief for A Current Affair. I set up Enthral when I noticed there was a niche in the market to do brand storytelling in the same way journalists look at stories.
2) What does a typical day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
The thing I love about my job is that every day is different. On shoot days, I might be up at 530am, travelling to a far flung location and then filming all day until after dark. Some jobs might mean we have to edit through the night to turn a project around quickly to ensure the story is relevant.
On other days, I work out of our Sydney or Melbourne office and generally spend time working with our team on various projects, coming up with creative ideas which is my favourite part of the job, catching up with clients, doing new business meetings and catching up on emails.
Then there is all the other small bits of having a business that take up a lot of time. I’m also trying to find time to head across the road to the gym for a quick workout but to be honest, the last bit has fallen off the radar a lot lately.
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
There is a perception that having your own business gives you the flexibility in your career. I’d say it’s quite the opposite. When it’s busy, you’re busy. When it’s quiet, you’re busy hustling to make it busy again.
It does give you a lot more freedom though and I take advantage of that by doing things like bringing in my kids into work on quiet days.
Enthral is very much a flexible workplace though, and we have staff who have applied for roles purely because we’ve advertised that we have a flexible work environment. It can have a huge impact on culture and the talent you attract and we believe having the balance right is important for everyone.
4) Do you have any tips, tricks or shortcuts to help you manage your workload and schedule?
To be honest, my biggest tip is prioritizing and to start saying no to things. It’s only something I’ve started to do and it’s quite empowering to be able to work out exactly what you want / need to do.
I’m also a big believer of to do lists. I need to physically write things down and then I take great satisfaction in scribbling it off the list once the job has been done.
At the office, I’ve also started doing walking phone calls. Sounds wanky but it’s a great way to get some fresh air, increase my daily steps and get work done at the same time.
5) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
To be honest, work life balance is something I’ve never been great at. I grew up on a small dairy farm in Northern Victoria watching my parents work long hours and very hard.
So I get a strong worth ethic from them. And I guess I’ve always considered myself lucky to have great jobs so I’ve wanted to work hard to make sure I succeed in those roles. The cost of that was work life balance.
Now I have three young kids and I travel almost weekly so work life balance needs to improve. I talk to a lot of other people in similar roles and am enjoying hearing different ways and ideas about how people achieve this.
6) What do you think are some of the best habits you’ve developed over the years to help you strive for success and balance?
I guess the best habit is to take a holiday which equally represents success and balance.
Every year, I make sure we take a good holiday. It’s a great reward for working hard. And the moment I arrive back home, I make sure I am planning the next trip so I’ve got something to work towards.
I also try to not sweat the small stuff. In my various jobs, I’ve met some people at their absolute lowest. People who are sick, people whose homes have been destroyed by natural disasters. When you see people in this situation, it makes it easy to put a lot of things into perspective.
7) Are there any books that have helped you improve over the years?
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck. The title says it all. I also met Richard Branson last year on a shoot for Virgin Australia and Losing My Virginity is also a must-read for anyone business minded.
8) What is the number one thing you do to make sure you get the most out of your day?
Exercise. I’ve recently started doing a daily 10km walk/run at 530am. I leave that early so I can still see the kids for breakfast before I leave for work. But I also feel like I’m getting the most out of the day when you’ve ticked exercise off the list by 7am. I notice a big difference on the days when I don’t do it.
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
Work life balance doesn’t mean not working hard. It just means working smarter to allow you to be able to enjoy the things you want to do away from work.
I’ve also just come back from the Digital Detox trip in the Kimberleys. The trip was organised by El Questro and Beyond Blue and the trip is purely about getting people together in a space where there is virtually no mobile reception to take stock and think and reconnect with other like minded people.
I met some great people, we were forced to have conversations in one of the most picturesque places in Australia. It sounds extreme but it was nice to get away and reminded me of the importance to take a proper break.
If you found the above conversation helpful and inspiring, be sure to check out Balance the Grind’s guide to achieving a healthy work-life balance.