Balancing the Grind With Danny Newman, International Client Director at YourStudio

Danny Newman is a Netherlands-based International Client Director at YourStudio – Experience Design Agency, a strategy & insight-driven design agency based in London, Amsterdam & Melbourne.

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

My degree is in journalism and my career began in the commercial side of media working for publishing companies in London such as Haymarket and EMAP selling ‘marketing solutions’ (sponsorship/advertising campaigns) as they diversified their portfolios into digital and events.

The environment was quite corporate and a little ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ at times but also fun.

I then met the owners of YourStudio, a London-based design agency working with leading retail brands, who were looking to expand their business into Australia. After several conversations and meetings, I agreed to open up a Melbourne studio under the job title Client Director.

Three years later, we have a team of 5 in Melbourne (and growing) and I’m currently in the process of expanding the business into mainland Europe by opening an Amsterdam studio.

My role changes and evolves as the studios grow; in the Melbourne studio’s infancy my role was very business development heavy but it then evolved into managing client relationships, project management and more of a General Manager-type role.

I’m currently in an interim international role, whilst we set up Amsterdam, that spans across our global studios.

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

Being based in Europe, my mornings always start with Australia, checking and responding to emails and having a conference call with the team.

I speak with our Creative Director there 2/3 times per week and look to support them where possible. I’ll then typically check-in to see what’s happening in London before moving into my tasks for the day.

The typical workday tasks can include any of the following; putting together proposals, pitches, managing creative projects creating marketing content, sector research, writing sector specific thought pieces for LinkedIn, client calls/meetings, internal calls/meetings and new business calls/meetings.

Depending on the time of year, the day can start as early as 7.30am (currently its 8.30am) and finishes around 6pm.

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

My current role is 100% remote working which requires a huge amount of trust from my company but, to me, is motivating as it also means they’re showing me a great deal of respect.

It took some getting used to, in the early days I’d find myself wanting to prove to people that I was working by copying them into emails but that soon stopped.

I’ve deleted nearly all of my social media accounts, but still have that habit to pick up my phone, and when I wake up I find it really hard not to check my emails pretty much straight away.

With the commitments in Australia, this then leads to me jumping straight into work without going through all of my morning rituals.

This can mean me waking up, checking emails, having breakfast, brushing my teeth, having calls with YS Australia and then exercising/showering once that’s done. I do enjoy the flexibility of being able to do that.

I’m very much a morning person, it kind of works for me, but I’m working on putting my morning rituals first (especially exercise) so that I can spend more time on my wellbeing and set the tone for the day.

4) Do you have any tips, tricks or shortcuts to help you manage your workload and schedule?

I set myself weekly goals, broken down into daily work and personal tasks, I find this helps create a focused week.

On a Friday, I set my goals for the following week which makes it easier to refocus after the weekend. Being a morning person, it’s always good to prioritise the most mentally-taxing work in the morning when energy is high.

Our MD has been reading a book called Deep Work by Cal Newport about rules for focused success in a distracted world.

I’ve been trialling something he’s read in this, breaking the working day into 90 min chunks of completely undistracted work for the most important tasks (turning off emails, social media etc) followed by a similar length break.

It’s almost like a form of work meditation, avoiding any type of distraction for key periods of the day.

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

Work-life balance to me is about feeling satisfied with both my personal and professional endeavours, whilst making sure you have enough time for friends & family and maintaining good health and wellbeing.

There are times when it’s impossible to avoid working late but that also should be balanced out with making more time for yourself and other people when the opportunities arise.

It’s not something I’ve cracked yet. Working remotely or even living close to work (which is what I did in Melbourne) makes it easy to ‘bring work home’, which can impact those around you. You can be there in person but not mentally.

When I lived a few minutes from the office, I’d sometimes put a podcast or some music on and extend the walk home to help wind down. Where possible, I try not to work from home to keep barriers between work and life.

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?

In terms of striving for balance, learning to accept that there is no such thing as perfect. It’s always going to be in flux. That way, I’m not too hard on myself when going through intense periods of work and making sure I relax and enjoy myself in my personal life.

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

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

It sounds like a strange one but trying to have as much fun as possible. You can work hard but still have fun doing it. For me, it helps me get the most of of my day as it keeps up the energy and enthusiasm.

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

Have fun. Try new things. Be self aware. Set goals. Avoid distraction.

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About Author

Hey there! I'm Hao, the Editor-in-Chief at Balance the Grind. We’re on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.