David Lloyd-Lewis is the Co-Founder & Chief Creative Officer at TheStoryBoxes, an award winning production studio dedicated to social impact and behaviour change.
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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
I’m currently the Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer of TheStoryBoxes, which is a creative studio committed to driving change through the power of storytelling. We focus heavily on authentic factual stories and have produced content all over the world to bring unheard voices to wider audiences.
How I got here is not at all linear, having spent the majority of my 20’s living a somewhat nomadic life I bounced from job to job around Asia and Europe in advertising, marketing and communications roles.
It wasn’t until 2011 that I entered into the not-for-profit sector in a communications role and saw first-hand the scale of missed opportunity for impact to be made due to lacklustre brand communications.
At the same time my wife Sarah was working in Pacific Islands on behaviour change campaigns around Malaria prevention and coincidentally came across almost identical communications challenges. Within a couple of weeks we blindly and ambitiously followed our passions, combined our skills and set out to have a more meaningful impact.
2) What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
As a family with two entrepreneurial parents and two young and rambunctious kids each day is unpredictable to say the least. We rely a lot on calendars to stay across who needs to do drop-offs and pickups while juggling meetings and project work.
As an example, this morning my wife was presenting at the Interactive Minds breakfast in Brisbane. She left the house around 7am so I did the morning routine with the kids: breakfast, school drop-ff, daycare drop-off, etc., before a quick visit to the gym en route to the office.
After seven years of entrepreneurship and parenthood I can really feel the toll on my body and mind from the compounded lack of sleep, poor diet and lack of care for my own wellbeing.
I’ve now created the habit that I won’t typically be in the office until I’ve exercised and knocked out any stress or anxiety that might be lingering. As such I feel like I’m clearer, more focussed and present at work.
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
We’re output-focussed rather than clock-watchers. We established this very early in the company’s culture. As a group of creative people our best work doesn’t often happen between the hours and 9-5 so having the flexibility to do our best collective work has to be a priority. There are obviously times when we need to be in the studio at the same time but generally we’ll use good judgement and do what’s best for the work.
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
The whole concept of “balance” is still very murky to me. Life, just like work, has its own ebbs and flows and there are times when greater focus is needed on one over the other.
In my experience, it’s actually been more process of understanding how I deal with guilt – guilty about missing family time, guilty about not being at work, guilty about what I’m able to offer my staff – it’s a really brutal cycle if you let yourself go down that rabbit hole so it becomes an exercise in being comfortable and unapologetic about your priorities.
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?
For many years I thrived in chaos and lacked the discipline to stick to my own rules and structures. I had to identify that the thing that brings me most joy is creating and developing rather than actually completing things.
Over the years I’ve surrounded myself with incredible finishers who could catch my chaos. About 6 months ago I also hired an assistant to help me stay more organized and accountable to both my team and my family.
6) Are there any books that have helped you improve over the years?
Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive by Pat Lencioni. The first line of the book still stands out to me – “If everything is important, then nothing is.” This couldn’t be more true in life, not just business.
7) What is the number one thing you do to make sure you get the most out of your day?
A sense of clarity, purpose and alignment to my mission of seeing impact driven by story through an inclusive share of voice. On any given day life can throw us conflict, complexity and distraction away from our core tasks/functions. Many of these are out of our control. What I do have control over is how I choose to prioritise these.
8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
Bill Simmons, founder and CEO of The Ringer.
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
Be absolutely clear with yourself on what’s important. Until you do that, you’ll spend your life serving other people’s priorities.
If you’d like to have a conversation with us about how you balance the grind, get in touch with us!