Directors / Founders / Interviews

Balancing the Grind With David Pagotto, Founder & Managing Director at SIXGUN

David Pagotto is the Founder and Manager Director of SIXGUN, a boutique digital marketing agency based in Melbourne.

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

I’m the typical business owner whose interest in business began as a kid, and as high school progressed I started importing goods from overseas and selling them over eBay.

My patient, supportive mother was constantly ferrying me and a carload of packages to the post office! Then I started learning more and more about digital marketing, particularly SEO. I became obsessive, learning everything imaginable. SEO gets very technical – I love it.

In my early twenties I worked for a number digital marketing agencies in Melbourne, until founding my own, SIXGUN. The team has grown rapidly and we service clients from Drake International to Australia Post (full circle!) to Roll’d.

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

Every day I am either in the office with the team, or running to and from meetings. My days consist of managing the team, jumping in on some tech work, supporting my account manager, doing sales and marketing, and working on the business processes and general operations.

Let’s use today as an example. I took the train into the office, arrived before the team, and caught up on some outstanding work tasks. I had a 10am meeting with a content writer, a kickoff meeting with a client, did an internal training session with my sales team, an internal training session with my account manager, then spent some time on marketing, and had a number of sales calls throughout the day.

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

I’m in the office with my team every day. I’ve found that we all work better when we are together and can easily communicate about things that come up and the work we’re doing, plus the banter in the office is fun, so I prefer it this way.

It fits easily into my life, and I enjoy the routine of waking up every day and heading into the office. It gives me time to get through all the audiobooks I listen to!

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

To me work-life balance means working at a sustainable pace. I’ve witnessed too many people decide to build a business, go really hard at the start, and then crash. It wasn’t sustainable. So I make sure I get enough rest on weekends to ensure my work routine is sustainable, and I’m refreshed for the next week. This is really important.

Sometimes people get caught up in the ‘hustle’ culture, but they are only thinking short term – to build a truly successful company you need to think long term. Five years. Fifteen years. Fifty years. It’s all about the long distance run as opposed to the short sprint.

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?

One of the best habits I have developed is building mentorship relationships with people. Catching up with mentors regularly not only teaches me so much that is directly applicable to my business, it also really inspires me. I greatly appreciate these relationships as they have become an important part of my self development.

I also think the fact that I am more risk averse has helped too. A lot of entrepreneurs are massive risk-takers, which sometimes makes people think that to start a business you need to be that way. I’ve found that because I’m naturally more technical, more thorough, and more risk averse, I’ve built my business more solidly and drama free.

Some people build too fast and they don’t take the time to make the right hiring decisions, get systems and processes in place, instil the right culture in the company, etc., and sometimes things can collapse, or flatline, because the foundations were never built right.

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

I recently reread The Four Disciplines of Execution and I absolutely love it. It’s simple, clear, and powerful. Most businesses don’t have an operating system to help them achieve their goals, and this book helps you build that. I highly recommend it for all business owners and company leaders.

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

I get into the office early and have a deep-work session before the team arrives. A few years ago I read the book Deep Work, and totally agree with the author that having uninterrupted time is incredibly valuable and productive. Organising my days to start this way has really helped me get the most out of each day.

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

The founder of Toyota, Kiichiro Toyoda. I love the culture he instilled in Toyota, and the commitment to building cars that are such good quality they outlast all others. I’d be interested to know his philosophy on work-life balance, and how he approached it himself running such a large company.

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

I think that work-life balance, working sustainably, is really important. And that doesn’t just mean having the right balance between time spent working and time spent resting, it means doing work that energises you.

Of course in every job there are hard days, but overall if you do work that you genuinely enjoy and get satisfaction from, that is far more sustainable and you will enjoy your life much more.


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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.