Founders / Interviews

Balancing the Grind With Harry Dry, Founder of Marketing Examples

Harry Dry is the Founder of fast-growing startup, Marketing Examples, a gallery of real world marketing examples.

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

Hey, I’m Harry, 23 years young from London, England. I did Economics at university and didn’t enjoy it one bit. In 2nd year I stopped going to class and learnt how to code instead, which turned out to be a much better use of my time.

On leaving uni, I realised I wanted to work for myself, so I started a couple of small businesses. The one which got the most attention was a dating site for Kanye West fans. But ultimately, I couldn’t make it work so I got a job as a web developer.

Whilst working that job I started a startup called Marketing Examples. Essentially, it’s just a bunch of real world marketing examples to help people learn about marketing.

A few months after I started working on it, I got my first sponsor. On the very same day I handed in my notice at work and I’ve been growing Marketing Examples ever since. Currently the newsletter is at just over 8,000 strong in about 5 months working on it and it makes enough for me to live off.

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

I’m not going to pretend I’ve got everything worked out because I haven’t. Today, I woke up at exactly 9:11am. The first thing I did was frown because I missed my alarm by a few hours.

I put on some clothes, lifted some weights and went outside for a workout, got back, ate some Weetabix and walked 10 minutes to Cafe Mori, a nearby Japanese cafe to do some work. Today was a writing day, so I finished an article on good copywriting.

At about 2pm I switched my location to another cafe, did some more work and then trotted back home at around 9pm. Usually I watch some bullshit YouTube videos or surf the internet more before I go to bed.

It’s a habit I’ve been trying to break so today I read a few chapters of Men Without Women, a book by Haruki Murakami before going to bed.

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

Working for myself I can pretty much do anything I want. On one level it’s amazing because I can run my own schedule: See a friend at 3pm, exercise whenever, cook lunch at home, etc.

But it’s not all rosy because you have to set your own boundaries and I struggle with that. I often find myself working on the weekends or wrapping up the day at 9pm which is far from ideal.

I’m hoping to find a better rhythm. Start scheduling stuff in the evenings and sticking to a 9-5 hours but I haven’t got there yet.

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

It means separating work and life. When I work, I want to work. When I live, I want to live.

I don’t want to sit at a desk for 10 hours and produce 5 hours of meaningful work. I want to get my work done, feel great, and then get outside and breathe fresh air.

How do I achieve this? Well, the short answer is at the moment I don’t. It’s tough and I’m falling short.

One recent improvement I made is scheduling things. If you try to work all the time the end result is wasting a lot of time. You fill the time you allocate. So if you allocate 5 hours, you get it done in 5 hours. If you allocate 12 hours you can waste 7 of them.

Having something you know you have to do in the evening makes a big difference. Because then you have to get XYZ done.

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?

I developed a habit of not engaging with the outside or “real” word until 5pm.

To be specific, this means: not touching my phone, not listening to music, not reading email, not checking Twitter, Reddit, etc.

What I’ve found is that if I check Twitter once I’ll check it 1000 times. If I look at my phone once I’ll look at it 100 more times. And when that happens my day goes south. So the only solution is a complete blanket ban until 5pm. Laboratory energy.

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

I can’t recommend any books but I like this 3 part YouTube series on Vasyl Lomachenko’s training regime. The principles of how he works can be applied to anything.

I also like the writer Murukami’s description of his writing routine:

When I’m in writing mode for a novel, I get up at four a.m. and work for five to six hours. In the afternoon, I run for ten kilometers or swim for fifteen hundred meters (or do both), then I read a bit and listen to some music. I go to bed at nine p.m.

I keep to this routine every day without variation. The repetition itself becomes the important thing; it’s a form of mesmerism. I mesmerize myself to reach a deeper state of mind.

But to hold to such repetition for so long — six months to a year — requires a good amount of mental and physical strength. In that sense, writing a long novel is like survival training. Physical strength is as necessary as artistic sensitivity.

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

Exercise. Every day without fail I try and break a sweat. Everyone’s different but for me this has made such a big difference.

I’ll lift some weights in my room before going down to the local park and do some sprints across the football pitch. I run there and back. 1 minute break. Do it again. 1 minute break. Do it again. I’ll do that 5 times.

Then I’ll start doing some yoga stretches, which I actually find harder than the sprinting. Then some hopping, then some shadow boxing, sit ups, press ups, then I’m done.

It sounds weird but I pretend I’m a professional athlete. Once I’ve done the exercise my mind is clearer. Hand on heart, I’m not so interested in the physical benefits but more the mental ones.

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

Ronnie O’Sullivan. The snooker player. He used to play snooker obsessively. 12 hours a day. No work life balance. Then he quit snooker and fell out of love with the game. Now he’s back on track and I think it’s a lot down to him working on his routine.

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

Sure, I’ll leave you with this. I was complaining to my friend Jordan O’Connor the other day about working too hard and wasting time procrastinating. He told me:

Just go to a coffee shop with no charger. Get as much done as you can before the laptop dies. Done for the day.”

I thought this was pretty good advice so I’ll pass it on.

If you’d like to have a conversation with us about how you balance the grind, get in touch with us!

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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.