Jean-Claude Branch is the Founder & CEO of Emerald City Hotels, a boutique hotel and serviced apartment management company, based in Sydney, Australia.
Subscribe to Balance the Grind’s newsletter so you never miss one of our conversations about work, life & balance.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
I started as an analyst at Merrill Lynch in San Francisco. I am Sydney born but studied International Business and Finance at the University of San Francisco. I originally thought I would work in the financial world, but a successful renovation of a San Francisco heritage home at 21 changed all that.
2) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
It is amazing how much work is completed on my phone. I usually go between “The Albert” building site, to the other hotels and my office throughout the day. Different check-ins and meetings happen at all different hotel sites. So yes, on the remote working. I have even had builders asking me questions about wall location while in the Jungles of Borneo!
3) Do you have any tips, tricks or shortcuts to help you manage your workload and schedule?
The minute a meeting is discussed, or a task is remembered the next words out of my mouth are “Hey Siri…” otherwise appointments get lost and tasks do not get completed. I also am a big believer in technology and rely on Trip-it, Google and Apple to know more about me and my day than me.
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
Achieving work-life balance is something I am constantly asking myself about. Isn’t it more important that you’re asking yourself the question, than just ignoring it under a million tasks?
5) 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 try to hit the gym every evening after work to de-stress. I also know that if I have an overseas adventure with my family planned, no matter how stressful work is- I know in a few months I will be in another world and another frame of mind. Even if only for a few weeks. If none of that does the trick, then a beer.
6) Are there any books that have helped you improve over the years?
I enjoy reading books about Economics and Science. Books that challenge your thinking and look to the future. Two great books for me were Yval Horari’s Homosapiens and Thomas Friedman’s The World Is Flat.
7) What is the number one thing you do to make sure you get the most out of your day?
Yes- I always make an effort to learn something new every day. Whether I am in an Uber and I ask the driver questions and hear an amazing life story or watch a Youtube on quantum computing. I feel a sense of achievement when I have expanded my mind. Even on the busiest days.
8) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
Yes- many people will have advice on how to de-stress. Many people have advised me that I should learn how to meditate. Frankly, it is a frustrating process for me.
Only you know what makes you go down a few notches and enjoy life more. A little secret I have with my friends is I game occasionally.
Not many 40-year old men like to admit they have been playing the computer game Civilisation for twenty years, but it relaxes me and is almost like a meditation. When it’s time to relax – be you.
If you’d like to have a conversation with us about how you balance the grind, get in touch with us!