Directors / Interviews

Balancing the Grind With Jim Antonopoulos, Owner & Managing Director of Tank

Jim Antonopoulos is the Owner and Managing Director of strategy and innovation consultancy Tank, working directly with leadership teams to develop strategy and transformational programs.

He is also the author of two online courses Strategy Masterclass and The Creative Pro and has been writing a weekly journal for creative leaders and entrepreneurs at The Business of Creativity.

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

My career began in the early days of the internet and navigated creative and strategy leadership roles in digital, brand strategy and more recently culture and leadership consulting.

I’ve owned Tank since 2007 and we’ve transformed some amazing organisations through transformation programs with a strong values-led and people-first focus in both delivery and outcome.

I’m passionate about better ways of working and reimagining the workplace. I don’t really accept the status quo.

As well as running Tank, I do a few other things.

I’m a father of three amazing children first and foremost.

I author a weekly journal about creative leadership, as well as a weekly leadership briefing for people who aspire to be more authentic, mindful and creative leaders.

I’m currently editing my first book on creative leadership which is taking a back seat to a few other priorities at the current time.

I run an online course teaching strategy and am also building another online course to help creative professionals reach their potential.

Needless to say we’re a hybrid services and product development business.

2) What is your current role and what does it entail on a day to day basis?

I own a strategy and innovation consultancy called Tank. We do most of our work in Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra. And from time to time, we fly overseas to work with clients.

Our key focus areas are strategy, culture and innovation. We’re a hybrid service and product development business.

As the sole owner, my role is multi-faceted but hyper-focussed on building the business strategy so that the people in the business are feeling safe and fulfilled whilst at work, and are doing work that is meaningful to them.

Day-to-day, I am focussed on no more than 1 – 2 client relationships and aiming to ship any number of products we’re developing.

I work closely with organisational leadership (CEOs, board members, COOs, executive teams) and help them discover their values and embed them into their culture and day-to-day working rituals.

Ultimately, I do any task that needs to be done in the business.

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

I wake up around 4:45am most mornings and am at the gym by 5:45am for a 6am training session. I’ve been hooked on Crossfit for the last five years. I do this 3 – 4 days per week and credit it to being able to focus and manage the ups and downs of work/family life.

The mornings are for my health and family. I’m most productive between 6 – 9am and find that my mind is filled with ideas and lists at this time, so I try to capture them in my productivity app. I’ve found that I can punch out quite a lot of work in this time and tend to use it for exercise and writing as often as I can.

This is the time when I write my weekly journal which I’ve been doing for the last three years and am now turning into a book.

I’m at work by 9:30 – 10am most days after spending the morning making breakfast for my three children, getting them ready and off to their schools.

A typical work day might include:

  • Responding to priority emails
  • Organising the week’s work
  • Business development activities (proposals)
  • Working with a couple of clients quite closely to manage the program of work we’re undertaking with them. I don’t get into the details (sometimes I do) but I try to work with their key person, usually a COO or CEO, to manage stakeholder expectations and recruitment into research we’re conducting or workshops being facilitated.
  • Writing for my next online course for creative professionals.
  • Working on any one of our ventures which is an exciting part of our business.

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

There are so many apps, tips, tricks and shortcut experts out there and I think I’ve spent hours on end trying to find the secret to being productive and manage my workload and schedule in a healthy way.

I’ve come to realise that mindset is everything, mindfulness is powerful, and rhythm in my life is critical.

My mindset around my business changed many years ago when I refused to accept the status quo — we had over 20 employees, working for anyone and everyone, and I was neither happy or managing work/life very well. A key set of very personal and purposeful principles, helped me navigate this change.

I defined meaningful work in my own mind, I wrote down what my ideal working day looked and felt like and I put into action a series of initiatives that saw me create an ideal work/life balance for myself and my family.

My business is now six part-time people, working core hours of 9:30am – 4:30am. We rewrote our business strategy from scratch and filled it with key principles that ensured low stress, a culture of accountability and transparency and together do work that is meaningful.

Tactically, time blocking, getting up early every day, eating well, breathing and taking the time to be mindful are some of the timeless tips and tricks to manage a healthy working life.

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5) In between your job, life and all your other responsibilities, how do you ensure you find some sort of balance in your life?

Being active is key, as is being able to choose when and where I give my time and energy. This means saying no often, but still being open to new possibilities.

I still strive to be still just to be able to think — to find that peaceful time to think and dwell on things is somewhat of a holy grail for me.

6) What does work life balance mean to you?

It means understanding your purpose and priorities and creating a life around them.

This means letting some people in your life drift off into the sunset and allowing yourself to move in other directions of which you may have at first thought uncomfortable.

7) 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’m a big fan of rhythms and rituals both personal and within organisations. I believe good rhythms create habits, and rituals create culture.

The habit and practice of mindfulness has helped me focus on where I wish to take my businesses. Being present with myself means being able to find quiet time to concentrate uninterrupted. This is easier for me to say than actually execute, but I strive for it every day of my life.

I’m an avid time-blocker and I book my calendar well in advance to honour the rituals and rhythms in my life.

I believe in ‘just enough’ and never strive for perfection in the work I do — too many people are stalled because they want things to be ‘just right’ or perfect in their mind. For me, movement is more important than perfection. If I’m delivering, I’m about to learn and improve, and therein lies perfection for me.

Ultimately, spending time with my children is a habit that makes me a better human.

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

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

I turn up to my Crossfit gym at 6am.

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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.