Directors / Founders / Interviews

Balancing the Grind With Jimmy Hyett, Managing Director & Founder at This Is Flow

Jimmy Hyett is the Managing Director & Founder of full service advertising agency This Is Flow.

With over 15 years experience in the media industry, Jimmy has worked in every channel, across big agencies, multinational networks, independents and small agencies.

Balance the Grind spoke to Jimmy about his wide-ranging media career, what it’s like running an advertising agency, 4am wake up calls, work-life balance culture in agencies, and plenty more.

This conversation is brought to you by Teachable, a powerful yet simple all-in-one platform to create and sell beautiful online courses.

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

My career didn’t start in the conventional way. I hated school, didn’t study well and I felt completely unmotivated.

I decided to leave school early with no set direction, only with an idea that gaining real-world on the job work experience, instead of spending another 5 years studying a subject I had no interest in would give me an advantage.

I worked my way through retail, into sales roles, dominating junior positions until I had the confidence and experience to move up the ranks. Eventually I found my first passion – Media.

I was hooked. A fast paced, ever changing and always exciting industry, where communication and strategy flourished.

I started working for a surfing magazine, the best lifestyle role where meetings in the ocean became the norm, but this quickly drove an interest in every media channel, TV, radio, cinema and more.

This was a spark I had never known, I was hungry for more and craved the knowledge and the work.

Following my stint in magazines, I expanded my knowledge and my career with a move to an advertising agency, channeling my inner madmen.

Over 15 years I worked across big agencies, multinational networks, independents and small agencies.

I was building experience, expanding my network and working in multiple charity and industry committees and as a result was named in the 30 most influential people in media under the age of 30.

Shortly after, the dream of owning my own business shortly turned into reality, as I opened my own advertising agency.

I quickly realised that my passion wasn’t media, it was business – winning multiple clients, awards and growing the business over 200% each year since we started.

We are different to other agencies, we have our own style and personality and really punching above our weight in the advertising industry.

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

I am the Founder and Managing Director of This Is Flow, a full service advertising agency, meaning we not only create ads, but also buy the space, do the data, strategy and concept work all the way through to conversion and customer retention.

From the very beginning as a new entrepreneurial agency, we have a very lean team, a team of one for the first 2 years.

I had to work all roles, from customer service, through to execution, filming producing and editing content, financials and book keeping to branding and payroll.

Time was challenging to say the least when wearing multiple hats, but it has been an incredible learning curve and one that I wouldn’t replace.

It literally taught me to manage my time and be the most organised version of myself. After 2 years, we were able to hire and although that has relived some pressure, it is still a non-stop industry so time is still my most precious commodity.

Running your own business is however a game of survival, and only 50% survive.

There are many that can put in the hours, handle the stress and have the skills and knowledge to dominate, but the truth is, it’s ones that don’t have balance in their life outside of work that fail.

I have my family – my partner (who puts up with all my late working nights without a complaint) and a crazy hyper monster monkey of a 2 yr old son. I love my fitness with multiple gym sessions, games of touch footy and surfs a week. And then there’s chill time, the most important for balance.

Day to day it’s challenging to fit everything in, but as long as you do your best and don’t lose perspective on what’s most important, surviving is easy!

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

A typical day is:

4am wake up from the little man rolling into our room and climbing onto the bed, followed by us taking him back to his room and then playing this game for the next 2 hours.

After that it’s up to get him set for the day, breakfast and taking him to day care. As soon as this is done, then its emails to set the day and then drive into the office.

The day is filled with clients, emails, meetings and work before escaping the office around 4pm. A quick gym session follows to then race home by 6pm to tuck the little man in.

Dinner with the partner (we have been making Hello Fresh meals to save time and find variety – highly recommended). Then after dinner its logging on again until around midnight to tick off the rest of the to do list.

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

There are a few things that have helped me stay on top of my day, and not lose track of my workload.

Writing my to do list the night before. This is the best way to go to bed without stress so you sleep better, plus you also save time in the morning and can start your day knowing exactly what there is to do.

Filing emails is crucial for me to stay on top of the emails I need to action. Delete the junk, file the information and completed emails and only leave your inbox of emails to follow up or action.

Doing a workout every day. This is so important to keeping energy levels high and your brain clear. The endorphins released when you train help you stay in a positive mindset and the exercise keeps you alert and your body healthy.

Deal with people, clients and projects in the day, complete the admin and to do list in the night. There are so many distractions in our office that you can work your ass off and not feel like you have done anything.

But at night when there is no distractions, it’s easier to clear out those annoying and time sapping tasks.

Have quality nights and work nights. As a business owner it’s very easy to work every day, there is always something to do, but to keep a relationship at home strong, prioritise your week to work hard some nights, and not even open your lap top other nights.

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

Owning the business can give you challenges, but it also gives you freedom. I plan my day to work smarter, not harder.

The biggest time saver for me is avoiding the peak hour commutes as much as possible.

I get through this by doing emails and my gym session when I would be wasting time in traffic, and then shoot in to the city or home when the travel time is more than halved.

6) What are some of the things you do to take time out and recharge?

My recharge, is actually the most energetic time of the day – my exercise. Whether this is a gym session or a game of touch footy, or a surf, this exercise is the most powerful way to reset the mind and recharge my batteries.

Without it I feel tired and lethargic and motivation is difficult. When work is stressful or chaotic, a work out is the quickest way to shake that unwanted baggage and start fresh with a clear mind.

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?

Throughout my career I have worked in companies without much work life balance – places that if you leave on time, you get death stares from everyone for finishing your day.

This culture is devastating to a business and a team, it quickly demotivates staff and burn out is real. So often it has led to team members leaving or causing issues between staff or your home life.

One of the best things I have ever done in my career to find balance myself, is focus on my teams work life balance first.

From the first moment I started managing people, to running my own business, we have built team balance that not only helps the teams productivity but also meant we had a happier team.

It’s a culture shift that needs to happen first, for you to truly succeed in work and home balance.

Once the team balance and culture is sorted, everyone supports each other, and pushes you to find the elements that are important to you and lets you focus on those!

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

The number one thing I do to get the most out of my day – is get up out of bed!

It helps that I am a morning person, and it also helps having a 2yr old alarm clock, but by getting up, and getting the day started, it really sets the rest of the day up with so much energy (I don’t drink coffee so this is vital).

So often you get to office and half the staff are still waking up, it takes them 2 coffees and a few unproductive hours to get going.

My advice – wake up before sunrise, and be outside at sunrise. If you can go for a walk, a swim, or even just soak in some deep breaths of fresh air – you will be filled with such a positive outlook on the day and an energy you didn’t know you had!

And if it is Mondays that you struggle with – one of the most impactful quotes I have heard – “Monday could be the first day, of the best week in your life.” Get up and make it awesome!

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.