Balancing the Grind With Lisa Frederickson, Former Head Creative Director at Foxtel

Lisa Frederickson is the former Head Creative Director at Foxtel, where she led a team of 12 creatives responsible for all creative output across the Lifestyle and Factual portfolios.

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

First off, hello! So, a potted career history goes like this. I’ve worked in the Creative side of the TV industry for over 20 years, and it’s been an incredibly dynamic and rewarding path.

I graduated from University College London and started life as a copywriter/writer in television, penning a top-rating comedy series for the Bravo channel in 1999. I then went on to produce and direct trailers for Discovery Channel, before leading a Creative team there.

Next stop – comedy -a huge love of mine. I followed the laughs to Comedy Central in London before making an even bigger leap over to Australia in 2011. In 2016-17, I was named ‘Australian Creative of The Year’ and went to be become Head Creative Director at Foxtel which has been an incredibly creative, dynamic role.

I have since taken a sabbatical from TV life to pursue my own projects. I am currently working on a book for a women’s charity in South Africa.

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

Typical day in my last role: Wake up, cheeky cup of tea and a few strums on my ukulele. I’ve been learning how to play and it gets me in a happy place!

If I’m feeling dynamic, I might manage a quick swim. After that, the working day begins. I often plan my day as I drive, mentally mapping what I need to achieve that day. The car commute is really important for me as I listen to music – it’s a great motivator.

Arrive at office around 8.30-9am. After my own prep time, I meet with the other senior management team to discuss priority projects and share new information. From there, I meet with my Associate Creative Directors to pass on info and check in on projects.

That done, I set about tackling my big goals of the day, fitting in meetings, signing off of any creative and work on pitches along the way. I always make time to wander around and chat with the team, see what they are working on and have some fun interactions.

I also recognise my need for alone time and I block periods out for what I term as ‘thinking and advance planning’. It’s time to breathe, conceptualise and get things in order.

My working day ends around 5.30pm. Evenings are mine and I relish them, seeing friends, a movie, a gig. Doing something I love after work energises me to do it all again the next day. Bish, bash bosh. That’s it!

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

The role of Head Creative Director required me to be office-based for the most part – the environment is hugely busy, highly reactive and fast-moving, with frequent last-minute briefs. However, with two Associate Creative Directors to manage daily life, I was able to take time out of the office should I need uninterrupted thinking time.

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

To me it’s all about feeling you have some control and ownership over your life. Nobody wants to feel life’s all about the 9 to 5, however much you love your work. It’s about keeping the stress levels down by doing the things that make you ‘you’.

The things that light your fire, spark your soul. When we are happier, we are more productive, which is good for all. For me it’s spending time with friends, a good hike, a swim, a gig or my current favourite – playing the ukulele. Sometimes in the office. Sorry all.

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?

Always show up ready and wildly enthusiastic. Whether at work or outside. It’s contagious! Bring the fun. Do at least one thing you love every day. Make your evenings count.

I regularly meet friends, catch a film or gig, spend time by the sea. A dip in the ocean does wonders! At work: I believe in taking risks, even though it can be scary – it helps us grow.

Read, laugh, keep up with industry trends. Talk to people in the lift – it’s a great way to meet new people. Cultivate good relationships, it gets things done and makes work and life a pleasure. Oh, and I love a nice cup of tea – it’s the answer to everything!

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

Many is the short answer! I love books that make me think about things differently, be those works of fiction, historical writing or reference books.

I’m currently enjoying Limit Yourself and Unleash your Creativity (Burkhardt). It explains how the limitations that frustrate us all such as lack of time, resources, stingy budgets etc are in fact our friends.

Seemingly insurmountable hurdles can be the best creative inspiration, whatever our field. It’s a great read. I guess it’s quite apt in term of work-life balance too, as time limitations are always a biggie in any industry. Embrace your limitations!

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

I always take 15 mins at the start of the day to prepare – well, as much as one can in the rapidly-changing environment of a TV creative dept. Think. Plan the day.

Breeeeaaaaaathe. That preparation can happen as I drive into work- mulling over ideas, conversations I need to have, steps that need to be taken to reach an outcome. Curve balls will come, many and often, but that first 15 mins thinking time will help you control your day as much as possible.

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

The indomitable Ruth Baden Ginsburg- U.S Supreme Court Justice. She’s still on fire at 86! I’d love to know how she reinvigorates that formidable mind and spirit of hers. If you’ve still got the energy to make a difference as an octogenarian, you’re doing something right. Respect!

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

I read this only the other day and to me it says it all:

‘You often feel tired, not because you’ve done too much, but because you’ve done too little of what sparks a light in you.’ (Alexander Den Heijer)

In short, stop, breathe and make time for things that get you all fired up. Laugh lots. Sounds glib but it’s true. If you’re happier, you’ll achieve much more and meet every task with a spring in your step. And that vibe is contagious.

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.