Directors / Founders / Interviews

Balancing the Grind With Lisa Teh, Founder & Director of CODI Agency

Lisa Teh is the Founder & Director of CODI Agency, a content and digital marketing agency focused on lifestyle brands, based in Collingwood, Victoria.

She’s also the author of best selling books Australian Style and Australian Beauty and podcast host of In Conversation With Creatives which features interviews with global thought leaders.

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

I like to keep busy, so I always have a few things on the go! I spend my 9 to 5 as the co-founder of CODI Agency, which specialises in helping companies with their digital marketing needs, including organic social media management and influencer campaigns.

My role is business development, so I spend most of my day in meetings with potential and existing clients. To be honest, I never thought I’d end up in a role like this, but I genuinely love it!

I see my job as easy because I don’t view the role as a “pushy sales” role. I see it as listening to people, seeing what their problems are and seeing if our amazing team can help them.

I also am the co-founder of 101 Lifestyle, a natural brand stocked in MECCA in Australia and New Zealand. This is a brand I started with my husband Saul. For this role, I do a little bit of everything, including product development, marketing and inventory management.

This has been a great project for us as it’s taught me a lot about what goes into creating a product, working with retailers, etc. I’ve been able to share this knowledge with a lot of our clients.

I also recently launched a podcast called In Conversation With Creatives which features interviews with global thought leaders. I started my career in tax, but I was never passionate about it. I somehow lasted in the industry for 7 years, working at KPMG, Ashurst and the Tax Office.

In 2011, I co-founded an online platform called Couturing with my business partner of CODI Agency, Thom. This allowed me to not only meet some amazing creatives, but eventually transition from tax to work in the marketing department of Witchery, where I helped manage their loyalty program.

During that time, the digital landscape was changing rapidly. We were getting approached by brands to create content for their channels which could be housed on Couturing too.

When I left Witchery, Thom and I decided to give our own agency a go, focusing on digital content creation. Along the way, we started offering social media management, influencer campaigns, pretty much anything our clients needed in the digital space, and here we are today!

The fact that the digital landscape has been changing so quickly, means we are in the market at such a great time. We have maintained a dynamic culture to make sure we can respond quickly as things like social media platforms evolve.

In 2017 and 2018, Thom and I wrote two books, one called Australian Style: The Who’s Who of Fashion and one called Australian Beauty. This gave us the chance to share the stories of some of the inspiring people in the fashion and beauty landscape in Australia. As someone who has always loved books (my first job was actually at a bookshop!) this was such an amazing and surreal experience.

I feel really lucky to love what I do. I feel like I’m doing exactly what I’m meant to be doing, with who I’m meant to be doing it with. It doesn’t get any better than that!

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

I get up around 5 and go to F45 at 5:30am with Saul. We usually then take our dog Wolfie for a walk. I like having plenty of time to get ready so I’m not rushing out the door in the morning.

I’ve recently been more active on LinkedIn so I might film a video before I start work sharing anything that I’m finding is helping me be better in business and life.

During the day, my time is mostly taken up with meetings with potential and existing customers. In between, I work on proposals, research on what’s happening in the digital landscape and developing new products to provide our clients.

After work, I either catch up with friends, attend an event through my work with Couturing, or relax at home.

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

I’m lucky because I can work remotely if I need to get something urgent done with no distractions. I love being in the office with my team though, so if possible I’d rather be there 9 to 5 when I’m not in meetings, and do work before work if I need to not be distracted.

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

Single tasking! This has 100% helped me focus. I’m still working on getting better that this, but when I’m doing tasks, I try and eliminate distractions such as phone and email, so I can get what I’m doing done more efficiently and to a higher quality.

I also recommend doing a to-do list either at the end of your workday for the following day, or before bed. This reduces those times you wake up in the middle of the night thinking of things you need to do during the day!

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

Tough question because I love what I do, so work doesn’t really feel like work!

For me, work-life balance means setting up your day so when you are working, you are as focused as you can be for that time so you are being as efficient as possible, so you have time in your day to relax and enjoy those moments when you aren’t working (and it’s important to make sure you make time for that every day, even if it’s just for 30 minutes).

I do struggle with relaxing as I do feel guilty if I’m not doing anything, plus my brain is always on. But I believe it is important to make sure you have some downtime, so you don’t burn out. I try and make sure I exercise every day without my phone. Whether that’s F45 or going for a walk, it’s important for me to get some time to switch off.

Meditation always help, I just need to get better at making the time to do it! I had a specific guided meditation recorded for me which has really helped. I find it more effective than mediation apps which are more general and might not be applicable to the issues on your mind.

I also love spending time with my Saul, my friends and family. I try and not have my phone where I can see it when I’m hanging out with other people so I can be present in the moment and not distracted. I’ve found by doing this, you enjoy people’s company so much more because you aren’t getting distracted by email and social media alerts.

6) What do you think are some of the best habits you’ve developed over the years to help you strive for success and balance?

Always be open to feedback – In order to be constantly learning and improving, you need to put aside your ego. Nobody is perfect so always be open to hearing about how you can be better.

Don’t let the pursuit of perfection stop you from doing things – People feel like things must be 100% perfect, but this can stop you from putting out work, growing, etc. The sooner you can let go of the need to be perfect, the sooner you can do things and learn how you can improve on them.

Have the same thing for breakfast everyday – I also plan my outfits for the week on Sunday. These two habits mean that I can get out of the house quicker and reduces decision fatigue in the morning.

Never stop learning, but don’t forget to do – There’s so much knowledge out there we are all constantly absorbing, but it’s easy to keep listening and learning, but not applying those learnings.

Work out where you are going – If you don’t know where you are going, how do you know what you need to do to get there? While you don’t need to have a 5-year plan completely mapped out, it helps if you have a rough idea of what you want to achieve so you can stay focused.

Review your goals and how you measure up against them monthly – my good friend Mia and I developed this concept of the monthly review. At the end of the month, we review how we have performed against the goals we have set for ourselves and set new goals for the upcoming month.

This helps keep you accountable, plus it allows you to make changes during the year to make sure you are constantly growing. I prefer this to having big goals for the year, as I often find, there isn’t enough structure or accountability in place to make sure you achieve them.

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

I’ve always loved reading, but when I read, it’s always crime fiction. I’ve never really gotten into business/life tips books as to be honest; I find most of them to be pretty dry!

When it comes to learning, I prefer listening to podcasts. I heard a great podcast recently by Jay Shetty who spoke about picking enlightenment or learning over entertainment (e.g. watching a TV show or listening to music). So, I’ve started listening to podcasts when I have a spare bit of time, rather than watching Netflix.

While I thought that this would make me more tired, because I get energy from learning, I feel like I actually have more energy because I feel like I’m learning every day. My favourite podcasts for life and business improvement are On Purpose by Jay Shetty, The Gary Vee Audio Experience, How I Work and The Harvard Business Review IdeaCast.

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

Start early! I don’t like sleeping in. If I wake up too late, I feel like I’m wasting my day. I know it’s not easy for everyone to wake up early, but I heard a great tip the other day.

Set your alarm 15 minutes earlier each week. So, if you normally get up at 7am, set it at 6:45am for the week. Then the following week, set it for 6:30am. A lot of people say there aren’t enough hours in the day to get through everything they need to.

The mornings are often the only time when you can gain more time, so if you can try and get up earlier, it gives you the chance to get the most out of every day!

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

There are so many tips out there which can help you lead your best life. It’s easy to listen to them, take them in, but not act on any of them.

If you hear a great tip that really resonates with you, give it a go straight away, or the next day. This is because it’s easy to forget to try it, as we are constantly exposed to information every day. While some might not stick, this will give you the chance to keep improving every day.

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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.