Directors / Founders / Interviews / PR & Communications

Balancing the Grind With Michelle Palmer, Co-Founder & Director at Modern Currency

Michelle Palmer is the Co-Founder & Director at Modern Currency, an integrated and creative communications agency with offices based in Melbourne, Singapore, Hong Kong and LA.

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

My background is varied. I started out as a qualified Myotherapist but found the work isolating and realised a path in creativity was for me. I turned my hand to professional singing and songwriting, and while enjoying this it led me to PR and marketing.

My current role is as owner and operator of Modern Currency – a diverse marketing services company which has been created with adaptability top of mind. We offer the entire suite of communications and marketing from PR, local area marketing, social media management (content creation and digital selling), events and more.

I love it – I realised early on I need change, even though I thought at first I didn’t like change – and I love helping people, so this is the best path I’ve ever followed.

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

My day is so varied, every single day.

Kick off with a new client meeting where we strategise the best marketing communications tactics to take which suit the business best, then I will spend an hour setting up some digital conversions ads for a client on social media channels.

I’ll approve invoices, I’ll answer calls with clients and team members, review our profit and loss and check our budgeting, pay some bills, chat with my business partner (and friend) about our future company marketing or just laugh about something random.

Take a call from a client who I love who makes me laugh about something they’ve experienced that day, tidy up the kitchen (Grrr! Does every workplace have kitchen gripes?!) drink coffee (mmm coffee!), speak to my husband about what we will eat for dinner, read and reply to emails, write and proof some contracts.

That is my day!

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

It most certainly does. All of our team members have the opportunity to work remotely and we offer very flexible working hours too. As a heavily female dominated industry, we realise it is crucial to offer flexibility and also because our population continues to spread out so we don’t want our team stressing about long journeys to work.

The key is good communication, respect and understanding and also ensuring we, and our client partners, appreciate that life is changing all the time and with this must come flexibility to ensure we have the best team working with us. And we do!

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

Use reminders! I use reminders on my phone, my laptop/desktop and also on my notepad. I still find writing things down helps what I need to get done, go into my brain. I also use coloured post-it notes (which gets me teased – in a friendly way) but this helps me.

With my schedule and endless list of things to do as a business owner, it really works. Plus, delegating and asking for help is also critical to ensuring I can keep on top of my schedule. I used to be dreadful at asking for help but I now do this a lot. I have also learned that saying no is ok!

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

Some of my inner circle used to get frustrated with me for checking my emails every day, even if on holiday, but it works for me to do this. This gives me balance, because I like what I do and I also then don’t worry about things when I am meant to be switching off.

If you love what you do, this is all part of the balance. I also do give myself a regular digital detox. I have taken to putting my phone on Do Not Disturb and try hard to stick with this from a certain time each evening.

I am also known for doing deep breathing while sitting on the lid of the toilet – just giving myself those moments to stop, be quiet and breathe is critical. I don’t care if it means I am sitting on the top of the loo to do this.

Learning mindfulness has also helped me – while I walk to get a coffee, I take those minutes to concentrate on how the ground feels under my feet and to really listen to the noises around me.

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?

Mindfulness has helped me focus, worry less, be more present and decrease my stress levels. Also learning to laugh at myself more – a great friend told me once to stare at myself in the mirror and pull the worst faces I could. It made me laugh.

Not only does it break your thought process for a moment or two, it reminds you not to take things too seriously. I also adopt the ‘flip it’ approach – when something that upsets me or worries me happens, or comes to my attention, I ask myself what good is coming from this. There is always something good or something to learn.

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

Each of these books has helped me understand myself, thinking, ideas, creativity and more.

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

This will be cliched, but write a to do list in the morning and check my calendar as soon as I get up. I like to do this while I have my cup of tea in the morning and cuddle my beautiful dog, Harvey. Nice and calm to approach the day and also write time allowances next to ‘must do’ tasks to reassure myself everything is achievable.

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

You can really make your work life anything you want it to be with the right view and approach. A few years back I fell in a bit of a hole and I realised I had to remind myself of why I worked, why I wanted to own a company and what I wanted from it all.

It is hard when we work and live in a world full of comparison, so remembering to stay in my own lane, be true to what makes my heart feel light and not get caught up in what others are doing (we never really know what is making people happy or successful when we are just following them on social media) is what I encourage for everyone.

And, remember it is OK to have a flat day. Just don’t hang around in it for too long – life is full of the best stuff!

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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.