Roger Christie is the Founder and Managing Director of Propel Group – a consultancy that helps the people behind the platforms improve their capability to get more value from data, technology and channels through social media.
Balance the Grind spoke to Roger about what’s involved with running Propel, helping organisations with their social capability, using Crossfit as a way to balance his life, starting every day with a purpose and more.
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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your background and career?
Having finished uni wanting to be a journalist, I somewhat fell into a career in corporate communications.
In hindsight, something I’m very thankful for as it gave me a great appreciation for the way different businesses and industries work.
Despite being quite junior myself, I was fortunate enough to speak with a lot of senior people who were experts in their field and was exposed to some really interesting ideas.
I also learned a lot from my senior colleagues about research, listening and the importance of understanding who you’re talking to.
From there I developed an interest for social media which opened up a whole new range of opportunities.
I found a way to combine my passion for business with my niche understanding of social media and digital platforms that has been unique enough to help me build a business from scratch over the past 5-6 years.
2) What is your current role and what does it entail on a day to day basis?
I’m now Managing Director of Propel – a consultancy I started back in 2013.
Given my agency roots – managing teams and running social media campaigns and programs for the likes of IBM, Telstra and Austrade – I’ve taken those practical skills to shape an approach that helps clients build their own social capability rather than outsourcing those responsibilities.
Our focus is on helping the people behind the platforms, training them to use the data, technologies and channels available through social media to improve their performance.
We’ve worked with a range of ASX top 20 listed businesses, federal and state government agencies, and some progressive NGOs to help them and their people develop these skills whether they’re in comms, marketing, service sales or HR.
Our programs usually involve internal, customer and industry research, strategy design and a blend of training and process or systems optimisation.
3) What does a typical day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
This greatly depends on what stage were in for a client project.
For example, just last week I was up in Queensland for a few days talking with half a dozen different government agencies about how building internal social capability could help improve their performance and customer experience.
But later that week I was at my desk reviewing internal materials for a client we’re helping to identify new sources of value from social media through a revised strategy.
That’s what I love about my job – every day is different but every day is an opportunity to help a business and its customers reach better outcomes all round.
4) In between everything you do and all your responsibilities, how do you ensure you find some sort of balance in your life?
This is something I’m really passionate about.
As a husband and father of two (soon to be three), I’m not my best for them if I’m off early in the dark or if I’ve had a stressful day in the office and come home to put my feet up.
Yes, I have my pressures and commitments at work, but they still need me to engage and support them when I’m home.
Over the past four years, I’ve found exercise during the day has helped me stay energised, release any tension and provide the ‘circuit breaker’ I need before walking through the door.
At the moment that’s Crossfit, but before that it was touch football and cricket. I’m incredibly fortunate my role (and my wife!) allows me the flexibility to make the time for regular exercise, but I’m also determined to make that time so everyone wins.
5) What are some of the things you do to take time out and recharge?
Aside from Crossfit, my faith is really important to me. I respect it’s not for everyone, but taking the time to learn about things bigger than myself and draw on wisdom and insight that can help me make better decisions in my day is so important.
I make mistakes like everyone else, but I find that grounding offered by my Christian faith helps me keep perspective on the little things, tackle everyday problems with grace and find a strength I don’t possess when the challenges of business ownership start circling.
It’s my solace.
6) Are there any gadgets, tools or products that you can’t live without?
I’m the worst example of this. My mates still give me grief about running a business in an industry that’s considered ‘cutting edge’, yet I’ve rarely owned a TV over the past ten years (and only had WiFi at home for the past two)!
But I think that’s my tip. Yes, I use platforms like LinkedIn and Slack to keep connected to my colleagues and clients. And, yes, I use apps like Nuzzel and Reddit to source news from places I wouldn’t otherwise know of.
But the real key for me keeping my mind fresh and focused is having down time as well. I’m intentional about leaving time to think in amongst the noise of technology.
7) What is the number one thing you do to make sure you get the most out of your day?
Try to start every day with purpose. If you just go through the motions, it’s easy to be distracted and find yourself at 3pm wondering what you’ve achieved.
I know – I really don’t like Mondays.
But if you’re clear on what you want to achieve every day – even the small things – and keep perspective that you are just one tiny cog in the very large machine of humanity, you can stay motivated to do your bit and contribute to those who value your guidance.
If you’d like to have a conversation with us about how you balance the grind, get in touch with us!