CEOs / Founders / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Brad Manuel, Co-Founder & CEO at Livewire

Brad Manuel is the co-founder & CEO at Livewire, gaming marketing company focused on three major pillars of marketing, gametech and content.

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

I previously worked for almost a decade in the mental health and disability services fields, initially working with people on the autism spectrum and leading organisational transformation and projects to build the best life possible for people with disabilities, which eventually became a focus on the NDIS.

I then completed my MBA and became the SA/NT State Manager for Canteen, supporting families through their cancer journey, before taking a big leap of faith to try something different and becoming the Business Development Manager for the Adelaide Crows AFL Team, which provided a range of new challenges, skills and opportunities.

These included the ability to start my own business, being hired as a consultant to launch the AFL Gamers Network during COVID, creating, pitching and running ANZ’s biggest casual viewership Fortnite event and working as the CCO at gaming talent agency MMG.

With the experience I gathered across mainstream sport, esports, grass roots gaming, events, gaming content and talent, Indy and I co-founded our new company Livewire as a leading gaming marketing company, focused on three major pillars of marketing, gametech and content.

We are seeing substantial interest in Livewire’s ability to understand, translate, strategise and deliver results across the gaming ecosystem, winning work with brands directly and also through their agencies as gaming specialists. 

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

Days can be quite variable, due to setting up the business across APAC and US/CAN from Australia, so I am often around at a range of hours.

Typically a work today starts with meetings with partners and potential projects in the US or wider APAC region, then focusing on ANZ meetings and blocking out time to execute outcomes from meetings (at the start of the business I felt like I was just doing 12-15 back to back meetings a day with no time to actually do the work!).

Every second day I try to go to the gym at lunch time and make lunch for my wife and son, before jumping back into meetings and blocking out work time, likely followed by a late meeting or two from across APAC or into the UK depending on what we are working on.

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

One of the best parts of starting Livewire with my co-founder Indy Khabra, has been the ability to work flexibly and remotely at all times.

We don’t have offices which provides the chance to help my wife with our first son as well as prioritise both work and personal life where possible.

It allows me to cater to my habits, like taking a break for exercise when my brain feels blocked to keep things moving.

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

Work and life are intertwined in many ways for me, with a cross over between work and social networks and responsibilities. For me the focus is on being clear about what is work time and what is down time, which might mean turning off phones, muting apps or ensuring I am not drawn back into work within my personal time.

Both Indy and I also use Discord (which is a communication app that originated for gamers on PC – similar to teams in some ways), which is great for sending quick notes and reminders to provide a clear mind to focus on each task and project, while attempting to minimise multi-tasking.

5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life? 

With the introduction of work from home, I had to consciously set a lunch break each day after months of days that were entirely filled with back to back meetings.

I have incorporated exercise into my work schedule every few days, whether that is gym, walking the dogs or something else, it provides a break from the computer and sitting for long periods of times and enables me to move, clear my head and sit back down feeling fresh and energised.

6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?

One of my favourite podcasts is Everybody Hates Marketers which provides some great case studies and insights into marketing and how some awesome marketing campaigns and concepts were designed and executed. It’s great to listen to while driving or doing things around the house and still taking in new information.

7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?

At the moment I love Hubspot for managing our workflow as a CRM, allowing us to ingest and record a large amount of data across different regions, ensuring that I can empty my brain at the end of each day, ready to pick up fresh the next day.

Working from home also means that you can easily default to work in rest times (I do this with LinkedIn subconsciously all the time), so I’m using the Calm app to try a more mindful approach and also the iPhone notifications for social platforms and setting limits to stop scrolling in down times.

We also use Discord as our communication tool, so that has become vital for dropping notes and reminders to pick up at a later time.

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

I’m really interested in people who manage to actively work across a range of different fields and areas and how they bring new thinking and ideas to different areas, someone like Jack Ma who has been so influential across the Alibaba Group.

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

Through a range of work experiences I find that work is no longer the typical 9am-5pm grind it was and (particularly in gaming) is across time zones and days.

I believe in creating an outcome based focus when approaching the work I’m setting out to do each day and week, pushing myself to concentrate on making the most of each block of work, while allowing myself the time to take a break to continue working with clarity.

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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.