Balancing the Grind with Carl Moggridge, Managing Partner at Magnum & Co

Carl Moggridge is the Managing Partner at Magnum & Co, one of Australia’s leading brand communications agencies founded in 2005.

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

I’m unapologetic about it, but I’ve spent nearly 20 years in agency land and even though I fell into it, I’m glad I did.

I wanted to do something in sport, but realised I had anger management issues. Mostly because I’m short and not very good at sport. It did however lead me to study sports science, psychology, sociology and business, all of which have turned out to be quite helpful.

Specifically, I’m a planner by trade and quite a promiscuous one. I’ve always been fascinated by how people behave and how our decisions are influenced by brands, media and technology. That means I’ve never believed one form of communication is better than another and get frustrated when someone tells me otherwise.

It isn’t unique by any stretch, but I’ve intentionally worked in some very different agencies including Razorfish, Ogilvy, Naked Communications and Edelman. In my experience most people tend to stay in one type of agency, which I think makes you quite dogmatic and not very objective about how marketing communications actually works.

After a while I got frustrated with how big agencies were being run and found myself getting more passionate about this side of the industry. So, three years ago I moved into a management role at Magnum & Co applying everything I’ve learnt to an agency and not just my clients. Which is cool, because there’s less resistance.

As a managing partner, I’m ultimately responsible for helping create the agency people love working with, and for. Easier said than done of course, but with giving it a good crack.

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

Well. I’ve got a one year old who has just started nursery, so it’s a bit like this. Workout your plan of action the night before over a cold beer. Accept the fact you will only do 50% of it.

Wake up at 2am and hold my crying daughter’s hand until 6am. She’s teething.

Tag team your way out of the house with my wife, ensuring we aren’t covered in Weetbix, peanut butter, poo, sick or bananas and Isla is safe, well and at nursery. If things are going to plan, I’ll try and whizz around the park with her before I drop her off.

I then hop on the bus and read a book or listen to a podcast. I find it massively important not to get into emails or waste time on social media. I tend to like semi work related stuff and find myself inspired when I get into the office.

On any given day I could have my head stuck in a spreadsheet, a pitch, a creative brief, trying to get stuff made, an issue (client or agency), too many meetings and of course the best bit, having a laugh with the team. The diversity is what makes it exciting.

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

As a result of COVID we now work from home two days and are in the office three days. We also have flexible working hours where you can start between 7am and 10am. The latter is an absolute life changer – it makes balancing work and life so much easier. The best part is I get to see more of my little one’s toothy grin. On the odd occasion I can even try and get rid of my growing Dad bod.

To be honest and somewhat controversially, I’m personally not a fan of working from home, so I often go into the office. I love being around people and it’s important for creative businesses to have proper face time.

I detest work invading my home. Call me old fashioned, but my home is my home, and I like it that way. Don’t get me wrong, flexibility is great, but if I had to work from home permanently I’d really struggle. And eat too many sandwiches.

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

99% of the time I genuinely love my work. I essentially get paid to help run a business that comes up with ideas for brilliant brands like Converse.

My dad worked his absolute socks off bringing up two kids and did a job I know he hated, just to make sure we had some cracking opportunities in life. So for me, having some perspective is important. Some week’s our tough, but let’s be honest, there are some much harder gigs going.

That said, whilst I work hard, it’s easy for it to take over your life without realising it. You have to be in control of what’s happening on any given day. It’s so easy to spend the day reacting to stuff, so protecting your diary is important. Making time to be productive and present at work and at home is my goal.

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

 Switching off technology is a habit I’m trying to do more often. For everything it gives us, it takes away our attention from far more important things in work and life.

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

It isn’t an easy read. In fact I guarantee nobody reading this will read it. But The Master and his Emissary by Iain McGilchrist is the single most important book I’ve read for a while.

Using a combination of science and philosophy (that goes a bit over my head at times) he makes a pretty compelling case to say that our left hemisphere’s are collectively making the world a bit shit. I’m probably not selling it well, but it’s full of the most enlightening explanations as to how our brains actually work and why the world is currently the way it is. 

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

A good pen and some paper. The rest I could happily do without. Particularly Slack. And Google Slides. The two tools that best kill creativity.

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

Not that I’m a huge fan, but Jack Johnson seems to have nailed it. Play the guitar and surf around the world. Seems like a good life. Not that I can do either, which perhaps is the problem.

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

Remember to laugh and surround yourself with optimistic people. Everything is so serious these days,  a good old giggle really is the best medicine. 

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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.