Chantelle Schmidt is the Head of Native Editorial at Pedestrian Group, where she is responsible for the commercial editorial ideation and execution of six sites.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
I started out at ACP Magazines (now Bauer), working my way up from intern to Acting Fashion Editor – all while undertaking my post-grad degree.
I then went over to “the other side” aka public relations for two years, working at two different agencies across fashion, beauty, home and food and beverage, before being seduced back into publishing.
In 2014 I launched US titan The Fashion Spot into the local market as Australian editor, dictating all editorial and creative direction across a network of freelancers and producers in the 18 months that followed.
When the position of Native Editor came up at PEDESTRIAN.TV, I knew it was the perfect role to marry my love of writing with my knowledge of working with brands.
Fast forward four years and I’m now Group Native Content Manager, across not only PEDESTRIAN.TV but also POPSUGAR, Business Insider, Gizmodo, Kotaku and Lifehacker (PEDESTRIAN.TV merged with the Fairfax-owned Allure Media at the end of 2018).
I’m responsible for the commercial editorial ideation and execution across all six of our sites, forever finding the balance of editorial DNA and client objectives.
2) What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
I’ve always loved unpredictability within a planned framework, and a day in the life of my job delivers exactly that – no two days and no two campaigns are ever the same.
On an average day you’ll find me in a room brainstorming a response to a sales brief or working with other departments to ensure our native project management is a well-oiled machine.
Otherwise, I’m at my desk working with my team of three (two Native Content Writers and one Senior Native Content Manager) to ensure we uphold editorial integrity and tone of voice across all six of our sites, from the early brainstorming stages right through to the final product.
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
I work with multiple departments within the business, so it’s obviously much better if I’m in the office with everyone for those ad-hoc requests that’ll inevitably arise. That being said, if I need to work from home for whatever reason, that’s definitely possible too.
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
For me it’s about setting clear boundaries; that when I walk out the door at the end of the day, I’ve completed all my tasks and won’t be opening up my laptop in bed later that night.
I also try and make sure I have something exciting going on in my life at all times, and that I have a personal goal to work towards – it actually makes me a better worker for it.
There’s a quote from Esther Perel that’s always resonated with me. She told the New Yorker, “We keep wanting more. We are asking from one person what once an entire village used to provide.”
She’s talking about relationships, but I think it reflects so many other aspects of life as well. You can’t put too much pressure on one person or one thing to give you everything you need in life – including your job – and you need to look to different avenues for different satisfactions and gratifications.
5) What do you think are some of the best habits or routines that you’ve developed over the years to help you achieve success in your life?
It sounds cliche, but networking has always worked in my favour. You never know when an almost-throwaway comment like, “I’d love to work online” at a house party will eventuate in that person reaching out five years later. I always talk to others about what they do for work.
The other is compartmentalising. Some days it can feel impossible to get everything done, but once you break down the mountain of tasks, you realise how much you can achieve when you don’t overwhelm yourself.
Also, counting back from 10 when someone pisses you off. It helps prevent reactive behaviour.
6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
I love You’re Not That Great (But Neither Is Anyone Else) by Elan Gale – The Ex-’US Bachelor’ producer has a really raw, self-deprecating (and funny) way of facilitating motivation without the wank factor of your standard self-help book.
Taming Toxic People by David Gillespie is also a banger. I think the more you can understand why people are the way they are, the more able you are to not let their actions and behaviours derail your own path.
7) What is the number one thing you do to make sure you get the most out of your day?
Making the difficult decision to not go back to sleep if I wake up naturally before my alarm. Seriously though, when your job is full of surprises, I like to have as much control as possible walking in – so even just reading my emails on my morning commute can help me feel prepared for what’s ahead.
8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, probably Esther Perel. I’d be very interested in how she emotionally detaches work and life more than anything else.
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
Nothing ever belongs in the too-hard basket, and so much of success stems from confidence. Back yourself first, and everything else will follow.
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