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Interviews / Marketing & Advertising

Balancing the Grind with Chris Vanek, Chief Marketing Officer at Swyftx

Chris Vanek is the Chief Marketing Officer at Swyftx, one of Australia and New Zealand’s most progressive cryptocurrency exchanges, founded in 2018.

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

I’ve always been drawn to the newest, untested technologies around me, which sometimes leads to chaotic business decisions and at 18 I dropped into Entrepreneurship with an online startup with PC gamers around the globe.

After the sale of that business, I realised I loved the growth marketing aspect of that business and went on to get my foundational skills in digital marketing agency work with most of my knowledge being self taught initially. 

Eventually, I wanted to try my hand at starting my own agency, which then was the largest growth period of marketing knowledge. After wanting a more personal touch and connection I reentered into Agency environments with a leadership role, and it was a pivotal moment that helped develop my client and leadership skills. 

What I love doing has always been to grow something, keeping it carefully on track all the way to explosive growth until whatever it is stands on its own two feet, which eventually found me in Crypto as the CMO role at Swyftx for Australia and New Zealand.

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

Depending on the heat it can start a few different ways, but most typically the day starts at 6:30 and ends at around 10:30 PM. 

  • Get dressed and read Crypto News to see if there’s anything concerning happening that may impact us and any exciting upcoming global changes, perhaps Elon or Jack Dorsey have done something exciting again.
  • Jumping on a 20 minute scooter ride into the City, listening to a Podcast or Audible podcast, I find the physical distraction of the scooter ride really lets me focus in.
  • Arriving at work I’ll open the laptop and knock out as many emails and slack messages before the day starts (inevitably not get through all of them).
  • Coffee.
  • Quick 15 minute stand-up with the team to see if there’s any blockers, anything I haven’t responded to or any other issues I haven’t jumped on.
  • Core day is meetings. With anything from approving or reviewing campaigns, PR & sponsorships, Strategy meetings with the Senior team and then typically hiring, lots of hiring.
  • Tackle emails again and see if there are any major touchpoints. I like to do emails in 3 hour increments to ensure I’m getting back to anything urgent and have a chance to stay on top of things.
  • On the scoot commute home – I’ll do similar with podcasts and audible, or a quick call with a team member who has anything pending at around 7:00PM if required.

The days are hugely dynamic with no two days being the same. The Startup culture feels fresh and exciting to hit the ground each day with new problems and new challenges as we grow!

Finally, I’m often asked about weekends, and the truth is that there is work that flows in frequently and that’s where early mornings and evenings can be handy to dedicate some additional hours to the cause.

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

As a whole with Swyftx rapidly expanding as an international workplace most recently, the ability to work remotely and work from home is very flexible.

In my particular situation there are a lot of moments that require rapid on the ground responses and I personally find in person interactions to allow for a more concise interaction of information deliverability. In saying this, it is also changing as Swyftx morph to a scale-up and are formalising procedures and processes.

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

Truthfully, work-life balance seems to typically indicate a hard cut between work and personal life. I find it to be more of a work life integration.

It has not always been great though. Loving my job and my partner is a delicate balance and there are times I find the balance to be very difficult, it is challenging and requires effort to make sure I don’t sink too heavily one way or another. Being aware of those challenges is what’s most important. 

I find prioritising my time to be one of the most important aspects of the integration and finding moments that allow myself to manage that time in a way that allows me to flow in and out of the important moments of both while being truly present and in the moment to be critical.

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

Exercise is a huge factor. This affects my mood and energy levels. If you’re working more than 8 hours a day and not exercising, eventually something gives way!

My partner also recently worked me into a standing desk set up, this has been a huge change. I’ve only ever used these in a workplace, but with so much work from home and “quick catch ups” throughout a week-end it’s been an important factor to not sitting so much.

Trying to reduce the caffeine in my life, work meetings over coffee were a great way to get to know people, but I sometimes ended up having over 4 to 5 coffees in a day, cutting these back has been challenging to say the least. 

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

I listen and read as much as I can, I find these mediums better as a source of new perspective than new information. If you’re hunting for new information you can go online and research yourself or hit a conference, but perspective lets you think in a new way and books and podcasts are a great medium to really help you understand how that’s possible. 

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

I rely very heavily on tech, all tech!

My headphones, My phone, My Macbook, Apple Watch and Ipad I use every day, all day. The bag for work may weigh 10KG, but it’s packed with chargers, spare cables and adapters and a spare pair of everything for any occasion.

I’ll leave this here or there will be paragraphs..

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

I don’t have one specific person I’d want to know how work life balance operates, I’d love to know people who have perfected that integration and balance in their life with their work and family / partner, and what their “thing” is to really make that combination operate smoothly.

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

Avoid burn-out by doing what you love and being with who you love. You really do only live once as “meme-esque” as that sounds, most people know the people in their life that bring them the most value and joy, it’s always up to you to decide who those people are. 

Maximise your time efficiency with people, that doesn’t mean telling someone goodbye at 2:00PM on the clock but it does mean to make sure you’re having those conversations with your loved ones and the people you care about and being transparent as often and frequently as possible to perpetrate fulfilment. I find this to be true across my work and my personal relationships. 

Finally, I’d like to say that by finding a balance of anything in your life, try your best to avoid burn-out. I’ve personally found it most common when you feel helpless; whether that’s in your personal life or at work, knowing there is always a solution, it just may not be something you’re looking to confront.

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About Author

Balance the Grind is a work-life balance publication on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.