Balancing the Grind with Dan Peterson, Creative Services & Brand Manager at Engineers Australia

Dan Peterson is the Creative Services & Brand Manager at Engineers Australia, the largest and most diverse professional body for engineers in Australia.

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

I’m a creative director, graphic designer, and am fortunate enough to hold the role of Creative Services & Brand Manager at Engineers Australia. I’ve worked for lots of different organisations from media to law firms to running my own business.

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

Now during COVID I work predominantly from home with teams that are based around the country.

A standard day involves a morning routine of meditation and coffee, a quick school run then day planning, team scrums and deep work, project focus and any required meetings (video calls).

I’m very deliberate about setting aside time to exercise and take time each day no matter what. There is no doubt that movement enhances my productivity and cognitive ability.

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

Yes, I work from home usually with a rostered set of days in the office. I enjoy going into the office when required, not sure that we’re designed for 24/7 at home – especially not creative industries that need to see and experience different inspirations.

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

My family is very important to me as it is for anybody with kids. Being able to be present for them optimizes what I can contribute to my team because it gives my work purpose and perspective.

I’m lucky enough to still be doing what I dreamed of doing as a kid and have never done or wanted to do anything else. I’m one of those people who doesn’t consider it “work” because they enjoy it so much.

So balance in terms of focus isn’t really a major concern. More relevant is the idea that it is so important to bring your true self, your whole self to your work. It’s so important to be who you are and allow your colleagues to be themselves too.

The idea of a “home persona” and a “work persona” being separate is out-dated and ineffective.

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

I’ve had the privilege of experiencing two very different work cultures recently.

One that professed to be high-performing but was actually regressive, and one that is genuinely high-performing and is constantly encouraging ideas of vulnerability, candor, support and vision.

To thrive in that environment calls for a routine that allows personal care, honesty with yourself, and trust. I find meditation and exercise super beneficial. Given the benefits, it’s really kind of crazy that every one of us doesn’t meditate regularly.

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

I am a big Brene Brown, Seth Godin and Simon Sinek fan. I’ve just been introduced to the book Radical Candor which it fantastic and I would recommend for any manager.

Some work that has made the most impact recently is Michael Gervais and Pete Carroll’s book and program called Compete To Create. If you want to distill and codify team purpose and performance, that’s where you have to look, it’s brilliantly succinct and effective.

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

Nah. They’re all transient.

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

Pete Carroll.

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

Be kind to yourself. Positivity is a tool for success. Empathy is our secret weapon. Navigate by what you’re afraid of. “Build your house on the rock.”

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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.