David C Flanagan is a marketing and advertising professional with over 20+ years in the industry. He is currently the Director of Content & Strategy at content agency P2.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
I’ve enjoyed a rather playful career. Rubbing shoulders with some of the brightest minds during my six years at Saatchi & Saatchi when the shop was reputedly ‘on fire’ winning Creative Agency of the Year three times running, before joining the disciplined ship of BMF where we took out agency of the decade.
After almost a decade worth of nurturing creative campaigns – I grasped the nettle and jumped the fence to become a fully fledged marketer for Sony Pictures home entertainment.
What made this all the more interesting for me was that I could enjoy front row seats as the industry transformed before my eyes. Shifting from a traditional bricks and mortar, physical operation, into an era of digital. Fast. Thrilling. And such fun.
Six years later and I just could not shake the love of agency life. Back I jumped into Cummins&Partners and Ogilvy – only to make one last move to join a team transforming a post-production business into a content creation business.
One where we devise the strategy, conceive the idea and nail the production. Creating killer content at pace with P2 has joined up every discipline I’ve ever loved. Seeing an idea manifest in whatever shape of content always remains a deep pleasure.
2) What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
Working remotely has profoundly enhanced my productivity and enjoyment levels. Being able to go for a bike ride through Ku-ring-gai National Park, grab a coffee from my local, share a chat with my family before firing up the keyboard at 8am is in my book an absolute treat.
The rest of my day is much less predictable. Peppered with video calls, Slack updates, email chains and good old fashioned phone calls – the day is more connected than ever.
Strategic planning for upcoming campaigns takes place via conference calls instead of in a boardroom. Briefings happen over Google Docs and the phone.
Creative presentations to clients take place on Zoom. Nothing will ever truly replace the ‘face to face’ experience – but modern comms have certainly made this recent situation infinitely more productive than was possible only a few years ago.
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
Kind of touched upon this above. My feeling is that business is built on people – keeping groups of people focussed on achieving one specific outcome is key.
Be that a launch campaign for a new model, an explainer piece for a new piece of health care advice, or a discursive piece on ‘out-of-the-box-thinking’ – maintaining team focus keeps everything spinning in the right direction.
Yes – that task is possibly easier achieved when your team is in the same room or building. But I’m finding as long as the team is in the same ‘frame of mind’ the outcomes are achieved just as readily.
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
There is immense satisfaction to be had by accomplishing something. Delivering work that not just hits the mark, but genuinely exceeds expectation is a thrill. Thoughtful, crafted work that is designed to achieve a specific business objective is a wonderful thing.
This takes a sustained focus, many conversations, the odd bump in the road and plenty of good energy to achieve. That in itself is rewarding but to make sure I’m match-fit there is a need to decompress. Take the head out of the bunsen burner heat and let it just chill for a minute.
My favourite way to get to this state of being is on my bike riding through the national park. When rolling, my mind is literally squealing with joy. You may misinterpret that sound with that of my brakes – but you’d be wrong.
Something liberating happens that allows free form ideas to circulate and percolate. You ask any of my team about how I am post ride and you’ll find the energy I radiate is on a higher frequency than normal.
So in short – balance for me is about delivering great work we are proud of. This provides purpose. Balanced by healthy periods of ‘not thinking’.
5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
I’ve recently started road running. A normal routine would be a quick 2 kms around the block, hop in the shower and shoot to work. The last few months have seen me happily blitz 10 kms a run.
My ambition now sits at completing a half marathon (22 kms). Maybe social distancing will prohibit the next formal organised run but I reckon can get there by hitting my own local streets.
6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
Sapiens by a super clever fellow Yuval Noah Harari. A must read for anyone remotely curious about human kind, evolution and the current state of the planet. Eye opening to say the least.
7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?
Gmail, Zoom, Slack for keeping connected to my team. LinkedIn for keeping abreast of industry highlights. Spotify to remain sane and Strava. If it’s not on Strava, the ride never happened right!?
8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
Mark Ritson. I just can’t get enough of his take on the world. Massively educated with a dry wit, I can’t resist.
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
Be kind. To everyone you work with – we’re all muddling through this – a helpful word of advice or encouragement goes a long way. Whilst remembering to be kind to yourself too.
Before you go…
If you’d like to sponsor or advertise with Balance the Grind, let’s talk here.
Join our community and never miss a conversation about work, life & balance – subscribe to our newsletter.