Balancing the Grind with Dean Shell, Director of Shell Media

Dean Shell is the owner and director of independent agency Shell Media. With over 30 years in the media industry, he has across a multitude of brands and agencies.

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

I landed my first job as a Media Assistant at George Patterson Bates in the mid 90’s. The late, great Peter Gallucci gave me my first break in media and that’s something I shall always be thankful for.

I climbed the ranks across a number of media agencies in Melbourne, before re-locating to Sydney in 2007. Over half of my tenure has seen me working on government clients of some sort – be it state or federal. The four years I spent as Head of Media Investment for the Federal Government account in Sydney remains one of my favourite roles.

My family returned to Melbourne after one very cold winter in Canberra and I launched Shell Media some 18 months ago, as I sensed the independent agency scene was clearly lacking in integrity, accountability, and commercial smarts.

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

When you are your own boss, then each day is what you make it. Overnight you become CEO, Head of Investment, GM, and Commercial Director all at once. I firmly believe you must maintain a structured day in order to help achieve your business goals.

Most days (excluding school holidays), I’ll be up at 6am, get the Shell kids off to school by 8.30am, and then I am logged on by 8.45am.

I generally have 6 hours during the day to service existing clients, manage upcoming media campaigns, negotiate media rate contracts, source new business opportunities, and keep up to date with local and international media/marketing trends and developments.

Each day will vary depending on face to face meetings and presentations.

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

Both. When I worked in larger corporate media agencies flexibility and remote working was available, but it was the exception rather than the norm. COVID-19 has changed all that.

I decided 18 moths ago to create an agency that allowed for flexibility whilst still producing quality work for the clients we represent. This also meant I would take on more home duties within the household, thus helping support my wife Penelope, who is forging her own successful media career.

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

Work-life balance means being able to perform at your highest level, in a professional sense, whilst being able to maintain a close connection with your family, home, and desired lifestyle.

It’s not about sacrificing one for the other – it’s about finding the right individual balance, and being at peace with that.

The biggest threat to any successful work-life balance is when we start comparing ourselves to our peers. Smart CEOs and business owners will understand what this means.

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

Yes – I have cut down my raw sugar intake from half a teaspoon to a quarter teaspoon. I have also gone from drinking predominantly Shiraz to now consuming more Pinot Noir (the beer intake has remained the same).

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

Although not a prolific reader, I do enjoy sporting and music autobiographies – Sir Vivian Richards – the definitive autobiography is certainly worth a read, as is Kevin Sheedy, the last successful Essendon Football Club coach.

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

Oral B Dental floss, my Swiss army knife, Samsung Galaxy Note 10.

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

Melanie Perkins – Founder of Canva.

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

Life is too short to worry about past mistakes. Don’t be a wannabee…just have a crack and give it a go. Oh, and always remain humble, remember your upbringing, and just be tolerant of others. If none of that works, then grab a nice bottle of Red Hill Estate Pinot Noir and have a glass or two!

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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.