Earl Myers is the Head of Copy at Cleo, a London-based FinTech on a mission to improve the financial health of young people in the US.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
I’ve been a professional creative and writer for over 10 years. But like most copywriters I know, it wasn’t a straight line.
Previous careers include: Wall Street analyst, video game designer, personal trainer, and advertising executive. I made it as an executive for about 30 days before they realised their mistake. The owners, two legends of the biz, thought I might have what it takes to be a copywriter. They took a chance and here I am.
For the last three years, I’ve been the Head of Copy at Cleo – a London based Fintech, that’s improving the financial health of young people in the US. It’s so much fun.
2) What does a day in your life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
I’ve got two kids under the age of 4, so my days usually start around 5:30am. Sometimes later, sometimes earlier. They go to the nursery around 8:30 so I’m always at my home office by 9am.
It’s hard to sum up my work day, but I am a big believer in routine. Chaos is the enemy of creativity. A controversial statement, but I’ve found that it protects the team from burnout. And it’s cousin – the churn.
The first thing I do is make a list of what needs to be done that day. It sounds simple, but if I start getting pulled into Slack or emails, it might be 11:30 before I have my list of priorities.
As a rule, I try to keep mornings meeting free. This is when I think about the big questions, like brand strategy, team structure, workflow, or just review the creative pipeline.
Afternoons are for collaboration, creative reviews, 121s, team-building etc.
I think most creatives, when asked what your typical day looks like, will say something like “It depends!” but I’m really proud to say that’s not the case here.
We have a really smooth process we’ve honed over the years that runs similar to a product team. Everybody knows what they’re expected to deliver and when.
For example, on Thursdays I know we’ll review our performance marketing results, ship any new ads that week, and review content copy in the afternoon.
On the surface it might look like this could get stale, but we’ve found it’s the opposite. The less time you have to worry about scheduling and delivery, the more headspace you have to make interesting work.
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
I’m really lucky to work at a progressive tech company. I’ve been fully remote for the last two years and it’s completely changed my relationship with my kids and partner. It’s almost too much to write about.
I get to see my kids in the morning and put them to bed at night. Before being remote, I’d only see one of them for an hour in the morning and 30 minutes after I got home (on the two days I left early).
It’s been good for my marriage as well, because I see how hard my partner works and how much admin comes with raising two children. On the flip side, they all see that I’m working hard as well and a deep respect has emerged between us.
Everything has a trade-off, and I definitely do not have a window during the week where I am in neither work mode or Dad mode, which makes burnout a real risk. That said, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
At this stage, I’ve had to redefine what a balanced life means. Having young children and working at a full on start up means I’ll never have a guaranteed chunk of time that’s mine. I’m basically on duty from 5:30am till 8pm.
I’ve tried getting up at 4:45am or staying up late all in the name of finding a few moments to read a blog, organise a drawer, or get back to my meditation practice.
It was really tough for a while until I just accepted that this is the season of life I’m in. So instead of a balanced life, I try to live a present life.
When I’m with my kids I try to be with them 100% and appreciate the way things are right now. Likewise in marriage. And at work.
I try not to spend a lot of time wishing things were different, because that’s just not helpful and I miss the really great things that are right in front of me.
As far as achieving a present life for a working dad, there’s no one thing. What it does require though is a commitment. And a willingness to let go of some of the things that I thought were really important. You can probably guess what those are.
5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
I had a nasty patch of burnout two years ago. We were really stretched at work and I wasn’t aware of the ways working from home can take a toll on your mental health. Especially with a toddler running around.
So as soon as we’ve had breakfast. I take my youngest out for a walk. Rain or shine. And we’d get out to the edge of town and see the sun come up.
6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
Hmm. Since I don’t have a ton of free time, I try to go for podcasts that help me keep my perspective. Love, Serve, Remember or Art of Meditation are two that have helped me recently.
7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?
My $20 Casio watch. It’s replaced my phone as an alarm clock and time device.
8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
Literally anyone who is happily married with a full-time job and a child or two.
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
I had a manager who told me once, after a particularly hard day, “Earl, you can only do what you can do”.
It changed everything for me. From then, wherever I’m working, I just show up, do the best I can and see what happens.
So far. So good.
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