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Balancing the Grind with Emily Bull, Co-Founder & Managing Director at hellofuture.tv

Emily Bull is the co-founder & managing director at hellofuture.tv, a video company working with businesses and agencies to create branded content.

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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 producer, and I am a producer in every aspect of my life (ask my kids). 

My background is in producing video, with a focus on mid-long form branded content. More recently narrative TV with a dramedy slant – watch Gut Feeling (ABCiView) and Rocky & Me (ABCiView). 

My producing career began at art school (COFA) studying film and audio. Then in a 4 year very formative stint at film production company Pod Film. 

I then spent 8 years in the UK, first as a TV producer at Grey London having a fab time doing global TVCs with an actual budget. Whilst I loved my time at Grey, I wanted to get back to my passion for storytelling, and a life-changing opportunity came when I accepted the role as Head of Film at AKQA London.

I was involved in some amazing branded content campaigns for brands such as Nike, Ferrari, Pot Noodle, Coke and XBox. After 3 years at AKQA my homesickness pulled me back to Australian shores.

In that time I’ve been Director of Content at the White Agency, Director of Commercial Content at Fairfax and my current role/state-of-being co-founder and Managing Director of branded content video agency Hello Future.

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

 Frustratingly for everyone around me, no two days tend to look the same. It depends on meetings, shoots, and if I’m working from home. But I’ll talk you through today.  

My day started at 3am when our 9yr old daughter came into our bed with a nightmare and then wriggled around for 3hrs. (My fault for taking her to see the STCs Playing Beatie Bow).

It then began in earnest at 6am with the routine of showers/ dressing/ feeding and getting out the door my stepdaughter Mila and partner Pablo by 7am, and then our daughter Noni and I out the door by 7.15 to get to before school care which opens at 7.30.

We ate breakfast whilst we walked. (She’s the first one there, then the last one to leave some days.) I then caught the 7.44am train getting me to Sydney at 9.05am. We’ve recently moved an hour and a bit south of Sydney so there’s a hefty commute.

I have meeting number one at 9.30, then meeting two at 10.45 and then I’m in the office by 11am catching up with the team. Today we have a location disaster we’re trying to solve for a shoot tomorrow. There are meetings again at 1:30pm but they’re remote which makes my day a bit more manageable.  

I’ll grab lunch at my desk. I need to do a location recce at Watsons Bay in the afternoon and pick up keys from Woollahra Council. 

Tonight I’m seeing a movie with my fantastic friend Jaxie, so I’ll work until about 6pm, and then meet her for a drink before watching a movie. (I’m seeing June Again by my friend and collaborator JJ Winlove – I produced his interactive series “Crossing Paths”. Yes totally flexing about how amazing JJ is!).  

We’ll grab dinner at Spice Alley in Chippendale before I catch a 9.30/10pm train back home getting me in about 11pm. I’m obsessed with watching Wakefield on ABC at the moment, so there’s a good chance I’ll watch that with Pablo before falling asleep. I’ve also written this blog post on the train to work and finished it on the way home.

Tomorrow’s a work from home day so it’s much more civil.

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

It sure does! We were working from the office 3 days a week pre- COVID and post-COVID we’ve kept that up. We do alternate and tend to do a 2 day office week every second or third week depending on what meetings/shoots are on.

With such a long commute (1.5hrs) having work from home days is essential to my sanity, my relationship with the kids, my partner, my dog and my ability to fit in any exercise. I do love going into the office, but it’s necessary for my mental health to counter that with some home days. 

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

It means a little bit of everything. I think the secret is being kind to yourself.

Forgiving yourself when you’re not balancing the grind, whilst staying true to your aspirations be it creative, career, family, friends, health and just cycling between them all and giving time and energy where you can and where you believe you should be. If you’re true and kind to yourself, and those around you it balances out in the wash. I hope so anyway.  

Also working with my partner Pablo means that I’m around my favourite person 24-hours a day – which definitely makes work and life a good place to be. And everyone we work with is the best! Who needs a life when work is so good?! Sorry, I know that’s not the point of work-life balance. 

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

 Oh my gosh yes, so many, but sadly due to my absolute love of new routines, habits, “rules” they get overwritten/evolved very quickly so much so nothing sticks.  

Seriously though the biggest change has been our move to Coledale, an hour and a bit south of Sydney. I find the implementation of the commute travel time separates home and work quite well for me on those days.

Also being outside of Sydney makes the outdoors a lot more accessible so bushwalks and beach walks are now part of my daily routine. 

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

All of Trent Dalton’s books, he’s an amazing writer and an impressive human. I love kid’s books, and reading to my daughter we’re currently reading Harry Potter. I pretend I’m reading for her but really it’s for my own pleasure. I’ve never out-grown young fiction.  

Podcast – daily listening is the 7am podcast, it makes me feel like I know what’s going on with the world, or just enough to have a broad understanding of a broad range of topics. Adam Buxton is always entertaining. I want Greta Jackson to make more of her Fail podcasts. I thought they were such beautiful windows into other peoples worlds.

And I’m about to start listening to Audible’s original Slushy (Kate McCartney and Kate McLennan). Can’t wait!

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

Google Drive/Docs, calculators, Google Spreadsheets (I have spreadsheets for everything), Xero, Google Keep (I love a list). Google Maps. Google everything.

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

Leigh Sales, Annabelle Crabb, Christine Holgate. Honestly any woman or man who juggles the creative passion with the passion and responsibilities of life and stays true to both. It’s very hard. 

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

In my experience, the micro work-life balance is an unattainable illusion. But, if you look at the big picture it becomes almost possible. By that I mean it’s not possible every day or even every week.

But if you look back on a year and feel like you’ve had some semblance of balance then you’ve achieved it. If some days family gets all your time, and other days work does, and other days friends do, or you take a sneaky day for yourself.

If you then jumble all that up together and review the big picture and feel equality, then you’ve balanced the grind then you’re winning. I haven’t got there yet but I think each year I get older I get a bit better at it.  

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About Author

Balance The Grind gives me a platform to talk to these people about how they're achieving their ideal lifestyle. I'm inspired by the passion, the work ethic, the hustle; and these conversations motivate me to live life the way I want to live it.