Balancing the Grind with Erin Cook, Head of People at Dovetail

Erin Cook is the Head of People at Dovetail, one part digital product agency (Dovetail Digital), one part venture studio (Dovetail Ventures), and one part VC firm (Dovetail Capital).

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

I kicked off my career in recruitment in Chicago after graduating from university. After moving to Sydney in 2017, I spent some time at a global fintech company, before moving on to a large advertising agency.

Just over a year ago, I landed a role at Dovetail, which is an interesting blend of both of my previous experiences. As Head of People, I look after 110+ employees across Australia and New Zealand. We are a distributed-first business with the team scattered across both countries, so we operate in a highly flexible and asynchronous environment.

Dovetail is one part digital product agency, one part venture studio, and one part VC. At our core, we de-risk the experience of building and launching new digital products or businesses, taking a startup-like approach to product building across any size or scale.

Our team of designers, product experts, and technologists work with promising companies – from day one startups to multi-billion dollar corporates – to set them up for success, accelerate their growth, create revenue engines, and solve sticky problems for their customers. Learn more about Dovetail here.

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

I’m a Morning Person™️ so my day typically starts early. I try to kick off the morning with some sort of exercise – either a coastal walk or an overpriced gym class.

Nearly 75% of our team are based in New Zealand, so my work day usually begins with Slack notifications from 7:30am. I try to schedule my meetings in the mornings, then spend my afternoons on what we call “focus time”.

My days at home versus in the office look different. When I’m in the office, I try to keep my lunch hour free, pop out for coffees with coworkers, and prioritise IRL chats with the team!

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

One of the things I love most about Dovetail is the ability to work flexibly and from anywhere. We have employees who spend time overseas, travelling or visiting friends and family, who work New Zealand or Australian hours without sacrificing collaboration or productivity.

My commitment to work life balance ebbs and flows, depending on the day, week, or month. There are days that I might be on a roll and work all day and night. Other weeks, I might step back slightly to spend extra time with my nieces and nephews. Both are okay – there’s no right or wrong way to build your work life, as long as you try to strike some sort of balance that works and feels right for you.

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

Besides trialling nearly every overpriced exercise class in Sydney?

One habit that I picked up a few years ago is my daily G-L-A-D-S report. A friend shared this with me and it stuck. Every night you reflect on the day and list out something you’re Grateful for, Learned, Achieved, Delighted by, and an act of Service. It’s allowed me to stay self-aware, celebrate the small things, and let any stress go.

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

I’ve been an OG follower of The Skimm for nearly a decade. I love the way they present the news, which is much more digestible than other media outlets.

My favourite podcasts at the moment are: Armchair Expert, The Daily, This American Life, Work Life with Adam Grant, How I Built This, and Unlocking Us with Brene Brown. I’m usually reading whatever book my Book Club choices for the month – and end up power reading to finish it before our discussion!

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

I admire working parents – the constant juggle, planning, scheduling and prepping that it takes to get kids up and to school, whilst getting yourself up and to work. I’m consistently impressed!

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

To be honest, I haven’t been great about my own work life balance recently. And that’s okay. We’re dangerously close to Silly Season and Q4 is always a bit crazy.

I’m a firm believer that it isn’t work-life balance, it’s just about balance. When you lean into prioritisation, mixed with a strong work ethic, I believe you can find the life balance you want.

Disclaimer: I am not doing great at this balance at the moment, but am constantly checking myself and aiming to be better!

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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.