Balancing the Grind with Iolanthe Gabrie, Director of Ruby Assembly & Author

Iolanthe Gabrie is the director of social media agency Ruby Assembly and author of 100 Days of Brave: How to launch a business you love in three months. 

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

I’m the Director of Ruby Assembly, a social media agency based in Melbourne, Australia. I’ve been at the helm of my agency for 14 years now – so I’ve seen a lot of change, development and monetisation in the digital strategy space! 

I thought I would be an academic, having finished my degree in literature at University College in Dublin. However, I took a detour into residential real estate as an agent and auctioneer – a career I really enjoyed and one that taught me a great deal about relationship building, having difficult conversations about money, and making good judgements about the right kind of client to work with.

After 6 years in the industry, I decided to use the smarts I’d developed in relation to social media marketing in my role as an agent to build a media agency. This was in the earliest days of social media, when Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn weren’t monetised and Instagram wasn’t even a twinkle in Meta’s eye. 

I was right to focus on communications for professional services; growing a business has been one of the greatest educational experiences of my life. I’ve gone from being a sole trader through to being a company with employees; the challenges always present and keep things fresh!

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

In addition to being the Director of Ruby Assembly, I’m a mum to a lovely toddler, a wife to an excellent man, a daughter, a friend, a board-game enthusiast and a big brunch eater. So I’ve got to work out a way to fit all these elements into my working life, which are necessarily flexible and responsive.

I’m with my baby on Mondays, and only do a tiny bit of work while she’s resting. On a Tuesday, I’ll typically have at least 3/4 of a day of meetings at our HQ. These would be with clients, and onboarding new business. I’ll get to work about 9:30 am and leave at 5:00 pm.

I work intensely when I’m in the office, as that’s the time I’m involved in client content ideation, management, editing, business building and prospecting, and recording content for my podcast, Facebook Groups and writing longform blog material. It’s a lot!

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

Flexibility is built into the DNA of Ruby Assembly. Even prior to the pandemic, our weekly process as a team was to work together at the office Tuesday – Thursday, and from home or elsewhere on a Monday and a Friday.

I have no interest in micro-managing or tethering people to their desks; I trust my team and we work well independently. Flexibility is particularly important for women, who wear many hats at the same time; employees/employers, carers for elders or kids, partners, people with hobbies and passions. The ‘Collins Street sociopath’ hours of 8:00 am (or earlier!) ’til it’s done serve no-one.

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

I think health is a better aim than balance in many ways. I consider our ecosystems like those in nature; when it’s time to grow you go, go, go and flourish – sometimes out of control, sometimes with mad beauty.

When winter comes, it’s time to go within and reflect, to build and nourish. I prefer to accept that there are times where different priorities are in play, as it is both a more natural concept and kinder to self.

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

Due to a combination of broken sleep, illness sponsored by toddler nastiness and two major projects (one a wedding, one the launch of my new book 100 Days of Brave: How to launch a business you love in three months), my exercise routine has gone out the window.

I enjoy weight lifting and movement, so that’s a focus for the second part of 2022. In fact, this half of the year is about ‘keeping the wheels on’ after an intense start to the year, and focusing on health, nourishment and rest. This includes improvements to nutrition, complementary medicine, movement and sleep.

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

I have a huge TBR pile of books, as I’m a ‘mood’ reader. In terms of books, I’m enjoying The Priory of The Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon, The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.A. Gallant, Witness by Louise Milligan.

Podcasts of preference include Kermode and Mayo’s Take, The Broke Generation, The Ladies Guide to Dude Cinema, A Little Bit Culty and The New Yorker Radio Hour. In terms of newsletters, I really like Dr Jason Fox’s missives.

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

My pink UE boom! I love designing playlists (try the 100 Days of Brave one, why don’t you?) and am unbothered by tunes when writing. For acupressure without an appointment, I love my Shakti mat (a bit of pain, a lot of rancho relaxo) and a weighted blanket. For recording, any RODE mic products, my Olivia by ‘Hey Paparazzo’ (it helps you shoot content hands free and well-lit on the go).

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

Nigella Lawson. 

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

Being good at life is about being good to yourself. Being good to yourself means different things at different times; from holding yourself to a goal, through to allowing yourself to rest and lay down tools (if you can). Nothing flowers in nature eternally; nor do you. 

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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.