Balancing the Grind with James Bradshaw, Managing Director at Red Paddle Australia

James Bradshaw is the Managing Director at Red Paddle Australia, the world’s leading inflatable SUP brand.

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

I started my working career in catering which gives you a good background multitasking and problem solving. After moving to NZ for a lifestyle change, I purchased a Snowboard shop and started a paddleboard shop and school which became the largest SUP school in NZ.

In 2009 I became the South Island’s only Red Paddle Co retailer so I have been with the brand since its inception. This is how I fell in love with Red – I had 30 Red boards in my fleet and they never missed a beat.

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

My day varies a lot, so it’s difficult to talk about a typical day. If I am based in Perth (Hometown) then I usually start the day with an early morning paddle on the Swan River (with the dog and her Red Paddle PFD), then a quick coffee at our local Café to catch up on the gossip.

I’ll then check all my emails and answer them, I am of the generation that emails should be answered promptly. At the moment, we have our 2022 stock arriving, which is always an interesting and busy time.

This year, the logistics have been even more challenging with shipping constraints but the beauty of being the largest international Paddleboard company in the world means we have strong and reliable connections. At this point of time our containers are ahead of schedule which is amazing considering the current state of things. 

We have also just finished the Perth boat show where we had an exhibition stand. These events are always really fun to put together and you get to meet the customers and hear about the fantastic stories and adventures which always inspires and reminds me, we don’t sell a product, we are selling a lifestyle.

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

Yes. Pre-COVID, I worked from home, so not a lot has changed. This gives me a great flexibility to get out on the water to test products and enjoy the lifestyle that we at Red promote.

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

To me work life balance is absolutely the most important thing and working for a fantastic company such as Red enables me to have the balance.

When I could travel and visit our Retailers and Sup Schools, I would always set aside time to go paddle, surf or even snowboard with them. Not only is it a fun thing to do, it is also a great way to get to know the person that sells our products. I see it as a part of the job.

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

The only thing that I have really stopped is travel. Regardless of work, myself and family really enjoy travelling around the world to find uncharted Ski resorts, uncrowded waves or lagoons for paddling or anything that involves some outdoor fun.

Luckily my wife and daughter have the same bug and can’t wait to jump on the plane again and experience the thrill of trying food that you have no idea what it is.

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

I like listening to sports chat podcasts such as the Guardian Football Weekly or the Rugby Pod whilst walking the dog. Also, any water-based pods as it is good to keep up with current trends and hear what the rest of the world is doing in the industry.

I really enjoy listening to music and before Covid I’d go out to see a lot of bands. I have quite an eclectic taste, but most is on the heavier side – one of my favourite bands being the Aussie prog rockers, Karnivool. You are never too old to get out there and see a band whatever the genre. 

Books, it’s hard for me to pinpoint what I actually like, as if I like it, I like it regardless of who wrote it or what it’s about. But I loved the Les Norton series of books by Robert G Barrett, such an easy read and to lose yourself in.

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

Of course, my inflatable paddle board! Also, if I didn’t have my phone, I would be a bit stuffed as I use it a lot to check the wind and waves. I think we all like to think we are not hooked on current technology, but it’s part of today’s world and I am sure we would be lost without most of it.

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

Can’t really remember the actual time but after listening to big wave surfer, Laird Hamilton, in an interview I thought, yep that’s it – this is how we should all approach life (maybe not the 50ft waves).

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

Only that life is too short, and I doubt that there are many people who said I wish I spent another day at work instead of out on their paddleboard. I think the key is to try and find a job that you love and become part of your lifestyle and even your worst day at work is not too bad.

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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.