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Balancing the Grind with Jamie Andrei, Founder of Bake.Agency

Jamie Andrei is the founder of Bake.Agency, a rich media creative agency that has worked with brands like Hyundai, Saatchi & Saatchi, Microsoft and more.

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

I have worked in TV and top tier digital agencies. I helped them grow commercial relationships and pitched in a range of different solutions to a broad range of client pain points, so I guess I could be called a creative suit. 

My love of making things and commercial ambition has led me to launch my own business a few years back. It’s called Bake.Agency and is a rich media creative company (we do live streaming, podcasts, video & motion work).

We have worked with the likes of Havas, Fire + Rescue NSW, Collette Dinnigan, Hyundai through to Family Business Australia and more. It’s very stimulating mentally and there is always something new to learn from our amazing clients.

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

I break my day down in my calendar and sand box my time into areas of critical focus. I have been known to plan my day down to the minute during peak times for maximum productivity but this time of year the foots of the gas a little bit.

Morning starts with a bus trip into the office and recap my mental checklist for the day. The morning is the action part of the day where I try to get the momentum started up and get a couple hours heavy lifting in.

I kick off the day with some low hanging fruit to lock in some wins for the day, respond /prioritise any emails and brief the team as needed over a ginger tea. The goal is to build momentum.

I then move onto the priority area of focus for the day, which right now is reviewing / applying to some Government briefs that have hard cut off dates, which take collaboration and critical thinking. 

I try to have a healthy lunch (first meal of the day) which is hard as many CBD food vendors are still closed and a couple favorite spots have closed permanently which is a real loss.

After lunch is a range of smaller chunks of work. It could be client call backs to talk through a new brief, review creative ideas, technical reviews, feedback or email replies. It could be a mix of small quotes and responses that take bursts of critical thinking through to working through 1-2 updated case studies.

I will usually finish the day with a final review of the mornings work prior to submission and a bit of ad-hoc time in the calendar for follow up calls / emails. 

I’ll do any crew calls and check in with the teams progress if needed. Something always pops up and I find there is usually a second wave of emails after lunch which I prioritise based on our work load and urgency.

Before I leave for the day I do a quick recap, draft up my priorities for the next day and flag any critical deadlines for the coming week in the calendar. 

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

As the principle of the business, I can work remotely and have been for some years as needed. For example while filming a documentary through the Middle East I ran the business using the cloud based G-Suite for 4 weeks, our clients and team adapted to this with no problems.

With COVID-19, I did work from home initially but now things are settling, I do make the journey into our CBD office (safely of course with mask, social distancing and hand sanitiser). I do enjoy the mental break of changing physical environments, so really grateful to be in the office.

The flexibility is great, should the need arise, I can work from home as needed without impacting our deliverables and our team has adapted to that seamlessly.

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

I do find it a challenge, having your own business can be all encompassing, there is always something vying for your attention.

I am working towards eating better, lot’s of home cooked, healthy meals, COVID has helped encourage that, it’s been fun to learn new skills. I am also trying to exercise more regularly, not to get buff, but for the mental break and also the health benefits. Regular exercise is great for your brain, cognitive skills and for keeping your body in an optimal state.

I do also have some friends in the Blue Mountains, they have no cell phone reception. I try to pop up there a couple times a month, at a totally different pace, there is always something to do from checking the chickens, chopping wood, replanting the herb garden to painting to lot’s of cups of tea and exploring. It acts as a bit of a digital detox. It’s a work in progress, I am not perfect, I constantly battle the fat guy inside trying to get out and eat all the yummy things!

These things distract me into a state of having to take a break from work focused thinking.

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

As COVID kicked in I did the right thing and self isolated early in March. It was a no brainer, if I was at home, I was not out and about helping spread the virus while we were coming to terms with what it meant for us all. 

I started to train a bit more at home to break up the work day (several mini breaks between work). I started to research healthy recipes and cooking techniques and fully embraced roasting a range of vegetables. They do taste so good, it’s creative, it tastes amazing, is healthy and you can pretty much roast anything and it will taste great. I do need to work on my portion sizes. 

Once things settled down I started to walk into the office which is approx. 6kms. Partly for fitness but also to avoid public transport to reduce any negative impacts I may have in helping spread the virus, it’s also great in aiding daydreaming. I came up with several great ideas walking to and from the office which we are now developing.

My alcohol intake did go up which has been very common during COVID, so I did sober October last year and had no alcohol for a month. I also did the 16:8 intermittent fasting routine as a bit of an overall reset. I am trying to keep carrying this momentum through 2021.

I do need to keep the momentum and energy up, I thrive on lot’s of stimulus so COVID has somewhat slowed / dulled a lot of interactions that would help fuel my energy levels, but I think I am adapting well and this will continue to vary with the changing state of affairs.

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

I am reading the 33 Strategies of War by Robert Greene, I love strategy, so will continue to happily pick through it.

I was recommended the book Slicing Pie recently by Mike Moyer, so keen to check that out. It’s all about splitting equity and MVP development. An oldie but a goodie is Freakonomics, I love the mental framework it leaves you with post read.

I also like reading Steve Blank’s stuff, he teaches at Stanford and Columbia Universities, his Twitter has a great series on Technology, Innovation and Modern War and his Secret History of Silicon Valley presentation is a real treasure. He offers a great lens with which to view interplay between commerce and technology.

I love things that help hone my mental framework / world view, so snacking on a range of experts is more my thing than a regular ‘go to guru’.

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

The smartphone is key in this day and age (of course!). The cloud is key, all Google products work seamlessly for our workflow. I love stars/alerts, a weekly view calendar and nudge notifications. I am not a mad gadget or latest app type of guy that jumps on the latest shiny things.

So sadly no hot recommendations over here. I’m more of a keep-it-simple-stupid sort of guy and also, what ever you want is at your finger tips, so relevancy is key as everything changes over time. So it’s really a moving feast based on our current rate of innovation, we are peak amazing devices in my opinion, so you can’t really go wrong with whatever you get.

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

I’m a bit of a fan of the 1850s, it was an era of catalytic bigness, so much bold innovation, construction and engineering going on. I’d love to know more about the guys who built the Empire State build.

That was built in the 1930s, what an amazing feat, it was the world’s tallest building at that time built during the great depression, between two World Wars and was completed 12 days ahead of schedule and approx. US$19 million under budget. I think that would be a gripping tale, such a huge feat even in this day and age.

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

My big tip would be to keep it achievable (not necessarily easy). We tend to come out of the starting blocks like lighting but gas early and don’t finish the race, which could be clocked as a loss. I did read recently that hard goals can backfire. 

For example you set a goal for a 7km run but only do 5km, that would be a failure which would be demotivating and disappointing to some. They were suggesting the softer approach of ‘I’ll see how far I get today’. I like the idea of that, as it gets you started which is 80% of success and aligns with my current focus of momentum.

I am trying to keep my goals realistic whilst making them challenging, achievable and consistent. So if I hit my soft target I have won and can always double down if there is more in the tank, either way I am getting some work in. If I have to move them or push them back, that’s okay, I’ll do that on a priority basis. We all respond to different goals and our motivational triggers.

From a business sense I am excited about doing the work-work this time of year. So I am focusing on the things in our control that we can scale. Updating our creds deck, revamping the website, tightening up our public comms and prepping our campaign materials and updated case studies.

There is a saying that a plumber has leaky taps, which I can totally relate to, so this seasonal quiet time of year is critical to helping set up the rest of the year’s execution. It’s all a work in progress.

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About Author

Balance the Grind is a work-life balance publication on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.