Balancing the Grind with Jeff Yang, Head of B2B Social Selling & B2B Social Media at SocialGen

Jeff Yang is the founder and Head of B2B Social Selling & B2B Social Media at SocialGen, a B2B social media sales enablement agency.

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

My career started off in the automotive industry, for many years I sold cars for prestige brands such as Mercedes Benz, BMW and Lexus. Whilst my love of cars helped me to enjoy my roles, I was noticing firsthand at how online and digital technology was changing the way consumers were making their purchasing decisions.

Sites such as meant that consumers could educate themselves on prices, specs, performance, and options before even stepping foot into a dealership.

Although this made it more challenging to make a sale and increase sales commissions, I was fascinated about how online and digital was rapidly disrupting and transforming old school industries. This led me to pursue a career in digital marketing.

My next role was heading up the sales department for a Search Engine Marketing Agency called E-Web. Here I learned about SEO, which is the art of getting your website ranking on the first page of Google for your ideal search terms, along with Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising where you pay companies like Google and Facebook to display your ads when certain keywords are searched for or to a specific demographic.

Although SEO and PPC worked very well for our Business to Consumer (B2C) type clients, they did not work as well for our Business to Business (B2B) type clients.

The main reason was most B2B organisations have specific audiences and it’s more about building relationships with key decision makers. Especially if your products and services are more complex and not able to be purchased online.

This gap in the market led me to start up my own B2B social media sales enablement agency – SocialGen. We specialise in using professional social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube to help senior executives in B2B organisations build and foster relationships with key decision makers and influencers that eventually lead to generating new business.

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

During the working week (ie. Mon – Fri) I like to follow a strict routine which starts off with waking up at 4:30am. Health and wellbeing is a very important part of my work and personal life, so I spend a lot of time in the morning to ensure I am hydrated and oxygenated.

So as soon as I wake up, I drink a warm cup of water followed by a mixture of apple cider vinegar, lemon juice and chilled water. This helps to hydrate my body and kick starts my metabolism. Oh I then have a cup of coffee of course!

I then hit the floor for 30-40 minutes of foam rolling which is where you pretty much give yourself a deep tissue massage using different variations of foam rollers and massage balls. Foam rolling exercises help to release muscle tension, increase mobility and aid in helping the body to release toxins. Then I’m off to the gym for some strength and resistance training.

By 9:00am I’m cleaned up and at my computer ready for the workday. The first thing I do is review and update my “to do list”. I tend to prioritise 3-5 key tasks for the day and once they are done, I then knock off any non priority tasks.

I then move onto emails. I ensure I only have a maximum of 30 emails sitting in my inbox at the start of each day, so I ensure that I move, delete, or respond to emails from the previous day and send any emails that are required.

11am – 3pm is dedicated to calls, meetings, and key tasks and then I spend another hour on emails to 4pm. I usually like to shut my computer down at this time; however, I will make myself available for calls especially if they are with clients who are based internationally and work in different time zones.

After shutting down my computer, I like to go for a walk or do some light yoga before dinner and then it’s all about spending quality time with my wife and our cat, Jon Snow (yes, I’m a massive Game of Thrones fan).

People are always amazed at how early in the morning I get up, but it’s not hard if you go to bed early. My lights go out no later than 9pm and I purposely go to bed early as there have been numerous studies done on the benefits of an early night’s sleep.

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

Working in digital and having most of our clients in the technology sector certainly allows me and my team the flexibility to work remotely more so than other business models.

However, I do miss giving a team member a high five for a great achievement or huddling around a birthday cake to celebrate someone’s special day or catching up with clients in person.

In saying this, working remotely has helped me to feel healthier and less stressed as I’m not needing to consider adding in travel times into the office, to client offices or even overseas.

My wife is also happier as I don’t have as many excuses to get out of my household chores! As they say, happy wife, happy life!

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

The term “work life balance” I feel is outdated. It originated in the 80’s for the Women’s Liberation Movement in the UK which advocated for flexible schedules and maternity leave for women.

The professional landscape has changed significantly since the 80’s and so have the roles we play in our families. The event of COVID19 which led to masses of people quarantining and working from home is a prime example.

Therefore, I’m of the mindset that work is now a part of life and rather than looking for a balance, it’s about being present and in the moment for whatever you choose to focus on.

For me, health and family are a priority, so I fully commit to my routines and will make time what I want to do without being distracted. My business, my clients and my team are also a priority which is why I also make specific time for them and ensure they have my undivided attention.

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

In the last 12 months I have moved near the beach so a habit I have started is to take afternoon walks to the beach and if it’s a hot day I will even go in for a swim.

A habit I have stopped doing is checking my phone and reading messages and emails as soon as I wake up in the morning. Studies have shown that doing this over long periods of time makes your brain more prone to being distracted and negatively impacts cognitive function and memory.

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

These are the books I’ve read this year that I would recommend:

  • Tools of Titans – By Tim Ferris
  • The Fifth Discipline – Peter Senge
  • Principles – Ray Dalio
  • Delivering Happiness – Tony Hsieh (I read this a long time ago and it taught me the importance and power of culture, however, I am recommending it again in memory of Tony as he recently and unfortunately passed away)

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

The only gadget I couldn’t function properly without is my mobile phone as I use it heavily for business, life administration and entertainment. The apps I really need are Gmail, Google Maps, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube as I rely on these platforms to operate and grow my business.

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

There are so many I would love to read about, however, I’m just about to read Barack Obama’s new book, A Promised Land, so I hope to learn how he navigated through tremendous responsibilities both professionally and personally.

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

My first piece of advice is that your health is a critical bridge between work and life. Without good health you will not perform to your best standards at work and you certainly won’t get the most out of life.

Therefore, I recommend you dedicate or make time every day to improve your health. For me, looking after my health and wellbeing is non negotiable.

The second thing is to remember the saying “Work to live, don’t live to work.” Keep reminding yourself that the reason you work so hard is to actually enjoy your life.

We always schedule in work meetings and tasks in our calendars and to do lists and make sure we turn up prepared, however, when it comes to personal commitments, we tend to give them far less time and focus.

So, make sure you give as much attention, time, and effort to your personal commitments as you do your work commitments.

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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.