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Balancing the Grind with Joanna Robinson, Head of Marketing at Thriverapp, University Lecturer & Marketing Consultant

Joanna Robinson is a university lecturer, marketing consultant and the Head of Marketing at Australian startup, Thriverapp, an app based community where members can create and live their best lives.

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

I spent 25 years in corporate marketing roles with the likes of Procter & Gamble, J&J, Colgate Palmolive, Estee Lauder and Unilever. 6 years of those was with Unilever in the Middle East which was an amazing experience.

I have always had a passion for marketing and branding, more specifically, which led me to completing my master’s in strategic marketing 8 years ago.

Being exposed to the academic world progressed to an opportunity to teach at various universities over the last few years, on top of my day job, and ignited a love of teaching. I have a particular interest in millennials and Gen Y mentoring them not only in their studies but also with kick-starting their careers and navigating the corporate world.

I left the corporate world last year to dial up my teaching and I now lecture and tutor on a sessional basis at both UNSW and Sydney University across subjects including marketing, leadership and succeeding in business.

I am now looking at starting a PhD in the area of pedagogy, and more specifically focused around the impacts of mentoring on people at the start of their careers.

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

My life, like many other working parents, is pretty busy. I try to balance my University teaching with being a wife and mum to a teenager and a 10YO, as well as taking time to work out, meditate and practise yoga as often as I can.

Being fit and healthy mentally and physically definitely helps me optimise my time from both a productivity and enjoyment level. Me, my husband and daughter are all volunteer lifesavers at Bond surf club, so the beach is also a big part of our family’s life.

My husband has beta-launched a start-up with my brother called Thriverapp which curates tips and tricks of the world’s most successful people, so he is working from home most days which means we get to share the load in terms of house chores and managing the kids. This generally makes things a lot easier and is the basis for a great partnership!

A typical working day for me looks like this:

  • 6am – wake up; walk the Bondi to Bronte walk with a girlfriend (I love watching the sun come up)
  • 7am – meditate for 20 minutes (not every day unfortunately but as often as possible)
  • 9am – home schooling of my son
  • 9 – 3pm – work on Uni prep for classes or research for my PhD topic or consulting projects
  • 4pm – 9pm – Uni classes (at the moment these are via Zoom)
  • 9pm – 11pm – couch and Netflix time with the hubby

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

All classes for University rolled online once Covid 19 surfaced so that has meant that I am in our study conducting zoom classes most days.

Whilst this has meant a lot more flexibility and cuts out travel time, I personally do not find online classes as fulfilling as face-to-face classes as I love the personal contact and interaction with the students and other staff.

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

Work life balance to me is about filling my life with busy moments as well as quieter, more considered ones. And most of all, it is about feeling fulfilled with the here and now.

Until about 2 years ago, I defined myself by being as busy as possible across all avenues of my life, including socially. I was also very career focused, with a desire to get to the C-suite as soon as possible. I worked long hours and sacrificed time with my family.

I found that I was increasingly feeling anxious about how I was going to fit it all in and put pressure on myself to be a “superwoman”. I know there are many women that relate to this.

It came to a head when I had some toxic work situations which made me reconsider my priorities and put me on a different path into academia. I had a great corporate career but I felt it was time to focus my time and energies in other areas, and I also realised that I loved teaching young students and imparting some of my knowledge of the last 25 years onto them.

I feel so passionate now about being to share my journey a little to hopefully assist them with the first stepping-stones of their own careers. I now also enjoy lots more quality time with my family, and I get to be involved at a more granular level with my 2 kids.

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5. What do you think are some of the best habits or routines that you’ve developed over the years to help you achieve success in your life?

I actually get a lot of my inspiration from Thriverapp.com as there are some great habits and routines showcased on there from some of the most amazingly successful people.

My favourites tips though are getting up early to “seize the day” – you get so much more done and it puts you a great mood; daily meditation; daily exercise – even just a walk is great; and gratitude – being grateful for what you DO have rather than what you don’t.

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

Obviously Thriverapp (thriverapp.com) is my favourite app for motivation and inspiration, but outside of that I like the following:

Books:

Apps

  • My Fitness Pal (for tracking food and activity)
  • 7M Workout (for quick but effective workouts – I do 2x rounds)
  • Insights Timer (for meditation)
  • Masterclass (for upskilling in all sorts of areas)
  • Elevate (to keep brain fit)
  • I Don’t Know How She Does It (tips and routines for busy mums)

7. What is the number one thing you do to make sure you get the most out of your day?

Meditation is the number one thing that helps me get the most out of my day. I did a 3 day TM meditation course last year with Bondi Meditation Centre (bondimeditation.com.au) and it sounds cliché but it honestly changed my life.

I feel like meditation is akin to a massage for the brain. I notice how much “space” it gives me emotionally in that I can respond more calmly to all the challenges that life throws at me.

If I miss a few days, I can feel that space disappearing again as my anxiety and stress levels increase. I think I am a much nicer person for my family to live with now that I meditate regularly.

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

I have a massive girl crush on Jacinda Ardern. I teach Leadership at Sydney University and for me, she represents the consummate leader – smart, strategic, empathetic, and authentic.

I love that she represents the ultimate combination of career and motherhood, and is at the top of her game, but that she is so emotionally real. Her handling of the Christchurch massacre last year for example was awe-inspiring – so genuinely emotionally affected by the loss of lives and the pain people were going through, and yet so strong in her leadership and direction.

I think a lot of political leaders could take on board some learnings from Jacinda, just quietly.

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

Again, it sounds cliché but the biggest piece of advice I have is to just be happy. Once you take away the ego-related pillars of career titles and money, the most important things in life really are the people we surround ourselves with, and how fulfilled we are by what we do.

I try to remember to be grateful everyday for the life that I have and take joy in the small things – time with my family and friends and getting to do a job I love. I savour my ocean walks in the morning watching the sun rise and I pinch myself that I got so lucky.

Life is amazing. Don’t take it for granted.

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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.