Growth / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Justin Bohlmann, Head of Growth at Thrive

Justin Bohlmann is the Head of Growth at Thrive, an Australian-owned digital business account for sole traders and small businesses.

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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your current role at Thrive?

As the Head of Growth at Thrive my job is to: 

  • Understand exactly who’s going to get the most value form Thrive 
  • Get the product in their hands 
  • Listen to their feedback  
  • Continually help make Thrive more valuable to them. To the point where they just couldn’t live without us.
  • Help nurture a growth mindset throughout the entire business because growth is a ‘whole team effort’ 

Positioning, acquisition, customer listening, engagement and retention are the key elements of the business system I focus on.  

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

This Monday:

  • Wake at 5:30am 
  • Walk the dog to get a coffee 
  • 30min. writing brain dump of whatever is in my head  
  • Workout for an hour – Kettlebells are my go to during the week then long runs on the weekend 
  • Help get the kids ready for homeschooling now we’re in lockdown 
  • Somewhere between 8am and 9am start work 
  • I block out the first 2 hours (8am to 10am) every day to work on my most important task which right now is our pricing strategy 
  • 10am Launch planning 
  • 11am user testing session 
  • 12pm coaching call (a super valuable perk working at Thrive is a weekly personal development coaching session) 
  • 1pm Grabbed some lunch and called an engineer about some excavation work we need to do in our front yard 
  • 1:30pm Took the CTO through the pricing strategy to make sure it was possible 
  • 2pm Check emails (I have this in my calendar at this time every day, sometimes I’ll check them in the morning too but I prefer to knock them over once a day) 
  • 3pm Analyse some survey data 
  • 3:30pm Weekly Team meeting 
  • 4:30pm generally work on anything urgent that came out of the team meeting 
  • 5:30 head downstairs and help out with dinner, baths and bedtime 
  • 6:45pm get the kids to read to us (there are 4 kids, 3 who need to read to us so my wife and I generally divide and conquer) 
  • 7pm Put the twins to bed 
  • 7:30pm Put my youngest daughter to bed 
  • 7:45 Hang out with a 12 year old watching Survivor, Ninja warrior or a movie etc. 
  • 9pm Read in bed 

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

I work 100% remote, most of the team are based in Melbourne, I’m in Sydney along with a couple of others. I love working remotely, I’ve worked remotely probably 7 of the last 20 years.

It gives me back 2 hours of commute time a day and I can walk downstairs and help out with the kids when needed while we’re in lockdown. 

If I don’t get time for a workout in the morning, I can do it at lunchtime and quickly jump in the shower. I fully embrace the inherent asynchronous way of working.

I prefer written communication; it helps me clarify my thinking rather than saying something in the moment that doesn’t make sense or hasn’t been fully thought through.

I love tools like Loom, Slack, Teams and collaborative docs where people can work on them on their timeline.

Remote is awesome! 

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

Work-life balance means I’m effective at work and effective at life and I have time and energy for both! With 4 kids aged 12, 8 and 2 x 6 and the desire to maintain my own mental and physical fitness, work life balance is super important to me.

I was in the Army for 7 years, I don’t know if it’s carried over from that but routine and balance is what works well for me and our family. My wife was never in the Army and she’s probably more regimented about routine than I am so, luckily, we click. 

There’s no end to the list of things that need to be done around the house and of course there’s never an end to the things you could be doing for work but prioritising what’s important and getting those things done is the key. 

To make that work you need to get good at saying no and making time in your calendar for the doing because if you don’t take control of your time someone else will. 

Weekends the priority is exercise and getting the kids out in the fresh air and then anything that needs doing around the house. 

I’m not immune to working out of hours. I’ll pull late nights and work on the weekend when I need to get stuff done. 

I’m one of the fortunate ones who actually loves what they do, so even in my spare time I’m learning about psychology, marketing, growth, leadership, productivity, fitness, nutrition etc.  

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

I’ve been a lot more consistent with exercise. 

I set myself a goal to complete the ‘Simple’ goal of this program and I did the same workout (varied weights) almost every day for 6 months to reach the goal. That was a great experience in persistence and patience. 

I’ve also started doing ‘morning pages’ which I alluded to before as my 30min. writing brain dump of whatever is in my head.  The benefits of that become clearer the more I do it. 

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

Podcasts I’ve been listening to most lately: 

Books I have on the go or have read recently: 

My favourite book of all time  

  • Killing Zone by Harry McCallion – This guy has done some of the hardest things a human can do, by choice. I read it when I was a teenager and often think of him when things get tough. 

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

Kettlebells to stay fit. They’re so convenient, I can use them inside or outside and you can make up some killer workouts with just that one simple piece of equipment  

Bose noise cancelling headphones for peace and quiet and so I can hear in meetings when my kids are playing out the front 

Roam research to keep track of anything I’m researching or working on as well as keep a daily log of what I did. 

I use this simple template to keep myself accountable (it’s in the format pulled straight from Roam, you’ll understand when you start using it): 

– [[What did I do today]]  

– Did I [[exercise ]]today? 

– Did I drink enough [[water]] today? 

– What [[important thing]] did I get done today 

– What [[important thing]] am I doing tomorrow 

– Any [[blockers]]? 

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

What I’ve realised over the years is that my idea and version of work-life balance is very different to the next person. What works for me will not necessarily work for you.

I’ve taken a lot of ideas from a lot of areas and moulded them into what works for me. So, with that in mind I would never choose just one interview from one person. I’d choose lots of interviews, a lot of books and a lot of trial and error and create a routine that works for me. 

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

A philosophy I’ve landed on is “Do hard things to make life easy” 

I understand that doesn’t sound like your usual solution or advice when it comes to maintaining work-life balance but fundamentally, for me, it is. 

Get out of bed early – hard, for me anyway – but means I have more time in the day to do the things that matter to me 

Exercise – Levels of hard but certainly some super hard sessions thrown in –  means I think more clearly, feel better generally, keep up with my kids, live longer and the list goes on. 

Work on the most important task first – Hard because there are always competing priorities – People are notorious for changing their minds and getting hooked on urgent tasks at the expense of the important tasks 

Make healthy choices – Hard, more expensive and generally more time consuming – but do this for the same reason as exercise obviously. 

Learn new things – hard given time constraints – but it means I become better at what I do because I understand more holistically why things work the way they do, why people think the way they do, why people act the way they do 

Be patient – hard, for me – but something I’m practising getting better at. 

“Do hard things to make life easy” 

I say this to myself as a mantra when I’m on a long run or my forearms feel like they’re about to give out and my kettlebells about to go flying. 

It makes the hard stuff easier, which is the idea right? 

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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.