Balancing the Grind with Kayleigh Kahlefeldt, Founder of Cornerstone Content AU

Kayleigh Kahlefeldt is the founder of Cornerstone Content AU, where she works with companies to deliver high-performing content for programs, websites, blogs and business collateral.

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

I’m a bit of a propeller-head! I studied marketing and computer programming, combining those with my obsession with English language and literature to land in marketing communications for the technology industry in the UK.

I was involved with things like the deregulation of the telecommunications industry and launching the start-ups that emerged. When I migrated to Australia fifteen years ago it made sense to continue that journey with my own agency: Bond PR.

Ultimately, the services I provided Australian businesses exploding onto the SaaS scene led to an in-house role with one of them: Salesforce. The prospect of transitioning to the corporate world to establish and grow a creative marketing team in APAC was too good to refuse! I spent five years building operations for content marketing in APAC. They were among the most exciting of my career.

The incredible innovation that comes from Salesforce customers still blows my mind. My team was fortunate to get an ‘access-all-areas’ pass to these incredible companies, while filming them for the keynote stage for example. My next move was equally fortunate. I was approached by a Salesforce partner, DocuSign, to come on board within the early growth stages of the APAC business.

I accepted the role of Head of Marketing and set about building a first-class marketing team to support regional sales. What a ride! We went public during that time, and we evolved into a multi-service agreement cloud company under the leadership of, in my opinion, the industry’s most inspirational CEO, Dan Springer.

My time at DocuSign ultimately saw me spending a year in Europe growing a new PR & content marketing function across four countries there. And, then a pandemic was upon us. I made the decision to get back to Australia before the borders closed and I’ve been consulting ever since.

I founded Cornerstone Content to help companies communicate well for success in a digital world where remote connectivity is the norm and engagement happens online. I help them to define themselves, stand out among the digital noise and engage people with content that lets them meet their business goals virtually. It involves creating every possible form of content you can imagine, as well as the content marketing strategies.

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

I get up at 6am, feed the dog, make my daughter’s school lunch and then we have breakfast together as a family. I get ready for work and then take the short commute of a few steps to my office to start work at 8am when my US clients and contacts are still in their working hours.

At around 12pm I usually take a 30-minute break to walk the dog by the river, or go for a run – there are some incredible trails near my house in regional NSW. Then I work until 2.45pm when I pick my daughter up from school. Sometimes I jump back into my office between 4pm and 6pm.

More often I will spend time with my family and jump back onto the computer after dinner. I also work with people in the UK, which makes it a good time to catch them! I have the luxury of being able to work with the best people for each project now, no matter where in the world they’re located.

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

Absolutely! I’m enjoying shaping my calendar around other important moments in my life. To be honest, I doubt I will be in a hurry to be 100 percent office-based again, even if that’s where the business world ends up. I have discovered you can do your best work when you do it your way and that’s hard to give up.

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

I think some people consider work-life balance as a scenario where work and home life are completely separated and have their own allotted times. Or, they think of it as not having to work at all outside of office hours.

For me, it’s neither. It’s about finding the perfect formula that lets me throw myself wholeheartedly into my work without missing out on the other things that I love. And, that looks different from day to day.

One thing I will say is: if I work 12 straight hours it’s because I want to. And, if I take an afternoon to lie by the river and read a book on a nice day, I do it without feeling guilty.

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

Yes! Aside from the obvious – commuting – I’ve stopped forcing myself out of bed for a run at 5.30am. It used to be the only time I could make it work. But now, I can run during a break later in the day.

I am definitely more of an owl than a lark, so I’ve found I no longer wake with the heavy sense of duty hanging over me and I really look forward to my midday exercise!

I’ve also cut down on coffee. It’s easy to get swept up in frequent office coffee runs! Now I’m at home with my own coffee, I’ve found that I don’t need as much.

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

For podcasts I’d have to pick Nerds of Business. I love the problem-solving aspect, and expert perspectives. Really actionable advice for startup entrepreneurs.

A favourite book is harder to choose; I read a lot! The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni definitely made its mark on me. The insights really stayed with me because of the fun, fiction style of presenting them.

But I also love escaping into non-business reading too. I’m currently reading Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology and I’m hooked!

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

I can’t live without my Beats bluetooth wireless over-ear headphones. I love a good, comfy headphone to listen to podcasts and digital conferences on long walks.

I also sometimes wake up in the night, and I find that putting on my headphones for a couple of pages of an audio book sends me straight back to sleep. Which brings me to my must-have app: audible. Diving into a good book is my happy place. Although, I still like to hold a paper version of a book in my hands from time to time.

If I can name one more app? It’s Duolingo. Why wouldn’t you give yourself the gift of another language? It seems like one of those skills you could regret never having learned if you don’t get around to giving it a try.

I’m learning French through films, books, conversations with French friends and 15 minutes a day of Duolingo! I’m not ready to conduct meetings in French yet, but I can shop and order food. All of the important things!

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

Erica Berchtold, CEO of The Iconic – for sure! She’s an energetic, inspirational CEO, an incredible ambassador for women in leadership roles, and a mother. Wouldn’t it be interesting to have her perspective on work-life balance?

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

I always advise people against the notion that they can work their way out of stress. It’s just not something you can throw hours at. I’ve been there and it didn’t take me long to realise that if you have more work than hours, you are never going to find the end of that piece of string!

If you’re feeling overwhelmed it’s time to get smart about how you work, and about what genuinely needs to be accomplished by you alone. Talking to successful people who have time for a personal life is a great place to start.

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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.