Interviews / Marketing & Advertising

Balancing the Grind with Lance Hodgson, VP of Marketing at Sitemate

Lance Hodgson is the VP of Marketing at Sitemate, a company that builds best-in-class technology for industrial companies, so they can easily improve how they work.

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

I started my working career in California after finishing my studies in the US. I worked in marketing roles for two of the big Hollywood studios CBS and Sony Pictures which were both  fun, memorable and great learning experiences.

From there, I decided to join a fast growing startup in Santa Monica, which was my first exposure to the startup world. I was lucky to work with a very smart team who had plenty of startup experience, and was able to gain a lot of broad experience across marketing, growth and product, as well as exposure to fundraising and other elements of building a business.

After this time in the US, I decided to move back to Australia with my American wife, and we chose to move to Sydney because of the more established startup scene (I’m originally from Perth).

My first role back in Australia was with a very early stage software startup who were going through the startup accelerator Startmate. I joined the company as their first marketing person and employee one, and we grew quite well over the next 18 months or so.

I then joined the current software startup I am working for as Head of Marketing and Growth, and we have been growing really well over the last three years. I spent most of the first year or so on pure demand generation, and have since been focused on building out the marketing and growth foundation to help us grow well beyond where we are today.

My current role is VP of Marketing, and we are now moving into the scaleup stage which is exciting, and an important next phase for my own development.

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

It depends on the day, and things change pretty quickly. At the moment, we are onboarding and recruiting for a couple of key sales roles, so we are spending a fair amount of time on recruitment and training.

I typically split the majority of my personal productive working time between core marketing activities including website improvements and content work, as well as operations tweaks across our core sales and marketing stack.

I also spend some of my time covering time zones outside of APAC. We get a lot of inbound demand from Europe and the Americas, so I still spend some of my time either early or late in the day on live chat or speaking with prospects in those regions which is necessary before we build our dedicated teams in those regions.

Outside of work, I’m always up early in the morning and typically exercise or venture outside for an hour or two in the morning and/or evening, and then spend some time at night reading or watching TV on the couch with my wife and cat.

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

Yes, we had a blended remote team before COVID with most of our engineering team overseas, and have since transitioned our Sydney team to be partially remote as well. 

The blended approach fits well with my life and routine. I think that some office time is important, especially with new starters and fast growth. Face-to-face learning is better and easier in a number of ways, and it’s also easier to establish important cultural elements and a general company vibe in-person.

But I do definitely enjoy being able to work from home 3 or so days per week, it gives me more time for exercise and other activities, as well as basics like food shopping. It also provides me with more flexibility around simple things like watching sport on TV in the morning.

I also believe that having a blended remote team is a strong forcing function for building a better and more scalable company, as well as being a better foundation for establishing global teams or satellite offices.

It’s pretty imperative that tech companies in 2021 can establish and manage at least partially remote workers and teams, especially if they are focused on capturing global demand.

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

Work-life balance is different for everyone. For me, work-life balance isn’t about how much time I spend not working, it’s about how much time I have for the things I really want to do.

I feel really strapped for time and get more stressed when I don’t have time to exercise, cook good food and feel chilled for parts of the day. As long as I have these things, I know I am living healthily, both mentally and physically, whilst also fulfilling my ambitions and goals at work.

I work quite a lot, but I utilise my other time pretty well so I feel content with my work-life balance. I think there are plenty of hours in the day for work and leisure; even a short 20-30 minute stint outside or an hour surf can quickly offset a really long day at work.

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

Most of my habits have remained relatively stable. I listen to a few less podcasts with less travel time, and have probably swapped that time for more reading.

Since COVID, I haven’t been going to a traditional gym, and have instead spent more of my time on outdoor exercise which has been refreshing and something I will likely continue.

I have always been an early bird, but a recent purchase of a pet cat who is hungry every day at 5am means that I am now an even earlier bird with no chance of ever sleeping in, which works well for getting some productive time early in the morning for a swim or a surf or some other activity.

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

My favourite podcast is Freakonomics. I’ve listened to just about every episode and it’s so varied and current that it never gets stale or boring. I also listen to many of the startup and business world favourites including How I Built This and Acquired.

I get through a lot of books, with a few of my favourite reads being Sapiens, 21 Lessons for the 21st Century, Barbarian Days, All Marketers Tell Stories and The Plant Paradox.

I try to cover a lot of different subject matter when choosing books, and delve relatively deep on a topic for a few books in succession before then shifting my focus.

I spent months and months on startup and marketing books early in my career, and began to see a lot of common themes and patterns after a while amongst most books in this ‘category’. Once this starts to happen, I feel as though you can better spend your time by delving into a different subject.

I have recently been reading a lot about food, including books on specific dietary approaches as well as chronic inflammation, which has been super insightful and impactful on my approach to a huge part of life: eating.

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

We are a pretty app-heavy company, so I would struggle to live without our workplace tooling. I can’t imagine working for a company which doesn’t use modern SaaS tools for collaborating and communicating. 

I don’t use a lot of products or apps in my personal life, I’m still pretty traditional in terms of how I spend and manage my health, productivity and time outside of work. I rely and lean into technology at work, and try to stay away from technology and connect with the real-world outside of work.

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

I think people who love what they do often have the most refreshing opinions of work life balance because they are trying to find balance by finding enjoyment in the work, rather than trying to spend less time on work. People like Elon Musk can have pretty extreme approaches to work-life balance but smart and refreshing ideas about how to find your balance.

I think a lot of life and our experience in it is based on attitude and perspective, and viewing work as an enjoyable and fulfilling part of everyday life can change your experience of work and also your attitude towards work-life balance.

I enjoy my work and try not to think about it in terms of hours spent. I just try to put good hours into all parts of my day regardless of whether it’s work or pleasure. I don’t do this perfectly well by any stretch, but overall it’s a good strategy and one which many people can benefit from.

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

I really think work-life balance is different for every person, and also very dynamic in that it changes with different phases of life. I am about to become a Dad, which will again shift my perception of work, life and balance, and I’m looking forward to that challenge and new perspective.

I think you have to constantly search for balance and reorient as life changes and evolves, and as your own ambitions change and grow. Overinvesting in work can be a really smart strategy for periods of time if it aligns with your medium and long term goals and ambitions. 

I’ve always been comfortable with making short term sacrifices for long term gains, and I think you can really set yourself up by working hard and smart at the right times.

You just need to make sure that you’re comfortable with your own approach, and that your approach aligns with at least one company or the type of work you want to do.

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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.