Laura Hall is the co-founder and CEO of Helio, the smarter advertising marketplace, connecting buyers and sellers to make the complex process of booking ad space easy.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
My career in the industry began at 21. Fresh out of university after finishing my law degree I became a travelling field sales representative selling products door to door.
I spent 6 days a week walking the streets with a suitcase on wheels selling anything from kitchen cutlery sets, to flashing pens. Certainly not glamorous by any means but this was my first taste of being self-employed and if I’m honest, I found the thrill of the sale quite exhilarating.
I arrived in Australia from Wales in 2005 and fell straight into outdoor advertising sales. Selling TV commercials on outdoor big screens in CBDs and major events, it was a role I loved and felt a real passion for.
Working my way through the ranks I spent a few years in the position of Sales Director before taking the leap and setting up a sales representation agency that assisted media owners with selling their advertising space across multiple channels.
We grew very quickly and soon represented media offerings nationwide and after 5 years in business, we received a knock at the door and went on to be acquired in 2017.
And now, I’m the co-founder and CEO of Helio, a marketplace connecting buyers and sellers of advertising making the complex process of booking ad space easy!
We’re on a mission to democratise media making it accessible to any business, of any size, anywhere. The platform launched earlier this year and covers advertising options across transit, out of home, sport, events, sponsorship and print with more and more channels arriving every month.
2) What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
My day begins around 5:30-6am. I’d like to say it’s a relaxing wake up but with a dog and two young kids, it’s normally a jump out of bed and a busy couple of hours getting everyone ready. The first thing I reach for is my cup of tea then it’s on to school drop off.
I’ll then begin by creating a list of the tasks I’d like to complete by the end of the day. This helps me keep on track and focus on the things that I want to achieve. I’m still a big fan of pen and paper so my trusted notebook is never far from my side.
Typically, I’ll have 1-2 meetings, I’ll check in with the team and meet/talk with our marketplace partners whilst also building out sales campaigns across the platform.
I’ll break for lunch somewhere between 12-2pm and go and sit outside for at least half an hour to feel some sun on my face and get some fresh air.
At 5pm I’ll pick the children up and enjoy some time with them before bed and always try to keep the laptop shut unless I really need to complete work for a deadline. I find I sleep better when my brain has had a few hours to wind down. I’m definitely a morning person rather than a night owl.
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
Building a remote and flexible business was something my co-founder and I were conscious of from day one. Our first business was office-based with the typical 9-5 set up, and although that worked for us, we knew this time around we wanted to be able to build something that could operate from anywhere.
With Helio, we’ve created a remote team across Australia and Asia, with a base in Sydney that allows for both WFH and office time to create that healthy balance.
Giving our team the flexibility to create a working week that works for them helps not only with navigating the demands of everyday life itself, but in creating a happy and healthy lifestyle for all.
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
I find I’m happiest when I don’t try to put work and life into two separate buckets. My work brings me so much joy that the two blend into one and being flexible is what makes it work.
I think the task of trying to find a balance can put a considerable amount of pressure on us and lead to feeling more stressed at times. Do what makes you happy and if some days that’s more work than play and vice versa, then that’s ok with me.
When I’m not working, I do my best to really be in the moment and put my phone on silent and laptop away, so my family and friends have my full attention.
5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
For a long time, the first thing I used to do in the morning was reach for my phone and start checking emails and social media which meant my first thoughts of the day were controlled or influenced by what I saw and read.
Now, I leave my phone for as long as I can while I enjoy getting up and spending time with the family then leave my emails until I sit down at my computer at the start of the day. This one was a game changer for me, and I felt the effects of a clearer and more present mind instantly.
6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill – This book was life and career changing for me.
No Rules Rules: Netflix and the Culture of Reinvention by Reed Hastings – Love the new perspective this gives about leading teams and businesses.
7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?
It would have to be FaceTime. With my family scattered all over the world we rarely get to see each other in person, especially now during COVID, and having a way to see their faces whenever I need to is everything to me.
8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
As one of the most successful marketplace founders of our time it would have to be Jeff Bezos!
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
I’m a great believer in doing the things that make you happy. And for each of us, that can look very different. I think it’s important not to try and fit in with what everyone else is doing because you think you should fall in line and do the same.
Raising my two children while running a business in the early days was something many around me thought was too difficult to do but for me, being able to do both was incredibly important and with careful planning, I found a way to make it work.
Listen to your heart and follow what feels right for you. When you understand what fills your cup, you’ll be able to work at building a world and your schedule around it to achieve the outcome you are looking for.
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