Interviews / Marketing & Advertising

Balancing the Grind with Lauren Sneddon, Head of Marketing at Lived

Lauren Sneddon is the Head of Marketing at Lived, an app that delivers free access to decades’ worth of lived experience, research and wisdom—to support people around the world to drink less, and live more.

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

Like many marketers out there, my career has been a big muesli bowl of many mixed ingredients. I dropped out of a Public Relations degree to launch straight into a career in fashion media, right when digital content was taking off.

After two years of that and practically burning out, I went back to uni and completed a Bachelor of Design. It was there that I developed my thirst for creative and human problem solving—which is what I believe marketing is all about.

My journey through marketing has spanned across e-commerce, health, and tech, for mighty brands both big (eBay and Weight Watchers) and small. 

I’ve dedicated the past 5 years of my career to the health and for-purpose space, because I realised (after a lot of trial and error) it’s the only way I can stay fully motivated.

And that’s precisely what led me to my current role as Head of Marketing at Lived—an incredibly powerful app that supports people to drink less and live more, by connecting them with the lived experience of others.

It means that people can finally find the answers they’re looking for—in the most personal, relatable, engaging (and proven) way—for one of the most nuanced health issues on the planet.

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

Lived is everything you would expect from a start-up with huge global ambitions: fast-moving, ever-evolving, and full of unexpected (but often rewarding) challenges. It means that you have to wear a lot of hats, and two days are rarely the same.

Lived is a fully-remote global team. So a typical workday will involve jumping onto Slack to say good morning at around 9am. The entire Lived team greets each other every single day on our main channel in Slack—no matter what timezone they’re in or what time they started, it’s the first thing they’ll do.

It might sound a bit over the top, but it’s such a simple act that allows you to acknowledge everyone and make them feel seen and connected daily. It’s a tradition that’s been going since day 1 of the company. Sally, our CEO, used to be all alone on Slack, and would hilariously just say good morning to herself.

I’m really glad that we’ve been able to maintain that ritual as we’ve grown and that it’s become an integral part of our culture (and that Sally is finally getting some responses!).

Then it’s meeting time. All of my internal meetings are clustered before 2pm each day, to allow for focused execution time in the afternoon. Most of the team at Lived stick to this way of working, so that our calendars can be aligned and we’re guaranteed focused time.

The first meeting of the day is with the leadership team, which is the perfect way to align and focus for the day (+weeks, months, years) ahead. From there, I enter a magical world of possibilities: 1:1s, strategy workshops, team recruitment, media hustle, content development and editing, networking, campaign building, product testing, social media, website development, team planning, copywriting, product development, reporting, agency meetings, whatever the business needs to grow, we get it done!

The end of the day then finishes similar to how it begins—signing-off to the team on Slack, with a summary of what we managed to do. It’s usually a long list, so it’s a really cathartic and satisfying feeling to be able to acknowledge our accomplishments for the day.

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

Lived has always been fully remote, and extremely deliberate and thoughtful about building a flexible culture.

This means working from anywhere in the world; going for a surf/run/yoga class/cafe hop (or even a snorkel) during your lunch break; never missing health (or hair) appointments; and being able to make space for the stuff that matters to you. Lived is built on a culture of commitment, communication and trust—so if you need something, you just communicate it and do it!

I really love working remotely with our team. I have much more time to spend on myself and the people I care about (see you later peak-hour commuting!); I can switch in and out of ‘work mode’ when my mind needs a break (I wasn’t kidding about snorkelling at lunchtime); and I’m genuinely more productive. 

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

For me it’s about understanding what’s most important to you, making those things a priority as much as you can, and communicating your intentions, wants and needs to those around you—especially your workplace. 

It’s also about being flexible with yourself. I wish it wasn’t referred to as work-life balance, because it implies a beautiful, equilateral state, which I don’t think is realistic—those two things rarely test you with equal, gentle force.

Instead, ‘work-life balancing’ is understanding that those two worlds won’t always be harmonious, but if you can stay grounded by what’s important to you, you’ll always have a strong and steady base to handle the see-saw. 

How that translates in my own life: Nothing is more important to me or more fulfilling to me than my friends and family—but that’s not how I can realistically spend all of my time each day.

Sometimes, my week is filled with social catch-ups, other weeks I might only be able to squeeze in a FaceTime or two during the week, because I’m busting through a deadline. Either way, I’ll always make time, but it can’t always be the same amount. The grounding part is that my friends and family know that if needed, they’ll always come first—no question. And my workplace understands this too.

My nephew called me in the middle of a workday recently to share that he’d gone up a level at his swimming school, to a “Gold Guppy” (which means he can swim without floaties), and said “I just wanted to call you so you could tell everyone at work!”.

As hilarious and naive as his announcement was, it told me a few things: 1. He understood that I was probably busy at work 2. He knew he’d still be more important and that I’d be really excited to hear his news 3. He knew that I have an awesome team that knows who he is, and would likely celebrate him (and they did). To me, that’s a signal of ‘life-work balancing’.

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

There’s two things I’ve started doing that have made a huge difference to me. The first is slowing my mornings down. Now that I’m not rushing to get to an office, my mornings have transformed into heavily protected ‘me-time’.

The rest of my day is usually very fast-paced and filled with people, so I’ve learnt to appreciate just taking the time to slow down and do what I feel like. Some days I’ll sleep-in, others I’ll go for an ocean swim or a pilates class, other times I’ll FaceTime my nephews to talk about dinosaurs and Bluey. The point is to have no plan and just go with the flow. And it’s been awesome.

The other thing I’ve started doing is 16/8 intermittent fasting—words I never thought would come out of my mouth, as a devout breakfast-worshipper. It’s originally something I wanted to try for digestive health reasons (I have all sorts of weird food allergies and sensitivities), but ended up being really surprised by how it made me feel mentally as well. Plus, I discovered that I still get to worship breakfast food, just not until after 12pm each day.

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

I think one of the best things you can do to grow as a human is to immerse yourself in experiences, perspectives and stories that are very different from your own.

Anything that helps you to build greater self-awareness, empathy and understanding of others is going to help you in spades for both work and life (afterall, every company is trying to solve a human problem one way or the other).

I think that’s why I’m very shit at keeping up with marketing and business news, and invest much more time in content that focuses on human stories.

Some of my podcast favourites include Ear Hustle (produced by prisoners in San Quentin prison, sharing real stories about life inside); Sober Powered (a podcast that uses neuroscience and psychology to help people understand why it’s so hard for some to stop drinking); and This American Life (a popular choice for good reason).

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

  1. Slack: a total game-changer. Not only does it get rid of the bombardment of emails, it also means I don’t have to be permanently tied to my desk. I can have instant access to our team, agencies, and awesome external resources like CMO forums, all from my pocket.
  2. Notion: this has just taken absolutely everything in my work-life up a level. From agency briefs to 1:1 agendas, Notion has just made all types of information far more effective and engaging to organise, express, present and share. 
  3. Apple Notes: I’m a list freak, and get a sick amount of satisfaction ticking things off. So when Apple added the Checklist feature to the Notes app last year, it filled me with indescribable joy. I will even add items retrospectively just so I can hit the checkbox. This is a safe space to share, right?

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

Bobbi Lockyer. Fashion designer, 2021 NAIDOC Artist of the Year, official Nikon photographer, solo mother to four boys, and an absolute boss. Need I say more?

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

There is no singular recipe for balance, and the grass can often appear greener on the other side. But the truth is, I don’t know a single person that has it all figured out. Everyone is just doing the best they can with what they have.

Finding balance is personal. So please don’t trip down the perilous path of comparing yourself to others, or thinking that you’re failing if you’re not killing it in all aspects of your life.

Balancing is a perpetual state—it’s not an end goal. Figure out what matters to you and just nurture it the best you can. Some days that will be more challenging to do than others, and that’s ok.

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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.