Interviews / Marketing & Advertising

Balancing the Grind with Lawrence Nathan, Head of Marketing at Futurerent

Lawrence Nathan is the Head of Marketing at Futurerent, which gives property investors their rent in advance — the simplest and fastest way to access up to $100,000.

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

I was fortunate to start my career in the marketing team at Westfield (now Scentre Group), where I was able to learn from some of the industry’s best marketers. They were incredible.

I learned how to run events with top celebrity talent, how to manage all the pieces of national seasonal and fashion campaigns, and a ton of other invaluable learnings – one of which, surprisingly, was I discovered that I didn’t really know how to use a lot of marketing tools. These skills weren’t taught during my marketing degree (which is bananas), and working in a large marketing team requires specialisation.

I took a gamble. After 3 years at Scentre Group I relocated to New York City, to forcibly throw myself into a lion’s den of world class marketers and unique opportunities. I knew that working in a startup was the only way I’d be able to learn the full spectrum of marketing, and I knew there’d be no shortage of startups there.

Over 4 years in New York City, I experienced what I call a ‘self-appointed and chaotic MBA in marketing for startups’. Except instead of Harvard, the campus was a shoebox-sized office with no windows. On the flip side, my ‘graduation ceremony’ was finally seeing my name as the media contact on a $15.5 million Series A announcement.

I experienced the bad, the good, and the crazy. I worked for two startups that didn’t succeed, which in hindsight gave me invaluable knowledge about what mistakes to avoid, and was then lucky enough to become Head of Marketing at an awesome fintech startup called Obligo. I also became part-time global Social Media Manager for AliExpress, which is an ecommerce platform owned by Alibaba, and had to juggle my days and nights between these two incredible opportunities.

At the end of 2020 my wife and I moved back to Sydney, a few months before the birth of our beautiful daughter. I’ve since stayed in the startup space, and I’m currently Head of Marketing at Futurerent.

In this role, I’m working on everything lead gen & growth-related: ads, email nurturing, content creation, comms, PR, website CRO, asset design, sales enablement, basically, all the tools that I didn’t know much about a few years ago!

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

Every day is organised chaos, and if the concept of wabi sabi didn’t exist, I’d be fired immediately.

If you have no idea what I’m talking about – I’m saying that I like the philosophy of “if it’s perfect, it’s too late”. Everyone is juggling a million tasks, but it takes discipline to prioritise shipping and avoid overworking for the sake of impossible perfection.

I recently saw a brilliant tweet from @realBrookNash that said “can we change “growth marketing” to “marketing f*ckery”, and I felt simultaneously personally attacked and enlightened because this sums up part of my days. Tinkering with a whole bunch of new stuff to see what sticks: new ads, emails, copy, assets, AB tests, channels, partnerships, workflows etc. 

I’m also wary that marketing can be guilty of reflecting what marketers care about more than what their audience cares about. Like when some marketing boffin at the University of Central Florida got their football team to wear their social media handles on the backs of their jerseys. Or iBeacons. Or iPad menus in restaurants. Or Web3.

Because of this, I also spend a lot of time on more traditional marketing functions: speaking with sales to understand the quality and thoughts of our leads, watching our website sessions on Fullstory, interpreting Hubspot reports, filming video testimonials of our clients, and so on.

These provide solid insights that sustain the business moving forward, and keep me focused on optimising the funnel based on what our leads and clients actually want. 

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

I think that as long as I maintain a ruthless personal accountability to my performance at work, I’ve earned my balance.

I try to work my butt off, and then leave the office at 5.15pm, so I can get home and spend some time with my daughter and help with her dinner, bath and bedtime.

Having time with my family at the end of the work day is essential. I’ve received two pieces of advice that help me think about output and balance:

  • A past manager at Westfield once said: “If you can’t get a normal day’s work done over 8 hours, you don’t have too much work, you have time management problems.”
  • And the most helpful advice was from a past colleague called Richie, who had an unbelievable work rate. He told me that his secret is to “work each day as if you’re going to leave the next day”.

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

Cheesy fitness plug – my fitness became terrible over the past 2 years of various lockdowns. I’ve now started early morning boxing classes, which have been brilliant – big shout out to Fit1 in Rose Bay.

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

Newsletters: Morning Brew, Marketing Brew, Really Good Emails, theCLIKK, the daily carnage, finimize, Demand Curve, Total ANNARCHY, Money Stuff (Matt Levine), Letter of Intent.

The other thing I really recommend is following Tom Goodwin and levelsio on Twitter, and switching on Tweet Notifications so you can stay inspired through the day without needing to open the app. These two are vastly different, but are both very thought-provoking and interesting.

Tom makes you question everything about modern marketing, and levelsio is this octopus-like entrepreneur who is constantly shipping, tinkering and reviewing. Awesome motivation.

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

I’ve got an obscure pick. I’m a big soccer fan, and there’s a player called Martin Braithwaite who plays for FC Barcelona.

He has 5 kids, and still somehow finds time to be a successful real estate investor, run a clothing business, own a restaurant, and be incredibly philanthropic toward minority entrepreneurs in the US. I have absolutely no clue how he juggles all of these responsibilities but I’d love to know his secret. 

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

We need to go outside more. We were trapped inside for so long these past +2 years, that we became aesthetically and creatively impoverished – showcased by how a lot of people thought it was a good idea to spend their life savings on jpegs of monkeys.

And the last thing I’ll say is I recently became aware of the concept of the millennial pause. I think we must embrace the pause. To quote Kate Lindsay’s article in The Atlantic, “a 35 year old desperately adopting the mannerisms of a 20-year-old is a different kind of cringe.”

So to all my fellow millennials and beyond, if you have a child, a partner, a pet, a hobby, or simply anything personal that makes you happy, carve out time for it. That email can wait.

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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.