Balancing the Grind with Leanne Khor, Director, Organisational Capability at Venntifact

Leanne Khor is the Director of Organisational Capability at Venntifact, marketing data consultancy helping organisations build and enable high-performance digital teams to harness data and technology assets, empowering digital innovation.

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

I started out in Account Management (mainly data agencies) before moving into the world of digital in a Business Operations role. Throughout my career, I was blessed to work with amazing mentors and managers who taught me the importance of humanising everything I do in the professional world.This human-first approach set me up with the right foundations from a young age.

In my current role as Director of Operations at Venntifact, my ability to humanise a solution is the key skill that I contribute. We have “Continuous Improvement” as a corporate value, which describes my role in a nutshell.

I have overall responsibility for ensuring all aspects of the organisation hum and work together seamlessly which is a fairly broad mandate and also means that no two days are the same! The team and I are always looking at a business process or capability improvement to be designed, tweaked or optimised.

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

My mornings normally begin pretty early with a walk around the block with my dog and a self-improvement podcast plugged into my ears. I intentionally set aside this time for myself to learn something new that I tend to then take into my work day.

It is important for me to start my day with some stillness and quiet, away from devices and chatter, to ensure that I start my work day with a clear and open mind.

Since we started working from home a few months ago, I now dedicate my mornings to people check-ins either with my boss, team, or specific people I need to follow up with over a phone call or slack chat.

I’ve settled into a well-balanced routine with Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings dedicated to team meetings, leaving Tuesday and Thursday mornings flexible for check-ins with any individual who has been on my mind.

I’ve found that starting my day with a focus on people and organisational health has been effective in equipping me with the right information to prioritise my must-dos for that day. From that point, the day goes by in a flurry of emails, conversations, meetings, more coffee with a healthy dose of laughter and fun mixed in.

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

For the longest time I thought it meant working 9-5, switching off my work brain and having “me-time” for the balance of the evening.

As I progressed in my career, for many years, I felt like a failure each time the clock ticked over past 5pm with many tasks yet to get through, or each time I answered work emails from home.

Now I realise that work-life balance should be my goal for the week, not the day. Some days will naturally demand more time at work and not giving your work that 100% focus will ultimately do yourself a disservice.

I feel well-balanced when I am satisfied with my chosen priorities for the week, important tasks are in motion, my conversations are uplifting, the people interacting with me are motivated and encouraged – at work and outside of work.

There are several things I practice at work to help me achieve balance:

  • Be mentally present for every conversation.
  • Be honest and realistic when you choose your must-dos. Then, own your decision to include it even if the list is long.
  • Carve out personal breaks for yourself daily even if it’s 10 mins. Be intentional about taking a pause, free from distraction, in this time.

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

Every morning I spend some time by myself in stillness before the work day begins and this has become the most rewarding practice.

It took a few months to turn this into a routine (it is still difficult on cold mornings!) but I highly recommend this practice to anyone whose day is a fast-paced stream of tasks and questions demanding your attention from the get go.

This quiet time is normally used for learning a new self-improvement life skill from a podcast, or at other times I might reflect on recent events and ask myself “what can I do differently?” or “what have I learnt?”.

Removing chatter, device distractions and intentionally focusing this time on self-improvement has served to refresh my mind, sharpen my thoughts and energise me for the day ahead.

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

I’ve been a subscriber of Robert Glazer’s leadership newsletters for a while now. I first came across his series when I was searching for resources to define good workplace culture. Highly recommended for his pragmatic advice and tools that you can easily apply to any professional life situation.

I’m also an avid consumer of podcasts with the daily topic generally changing based on how calm or turbulent my work week is shaping up to be.

But my favourite go-to podcast that I regularly listen to is Rick Warren’s daily self-improvement channel. His 20 minute teachings are easy to digest, organised by topic, making it easy to pick a topic most relevant to my week.

It has helped me with wisdom in approaching a difficult situation, tips to remaining optimistic and supporting others, plus many other good practices to adopt in life.

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

Although I use messaging apps and Spotify the most in my day-to-day, I would be lost without my Notes and Reminders list.

Both apps are synced across all my devices and it is handy for recording new ideas, interesting articles I want to share, a random thought that I want to follow up later, the list goes on. Inspiration strikes me at any moment and I like being able to record my thought bubbles no matter where I am, anytime.

I also get very excited by products and gadgets that help me get through routine tasks quicker and more efficiently and love trying out new products hoping to discover my next “can’t live without” product (avocado saver anyone?). But the gadgets I would struggle to get by without daily are my garment steamer, Nespresso coffee machine and robot vacuum.

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

I would encourage everyone to define your own unique benchmark for a balanced life and not aspire to achieve someone else’s version. You’ll know you are spending time in the right places when you end the week feeling fulfilled and satisfied. Keep trying multiple versions, dare to fail until you get it just right.

People Managers and Mentors also have an important role to play in this. You need to provide a safe environment for your people to get it wrong, continuously give guidance and encouragement to help them find the right balance, for any life stage they may be in.

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This conversation is brought to you by marketing data consultancy Venntifact, helping organisations build and enable high-performance digital teams to harness data and technology assets, empowering digital innovation.

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.