LeighAnna Webb is the Senior Video Producer at Twilio, a company that has virtualized the world’s communications infrastructure through APIs.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
I got my start in social media production on the agency side. I had just graduated from UTS (University of Technology Sydney) and wrapped up an internship at a not for profit called ICE or Information Cultural Exchange. They focussed on initiating Community Cultural Development programs that engaged culturally diverse communities in art activities and ensured access to information and technology.
I remember one day they asked me to do the social media content for TED X Parramatta (they were hosts) and I jumped on it with a young professional’s eagerness. After that, I started looking for roles in Social Media and landed a job at DDB Sydney where I worked on creating content for Tim Tam, Volkswagen, Extra, Carefree, BWS and Telstra.
There were months where content budgets were low and me and the team would build light boxes with foam board and parchment paper; clipping lights up to make video clips or still images I had planned on the calendar that month.
I learned a lot at DDB and I credit my time there as the foundation to my career success. Agencies are like no other place you get to touch so many industries and personas and work with talent that is out of this world.
I eventually wanted a little more work life balance than DDB provided though so I moved onto Indeed Inc and moved back to the states to be closer to family. Tech was a totally different ball park and I went from being the service provider to being the client.
That alone is such an important balance because now you know what agencies do to make your whims and requests come to life and so your working relationships are stronger and more empathetic. I think every professional should work on the agency side at some point in their career.
I grew exponentially at Indeed gaining global experience and branching out into podcasts, documentary ads, and more. Indeed provided learning budgets for employees so I used it to take editing and colour correction courses at the Manhattan Edit Workshop and a documentary production course at the University of Texas, Austin.
I learned Adobe Premiere Pro and camera gear/audio gear and then essentially used it to launch our own Lead with Indeed podcasts and recruiter documentary series. One thing sort of led to the other and as my skills grew and Indeed grew I decided it was time for a change and I went to Twilio, my current role as Senior Video Producer. I work on video and podcast here and am currently overseeing the production of all video content for SIGNAL our global conference.
2) What does a day in your life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
My days always start with a cup of coffee. Feet hit the floor and I’m off to the kitchen on a one track mind for my cup of joe. Once I have my coffee in hand I head to my office/ yoga room where I meditate, do a tarot read for the day, then get dressed and log on to my computer.
I check my emails and Slack channels for any comms that come in overnight and quickly plan my day by a glance at the calendar to know when I have meetings, appointments, etc. I normally take a few minutes jot down a to do list and If I’m super busy I limit my time on certain activities.
For example, I’ll give myself 30 minutes to review something and one hour to work on scripting and I time it and then move on. I will say, my days never look the same as it depends on what phase of a production I am in. Some days may be interviewing contractors or vendors for upcoming projects and drafting SOW’s, others are crafting production schedules for videos, podcasts, and lately virtual events.
On the glamorous days, I’m on a set either using Riverside.FM in a virtual studio setting or I am on a physical set travelling and giving direction to talent and camera/lighting as a brand guardian. Other days I am locked at my desk reviewing edits or making edits to audio or footage. And on my less glamorous days I’m budget tracking, forecasting, and updating project statuses. Sometimes I do all of those things in one day.
I will say I am a big fan of asynchronous work and promote using Loom, one of my favourite tools whenever I can. I’m not a fan of pointless meetings that don’t have agendas or outcomes and break the flow of work for individuals so I will often record myself or my screen using loom and send a quick note to a team member or a contractor to review on their time and respond when works best for their time frame.
In the afternoons, I like to take an hour to go on a walk, food prep, or do something creative to rejuvenate and re-energize the afternoon slump. Texas heat does not always allow for a walk so I often find myself doing indoor yoga or other self care methods to break up my day. And I end my day checking in with my team since we all work remote and in different time zones to make sure no one needs anything before I log off for the day. I try to keep work and home sanitation as best as possible.
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
Yes! Twilio is a 100 percent remote working company and employees can live and work from anywhere. I think post COVID this is the new norm. We have proven that our jobs get done and the world does not fall apart when we work from home.
In fact, not only does it save real estate costs for companies but it also saves commuting costs and time for workers. Workers can now do that laundry or get dinner started all while also doing a great job in their careers.
For me, I can’t imagine going back to a fully in person role. I love the flexibility that a remote job offers. I can go for afternoon walks, meet a friend for lunch, run an errand, attend my doctors appointments, meet colleagues early for a Friday Happy Hour and still get my work done. It all goes back to the work smarter not harder philosophy. I will say, I am a social person though so a part of me would not be opposed to once a week in a physical office location.
I did feel more connected to colleagues and made more work place friends when I worked a non working from home role. It’s not to say you can’t do it remotely. I think it just takes longer to get to that level of bonding. I also sort of miss getting ready for the office. I definitely put more effort into my outfits and getting ready when I had a place to go.
A lot of times now I say it’s business on top and party on the bottom or in other words business casual shirts and house pants or pyjamas on the bottom. I wish I could say that made me shop less but it’s probably the opposite haha. I have such a wonderful work life balance that I have time and energy to do things like go shopping and after a full day at the office I often didn’t do those things.
So while there are pros and cons to both ways of working I personally prefer the remote environment for reasons above and also for the environmental benefits.
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
Work life balance means being able to do the things you need to do while also still hitting your deadlines and commitments at your job. It means having a role, company and culture that understands that life happens and that you have priorities and commitments that fall outside of the traditional 9-5 model.
It means having team members who jump in to help when you are overloaded and it means helping teammates when they too are overloaded. A core part of work life balance is communication. Trust your teammates will get the things they say they will do done and don’t micromanage how they do it or when they do it.
As long as the work is done it doesn’t matter if they work best between 3 AM and 10 AM or if they log off every day between 3-6 PM to pick up kids and get them to sleep only to log on later that evening. A work life balance is literally showing up for both in a way that accommodates both priorities and to do that jobs have to be flexible on the hours you work and lives have to also accommodate sometimes for the top priorities at work.
I am in constant communication with my team. If I’m ducking out early one afternoon I let people know a couple days in advance and I make sure any of my deadlines or commitments are taken care of before then. That is the key to all of it. Sure, I may log on later one day too but I always take care to make sure my team knows I have their back and I know they have mine.
I won’t commit to a deadline or a project I know I can’t hit and then kill myself to do it. You know why? Because then they will expect that of me or my team every time. I’m not saying I’m lazy or I pad my schedules. I don’t. I set realistic deadlines and I say no when I need to in order to protect my well being and my team.
If everyone is stressed and overworked details get missed, deadlines fall behind, and happiness dwindles. When coworkersI see others practise work-life balance boundaries it has a snowball effect and the culture starts to shift and people are happier and more willing to help.
5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
Great question. Basically towards the tail end of COVID I read Bright Line Eating by Susan Pierce Thompson and Atomic Habits by James Clear and I overhauled my day to day life. Before this I was always resistant to routine and liked to think of myself as a fly by the seat of my pants gal.
But I’m telling you habit stacking and routines were a game changer. I even started tracking my mood in relation to my habits and was able to identify which habits had the biggest influence on my mental health. So I cut out flour and sugar in my foods and crafted my days like I wanted them to look.
Morning habit stack: 7:30- 8:30 AM wake up and get coffee. Coffee cues me to meditate, read an excerpt and do a tarot read. Then I get dressed quickly, grab breakfast which cues me to take my vitamins and I login to my computer for work.
Most days at 2 or 3 PM is my cue for walking, yoga, or a fitness class whatever fits for that day but doing some sort of movement. The evenings I do a gratitude journal, a habit tracker and a daily question with my partner. The weekends I relax a little on the routines and do food planning and prep instead of the daily rundown above.
I think the most helpful saying I learned this year is the ceiling and the floor. And how this works is what kind of person do you want to be or what sort of identity do you want to build? If you want to be a walker then walk.
Some days may be so busy that you literally walk around the block once that is the floor but you still showed up and walked as someone who walks. Other days you have tons of energy and free time and you walk 5 miles that is the ceiling. Both days you were a walker but it came down to you showing up for yourself and you did what you said you were going to do.
You built trust with yourself and laid a brick on the foundation of being able to trust yourself. It’s like mimicry. Copy the behaviours you want to become a part of your identity and then do them no matter how big or small. Science shows it takes 66 days on average for something to become automatic or become habitual. So stick with it!
6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
Yes yes and yes!
All time favourite book is Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts but other great reads are Atomic Habits by James Clear. He also has a newsletter I recommend signing up for.
The Book of Awakening is what I read an excerpt from each morning when I meditate and it’s dated for 365 days.
Cosmic Compass if you are into aligning your energy cycles with planetary alignments for the year.
Daily Stoic is a newsletter using ancient philosopher wisdom applied to everyday life. I recommend subscribing to it along with Notes from the Universe that sends you a daily note to yourself that is always a lovely surprise to receive and read.
7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?
Loom I mentioned above I use all the time to replace unnecessary meetings but still stay connected.
Riverside.FM has changed the virtual recording space and is way more affordable than Open Reel.
My 5 year gratitude journal.
8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
Christine Shuler, Travel Channel Executive Producer or Susan Pierce Thompson, founder of Bright Line Eating.
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