Balancing the Grind with Lewis Shields, Head of Social Media & Influencer at Herd MSL

Lewis Shields is the Head of Social Media & Influencer at Herd MSL, one of Australia’s largest and most awarded group of agencies; N2N Communications, Fuel Communications and Touch Creative.

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

I head up social and content marketing at Herd MSL. My role is pretty broad, and I spend most of my time consulting with clients on their strategy, and leading teams to execute. 

I’ve been at Herd MSL for close to seven years, starting as the agency’s first social hire, and have been responsible for building out the practice.

Before living in Australia, I worked in a PR firm in London for six years – again focussing on social media and content marketing.

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

I usually get up around 6.30 am – get showered, take the dog out, and squeeze in some piano practice.  Working from home, I tend to get online a little bit earlier and take more regular breaks throughout the day.  

In terms of an ideal day – I like spinning plates. My day will include time getting deep on data and trends, checking in with clients, some creative exercises, developing agency thought leadership and marketing, and a coffee or two with someone in the industry.  I work best when I have a lot of variety and can cross-pollinate information and ideas.

After work – I’ll read, see a friend for supper, or get into a good show (I’m currently watching American Gods, which is amazing).

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

Absolutely.  Even prior to COVID, flexible working was commonplace.  Herd MSL’s parent company – Publicis Groupe Australia – championed Publicis Liberte in early Feb which was about establishing behaviours around flexible working, rather than rules. 

I believe that the freedom to work and when and how you need to is essential to get the best out of people.  The structure of  9-5 in the office is archaic and doesn’t marry with the complex needs of people. 

If we’re producing outstanding work, and are engaged with our teams and our clients – why should it matter where and how it’s done?

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

To me, it means being able to manage my energy.  I’m lucky to get a lot of energy from the work I do, and I know that doing only that for long periods of time depletes it. When that happens, I need to focus on other things which also give me energy, such as being in nature, meditation, going to a gallery, or seeing friends. 

Work-life balance allows me to better manage my energy through the day, week and year so that I can be productive and engaged with whatever I’m doing – in or out of work.

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

This year I’ve focussed on creating and maintaining a healthy routine with daily rituals.  I’m the kind of person who naturally steers away from too much structure, and I’ve found that building consistency in my days allows me to be more productive. 

For me, it was the simple things – getting up and going to bed at the same time, eating times, when I walk the dog, etc. Having these in place gives me more energy to focus on the bigger problems in life.

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

I read a lot, for work and pleasure.  Two of the best books I read this year were Dare to Lead by Brene Brown which gave me very useful insights and language to bring vulnerable discussions into the workplace. 

The second is the Velvet Rage, a book that tries to decipher some of the false beliefs gay men create for themselves growing up in a straight society, and practical tips which facilitate and encourage you to be your authentic self.

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

Headspace and Calm are my go-to’s, as well as my step counter.  I spend a lot of time on Reddit finding inspiration and researching whatever takes my fancy.

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

It would have to be Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez – I find her deeply inspirational.

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

It’s deeply important to be aware of and connected to your energy.  Only then can you charge, protect and dedicate it to what you choose – rather than letting others do it for you.

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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.