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Balancing the Grind with Liam Pietzka, Founder & Director of Brightbox Consulting

Liam Pietzka is the founder and director of Brightbox Consulting, a recruitment agency with a focus on the digital, marketing and creative spaces.

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

I have been working in recruitment for over 10 years now, ‘stumbling’ into the industry after studying drama and theatre at university.

A friend was working in recruitment and thought my drama and theatre background would be a good baseline as recruitment is all about dealing with people and having the confidence to network and build relationships.

The reason I say ‘stumbling’ is because I don’t know many people that have fully planned on getting into recruitment. Generally, once you’re in it can either grab hold of you or push you out just as quickly, but that’s because it’s not for everyone.

For me personally, I connected with the industry very quickly. I enjoy being challenged every day, and there is not one day that has gone by that hasn’t challenged and tested me.

After spending 5-6 years working in Cardiff and London, I joined a boutique Digital and Creative recruitment agency when arriving in Sydney in 2013, and gradually grew my role as General Manager of their Sydney business. After 6 years in the role I decided to leave to pursue my dream of starting my own business.

It has been incredibly rewarding, although equally challenging at times considering I opened my business at just before COVID took the world by storm. But this has taught me a great deal about what it takes to make a business successful, and how a business can adapt to help react to a greater problem which is supporting others at a time of need.

I am now the Director and Founder of Brightbox Consulting and am loving every minute.

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

I wake early, grab a coffee and walk to work. I always make sure I take time to eat breakfast as I believe this puts me in the right headspace to start the day.

If I feel like I haven’t woken with the calmest mindset, I run through a quick meditation cycle (I highly recommend the Waking Up app by Sam Harris).

Once I arrive at my desk, I start putting together my daily lists and then I’m ready to go. I am a firm believer that you need to get to the end of the week with a clear plan of how the week ahead is looking, as this can play a big part in how you feel towards the end of each week.

I have always been taught that ‘swallowing the frog’ is an important part of the morning ritual, so I always prioritise the more challenging tasks first. I never push these things to the end of the day as it can cloud your judgement throughout the day and feel like a dark cloud looming over you.

In the industry you need to strike a balance of being proactive and reactive, so being organised is a very important part.

Every week I always try to throw something particularly innovative and challenging in the mix, whether this is planning my next webinar or speaking at an industry event webinar. Personal brand is critical in our industry, and sharing knowledge is the best way to speak to your communities.

I am all about building passive talent communities, and opportunity will come your way if your message and commitment to the space is considered and relevant. If I am not talking to people or building relationships every day, I am not doing my job.

Exercise always makes me feel more positive and motivated and makes up an integral part of the day for me. It can burn off negative energy and can help me think more clearly. Running in particular is a great stress burner.

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

Brightbox is my own business so I can be as flexible and remote as I need to be, in saying that though I still like structure as it allows me to get to the end of each day feeling like I have gotten the most out of each day.

I made the conscious decision a few weeks ago to move back to an office environment full time. Separating work and home life is incredibly important to me, and something I have struggled with a bit over the past few months.

In saying that, I also like variation so can often be found working at a local café when I need a change of scene. As my business continues to scale and grow, flexibility will form a huge part of it’s make up. The world has changed, and what people want, and need has changed when it comes to balance.

I would like to grow a business that allows out-put to be the main driver, and it doesn’t matter where you are providing you are delivering in your role. Flexibility can mean so many things to so many people, and you need to work out what works for people on an individual level.

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

I think recent times have taught us a great deal about what’s important, and when your hand is forced to work in isolation it teaches you a great deal about what works for you.

Once you accept the inevitable it is easier for you to adapt the way you work to create more balance. For me personally, a quick meditation cycle of a walk around the block has stopped me from feeling boxed in, and I try to start with this most mornings if I can.

Work-life balance means being able to separate work from life, and this can be hard to remember sometimes. We all get caught up in the pressures of work and can sometimes forget about other things that are important to life.

I didn’t realise how important it is to me to connect with family and friends, and I now ensure this is a big part of my weekly routine. A check-in with loved ones really grounds me and helps me keep things in check. I ran a webinar recently on ‘Empathy and Human Connection’ and it is very clear that people need human connection now more than ever.

The physicality of moving into an office has also helped me to separate home from work. I try to leave my laptop at work where I can, so I’m not tempted to jump online.

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5) What do you think are some of the best habits or routines that you’ve developed over the years to help you achieve success in your life?

If you ask anyone that has worked with me, they would probably say I can be a bit of a perfectionist, although I’m not saying that this can always be a good thing!

Someone once told me that you can’t try to manage the things you can’t control, and that has almost been a mantra I have used when I feel myself growing in impatience.

I also believe that stress can build through ambiguity, so writing lists can provide clarity when you need it. What are the critical things you need to do each day, and then what are the things you should do if you could? End each day with a list of things to tackle the next day as this can help you feel in control as soon as you get to your desk.

When I need to clear my mind, I make sure I take time to myself; I go for a walk around Hyde Park or Circular Quay. Reminding ourselves how lucky we are is so important and can offer perspective – we live in one of the most beautiful Cities in the world after all and it’s important to take that in.

6) Are there any books that have helped you improve over the years?

Brene Brown is one of my authors, and The Power of Vulnerability: Teachings of Authenticity, Connection, and Courage is one my favourite of her books. In this book she dispels the cultural myth that vulnerability is weakness and reveals that it is, in truth, our most accurate measure of courage.

For me this is a very powerful message, as it really makes me think about how this can be applied when interacting with people. I used to be afraid of showing vulnerability in business, but it has taught me that it can also be one of the best connectors and can lead to very long relationships with people.

My mum also recently sent me a book for my birthday called, The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie McKay. At first glance it looks like a children’s book; full of pictures and not much written on each page. But as you read through it really teaches you about what’s important, offering inspiration and hope in uncertain times.

7) What is the number one thing you do to make sure you get the most out of your day?

A quick meditation cycle in the morning helps me to feel focused!

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

Tough one, perhaps Brene Brown.

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

It is so important to take time out to work out what works for you, we are all different and therefore now is a good time to learn about what’s important. And be kind to yourself. As Charlie McKay says: “Try to speak to yourself as kindly as we do”.

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About Author

Balance The Grind gives me a platform to talk to these people about how they're achieving their ideal lifestyle. I'm inspired by the passion, the work ethic, the hustle; and these conversations motivate me to live life the way I want to live it.