Marine Géraud is a freelance PR consultant, working with PR agencies and technology brands, as well as a yoga teacher, for the past two years.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
I started my career in France about 10 years ago. I graduated from a private Business School with a Masters in Marketing and Communications so a lot of different avenues were opened to me. With so much choice, it was hard to decide where to start my professional career!
I had done an internship in a PR agency 2 years before graduating, and thought PR might be a good start as I remembered enjoying the fast paced environment of the PR agency world, working very closely with different teams and journalists. I was also curious about understanding more about how the media worked.
I got in touch with that PR agency I had done my internship with, HK Strategies (it was still Hill & Knowlton back then) and got my first role as a junior consultant in the Enterprise Tech practice.
I knew nothing about tech – except from using my smartphone and computer basically – and I discovered a whole new, fascinating world that I didn’t know existed!
It sure looked like a very ‘geeky’ world on the outside, even boring to some people, but I loved it and was fascinated by how all those new technologies were literally transforming the way we lived, worked, and the way the world and our society as a whole was evolving.
10 years later, I am still in the enterprise tech PR world, as a Senior Account Director, and still loving it as technology has become one of the top growing industries in the world, with a lot of interesting projects to work on.
After several years working in Paris, first for HK Strategies and then for an international tech PR agency named Hotwire, I thought it was time for me to change scenery. I wanted to explore new horizons, discover a new culture and challenge myself both personally and professionally (I tend to get bored pretty easily and need change quite regularly).
That’s when I decided to move to Australia. I landed a role at Hotwire in Sydney where I have now been living for the past 5 years.
After a couple of years with Hotwire I moved onto a few other Australian agencies, and it’s then after 3 years that I thought I again needed a change. But this time, a deeper life change.
PR is a very fast-paced industry with a lot of pressure – actually public relations has been named the eighth most stressful job behind occupations like police officer, firefighter and airline pilot.
After 8 years in the PR industry I was exhausted, very stressed and struggled to keep a healthy work life balance. Also, I wasn’t sure where my life was headed, what was the meaning behind all those hours of work, putting in hours of work while desperately waiting for weekends and holidays.
I had started doing yoga a few years before, fell in love with it and with the peace and relaxation it brought me.
Practicing yoga every day slowly awakened me, made me realise that there was more to life than what I had previously dedicated time and energy to.
I wanted to create a life that was more meaningful, where my personal passions had a greater place and that was more flexible and mindful than a ‘Work Hard Play Hard’ mentality. I wanted to find my true self, my purpose and detach myself from the traditional corporate career I had spent almost a decade building.
So I quit my full time job, did a Yoga Teacher Training and went freelance.
It’s now been two years that I both freelance for PR agencies and technology brands, as well as teach yoga.
2) What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
Every day is so different!
I have two main activities: PR consulting and Yoga Teaching. Depending on the days, weeks, months I might be more focused on PR work or on Yoga teaching.
As I work for several organisations in my freelance PR role, I have to juggle with different working briefs every day, a lot of them coming through last minute so it can be quite challenging sometimes to handle everything.
As I mostly work from home, a typical day would involve spending about 30min to an hour in the morning preparing myself ahead of my day of work, taking some time to focus on myself before I open my laptop and dive into work.
I then tend to spend about 30min to organise my day, see what my business priorities are and make sure to lock in some time during the day to take regular breaks and prepare my Yoga classes if I am teaching that day.
I usually block 1h to 3h chunks of work at a time (not more because then I lose in productivity and that’s when stress can settle in). In between, I take regular breaks, even if it’s just 10-15min to clear my mind and move my body a bit.
At one point during the day, I might stop for an hour or more to teach an online Yoga class for example, or to do my own yoga practice to re-centre myself.
Yoga has been such an amazing teacher to help balance my life and quiet my mind, especially during those stressful times where work can get a bit crazy.
This is why I also teach weekly yoga classes to the main PR agency I freelance for – it’s all online at the moment due to Covid-19 and physical gathering restrictions. We take 25min every Thursday to do very gentle stretches and a bit of mindfulness and breathing exercises.
Trust me, just 20-30minutes of that a day can radically change how you feel, both physically, emotionally and mentally!
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
My current role is all about flexible and remote working! This is why I have chosen the freelance path and also decided to balance corporate work with another activity that is more of a personal passion and just makes me feel good and grounded.
It can be challenging sometimes as you need to be very organised – when you don’t have the structure from a company and a team around you, you basically have the complete freedom to organise your days the way you want.
But when you’re not used to that freedom you can easily become overwhelmed, and not know where to start. While freedom is great, structure and routine is equally important to stay balanced.
I try to balance working alone at home with sometimes working from cafes, or going into the office of the companies I work for so I get that human interaction and get to talk face to face with the teams I most of the time only work with on email and phone.
This human element is very important to stay balanced I think, and also gives more meaning to your work and life in general.
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
For me, work-life balance is not only about ‘balancing’ work with other activities that are important to you. It means living a meaningful life.
It’s easy to get very absorbed with work, with a career and professional objectives, with the next promotion you want to get. Work life balance is more than just going to the gym before work and making time to have dinner with friends one evening in the week.
Work-life balance, for me, is about finding a deeper sense of life, finding who you are as a person, what’s your identity outside of work and building a path for a healthy life in the long term, so you don’t turn back on your life in 50 years and realise that you have lost yourself in your job and wasted unnecessary amounts of energy in stressing for things that ultimately aren’t vital.
Now, finding that balance is hard! It’s actually a life-long journey I think.
To achieve work life balance, the key is to be constantly aware and mindful of your needs. It’s not a set and forget process. As humans our needs constantly evolve, depending on our age, where we are at in life, what work requires from us, what our personal priorities are. All those elements are continuously changing.
Finding balance needs to evolve alongside those changes in both your external and internal circumstances. It means being present with what you need at every single moment.
Every year, every month, every day you need to define what that balance looks like at one set moment in time, what you might need to change, what would be good for you to both be productive and nurture yourself.
5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
Something that I have started doing – and that remains a struggle sometimes if I’m being honest – is to spend some time not connected to my Smartphone or computer, especially before going to bed.
It might seem like something very basic, but not an easy task in today’s hyper-connected world! We’re connected all day for work, and then we continue using our smartphones, computers or smart watches to check-in on our friends, go on social media, watch movies, do some personal admin, etc.
Stopping looking at screens consistently throughout the day – even if it’s just for short amounts of time is really important to create some headspace and calm the nervous system that can get quite overwhelmed with stress and hyper digital connectivity.
Instead of watching my phone or a TV show on Netflix in the evening, I have started listening to podcasts or audiobooks. I also sometimes do meditations designed to help sleep better.
Thanks to my Yoga training I have also learned breathing techniques that are really useful to help quiet the mind and relax the body, both throughout the day and before going to bed.
6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
I have a ton. Not surprisingly most of the below is centred around personal development and mindfulness.
In terms of books/audiobooks, I recommend the following:
- The Power of Now, Eckart Tolle (this book has literally changed my life!)
- When Things Fall Apart, Pedma Chodron (great guide inspired from Buddhist teachings)
- Man, Nature and the Nature of Man, Alan Watts (Alan Watts is a famous Canadian philosopher. His teachings are beautiful and inspirational)
- Life Will Be The Death of Me, Chelsea Handler (NewYork Times Best Selling author and book. Very funny but at the same time addresses the question of finding purpose in life, and overcoming traumas and negative/non-constructive thought patterns)
- Awaken Radio with Connie Chapman – This Bondi girl has a very inspirational podcast that helps people slow down and tune in to their inner self, and better address their emotional, mental and physical needs with a mindful approach.
- Stuff You Should Know – I LOVE this podcast! Just a good one to listen to every week to gain more knowledge on a wide variety of topics – and beat everyone on Trivia nights.
- Daniel & Jorge Explain The Universe – This one is more for the geeks, but if you’re fascinated by how the Universe works this is for you. You’ll be mind blown by what those two physicists share.
- Ram Dass, Here and Now – This Podcast shares extracts of old talks from the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s from spiritual guide Ram Dass who started as a researcher at Harvard, working on how psychedelic drugs can help people with overcoming psychological issues to later travel India and become a worldly respected spiritual guide
7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?
- Headspace – Great meditation app. The program starts with free 10 min daily mindfulness meditations. Their library has hundreds of meditations, some of them designed for specific purposes such as creativity, productivity, anxiety, stress, depression, sleep. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
- Calm – Again a great meditation app that also has other types of content that can help quiet the mind and relax the body. I love their ‘Sleep stories’ and nature sounds playlists (I often listen to those before going to bed).
- Time Buddy – This one’s a very practical one! Working with many clients across ANZ, APAC, Europe and the U.S this is often a life saver in terms of handling time zones and planning calls & meetings with different stakeholders in different geographical locations.
- Spending – A great app to keep track of your expenses and income and understand where you spend your money. You can create your own spending categories, and access detailed graphics of your spendings. I find it extremely useful to help manage my budget and make savings – in particular as my income changes from month to month.
8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
I’d love to hear from Leilani Abels, the founder and CEO of Thrive PR which is an amazing PR agency that I have been freelancing for for over a year now.
Lei created Thrive when she was only 25 years old and has now expanded the agency across two countries, five cities and with close to 100x staff.
This is a very inspirational success story, and Lei has a pretty unique way of managing both the business and her teams, running all the business as usual activities while constantly looking at new ways of doing things and innovating.
It’s quite impressive to see how she handles everything while also dedicating time to her family life and to staying active outside of work.
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
Work life balance starts NOW! It’s easy to postpone things that would make us feel better in our lives, whether it is physical, emotional or mental.. We’re often so caught up in work and in our apparent immediate priorities that we push slowing down or making time for ourselves to later, to the weekend, to that next holiday in 2 months.
But work life balance needs to happen every day. Balancing 3 very stressful months of work with a 2-week holiday is not really how you create balance. You’re just going from one extreme to the other without allowing yourself to feel balanced every day. This is not sustainable.
Think about the tiny things that you can implement in your everyday life, because it starts here with small changes that you make every day.
Also, it’s important to sometimes truly take some time to think about whether you’re happy, what life means to me, and what are your life goals beyond work. What is core to your personal values, what you want to achieve as an individual on this planet.
Don’t hesitate to take risks if like me you feel that the 9 to 5, full time job model is not for you anymore and you want to create more and deeper meaning in your life. Taking that first step towards creating a new, more balanced life is always a bit scary, but once you’ve made that first step then the path starts to build itself pretty organically, trust me.
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