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Balancing the Grind with Michael Laps, Co-Founder & Director of Yoghurt Digital

Michael Laps is the Co-Founder & Director of Yoghurt Digital, a Sydney-based digital marketing marketing agency specialising in SEO, paid media and conversion optimisation.

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

My current role is Co-Founder and Strategy Director at Yoghurt Digital, a Sydney-based digital marketing marketing agency specialising in SEO, paid media and conversion optimisation.

I’m a strategist by training and by nature, having spent the last decade working in client-facing roles at agencies. My passion is helping companies solve problems and drive growth using digital marketing channels, which is what led me to co-found Yoghurt almost six years ago.

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

One of the things about running an agency is that no two days are alike. You’re always switching gears between working with clients, working on the agency, and working with our team.

A common day for me usually consists of around 4-5 hours of meetings – usually a catch up with my business partners, touching base with our client services and sales teams, speaking with existing clients, and talking to prospective clients. Beyond that, I’m also involved in marketing initiatives for the agency, so that keeps me pretty busy.

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

Absolutely! In fact my role is totally dependent on flexible / remote working, because routine is the one thing I don’t have the luxury of. Being able to work remotely allows me to help grow the agency while also keeping across what’s happening with the team.

Before coronavirus hit Australian shores I spent almost half of my day on the road, plus I was interstate every 3-4 weeks. I’ve become accustomed to working from just about anywhere – the back of an Uber, an airport lounge, a hotel bed, or an airplane seat.

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

To be honest, I can’t say this has been a strength of mine in the past. I think most entrepreneurs and business owners would attest to the mentality of being mentally active 24/7 – particularly in the early days when the business’ growth is completely dependent on the effort you’re putting in.

But in the last couple of years, as our team has grown rapidly and taken on more responsibility, we don’t have to carry as much of the load and can better balance work with life.

So while it’s hard to have a routine at work, outside of work I’m much more diligent in making sure I’m giving myself the fuel I need to stay motivated. This usually involves regular exercise, eating as healthy as possible, carving out time for family and friends, and switching off emails in the early evening to avoid getting sucked in to working late.

Yoghurt Digital founders from left to right: Michael Laps, Strategy Director, Ian Fong, Data & Analytics Director, Matthew Forzan, SEO Director

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?

It’s important to remember that there’s no point in sacrificing the things that make you happy outside of work, because those are the same things you’re working so hard to be able to do.

Time spent laughing with friends, exploring the world, our just being lazy and recharging are critical to your ability to be effective at work. It’s what makes the work worthwhile, which is why if you’re unmotivated and unfulfilled outside of work, you’re unlikely to be productive in the office.

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

I highly recommend reading Ego Is The Enemy by Ryan Holiday, and Never Split The Difference by Chris Voss. Both brilliant books with incredible, actionable lessons on life and business.

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

Every day I set myself one task that I absolutely have to complete – no matter what. It’s usually the thing that’s the highest priority for me at the time, but by making it my sole priority I avoid being derailed by the many things that inevitably come up during the day.

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

There’s a few people I’d be interested in learning from, but I’d say Bill Gates and Warren Buffet are at the top of the list, closely followed by Elon Musk and Richard Branson.

All four of them are titans in their respective fields, but beyond that have shown an ability to simultaneously run multiple, highly successful businesses while also finding time to actually live their life.

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

Working 80 – 100 hour weeks might allow you get a lot done, but you’ll burn out and, ultimately, be miserable. The name of the game is happiness, and sacrificing the things that bring your life joy and meaning will make all of your accomplishments at work feel empty.

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About Author

Balance the Grind is a work-life balance publication on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.