Interviews / Marketing & Advertising / PR & Communications

Balancing the Grind with Natalie Dean-Weymark, Co-founder of Compass Studio

Natalie Dean-Weymark is the co-founder and co-director of Compass Studio, a certified B Corp marketing agency that focuses on doing good work for brands doing good in the world. 

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

I spent the good portion of my career in publishing on the commercial side.. It was a career path that not only gave me a holistic understanding of the Australian media landscape, but also sparked the concept that we marketers have the ability to influence and sway consumer buying decisions – and how you use that power matters. 

It was out of this idea thatCompass Studio was born in a little Bondi flat that my husband Luke and I shared at the time.

To cut a long story short, we were both increasingly hungry for purpose and eager to apply our expertise to something that mattered beyond just the bottom line. We recognised that we weren’t scientists, nordoctors, but we were marketers, so that was the position from which we set out to positively impact the world. 

Now, almost four years in, Compass Studio is an impact-led PR & Digital Marketing agency that works with some of Australia and the world’s best brands in the ethical, environmental and sustainability space. 

Alongside Luke, I’m the co-founder and co-director of Compass; which is an extremely full and and ever evolving role that divides myday between my incredibly talented team and partners, countless spreadsheets and business logistics, the overseeing of all Compass’ brand and marketing activities.

We’re also continuously trying to level-up in terms of our better business certification and accreditations. We are in fact Australia’s youngest agency to be B Corp Certified and we are just one month away from being carbon neutral.

Then my other role is being mum to my almost 3 year old Darcy and incubator to our second little family member, who is due later this year. It’s this role as a parent that grounds me most in reality, gives me perspective and the gift of a hard stop to the end of each work day. There isn’t quite any deadline as pressing as a toddler who is impatient to get outside and enjoy the afternoon immediately!

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

I would love to say that each day started with meditation, movement and sunrise – but as a mother and business owner, everyday needs to just find it’s own rhythm,relative to that moment in time. 

I practice Vedic Meditation, so the ideal day would start with this, but some might start with pilates, a 5am meeting with international clients or with a toddler in my bed watching Bluey. I’m someone who used to be very attached to a routine, but I think when we let go of a tightly held expectation of how things should be, we leave more room for what the present can bring. 

After coffee (always coffee!), it’s usually a Google hangouts stand-up meeting with our team. Being a remote team, this time allows us to connect and share both our agenda and challenges for the day, which sets the pace and priorities. 

As a founder, I try to focus on the 5% theory – that is, what do I have to offer our team, partners and the community that only I personally can offer? This idea dictates my Asana priorities list, in terms of what gets actioned and what can wait. 

Luke and I always aim to finish at 4pm to pick up our son and get outside to enjoy some sunshine and saltwater. I think the combination of the two can reset even the most chaotic of days and definitely is a clear divider between our time and relationship as co-directors vs. husband and wife. 

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

Yes, we embrace a nimble workplace – which means we connect in person at a co-working space once a week on a Monday for planning, in-personal collaborating, 1:1 leadership meetings and a lot of IRL laughs – and the rest of the week is remote for the whole team.

For me, this set-up is the ideal. I can have my dog at my feet while I work, my husband by my side and also be a present and very engaged mum for my son. We created the kind of company that we always wished to work for, and now have the honour of offering that to others.

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

I don’t think that there is such a thing as a work-life balance because it implies that perfect equilibrium can exist on an ongoing basis. It’s an impossible goal, and puts unrealistic expectations on leaders, workplaces and families.

What is possible for me is finding the flow of each day, week and month and ensuring that the scales aren’t tipped too far in any direction; that we are giving ourselves the opportunity for deep work and momentum, but also time offline and in the moment.

Some weeks we get it right, and other weeks are awfully stretching – but I think seeing this as our best efforts on the day, rather than a permanent way of being, makes it all the more manageable.

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

We moved house last year and I no longer have powerpoints next to my bed. This means that phones are in another room and I have to consciously get up to re-engage with it in the evenings or in the mornings (and being pregnant makes getting up no easy task).

This has really helped me slip out of over-stimulated mode and choose consciously when I engage with socials or my emails. 

In the words of the wise Arianna Huffington, “It’s not about using social media “less”. It is about using social media more intentionally. Learn, explore, get inspired, laugh. Don’t scroll mindlessly, do it mindfully instead.”

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

I have a terrible habit of always reading more than one book at a time; one usually business or parenting related, and the other pure fictional escapism. I absolutely love the latter and burn through my Wellread subscription each month. 

In terms of podcasts, One Wild Ride is my hands-down favourite in terms of inspiring leadership and business content. one of my brilliant l friends recently started We Don’t Have Time for This, which is a hilarious, wildly captivating and highly relatable take on the struggles and juggles of being a working parent. 

Asboth a marketer and someone who suffers from daily inbox overload, I’m probably overly critical in the newsletter department. Don’t like the design? Unsubscribe. Over-promising click-baity headline? Unsubscribe. Too many emails? Unsubscribe and mark as spam.

I’m ruthless. A particularly delightful and always useful eDM is the Compass Studio monthly newsletter that details what’s on our radar in terms of good business. Biased much?

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

Thanks to my son, I rarely need an alarm clock but when I do I use a sunrise alarm clock as it’s a gentle and more natural way to wake up. It also has a soft light that isn’t too overstimulating for evenings.

I also live my life, both professionally and personally, via my Asana list as it’s my greatest hack for not forgetting anything and remembering nothing at the same time. I think that once a task is  listed, you can temporarily put it aside. What a great lightener this is! 

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

There are so many voices on social media doing it all; working, maintaining and sustaining communities, raising families, prioritising self care, wellness and balance – that it’s easy to jump to question “How do they actually do it?”

But I think it’s useful to remember that what we see, read and witness of others’ lives is just a filter, and that we are all learning what balance looks like on that specific day. 

However, I’m interested in the stories that aren’t always showcased in the media as part of ‘hustle culture’. The stories of those that don’t have the support of financials, platforms or networks. The single parents. The financially and socially disadvantaged. Those not consciously considered as beacons of organisational optimism and inspiration. These are the true stories of resilience, optimism and perspective in which we could all learn from.

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

Loosen your grip. You can plan for the future but you can’t predict it, so let yourself off the hook. Everything passes – both good and bad, so there will be incredible periods and also really stressful ones. Find a flow within it, and know that with each new day holds the possibility to begin again. Congratulate each other on taking time out, not just taking on the world.

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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.