Balancing the Grind with Natalie Giddings, Managing Director at The Remarkables Group

Natalie Giddings is the Managing Director at The Remarkables Group, an influencer marketing agency specialising in strategy and managing brands’ influencer programs.

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

For the last four years, I’ve been the Managing Director at The Remarkables Group. We are an influencer marketing agency specialising in strategy and managing brands’ influencer programs end-to-end, usually on a long-term basis. 

Complimenting this role, I am also the host of a show about social media and Influencer marketing on news channel Ticker TV. Learning to present live TV in 2020 was a huge stretch for me, but altogether satisfying. 

Back in 2007, my very first marketing role was with an IT infrastructure business offering remote desktops and VOIP. The ability to be able to work anywhere, anytime was drilled into my DNA. One of the blessings of COVID-19, was to see this become mainstream. 

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

I’m not going to lie, staying current in our industry means I start the day consuming a lot of social media and industry news. It’s our role to identify the latest opportunities with multiple content creators and to stay on top of the, almost-weekly, advances in the online channels we work in. 

Something I’ve learned about myself is that if I don’t make room for new ideas and thinking, I tend to get weary of the day-to-day. I’m a very early riser, so fortunately this works. I always have my pooch by my side and a strong coffee in hand. 

My team is international, across multiple time zones, so a couple of days a week we’ll have early-morning team huddles or evening video calls with London. These are then followed by dipping into Basecamp to see the priorities for the coming week or day and checking in on various threads on Slack.

To this day I still write a daily to-do list, my dad taught me long ago to number the tasks in order of importance to avoid getting bogged down.  

From mid-morning. I’ll always pop on a Spotify playlist to concentrate and knuckle down on the deeper thinking tasks. 

I love to collaborate with various people, so relationships are a personal focus of mine. Afternoons are filled with talent ideation calls and client WIPs. Pre-COVID this meant a lot of travelling and face-to-face. 

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

To make remarkable work, I consider many of the content creators we work with (many of them running their own small businesses from home, around families) an extension of our team.

They are a part of our engine room of ideas. So my team and I need to be as accessible as possible, to a very large group of people at any one time.  Maintaining those ongoing conversations about projects requires very purposeful and effective time management. 

For me, afternoons allow the ability to conduct face-to-face calls. For others in my team their most productive hours might be at the other end of the day. Flexible working allows each individual to work at their full potential.

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

Admittedly, I’m always in two minds about the notion of “work-life balance”. In order to achieve great things, there is no avoiding hard work. I am slightly obsessed with productivity and staying organised.

The daily routine I described above is intense, but the flexible working arrangement I’ve set up at The Remarkables Group, creates space to head out on a walk or personal appointment.

Especially as a mother of three myself, having the flexibility to keep on top of life admin or make healthy choices is crucial to a healthy and happy mind. 

Another personal habit that has made a huge impact is nutritious meal prepping on a Sunday evening with my husband. I cannot live without my weekly veggie count and have maintained this even through covid. 

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

I’m still trialling this, and I haven’t moved past the inevitable pang of guilt every couple of days, but I haven’t turned my emails back on in my phone since coming back from Christmas holidays.

I figure that I live at my desk due to the pandemic, so during the rare times I’m not there I ought to really switch off from work. This might change as we return back to interstate travel and more face-to-face meetings.

But that is one tip, when you are out of the office or even over the weekend, turn off emails on your phone. It stops me from checking them at random times like just before I go to bed, which I was in the habit of doing. Ask me how it’s going in a few months.

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

Self-learning has always been a major linchpin in my career.

I’ve consumed a load of books and podcasts in the past, but a few I still revisit from time-to-time include Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath – it contains great tips on concise communication. Also, The E Myth by Michael E. Gerber – every entrepreneur NEEDS to read this. 

Podcasts have always been an ever present source of inspiration. I can listen to them on the commute or while cleaning my house. How I Built This with Guy Raz is my regular reminder to be brave.

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

Being remote, several apps are integral to the smooth-running of our team. A few of which I mentioned above; Basecamp and Slack being two big ones.

Calendly has been a game changer for me over the past 6 months. As the service provider, I always felt uncomfortable with the concept of asking somebody else, especially clients, to make an appointment in my diary.

But after one particular client started successfully using it with our team, I tried it out. It avoids the time-waste of back and forth emailing to figure out a time that suits everybody, allowing everyone to crack on with the important stuff. 

A couple of other favourites:

  • Otter is a brilliant voice to text app that really works. 
  • I still keep an analogy diary by Saint Belford for writing down my thoughts and goals. 
  • Keeping everything in the Cloud is critical so we’ve always used Xero for accounting and managing jobs and Google Drive for planning, file sharing and collaboration.  

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

I do love reading about famous people’s routines. 

One person in particular I’d love to get more insight on is Megyn Kelly. I came across her in another podcast, and she now has one of her own. I’m an avid listener.

Megyn is an ex-Fox News anchor, she’s highly intelligent; an articulate journalist who truly helps me process current many of the world events. I would love an insight into her day-to-day; what her preparations look like, her schedule, etc.

Further to that, I’m always watching all forms of independent media very closely, given the space I work in.

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

As I hinted at earlier, I’ve had conflicting thoughts on true “work-life balance” and I’m not the first to suggest that it could, potentially, be a myth.

There are so many courses and books on this topic from so-called ‘gurus’ promising 4-hour working weeks; suggesting you can outsource your life to freedom. The truth is, to be successful and stand out amongst your peers, you have to be the person that puts in 150% most of the time throughout your career. 

My take is that if you are more purposeful with your time; identify what makes you tick; do something that stretches you; and throw in a few good habits (like nutrition, planning and using the right systems), you can truly succeed and enjoy the process. 

And one last piece of advice – turn off all notifications!

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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.