Balancing the Grind with Nathan Richman, Director & Co-Founder at Elastic

Nathan Richman, is the co-founder and director at Elastic, an independent creative agency, with offices in Sydney and Melbourne. 

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

I’m director and co-founder of Elastic, an independent creative agency in Sydney and Melbourne. I went to university to study microbiology and somehow ended up with a degree in film and psychology.

I’ve worked in TV, events, corporate and everything in-between, borrowing techniques from one and blending it with another. My positive attitude toward constant change was shaped by the 1990’s.

The post-production industry was switching from analogue to digital, creating new exciting ways to work. Freelancing enabled me to see the best (and worst) practices within the industry and learn from some very talented people along the way. 

15 years ago, I partnered with my colleague, and good mate, Simon Thomas. We have very similar goals, values, boneheaded grit, stupid sense of humour and a love of old school hip hop. In saying that, we are very different in almost every other way! It’s that diversity of thought, consideration and collaboration that has led to some amazing experiences over the years. 

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

Eeeeek! It’s 5:15 am. My wife and I are both early risers. I’d like to say that we have time to ponder and plan the day, but I’d be lying. It’s a whirlwind of coffee, exercise, kids, pets, watering indoor plants (I’m obsessed!), emails, industry news, NBA results and a commute across town.

Work can be any combo of chatting to clients, chatting to our leadership team or chatting to our crew (ok, I may chat a lot!). I take briefs, give briefs, research, brainstorm, troubleshoot, strategise, collaborate, direct and advise, all with the intention of delivering the best solutions for our clients. 

I’ve been in this business for 15 years and I’m still learning everyday. My team, clients and industry peers constantly stretch my thinking.

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

Yes, it does. I think it’s a great thing that people are finally staying at home when they are sick or need to get “life” done. In saying that, our team finds it much easier to collaborate in person.

There are a lot of nuances you miss when you are collaborating online, and I find you tend to be more creative when you are physically in the room with people. Being in the same room creates an energy I don’t think you can emulate online.

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

When you own your own business, I would be the first to say that work-life balance can be hard to achieve. I think the term work-life blend would be a better way of describing it as it doesn’t pit one against the other.

If you have a few rules and boundaries both streams can co-exist without too much tension, they can enhance each other. If there is a conflict, it’s easy, put your family first.

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

I’m the first to admit that my exercise routine of running, cycling and weights has fallen off a cliff during the pandemic. On the flip side, my diet has improved and I’m eating better than ever, much less meat and more plant-based foods. Go figure.

Lockdowns and COVID-19 restrictions have reduced the amount of going out and social events. That has meant a lot more time with the family, and that has been fantastic. We have more chats, play more games and have become mad mountain bikers.

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

I’m addicted to Audible. I love listening to authors like Jon Ronson and Malcolm Gladwell. Very smart guys that give you a different perspective of the world around you. I’ve recently finished Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey. Lots of life advice, and that silky smooth voice!

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

  • Audible. The car or train is the perfect environment to immerse myself in a story.
  • Roland MC-101 Groovebox. Ok, so it’s my mid-life crisis device. Am I good at making music with it? Nope. Do I love it? Absolutely!
  • Facebook Marketplace. It helps me maintain my eternal cycle of clutter and declutter.

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

Let’s go with Dennis Rodman, he’s my favourite NBA player of all time! He’s a complicated eccentric guy who worked hard and played hard. He was even known to be given a few games off to go to Las Vegas to “recharge his batteries” He came back more dedicated than ever. Probably the more extreme side of work-life balance but certainly very interesting.

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

It’s easy to think of work and life as being in a battle, each robbing the other for time. By changing your mindset you can have a different perspective on the same situation.

Applying the learnings, insights and techniques from one to the other can actually make both better,  not to mention the benefits of racking up frequent flyers at work to use as a family when we can all travel again! 

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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.