Creative Directors / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Nicholas Sammut, Managing & Creative Director at Toast Creative

Nicholas Sammut is the Managing & Creative Director at Toast Creative, a business & place design consultancy based in Darlinghurst, Sydney.

Interested in talking about how you balance the grind? Get in touch with us here!

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

I am the founder and creative director of Toast. We’re an independent, creative agency specialising in brand, place and future. We’ve been around since 2005 and are a medium-sized company based in Darlinghurst, Sydney.

Toast was created from the concept of when two or more things come together to make a positive impact. Now in 2021 and ongoing our focus is on making the brands that make the future.

I started on the tools with a passion for crafting engaging strategic Brands, completing a Bachelor of Graphic Design at Swinburne University. My dream was to own a business that could build brands, products and experiences worth celebrating.

My cousins Allen and John, owners of Sammut Group, approached me to work on their first development in Cronulla Esplanade in 2007. This was a gateway for me to start working in property branding and marketing.

Now in 2021 we are launching Toast in Queensland after completing over 90 successful place and property brands and marketing campaigns in between with major developers and Real estate agents over Australia.

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

7-8am I wake up to a coastal walk with little dog Neuie or hit the gym. 8am I review my to-do list, calendar and scan emails for action.

Conference call WIP starts at 9am with all the ‘toasties’ from around the world, 10am emails and project catch up. 11:30 I’m in the office and face-to-face meetings with team members and clients. I head home around 7pm to dinner and a spot of TV reading and bed.

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

Yes we changed the agency in the initial COVID lockdown to be completely cloud based and Google app driven. We have designers, strategists, motion graphics artists and others meeting for our daily WIP at 9am.

It’s more efficient and allows us to understand any daily roadblocks with projects. All toast members can join the google meet wherever they are, we just expect them there and ready.

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

Having the right people who you trust, cloud driven systems which the business and teams can rely on.

Having the ability to only take on the right projects allows us to have the balance we need to go to the gym at lunch, complete a WIP with the team, walk the dog, sit in the sun or in the ocean.

The office environment does not have to be a locked in requirement anymore, it’s more of a place where we go for intimate collaboration for ideation and client workshops, to spark the big ideas we inspire for which is much harder to do over a conference call.

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

Yes, the habit of overworking. I decided a year ago to only focus on Toast and wrapped up a coworking business I found 6 years ago called MUSE.

I wanted to work smarter not harder and it’s all about time vs money. I reduced the layers at Toast and went back to being a creative director and was involved in all projects.

This change enabled me to have time, enable life balance and have investments in property that would increase in equity without me having to manage them day to day like a business.

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

  • Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki
  • Principles by Ray Dalio
  • Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh
  • The E Myth Manager by Michael E. Gerber

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

  • Google Apps & Home
  • Apple Watch
  • iPhone

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

Arem Duplessis, the Group Creative Director for Apple or Vince Frost of Frost Collective.

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

Love what you do, try to not take on projects unless they provide you and your team with passion and inspiration. Aim to work with quality humans in your team and a client base who want you to succeed.

When you love learning, creating and have true passion for the category you are working in you will drive a bigger better outcome.

Change can be hard at first but is very rewarding once you’re in a new place.

Take in what people have to say but make your own decision based on your gut and dreams.

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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.