CEOs / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Nick Merry, CEO at Motivforce Marketing & Incentives

Nick Merry is the CEO at Motivforce Marketing & Incentives, a company that designs, creates and delivers innovative bespoke loyalty marketing programs.

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

My working career started in the UK where I was born and grew up. It was in a sales role for a travel company selling a system that travel agents could book theme park tickets through for their clients.

This then developed into working in event management creating and running incentive travel events all around the world.  This tapped into my desire to travel and to do things that couldn’t ordinarily be bought out of a travel brochure. 

After a couple of years I felt like a change and I had always had an interest in IT so decided to challenge myself and I studied and passed my Microsoft MCSE certificate.

I then moved to Australia and worked in a couple of positions in IT before the call of travel became too strong again and I worked for a large event management company managing their clients conferences and incentives.

After a few years I started looking at other career options and had a great few years working for Haymarket Media as a Key account manager before being given the opportunity to be a founding partner of global B2B loyalty marketing agency Motivforce in 2011.

Motivforce’s mission is to provide personalised motivational solutions to allow organisations and individuals perform at their best. 10 years on I am proud to say that I am now the CEO of Motivforce. I am also founder of A Merry Mind, my own organisational and life coaching practice.

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

Being the CEO of a global SME I continue to work on my work-life balance due to the nature of timezones and workloads.

So during the week I get up early so I have about an hour for myself and practice my own morning routine where I focus on 5 areas of my life for the first hour of the day. This can be a mix of walking, running, gym, reading, journaling, meditation or yoga at home.

Depending on the day I may have an international call with our USA team shortly afterwards. Then the kids wake up, they are 9 & 7, so I spend time with them getting them ready for school and doing their lunches and my wife and I walk them to school.

Once back at home I try to schedule my workload into blocks. I use the Eisenhower Matrix to give me the areas I need to prioritise as urgent and I colour code the Important urgent tasks in my calendar in blocks.

If I have spreadsheet work or financial work to do I do them in the same 2 hour block. Then I go for a short walk and listen to a podcast or read a book. After this I read my emails for the first time in the day.

Then I may have writing tasks to do so I block that in my calendar. In the late afternoon I then have a couple of calls with the European team and then after those I spend time with the family.

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

Motivforce has been a global remote working company since we started it 11 years ago so remote working has been part of my routine for over a decade.

As an international business there are some odd hours so I ensure that if I have a day of early morning calls or evening calls I adjust my schedule to ensure I spend time with my family and myself.

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

I don’t believe there is a perfect work-life balance that can be used by the majority of people as each of us are different and view our personal and work lives differently. Work life balance to me means ensuring that my life is lived in equal parts enjoyment.

The time for myself is important so I am at my optimal for my family and my work, quality time with my family, not just being in their presence and stuck to my phone and challenging but rewarding work time.

It goes back to scheduling. I like to set myself 3 to 5 goals to achieve in a day the night before. I then tackle the hardest goal first when I am at my freshest to ensure I don’t leave it until last and procrastinate.

I aim to plan my day to be proactive rather than reactive. So I ensure I don’t read any emails until my first task is done otherwise I will be caught up in doing what someone else wants rather than what I need / want to do.

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

My normal routines have stayed the same due to remote working not being new to me  however I find I actually have some more time as I am no longer able to quench one of my passions, travel, I  decided to take up guitar as a hobby so I ensure I practice guitar for 20 to 30 mins a night.

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

I always struggle with this type of question as it depends what mood I am in. I am a big fan of autobiographies, travel and factual books. I love Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything and Michael Crichton’s Travels.

As a CEO and an organisational coach I also read a lot of books and listen to podcasts that are about business performance, team performance and self help books. A couple of my recent favourites have been Essentialism by Greg McKeown and The Power of Moments by Chip and Dan Heath

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

Not that I am proud of this but my phone is actually key to balancing my work life balance. I manage notifications and my time on it as well as I can so I can write notes or ideas when they come to me and I can respond to the various requests throughout the day.

I also use the Do Not Disturb function a lot to ensure it is me being proactive with the phone rather than reactive to its notifications. As for apps aside from the Google apps to help with work and comms such as Whatsapp for friends and family, I love my music so it has to be Spotify and for note taking I use Noteshelf.

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

I am sure there are so many people out of the public eye running start-up businesses that are incredible at balancing  their work-life balance and would be worth interviewing but in the public eye I would like to read about Mike Cannon-Brookes of Atlassian.

I’d love to understand how he manages a multi-million dollar global company from Australia as well as  his energy and environmental interests on top of his family life.

One other individual who seems to have incredible motivation and who never seems to sleep is Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. I would like to see how he manages his family life,  film career along with business interests and his physical workouts.

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

2020 gave people the opportunity to work from home and to take a couple of hours a day back for themselves. As long as those hours are used for you and not for your work then it is a step toward better work-life balance.

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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.