Balancing the Grind with Peter Gillies, Managing Director at Craft Digital Marketing

Peter Gillies is the Managing Director at Craft Digital Marketing, a full service marketing and creative agency launched in 2017.

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

For sure! I’ve spent a lot of my post-school life in the music industry. Touring and releasing music as a performer. I then went into managing a great number of artists through the growth of their own careers and brands. I’ve had the pleasure of rubbing shoulders with the likes of Good Charlotte, Simple Plan and Paul McCartney, to name-drop a few.

My current role is the Managing Director of a full service Marketing and Creative Agency, Craft Digital Marketing. The business was established in 2017 from a single co-working desk in Sydney and now we have an office in Wollongong with a wonderful team of 9 people.

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

I’ll wake up every day at 6:30am. My kids will generally always be up so I’ll help them get breakfast. I’ll do some quick exercise before arranging my own breakfast, and coffee for my wife and I.

For this stage of life, my morning then consists of school bags and lunchboxes, followed by a hot mess of school drop-offs. 9:30am hits and I’m sitting at my desk in my office, the team having all beaten me there – and they let me know about it!

My day typically includes a mix of tasks and strategic thinking. No matter what, I try to achieve something of strong value every single day – at least one thing. This helps me know that we’ve made real progress every day. I keep a strong priority on connecting with the team and paying attention to our current projects’ statuses and pipeline of new work.

I keep to my rituals of coffee at 11am, lunch at 12:30pm, a snack at 3pm and wrapping up the day around 6pm, before switching into dad-mode for dinner, bath and bedtime with my 3 young kids.

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

It does – in fact flexibility is really a significant foundation of our team work culture. By default, we’re in the office Monday-Wednesday, and working from home Thursday-Friday. We also have flexible 10am-4pm work hours – which means one can start early/finish early, or start late/finish late, no questions asked.

I really love working – I always have. Flexibility however, is incredibly helpful when it comes to being a present and active father, or when life just gets crazy. I love knowing that as our team grows and everyone has their own way of doing life, that we can provide a workplace that allows people to enjoy their work as a big part of their life.

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

I used to believe this was an equation that one could find and I thought I could find it, myself. I had a really tough year not long ago and it really woke me up to my own reality and now, belief, that balance doesn’t come in the way of a fixed amount of hours doing this, and some other hours doing that.

But rather, balance for me comes in the form of choosing priorities at regular times throughout the day. I now think that, in a moment, I can be a present leader and visionary – and in another moment, I can be a present father. Then in this moment, I can be a loving husband. By being intentional in those moments, I have the chance to work effectively towards real goals, while also knowing my kids and seeing them grow up.

I know so many people who have worked hard for the sake of providing for their family, yet they regret not being around for them in the day to day. I don’t think poorly of these people because it’s with great love and determination that they set out to achieve these things. I respect anyone for that.

I personally just don’t buy into the fact that this is how life needs to be, and I believe that one can be truly present in many areas, as long as one is prepared to juggle and occasionally let some people down.

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

I recently realised that I can no longer rely on my great metabolism and general lifestyle to stay healthy. So, I put in place a really small, actionable fitness regime that I can stick to. Every morning, before breakfast, I’ll do sit-ups, a plank and squats.

I’ve also committed to calling my best friend after work, even for 5-10 mins.

When life gets crazy, I feel like it’s not uncommon for simple health and friendships to fall to the bottom of the list. I’ve committed to not seeing that be the case. In the future, my goal is to increase these measures, but all good things (and habits) take time.

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

I love reading and listening to podcasts. I listen to The CMO Podcast, EntreLeadership, Work Life and How I Built This. I’ve enjoyed reading books like The Lean Startup, Deep Work and Make Time. Last summer, I really enjoyed reading The Happiest Man On Earth.

Would you believe that I’m currently reading a fictional book that a friend of mine wrote. It’s called The Invisible Tether and for some reason he thought it’d be a good idea to base a character off me! I’m honoured and I really hope I’ve not ruined the book!

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

I couldn’t live without blank pieces of paper, or whiteboards. That’s where my mind has freedom.

As far as getting stuff done, my Apple products are instrumental, along with my tech-stack consisting of Asana, Toggl, Google Workspace and Slack.

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

Ever since I started travelling for music, I was constantly inspired by the Virgin brand. I still to this day admire Richard Branson for what he’s done and continues to do in his business. I’d love to see what he’d have to say about work-life balance.

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

I’m incredibly passionate about people who have a strong drive for success, while also having families. There’s a lot of noise out there about the hustle and sleeping when you retire, and I don’t buy into it or encourage it one bit.

If you can’t be successful, in a reasonable amount of hours per day, there’s something wrong. There’s a time for incredibly intense and time-consuming work, and it shouldn’t be the status quo for you every day. Our relationships hold a tremendous amount of value in our lives, and sometimes we just get too busy to see it. Be intentional, don’t be afraid to be vulnerable, and allow yourself to love.

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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.