Rhiannon Ward is a Strengths + Success Coach for ambitious women. She works with executives and their assistants to create powerful partnerships as well as with EAs to build their personal brand.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
Absolutely! For the last 12+ years I’ve worked as an Executive Assistant, partnering with executives at several multi-billion dollar companies including Westfield, ING and Atlassian.
Most recently I supported the founders of Canva which was a truly incredible experience. I resigned from my highly paid six-figure job in June of this year (i.e. in the middle of a global crisis!) to pursue my own entrepreneurial journey, and I’m now a Strengths + Success Coach for ambitious women.
I continue to mentor both Executives and their Assistants to forge a more powerful partnership, and work with EAs one-on-one on their personal brand. I’m exceptionally passionate about empowering women to harness their strengths and live their lives unapologetically.
2) What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
My ‘day in the life’ has changed significantly since leaving corporate (and definitely for the better)!
Here’s a peek into a recent day:
6am – Wake up. The first thing I do is take 8 minutes to think about the things I am grateful for and set my intentions.
This is a brilliant habit that I learned from Chelsea Pottenger. I then take a few moments to check my email, and as a lot of my business comes through social media, I check that as well.
Once I’m up I grab a cup of coffee and head back to bed for some cuddles with my giant (50kg!) rescue dog, Gracie. I meditate for 15 minutes before taking some time to respond to emails, comments and DMs on social, and ponder what I might like to share with my community that day.
Between 7am and 8am I have the opportunity to either listen to a podcast, read a book, or watch something inspiring on YouTube.
This part of my day is also when I tend to do any research that I have on my mind. This week the research has been focused on podcasts and how to start one – my next passion project.
I take Gracie out for our morning walk at 8am – I’m lucky enough to live on Sydney’s beautiful Northern Beaches, so there is no shortage of amazing spots to start the day, and we always wander by the sea for an hour to get some fresh air and sun.
9am and we’re back home – I get ready for the day, and sit down to have some breakfast and respond to more emails. I then spend some time journaling before diving into my day.
My first client call is at 1030am. She is an EA who is looking to step up in her role as a business partner. We spend an hour together troubleshooting a few challenges and discussing the path forward. After we wrap up I take some time to pull together her session notes to send to her.
At 12pm I spend an hour knocking off some items on my to do list, including social media posts, planning out the next week, and responding to client emails.
1pm is lunch time so I grab a bite, and watch an episode of Grace and Frankie on Netflix whilst I respond to my private coaching clients in our Slack channel.
After lunch I tackle a new blog post I’m writing. I find the Pomodoro technique really fantastic for managing my workflow, so I set a 25 minute timer and get about half of it done.
I take a quick break to grab a tea and dive in for another 25min to finish it off. I’ll jump into it again tomorrow with fresh eyes to do a final once over before I publish it.
From 3pm to 430pm I work on a CV and Cover Letter for a client I am supporting on a job hunt.
This is not a service I ever intended on offering, and it isn’t my primary focus, however I have a ton of EAs reaching out to me on a regular basis to get my help positioning them for their next move, and I take on a couple at a time. It brings me so much joy when they ultimately land their dream job!
At 430pm I jump on a virtual happy hour with a girlfriend of mine. It’s a weekly ritual. We talk all things from work to current affairs..
I grab dinner at 6pm and catch 30 minutes of television before jumping back online to work on an exciting online course I will be launching in August (stay tuned!). I also reach out to potential podcast guests to hopefully schedule interviews.
830pm I run a bath – my favourite way to finish the day. Depending on the kind of day I’ve had I will either relax in silence or watch a Youtube video (like a Ted Talk) whilst I’m unwinding with a glass of wine. This time I’m watching one of the videos from a marketing course I am taking.
I meditate each evening, usually for 30minutes, then I do another hour or two of work from bed, bad habit, I know! It’s lights-off at 10pm.
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
Yes! Working for myself allows me great flexibility in how I structure my day and where I choose to work from – it’s one of the greatest gifts of being an entrepreneur, and a big reason I chose to step out on my own.
I don’t have a lot of ‘rules’ around the time I spend working or not working, mostly because I love what I do so much that it truly doesn’t matter. I feel very lucky to be able to set my own hours and live my life in a way that brings me the most amount of joy, peace, and fulfilment.
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
I believe it is critically important to find harmony in our work and personal lives – for me, it’s less about balance and more about making sure that what I am doing is serving me and contributing to the life I want to create for myself.
I spend a lot of time working, and I am pretty much always doing *something* whether it’s building my business, continuing my own personal and professional development, connecting with others, or researching a new project.
My approach to this harmony hasn’t been great in the past, and when I was working in corporate I had hardly any time for myself. As a business owner, I listen carefully and take note when I am feeling run down or on the edge of burnout – when I need to rest, I rest.
When I want a break, I take a break. When I don’t feel like working, I don’t. It’s very organic. And so far, it’s serving me well!
5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
Meditation has been a huge part of my life over the last 12 months, and whilst it’s something I have embraced for some time, it’s really in the last year that I have made it a consistent priority.
I also take the time to journal each day (life-changing!). Another habit I have developed in the last year is not looking at my phone immediately in the morning.
I may only get 8 minutes in before I fold, but not so long ago I was a 5am waker and the very first thing I would do is roll over, hit the snooze button on my alarm and simultaneously open my emails and my Slack messages to see what came in over night.
I was working with a lot of team members in North America, so there were always things that needed to be actioned in the morning! Giving myself those 8 minutes has been transformational.
6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
Oh gosh! So, so many. A few that I absolutely love:
- The Infinite Game by Simon Sinek
- Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
- Dare to Lead by Brene Brown
- Key Person of Influence by Daniel Priestley
- Earn Your Happy with Lori Harder
- The School of Greatness with Lewis Howes
- The Ed Mylett Show
I could go on and on!
7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?
Of course I can’t go past Canva as a design tool which is absolutely incredible – I use it every single day.
For productivity, I love the Focus To Do extension for Google Chrome helps to manage my time using the Pomodoro method.
Trello is another fantastic tool I can’t do without to manage all of my ongoing projects. I’m not really a gadgets girl, but I couldn’t live without my MacBook, iPhone and AirPods which allow me to work from anywhere!
Slack as a communication tool has been game-changing for me and my clients.
8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
Oh! Great question. I’m going to say Oprah. Mostly because I am so in awe of her, and anytime someone asks me who I would like to hear from or learn more about, it’s her.
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
I’ll leave you with a quote by Jana Kingsford which has been quite impactful for me..
“Balance is not something you find, it’s something you create”.
I think that says it all, doesn’t it?
We’re in control of our own destiny when it comes to creating balance and harmony in our lives. It’s up to us to decide what that should look like, and it’s different for everyone.
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