Coaches / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Rob Pyne, Leadership Coach, Facilitator & Author

Rob Pyne is a leadership coach, facilitator and author of the new book, Unlock: Leveraging the Hidden Intelligence in Your Leadership Team.

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

You can divide my career up into two parts, either side of a flash of inspiration I had one day in February 2013. Before that I had a 17-year career in media and advertising.

After that I started my own company as a leadership team coach. I’ve just launched my new book on leadership teams, titled Unlock: Leveraging the Hidden Intelligence in Your Leadership Team.

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

I’m a big fan of ‘life by design’, so as my own boss I design my day and my week in a way that works for me. Two or three days a week I’m delivering workshops or offsites for teams. And the rest of the week I’m either thinking & writing, or talking to people who are interested in working with me.

In my workday I try to take regular breaks and nip out for a surf when there are waves. I like to divide my days into periods of ‘flow time’ when I do deep thinking and focus on one task at a time, and ‘ninja time’ where I smash through a series of admin tasks or chats with people, back to back.

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

I’ve been working from a home office for 8 years. I built a proper office in my back garden, and it serves me well. When we’re not in lockdown, I also do some of my best work sitting in a café. Apparently, the ambient noise level in a café is ideal for creative thinking and I certainly find I can get ‘in flow’ in cafes and do good thinking.

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

Ultimately, for me it’s about being in control of how I work and allowing me to drop off and pick up my 3 daughters and spend time with them.

As a result, I rarely finish later than 5, then I do dinner time and bedtime with the family and then often do an hour or two of work after bedtime which, luckily for me, I enjoy more than watching TV.

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

Finding a writing habit was a huge shift for me. When I started writing my book I thought I would be able to speak the book into a voice recorder while going for a morning walk along the beach. It was a massive FAIL.

The spoken word did not translate into a good book to read. Eventually I found a method which allowed the book to pour forth. The key to my writing habit was to plan the book as a series of assertions, or arguments, not as a series of bullet points. That’s been a great habit to develop.

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

Apart from my new book (!) I am a fan of Amy Edmondson’s work on psychological safety, and teams – in particular her book, Teaming. I’ve also been recently enjoying the work of the Conscious Leadership Group in their book The 15 Commitments of the Conscious Leader and a newsletter on life by design that I always read is from Kiwi thought leader Digby Scott.

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

I’m finding the app Loom amazing to save time. It lets me record a video of my laptop screen and an inset video of me talking and allows me to write on the screen too. I use it to delegate work to my assistant, or to walk through some feedback, or to talk through a proposal or piece of content. Best of all, it automatically uploads it and creates a link.

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

Cal Newport, author of Deep Work, a very influential book on ‘flow’ and allowing time to think.

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

About a decade ago I spent some time envisaging my ideal day and wrote it all out, from waking up to going to sleep. That’s stayed with me and helped me design my work and balance the grind.

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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.