Balancing the Grind with Sally-Anne Blanshard, Careers & Connections Expert and SmileDirectClub Partner

Sally-Anne Blanshard is a speaker, connector and coach, who helps individuals break through the walls that are blocking them from taking their career, business or life in the direction they really want to go in.

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

My background spans over 20 years in the career management space – I cut my teeth in recruitment in the UK and then Australia.

I then moved into more of an advisory role for job seekers and set up my own coaching practice back in 2011 when my kids were little. This enabled me to parent and work, and I built a solid reputation for being a source of advice and support to career climbers and business builders.  

When my kids began school, I went back into the corporate space with a role that covered both client development and career management.

Today, I am the Director of a Career Coaching business that helps people when their roles are made redundant as well as support those that need to improve their career by working with highly skilled coaches with leadership development programs.

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

On any day I can be speaking with HR Directors of corporate businesses and identifying how we can support their employees essentially through change.

Transformation occurs within business at any time but with the last 18 months businesses and people have been doing it tough. I design and create solutions for people and businesses to achieve growth. I also attend several meetings, internally and externally, typically online with Teams and Zoom apps.  

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

My current role enables me to work from home, juggle the kids’ various school and extracurricular activities. We have a value of “when it’s on, it’s on” which means we will always go the extra mile when needed, which can mean working after hours to get stuff done. 

I also ensure I make time for my fitness as this helps me charge my day energetically and with positive momentum. Working from home can be tough some days as you do not have a “commute” as such so it is also important for me to have a defrag moment after shutting down the laptop and office blinds. This could be a moment to read, watch the sunset or a walk with a podcast.

4) What is one key piece of advice you have for people working remotely?

Because we’re not getting that face-to-face time with our colleagues it is more important than you may think to make a good impression on video calls, especially if starting a new role. One easy and quick way to build rapport is to smile!

Research from SmileDirectClub has shown that smiling makes people think you are friendly and approachable, warm, and welcoming. So be sure to show those pearly whites.  Employers and colleagues don’t want to see you hunched over, emotionless on a call. Instead, body language should be your number one priority. The power of body language in making a good impression is limitless. 

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

Work-life balance is just that – balancing the work and life and ensuring that both are rich with experiences. I love to steal a sunrise moment if I can and, in the evening, I always ensure we sit around the table with the kids for dinner and hear about their day as well as share stories of our own.

It creates connection and routine that is essential to our family wellbeing. I also prioritise my fitness and this makes me a healthy and happy human and perform better in all my roles as a partner, mother, friend, and employee.  

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

COVID has set many people back and had to rethink what their non-negotiables are. Mental and physical health is paramount to feeling “well”, but we can lose these good habits when forced into lockdown and not connecting with family and friends.  

I also just try to look at each day as it comes in those frantic moments and achieving small wins daily makes the week feel more successful.

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

I devour Glennon Doyle’s podcast ‎We Can Do Hard Things. She is the author of Untamed and I just love the simplicity of her advice and conversations. I also enjoyed Phosphorescence by Julia Baird and Wild and Precious Life by Sarah Wilson – connecting to nature is high on my priority list too. It grounds me.

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

I cannot live without technology – it is a necessary evil for work and play. Social media apps such as Facebook and Instagram keep me connected with friends and family the world over as well as support my career with LinkedIn.

Zoom enables me to work face to face as such and build rapport with clients and colleagues. I also think there has been a lot of light humour shared on social media which makes the heavy lockdown days lighter.

9) What is your top tip in the careers space? 

Whether you’re starting a new role and trying to build rapport, going for a promotion, or even interviewing for a career change, the single most important piece of advice I can give people is to be confident.

Confidence is so incredibly powerful in the workplace in all facets, so my advice is to do everything you can to ensure that you look and feel confident within yourself. 

Like what I said earlier, body language is very important in looking confident in the workplace. Make sure you’re practicing good posture, are really listening to what people are saying and offering your input when relevant with a strong voice and relaxed facial expressions.

Finally, one hack that gives back in dividends – smile! Research from SmileDirectClub has shown that more than a third of Aussies believe that someone who smiles at them is confident, so be sure to flash your grin when you can!

Now that’s looking confident, but what about feeling confident? Be sure to invest in yourself in the ways that you think would give you a confidence boost. Research from SmileDirectClub has shown that half of Aussies agree that straightening their smiles would give them a confidence boost.

So, be sure to invest in what will make you feel good – whether that be a straighter smile, a new work wardrobe, makeup, or an at-home hair dye – you will shine when you feel your most confident.

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

I think the juggle of work and life balance is real for many – so rather than think of someone in the spotlight juggling all these balls I would welcome the chance to read real stories of real humans – the working mums, the home schoolers, the dads having to work from home and juggle their careers and families.  This interests me more than a celebrity story.

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

Work-life balance is a choice – you choose where you go hard and where you pull back – you will always have competing priorities and goals, but the key is to consider what needs work. 

Sometimes children will require more of your attention, or a friend or family member in need.  Maybe work will need a rethink as to how you manage your outputs and in turn inputs.  We are all doing the best we can.

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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.