Balancing the Grind with Sean Singh, Experiential Commerce Lead at Square

Sean Singh is the Experiential Commerce Lead at Square, responsible for implementing payment and commerce management tools with clients across experiential channels.

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

I started out my career as a media lawyer, working with music and entertainment clients. At the same time I was a touring artist, and I didn’t feel I was doing my either of those jobs justice by splitting my time.

So I moved into copywriting, which evolved into marketing – taking me through time in political media, before I moved to be in house marketing manager at a music festival and touring agency.

After helping launch new legs of the festival tour, I decided to broaden my skills, and went to a marketing agency specialising in music and event clients, where I led the digital team in integrating performance marketing, content, social, design and development efforts.

I’m now the Experiential Commerce Lead at Square. My day to day work involves implementing payment and commerce management tools with clients across music festivals, food and beverage events, stadiums, pop up sales and ecommerce — basically, anywhere that a person might experience a sale outside a regular brick and mortar environment.

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

Regularly (pre-COVID!), my days varied greatly. I generally spend the first half of the week in office, and the second out of town at an event. These days, with us all working from home, my days have far less variation.

I spend the first part of my day catching up with my team and reading through reports, developments and launches from the previous day. I’ll then set a priority list, with pre-lunch being in focus mode – generally prospecting, building pitches and testing solutions.

After lunch, I take myself out of project mode and divide the afternoon into three blocks of time which I move between – client contact and meetings, team 1:1s and training, and administrative catch up.

The great variable of course, being a global company, is that a lot of my counterparts and collaborators are based overseas. Therefore, pending time zones, I’ll need to adjust my day to preference conversations with international colleagues.

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

It does – the culture we have is very much about going where the talent is, and there’s therefore an absolute openness to flexibility or remote work.

I subscribe to the idea that sometimes we’re required to suspend our personal lives in favour of work, and inversely, sometimes a personal matter may require a flexible work approach. What really matters is the value and output of an employee — so long as he or she is meeting their work requirements, that’s key.

Personally, my family lives interstate, and being able to travel to visit them whilst still being able to work has allowed me to attend a lot of commitments I’d otherwise not have been able to.

However, outside of that need, I find I work best at my desk in the office, so I can easily switch between headspaces. However, it is still comforting to know I have the option of fitting life in as and when I might need to.

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

I struggled with this for quite a long time. Coming from the entertainment industry, it wasn’t irregular to be putting in 10-14 hour days. Work is life when you work in music, and on the small business side, the resources to empower employees to balance their time are rare.

My current role has encouraged me to look at my day to day and think about my identity outside of work. Realising that my work self isn’t my only identity was my first step in finding a balance. I realised I had goals in different pillars of my life – relationships, health and education.

Identifying those allowed me to carve time out for them. The most important thing though, is having blocks of time to prioritise different things.

For me, it’s rare that I need to be prioritising my work at 7am or 7pm. However, at 7am I’m better off going for a run, and at 7pm I’m better off seeing a friend. If I catch myself checking my emails at those times, then I’m not being present in investing in my personal identity.

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5) What do you think are some of the best habits or routines that you’ve developed over the years to help you achieve success in your life?

To be honest, this is quite elementary but getting up earlier. Waking up in time to go to work means your day is planned around your job.

Waking up at a time you think is suitable, and fitting in time in the morning to exercise, meditate, read, journal, get a coffee with a friend, call your mum, practice the guitar, doing any of those things mean that you can plan your day around what you want to achieve, rather than letting one element – work or otherwise – dominate it.

Fitting something else in in the morning (even if it’s as simple as walking to work and listening to a podcast) rather than starting your day at your desk will honestly change your perspective on your day.

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

Gosh, I have a lot. My personal favourite podcasts are:

  • Trained Nike – Nike’s Director of Performance hosts this podcast where he talks through stories, challenges, innovation and ideas in the training world with industry experts. These lessons aren’t just applicable to training, but to your personal goals.
  • WorkLife – Organisational psychologist Adam Grant talks through some more unusual ideas and thoughts we may not even realise we have about work. Career Decline, authenticity, rejection, misfits and more are covered.
  • Exponential View – I appreciate ideas and imagining what could be. Exponential View talks through what the world might look like as we advance, with some industry leading thinkers.
  • Eat Sleep Work Repeat – Experts get together to work out how we can ‘fix work’.
  • Conversations with People Who Hate Me – This one’s a bit left of field, but it’s a great thought experiment in which the host Dylan Marron takes two people who’ve been having an argument online, and puts them together to get to know the person on the other side of the screen.

7) What is the number one thing you do to make sure you get the most out of your day?

Living by the list! It’s so simple but it’s game changing. I have a lot of tasks I need to do, both at work, in side projects, or in my personal life. Setting reminders on my calendar for recurring life tasks helps.

If something pops into my head, I schedule it straight away at a time I know I’ll do it. I also start out my work day with a list in four columns – to do, schedule, delegate, and don’t do. Looking back at that list tomorrow will help inform my work for the future.

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

Rihanna. I could read thought pieces on a lot of great leaders, but my mind boggles at the time balance that goes into balancing a successful music career, acting, make-up and fashion lines, endorsements and broad philanthropy, as well as a personal life. That’s astounding to me, and I’m truly curious.

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

Work-life balance sounds like a simple concept, but it’s not. Life is lumpy, and it comes in waves. Similarly, some people work best with a rigid routine, and others find that sort of structure infuriating.

Work backwards. Don’t try to do everything in one go, but instead connect with your why: why do you want to balance these things, and what do you want to achieve by doing that? If you can work out the answer to that, you’ll find the motivation to design a structure that works best for you.

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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.