Balancing the Grind with Stephen Fisher, Managing Partner at Hatched Media

Stephen Fisher is the Managing Partner at Hatched Media, a digital and traditional media planning and buying agency, based in Melbourne.

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

I’m currently managing partner at Hatched, a media agency here in Melbourne, which I joined just over three years ago.

My role is very much focused on working with our clients through their media and broader marketing objectives and opportunities, helping our team grow and building out our business capabilities.

I started my career in the UK in the late 1990’s where I did my “apprenticeship” through the dotcom period, before moving to Australia in 2003, where I worked for IPG Mediabrands for 14 years, ending up as Managing Director of the Initiative business in Melbourne.

I loved my time at Mediabrands and am forever grateful for the opportunities I had there, but I also saw the changing landscape and how specifically independent businesses like Hatched, were so well positioned to better work with clients, hence my move across in 2016.

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

That’s such a good question! My day, as I expect is the same for a lot of people, has changed radically since March, some for the better, some for the worse.

One of the best things that has happened as an outcome of working from home has been the opportunity to use the commute time and my day now starts with a run around the local suburb with my 14 year old daughter.

It’s something we love to do and just did not have the opportunity to do in the normal routine of getting up and ready for work/school.

From there it’s a fairly typical day of either internal or client meetings anytime from 8am through to about 4pm with those meetings tending to focus on current client projects, team check-ins/work in progress and sessions on our own business development.

In the normal non COVID world I’d be most likely in Ubers travelling around Melbourne and the city fringe to client meetings for a fair chunk of any given day.

I’m a morning person and find that I have the most energy and focus in the AM so I tend to try to get most of my meetings and catch-ups with other people and teams in the AM and where possible tend to spend my afternoons working on documents and projects on my own.

Family time is really important to me, and with two children aged 11 and 14 our weeks are full sports training and games, which are things I prioritise getting to as often as I can.

We always try to eat dinner as a family and catch up on our days and then I’m probably responding to a couple of emails or Teams messages whilst the kids are watching something on Netflix before bed.

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

Yes, absolutely. Our business is completely flexible in the way we work and we’ve invested a lot into enabling this through things like Microsoft Teams.

Fundamentally though the technology can only get you so far and it really comes down to a cultural environment that promotes and accepts the way people want to work, and we’ve really leaned into that.

We’re very fortunate in that the owner of our business truly believes in, and lives himself, the benefits of flexible working and I am very fortunate that in my role, to a large degree, I’m able to control my own day in terms of routine.

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

It is everything. For me it is very simply about priorities at a given moment, committing to those and being present. It is absolutely not something that I’ve been great at all for large parts of my life and I’d go as far as to say that for a big part of my career I failed in this space.

However I’ve learnt that work-life is how I blend those two things and how I am able to transition and focus on one thing over another. For a long period of my working life, it was always work first regardless of what I was doing.

That meant I was constantly checking my phone, emails etc and always “on call” not matter the day or time.

Now I’m much, much better and switching off mentally and switching off devices, especially when spending time with my kids and actually focusing on the thing we’re doing, rather than being constantly distracted by usually quite trivial things.

A big part of this for me has been simply telling people that I won’t be available at certain times, or blocking out my diary to say I’m going to be doing a certain thing. Very simple things like have made a massive difference.

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

Yes. A few things actually. I usually run or cycle every day and I’ve found the mental benefits just as beneficial as the health upside.

It is great to get the heart pumping but it’s actually letting my mind relax and get my thoughts in order which has been the best thing. I’m also trying to stick to the 16/8 way of eating, but have to admit that I do slip up every now and again.

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

In a different lifetime I did my degree in literature so I love devouring books, for some reason it is most post-modern fiction, although I do read a fair amount of travel as well.

I’ve never been big into business or self-help content, but one book that without exaggeration I can say did change my life is Good To Great by Jim Collins. As a natural introvert in an extroverted industry it really resonated with me.

I love the David Byrne website and newsletter Reasons To Be Cheerful and am also partial to a bit of Trendwatching too.

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

Being an Englishman in Australia I need my weekly fix of football and the Optus Premier League app is something that gives me that connection to home.

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

I’m huge sports fan and in awe of the level of commitment that is needed to produce week in, week out at the elite level.

Having just watched the Last Dance on Netflix, hearing from Michael Jordan and Chicago Bulls head coach Phil Jackson would be a fascinating conversation to eavesdrop on around that subject as I think they’d come at it from very different perspectives.

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

You can’t do it all by yourself. Don’t try to play up to a role that you think other people want you to play, it’s an easy way to exert incredible amounts of energy and accelerate burnout. Understand who you are, play to your strengths and surround yourself with people who compliment your skills.

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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.