Balancing the Grind with Stuart Katzen, Owner & Creative Director of Eventify

Stuart Katzen is the owner and creative director of Eventify, an experiential design and events management agency specialising in large scale, high logistics events.

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

I am the creative director and owner of Eventify, a Sydney based creative and events agency. We specialise in large scale high logistics events and international incentives and events. 

I’m the “buck stops here” for Eventify and responsible for all marketing, brand and directional decisions for Eventify to our domestic and international clients. Our designs, concepts and ability to activate in difficult places are what sets us apart and drives our and my enthusiasm.

I came to my current position by a varied creative path. I left a Business University degree to pursue a career as a photographer. I worked for two very different photographers and was looking around for another job, when luck and a fluke landed me working in film, behind the camera.

This eventually led to me going to NYC to study film and acting. Five years later I returned to Sydney and fell into corporate events as a performer and then an entertainment and creative director, culminating in working on the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. At the end of the Games I started my first full service creative and events agency STU ART Productions. 

In 2008 I teamed up with a partner and Eventify was born. Since then I have changed what and how we do things. Always trying to stay ahead of the curve in the changing landscape of the Events world.

I have been immensely lucky to have amazing clients that trust in me and what we do and allow us a freedom of creative choice and the ability to shape how they are seen by the market and their clients.

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

My day usually starts early with children and school, gym and then emails

I then bounce from meetings, conference calls with my clients in the US, to proposals, concepts and then more meetings through the day. My one rule is I always break for lunch and never eat at my desk.

I usually finish up around 6pm and start dinner for my sons. Two days a week I leave the office at 3pm in order to head to a local restaurant and prep and then work as the pasta chef and finish around 9pm.

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

I have always allowed myself flexibility in my work life. As the owner of the business and single father of four children I have always had to, and have made my children a priority in my life.

Since COVID-19 I have worked predominantly from home and remotely with other staff and contractors. It’s always been a part of what I do and in the past, I’ve always had the ability to log in and work remotely from anywhere in the world. That is no different now days just more so.

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

Running a creative agency that belongs to you always has the risk of investing too much time and having no down time. There is always something that needs to be done

I was once asked what I did for pleasure and couldn’t answer the question. To them or myself.

I decided that I needed to change. I joined a gym, started cooking professionally again for the pleasure of it (something I had done on and off for years) and picked up my cameras again.

I also have been very lucky in that I get to choose what I do and with whom. Having partners, suppliers and clients that you trust and enjoy working with is definitely the key for me.

The decision to make time in my life for other things besides work enabled me to reconnect with myself and the step back from work meant that when I was at work it was more focused and I was far more engaged. Having that balance and “off time” is essential for me to do what I do at my best and effectively.

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

COVID-19 has been a major change to my life and work. Since March 2020 we have been unable to do any events until very recently.

This enabled me to focus on the business as an entity and myself. I have been able to do all the things I promised myself I would do and never did. It also gave me the space to plan and be proactive for 2021.

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

One of the pros of COVID has been, having the time to read again.  A love that got side-tracked with work. I have started re-reading classics like John Steinbeck’s East of Eden and Grapes of Wrath – both favourites of mine. I am also listening to a lot of stand-up comedy in the car.

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

As much as I hate to admit it, my phone, my DSLR ( my fifth love after my children), Spotify and movie apps.

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

Everyone has their own life journey and battle with work life balance. Sometimes I struggle and most times I win, but the journey is mine and I need to find what works best for me and how best to achieve my work life balance. I’d love to know how mine finishes up, but where would the fun be in that?

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

The biggest fear I see today is FOMO. Everyone is looking at everyone else to see what others are doing and trying not to miss out. The must have phone, house, car, etc. Yet each one of us has to experience our own life. No one else will or can do that for us. The trick is to live the life that best suits you. 

If you know what that is, you are 100 times luckier than most. For the rest, my advice is stop worrying about everyone else, try as much as you can, say no as few times as possible and get the most you can out of this life. It’s the only one you have, so, don’t let it pass you by with regrets.

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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.