Stuart Owen is the CEO at KollwitzOwen, a company with a mission to revolutionise the way trade promotions are run on a global scale.
Let’s start with your background! Can you share with us your career journey and what you’re currently up to?
I am a self taught backend software engineer by trade. I started back in 2013 working for a below the line marketing agency as a junior full stack developer which is where I was first introduced to marketing promotions (Instant wins, prize draws etc).
Right from the offset I knew things could be done better but at the time I just didn’t have the skills or the connections to make it work. So I spent the next few years moving between SAAS product companies and Digital Agencies.
Throughout the years I would always think back to the problems we had and how things could be improved in the promo tech space. It was during some catch up drinks with one of my old colleagues (Adam Kollwitz – my co-founder) from the marketing agency that we discussed it in further detail and realised that we were now in a position with the skills and connections to make it work.
Over the next few years we worked at it as a side hustle and locked in our first promotion with Carlsberg which was very exciting. It has grown over time and we now have 6 full time staff and work with global brands like Pepsi, Shell and Hungry Jacks amongst others.
We’d love to know what a typical day is like for you. Could you describe a recent workday?
I’d love to give you a story of waking at 4am to meditate, read, cold plunge and all the rest of the things that hustle culture defines as a successful person’s normal day but unfortunately I’m a bit more vanilla. I tend to wake around 7-7:30 depending on what time my daughter starts calling out for me.
We then have breakfast and get ready to drop her at daycare. I generally get to the office around 9:30/10 to start work and see what’s on for the day. I am still heavily involved in the development of our product as well as running the company. It’s a jack of all trades type setup which I think is normal for founders in small businesses.
I usually head home between 4:30 and 5 to pick up my daughter from daycare and then get to cooking dinner. Once my daughter is in bed I might check back in with work to make sure there is nothing pressing that needs my attention and then settle down for the evening with my wife.
Can you define work-life balance for yourself and share with us your approach in maintaining it?
Work-life balance is very important to me and something I encourage all our staff to maintain. I have an attitude of work to live not live to work. That doesn’t mean I can’t put the hours in when it’s needed but working yourself to burnout is not something that I think is admirable or healthy.
Especially since my daughter came to the world, it’s been even more important to not miss the limited time that you have as a parent while your kids are still young. As you will see in my typical day above, I make sure I can drop off and pick up my daughter most days and when I’m home and she’s awake I try to stay off of work where possible so I can spend more time with her.
Change is constant, and it’s essential for growth. Have you made any lifestyle changes in the past year to improve your work-life balance?
The major change I have had in the past year is moving from working from home almost completely to having a hybrid approach. This means that I can leave work more easily and not have it spill too much into home life.
We’re always on the lookout for new resources! Can you recommend any books, podcasts, or newsletters that have helped you in your journey towards balance?
The imperfects Podcast for me has been so helpful in maintaining balance and growth. I love their approach to topics and the guests they have on seem to be very honest and raw. In particular I love the episodes with the psychologist Dr Emily Musgrove where she delves into the science of what they talk about.
Before we wrap up, do you have any final words of wisdom or insights on work, life, or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
The only thing that comes to mind is the study into deathbed regrets about wanting to have spent more time with family. I don’t want that to be a regret of mine so balance is vital.
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