Taylor Fox-Smith is the Partnerships Manager at :Different, a property management service providing owners and tenants with 24/7 access to an online platform.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
I’m currently the Partnerships Manager at :Different – a tech startup rebuilding property management. In this role, my customer-first and data-driven approaches combine for creative thinking about growth. Funnily enough, my background isn’t in real estate at all!
Having started my career in academic research, my analytical thinking led me to management consulting. This was where I found my passion for building trusted client relationships.
I loved the challenge of creating go-to market strategies, leading crisis management and immersing myself in diverse industries. I think I’ve always been drawn to interdisciplinary thinking – something that probably stems as far back as my Montessori education!
Taking my growth mindset and customer focus to Apple’s advertising team, I had the chance to work for one of the world’s most influential brands. Coming into 2021, I wanted to take the plunge into a start-up that resonated with me and build something amazing. Here I am.
2) What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
When I first started at :Different, I was reading Jeb Blount’s Fanatical Prospecting and decided that each day would be governed by two principles: an enthusiastic mindset and knowing the numbers.
For me, that means having a positive bias towards action and being accountable to the data. When no two days are the same – these principles are constant.
My role is about finding and scaling partnerships with a shared vision for success. This means most days start with making progress on my deals or prospecting for new partners. To do this, I’ll use my go-to-market plans in key segments and conduct discovery calls with clear objectives.
From acquisition, I’ll shift gears into partner activation where I’ll onboard, enable, educate and report back to our existing partners. Not only does it mean meeting new people, but flexing my product and marketing muscles as well! Leading these sessions is the highlight of my day.
There’s a misconception that B2B success is predicated on strong external relationships. I think most salespeople will tell you that, conversely, your internal network is key. I always make time to connect, collaborate and learn from my colleagues.
Whether this means asking our co-founder, Mina, to show me how to optimise my product demos or making vidyards for the Growth team that illustrate the customer experience of our partner referred leads. Learning from my team ensures that I deliver the best partnership experience.
For example, I learned from the CX team that reliable cleaning services would enhance our customer experience. From there, I found our first ever experience partnership in the cleaning sector – a partner dedicated to driving efficiency and customer satisfaction. Something that wouldn’t have been possible without listening internally.
This is also a large reason why I’m part of the Culture Committee here at :Different – to champion our sense of community. Most recently, I built an interactive trivia deck that had questions ranging from the Olympics to the Spice Girls and our very own team members. What a day!
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
We’re encouraged to have a hybrid work week that sees us both remote and in-office. This allows me the flexibility to meet with our partners face-to-face (when health orders allow!) as well as take the days that I need to recharge from my home office.
Flexible working is such a privilege when it comes to taking my grandmother out grocery shopping or donating blood on a regular basis. The inherent trust in flexible working allows me to find balance between my professional ambitions and personal commitments.
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
The balance means boundaries. In order for me to be my best-self at work, I need to make time for the things I love outside of it. Reading books, whale watching, learning new recipes and spending quality time with my family – all these things need to coexist with work.
I sometimes rely too heavily on my partner to remind me to make time for these things!! But I’m getting better at it. In terms of how I achieve this goal, using the app Tangerine has helped to solidify a daily habit of morning walks and creative outlets. I’ve also learnt to take advantage of remote working and repurpose my travel time into me-time.
5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
In 2020, my screen time was alarming – I’ve now started using the Do Not Disturb function on my iPhone every evening. This helps me to recharge and take time for my creative self away from my devices.
Whether it’s drawing, painting or cooking my best version of Bill Granger’s ricotta pancakes – I commit to doing something creative between work and rest.
6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
Books are a dangerous topic to start with a bibliophile!
In my professional development, there are two books that continue to resonate – Quiet by Susan Cain and Radical Candour by Kim Scott. Learning about the power of my introverted qualities, as well the confidence to see them as strengths, has been a game changer for me.
When I take my morning walk, I love to listen to Conversations and escape on an autobiographical journey.
I also love reading Natasha Gillezeau’s work at the Australian Financial Review. Covering all things tech, media and marketing, I find her insights and coverage to be some of the best content in my feed.
7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?
Does skincare count? I love the mindfulness that a skincare routine can give at the beginning and end of the day. I also love supporting local business so its Zoe Foster-Blake’s Go-To range for me and the Hunter skincare range for my partner (who has, by default, been roped in to my regime).
Agenda is an app that saves my life. The pace at which my role runs can be a detriment to organisation. Agenda helps me to keep my notes in chronological order meaning that I can link an idea back to a specific day. This is a life-saver for tracking the evolution of my ideas.
Reflector is another program I can’t live without as it lets me share the magic of our user experience with partners. Mirroring my phone into a video conference or presentation has taken my product demos to a whole new level.
As an introvert in a profession that has historically championed the extrovert, I constantly work on my self-awareness, mental well-being and confidence. After reading Susan Cain’s Quiet, I started to reframe my empathy, sensitivity and “unusually complex” thinking as strengths in my role.
Tangerine is an app that helps me stay accountable to the way I feel at work, and also celebrate my commitment to habits that drive a positive mindset.
For example, I have three habits in my app that I want to achieve each day: a morning walk, a creative outlet and plenty of water. The journal function also helps me to work through any anxious feelings that come from the pressure of my role.
8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
My partner’s family are from Orange, making central-west NSW our second home. There is a thriving small business community in Orange.
Jumbled is an eclectic homewares store and e-commerce venture run by Pip Brett – and it is the most inspiring space in real life and online. Featured in Vogue’s Code event this year, I’d love to know how Pip balances her personal and professional passions when there is such a distinct overlap between them.
I’d also love to learn from female entrepreneurs like Alice Williams at Ovira, Deb Lucy Yueting Liu at AirWallex, Melanie Perkins at Canva and the founders of CircleIn.
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
Be on your side! It’s so empowering to know that you can be your own champion.
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