Balancing the Grind with Timothy Weller, Associate Director ANZ at Telum Media

Timothy Weller is the Associate Director Australia and New Zealand at Telum Media, an Asia-Pacific media relations platform connecting media and communications professionals.

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

I have spent over 13 years working in PR and media across the UK, Asia, and now back here in my Australian homeland.

Having thoroughly enjoyed being in global agencies like Bell Pottinger, as well as with my own ventures as CMO of a start-up for a period, I had a longstanding relationship with the Co-Founders of Telum Media, Mike Webster and Matthew Law.

I always thought Telum was a great product and amazing team to work with (while in my role at Edelman we actually became one of their first inception clients in Asia-Pacific). When they were looking for help to grow the business across Australia and New Zealand it was a perfect fit.

For those who don’t know Telum, we are without a doubt the best journalist database and media intelligence platform in the Asia Pacific region.

The platform not only helps PR and marketing professionals to look up all details for media and journalists, but also helps them to engage better with each other through targeted media lists, media requests for stories, daily alerts on moves and news and in-depth interviews as well as PR news.

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

A day for me has been impacted by COVID-19 much the same as it has for everybody around the globe. We switched to remote working relatively early in the piece for safety’s sake based on the experiences of our offices in Hong Kong and Singapore, so at the moment (like everyone on the planet!) we are practically living on video calls.

We have two main sets of stakeholders – journalists and communications professionals – and our teams are engaging with those communities constantly. We start the day with a 15min stand-up every morning and from then on we are constantly looking to keep our engagement up both internally with our colleagues and externally with journalists, prospects and clients over the phone and online.

As head of revenue for my region, this can be a combination of pitching prospects, onboarding and training clients, or coaching team members. During lockdown we have actually found that many people have the time to want to chat and dig a bit deeper on the needs and pain points being felt across the board within their business.

Telum is a global company with offices as far-reaching as Asia and the UK, so at the end of each day we also provide a brief round-up from ANZ for the Telum global team on how we are progressing.

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

The switch from office working to online was relatively painless for us, as being in the media/PR/communications space there is actually quite a lot you can still so with a phone and behind your laptop.

That being said, I do miss having a coffee and a face-to-face meeting to help build your personal relationships and having a more relaxed discussion to understand someone’s business communications objectives.

Being deliverables-based is always the best policy for employers and employees alike, so as long as our team are able to work comfortably and efficiently from their own homes then any disruption in their daily routine as they transitioned across was hopefully minimal.

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

This is a question that I feel is weighted differently in each country I have worked in. For some cultures and employers, striving for “work-life balance” can be a somewhat alien concept.

For me personally, there needs to be a feeling that while you are at work, you are at it 100% and doing your utmost to achieve your goals. If that means a late night or a weekend here and there, then so be it. Besides that, your time is your time.

There is a rapid decline in productivity when doing consistently long-hours, so the ability to get what is mission critical done during your standard weekdays, and then planning and forward-looking work being done as and when you are ahead of your own timelines is key.

I’m no master, but anyone who is good at time management will thrive in any role they take up! Then you need to be able to switch off from “work-mode” and relax with the family or friends, or veg out on Netflix, and can do so knowing that you have done above and beyond what is required of you.

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

To be honest, I have found the commuting time from the Northern Beaches to the CBD during COVID-19 lockdown has been well-spent doing cardio exercise each and every morning.

I was in the habit of gyming after work, but there is a major difference in your motivation when you are winding down from a full day hustling from business meetings and client catch-ups to when you first wake up and blast an espresso!

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

The Economist for informed long-form content being sent to my inbox every morning is a must, as well as the general news or some more interest-based apps like Flipboard for articles as light reading.

Now that I’m not commuting I don’t do podcasts as much, but I am obsessed with autobiographies and biographies of successful or famous people (I just finished Elon Musk’s which was enthralling). Truth is indeed stranger than fiction in many cases!

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

Despite working for a PR tech company, I am not much of a techo-geek (I only came begrudgingly on to getting an iPhone recently at the request of my wife who loves Apple… sigh!).

The usual suspects such as Spotify for music to exercise to, Instagram, FB, WhatsApp for social media and connecting with friends and family, and then the techstack for work includes Slack for internal messaging and Zoom for video calls as well as the Telum system itself which is incredibly powerful.

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

I am truly fascinated by the stories of entrepreneurs who take an idea or concept and turn it into a successful business often through years of hard-effort.

For example, Eric Yuan, the CEO of Zoom (whose business is obviously booming right now!) used to have to take a 10hr train ride to go and see his girlfriend in a separate college in China and that is what inspired him in the beginning to focus on crafting the best video-conferencing tool he could.

This was when he was 18-19 yrs old, and he only found success now at age 50. How did he manage his work-life balance and approach his goals over so many years?

Watching the Netflix specials on music icons and artists who have built companies by betting on themselves and continuing to grind is always inspiring as well – so maybe if Dr Dre the billionaire hip-hop mogul could give tips on how to win on whatever he touches varying from music to headphones that would be great!

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

The challenge with any role and achieving work-life balance will be an obvious combination of the salary and responsibilities that you sign-up for, but also a sense of purpose for what the business is building and what it represents to the industry.

I consider myself very fortunate to be working with friends and colleagues that I have known for years – all with the same goal – to continue to fundamentally transform the PR and communications industry by being the go-to source for all media connections worldwide.

I truly believe that when you have product such as ours that shifts the way people “used to do PR” and manage their journalist contacts prior to Telum, it gives them more freedom to do higher value add work for clients.

It means an entire generation of new communications professionals will be able to upskill themselves across multiple areas and utilise the time given back to them in different and better ways – both for themselves and the communications industry.

If you feel like the alignment is there with the company and your role and you are excited or at least interested in going to work each day, then you are succeeding. All that is left is the ability to then consciously turn off the side of your brain that is thinking about the business outside of work hours and just enjoy life.

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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.