Founders / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Tom Russell, Co-Founder & Marketing Director at Formation Games

Tom Russell is the Co-Founder and Marketing Director at Formation Games, a sports games studio with a football, AAA & BAFTA winning team.

Learn about the daily routines from the most successful people in the world by signing up to our newsletter

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

I began my career at advertising agencies BBH & St Luke’s, learning from some of the brightest minds in the industry. It was at the latter that brand strategy & design piqued my interest. 6 years followed at some of the leading design, brand & purpose agencies including Made Thought, nurturing and growing accounts of all shapes and sizes.

I’ve always had a passion for football, in particular my beloved Spurs. So in 2021, myself and a couple of football fanatics developed a concept around football ownership. We have a belief that all football fans – regardless of their age or background – want to experience a day in the life of a football club owner.

Through CLUB, our free-to-play game and Formation Games, our sports game studio, of which I’m Co-Founder & Marketing Director, we’re looking to allow sports fans to live out those dreams and bring them closer to the sports they love.

18 months later and so they say, the rest is history. We have built a world class team, an incredible community, closed a seed round of fundraising and are now looking to truly disrupt the football gaming genre.

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

My days tend to start at 6am – not by choice – but due to my new natural alarm clock; my 1 year old son, Sam. I start my workday at 8:30am with a strong cup of tea catching up on game strategy & design that’s taken place the day before.

I find I’m most creative in the morning, so I like to spend this time liaising with agency partners and feeding into design concepts that’ll separate and shatter the social gaming genre. I have lunch at 1pm everyday and ensure I put a blocker in my diary.

At Formation Games, we strongly encourage everyone to have at least a full hour to recharge and spend time with family/friends who may also be working at home (we do x2 office days per week but are super flexible).

I’ve found a quick 15-minute walk at lunch a real palette cleanser for the brain before the afternoon, which tends to be reserved for internal stand ups. I clock off at 5pm to do nursery pickup.

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

Balance is the key and I must confess early in my career I was terrible at achieving anything that remotely resembled a work-life balance. My wife would probably laugh and say “not much has changed”.

Founding a start-up is tough, it’s the best and worst concoction of head and heart. For me work-life balance means being able to not think about work when you’re not working. For me switching off screens, getting out in nature and playing sports (tennis/swimming for me) is the ying to the work yang.

Elon Musk, Kobe Bryant, Naomi Osaka, Simone Biles, receive a new daily routine each week about some of the most successful people in the world.

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

A 1-year-old has turned any previous routine on its head, however new rituals have formed which have really helped. I walk to the nursery twice a day; a bit of fresh air helps bookend the day.

I’ve started to meditate for 10 minutes in the evening to switch off from everything going on and I’ve found solely focussing on cooking evening meals, rather than dabbling with socials simultaneously, to have a real positive impact.

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

Parenting Hell with Rob Beckett and Josh Widdicombe is a must-listen for any new parents and is a really reassuring listen. The Peter Crouch podcast makes me chuckle and I’ve found there to be a lot of crossover in mentality between footballers and start-ups. Although not a book or podcast, I’ve found Headspace to be a brilliant app that’s helped me unwind.

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

Yvon Chouinard. Building a world-renowned brand in Patagonia with purpose at its heart and doing so with action, not words. It’s something at the forefront of our minds at Formation Games; how do we create a game franchise that’ll have a positive impact on our player’s lives and the communities they reside within. Watch this space.

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

I think the one thing I’d say is that balance is different for everyone. Some play video games with 4 hours sleep, others by reading a book and a solid 8 hours. If you’re struggling to achieve a work-life balance, don’t think you’re alone. Take baby steps to reach your balance, whatever that means for you.  

Before you go…

If you’d like to sponsor or advertise with Balance the Grind, let’s talk here

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.