Balancing the Grind with Tony Tsianakas & Ewan Munro Belsey, Founders of Tony & Munro

Ewan Munro Belsey and Tony Tsianakas are the co-founders and directors of Tony & Munro, an Australian-first, men’s fusion cosmetics brand.

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

[Ewan B] I’m a 22 year career marketing veteran. I’ve worked my way from a marketing intern, in all fields of marketing, to recently being Head of Marketing for the Indonesian arm of a large Australian company – living in Jakarta.

Client side, I’ve worked in IT, telco and financial services and I’ve also worked on the agency side here in Australia. Currently I am consulting four days a week in financial and commercial operations (within marketing), back in Sydney.

The four-day weeks helps me balance the workload and gives me time (in addition to after hours weekdays) to manage Tony & Munro.

[Tony T] Similar to my business partner Ewan, I have worked in marketing my entire career (around 22 years +). I have worked in the marketing departments of some of the biggest retail, loyalty and telco companies in Australia.

I have covered marketing disciplines including advertising, media, brand, marketing operations and have also worked as the chief of staff for a couple of CMO’s. My current role is as head of marketing for the small business segment.

I (try) to support my business partner on Tony & Munro on weeknights and weekends however he is definitely the driving force and does a stellar job.

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

[Ewan B] It’s a bit different now in lockdown. Typically, I’d head into the office after a morning gym work out. When I get home from work, I’d usually spend 3-4 hours a day working on the business and of course 2-3 hours each on Saturdays and Sundays.

Now that we’re all working from home, it gives me more flexibility to blend my day job and manage T&M, but I have to say I’m working longer hours.

Nowadays, I’m up at 6.30am, at the gym by 7am, home by 8.30am, breakfast, shower and in front of the laptops (yes laptops and 4 screens) by 9am. I’m usually in meetings most of the day, or when I’m not in meetings I block out chunks of my day to get work done.

Lunch at 1pm. More meetings and work. 5km walk at 5pm (disconnect from the day plus thinking time). Cook dinner at 6.30pm – this is my creative time. Cooking is such a different thought process that it helps me also disconnect from the day.

7.30pm my partner and I sit down to eat together. 8pm I’m back in front of the laptops for an hour. 9pm – Netflix for an hour or so, bed. Get up and do it all over again.

[Tony T] Since March 2020, the typical day or week is very different to life before Covid-19. I have been working 100% from home since mid-March. I have set a strict routine to make sure I balance health and work.

I typically wake up around 7am and go for a walk or run for an hour. On my way back home, I’ll grab a takeaway coffee – I have made a point of trying every café in a 2km radius. This has also allowed me to explore parts of my suburb I would otherwise ignore or blindly pass through.

There’s a real sense of community now (or I am noticing it more) and I make sure I chat with the staff at all the cafes. There are at least 12 cafes that know my name and I know theirs. I then spend the bulk of my day on video calls which can sometimes be challenging.

I make sure I get in another walk or run or gym workout in the evening even if it’s only 20 mins. I’m not much of a cook so I prepare basic meals most nights or rely on food delivery services. I’m fortunate I live close to some amazing restaurants so there’s a lot of variety.

I usually end the evening reading a book or on occasions I’ll watch something on Netflix – but usually I’m guilty of spending 15 mins scrolling through programs and not picking anything – so I just switch it off and pick up a book.

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

[Ewan B] Yes – as above.

[Tony T] I’m very fortunate to work for a company that has had flexible working arrangements for years as well as technology solutions which make working remotely seamless.

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

[Ewan B] I prefer the term ‘work life integration’ as I think that’s a better reflection of how I work. For me, work is not something that’s only 8 hours a day (oh I wish), it’s always there and will always be there.

Here I’m calling work ‘my day job’ and running T&M with my Business Partner Tony. When you have one full-on job, let alone two, you have to be flexible and integrate work and life together.

That’s why I love working from home. It gives me so much flexibility to not only integrate the two ‘jobs’, but also integrate them with going to the gym, grocery shopping, washing, cooking, etc.

[Tony T] I believe that it’s important to live in the moment. For me, that means I (try to) focus entirely on the thing or task I am doing. If it’s work, then I make sure I do that and that I’m present to that.

If it’s a social activity or being with family or friends, I make sure I’m fully present. I make sure I do things that give me pleasure or balance and I carve time out for that without compromise. It’s definitely easier said than done but it helps me have a fulfilled life.

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

[Ewan B] The only thing I’ve really stopped doing is going to the office – and because of that I miss out on 30 min walk each way. That’s why I’ve started going for a 5km walk every evening. For me it is more mental exercise than physical. A kind of daily refresh and reset.

[Tony T] The biggest change has been the move to 100% working from home. I used to work 3 days from the office and 2 from home but didn’t have set days. I did that and mixed it up from week to week. Now that I need to work from home every day I make sure I exercise daily to get fresh air and clear the head.

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

[Ewan B] I would love to have the time every day to read a good book, but sadly I don’t. A lot of people say ‘make the time’ but between two jobs and (pre-lockdown) attending Spanish class once a week + homework, I really don’t get the time or the mental energy at the end of the day.

I also occasionally guest lecture Exec MBA students in ‘Strategic Brand Value Creation’, so that takes up a bit of time. What I do instead is (during lockdown) have a 1000-piece puzzle laid out on the coffee table in the living room.

Every time I walk past – usually from my study to the kitchen to make a cup of tea – I pop a piece or two in. It helps me to mentally reset between meetings. I do read the news on my phone, with my morning coffee, before the gym – and if I get time in the evening before bed, I’ll do a couple of word puzzles on my phone to keep the brain sharp.

[Tony T] I read a lot but don’t have a specific genre or author I stick to. A couple of years ago I asked a bunch of friends to give me a list of the top 30 books they have ever read and challenged them to include books they loved as children too and not just give me a list of the most recent books they have read.

I have bought most of the books on the list and when I’m done, I lend them out to friends if they ask for a recommendation. Surprisingly there was only one book that overlapped – it’s a book called The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett, I highly recommend it.

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

[Ewan B] I think the predictable answer – but only one that springs to mind here is my phone. It really is a phone, camera, wallet, email, music, calculator, map, banking and weatherman in one. I’d literally be lost without it.

In terms of apps, my partner is Argentinian, so the translator app comes in super handy, when speaking to his friends or colleagues, in case there are some words in Spanish I don’t understand. Other than the above I also love a good game of Solitaire in the games app.

[Tony T] I have to say my phone was the first thing I thought of. However, I do have a rule when I travel (I try to have one long holiday each year) – I leave my watch and phone in the hotel and just explore and soak in all the new sites and experiences.

If I want to know the time, I will politely ask people along the way. It’s such an amazing feeling and it keeps me fully present even if I sometimes get lost along the way. I hope we all have the opportunity to travel freely in 2021.

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

[Ewan B] Hands down Jacinda Ardern. Mother, politician, leader, wife, speaker, celebrity, and all-round legend. What more can I say?

If you asked me who are the people I’d most like to meet right now, Jacinda would be in the top three. Not only for a simple (or not so simple) “how do you do it all” question, but for a good chat round ‘lessons in leadership’.

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

[Ewan B] It’s definitely not a ‘one size fits all’ solution. Everybody has a different way of bringing balance to their lives and you have to find what’s right for you. Believe me it’s not easy, but two basic facts I learnt to accept.

Work will always be there (thankfully) and it will always be constant. So will life, family / friends obligations, chores, etc. You can choose to get overwhelmed by the volume of what you have to do, or you can accept it for what it is, prioritise and acknowledge that, despite not getting it right all the time, you’re doing your best.

[Tony T] Maybe I can suggest that people take time to think of what’s important to them and then try to incorporate those things in their lives – even if it’s only for a few minutes a week. And if you find you haven’t focussed on any of those things, don’t beat yourself up or feel bad, just try to do it next time.

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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.