CEOs / Founders / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Toya Worsley, Founder & CEO of The Modernists

Toya Worsley is the founder & CEO of The Modernists, a transformation led marketing agency & consultancy for disrupted and evolving markets.

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

Currently my focus is centred around Lindelli, a sustainable diamond jewellery brand which my business partner and I are about to launch.

I recognised very early in my career that the lines between work and personal life were blurred, so consciously have chosen to work within industries that complement my own personal passions.

To that end, I spent close to 2 decades working within the fast paced and forever evolving world of film distribution for Village Roadshow, most recently as Director of Marketing responsible for a large portfolio of film suppliers including Hollywood studios such as Warner Brothers, Lionsgate, New Line and Sony. It was a fun ride during which I had some amazing experiences.

Coming from a family of successful entrepreneurs, I had always harboured the desire to do my own thing so decided to take the leap at an opportune time, forming The Modernists. An independent marketing agency servicing a number of industries including luxury, hospitality and entertainment.

Having cut my teeth in one of the most dynamic and fast paced industries out there, while raising a family, I enjoy running both The Modernists and Lindelli concurrently. Particularly as they reflect my own personal interests.

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

As a mother of two energetic boys and a business owner, my life is busy! My days are varied and generally unpredictable, however, there are a few rituals which are non-negotiable, including exercise, and a loose structure I follow to manage the workload.

Typically I wake up around 5.00am to cover off calls and emails, as a lot of my contacts are in Europe and the US. I like to wake up early and prepare for the day to organise my thoughts.

This includes a 1 hour walk – it’s here, away from technology, where I do my best work. After getting the kids ready for school, I head into the office and cover off tasks that require the most in depth thought and concentration first.

Mid-morning is always reserved for client meetings, 12pm for lunch (on the dot!) and the afternoon dedicated to tasks on the to-do list, including dreaded admin. I leave the office around 5pm, pick up the kids, make dinner and spend some quality time with them. I then get back to work, generally focusing on the more creative tasks as I find the relaxed environment is more conducive to this sort of work.

Over the years I’ve refined the way I structure the work day to be most effective – I’ve found that maximising the morning, and working in structured bursts with lots of variety across the day is the key to operating at an optimal level for me.

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

Absolutely. I guess that’s one advantage of owning your own business – I can work from anywhere. But I do find myself most productive in an office environment, so typically you’ll find me working from the CBD.

I find that face to face communication is more effective than digital communication, and things happen quicker offline, which is why I’m an advocate for this way of working.

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

Work life balance is something I’ve always been very conscious of and encouraged of with my staff over the years. Spending a disproportionate amount of time on any one thing will generally lead to unhappiness in another.

We see this time and time again with people who solely focus on their career. I’d say the secret to success is being laser focused on managing time effectively and being well organised.

Plus, being able to prioritise what’s important and look at the horizon vs the here and now. I don’t believe in setting rigid goals – as this typically leads to disappointment – but do believe in plotting a course with some flexibility built in.

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

No, not really. I’m fairly consistent. However, I am trying to teach myself to sit still and relax (without feeling guilty) when there is an opportunity to do so. Working at such a fast pace for so many years didn’t teach me this skill!

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

I like to walk and consume media simultaneously so I prefer podcasts over books. My favourite podcasts are usually conversational with a business skew. I’m a regular listener of The Entrepreneurs, The Business of Fashion, How I Built This and The Jordan Harbinger Show.

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

My phone of course. In terms of apps, anything that helps to run the business more efficiently and on the go – Slack, Monday, Asana, Canva, etc.

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

Hmmm, that’s a tough one. There’s not any one person I can think of, but do admire how successful start-up founders within highly competitive industries achieve this. Perhaps they don’t?

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

Take the time to evaluate what’s important in your life and make changes accordingly. Whether that be in a professional or personal capacity. Sometimes this requires making unpopular choices, which others may not understand. Stand firm and stay the course and you’re likely to be much happier in the long run.

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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.