Tracy Sheen is the founder of The Digital Guide and author of the book, The End of Technophobia which was awarded Business Book of the Year in the 2021 Australian Business Book Awards.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
I entered the small business technology space in its infancy. Mobile phones had only been available in Australia for a couple of years and were still considered the domain of the ‘yuppie’. Even back then, I realised what a game changer this new form of technology was going to offer the business community.
Over the last 3 decades I’ve ridden the wave of (just about) every major tech advance for business, including the launch of SMS, the iPhone, podcasting and, of course, social media.
With the benefit of all those years on the front line, I’ve morphed into ‘The Digital Guide’. I’m that person who geeks out on the latest digital stuff and guides business owners to get the most out of what’s available, without falling into overwhelm.
One way I do this is through my book, The End of Technophobia which was recently awarded Business Book of the Year in the 2021 Australian Business Book Awards, and Best Technology Book. I also have a Small Business Tech Club which provides business owners with a supportive community and a place to upskill learning from the very best experts in the industry.
2) What does a day in your life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
As you can imagine, I spend a lot of my day in front of the computer, facilitating virtual training sessions. But I do love getting out into the ‘real’ world and connecting with business owners by running workshops and practical learning opportunities.
Today I’m getting ready to host my free monthly ‘top 10 tech tips’ webinar, before jumping onto a digital coaching session with a client. Then I’ve got a couple of articles to finish for publications before I do a bit of admin and touch base with Tech Club members who need extra help.
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
I’ve been really lucky that my working from home routine started before I left the corporate world in 2009. I was in a project team with a large Australian Telco and would often be travelling interstate, so I embraced the flexible working arrangements way before everyone else had to make the pandemic leap.
I absolutely love being a digital nomad now. I wrote my book in various cafés around Australia, I’ve hosted webinars by the side of the road in regional Australia and I’ve conducted coaching sessions while overlooking some of the best beaches our country has to offer.
To be honest, I think I’d really struggle if I had to go back to an office full time.
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
For me work-life balance is a bit of a furphy. I love what I do so I don’t mind if I’m still sending emails into the evening while watching my latest addiction on streaming. And working for myself means I can go out for lunch with my husband on a whim or visit my elderly parents, without the worries of a corporate job.
I just do what I do when it needs doing, and as long as I know I’ve moved my business closer to my goals every day, I can go to bed happy.
5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
I took up reformer Pilates. That’s been a game changer for me. With all the sitting in front of a computer, I was looking for something to help with the aches and pains of a sedentary work life, and I must say I’m loving it far more than I thought I would.
My husband and I have also introduced a ‘tech sabbath’ over the weekend where we make sure we go a full 24 hours without any technology (not even the TV is allowed to come on).
With my work and life so intertwined with tech, I’ve found more and more I need to balance it with breaks away. We love it. It’s a day to go for walks with the dogs, have lunch out, do some Lego (I’m a big Lego nerd) or read a book.
6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
Gosh, so many. I’m always reading. The latest ones that really stick out would be
Essentialism by Greg McKeown. While not a new book, I re-read it over Christmas and completely streamlined my product offering as a result.
Will by Will Smith. I was completely blown away with the storytelling and the various lessons (life and business) contained within the pages
Someone Has To Be The Most Expensive, Why Not Make It You? by Andrew Griffiths. I just love anything Andrew puts out, and his latest offering really makes you think about what you’re offering your market and how you can step up to provide what they really want.
Podcast wise, I’m a bit of a true crime junkie but I do try to catch Jenn Donovan’s “Small Business Made Simple” podcast. She’s another regional based business owner with very similar thoughts on small business to me, so I always like to hear what she’s chatting about.
7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?
Hello, they don’t call me ‘The Digital Guide’ for nothing! I’m always picking up the latest thing and giving it a go so I can answer the questions I get about anything new. Right now I’m hanging out for the launch of ‘Oura Ring’ in Australia. But on a daily basis I rely heavily on SuiteDash as my client portal, my wireless charger and I’m geeking out over the app ‘Insight Timer’ right now to improve my meditation practice.
8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
Paulo Coelho. Hands down, that man is my favourite author. Anything he releases that could help me become a better writer or understand his process more, I’d be all over it.
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
It’s true if you love what you’re doing, you’re naturally going to focus on it and put more time, energy and effort into it.
The trick is to make sure you’re prioritising the people and activities you love as well. If seeing friends or going to Pilates is important to you, put it in the calendar. If it’s in there, you’re far less likely to bump it.
And when you’re with friends, family or doing the things you love, turn off your tech and be present. Your future self will thank you.
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