Will Sowerby is the CMO of Apex Rides and a strategic marketing leader who helps brands grow through challenger thinking and strategies that break from convention.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
I have just launched my own marketing and brand consultancy (gosugarfree.co) and I am fractional CMO of the high-growth connected fitness challenger brand, Apex Rides.
2) What does a day in your life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
It all starts with the huge, dominating factor in my life right now – I have a 7 month old baby in the house and I am full time getting my own business off the ground. So my days are currently all about time (and energy) management! Everything starts at 7am when our son wakes up, and ends at 7pm when he goes back down.
Once the initial wake-up process with our son is done, which I make sure i’m part of every day with my wife, the first thing I do is plot out my day ahead in my Productivity Planner which I swear by and could not live without (thank you my old employer Bow & Arrow for introducing that to me!).
This allows me to set out priorities for the day ahead, get clarity on what’s to come and know the expected time I’ll spend on each task. I don’t include just work-related tasks on here, but also things like exercise and any life admin that needs to get done. So it covers work and life as one. When I don’t plan, my whole day and productivity suffers.
I usually use the first part of the day for focussed work as I am way more productive (and creative) between 8 and 11am. I protect that time fiercely against meetings and incoming communications, often not taking any meetings in that time and turning off slack, email and increasingly whatsapp which is getting used more and more for work.
The afternoon is there for communication, meetings, calls and strategy sessions that involve people from other teams.
Throughout my day, I plan my time around the pomodoro technique, but rather than working in 25 minute intervals, I tend to push them to 40 minutes, so this framework guides much of my daily planning.
3) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
I come back to the great quote I saw from Simon Sinek the other day; “we need to stop thinking about business as a race and start thinking about it as a lifestyle.”
I interpret that to mean that we don’t need to flog ourselves at work because we’re aiming for success today (or for some founders, yesterday), but actually need to approach work in a more sustainable way that works with our lives.
Work-life balance means that I have good all-round energy and enjoyment throughout my week, not just the weekends or evenings. With the growth of hybrid working and flexi-hours, you can work anywhere and anytime, so to me work-life balance is no longer about time, but about energy, ie. having good energy across all areas of your life, not one thing imbalancing the others.
4) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
Yes, I have stopped taking meetings in my most productive hours of the day (8am-11am), I have started plotting out my overall week ahead during a quiet moment on Sunday afternoon so I have that clarity before I wake up on Monday morning and my inbox starts filling.
I have also been much more disciplined about getting up in the mornings, so I am on the front-foot from word go, rather than bumbling into work still half-asleep.
5) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
A few episodes of The High Performance Podcast have had a real impact on me. I wasn’t expecting to have such profound behaviour-changes from good old Jake Humphries and co. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck is simple, but packed a real punch when I read it a few years ago.
How to Win Friends & Influence People has also taught me much about how to get to your destination when working with people, through the path of least resistance. Again, it comes back to how to be, live and work in a much more sustainable way energy-wise.
6) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
I’m bored of hearing from the 5am warriors who do cold water swimming, meditation and have made a million before breakfast – good for them, but that’s unrealistic for most of us. I’d like to hear from people whose work is hard to leave at the door or simply log-out from.
Nurses, doctors, army personnel on leave, professional sportspeople, teachers, vets. How do they find balance when their work has such big physical and emotional demands?
7) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
My two pieces of advice are simple;
- Do what you love. We should all question the old perception that work is work and it’s something we must just bear. Most of us work more than 70% of our annual days, that’s a massive proportion of time to spend doing something that drags you down. find the sweet spot between
- Share your work with your family (without boring them). Find a way to bring everyone on the journey with you through simple storytelling and a bit of honesty, so they are all genuinely interested in what you do, how your day was and then have that context of any challenges you face. Having that family support will help keep the balance between work life and life-life.
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