Interview: Eran Thomson on Balance the Grind
Note: This is the complete and unedited transcript of my interview on Balance the Grind.
To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
My current focus is spreading joy with my new party game for adults, Song Saga.
I’m also writing a book based on my One Word Suggestion podcast, and another based on a Melbourne International Comedy Festival show I performed about all the times I’ve almost died called The Near Death Experience.
I started my career in advertising as a copywriter and rose through the ranks to become a creative director at some awesome agencies.
I have since used the skills acquired in Ad-Land to start interesting businesses including a comedy school, a corporate training company, and even a superannuation fin-tech called Zuper which got acquired in 2020.
What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
Last year I got frustrated that I wasn’t getting where I wanted the way that I wanted.
So I made a list of people who I thought were successful and wrote down all the things they said in books, articles or interviews that they claimed helped get them where they are today.
When I looked at the final list there were several things they all had in common so I circled those and created my own amalgamated “success ritual.”
I’ll save you a bunch of time and research. Here’s what it looks like:
- Wake up, drink a glass of water, and go for a walk (or some kind of exercise) – every morning.
- Practice gratitude – make a choice to express gratitude over dissatisfaction.
- Meditate – or just sit in silence with or without a goal or something to solve.
- Don’t read emails or look at social media before breakfast or before bed.
- Stop procrastinating – if you’re procrastinating it usually means you are missing information or a skill, so go get what you need to keep moving.
- Do yoga – 4 x week minimum
Cold showers(I don’t care what Wim Hof says, this sucks)
- Spend time each week connecting and reconnecting with friends – ideally in-person or over the phone.
- Journal Daily – write three things you’re grateful for and three things you can do today that will get you closer to your goals.
Every workday is different, but this routine mostly doesn’t change.
Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
I have an office, but most days I work from home. It’s quieter, the snacks are better, and the commute is great.
But it’s a double-edged sword since the line between home and work, or work and play gets confused. And if you’re not careful you just end up working all the time.
I’ve had to develop new habits. For example when my wife comes home, as soon as she opens the door I immediately close my laptop.
What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
Historically I’ve been terrible at work-life balance.
My old routine was to work sixteen hours a day including weekends until I burnt out. And then I would collapse on the couch for 2-3 days binge-watching things. Once I had de-fragged my brain, the cycle would repeat.
This is unsustainable of course, so this year, I made some major changes.
I used to be a night owl and work into the wee hours. Now I’m almost always asleep by 10:30 pm and writing by 6 am.
I used to work weekends as a rule. Now I see how few times if any, I can open my laptop on weekends. This means I’m reading books more, playing outside more, spending time with my wife more, exercising more.
It may seem obvious to anyone with a 9-5 job, but if you’re an entrepreneur or work for yourself, then the idea of a weekend without work might seem impossible.
It’s not. And they’re great.
In the past 12 months, have you started/stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
Thanks to COVID I stopped going to the yoga studio every day. I know I can do online classes at home, but they’re not the same. Is that a cop-out? Yes. Am I less fit now? Also yes. I’ll get back there.
Another thing I stopped doing is staring at social media. Just get off it if you can. And if you can’t, limit yourself. It’s bad for you. Bad for democracy. Bad for everything. If you don’t already know what your old friends from high school are doing, you don’t need to know now.
Also, get off your computer. I don’t know about you, but my laptop is everything. I use it for email, messaging, video calls, to listen to music, to watch TV and movies, to write, to read, to design, to collaborate… everything.
The only thing I don’t use it for is eating and exercise.
Actually, I do look up recipes online and reluctantly take the occasional online yoga class, so yeah, it’s my everything.
But you have to step away from the screen sometimes.
Go outside. Breathe fresh air. Stretch the legs.
Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
I recently read The Circadian Code by Satchin Panda. He’s the guy who did the research about how blue light affects the brain and the reason why our computers and phones have night mode. His book will teach you how to lose weight and stay healthy just by paying attention to lighting and when you eat. It’s kind of amazing.
I love the How I Built This podcast with Guy Roz, Dan Sullivan from Strategic Coach is great, and since I still harbour hope my screenplays will get made someday, I keep up with Hollywood by listening to KCRW’s The Business.
Dysexlic.com is comedy gold.
Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?
I discovered Notion last year and have more or less moved my entire digital life onto it. All my staff use it now too.
Noise-cancelling headphones are a game-changer and a lifesaver.
If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
When I was doing my success ritual research I read a lot, so I don’t know anyone off the top of my head who I haven’t already tried to learn from.
Maybe Bob Hurley? My wife met him once and he told her that he wasn’t good at anything except for finding people who were great at something and pulling them together to build amazing businesses.
With all the ideas I have, I think I could learn a lot from him. And if I can find other people to help make things happen, that means I’m not doing them. Which means more balance.
Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
Focus on your unique ability. Find the thing that you are best at and do that.
Anything else might be a waste of time. The exceptions are learning and activities that bring you joy.
Choose your business partners carefully.
Don’t drink coffee after 3 pm.
And above all else, always trust your gut.
Read this interview on balancethegrind.com.au