Amber Daines is the Founder & CEO of Bespoke Communications, specialising in media training, crisis communications advice and presentation skills.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
I started my career 25 years ago as a newspaper journalist – moving into TV and then into corporate communications for agencies and in-house before starting my own business in 2007.
I am the founder and ‘chief communicator’ at Bespoke Communications, focusing on media training, crisis communications advice and presentation skills. My clients range from heads of charities to political party leaders to CEOs. I have trained over 5,000 people in the last decade!
2) What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
Wake by 6am, for some kind of exercise, breakfast (always includes a coffee at home), get kids ready for school then start work in earnest by 8.45am. Checking emails and arranging Zoom meetings punctuates the day. I usually wrap by 4pm for some dedicated family time. I do check emails while I cook but only reply until 7pm unless it is urgent!
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
I am lucky I can so it works well but my big challenge of late has been home schooling my sons, aged 7 and 11, during the NSW lockdown.
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
It means working on what matters or will bring you success, and not burning out. Saying ‘yes’ can be powerful but so can saying ‘no’.
5) In the past 12 months, have you started/stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
I try to exercise five mornings a week at 5.30am to 6.30am (harder to stick to now my gym is shut and its winter coming). I also sent my goals or an agenda for the week at breakfast on a Monday and try to reduce my to-do list so it can be more realistic.
I allow 1-2 hours a day for unplanned activities such as new business calls that come my way or addressing issues from clients or my own planning (e.g. writing an article).
6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
So many! Podcasts are my thing these days as you can listen to them in the car, at home or anywhere – a few I like right now are: Chat 10 Looks 3, Wilosophy by Wil Anderson, Disgraceland and Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend.
Books are always my thing and I love paper books (no e-readers) – I am reading a few on the go including The Land Before Avocado by Richard Glover, Normal People by Sally Rooney and She Said by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey.
Newsletters can be hard to maintain interest in but there are some I do enjoy reading a few from leaders like Mumbrella, Melissa Browne (The Money Barre) and Business Chicks (special events and online courses).
7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?
I like the app Harvest for tracking client billable hours but must admit I am not really wedded to many Apps regularly. Tools of the trade I have recently gotten include my ring light for Skype or Zoom presentations and a clip-on mic to avoid those ear buds for media interviews or client training days.
8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
I would like to know how some of our female political leaders manage it who have families too – like Jacinda Ardern, the PM of New Zealand.
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
I have embraced the idea of work-life blend. I am not a believer in the traditional business hours model, even if you don’t have a day punctuated by school drop offs or childcare days. You can work anywhere and you should! Be productive when you work best.
However, I also have a non-negotiable rule on no working on laptops from the bedroom and no mobile phones on or social media checking after 9pm. Sleep is my secret weapon especially as I am a total morning person. Workouts, kids ready, meals, some quick work all happen before 8.30am in my world.
Even weekends are not really sleep-in days, and I really don’t mind, but I do relax on Saturday and Sunday what time I will do exercise or get out of my PJs a little later (always by 9am)!
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