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Balancing the Grind With Debs Majumdar, Digital Commercial Manager at Fox Sports

Debs Majumdar is the Digital Commercial Manager at Australia’s leader in sports broadcasting, Fox Sports, where he oversees the commercial partnerships across its digital properties.

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

I’ve been privileged to work across different areas in media till I found what I was truly passionate about. I started out as a designer for Bauer Magazines, mainly doing layouts but also airbrushing front covers from Cosmo and Harpers Bazaar.

From there I transitioned into TV & Digital, working for the likes of Sky News & SBS where I reported on all things finance and technology. I loved journalism and content creation, but I was eventually lured to the ‘dark side’ (aka sales & commercial) and took up a digital sales role at SBS.

I loved the prospect of driving revenue outcomes for the business, so I honed my skills in this area. From there I did stints at Foxtel & Optus, managing major digital sports projects with the likes of Football Federation Australia (FFA), A-League, Socceroos and the 2011 Rugby World Cup. This allowed me to oversee the website and streaming services delivered to over 1-million sport loving Australians.

In 2013, a great gig came up at Fox Sports in the digital team, managing the commercial delivery across its websites, apps & gaming products.

Fast forward 5 and a bit years later with a few other roles and responsibilities thrown in, I’m now the Commercial Manager. This basically means identifying sustainable and scalable revenue growth opportunities across the wider Fox Sports & Foxtel.

2) What is your current role and what does it entail on a day to day basis?

I’m the Commercial Manager at Fox Sports. As mentioned, identifying and delivering new revenue growth opportunities across the wider business whether it be through sponsorship and advertising, but also strategic partnerships in our digital business too.

I get to work with some amazing brands and partners directly based on mutual success, with the likes of Sportsbet, Taboola, Instart Logic, Apple and Twitter to name a few.

No two days are ever the same, as I get to work with our great product managers who lead all things apps, social, website and other syndicated properties like Apple News, Google AMP, Amazon Alexa and Google Home.

I’m also working very closely with our senior leaders at our sales arm, MCN, on long term revenue opportunities and how we can better position Fox Sports in market.

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

Using yesterday as an example (as it’s still fresh in my mind and was a notably busy day):

Up at 4:15 to be in the gym by 4:30, I prefer getting my workouts done crazily early. This allows me to be back home by about 6. My wife is a surgical nurse so she’s off to work just as I get home, which means I’m getting my two girls ready for school/day care and we’re all out the door by 7:45am.

At work by 8:30, and the first few hours are typically spent with a few phone calls and emails. Usually with clients, partners but also internal stakeholders. I like getting their attention early on when they’re fully receptive, and obviously before their daily grind kicks in.

By late morning, there’s a few meetings or conference calls, be it internal or external partners. These are typically in the lead up penning a new partnership or optimising existing ones for both our businesses and/or business units.

Over lunch and shortly there after, it’s a combination of business as usual admin, or strategy i.e. working on what’s coming up. This might be getting some meetings in the diary for the following week, reviewing some of our weekly data from revenue, subscriptions & audience or doing some of said reporting myself.

Since a lot of our partners are based in the CBD (and we are not) I tend to load the back of my day with external meetings to save travel time. This will usually be regular catch ups with our sales and partnerships team from MCN on new initiatives, followed by another from our business partners around other growth opportunities further afield.

I usually keep about 30 minutes after, to do some follow up / summation emails from both meetings to make sure everyone’s honest and accountable (including myself). It also acts as a goal post to take action, as I hate nothing more than a meeting with no tangible outcomes to follow.

Zip back home to the family for quality time; homework, dinner, dessert, bed, bath time can be chaotic but it’s always fun. Usually after the madness has settled, I’ll catch up on any admin and set myself up for the next day. I try not to spend too long on this, otherwise I feel I’ve worked all day.

Besides, I like to try and get to bed by 8:30pm to be up again at 4:15am. I swear if I had the choice I’d probably go to bed before my kids.

4) Do you have any tips, tricks or shortcuts to help you manage your workload and schedule?

I don’t have any set methodologies. But I highly suggest being open to trying new approaches and taking away what works best, whether it be prioritisation matrixes or blocking out your calendar with headphones on just to focus for an hour. Some of these methods work for a period of time only, and others are better suited to different styles of working.

I never underestimate the power of planning and preparation, I make sure I have relevant meetings set with in/external people at least a week or two out, so I don’t come into the week scratching my head. Or worse, being dependent on someone who’s now too busy for me.

I also communicate with my manager or stakeholders around what I plan to deliver and what might have to be jettisoned. No one is really time poor, as we all have the same amount of hours in the week, so I think setting an expectation on what you plan on achieving with those you work with (not to mention yourself), is absolutely critical.

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5) In between your job, life and all your other responsibilities, how do you ensure you find some sort of balance in your life?

Really love this question and I share Vidhya Ravi’s response in that work life balance changes depending on your circumstances and the level of your career.

I try not to over think this and life by a few principles; when I’m at work, I focus on work, when I’m at home with the family, I focus on them. I’m a big advocate of doing 2 things really well, rather than half-ass 20 random things, with no accomplishment.

Finally for me, balance is about having an interest outside of work and family. For me it’s the health & fitness. Next year I plan on competing in my first all natural body building competition. It gives me a goal and hyper-discipline, while allowing me to have some balance outside of work and family commitments.

6) What does work life balance mean to you?

I don’t always measure work life balance in terms of an equation pertaining to time, rather quality. Work life balance means you’re being as productive as possible, without compromising on your mental integrity.

Likewise, when you’re away from work, you’re being properly rested both mentally and physically. For example, editing a spreadsheet while at the beach, isn’t work life balance.

7) What do you think are some of the best habits you’ve developed over the years to help you strive for success and balance?

Come to the realisation and accept the fact that work & home life won’t ever be in perfect unison. I work in sports media which is literally 24/7.

There are periods in the year where it’s non stop at work, when it comes to travel, meetings, conferences etc. This obviously means home / family life struggles a bit, but I know that it’s not permanent (and so too does my family).

So when things settle down at work, I take the opportunity to make up for time with my home life and roll with the big swings.

I’ve also proactively seek out those, both personally and professionally, who manage work life balance better than me and literally ask them how they do it – it’s free and the worst that can happen is they say no. You’d be surprised how many people would happily impart their wisdom on you if you asked politely (and maybe stroked their ego a little if it requires).

Finally, setting realistic expectations. We only have 24 hours in the day, but realistically only awake for about 16 of them, assuming we’re asleep for 8 hours?

Of the 16, take away say 10 hours for work (assuming an 9 hour work day, with 30 minutes of travel each way) which leaves just six hours for family or personal things.

You can’t expect to cram binge watching an entire season of your favourite show, a work out, dinner with your loved ones, a personal errand and something for yourself every night in that amount of time.

8) Are there any books that have helped you improve over the years?

Yes, so many I’ve probably lost count. I’m a sucker for these types of books and have always had an affinity to these ever since high school. In no particular order, and why:

The Sell, Frederik Eklund. He’s the star of Million Dollar Listing New York (see it on Arena on Foxtel) and high end real estate broker. Until I read this book I thought being in business was about putting on a persona. He talks about being authentic to yourself and embracing your quirks.

It’s Your Move, Josh Altman. He’s the star of Million Dollar Listing LA (notice a theme here?). He breaks down what calculated confidence means and how it can be applied at work and your home life. He also focuses on the importance of personal branding and risk taking, without being showy and cocky.

The 4-Hour Work Week, Tim Ferris. The concept is just totally bad ass and Tim is such a high functioning individual to learn from.

Freakonomics, Steven Dubner & Steven Levitt. I’ve always loved maths and data, but was it was one of my least favourite subjects at school. It wasn’t until I was at work that I was able to use it contextually and understood it from a practical sense. Using economic theory to demystify real life scenarios and understand how the world works? It’s an amazing read.

Great Expectations, Charles Dickens. Just a really beautifully told story about personal growth and development. One of those books I’ve probably read 3-4 times in my life.

The Five People You Meet In Heaven, Mitch Albom. Makes me appreciate that everyone in life has their own story, and that you might influence someones life in more ways than you could ever imagine.

9) What is the number one thing you do to make sure you get the most out of your day?

I don’t know how or why this works, but it just does. I learned about the power of gratitude journalling through my executive coach Alex Wickert. Each day I wake up and reflect on one thing I’m grateful for, with five reasons why.

For example, I’m grateful for my parents, because they sacrificed a lot for me growing up, help with my kids when needed, give great advice, were great role models and support my decisions both personally and professionally.

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

Balance doesn’t mean achieving 50/50 every day of the week. Strive for getting close to that 50/50 over the course of a few weeks or even months.

We work in an age where we’re always on, but to be fair we tend to create our own rod for our backs by answering emails on weekends etc. When you’re on the clock, be on the clock for as long as you need to without compromising your mental well being.

Likewise when you’re having down time, switch off from the grind, trust me it’ll be there waiting for you tomorrow.

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About Author

Balance The Grind gives me a platform to talk to these people about how they're achieving their ideal lifestyle. I'm inspired by the passion, the work ethic, the hustle; and these conversations motivate me to live life the way I want to live it.