Interviews

Balancing the Grind With Jack Phillips, Founder & Executive Producer at Köllectve

August 2, 2019

Jack Phillips is the Founder and Director of Köllectve, a full service production agency that creates impactful video content for brands and publishers.

He also works as as Freelance Writer and Producer, creating branded video content for TVC and social channels, working with clients such as Robbe Report, GQ, Vogue, News Corp, Fairfax Media, and more.

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

I cut my teeth in journalism working for Tyler Brule at Monocle in London where I worked across print, radio and broadcast.

I later moved to Sydney and held several roles including at stint at Channel 7 before taking on stewardship of GQ Australia’s digital platforms.

There, I help build the brand footprint across the website, social, video and new commercial channels before founding Köllectve, a boutique production studio crafting impactful branded content.

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

I’ve tried to build a career that is diversified and reflective of modern ways of working.

In this regard I wear a few hats. I am freelance writer and photographer and continue to write for publications such as GQ, Men’s Health, Robb Report, The Guardian, Sydney Morning Herald and Good Food.

I am also the Executive Producer of Kollectve and oversea all projects under its mantle.

I travel a lot and so its rare that two days are the same. And I like it that way.

Of course, I’ll spend a fair amount of time communicating with clients, team members, accountants and new collaborators be it over laptops, phone or small coffees and I can often be found on set producing and making content too.

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

A typical day starts with yoga. My partner is a yogi and its kind of caught on. It’s a great way to clear the head and get amped for the day. I’ll then eat and start on a to do list written at the breakfast table.

Currently I am travelling through Europe so each day starts in a different place, yet I will usually bang out a few emails sent to relevant time zones before sitting down to write or edit some photos taken the previous day.

I’ll do another stint of emails in the afternoon and squeeze in some sort of training to get the heart rate up again. Jet lag is a killer for me so getting the body jet fuelled is important for my work productivity as it is my health.

99% of my interviews, be them for features or for the production house, are done face-to-face, so I can always count on at least two coffees a day with someone with a great story to tell.

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

I don’t claim to have all the answers. In fact, I have spent the past two or three years trying to find that out myself.

I’ve read books, spoken to peers and hit play on copious amounts of podcasts from CEOs and bigwigs claiming to have perfected the art of getting things done.

For me, I have found the simple act of writing a daily list helpful. The aim for me is to keep on task.

I have a habit of veering towards the tasks I find interesting and neglecting others so I try to reign myself in with a semi-strict ritual of planning and executing.

Done daily and I find I will always move forward. I have also found yoga and meditation to really help clear the mind and prioritise the things that matter.

Sometimes this isn’t even work – sometimes its just taking the time to go outside and take some photos or spend time with my partner.

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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?

This for me comes back to the above. I have built a life that doesn’t have a standard day or even a work day per se.

Every day offers both time off and work so weekends mean little to me other than the fact other people may or may not have time off from their jobs.

I find this much more desirable and a more productive way to live. I can go for a cycle until midday If I like, have lunch with a friend and then work until 10pm with my partner in the other room.

What day is it? Any day of the week. That’s not to say this is easy. You need to be on the ball and you can’t just sit back and assume everything will fall into place.

For me balance comes from doing the good, the necessary and the tough things a little and often each and every day. I’m not a fan of compartmentalising any part of my life.

6) What are some of the things you do to take time out and recharge?

I run, I cycle, I swim and I do yoga to exercise and relax. I do the odd triathlon and I find its an easy way to train when you are travelling too.

Creatively I like to write, take photos, visit galleries, have coffee with my creative friends and read. All these things seem to fire up my brain in different ways.

I could sit in front of the TV for hours but all it makes me want to do is watch more TV. I read a book and I want to write one, I visit a gallery and I want to paint, I take a photo and I want to take scale a mountain to take a better one.

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?

I’m trying to live a minimal life when it comes to owning things. For me the more ‘stuff’ you own the harder it is to be nimble, move and change.

So I don’t own a car, my clothes fit into two suitcases and I could drop anything at the drop of a hat and continue to live and earn.

For me I have learned that real freedom takes work and understanding that I want to work my way with people that inspire and push me each day is important.

This means I have had to get into the habit of really being conscious about my actions and being truly self reflective about what and why I want to do something.

I’ll pass a shop and see a shiny thing I’ll want to buy. I ask myself, why do I really want it? Often it is just a magpie feeling of ownership that is really driving me.

I know I don’t need it and it will only provide immediate gratification for a short period of time. That has taken me years to learn.

8) Are there any books you’ve read that have helped you with work-life balance?

Hundreds and none. No book has given me all the answers. For me, I have derived value from many people in small ways.

Podcasts from Tim Ferris, Joe Rogan and Guy Raz have helped open my mind to new ways of thinking and working.

Autobiographies from people like Lance Armstrong are always intriguing, I even discovered something from Anthony Kiedis’ Scar Tissue.

And of course the hundred of people I have interviewed and filmed over the years.

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

Think. Don’t just assume the day will come at you. You need to go at it.

I think forward planning and keeping a calendar or diary is a really great way to move forward and keep momentum, even if that means keeping space free to do something fun, unexpected or spontaneous.

Warren Buffet famously has a very empty diary because its his belief that time is the only thing you can’t buy. So why fill up you life to the brim ahead of time.

Think about what you want, how you want to live and how to can get it without caving to conformity. Then write your list. Then attack the day. It’s kind of simple, but the best things are.

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