Creative Directors, Founders, Interviews

Balancing the Grind With Jim Wild, Founder & Creative Director of Undefine Media

July 12, 2019

Jim Wild is the founder of Undefine Media, a high end video and livestream production company.

In addition Jim is also the founder of Edgar Wild, a creative product studio as well as the Production Director for the southern hemisphere’s largest CrossFit competition, the Down Under Championship.

Balance the Grind spoke to Jim about his technology background, launching Undefine Media, his role as Managing Director, a day in his life, “eating the frog,” and plenty more.

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

Originally from the UK my first proper job was working for a record shop and distributor who were moving from printing physical catalogs to putting their inventory online for purchase.

I’d just finished a degree in ECommerce and it was a great place to cut my teeth all aspects of running a business and to get hands on developing custom websites, integration with EPOS and inventory management.

We had a few other ventures such as a digital download site for underground dance music, online streaming radio (with video) and a UGC video platform. This was all in the days before iTunes and YouTube were a thing. Creativity and innovation has always been my lifeblood.

I moved briefly into agency as a web developer before landing a great role with a small startup specialising in mobile services and apps as a software engineer. I loved my time there and learned a lot from the guys I worked with.

Fast forward 3 years; I’ve moved to Sydney and working as an iOS and web developer for an agency in Surry Hills. I won’t go into the story here about how I ended up Australia but buy me a beer sometime and I’ll tell you.

After a few years and gaining permanent residency I took a role at Mentallly Friendly in Redfern as Technical Director. Not a typical agency but that’s what attracted me to them, with some referring to them as being cult-like.

All things cult aside, Mentally Friendly was great for my personal growth and I was fortunate to see the agency expand rapidly. I’m a big believer in the “1% better every day” idea which was core to MF’s culture.

Eventually we reached the point where collaborative project teams were becoming more and more self sufficient and the organisation structure become much flatter. This was great but I’d hit a wall and had no real idea where my passion was any more. I’d also pretty much burnt myself out having worked literally nonstop since landing in Australia.

One thing I really found important throughout my career is that I’d never stopped being hands on. Cutting code or building something felt like a basic need to me. That seemed like a good place to start trying to work out my future.

Undefine Media provides me the perfect combination of creativity mixed with technology. I like seeing the finished result form and complete in hours or days rather than weeks or months.

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

As Managing Director of Undefine Media, my main focus is growing the business, finding new revenue streams and well as producing content. My co-founder & business partner Miguel Martin shares a similar role but with more focus on content.

Typically we’ll aim to do a few jobs a week, some at our studio in Alexandria, some on location around Sydney or interstate and occasionally overseas.

We’re on a big drive this year to expand our livestream services. We recognise this as a big growth area alongside regular video content.

Recently we’ve worked on a couple of great music videos, a 3 day livestream from the Wollongong Arena for the Down Under Championships and started to build content for our own Vice style subculture documentary channel. There’s also as splash of marketing work for various clients most recently Reebok/TWL.

We don’t really do a lot in the way of new business, most work is through Miguel or my own personal networks and recommendations. It’s something I need to spend more time on if we want to grow.

Day to day my role can involve anything from shooting video, editing, 3D Animation, VFX, coding, production planning, rigging camera setups, building and testing live rigs and research alongside client management and admin.

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

There’s no such thing as a typical day, and we like that.

Generally we’ll aim to meet up at the studio around 10am unless we’re on set. The first hour or two is my chance to get any admin done and respond to any emails. If we’re really busy I’ll come in earlier and clear the more mundane tasks.

With that out of the way I’ll aim to be turning off my phone and get my head down for the afternoon, sometimes until late in the evening. Working with global clients means you have to shift your sleeping patterns to deliver on time. I’ve sat up until 4am editing a video on a Friday night so a client in the UK can get it before the weekend.

I aim to get in a workout around 5 or 6pm, but I’ll be the first to admit I have good weeks and bad weeks, especially if we’re offsite.

It’s not uncommon for us to work all weekend so keeping Mondays and Tuesdays as light as possible to get some rest, get some exercise in or do some life admin is essential.

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

  • Aim to clear all distractions in order to try and enter Flow State as often as possible.
  • Take naps, we have a policy and quiet zones which encourage this.
  • Use an inbox management technique such as Trusted Trio. Gmail helps with this and I use Shift to keep all my multiple accounts in check.
  • Don’t be afraid to turn off your phone for a few hours.
  • If you aren’t feeling it, get out for a bit. Go to the gym or take a walk.
  • 9-5 is dead. Work when you feel the most productive.
  • Try and keep meetings to an absolute minimum, if they have to happen make sure to schedule them when they won’t disturb the day.

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

I’m yet to fully work this one out. I’m lucky that my responsibilities are fairly minimal, since starting the businesses my social life has certainly taken a back seat though. It’s something I’ve been meaning to address.

Being part of an awesome Gym community helps, we’re like a big family that look out for each other.

6) What does work-life balance mean to you?

My passion is my work, therefore the balance is always shifting. As long as I’m loving what I do and it gets me out of bed in the morning then that’s great.

I think Gary Vaynerchuck sums this up perfectly:

If you hate your Monday through Friday, you’re in big trouble. I really want to put pressure on this conversation — I see so many people today living for the weekend and cheering for Friday because it’s a “relief” from their week.

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?

Approach each project as exchange of value and make sure all parties understand and are happy with the agreed outputs. Misaligned expectations early cause huge issues later.

Listen to your gut, say no to work and turn away projects if you don’t feel 100% into it. It’s guaranteed to bite you in the ass later down the track otherwise.

Never stop networking. I’ve had opportunities come from the strangest of places. People think it’s crazy but I still keep a physical Rolodex of every business card I’m given. It’s come in handy more often than you’d think.

Make time for exercise. You’ll sleep better and the endorphin boost is great. I used to run a lot to clear my mind.

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

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

Eat the Frog! – “Eat a live frog every morning, and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” -Mark Twain.

The idea is to get the worst task done and out of the way first thing, the rest of the day is a easier.

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

Never stop learning, create everyday and make lots of mistakes.

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