Interviews

Balancing the Grind With Jordy Heis, Merchant Success Manager at Shopify Plus

September 18, 2019

Jordy Heis is the Merchant Success Manager at Shopify Plus, Shopify’s enterprise eCommerce platform for large and growing online stores and brands, working with merchants, partners, app developers and internal teams.

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

I can fondly say the first love in my career was graphic design.

As a 14yo kid I would ride my bike down to the Torquay surf shops, home of iconic brands Quiksilver & Rip Curl, grab as many surf brand catalogues as I could find, bring them home and then try and replicate them on my blue ‘bubble Mac’ computer (iMac G3 for those old enough to remember).

Ever since, the appreciation for great design and a well told brand story has never left my veins.

When I eventually started my career in design, a few months in I fast started wondering ‘why am I just pushing these pixels around a page?’ and that same week enrolled in a night school marketing course to open up the ‘other side’ of my brain.

Whilst a definite slog at the time, full time work, night school twice a week and a stealthy 2.5+ hour commute each day, it was the best thing I could have done to evolve my thinking, career opportunities and happiness in my work.

Most recently prior to my current role, I co-founded an ecommerce agency and consulted to growing fashion brands. Working with business partners and going out on my own taught me a lot about myself and set me up well for the move to work for a major technology company like Shopify.

These days I’m enjoying being off the creative tools and deeply entrenched in strategy meetings, spreadsheets and pouring over analytics data. My design background does however give me a unique lens when weighing up data and creativity, or art vs science if you will.

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

I work on the Merchant Success team for Shopify Plus, which in a nutshell means it’s our job to retain and expand our merchant base.

On-the-daily, I’m lucky enough to work behind the scenes with a number of our highest-growth and fastest moving brands, guiding these merchants to get the most value from the platform and helping them grow their business.

The role demands strong platform knowledge as a given, however to provide the best merchant experience possible, we really pride ourselves on our ability to provide timely advice, help problem solve and facilitate connections to our extensive partner and app ecosystem.

When working with a business on their path to growth, we frame our conversations around the business pillars acquisition, conversion, retention, brand strategy, operations and technology.

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

The work day doesn’t start without coffee, I’m part of the long black club.

My morning kicks off with a scan through overnight emails and our internal slack channels to help set a priority list for the day.

Generally speaking, I will have a few scheduled calls lined up with merchants to review and discuss topical goals, challenges and objectives.

The tone and nature of these calls can vary greatly and prior research is important. On any given day I could be speaking with a CEO, CTO, Marketing Manager, Operations Manager, Ecommerce Manager or more!

For more technical calls, follow up usually requires liaison and solutioning with our technical or product teams, or even crowdsourcing use cases and examples from my own team and our wealth of internal resources. We then serve these best suggestions up to our merchant to make their call.

I choose to work from home 2-3 days a week, and these days are reserved for deliberate days of deeper, distraction free thinking or days I really need to punch through my to do list.

Like all of us though, there are times I crave that good ol’ fashioned water cooler talk and human connection, so I deliberately stack my in office days with meetings and team syncs where my emotional state is already naturally high and I feel a constant flow of energy throughout the day.

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

I’m not a big guy for tricks or shortcuts per se, but strongly suggest that finding your best working rhythms and building strong routines that become habits can be some of the most productive and satisfying self development work you can do.

Through experimentation, I’ve found that mornings are when I’m at my sharpest and I can power through more functional or analytical tasks.

More recently, I’ve also discovered I tend to be more creative and better ideas tend to flow in the afternoon around 2-3pm, so I tend to schedule these types of ideation meetings accordingly.

One routine that has paid dividends for me is blocking off time in my calendar specifically for the chance to reflect on my workload and behaviours, good and bad.

Giving myself permission to take that time, despite an ever-growing to-do list, has been an important mind shift to feeling more fulfilled and productive.

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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?

Certainly in my past there’s been times I’ve been too single-minded on work and building my own businesses. Unsurprisingly this track was almost always unsustainable and feelings of burnout and discontent quickly followed.

Spending time with friends and family can be easy to neglect at times, but is so important for my own mental health and the growth of those relationships that mean the most to me.

Something I’ve really had to work at is being 100% present in whatever situation I am in. It’s one thing to be there and it’s another thing to truly show up and be all in.
Giving people you trust the permission to call you out if you’re not being present is great way to help you when you slip.

Selfishly, if I’m not exercising I’m a different person. Depending on the time of year I’ll rotate between AFL football, HIIT training or running and for me the feel good chemicals exercise releases help me reset and quickly find my balance. They say you never regret a workout, I think it’s pretty hard to argue that.

6) What does work life balance mean to you?

To be frank, being someone who truly enjoys working and being ingrained with a hard-work ethic from my parents, I am probably always likely to slightly over index towards work.

Like some others on this blog, I used to believe that ‘work life balance’ was being 100% balanced across work, family, friends, health and fitness and all the other activities and recreation you wanted to fit into your life.

The mind shift to accept that work and life usually comes in waves has been huge. I’m now a lot more deliberate about adjusting my life for what’s truly important and re-prioritising things that may have fallen off is where the value of the work/life balance concept is for me.

I do however know that I’ve always been at my happiest in life when I am supplementing my work with learning or building something.

In the past I’ve gained great satisfaction learning a little Italian before travelling there, or going super deep on a topic of interest by reading anything and everything in that space and speaking to subject matter experts in that field to learn and absorb.

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?

Self-awareness is bordering on a buzzword these days, but the deeper you know your mind and your body the easier it is to succeed and feel balanced.

I’ve gotten a lot better at spotting my own personal warning signals of stress and tiredness, but one of the best habits I have adopted is being a lot more open to hearing others in my inner circle tell me to slow down or take a step back to see the bigger picture.

My wife is an excellent judge of this and I thank her for that. Being told “you need to go for a run” is important feedback at times when I’m clearly in my own head and need a burst of mental freshness and clarity!

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

As a lover of good stories and brands, I’ve really nerded out on the books Let My People Go Surfing and Shoe Dog over the last year. They have helped sharpen my vision of what great brands and business founders / leaders can look like.

In terms of balancing the grind, It Doesn’t Have To Be Crazy At Work is a popular title I’ve taken a lot from and adapted into my own working environment and habits. The concept of a Trust Battery was actually detailed by Shopify’s own founder Tobi Lütke in one of the chapters.

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

Own the morning, own the day is cliché but it’s certainly true for me.

The peaceful period before 9am of non-distractions, paired with the feel good vibes of early momentum helps build into more productive and satisfying days than not.

Working for Shopify, a Canadian headquartered company, has also sharpened my ‘global timezone maths’ and as these timezone Gods have it, when I need help or input from my North American colleagues there is a speed to answers and a collective minds advantage waiting as a reward for getting up earlier.

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

Being truly curious and experimental about what your best output in work and in life looks like is key to finding the right balance for you.

Read, listen and learn from others about how they approach their workdays and action what sounds fun or could be productive for you. Some things will work, some won’t and be OK with that.

Forming good habits and routines will compound over time, (as can bad ones), so be ruthless in your focus and deliberate in your intent to be as impactful as you can be.

Start small, if you want to see what good and bad habits you might have already formed, start with a humble time sheet – using pen and paper is best.

Yes, they are mundane, and yes they are boring to fill out, but they can often tell you a lot about yourself.

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