Lee Edgerton is a Partner Sales Executive at Microsoft, where he looks after a wide range of Microsoft partners for OEM devices and software.
Balance the Grind spoke to Lee about his transition back to sales from marketing, flexible working at Microsoft, productivity tools, learning from Michael Gervais’ High Performance Mindset course and more.
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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your background and career?
My name is Lee Edgerton, I’m 35, married with a 2 ½ year old daughter, I was born and raised in Sydney, Australia. I’ve worked in the Australian consumer electronics / IT channel for 17+ years.
I started in retail and quickly moved to a sales role at Ingram Micro, an IT distributor. From there I moved to a customer support role at Belkin where I found myself seconded to marketing.
That led to a period in my career where I was all in on marketing, from Belkin to Espresso Communications and back to Ingram Micro again but this time as a marketer.
Back at Ingram I picked up Microsoft as one of my accounts I did channel marketing for and that leads me to where I am today, Microsoft.
2) What is your current role and what does it entail on a day to day basis?
At the start of this year I made the move back to sales after something like 10 years in marketing. The role is Partner Sales Executive and I work in what is known as OEM.
I am essentially an account manager for a wide range of Microsoft partners but only for OEM devices and software (Windows 10, Office etc). Day to day entails hitting my internal KPIs around revenue.
How I do that is up to me, but it means working closely with my partners to help grow their business which in turn grows my business.
For me it’s where my experience in sales and marketing meet my own passion in technology and gaming, it’s not where I thought I would end up but it’s a job I really enjoy for a company I’m proud to work for.
3) What does a typical day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
A typical day would be likely in the office, although we have the freedom to work away from the office as required e.g. I’ll find myself working from home at least once per week.
I’ll drop my daughter off at daycare around 8am, grab coffee and be in the office before 8:30am or so (I’m very lucky, I live 5 min walk from work).
Typically around half of my day is taken up in internal meetings. The other half is either on calls with my partners or getting work done at my desk.
Email is a constant challenge, in this new role I’m finding that email is a much harder beast to manage than in previous roles.
Take yesterday, it was the first day back from an overseas work trip and every spare moment I had between meetings I was trying to put out fires in my inbox.
4) Do you have any tips, tricks or shortcuts to help you prioritise your workload?
I’ve tried to use productivity tools or processes to manage my workload, but I find I spend more time managing the tool vs actually getting work done. So you may shudder, but I use my email inbox as my to-do list.
If it’s in my inbox, it requires action (if it’s an action with no email, I’ll email myself the action instead so it’s in there). If it’s done, I’ll move it to my archive folder. Those are the only 2 folders in my email – inbox and archive.
I’ve become a heavy user of the search bar in my email instead of filling my email with folders and sub-folders. Then I manage my time via my calendar, blocking out time to work on projects, to recharge or even just to eat.
This is especially critical on longer more involved tasks, I try to avoid multitasking or shifting between tasks too quickly so that I can increase focus on the current task.
I’m not perfect, especially on a day full of meetings, but I’ve found investing 60-90 mins in a single task means I complete it faster and it is normally a better results than bouncing around task to task.
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’ve found this to be critical especially lately given I’ve moved so close to work. At what point when I’m walking from work to home am I actually “at home”?
I try to use the different locations to segregate work and life, be deliberate when I’m “working from home” and set the context – get ready, wear work clothes, setup my PC etc all as if I’m at the office to set my brain to work mode.
The reverse is much harder however. I’ll often check work email on my phone first thing in the morning, at night and on weekends, sometimes even having to reply at those times.
Also I’ll find myself thinking or brainstorming about work in the shower or while driving.
So I try to be very deliberate when I’m playing with my daughter or spending time with my wife that this isn’t work time. It’s very hard and I’m not perfect.
An analogy I like to use is one I heard on the Hello Internet podcast about the 4 light bulbs that represent 4 parts of your life (in my case work, family, exercise and hobbies) and 100W going in which represent your time or focus.
As you turn up one (like work) the other 3 get less power (time / focus). Sometimes it’s intentional that you turn up one and affect the other 3 as a conscious decision but it’s being aware of that and correcting it if necessary.
I find this thought helps me to make decisions on commitments or jobs or anything that comes up. It also helps to make decisions about what’s a priority in your life.
6) What are some of the things you do to take time out and recharge?
My lifelong hobby has been gaming, I’ve played video games for as long as I can remember. If I need to relax or switch off then it’s the first thing I’ll go and do, likewise when I haven’t played in a while I can’t wait to get back on, either on my PC, Xbox or on-the-go with my Nintendo Switch.
More recently I’ve started running 2-3 times a week after work and have also taken up Yoga 3-4 times a week usually early in the morning or at night.
This is a conscious decision to invest more time in my health and well being which, as I mentioned in the analogy above, does affect the time I have for work / family / hobbies but in the long term it’s the right thing to do.
Microsoft is also very focused on mindfulness and mental well being, so we had the opportunity to participate in a High Performance Mindset course run by Michael Gervais, with one of the key takeaways being breathing skills, which had led me into occasional meditation and regular breathing exercises.
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?
One thing that has helped is that I’ve never felt the need to work long hours, or in some cases stretched myself during the work day to ensure I’m not working all night and have the time to spend with my family.
That could be by prioritisation, being organised or just pushing back on the need to be in the office so late, but I am always very clear with my manager that I value work life balance and family always comes first.
Personally my wife and I have always found a balance in responsibilities at home, I do occasionally travel overnight or days at a time, so she has to take on everything at home while I’m away.
I’ll then try to ensure that the balance tips the other way when I get back so that she can recharge and correct her own balance. It’s not just work and life that has to be balanced, but also everything within work and life.
8) Are there any books you’ve read that have helped you with work-life balance?
Like I mentioned before, the High Performance Mindset course run by Michael Gervais was amazing, his website is Finding Mastery: High Performance Psychology with Michael Gervais.
Besides that I haven’t read a lot of books on the subject, I think it comes down to your own situation, family and career. I haven’t felt the need to seek out books on work-life balance, it’s mostly about making a lot of little choices. Send an email or eat with your family?
9) What is the number one thing you do to make sure you get the most out of your day?
Be present. If I’m in a meeting, be in the meeting. If you’re working on a task, be in that task. If you’re eating dinner with your family, be there with your family. If you are sitting in a park, take it all in. In other words, don’t multitask, be in the moment in every moment.
If you’d like to have a conversation with Balance the Grind about how you manage work, life and balance, feel free to get in touch with us!