Directors, Interviews

Balancing the Grind With Lisa Johannsen, Event Director of DMSS Conference

June 27, 2019

Lisa Johannsen is the Event Director of DMSS (Digital Marketing Skill Share) Conference, a yearly conference featuring experts in SEO, Social Media and CRO and executives from companies such as NASA, Google, ahrefs, Hootsuite, and more.

Balance the Grind spoke to Lisa about working in Singapore and Bali, kicking off her day with yoga, her favourite project management tools, and more.

This conversation is brought to you by Freelancer.com, the world’s largest freelancing and crowdsourcing marketplace.

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

Hi, I’m Lisa, born and raised in Austria. Vienna was also the place where I completed my Bachelor’s Degree in Economics.

After a few internships in agencies and different marketing positions, I knew that marketing, creativity and project management was the thing for me. So I decided to do a Master in Marketing in London and Paris.

That is when I knew I wanted to explore the world more so I looked for internships in Asia, which was (and still is) one of the most exciting markets.

I started as an intern in an events agency called Sunshine Nation in Singapore which turned into a job later on. I was responsible for their marketing and communications and ended up finally to organise 4000-pax festivals.

Spending nearly 2 years in Singapore I left the city life and moved to Bali where I was hired from a co-working space to do marketing and later on as an Event Manager to organise the DMSS Conference. After a successful 2nd edition I fully took over the project.

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

I’m the Event Director (and also business owner, if you will) of DMSS Conference.

As a one-woman show I basically cover all areas of the business, from strategic work, to marketing and sales, partnerships, event organisation, sponsorships, customer support, well basically everything that is needed to make the event happen in November.

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

My typical “work-day” normally starts with yoga. I see it as such an integral part of my day that I nearly count it into my work hours. Here I find time to breath, recharge, start the day right.

After a healthy breakfast I open my laptop and start going through my project management tool (I use Asana) and the latest emails. I start by planning my day ahead and jump right in.

I typically also have 1-2 calls a day, with partners, sponsors, potential speakers, mentors or my accountant, but I like to leave calls for the afternoon.

I work efficient and fast, trying to get the most important things of the day done in the first 4 hours of my day.

Afternoons are for organisational stuff and calls. I try to finish workdays early and have evenings off for sport, friends and family.

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

I love project management tools. There are loads around such as Trello, Teamgantt and others. But I like Asana the most. It gives me a great overview of what needs to be done and it lets me organise my work super neat.

I also like to keep a big picture drawing in my notes. I tend to run with the organisational, most urgent tasks but sometimes forget about the more important, strategic ones.

So I force myself to have a look at this “big picture” or monthly goals more often to see how to prioritise things.

I also really like the 4 quarter exercise:

  • Important & urgent
  • Not important & urgent
  • Important & not urgent
  • Not important & not urgent

That helps me to focus as well.

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 really learned to listen to my body. I feel when I’m stressed and try to reduce work load, I feel when I have a positive mindset then I work on strategic and creative stuff.

I also learned to plan time off in my calendar. When I plan my week on Sunday I plan time for friends, gym time, nature walks before I put in work appointments.

That’s why my brain rewired itself a little to prioritise free time before work. Sometimes plans don’t work out but normally it gives me an opportunity to find time off.

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

I love to do yoga, it calms me, releases stress, lets me breathe and recharge. I also like going into the nature. Even if you only have 20 minutes, a walk in nature, a park, the beach, or just sitting in the sun can do magic.

Another thing I do regularly is me-time-evenings. I create a nice environment, turn on candles, make a cup of tea, nice music, a face mask, read a book and go early to bed. Total stress-release!

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 point is definitely to give your “life” higher priority than work, even if you like your work.

Another thing is that I see success in a way broader range than years before. Success for me had always been work related. But now I believe that finding success is something that you define for yourself.

For some people success might be to have total freedom and a stress-free life. Success does not always mean to climb the career ladder and make a ton of money.

A lot of work around yourself and your values is required though to find out what is really is you strive for.

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

I love to read personal development books and books that are challenging our life perspectives in general as I believe that a shift in our personality also has such a huge effect on our business mindset.

Books that in general formed my mindset are:

But there are so many more good books.

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

Put yourself in a positive mindset and start the day right. Good thoughts and positive emotions attract positive actions.

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