Michael Mancuso is a personal finance expert and co-founder and managing director of PGA Advisory, a finance firm based in Melbourne.
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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
Several years ago, I realised that the work I wanted to do was work I was not good at and I wasn’t committed to it at heart. I discovered that I had valuable communication skills and the ability to make transactions through working in a variety of call centres.
At the age of 22, I took on a senior position in a large business, which naturally came with a lot of responsibility. During this time, I became increasingly keen to begin a business venture of my own and my primary drive was a desire to have creative control and freedom.
I went on to start my first business which, although profitable, came to an end after 3 years and I proudly closed the doors with invaluable lessons I otherwise would not have learnt. The next step for me unfolded organically, as my best mate Sam Adams and I decided to join forces and collaborate.
Our first year in business was one hell of a grind although luckily we had enough capital behind us to continue growing PGA into the established company that it is today. Currently, we are both proud directors of a company that has assisted many Australian’s to get out of life-long debt and cultivate wealth.
2) What does a typical day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
A typical day for me begins with getting up early, usually 5am at the latest. I jump on the emails straight away and tackle the things that are on my mind. I check my calendar and plan my day out in my diary.
By 7 or 8 am, I’m generally at the office, in meetings, working with our team, and doing what needs to be done. When I finish up in the office, I usually go for a run which clears my head and shifts my state from being at work to relaxing.
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
Remote working is very important to me. Being stressed and burning out happens whether your business is successful or unsuccessful- there is always something that needs to be done so slowing down can be a challenge.
Monday is an important day for me and so I often take the day to work from home or from my farm. I exercise in the morning, go for a walk with my wife and spend some quality time with her which usually puts me in a good mood.
I think I do my best work remotely, when I’m comfortable, stress-free and not likely to be interrupted. But I couldn’t work remotely every day, structure is equally as important. Having the freedom and flexibility to choose where I want to be to do the highest-quality work is vital.
4) Do you have any tips, tricks or shortcuts to help you manage your workload and schedule?
Delegation. As business grows and work load increases, having a strong team of people who you can rely on that you have trained well is vital for ongoing success. Having a team of people who you can give a task to and be sure that they will do it better than you has been key in my life.
I can’t be the best at every task in the business. No one can be. A good team is essential. I do my best to draw my focus to the macro aspects of the business, to the bigger picture rather than focusing on all of the micro tasks. In saying that, I make sure that I remain connected to the company’s heartbeat and remain closely involved with the whole team.
Keeping a journal has also helped me to manage my work-life balance. There challenging days, we all have them, and I use a journal to write everything down, to vent, and just get it all out on paper.
When I’m having a great day, I write down what’s working. I write down why results are heading in a nice and measured northerly direction, why staff are happy, what I have done differently. This way, when I’m having a bad day, I can look back on a good day and re-orientate and centre myself.
5) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
Maintaining a work-life balance is difficult for me. I have 2 businesses, in 2 completely different industries (one in the art world and one in finance and investing). Balance is difficult because business is 24/7 and there is always something to do.
For me it has come down to quality time. Instead of going out to events that are meaningless, I prioritise down time at home or at the farm, reading a book or spending with the people I love, the people that I have a fulfilling time with. I’m selective with who and how I spend my time.
A great weekend refreshes me, as does spending time around people that make me feel good. Exercise is also super important for my overall physical and mental health.
6) 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 big on personal development. I’m frequently researching leadership and I read everyday. I prioritise up-skilling by doing different courses, so I’m upgrading as a person all the time.
I always look to improve on my sales and marketing knowledge, and I do so by finding the best people in the world, getting an understanding of their skills, and then I endeavour to master what they do. I continuously aspire to be the best in my industry and to do that I have to learn from the best.
7) Are there any books that have helped you improve over the years?
I just finished Ray Dalio’s book Principles: Life and Work and am keen to read it again. Considering the industry I’m in, learning about debt crisis, how to run a good team, learning about failure and learning from mistakes is key. He is a master and his books are top quality.
Jim Collins’s book ‘Good to Great’ is also a must read, it changed my life.
8) What is the number one thing you do to make sure you get the most out of your day?
I start my day early. 5am is a starting point, although 4am is better. The day doesn’t stop at 5pm, it ends when I’m satisfied. Starting early more often than not takes the stress away and gives me extra hours in the working week. I find that I can fatigue in the afternoon so I always get the most out of the morning.
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
I’m currently working on becoming more measured and centred. The biggest commodity for me these days is my time. I frequently reflect on how am I using my time and check in to see if there is value coming out of how I’m spending it.
For me, staying centred is about treating my body well. Investing in my health is how I maintain balance. Anything that keeps mood swings at bay is of upmost importance for me. Meditation is the next step for me.
If you’d like to have a conversation with us about how you balance the grind, get in touch with us!