Richard Ernster is the Director & Founder of Helping Hand Group, a leading company in fundraising and auctions for charity and fundraising.
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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
I co-founded a chain of collectables shops (US Sports Cards and Memorabilia) in 1992 with my business partner (to this day) Oliver Slobodetsky.
We started this business venture while still in high school and by the time we were 19, we grew to a total of 6 retail shops, before segueing into our current Fundraising and Auction services company, Helping Hand Group (HHG), founded in 1997. Dealing with valuable collectables and items enabled us to see an opportunity to raise more money for charities and community groups and that became the foundation of HHG.
I am currently Director of HHG, and I’m proud to say we have grown to over 40 staff, across 4 Australian offices, as well as NZ, HK, Singapore. I’m even prouder to say that we have helped our clients raise more than $110 million, for various types of charities and causes.
Outside of this role, I’m a founding member of LInfluencers, a Global Goodwill Ambassador, an Advisory Board Member for the Jodi Lee Foundation and part of the fundraising committee for Courage to Care NSW.
2) What does a typical day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
I’m very fortunate to be able to achieve a balance between time working from home and (mostly) out of the Sydney office.
I am able to achieve a balance between time working from home, and out of the (mostly) Sydney office for the majority of the time. Depending on demands for my time volunteering as an Auctioneer, I’m sometimes required to travel to Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Singapore and elsewhere.
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
Most of my work can be done from my iPhone, or at most, my Laptop. I am able to work wholly remotely from HHG HQ/offices, and that ability is enhanced by our GM’s presence, Ms. Belinda Smith.
4) Do you have any tips, tricks or shortcuts to help you manage your workload and schedule?
I use Outlook Calendars and reminders voraciously. Any busy businessperson would have hundreds of things to remember each month, so why not let the device no one can detach from (their Smart Phone) do the heavy lifting?
5) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
Work-life balance to me is not going to bed at night stressfully thinking about work.
Achieving that goal can come from a combination of things, such as: being organised, delegating non-essential tasks, finishing tasks before I start another, effective hiring policies, knowing when to cull inefficient drags on the business, etc.
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?
Taking time for myself each day is key. For example, meditation, gym workouts, even walking around the block with my Dachshund. If you sit in front of a screen for too many hours on end, your efficiency will decline and you will completely lose any semblance of ‘balance’.
7) Are there any books that have helped you improve over the years?
The book that did it all for me is my recommendation for anyone: The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari by Robin Sharma. Example of the help available within the pages: “No problem in the history of mankind has ever been solved, by worrying about it”.
8) What is the number one thing you do to make sure you get the most out of your day?
I meditate (twice) daily, each for 20 mins. Vedic meditation, that fills me with calm and focus. I highly recommend this to anyone!
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
I believe reading up (or checking YouTube) for advice from your personal favourite Entrepreneur/Businessperson will uncover (at no cost, and in little time) a treasure trove of tips for you to get closer to being ‘balanced’. Hopefully I have shared some here today.
If you found the above conversation helpful and inspiring, be sure to check out Balance the Grind’s guide to achieving a healthy work-life balance.