Interviews, Marketing & Comms

Balancing the Grind With Russ Macumber, General Manager at Impressive Digital USA

July 2, 2019

Russ Macumber is currently the Strategy Director at Impressive Digital, transitioning into a new role as the General Manager at Impressive Digital USA.

Balance the Grind spoke to Russ about his transition from Melbourne to Austin, a day in his life, blocking out time to spend time with family, lunch gym sessions and more.

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

I grew up in retail, my parents always owned businesses so my passion for business was fostered from a young age.

Plus, from a young age I was addicted to TV commercials. I would seriously hang for ad breaks so I could sing the catchy jingles and laugh at the same jokes over and over (“Maude, the rains are ‘ere!” “Not happy, Jan!” etc.). I always wanted to work in advertising, but took the scenic route here.

I attempted an Arts Degree, but mainly studied the inside of pubs and clubs(!), so got booted out or “academically suspended” was the polite term used.

From there I kicked around in pub jobs in my early to mid-20s, got into management, went back and finished my Arts degree and eventually got into marketing via a side door, DJing on weekends and working in the experiential events/corporate events space.

From there, I did some more post grad study (MBA) and have been in digital marketing for almost a decade.

I fell in love with digital from the get-go: how quick moving it is, how data drives decisions, the way the internet has shifted consumers behaviour and the way we interact with brands.

My passion in the digital space has been a journey of continually honing my craft, learning, teaching, guiding businesses through the tricky waters of digital marketing.

In between my passion for digital and business, I ran my own wedding celebrant business, which of course was fuelled by digital marketing.

After 300+ weddings over 5 years, I pulled the pin on this side hustle a few months back to get more life into my work-life balance.

Outside of work, I’m married to a beautiful woman named Angelique, we have 4 kids aged 2-8, I’m an NBA junkie, fitness enthusiast, podcast addict, non-fiction book consumer, music-lover.

I live a very full life!

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

I’m currently transitioning; I’m the Strategy Director for Impressive Digital Agency here in Australia, and am also the incoming General Manager of Impressive Digital Agency USA, based in Austin, Texas.

We set-up the US agency earlier this year, having scoped out the city and our office space during SXSW in March. I’m currently running the office remotely from Melbourne whilst we work through our Visas.

So my role is split between Melbourne and Austin, meaning the days are very varied.

It’s a mix of new business sales, onboarding new clients, helping support our digital strategy team here, occasional speaking gigs here in Melbourne and interstate; and early morning calls with US prospects, AusTrade, our immigration lawyer, overseeing our content strategy for the US, and basically planning out our first 1-5 years in Austin.

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

I’m pretty regimented and ruled by my colour coded Google Calendar!

Here’s what my day looked like last Wednesday.

7:30am-9am: Impressive USA – content review for new articles for US website, video call with an Austin prospect

9am-9:30am: Conference call with a client, their web development agency, our in-house developer

9:30am-10:30am: Scheduled discovery calls with prospects

10:30am-11am: Finalise digital analysis and recommendation for an eCommerce brand

11am-12:30pm: Present digital analysis and recommendation for eCommerce brand

12:30pm-1:30pm: Lunch break – gym time

1:30pm-2pm: Brief account managers for new client onboarding

2pm-3pm: Onboard new fashion eCommerce client

3pm-3:30pm: Finalise digital analysis and recommendation for technology business

3:30pm-4pm: Travel to face to face meeting

4pm-6pm: Present digital analysis and recommendation for technology business

6pm-6:30pm: Travel home

6:30pm-8pm: Daddy duties

8pm-9pm: Hang out with Ange

9pm-10pm: Prep for next day – proposal writing, digital strategy research

10pm-11pm: Impressive USA – immigration application bits and pieces

As you can see, my weekdays are pretty hectic — a big chunk of the balance for me is my weekends.

I work this hard during the week so that I can be present with Ange and the kids over the weekend. I rolled up my very successful celebrant business this year so that I could have uninterrupted weekends with my family.

I do love my work though so days like this are exhausting but honestly I get a rush from the go-go-go!

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

When you need to get into ‘deep work’ find a soundtrack that gets you into a productive groove. I’ve got workmates who swear by white-noise in their headphones (sleeping baby style!).

For me, deep electronic music helps me fire up the analytical and productive part of my mind.

5) In between your job, life and all your other responsibilities, how do you ensure you find some sort of balance in your life?

The key for me is blocking out regular time for the stuff that matters – this can’t really be done unless your workplace/boss supports balance.

When I started at Impressive I explained to Rob, the owner and CEO, that on Thursdays I need to leave a couple of hours early so I can take my son to karate. Its a weekly ritual that needs to be blocked out as with 4 kids they don’t get much 1 on 1 time! Rob was totally supportive.

Another non-negotiable blocked out period in my calendar every week is date night, also on Thursdays, where Ange and I head out to dinner, minus the kids, to decompress, debrief, to have a conversation in full without being interrupted by 4 needy little Macumbers!

I call it the oxygen mask theory. You’ve got to know what makes yourself work/live at your optimal level, and then make time for it. You can’t save everyone around you if you’re not breathing yourself first!

6) What does work life balance mean to you?

I think the big obvious missing link with the whole “work life balance” concept is that if you don’t enjoy your work, the balance will never feel right. So finding work you enjoy is definitely a big part of the equation.

Work-life balance to me is a feeling of satisfaction in your occupation, and in your non-working hours.

Not feeling like you’re behind at work, or like you’re missing out on the important stuff at home, with family, with friends. It’s a contentment I guess. Being able to be present and enjoy both work life and non-work life.

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?

Hands down 2 things:

  1. The aforementioned ‘date night’. This weekly pressure release honestly makes the stress of work and a big loud family ok,
  2. Lunch gym sessions. My daily oxygen mask that gives me something to look forward to early, breaks up the day, energises me for the arvo and is just a great use of time for someone as time poor as myself.

8) Are there any books on work life balance that have helped you over the years?

Although I’m a super active reader of books on business, leadership, personal development, etc. – I’ve never picked up a book on work-life balance. I probably should!

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

For me it’s keeping the golden hours (9-5) as admin free as possible. These are the times I should be customer facing and helping support the teams within our business.

Proposals and admin and emails and all that more tedious stuff should largely be done outside of the golden hours so I can maximise each day.

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

Don’t settle for a job (or boss) you hate.

And once you have that sorted, remember you have to MAKE the time for life balance. If you’re constantly trying to ‘find’ the time, you’ll never find the balance you’re after.

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