Interviews

Balancing the Grind With Sage Ray, Business Development Representative at Slack

June 12, 2019

Sage Ray is the Business Development Representative at Slack, a collaboration software company providing the business technology stack that brings together people, data, and applications.

As the Business Development representative for Slack, Sage is responsible for engaging with customers in the APAC region.

Balance the Grind spoke to Sage about her career background, working at Slack, daily morning routine, her ‘balance wheel’, her favourite personal and professional development books and more.

This conversation is brought to you by Teachable, a powerful yet simple all-in-one platform to create and sell beautiful online courses.

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

I was born in South Africa and grew up in Perth, at 19 I was on my first work trip to Melbourne, I fell in love with the city instantly. 6 months later I bought a one-way ticket and haven’t looked back.

I’ve always had a passion for business, connecting with people, personal and professional development. I started my career out on commission only direct sales at 21 I opened up a field-based marketing company.

Like many first businesses, this was my time to learn some hard lessons. I believe that’s why I am so passionate about balance in my life, at that stage, I was working 80+ weeks resulting in poor health.

After making the tough decision to let go of my business, I broke into the tech industry, which I personally find one of the most fascinating industries, it forces you to be constantly learning, adapting and evolving. I’ve been very fortunate to work at incredible companies like Zendesk and Slack who are completely changing the way people work.

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

I’m in Business Development for the Asia Pacific at Slack. The day to day is constantly changing, meetings with new and existing customers, internal strategic planning, events, campaigns and constant research.

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

I wake up at 5:30am every morning, meet a friend at the gym and run through an hour session together.

Get into the office around 8, make my favourite breakfast, which current people love to make fun of haha (oats, egg white, almond milk, banana and protein powder) if you are looking for a breakfast to keep you going all day 100% recommend!

After 9am I am typically all caught up on all my notifications, from there I block out my work day around my meetings, write my to-do list something a pen and paper crossing out tasks is still very rewarding.

Yesterday, I had three internal meetings, with our accounts executives and marketing team, a chance to sync with the team on messaging, campaigns and outreach.

One customer meeting about improving internal collaboration and integrating existing technology.

In between the meetings, were my block out times, they were dedicated to outreach, follow-ups, campaigns and industry research.

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

  • Work in sprints – 30 – 60 minutes I will focus 100% of my attention on the project.
  • Block out time – Blocking time in my calendar I stop thinking about multiple projects and focus on only one.
  • Two-minute rule – If it takes two minutes, get it done in between sprints
  • Pick your notifications wisely – One of my mentors pointed this out to me, the number of notifications I had pinging in the corner of my laptop would break my focus from the task at hand.
  • Eat that frog – Do the toughest task first.

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

After working crazy work weeks at the start of my career, I read about ‘the balance wheel’, what I learnt was when I’m thriving I have 7+ of these areas in check when I have 0-3 I’m usually uninspired and unhappy.

Spirituality & sense of purpose – Each night I meditate for 30 minutes before bed, which aids my sleep to quieten my inner dialogue and switch off from technology.

Good nutrition & exercise – I meal prep every Sunday this saves a lot of time during the week and ensures I am eating to fuel my body. I also train 5/6 days a week before work.

Relationships, friends & family – There’s a great Ted Talk, “The Simple Cure for Loneliness” by Baya Voce and how to create rituals in your relationships.

Work, financial and career – I have a plan for savings, holidays, splurges, next steps in my career and I’m always listening to an audiobook on the tram which allows me to finish roughly a book a week/fortnight.

Creativity & play – I love wake-boarding, different sports and journalling.

This took me a long time to realise how important it is to keep conscious of these areas and what a difference it makes.

If I’m watching TV right before I go to bed, not listening to an audiobook, not making plans with friends or family outside of work, ordering a few too many UberEats, or skipping the gym I know it’s time to check in with myself.

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

Getting out the city for the weekend or even just a few hours for some time to slow in nature also a steam and spa at the local sea baths.

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?

Being able to have tough, honest conversations with myself, usually if I am unhappy or under-performing it’s because I’m not putting in the work and I’m uninspired.

It’s so easy to blame, deny, justify poor habits, soon as I peel back the layers and identify the cause, I have that needed ah-ha moment, I start going back to basics put in the work and my happiness/ balance is restored.

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

I have a slight obsession with personal and professional development, here are a few of my favourites:

  • Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins – This book inspires you to push past excuses and improves mental toughness
  • Eat That Frog by Brian Tracey – An honest way of look at procrastination, goal setting and daily habits
  • Thrive by Arianna Huffington – Redefining success and balance
  • Stop Doing That Sh*t by Gary John Bishop – A no-nonsense book about tackling your fears and toxic habits.
  • Any book by Brené Brown – How to have tough, meaningful conversations to improve connections and trust.

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

Get my time back and start the morning right, going to move my body has the largest effect on my day.

By getting up when it’s dark and cold to spend an hour working out, I know I’ve already won my first battle of the day. It’s also very difficult to come into work in a bad mood after a huge hit of endorphins.

I find I bring a different level of energy, coming in awake and focused an ready, it also gives me time back in my evenings to wind down.

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