Directors, Founders, Interviews

Balancing the Grind With Stuart Terry, Founder & Director at We Are Different PR

July 17, 2019

Stuart Terry is the Founder & Director of We Are Different PR, an independent PR and content agency based in Sydney.

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

I was that kid in school who never shut up; the one with the report card that read “easily distracted” or “too talkative”.

I went to public school in the small coastal town of Forster and was lucky enough to have teachers and parents that looked beyond my flappy jaw and saw real potential in me. Through them, I learned to focus my crazy energy into creativity.

Following school and uni I jumped straight into PR – a natural fit for that kid who never shut up.

I’ve worked in Sydney, London and Toronto, always for big, award-winning PR agencies. I’ve led teams and accounts for some of the world’s biggest brands, picked up awards and led campaigns that have been nominated for Cannes Lions.

After years in big agency land, I saw an opportunity to launch an independent, more agile PR agency model that’s more suited to today’s changing client needs. Suddenly We Are Different was born.

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

Different’s mission is to produce creative work that drives real business impact by doing things differently. And as the agency lead, I try to make sure everything I do supports that mission.

Running your own agency is so different to working for someone else – I’ve always been engaged with clients and loved PR, but when it’s your baby there’s an added passion and urgency that comes with the work. This means I’m super hands-on with all parts of the business. It’s crazy, but I love it.

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

While every day is different (sorry, I know cliche), I like to use the mornings to focus on more creative-driven work then knock over the business and client admin in the afternoon.

A day typically involves client meets, new business pitches, team check-ins, creative brainstorms, events and more.

Before work, I wake up early to dedicate some time to myself – it’s the one opportunity to be a bit “selfish” before work and life take priority throughout the day.

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

I write everything down on paper and have my to-do list with me at all times. It’s old school but it works for me.

During the day, I try to avoid constantly checking my emails, which I think can distract from important work and the creative process.

Clients and the team know that if something is urgent, I will always pick up my phone and be there to help. I always respond within 24-hours, but I set aside email time so my inbox is not the sole focus throughout the day.

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 think at some stage we’ve always experienced a level of burn out. The challenge becomes juggling the passion and hunger to do great work while ensuring the team sees value in their life both in and outside of work.

Personally, exercise keeps me sane – it’s the one thing I try to do for myself every day, typically early in the morning before work.

I also make sure I’m doing interesting things outside of work, like reading (this), listening to podcasts (this) and seeing plays (this) that allow me to switch off and think about things outside of work. I tried a pottery class recently by was rubbish at it 😉

6) What does work life balance mean to you?

I prefer the term work-life value. If you’re getting real value from your work and real value from your life then you’ll always be happy.

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?

I love the saying “Be yourself; everyone else is taken”. It’s one of the things that inspired Different – realising that our individuality and even weirdness is our greatest selling point.

8) Are there any books that have helped you improve over the years?

I just read Patty McCord’s Powerful: Building a Culture of Freedom and Responsibility, which outlines how Netflix disrupted the traditional HR rules to create a high-performing team culture at Netflix.

I also love Peter Coughter’s The Art of the Pitch, which argues that every situation in life is a presentation.

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

Wake up early to spend time on yourself (be it exercise, time with family or reading, etc). You can then dive into work knowing you’ve prioritised life, which leaves space to prioritise work during the day.

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