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Balancing the Grind with Brook Rutherford, Sales Strategy & Partnerships Expert

Brook Rutherford is a Sales Strategy & Partnerships Expert. Recently she spent 9 years working at Seven West Media across sales, marketing, production and live events.

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

I’m a high-level sales executive with a unique resume spanning media and the arts. Most recently with Seven West Media I spent 9 great years working across all areas of sales, marketing, production and live events.

At the outset of Covid-19 I orchestrated a redundancy of my role at Seven in order to better align with my passions.

Exposure to the arts has been a constant throughout my life as a result of my late father Harry M. Miller’s work and this has given me a great drive, confidence and philosophy.

My approach to career is to be of service to my organisation and my fellows and to constantly connect and expand this network to find incredible development opportunities and help us deliver results.

My passion lies in driving brands and businesses through the intersection of traditional media formats to new media players, creators and audience consumption habits, for the benefit of the industry as a whole.

I’m currently seeking my next opportunity to use a powerful blend of data and relationship-driven approaches to benefit a future focused organisation.

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

I’ve had what many would say is an early long service leave and it’s been incredibly interesting how the time and space to really strategise and learn, rest and refresh has fed my soul.

My husband said just this morning how joyful I seem at the moment and I agreed and I’m very grateful. So since Covid-19 I have been working in my office at home, a daily and very structured routine that has started and ended the same way.

I get up at 5am and meditate for 30 mins, followed by an inspirational daily reading, a series of circuit exercises and then time on my stationery bike.

Once I hit the bike I am listening to a podcast and scrolling through trade media sites, LinkedIn and if I have time I get onto my Apple News for a scan.

I’ve got two young kids (6 and 4) and we do a lovely morning peel off of PJ’s, start and follow through on the breakfast, school and drop off routine. TV helps!

My days have been spent over the past months engaging in fantastic learning and networking. First I’ve completed the ADMA WFH Marketing Masterclass with Mark Ritson over 12 weeks, whom I now affectionally refer to as my Covid-19 husband (he doesn’t know that though).

I’ve done four General Assembly Courses and now have a really high regard for that business, something I hadn’t been aware of before WFH. I’ve also worked on nurturing and increasing countless LinkedIn connections, literally hundreds, to expand my perception of what’s happening.

Seven West Media have a fabulous transition program and that allowed me to start working with an Executive Coach called Will Bonney and I completed the Birkman Report and got under the hood of my next right step.

This process is an exceptionally targeted career aptitude and capability assessment, it narrows down your ‘work zone’. It’s helped me during introductions and interviews and to prepare toolkits to package my career experience and more. Just amazingly helpful for anyone who is keen to interrogate their career.

And finally I have conducted about 15 reverse interviews with leaders across the technology and media space. People have very generously given me their time, teaching me about their organisations, helping me to have a deeper understanding of the culture, success and structure.

These incredible and high achieving individuals are with Google, LinkedIn, Nine, Facebook, Apple, Tik Tok, IAB, Allianz, HiPages, Iconic and several not-for-profits. Covid-19 has restored my faith in the professional community and the great learning and insights that come from connections.

3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?

I’ve discovered a joy in WFH that I never thought possible. I used to think I would not be able to stop going to the fridge! My office needed some work when lockdown started and I have a desk that now runs like a war room.

Flexible working was a throw away term about five years ago when I had my first child. It wasn’t uncommon to feel guilty for running away from the office quickly for a kids day-care concert, knowing that day after day I was in fact working from 5.30am and easily till bedtime. Today everything has changed and I think trust in the workforce has increased, as it should.

For me personally, I am always on, but I am hard wired that way. If something needs doing, I can process and analyse the task and keep it running even when I’m at a kids basketball practice after work.

It’s fluid, fun and engaging to work like this and it shows my team that I am passionate about the business and always engaged and forever problem solving. Funny texts usually happen after hours and I don’t think you get those in office hours.

4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?

Work life balance for me each day starts with meditation and ends with self-reflection before bedtime, this is 7 days a week. I’m a firm believer in writing down an inventory of the day’s thoughts and feelings at night to process any bug bears, fears, or unhelpful behaviours.

Once I write them down in black and white and hand them over to the process, knowing I’ve done everything I can, I sleep like a baby and can’t remember a thing on the list (as if by magic) the next morning.

I’ve read a quote that solidified this daily practice for me “A life unexamined is a life half lived.”

5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?

Yes I have recently doubled the time I meditate in the morning. I’ve done roughly 15 mins for the past 20 years. Taking it up to 30 has increased my sense of calm. The peace has crept up on me though and as you’ve read even my hubby can notice that I’m visibly more joyful.

The Dalai Lama talks about meditation as something that you have to do every day, like brushing your teeth. I can’t live today with yesterday’s cleaned teeth, they don’t feel nice!

Mental clarity, inner peace, being able to pause, these are all the benefits I have experienced from a daily meditation practice.

6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?

I am a media and marketing news ‘junkie’. I could sit on LinkedIn all day and find the depth of information and pathways to be ever expanding and informative.

I love Harvard Business Review and The Economist, they make me feel smarter just by clicking on the articles. Mark Ritson made a great point yesterday which was that a lot of his online learning lies now in the LinkedIn platform.

Just this morning I have ensured I am following all of the organisations and key marketing talent around the world that he follows and just by that action know my feed will take a new direction. In six months-time I may be doing that again with another thought-leader.

7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?

I can highly recommend Insight Timer an app for mindfulness for anyone new or even for old timers to the meditation game. It was founded by an old friend from our school days Christopher Plowman and is now the largest of its kind globally.

It’s got 10 million users and 5,000 meditation teachers plus 350K 5 star reviews. I love listening to Buddhist chanting and classical music but have also used it for a really powerful grief medication when my Dad passed away.

I listened to the same one for about a month, cried through every guided meditation, and emerged whole on the other side being very grateful and joyful for his time with us.

8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?

I’d absolutely love to hear from Barack Obama. I heard that he wears the same underwear and socks every day to save time and reduce his decision making on the smaller stuff, for use on the more important things. I find that fascinating.

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

Harvard are still running a longitudinal study on key contributors to happiness, flourishing and ultimately longevity.

They have studied 700 people over 70 years (I believe only men) and what they have found is that connection to community, social interactions professionally or personally, daily connecting and communicating with a large and diverse group of people.

These are the things that are the primary contributors to a long and happy life. Not money. Not five international holidays a year. Not beating your colleague on the sales numbers. Not followers on Instagram. Real life connections. I believe in this theory and think that the magic in life is revealed to us within the interactions with the people in our lives.

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About Author

Balance The Grind gives me a platform to talk to these people about how they're achieving their ideal lifestyle. I'm inspired by the passion, the work ethic, the hustle; and these conversations motivate me to live life the way I want to live it.