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Balancing the Grind with Katie King, CEO of AI in Business

Katie King is the CEO of AI in Business, a digital transformation and AI-focused consultancy, and also runs digital marketing consultancy Zoodikers Consulting.

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

I’ve been in marketing for over 30 years. I started out as a marketing executive in-house for a major telecoms company, and they used to send me around the world with a steel box of telephone cables selling our fibre optic telecom services at exhibitions.

After that, I moved to the agency side and helped build a company that was later acquired. But for the past 15 years, I’ve owned my own businesses. I started Zoodikers Consulting Ltd, a digital marketing consultancy, in 2010.

We’ve worked with loads of different clients and I’ve advised some of the world’s top business leaders in that time, but a few years ago I noticed that everyone was starting to catch up. That’s what led me to get into artificial intelligence (AI).

I published a book and started a digital transformation and AI-focused consultancy called AI in Business in 2019. Now I run both AI in Business and Zoodikers concurrently, and spend my time training and consulting business leaders on how to stay current and avoid extinction.

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

Today, I spent my morning on back-to-back Zoom calls with different prospects and partners. It’s pretty full-on and a lot of talking, but it’s nice to still be able to communicate with people face-to-face even if it is through a screen.

This afternoon, I’m hosting and speaking on The Speakers Agency’s ‘Meet the Speakers’ webinar with 3 VIPS, my speaker agent Sylvia Tidy-Harris, and my colleague Ashley. We do this as part of a series every Thursday, and we’ve had some really amazing speakers on it.

When that’s done, I’ve got a few more calls to make and some emails to reply to, then I’ll be preparing for a virtual networking breakfast I’m hosting first thing tomorrow morning. I’ve been doing loads of these types of sessions both for my companies and for clients, and they’ve been really successful and interactive.

Once that’s all done, I’ll log off and take my dog Oscar for a walk in the woods before settling in for the evening with my family. It’s what keeps me sane after such a hectic day!

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

My team and I have been working remotely for a few years now. We used to have a big office, but we spend so much time out meeting with clients or attending events that it just didn’t make sense to be tied to an office space.

Remote work has been a really successful arrangement for us, and all the technology that’s available has made it really simple. The team and I are constantly in touch via email, WhatsApp, or Zoom.

I’m also a believer in finding a good work-life balance, and so I’ve always allowed my team the freedom to work flexibly as needed. I’ve got a great team and I trust them completely, so this arrangement has never been problematic. If anything, I’d say it’s made us more productive and able to better serve our clients.

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

Work-life balance is definitely important to me. I have a wide range of hobbies and passions that I try to set aside time for, for example singing in a band and writing a novel.

I think it’s important to have ways to find fulfilment outside of the professional space. But at the same time, I am very tenacious and determined, so I’m happy to work hard. I love what I do and I’m very driven to keep innovating and progressing.

I’ve always been this way. Work doesn’t feel like a chore to me. My two daughters were the inspiration for me to start Zoodikers, but they’re 24 and 21 years old now so it’s easier for me to give work more attention than I did when they were younger. That said, my family will always come first and I’ll always make time for them.

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

I’ve begun researching and writing a new book about Zanzibar. My grandmother was actually married to the former Sultan. It’s been really interesting diving into the history of the country and their culture.

As part of the process, I’ve done loads of researching and tracing of my own ancestry, which has put me in contact with relatives, for example in Ireland, that I didn’t even know I had. I’ve written my book on AI and marketing which allowed me to explore a professional passion, but this new book is definitely a labour of love.

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

I love Origin by Dan Brown. It’s a very compelling thriller. I devoured it!  I would also highly recommend Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence by Mark Tegmark, a professor at MIT who I quoted in my book.

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

I definitely cannot live without my iPhone, but I prefer paper books to my Kindle. I also love my amp and wireless microphone setup, as I sing in a band.

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

I’d love to know how a Prime Minister like Winston Churchill managed his time, or a leader like Barack Obama.

I’d also love to read a book by Carolyn McCall, the CEO of ITV and one of only five female FTSE 100 CEOs. Before that, she was CEO of EasyJet. Carolyn has three kids of her own, so I’d love to see how she’s balanced that with running an airline and a major media conglomerate over the years.

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

I think it’s important to try to find a balance that works for you. It may not always be an even split. There are times where I work on weekends or Bank Holidays, and other times where I’ll take a day to just spend time with my family.

Not everyone is the same, and that balance will look different for every person. When you’re a driven and tenacious person, it becomes all too easy to throw yourself into your work. But you need to come up for air sometimes, and it’s all about finding the things that bring you joy and fulfilment outside of your professional passion.

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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.