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Balancing the Grind with Tori Goddard, Director of PR at Gate 7

Tori Goddard is the Director of PR at Gate 7, a company that specialises in integrated marketing solutions to increase tourism and visitation from Australia and New Zealand.

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

After graduating from Bournemouth University (in the UK) with a BA Honours degree in Public Relations, I started my career on a Graduate Scheme at a marketing agency in London.

I had already experienced working full time for a year in-house at BBC Magazines (in the press office – which was incredible) as part of my University course, however by the time I finished my degree, I was keen to explore agency land, and I loved it!

My career started with me working mainly in the women’s sports, health and fitness space, where I was lucky enough to pitch at Wembley Stadium, and assist in winning the FA Women’s Super League account, with a campaign designed to increase teenage girls’ interest in football.

In early January 2011, I was given an opportunity to work in Melbourne for a project on behalf of Sony Ericsson. During a visit to friends in Sydney first, I fell in love with the city and decided to move here.

By April 2011, I arrived here with no job, and just a suitcase in tow! I secured a job at Ogilvy (looking after the likes of Activision, Ford, Grace Removals, and Tourism Australia), and following that, worked at PR agency Hausmann Communications (now known as The Haus) for five years.

Here I looked after many of Procter & Gamble’s FMCG household goods as well as Meat & Livestock Australia, Specsavers, and Skip.

In May 2017, I took a small career break. After years of suffering with severe generalised anxiety, I had reached my stress limit and quite honestly: my memory was suffering as a side effect of the anxiety, and that meant it was hard to continue successfully in a work environment.

I felt hopeless and had no idea what would come next – I just knew I needed to take a step back. I spent a month at home in the UK, then one day, my friend approached me with the option of looking after her maternity role at Gate 7 – a travel and tourism marketing agency based in Chippendale, Sydney.

She mentioned it was very unlike other PR agencies in terms of its culture (in a good way!), and did I fancy travelling quite a bit?! That sounded perfect for me.

I found that working at Gate 7 gave me a lot of freedom to shape the role as I wished, plus offered the most incredible experiences hosting journalists on trips in various states and cities all over the USA as well as Los Cabos, Mexico.

There was a trade marketing element to the work that I had not encountered previously, and I enjoyed working closely with and learning from my staff counterparts in this field.

In my current role as Director of PR for Gate 7, I am responsible for overseeing Gate 7’s portfolio of Tourism PR accounts, providing strategic and creative direction to the PR team, and offering guidance to the GM and MD.

I also work on driving new business, and being at the forefront of best and new practices when it comes to our industry. Increasing visitation to destinations is our ultimate goal (hence it’s been the most challenging year!).

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

A recent work-from-home day:

I woke up around 6.30am (as my partner is always up early for work), had a shower, then started my day (as always) with a cup of tea.

I was online by around 7.15am as I like to clear my inbox and respond to messages early on. My work days now look very different from pre-COVID times, as there is no time spent planning trips and writing itineraries, plus I’m not spending lengths of time overseas.

I now spend my time supporting the PR team, managing my own clients, offering PR insights and ideas to my GM and MD, reassessing and adjusting the way we work to reflect international border restrictions and timelines, and pitching for new business.

At lunch time, I headed to the gym which is a five minute walk from my apartment. I love to run on the treadmill while listening to music or a podcast.

Running really helps with the anxiety, provides me with much needed energy, and allows me to break up my day. I ate lunch back at mine, and then went back online until 5.30pm.

Usual work includes strategising and planning for clients, content creation, crisis comms, media relations, brand and digital partnerships, and managing / overseeing the PR team.

I also spent a bit of time in my day planning for a weekly podcast which I co-produce and host with my General Manager Tristan. It’s called Unclaimed Baggage with Tori & T, and is about the wonderful world of travel (the good AND the bad!).

It’s a light hearted look at the industry in which we work, and something that provides entertainment and relatable content for the travel industry. We record this on a Friday, and it is released the following Tuesday each week. It’s so much fun to do, and I’m learning a lot along the way.

I think it’s really important to have that work life balance, and also those activities – both exercise and passion projects like the podcast, to provide escapism. My evenings usually consist of curling up in front of the TV with my partner as that’s how we like to wind down!

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

Prior to COVID, we worked full time from the office, so it took a little while to adapt. However now, I have to say I really enjoy the autonomy and flexibility that remote working brings!

I work in the office twice a week, and then from home on the remaining days, and this suits me perfectly. I do crave that personal interaction, plus think it’s important to be there as support for the team, hence working in the office at least twice per week.

When at home, I love getting up and online early, without the interruption of the commute. I also enjoy fitting in the gym in my lunch time, seeing as my gym is just around the corner.

I can get those little jobs done in the apartment when I would otherwise be travelling. Personally, I also feel I’m more productive working from home, as there are many distractions in the office. I also seem to eat healthier and not drink quite as much tea!

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

Work life balance means ‘time out’ to me. Carving out time away from work, from any stress, from doing the things I ‘have’ to do i.e. make money, to doing the things I ‘want’ to do, such as seeing friends, relaxing, and passion projects such as planning and recording my podcast!

I have worked very hard throughout the years to ensure I understand my anxiety, and how best to manage it. I now realise that taking time out, daily cardio exercise, and yoga / meditation really helps. If there is no balance, you will wear thin, and your mental health suffers as a result.

Especially after the year we have had (uncertainty does not bode well with those already suffering from anxiety!), it’s more important than ever to check in with yourself and with others, and ensure that we are putting our mental and physical health first.

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

Absolutely!

I now think a lot about what I am spending and even have a cost tracker app that allows me to analyse where my money is going. I started living with my partner after he stayed with me during lockdown, and while early on in our relationship, we had a lot of fun, and found that we suited living together.

I was also surprised to find someone even more organised than I am! We have a whiteboard that helps us keep track of everything from outgoing costs to social events to reminders – while geeky, I’ll never miss a free trial expiration date again!

I don’t enjoy going out as much as I used to, and have definitely become more of a homebody, which was probably much needed.

I also don’t compare myself to others so much anymore. My anxiety held me back in my career a lot previously, and I always felt I was behind. Now I know that I’ve just been on a different path, I have fantastic life experience, and I love where I have ended up.

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

I am absolutely obsessed with crime podcasts. Sword and Scale would have to be my favourite – I always get lost in the stories as they’re told in such an engaging way, with very thorough research and choice of soundbites.

I’ve also really loved S-Town, The Night Driver, Teacher’s Pet, The Lady Vanishes, and To Live and Die in LA previously. This love of crime extends to TV too – I love finding a gripping true crime documentary or series. Streaming apps are a regular pastime in this apartment!

Books – anything by Jodi Picoult, as her stories always cover a controversial topic, and are so cleverly written. Also Liane Moriarty.

A book that changed my outlook on life and work majorly was The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, by Mark Manson. I used to worry so much, and it really held me back.

Once I’d read this book, I was clearly able to see what was and what wasn’t worth sweating over, and I began to cut the crap a lot more. And to just have that outlook of ‘oh well – f*ck it’ felt liberating and such a relief.

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

I simply couldn’t live without my Spotify and Apple Podcast apps. When commuting or at the gym I really love the distraction that a great playlist or a gripping crime podcast brings!

Also this will sound weird, but I couldn’t live without my electric toothbrush – after previously working for Oral-B for many years, I learnt a lot about how power brushes work, and I just couldn’t go back to manual now.

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

It would have to be Beyonce. That woman really is a force to be reckoned with! She is so incredibly talented, is so hard-working, and all the while juggles a busy family life.

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

Take time to look after your mental health and know what your body needs. It’s taken me many years to get on top of my anxiety, and as it had such a major effect on my work days, I now know to make looking after myself a major priority, to ensure I’m giving the best in all aspects of my life.

Money isn’t everything – it can help of course, but really focus more on experiences, connection, and family, as these are the things that you will be most remembered for.

Also, it’s okay to say no! I used to accept so many offers to go out, and would feel guilty if I didn’t. Now I’m a bit older, I fully enjoy sitting at home with a glass of red in front of the TV, guilt-free!

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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.