Diverse is probably the best way to describe what I do. When I first took on the role of Managing Director (MD) at Steak seven years ago, I had no idea how hands-on and involved the role would be. It’s a super charming aspect of the role, but also its biggest challenge. Distilling a “typical” day for me is a little hard to do, so perhaps literally describing a day is the best way to go…
I wake up between 5:45 and 6:00am every day without fail. Even on the weekends. I have two small, human alarm clocks who have relegated sleep-ins to a thing of the past. A while ago my lifestyle would not have been so conducive to waking up this early but these days it’s the norm.
Ironing is meditation time
Some of my deepest thinking happens in front of an ironing board at 6:30am. I’ve started my mornings with this 15-minute ritual every day for the past two decades. I’ve never asked my wife to iron my shirts, firstly because it’s redundant but mostly because I kind of like it… and I don’t trust her with my shirts.
Anyway, I use this “Power 15” to mentally organise my day ahead. By the time I reach my sleeves, my biggest decisions for the day have been prioritised and hard calls have been made. I think it’s important to unpack every challenge to its core problem, find three potential options, then make a call on one. You then need to follow it through with a structured approach – I save that for the car ride in.
Driving is a good motivator
I talk to myself a lot on my commute. After all Priority 1 tasks have been addressed during ironing, I move onto things which are important, but not pivotal. Sometimes it’s a gripe from a client or feedback from a member of staff, or even sometimes hate mail from the legal department. All these things I tend to tackle head-on and, if people are really lucky, I call them for advice.
Pat, Chris, Mike B and Byrne have all been keen recipients of my calls between 8:00-9:30am. Sometimes earlier. That being said, one thing is for sure: without having trusted advisors I would definitely struggle. I’m glad they pick up despite the early hour, because having talented individuals who are willing to give you their perspective on things is a real strength to draw from.
Mornings… are never dull
After saying my morning “hellos” to the staff in the Melbourne office, I’ll sit down to tackle my fanmail. It’s varied, to say the least.
For example, in a recent series of emails I had a complaint about the strength of the light bulbs, a client requiring a further 2500 sales in 4 weeks, commercial finance wanting clarity on some regional forecasts, the legal department informing me that without a signature we could be liable to half a million dollars, and finally a staffer asking if bringing in pets is an option …all of which are different but each requiring my immediate attention.
Multiply this 10-fold and you get a good view on what goes on in my inbox, daily. The lesson here (and biggest mistake if not taken seriously) is to treat everything and everyone as equally important; no question is too silly and no task too insignificant. Give people or tasks the respect they deserve or else you’ll end up suffering the consequences.
Afternoons – time to take action
As much as people have requests from me, I also have my own series of tasks and areas of importance that I’m keen to focus on. These include: catching up with clients to discuss business direction and opportunities, discussing operational items with team leads, listening into new areas of investment, managing upon our performance, chiming in on new business ops commercially or legally, and so on.
I think it’s fair to say most of my time is spent communicating or consulting, on a broad range of topics. Slip in the odd catastrophe or meltdown and my work day is complete.
My hour-and-a-half dive home gives me time to reflect on the day, plan for tomorrow and perhaps even check off errant things that have been floating around my head all day. It’s also a good time to call other teams or offices overseas who are just starting their day, to see if we can contribute in any way.
At the end of the day, when I come home, I can honestly say that when I’m asked how my day went, my response is very rarely bland, boring or repetitive. It’s a type of organised chaos which I love and am lucky to be part of… apart from ironing my shirts. That’s a constant.