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A day in the life: Stanley Street’s Regan Grafton

What time do you wake up? 
I used to wake up peacefully when my body decided. Now I’m jolted awake by my four year old screaming either DAAAAAAAD! or MUUUUUUM!. Anywhere from between 5:00am – 6:30am, 7 days a week.

What kind of work do you do?
I’m the Chief Creative Officer at Stanley St, NZ largest indi advertising agency. My role is managing the creative department and maintaining the quality of the creative product.

What’s the ideal way to start your day?
Well, it would be waking up at a time of my choosing. Then going back to sleep. Reading the newspaper in bed with a coffee in hand… I miss those days.

Do you have any morning rituals?
My wife and I have added to our daily routine 15-20 minutes of yoga stretching each morning. 
I have definitely noticed that I don’t make that ‘old man’ groan so often when I pick something off the ground. 

How soon do you begin doing work-related things each morning, such as checking phone or emails?
I know I shouldn’t, but I check my emails on my phone minutes after waking.

What’s your media consumption or interaction like – which podcasts, radio, videos, books, magazines, and new sites do you read or listen to?
I’m one of the three people over 40 on Tik Tok, but seriously this app is amazing for entrepreneurs and marketers. The algorithm changes the content to whatever you’re interested in, and in my case, my stream is full of amazing tips from billionaires, investors, SEO experts and marketers… All bite size, and to the point.

I also like my daily dose of Pocket, for a curated kind of news feed.

What do you think is unique about the way you approach your work?
For me it’s always been about great storytelling. If you really want to emotionally connect to people, you’ve got to harness this. 

What responsibility do you have in a typical day? What takes up most of your time?
I would say more than half of my time is taken up by meetings. Either presenting work, taking feedback, pre-production meeting or reviewing creative ideas. 

Where do your best ideas come from?
Definitely not from advertising. 
I’ve always believed that the best ideas come from observing life, having lots of interests and being present in the world. My most successful ideas have come from insights out of life experiences.

What has been the most transformational business practice you’ve implemented at your work?
I have ‘coffee catch ups’ with individual creative teams each week. I find this ‘one-on-one’ meeting time enables me to keep track on how people are really feeling. 

What social or environmental issues inform the work you do, as well as what you’re aiming to do with your company’s overall vision?
As a NZ owned company, we’ve put a lot of focus on helping NZers. During lockdown we recognised that small and medium sized businesses were suffering terribly, so we launched the ‘Support local’ campaign which was very rewarding to see consumers embrace. 

What’s the most enjoyable part of your day?
Spending time with Nikki and my two awesome boys, Leo and Arlo.

What about the least enjoyable?
When clients use the creative work to figure out what they want.

Do you have any side hustles you’re juggling alongside being an entrepreneur?
Yes I do! 
I’ve co-founded a new platform with Julie Spedding called MyPitchlist.co.nz.
It’s a site that lets property sellers pitch their property out to real estate agents, who then compete to win it as a new listing. 

We’ve been working on it for about 18 months with lots of late nights and weekends to get it up and running. We launched in October and have been blown away by how well received it’s been by both agents and sellers.

What’s your best productivity hack?
I work out what’s the most important thing to do each day and try to tick that off first.

Do you get stressed? If so, how do you manage it? Do you practice any mindfulness or meditation?
People say I always seem calm, but the truth is I do get stressed. However, I think giving into stress ends up clouding your mind from thinking of the solution. If I’m getting a bit wound up, I find going for a bike ride clears my head.

What do you do once you get home? Can you switch off?
I’m straight into ‘Dad mode’ when I walk in the door until about 7.30pm, then Nikki and I get to spend some time together. However, we often have an hour of evening work to catch up on which isn’t ideal but comes with the territory of our jobs.

What do or don’t you eat or drink to maintain your performance throughout the day?
My usual ‘go-to’ is sushi for lunch, and a mid-afternoon coffee if I’m struggling.

What time do you go to sleep? How many hours sleep do you try to get each night? Any special techniques for a good night’s rest?
I’ve suffered from insomnia for years as I find it hard to quieten down my mind, it’s always whirring away with ideas. However, over recent years my sleeping has improved, I use the term ‘improved’ loosely as now I’ve started to snore a bit which isn’t so popular.

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