A Day in the Life: The Luxury Network and Heletranz’s Sofia Ambler
What time do you wake up?
Between 5 to 6am.
What’s the ideal way to start your day?
Ideally I would love to not wake up so early but I can’t help it, my mind starts buzzing and then I might as well get up and go for a walk and see the sun go up.
Do you have any morning rituals?
Yes, I normally go for a walk, feed our dog, cat, chickens (collect eggs) and sheep, do some light exercise followed by a swim in the sea or in the pool. After that I always have a big cup of warm lemon water.
How soon do you begin doing work-related things, i.e. checking phone or emails?
When I realise I won’t be able to sleep anymore I check emails before I get out of bed.
What do or don’t you eat or drink to maintain your performance throughout the day?
I have either eggs, yoghurt with homemade muesli or porridge for breakfast, I’m a firm believer that it is the most important meal of the day, but in stark competition with dinner and lunch, I LOVE my food and would never miss a meal. I like a strong cup of Earl Grey Tea in the morning and try to avoid coffee.
What’s your media consumption or interaction like from the morning onwards – do you listen to podcasts, radio, watch videos, read books and magazines, visit news sites?
I would love to say I listen to podcasts but the truth is a do a quick scroll of NZ Herald for any local news followed by dn.se, a Swedish paper for more European/Global news and sometimes BBC World. I know I should put more time aside for further education, but that will have to be a goal for later.
What kind of work do you do?
I own The Luxury Network and co-own (with my husband John) Heletranz Helicopters.
What responsibilities does that involve in a typical day? What takes up most of your time?
I try to spend half the day most days in the office at Heletranz, if I need to focus I work from home. Three to four days a week I’m in town for meetings. I try to have meetings at Next Gen Health Club once or twice a week so I can combine it with exercise.
Who do you see/talk to?
I meet with luxury brands for TLN, focusing on business development, brand collaborations, events and activations. At Heletranz I talk mostly to my staff, they are a constant inspiration and to key clients, I mostly help my staff with clients who require more extensive planning, like big group movements or a trip requiring extra tailoring to achieve the most extraordinary experience possible.
What are your surroundings on a typical day? Where do your best ideas come from?
My best ideas can come at any time, sometimes when I’m driving or walking. I try very hard to stop all my ideas popping up at bedtime but very often that is when they appear.
What are the most important tools or programmes you use for your work?
Energy and positive can-do attitude are my most important tools. Surrounding myself with great, positive people who are interesting and with different life experience to myself is also important. I’m a people’s person and slightly technophobic so it would be the people that are most important to me.
How do you juggle all your responsibilities?
Most of the time I feel like I got it under control but with two companies, three children, a mini-farm (I have learnt how to shear and treat fly strike and barber pole worm) and a husband that travels a lot due to also flying a private jet in addition to helicopters, things do not always work to plan. I often feel like I’m lacking either as a mother or as an employer or as myself, it is a constant juggle but one that I love (most days). There is also an enormous freedom working for yourself, I think I’m totally unemployable by now. I love seeing direct results from my work, which I never did working in banking in a bigger corporation.
I ended up with meningitis and pneumonia two years ago partly due to stress and burn out, so these days I’m very mindful of looking after myself and I often practice sleep meditation at night, it has really helped me relax and forces me to focus and not think about work.
Do you use social media?
I use Instagram and Linkedln for work, sometimes Facebook but that is more for family and friends at home in Sweden.
What kind of breaks do you take throughout the day?
No specific breaks, if I feel like I need a time out I will go for a walk at the beach.
What’s the most enjoyable part of your day?
My morning ritual at home and having a cuppa at work in the morning with my team as it is not always a peaceful departure from the house in the morning. Now when it is getting a little chillier I love coming home and making a fire inside or outside, I BBQ for dinner most days.
What about the least enjoyable?
Workwise, it is if you just don’t feel like you have enough time to make an excellent job or if a staff member is having issues, that can be difficult as it requires extra attention and time that you might always feel like you have. At home it is making lunch boxes and doing the dishes but my kids are getting older so I’m getting better at delegating those jobs.
Do you procrastinate? Is it good or bad?
I’m quite spontaneous, so I do a lot of thinking but most thinking is then followed by action, I’m quite a fast mover. I’m lucky I have a team who are better at the detailed stuff and admin as that is not my forte.
Do you measure your accomplishments or productivity? If so, how?
Not really, I guess a happy team and growing companies/revenue is a measurement of business success. I do track our numbers on Xero daily. I’m also mindful of trying to be happy with what we have achieved so far and not always only focus on what is next, but that requires further training as I have not really mastered it yet.
Is there anything you think is unique about your day? What’s your best productivity hack?
I love starting my day with a bit of outdoor exercise, it really sets you up for the day, even if only for 15 minutes.
What’s your interaction with friends and family throughout the day? Can you be both a successful entrepreneur and a good mother/father/husband/wife?
I have breakfast and dinner with the family every day. As a husband and wife team at Heletranz, it has given us a whole other level to our relationship, it is very exciting to discover new skills in your partner after 20 years together. I can’t really remember what we talked about before kids and Heletranz! As mentioned before, combining entrepreneurship and family life is a constant juggle and I think women to a larger degree than men live with reoccurring guilt. “Are you not coming to assembly, art show, my game, cross country or the Christmas concert Mum?” With three kids, different assemblies, sports and activities it is hard to make it to everything, I try very hard to go to the majority as I normally have flexible hours and I have been to my first school camp this year, which was so much fun. I think I am who I am due to my kids, but if I was able to work one whole week uninterrupted, I wonder what I could have achieved? Friends I see spontaneously, a glass of wine between 8 to 10pm in front of the fire on a Monday decided on the day or at out at Waiheke on days off.
Do you get stressed? If so, how do you manage it? Do you practice any mindfulness or meditation?
I ended up with meningitis and pneumonia two years ago partly due to stress and burn out, so these days I’m very mindful of looking after myself and I often practice sleep meditation at night, it has really helped me relax and forces me to focus and not think about work. If I get stressed I really try and prioritise some time out, even if just a quick walk by the ocean.
Do you exercise? If so, what do you do? And for how long each day?
Most days I walk, swim and do 10 minutes of exercises. I go to Next Gen one to two times a week.
What do you do once you get home? Can you switch off?
I try, but at times it’s difficult as I normally take them phones for Heletranz home with me. Total switch off is when I go to Sweden for five weeks to spend time with family and friends and log out.
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?
Between 9.30 and 10.30pm normally. I normally sleep around seven hours a night, sometimes a little less. I really try and avoid checking emails/social media after 8pm.