What time do you wake up?
Ben wakes up at 7am (he used to wake up at 6:30am but that somehow crept later). Kat sleeps in because she’s growing a baby and gets up at 7:30am.
What’s the ideal way to start your day?
Breakfast at 8am at Prefab (opposite the office) with a catch-up on what we’re each working on.
Do you have any morning rituals?
Ben: I do 60 sit-ups and 40 push-ups, then 10 minutes of meditation with the Headspace app. We don’t eat breakfast at home, we just get ready and leave. I only wear black jeans and white T-shirt, so getting ready is very easy. I kinda of play out an Edgar Wright style montage in my head as I do it.
Kat: My current morning routine while pregnant is to sleep in as much as I can, then eat and check my emails for the day. I also love breakfast, so breakfast meetings are a common ritual.
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?
Ben: I’m pretty addicted to media. Like, an unhealthy amount. I’m always looking at Instagram, news sites, Facebook, etc. I try to listen to a few podcasts a week. I usually go to Tim Ferris, Seth Godin, Recode Decode and Voxx. I’m interested in a lot of things, from self improvement, to American Politics, to tech and food. I just subscribed to masterclass.com and am learning cooking from Gordon Ramsey.
Kat: I wish I watched more media and played more VR, but my days are usually pretty packed with meetings and actioning things so my media consumption usually happens in the evenings, weekend and when someone suggests something to me. Ben’s definitely the larger media consumer and he keeps me up to date, which is awesome.
What kind of work do you do?
We run Wrestler, which is a storytelling agency. We create video campaigns, virtual and augmented reality experiences and do a whole lot of other interesting things in the storytelling space. Think of it as a hybrid between the ad world and the film world. And the future world. Wrestler is also building its own creative IP and this is a newer part to the business where we develop our own games, short films, a news documentary series with The Spinoff called Frame. The latest is a partnership with Miramar Creative called Pohewa, which is practical masterclasses turning creativity into commercial reality.
What responsibilities does that involve in a typical day? What takes up most of your time?
Ben: I’m mostly on the hustle, trying to find new clients, grow the brand and learn about what’s new. This is kind of new for me. I’ve always been a hustler, but never full time. I do find it challenging not having projects that start and finish, I’m more big picture now, which is fun, just less tangible. I’m also the finance person, so have to make sure the business is doing well and our budget is on track and the forecast is looking good. I like this, because it means I know exactly the pulse of the business e.g. Do I need to hustle more or are we going to be overworked. I also get involved in the creative and oversight of projects, so ensuring things are going well and people are happy and clients are happy and the work we’re producing makes me proud.
Kat: My main focus is around our VR and AR offering – finding opportunities to help the VR/AR part of the business grow, whether its through projects with clients or creating our own games/experiences and building relationships with people who are interested in knowing more about VR/AR and creating experiences. Hopefully they become clients and we work together to create something mīharo! I also educate the market on the importance of tech and storytelling and the different ways to use it today and in the future. I’m also doing a lot of talks and panel discussions around tech and storytelling. I mainly talk around my passion of empowering people to take action towards a positive future using technology as a way to help equality. I also talk a lot about how we need to change our general purpose. At the moment it’s ‘our purpose is to work’, but I want that to change to ‘our purpose is to live’, and I’m using education as the centre point for this discussion.
What are your surroundings on a typical day? Where do your best ideas come from?
We have an amazing studio in central Wellington that we custom built. It’s spacious and very open, which creates an awesome vibe. The only problem is that it can be pretty distracting! Especially when we have three dogs in, which isn’t uncommon. The best ideas don’t happen here though, the best ideas happen on a walk or a bike ride, which is what makes Wellington so awesome. We’re five minutes from amazing bush walks or the beach, so inspiration is easy to find.
How do you juggle all your responsibilities?
Ben: I have a Trello board that I run my life off. It has my immediate, mid-term and long-term to do lists on it as separate columns. I also have a mid-term and long term goals column, an ideas column, a need to read/watch column, a clients column and motivational quotes column. I just have that open all day and whenever I get lost of what to do I look at that and it provides me with everything I need. The beauty of this Trello board is that I don’t have to keep all of this information in my head, I just chuck it on the board and forget about it. This way I have space in my brain for other things and don’t have to stress about remembering all this shit I have to do.
Kat: I’m less organised than Ben. I live through my calendar, everything is in there down to the 15-minute mark. I’m a very ‘in the moment’ kind of person. My to do lists vary on my mood of the day between emails I’ve sent to myself, Trello boards and my trusty notebook.
Do you measure your accomplishments or productivity? If so, how?
Ben: I measure things in two ways: the vibe and the money. I trust my gut more than most (some call it cocky, I just call it confident) so if I feel good about something, I’m happy. Also if things are making money, then that’s a pretty good measure that it’s going well. So the emotional and practical, I guess.
Kat: I’m quite a projects-driven person so landing a job, speaking at an event, getting funding, finishing a job, having a successful meeting are all ways I measure accomplishments, but it’s not hugely tracked. If the pipeline of work is healthy, my team’s happy and Ben and I can keep focusing on the future of Wrestler and the industry, then that's when I’m most happy.
Is there anything you think is unique about your day? What’s your best productivity hack?
The fact we work and live together is pretty unique. Our productivity hack is that we talk about anything any time. This means any issues we’ve got brewing in our brains can be discussed and fixed or extinguished. It just makes life easier and things happen faster. There is nothing we can’t bring up with each other. Literally nothing.
Do you get stressed? If so, how do you manage it? Do you practice any mindfulness or meditation?
Ben: Yup, but not that bad. It’s normally self-doubt type stress. We have an amazing team who I don’t need to stress about. If I’m stressed, it’s because I’m not taking the time to align my actions to my goals. Normally it comes after a few days of unhealthy eating and drinking, and not doing any exercise or meditation. I’ve only recently worked out that what goes in (food wise) is the most important thing for your mental and physical health.
Kat: I do, but I’m pretty good at managing it. It’s usually because I’ve said yes and taken on too many things. So the way I stress relieve is focus on getting on top of everything and pragmatically work through the list and ask for help where I can, until it subsides. Walks in the bush really help – touching plants and being mindful in that moment helps clear the stress cloud. One of my favourite quotes which I refer to probably weekly is: “Move slow when going fast” – Mika Hakkinen.
What do you do once you get home? Can you switch off?
Ben: Hahahahahahahaha… no.
Kat: Home? What’s home? We pretty much have events every night. If we do get a night home, Ben loves cooking, so he’ll cook something awesome and then we watch a sci-fi.
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?
Eight hours a night. We recently started doing no technology from 9pm. It’s amazing. Really helps you fall into a deeper sleep.
Is there such a thing as work/life balance if you’re working with your partner all day, every day? Do you have boundaries?
Not really. Your business is like a baby, you invest so much time and effort into it, that to just ignore it seems strange. We love what we do and we love working, so it’s not an issue for us. I can imagine if you weren’t both as interested in it as we are problems could arise, but for us we’re just all about it all the time. We also do our own thing, so some days we don’t even see each other. Or one of us will go away on a conference, so its not like we’re sitting next to each other all day.
Do staff have any issues around office politics i.e. do the staff see you as a team? Is there a danger you’ll take sides, rather than be objective? How do you guard against that?
This is something we try to keep at top of mind. No one wants to see a couple argue, let alone their bosses… We never argue over business issues, or personal issues for that matter, we just bicker about random shit, like ‘Na you ate the last tomato’ or something dumb like that. No one wants to hear that shit. We also have different roles, Kat’s in charge of VR/AR and Ben’s the CEO. So at the end of the day, Ben is the go to for anything business and Kat for anything in the VR/AR space.
Do you have rules about not talking about work at home? Or is that a good time to solve problems?
It’s a great time to solve problems. Most of our business vision work is done on holiday over a wine and some oysters. It’s fun! We would rather be talking about something we’re passionate about then bitching about someone from a shitty TV show. Is that what other people talk about?
Do you make colleagues uncomfortable by pashing each other at the office? (joking).
Yep. All day er’ day.
What do or don’t you eat or drink to maintain your performance throughout the day?
Ben: Coffee, coffee, coffee. I’m actually trying to cut back on coffee due to the acidity. I can feel after two that my gut is getting off balance. I really struggle with food. I love it so much, but am pretty delicate. I’m allergic to preservatives and pork – so random. If I eat these things my body starts to shut down. Too much info? anyway, I’m working on this as I think what we eat is the most important decisions in your day.
Kat: Eggs, avocado, fruit are my go-to foods at the moment! Oh, and with Easter coming up, Prefab’s hot cross buns are mīharo.
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