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A Day in the Life: Humankind founder Samantha Gadd

Samantha Gadd is the founder and managing director of Humankind and a director of its sister company, Kin. Humankind is a consulting business providing expert employee experience and human resource consulting and advice to organisations and government agencies nationwide, while Kin is a talent business focused on reshaping recruitment. Here's how she gets through the day, how she organises her time and how she handles the madness of juggling two businesses. 

What time do you wake up?

5.30 – 6am.

What kind of work do you do?

I lead a consulting business (Humankind) and am the director of a modern recruitment business (Kin). My day is usually a mix of time in the market and in the business – I love spending time with clients learning about their organization and sharing ideas around leadership, employee experience and how we might be able to help. Humankind's purpose is to lead humanity at work – this is what drives me every day!

What’s the ideal way to start your day?

Exercise – I love getting to the gym/yoga or walking to work or, breakfast out with family or friends at one of my favourite cafes – Prefab in Wellington, Amano/Odettes/Orphans Kitchen in Auckland.

Do you have any morning rituals?

Cuddles with my three boys (if I am in Wellington) are the best way to start the day unless I leave the house before they get up. They are early birds, so this isn’t often! My sons keep me grounded, and remind me of what is truly important.

How soon do you begin doing work-related things each morning, such as checking phone or emails?

Early – I am normally at my desk by 7.30am, having checked my emails and social channels prior. I live and breathe business and love it this way!

What’s your media consumption or interaction like – which podcasts, radio, videos, books, magazines, and new sites do you read or listen to?

HUGE, I am always listening to an audio book (business related) – currently listening to Play Bigger, having just finished Getting Naked and Great by Choice. I love business podcasts, hearing other startup/entrepreneurial stories, and my other obsession is true crime podcasts – LOVE them! I spend a bit of time on LinkedIn and other social channels watching what is happening in the market and reading interesting news items.

Inspiration comes when connecting with like-minded people, other business owners and people passionate about their field. I don’t drink coffee, but I can get seriously jazzed over a cup of tea with some purpose driven and passionate conversation.

What do you think is unique about the way you approach your work?

I am always available, meaning most of my day is open to team and clients. The upside of this is getting a lot of social connection and collaboration. The downside is needing to catch up on anything desk based in the evening.

What responsibility do you have in a typical day? What takes up most of your time?

I spend most of my time in some sort of leadership activity – it might be leading our brand in the market – speaking at a conference, networking and/or with clients, or playing a leadership role in the office – coaching and supporting the team.

I take a lead on sales and spend a lot of time doing this.

Where do your best ideas come from?

I get a lot of ideas and inspiration from what I am reading and listening to – also I am inspired by what other incredible people and brands are doing. I am inspired to make a difference for people who need it and feel a real passion to execute ideas – not just think about them!

What does inspiration look like for you?

Inspiration comes when connecting with like-minded people, other business owners and people passionate about their field. I don’t drink coffee, but I can get seriously jazzed over a cup of tea with some purpose driven and passionate conversation!

What has been the most transformational business practice you’ve implemented at your work?

Clarity of purpose. At Humankind we have always had a purpose, but it wasn’t until about nine months ago when we looked at this again seriously and changed the language to better reflect our true why. Having 'Humanity at Work' as our purpose has transformed so much of what we are about and certainly the connectedness of the team – I love it!

What’s the most enjoyable part of your day?
Seeing our team loving what they do, working together on interesting work, enjoying the physical space and most of all seeing our culture in action.

What about the least enjoyable?

Trying to keep up with an ever exploding inbox!

Do you have any side hustles you’re juggling alongside being an entrepreneur?

With two businesses already, other than being a Mum, I am a trustee of Cultivate Mentoring Lab, a wonderful organisation that provides mentoring to early career women. No room for anything else, unfortunately!

Do you procrastinate? Is it good or bad?

I am pretty good at getting shit done but when it comes to something I don’t enjoy I can procrastinate with the best of us!

What’s your best productivity hack?

Use your inbox as your to do list, archive everything else (once read of course!) – I aim for a zero inbox, this never happens but the only emails in my inbox are things I actually need to do – usually sits at between 10 and 30.

Do you measure your accomplishments or productivity? If so, how?

No.

What’s your interaction with friends and family throughout the day? Can you be both a successful entrepreneur and a good mother/partner/friend?

Lots! I am always connected via WhatsApp, Facebook and Insta! I have groups for family, friends and colleagues and chat during the day. I thrive on feeling connected. I am a mother of three sons and believe you can be a good mother, wife, friend and entrepreneur. It doesn’t leave much time for anything else (Netflix, movies… or any other time wasting activity!) but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Having my husband working alongside me is a great way of feeling very connected as we are in it together – the ultimate team – which is what makes us so great together after 20 years, three kids and three businesses!

As a true extrovert, I love being around people and am energized by social connection. My challenge is being fully present when I am at home, I need to be better at putting down all devices and relaxing!

Do you get stressed? If so, how do you manage it? Do you practice any mindfulness or meditation?

Absolutely, I focus on breathing, chatting with my wonderful network of entrepreneurs (you know who you are!) and meditation, if I am being good (which isn’t often!)

What do you do once you get home? Can you switch off?

I usually arrive home at 6.30pm and again it is cuddles, reading in bed with my boys, a quick dinner and then back on my laptop to complete the day and catch up. I try and switch off over the weekends.

What do or don’t you eat or drink to maintain your performance throughout the day?

I love intermittent fasting. If I don’t meet someone for breakfast out, I generally don’t eat until about 11am where I have a bowl of buckwheat porridge with fruit and peanut butter – inspired by one of my amazing colleagues. I drink a lot of herbal and black tea, loads of water and a smoothie/salad later in the day. I usually have a light and lateish dinner.

I haven’t had any alcohol for over 150 days now. Who knows if that will return but I recognize the impact cutting this out has had on my health and performance.

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 aim for 10pm to 10.30pm but honestly it is often closer to 11.30pm. I normally get between five to seven hours sleep – it is a work on because I love sleep. I absolutely enjoy long sleeps in the weekend, aiming not to get up before 8.30am!

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