Beating Cancer & Work Life Balance

So it is easy to get caught up in work and watch life pass you by. We have all done it and in most cases some of you still are working every hour you can. The reality is you have to work smarter not harder.

When I first started like most, I worked every hour I could 7 days a week for the first 2 years that I set up my business, I then worked as many hours I could and then every other weekend.

I was a part time fire fighter an animation director, animator, compositor and a company owner, so sales marketing and much more…

The company was initially setup in 2001 where I freelanced for many companies and studios whilst employing additional artists to help the over spill of work.

Fast forward a number of years to 2008 after working and directing for global brands, commercials, campaigns and making a lot of people money, my wife had our first child, our son Kai.

It was not until my son was 4 years old that I changed everything.

You see time is limited and no one put on their tomb stone I wish I worked an extra hour.

I would come home to Kai so excited to see me even though I was tired all he wanted to do was throw or kick a ball or for me to read him a story.

If I did not change everything and invest time in my children, in myself and for my wife and family who would invest in me.

I ask you, If time was a currency how would you invest it? and if I could give you an extra hour, day, weekend or week what would you do?

I would come home either when everyone was asleep, not at all or exhausted.

I had made good money but what is money anyway just paper or digits in a bank, it is not life memory hooks, though it can help create all of these it is not everything.

My wife knew me before I had any money and after when I had made money but didn’t love me anymore or any less. My son didn’t even know what money was he just grinned, smiled laughed and wanted my time. He is now 10 and wants to be a Trillionaire.

You see time is the most valuable currency you could ever own, money is just paper that I have invested in my business, I now plan to invest even more.

Lets jump back to July 2010 and our beautiful daughter Ava was born.

But things are now very different. You see I sold 40% of my company in 2008 to my Business Partner Richard Hardy and I absorbed his company into RJDM. A team of specialist App and Web Programmers & Developers the start of the RJDM eco system joining our already successful animation and film teams.

I had decided in 2008 I was going to learn what it meant to be a Managing Director, you see I was an artist who had always wanted a business since the age of 10, but did not really know what it meant to truly manage a successful business with departments and department heads.

I questioned everything, surrounded myself with likeminded people had a number of business coaches until I settled on one. Emerson who would ask me questions that I could not answer straight away.

For example how many customers do you have, what is your average project value, what are your operational margins, what is your entry to exit customer experiences, what is your referral strategy, I then hungered for more knowledge so found new mentors whilst still working with old ones. New questions like what are your passive income streams & magic matrix models. All of which I work on today with my team.

So back to 2008 I became an architect of time and would start to answer all these questions straight away whenever asked and if I did not know the answers I would start to architect a solution and build a team to help achieve this.

I spent more money on training myself and now my team to bring everything up a level, I can now coach my coaches and business owners on how I created time but that is a different story, there is no right or wrong just different, I now consult this through our studio Premier solutions and Framework agreements.

An example of some of these solutions can be seen below.

£10 & £100 pound jobs I no longer did in fact I hired a talented support team to do all of these for me.

This is why my gate keepers look after my email, if you are on my LinkedIn or FB or even have my mobile you will have access to me.

I Set up and systemised digital solutions throughout the business with my team for quotes, proposals, reporting, invoices, project management, time management a CRM system and full entry to exit experiences.

I listen to as many audio books as I can for personal development, time management, leadership development & much much more. You see anyone who knows me will tell you I never do anything by half.

I feel i have an addictive personality so it is all or nothing.

I have little patience so I do not rest until something is complete, but it does not mean I have to do everything to make something complete.

The key to success is to surround yourself with people better than you or who compliment you. A team of high performers. This is also true and goes in greater depth in the audio book Powerful by Patty McCord who wrote the Netflix culture deck. One of many books I would recommend.

RJDM have developed a digital business house point system that we now use in the Studio, we will licence the system later this year. The idea came from a master mind I am part of Morgan & Rosie from Bonacia introduced me to the concept and showed how they used a paper system.

We took this concept and idea and created a digital solution now implemented and successfully running in the studio, it is a great way of encouraging communication and a positive mental attitude in the work place. Especially if you have over 15 employees within your business however you could use it, if you have fewer employees.

We built it for ourselves first and foremost we will now share it with the world as an internal business house point & comms system later this year.

But let me get back to the importance of a good work life balance. The above is important because a strong culture and a happy team makes for a less stressful environment, without a strong culture Cynicism and miss truths can breed, your teams can also get disengaged which can be problematic if you are wanting to strike a work life balance but I will write a separate article on company culture and its importance at another time.

Because of everything I have learnt & implemented I had created time, what does that mean?

Well I do not have to miss, sports days, school shows, parents evenings I create time to create life memory hooks allowing fewer if no regrets.

A world apart from where I was 10 years ago and this is so important, the reason to create as many life memory hooks as I can was amplified by the fact in December last year I was diagnosed with testicular cancer and in February post op I had Chemotherapy. My only regret was more holidays and that is what I am doing, more holidays more memory hooks, achievable by the changes made over the last 10 years.

In short regret nothing and live everyday as your last, if I had of got cancer 10 years ago it would have been really difficult to deal with but as a result of getting it when I did the battle was easier, my mental state was stronger and Cancer was kicked to the curb.

Remember no one put on there tomb stone I wish I worked an extra hour & if time was a currency how would you invest it?

If it is in your business be smarter, invest in the right people and they in return will look after you, you will always make mistakes but learn from them.

Life is about living and spending time with the ones you love. If you get the right work life balance you can have it all. There is no point having all the money in the world and no one to share it with, or children who when they grow old do not want to spend time with you.

Invest time correctly and you will unlock dreams you could only imagine.

Do what you do best and employ people to support you grow, educate, persuade, entertain & engage this allows you to shape the future.

I have made many mistakes each time learning from them and getting stronger after all FAIL is “First Attempt In Learning”.

If you have read this far what is the one thing you are going to change to create time and create a better work life balance?

Comment below with what that one thing is going to be and I wish you every success in achieving these.


Ricky O’Donnell – (CEO) RJDM