MTM Ep#10: How to improve your work-life balance with Shlomo Trachtenberg

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Welcome back to another episode of More Than Marketing. I’m your host, Arsham Mirshah. I’m here with Shlomo Trachtenberg. We’re gonna be talking about work-life balance.


– [Voiceover] If you don’t have the mental shift to deal, to have a work life balance in your brain, then having the work life balance of freedom, to take off wherever you wanna go wherever you want is not worth anything.- [Voiceover] It’s not worth any case.

– Hello, welcome back to another episode of More Than Marketing. I’m you’re host Arsham Mirshah and I’m with Shlomo Trachtenberg today. Tried.

– You got it.

– Thank you.

– Not easy but you got it.

– This is more than marketing Shlomo. We talk about marketing on this podcast definitely but today true to the name, I wanna talk about, we wanna talk about work life balance. I think in marketing, marketing can be a stressful field especially when you’re doing direct response, especially in an agency setting but even in house you have deadlines that you gotta hit, so marketing can be a stressful field to work in.

– Very stressful.

– There’s a lot of different trades, so to speak. You have your technical folks, you have your creative folks, you have the copywriters, you got the guys pressing the button, the gals doing that so there’s a lot going on, a lot to manage just to get a campaign of the ground.

– Off the ground right.

– I wanna start with your story Shlomo because I think it plays right into that right.

– Yeah totally.

– We’ve known each other for what, six years.

– Yeah probably around six years.

– And how did we meet?

– I was working in real estate management, was not loving that so much and wanted to make a transition and saw that you guys had this academy going. At that time I knew that the internet marketing field was a growing space and I knew I wanted to get into it and I loved the idea of measurability of seeing your actions and the measurability of what comes back. At that time you guys were running the academy. I decided I was gonna go for it. I applied, I got a call from Luke and I got Luke said okay dude, the assignment I got in, okay I’ve started the academy and that launched my career into digital marketing. At that time I was doing, that was the digital marketing and the academy I believe was three days a week.

– Yeah for three months.

– For three months which was awesome, you’re learning basically top to bottom, all the different trades on marketing and at that time SEO was the hot bank so we were doing a lot of focus on that. SEO, PPC that was really cool and then at the same time as I was doing the academy I was also doing, I got an internship for the other two days a week working for a company called Brand Launcher which is a–

– You worked with Jon Goldman?

– Yeah I worked with Jon Goldman.

– I didn’t know that. How cool.

– I worked there Jon Goldman, wonderful male.

– That’s awesome.

– During that time I was learning digital marketing three days a week but I was also learning overall branding and positioning, story telling the other two days a week so I was able to pull that full circle of digital with the actual messaging part.

– That’s super cool.

– Which was really cool. Brand Launcher, that’s what they do. I was working with them doing that two days a week, working with you guys–

– You were immersed in digital marketing and learning.

– Digital marketing yeah. or marketing learning and,

– It was great.

– In particular as well digital marketing.

– Yeah and I was fortunate to have that because within a three to six month period I got so much experience and well rounded that I–

– A lot of different perspectives.

– I would say that was what really launched my career into digital marketing and then after that I got a job offer from a company called Laureate Education. Laureate is a for profit public education company and they actually hired me to do conversion rate optimization and at the time, funny enough I had it on my resume, cos it was something we’d learned from the academy and I think it was a new field at the time.

– I would agree but also wanna say we were teaching, we definitely taught that in that academy probably didn’t got nearly as deep into that as we did SEO but you were also working for, some work on the side for the dentist, maybe it was your dad?

– I was working for my dad. My dad owns a dental practice in Brooklyn and I was doing,

– So you were getting,

– I was getting some,

– Some experience right?

– Experience with them.

– Learning the page yourself.

– I was running his marketing, he was letting me play around on his websites.

– There you go.

– That was a lot of fun and working with you guys and the academy, that side by side training with mentors. The whole thing was just amazing.

– So now you’re at Laureate?

– No Laureate calls me in, they hired me to do conversion rate optimization. I’m working there, at the time that they actually hired me, I think had hired me with not that much for me to do. They hired me and they were like okay.

– Have at it.

– Then no-one was, it was a little bit open in the beginning. I had a lot of time to ramp up. I really immersed myself into the conversion optimization field, I got to learn a lot about AB testing systems. These are skills of significance. Running tests on big scale for big companies.

– They got a lot of traffic.

– Experimenting, at scale and that was an incredible learning experience but how this all transitions into work life balance was that at the same time, obviously I’m married, I had three kids at the time. Now I have five kids, so I’m working full time at Laureate and also have a full family at home.

– Full family I’d say that’s–

– Very full family.

– I have a seven year old, my daughter’s five year old. My daughter’s six, I have a son who’s five, I have a two and a newborn,

– Love it. Full family.

– So we are full family at home, tons of fun.

– A bunch of Rugrats running all over that’s–

– We’ve got three boys, two girls thankfully.

– That’s so cool.

– I was working at Laureate at the time and I realized I also wanted to start exploring. A lot of people were reaching out to me friends and Mike at work was like hey, can you help us with our digital marketing so I said okay, I’ll do some consulting on the side, like a side hustle. That side hustle which was called Digital Tracks at the time, was growing and growing, before I knew it, I had about six to eight clients at the time.

– Any given time right.

– I was also taking on all this business and I had a full time job.

– Andy had a full time job. I don’t understand how you were doing that.

– I had hired actually. I was working full time at at company but I had my own side company, where I had three employees. One of them was full time, two of them were part time.

– Part time yeah.

– They were running the marketing and I was doing overall the business.

– An account management I think, you were the face right?

– Account management.

– You were talking to the client.

– The face to the client exactly. That really got me into the world of e-commerce and running Facebook marketing and full scale marketing across. We’ve had some really cool people that helped me out along the way that I got to work with and I would consider them also my mentors in digital marketing. Guys like Eric Carlson.

– Shoutout to Eric.

– I can’t even tell you how much I learned from that guy.

– Yes, quite brilliant, I would agree. Works magic. Sorry.

– Working full time at Laureate and also my side business is growing way to big for myself to handle full time.

– And you have five kids, well four kids.

– Three or four kids at the time. So how did I manage it all, how was I doing it? I found myself coming home, I would get home at six o’clock or so, get my kids into bed from six to eight, 8:30 on a good day.

– You have your faith too bro, let’s talk about that.

– And then As a religious jew, I’m going out for prayer services, we pray three times a day in the synagogue. Morning, early mornings, afternoons, at night right. I’m going out at night, I study Togar with a partner at night for about an hour and I have to spend time with my wife right and I also have to work on my business, so I was finding myself–

– How many jobs do you have? Father right, own business–

– I was senior manger of CRL at Laureate. I was CEO of Digital Tracks. I was husband to my wife. Father to my kids and also trying to balance having my religious aspect of my life. I found myself in this point where there was no time for Shlomo. Yow what I mean?

– No alone time.

– I was full in doing everything for everybody.

– Back to back.

– I was getting me and after I’d get home 10 o’clock, get to bed. I would get home 10 o’clock and I would start working at 11, 11:30 and then I would go straight till, some nights I would go till two in the morning and then, don’t forget two in the morning you get into bed and then a kid wakes up.

– Kid wakes up yeah.

– Three in the morning, four in the morning, it was just a crazy life. I realized that something had to change.

– I gotta take a deep breath.

– You know something, I realized something had to change. There’s–

– I think that’s step one. If there’s any lessons that come out of this, is step one is recognizing when something has to change, something has to give. Again, this field can be, there’s a lot of hustle and bustle a lot of moving parts, so maybe you like that but you don’t like the company you’re at. Maybe you the like the company you’re at but you don’t like the way certain things work or the people you work with, I don’t know but you gotta recognize, step one is awareness.

– Awareness of your situation, otherwise if you’re in denial you’re not gonna

– Otherwise you’re in denial.

– That’s where I was and then I realized it hit me one day and you can’t, you have to prioritize things in your life, not everything can be done at once and you have to decide what is important and what is not and make up times and things. That’s when I realized though but at the same time you still gotta bring in money and support you’re family. So how do you balance it both. Lets say you wanna keep all that aspects of your life. I realized that work life balance is not necessarily as much about the amount of time that you spend doing the things that you consider life and doing the things that you consider work. It’s about when you are doing the things that you’re doing–

– You’re in them

– You’re in them, you’re focused, you’re present in the moment. I realized that when I will come home from work and my kids, I open the door and my two year old jumps on me and my son Harley comes home and he wants to tell me about his day and my daughter wants to do homework and everyone wants to play, if my mind is still thinking about in three of four hours from now I have to sit down, I have three for four clients that need work on this and I gotta project manage that and my full time job, we still got a couple of tests running that are up in the air, we’re not sure what’s going on.

– You’re thinking ahead but you could also be thinking back. I know for me a lot of times when I get home, my commute isn’t as long as others so I don’t have that decompression time, not that I’m complaining but I get home, I’m still thinking about work unquestionably.

– Exactly. That’s exactly the point. When you walk into the house, I could be the person working a lot longer than other people but I have a better work life balance because when I’m home, I’m present.

– I’m present.

– I’m present, everything else is out, is not on my mind. Therefore, I realized there was something that had to be done.

– Step one was awareness, it seems like to me right because hey I’m aware that something’s not working for me.

– Exactly.

– And I need to change something.

– Step two, it sounded like you said prioritize but really it could be a combination of prioritize or be present. Know that when you’re going be doing something, you’re gonna be focused on that, doing it full. You we’re saying.

– Priorities help you be present. Cos when you understand, when you come home for example, as an entrepreneur, we have families, come home, there’s someone there who’s waiting for our attention. When you come home you have a choice. If you consider your relationships with you wife, with your kids, with your family, a priority, then you will be present.

– Then you will be present, yeah.

– Right. Prioritization of the mind is recognizing that this in an area in life where I wanna work hard. There’s an area in life where I consider to be super important for me and therefore I am going to make it the best.

– I’m gonna make that priority.

– And we’re making it the best means that–

– It means that we’re gonna be present.

– I wanna be in the present. Right. So now the challenge is okay, that’s a nice idea, you have to be present but how do you be present when you have people–

– When your phone is going off.

– You’re phone’s going off the hook, you got emails going.

– Yeah sure.

– You got so much going, you have so much on your mind. Then the challenge was, when I pull up at my house, how do I shut everything else off and make it that I’m fully present. I’m fully there.

– What did you do?

– The first thing was and I have to give credit to my wife for this. She was like, don’t bring your phone into the house.

– Don’t bring you’re phone into the house, I love that.

– I would literally come home and I still do it till today and I’ll talk about how my life has changed since, joined Web Mechanics but and why I joined them but essentially when I get home, the first thing I do is I take my phone, I put it in my car and I close the compartment, put it in there, close it and it’s off.

– Center call to us, done.

– Yeah I don’t even think about it. I’m done. Nothing is important right now that I can’t get back to.

– He’s not fibbing here because I’ve texted him and don’t get a response until nine or 10.

– You will not get a response from me during hours that I’m home.

– He’s not kidding.

– That was step number one. Step number one is just–

– And I respect that by the way.

– I don’t think any person who’s a dad, any person who’s in a relationship with somebody needs to realize that if you come home and you’re sitting there and eating supper and they’re talking to you about you’re day and you’re like yeah.

– They’re don’t gonna, they aint gonna know.

– There is no way in the world you could pretend like you’re listening when you’re not listening.

– People know.

– People know.

– People know like here they’d be, even kids know, even a two year old knows.

– Everyone knows.

– They know.

– The know and like–

– You can feel it.

– One of the biggest signs is when they say that when you’re just parroting back what the last three words that they said they’ll be and you’ll be sitting eating supper and they’d be talking about your day, how they, this person said this to them and they were pretty upset and then you’re just busy, you’re upset?

– You’re upset? Right.

– You’re not listening to me. So you need to be present, that was a challenge. Even when my phone was away, how does a person make themselves that they’re present.

– Tell me.

– This is something I learnt. You need to learn to make compartments in your mind and say that in my mind when I’m here, I’m here an when I’m there, I’m there and the way to force yourself to do that is to put goals against specific things. If your goal is, let’s say to, you have a goal to build a relationship, you have a goal at home to do certain things with your kids. You could come up with your own personal goals but when you have a goal, that goal forces you to morph yourself into that present.

– To focus on that.

– Exactly. To be able to be focused on that.

– Be present to that goal.

– On that part of your life.

– I like it, it’s like hey, I walk in the door and now my goals have changed. When I’m at my full time job, I got those goals. When I walk through the door I got a different set of priorities, a different goal set.

– Exactly.

– So now that’s that compartment changed.

– My goal is to help my wife with bath time and to make sure that she doesn’t have to do certain things.

– That’s good.

– When I come home, this is my focus. My focus is to work on being there with my kids and doing their homework whatever it might be, if that’s your goal, then your mind forces you to say I need to do this now and it can push all other things out even if they’re relatively important.

– I like that and I think both, there’s two types of people in the world. Macro people and micro, more task oriented verses dream oriented but for me I would set a goal, I’ll set a year long goal with my kid. I haven’t even had a kid yet

– You’re right there.

– but she’s got goals, literally have written down goals for her first year of life. Yeah three weeks. You could have goals that are just check off like bath time and eat. That could be your goal. That’s my focus. You could be as micro as get bath and eating done or whatever or help with the homework done or it could be goals longer term. Whatever works for you I think.

– Exactly. For sure and when we set goals we think–

– Metrics, metrics.

– 10% growth month over month, yeah.

– Metrics and dimensions.

– This is different sided goals. It means overall I want my goal is to be a good dad. That’s my goal and to break that down into micro tasks. Which means making sure I’m there, making sure I’m listening, make sure my phone’s away, making sure I play with them, give them presence of mine. Not to get annoyed and frustrated when kids do kid things.

– Lets go back to your story. When did you recognize this compartmentalizing is, where was that along the journey? Where you digital tracks and–

– Nothing changed in terms of my schedule it was just a mental shift. I realized that just when my wife was just saying you need to be more, you’re the dad. You need to take, there’s roles and responsibilities in relationships and in families and as the dad you need to be the leader. You need to be the person who’s gonna be a good dad to the kids and you need to be able to do that and she’s like you need to do this, I know you have a hard schedule and you just

– Good for her to communicate that and good for you to listen obviously. This is more than marketing–

– You’re one of my goals.

– Now we get into the family therapy but no, seriously I think that’s, I admire that.

– I have to give her credit for it, she definitely put the pressure on me to make that happen and when that happened it was a whole different shift. I think what I wanna say with all this is that a lot of times I think there’s this idea, this fluff. It’s put out there.

– I think it’s a facade.

– A facade about entrepreneurship that, when I become an entrepreneur, I’m gonna have the freedom to travel. I think that’s a big thing. I wanna travel. I can have the freedom to travel, I can take vacations whenever I want, I can go with my families and you see a lot of these consultants saying that you want to travel, you open you’re own business and we’ll teach you coach you how to do that.

– Selling that dream right.

– Selling that dream and I think that dream is a myth if you don’t master what I was just talking about because as you know when you own your own business and you have employees, you’re thinking about payroll, you’re thinking about cashflow, you’re thinking about collecting clients.

– Thinking about their clients.

– Lose a co-worker and lose a client, gain a client and we don’t know what’s going on. There’s no such thing. If you don’t know how to shut that off, you could be in Scotland wearing a kilt and having the best time of that dream entrepreneur thing and you’re mind is not–

– Is still there, yeah.

– And if you learn how to be present in the moment, then there’s no such thing as work life balance.

– That’s a good point.

– Cos you’re whole life is work.

– That’s a good point.

– Its natural to feel the pressures of work. Some people are just cool, they’re able to say I don’t care about anything and therefore I, I’m not talking about those people, those are 1%. 99% of entrepreneurs and people who are, when I say entrepreneur people who are responsible for other people. People who are responsible for employees, people who are responsible for owning businesses, for delivering,

– For clients.

– For clients, exactly.

– A client could be a boss.

– Whatever it might be, if you are responsible, therefore you will have that metal weight on your head all the time if you don’t learn how to become present in the moment.

– If you don’t learn how to be present and compartmentalize the situation that you’re in.

– Exactly. I would say as a pre-requisite to all these entrepreneur things is learning to compartmentalize your mind and be able to be present in the moment when you’re at places. That way when you’re on vacation with your family, you’re not thinking about these things and good for you if you built a business where you can take off whenever you want and do whatever you want.

– Then you deserve.

– Then you deserve it but if you can’t do that without being on your phone, your kids are in the pool and you’re on you’re phone texting and emailing people what kind of vacation is that.

– It’s not.

– It’s not worth it. You’re not enjoying that experience.

– Exactly yeah.

– I think you’re right on this myth, I wanna talk about it. There’s another myth, one of the myths in entrepreneurship or whatever is that you get that time to travel or you have freedom of time or freedom in general right. I think another myth is, the myth of money and that hey I’m gonna get rich.

– I’m gonna get rick quick.

– Get rich quick exactly or even get rich, but yes, get rich quick exactly.

– One of the best email subject lines I ever saw was learn how to get rich slow.

– I love it, that’s good. I’m paying attention yeah.

– Alright, alright.

– Against the grain.

– Everyone’s got the rich quick, you’re going against the flow yeah.

– You’re just acting what everyone else is thinking, I love that and that’s another myth that I think needs to be dispelled or whatever, unless you lie, cheat or steal or do something illegal, you’re not getting rich quick unless you’re definition of quick is measured in years right and many years and probably even decades or half decades or whatever, I think that, someone once said, I think it was me or my friend said, or someone in my group said–

– You know you made it when you’re quoting yourself.

– I don’t know if I’m quoting myself or not. I don’t know but it’s, you can’t have, here’s the quote, you can’t have freedom without money, but you can’t enjoy money without freedom.

– I like that.

– Lets say you have a ton of money but you can’t enjoy it if you’re not free in you’re mind or you’re not free on your schedule, on your calendar right? What good is all this money if you can’t enjoy–

– Exactly.

– The experiences that, that can bring. The trips to Disneyland and this and that.

– Exactly and that’s why I think work life balance needs to be looked up through the lens of a mental shift.

– It’s a mental shift.

– It’s a mental shift and then–

– It’s not how big your bank account is, it’s not–

– Right, but it could get to that point. If you don’t have that metal shift to be able to have work life balance in your brain and be able to use that presence of mind, to be able to put aside worries and be able to not always be thinking about your business wherever you are. Then having the work life balance of freedom to take off wherever you wanna go is not worth anything.

– It’s not worth anything.

– It’s not worth anything.

– Sounds like what we’re saying is you can be rich and have that freedom today. You can have it today. You don’t need to own your own business. You don’t have to have all the money. You just have to have the right mental shift.

– Exactly.

– The right mental attitude.

– The right mental attitude shift. Presence of mind.

– Presence. I like that.

– And metal calmness to be able to deal with things in the right time and not overlap and spill into your entire life.

– I agree with that I think it’s, it’s like that hey, it’s gonna be okay. The emails not gonna–

– Exactly.

– If someone, if human life is at risk, I will hear about it.

– Exactly.

– Otherwise it’s probably fine.

– Scales of emergency.

– Scales of emergency.

– Is human life at risk. Yes or no. No, I’m going back to the pool because–

– I’m going right to the pool like this. That’s exactly man, I love that. It’s great. That’s good man. I appreciate you sharing that. Lets go back. Number one is, you’ve gotta recognize when something isn’t working, and that could be via yourself, recognizing it or reflection.

– Self reflection of what does my life look like.

– Take the time.

– Usually the most relieving thing is to just ask your spouse or your partner. Hey, what do you think of, they’ll tell you cos they’ll know if you’re listening to them, they’ll know where you’re head is.

– And that’s great conversation starter right there. That’s a way to have a good, deep conversation with you’re significant other and if you don’t have a significant other maybe you have parents or you have close friends, maybe, not maybe, you definitely have yourself. People will say I’m busy, I don’t have time for that, that’s not true, there’s a saying out there, you have time for whatever you make a priority for.

– Exactly.

– You have time for anything that you want to have time for so long as you make it a priority. I think step one would be, prioritize yourself. Ask the people that are close to you or ask yourself am I enjoying what I’m doing? Why am I enjoying it, why am I not enjoying it, what’s the best part of my life, what’s the worst whatever right, and then use that and whatever you gotta, if it’s just thought or maybe you’re writing it down in a journal. Use that as a basis to set some goals. As a basis to re-prioritize the things that are important to you in your life because it’s not all about the money. I think that’s something we gotta get out there it not–

– If you’re one of those people where its all about the money then this is not for you.

– Then so be it.

– This is for people that–

– Hang up now.

– That make money in order to support a lifestyle for their family and friends for themselves.

– For themselves, their families.

– Whatever it might be, they want something more than just– The money not a means to an end and if it is, then okay, then that is you’re work life balance.

– Then that’s you’re work life balance, exactly right.

– Your work is your life so therefore–

– Maybe you’re life is your work, exactly I was gonna say do you work to live or live to work? That’s your choice, but first you gotta reflect and know. Then you gotta prioritize and once you’ve set your priorities, you set those goals and priorities, then you are–

– Force your mind to be present.

– You carp, oh my god.

– Compartmentalize.

– Thank you.

– Com, compartment.

– Compartment. Compartmentalize. I know I said it like six times earlier but I mess it up on the one. I love it and that does good. You can have work life balance today as long as you follow, subduce and reflections from journaling and–

– It takes time.

– It’s definitely practice.

– You could start today but it takes time to really learn it. I can’t say that–

– I would agree.

– Day one that you realize this, that your gonna–

– It’s not like a switch.

– But if you know it’s something you wanna work on then, definitely one thing you can do today is put your phone away. Put your phone away, put away your screens, put away all the computers. That the easiest thing to do.

– Another trick on the phone thing is turn it to silent but then also go in the settings and say don’t even vibrate when it’s on silent. My phone is on dead silent, so I don’t, even when people text–

– Don’t feel the urge to check it every so often?

– Is it cos distractions too which is not, even micro work life balance That’s great advice, good stuffman.

– Cool man. Will we follow up with a sequel to this?

– I’m down definitely. Go ahead.

– As a follow up to this I was working at Laureate, I was working on Digital Tracks and then with being able to be present when I was home, I’m still working weekends, I’m still working late nights. I had been talking to Web Mechanics and we merged Digital Tracks with Web Mechanics which returned my time back to me. Now I keep all my work within my regular working schedule and that gives me the ability to be part of a company, a bigger company to be able to come home at night

– And put stuff down.

– I’m done of the day and I’ll deal with it again tomorrow.

– I don’t have clients hitting me up at two in the morning or whatever.

– Exactly. Well the clients that had been, my old clients that were texting me.

– They’re still there.

– They’re still there but we–

– That’s okay.

– We train them to say I will respond to you during business hours but that’s the sequel to this, where Digital Tracks merged with Web Mechanics.

– Which is another recognition, going back to the point. You recognize that hey look, I can sacrifice some of the money, maybe not, I don’t know your personal finances but I’ll get back time and that’s more important to me because I can now spend that time with the family. Whether I prioritize and focus or not, I actually have the time to do that as apposed to, you just didn’t have before.

– Yeah I didn’t have it before. Cool.

– Good to have you man.

– Alright man.

– Thanks for the work life balance tips.

– Happy to be here.

– Cheers.

Shlomo Trachtenberg

Shlomo Trachtenberg

Arsham Mirshah

Arsham MirshahCEO & Co-Founder

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