As the leader of a company, you are there to set an example and to lead and inspire a team of individuals to achieve a series of business goals. But how do these business leaders go about their daily routine? We spoke to Michael Kalli, Ello Group Managing Director, about his working day.
What time do you usually wake up?
7 am most days on the dot. I do however split my time between London and Manchester so, if I’m in Manchester, I’m typically up at 5 am to get the train up north as I like to be in the office with everyone else at 9 am. But, on the days I’m in London, it’s around 7 am.
What do you typically have for breakfast?
Two slices of toast are usually my go-to – and a really strong cup of tea is a must to kickstart the day! Although, if I’m feeling adventurous, I’ll add a little peanut butter, banana and Marmite to the toast.
What is the rest of your morning routine?
I have two beautiful daughters so, when I’m in London, I help get them ready for school, make their breakfast and I’ll do the school run, getting them there for around 8:30 am. So, down south, my morning routine is fairly structured for the girls. I firmly believe one good thing to come out of the pandemic is the shift to flexible working, as I’m now able to do the school run which as a working dad I love.
On the days I’m in Manchester, I’m on the train anywhere between 6-7 am, so try to zone out for the first half of my journey and then I’ll jump online around 8 am. Although I give myself a slight lie-in on my second Manchester day, heading to the office around 8:30 am. I think it’s important to keep the morning as chilled and as calm as possible, even with the kids, as it helps set me up for a successful day.
What is the first thing you do at the start of your working day?
Around 8:15 am when the girls are eating their cereal, I’ll drop the team a note to wish them a ‘good morning’ on WhatsApp. It’s my morning ritual I guess and I like to think it sets a positive tone for the day.
I also always make sure I have a pad and pen with me – I do like to keep things old school in that sense and tend to write everything down. I’m a bit of a self-proclaimed stationery geek and love a nice pad and pen.
How do you prioritise your day’s work?
I don’t like surprises, so I always look at my diary at the end of each day to focus on what needs to happen the following day. I’m lucky as my amazing executive assistant, Stephanie, helps ensure my focus remains on business priorities and that I’m being as efficient as possible with my time.
My role very much sits with the commercial side of the business and driving revenue, while also motivating the team. So, I’ll always prioritise supporting the team, followed by anything sales and profit related.
Do you plan meetings or are they a waste of time?
There is definitely value in meetings. However, some can certainly be skipped. For instance, I’ll always prioritise external meetings that have commercial value to the business. I also always ask the meeting organiser if they need me to be there, to ensure I am adding value where possible.
In internal one-on-one meetings with the team, I typically don’t set an agenda as I always want to let the person I’m meeting with talk about what’s important to them and speak freely about their role, plus any concerns they may have. I’ll always ask them what they want to achieve from the meeting, so I can ensure they leave the meeting with more clarity than when we started.
Do you have a working lunch or do you take a break?
While I would love to, I often don’t get to have many lunches. Although I’m a firm believer that taking time for lunch in the middle of the day is important for well-being and productivity, so I’m trying to make a conscious effort to take them more often.
When I do manage to take lunch, I’ll often try to go to the gym to re-energise for the afternoon. But, it’s been a busy few months and this part of my working day has really slipped. I see it as a personal weakness that I really need to work on, so I can lead by example.
When does your working day finish?
I try to shut off my emails around 6:30 pm to spend time with the girls. We’ll have dinner together as a family and then it’s bath time. Once my youngest is in bed around 7:45 pm, my wife, my eldest daughter and I then watch TV together, while I quickly check on emails in the background.
How do you prepare for the next day’s work?
Between 9 pm and 10 pm every evening, I’ll plan my diary for the day ahead. I find this good for the soul, as I really can’t sleep without having a clear understanding of what the next day looks like. I really hate surprises and being put on the back foot. As we all know, sales roles are stressful roles, so I find having a clear plan ahead of time and a good idea of what I want out of the following day really helps alleviate stress.
What’s your favourite piece of technology?
It has to be my phone, as it allows me to connect with people despite often working on the opposite side of the country to my family and team/colleagues. It allows me to communicate with everyone. It also is a constant source of information, so I know what’s going on across all areas of the business without having to be involved in every meeting. I can essentially pick and choose where it makes sense for me to jump in to support the team, just by being cc’d in certain emails or included in relevant WhatsApp groups/messages.
How do you switch off?
The weekends are really just focused on switching off and recouping with my girls. My wife and I work full time, so the weekend is all about the girls and taking them to their various swimming, horse riding and ballet classes. We just try to make sure we’re creating the best possible life for them, while spending quality time together as a family.
Some may say to my detriment, I’m also a massive Spurs fan! My family and I are season ticket holders, so I try to get to as many games as I can with my dad and brothers. Annoyingly, up until last season, often watching them lose. But, it’s a great distraction from work. We’re Greek, so big family ‘souvlas’ and socialising are a huge part of our culture and something we love doing.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
I’m lucky that I’ve had lots of great advice from lots of good people. I do really try to live by being true to myself though. As you progress in your career, it’s so important to stay humble and know who you are. I personally always try to ensure I’m the hardest working person in the room and will always try to do my best for everyone. These are the principles I’ve always lived by and where I always try to centre my mindset.
In addition, it’s a bit of a running joke amongst those I’m closest to but, as my hero is Optimus Prime from Transformers, I like to live by his wisdom. It’s actually a goal of mine to buy the real truck from the film one day – so watch this space!