Small Business editor of the NZ Herald

Small Business: Keeping well with Grant Difford of Waking Giants

Grant Difford is the creative director and founder of Auckland-based creative agency Waking Giants, which has a team of five.

Grant Difford, creative director and founder of Waking Giants.
Grant Difford, creative director and founder of Waking Giants.

What do you do to keep well?

The two biggest - and best - things I do to keep well are running and hanging out with my 15-month-old daughter.

The running - usually early in the morning - gets the blood flowing for a full-on day. Then a couple of times a week I finish work early to run trails around Auckland Domain with a mate. We talk life, philosophy and human development. I find it helps provide mental clarity outside of the workspace - there are no phones, no emails, just running.

My daughter enables me to enjoy simple things such as a smile and the cheer when I get home. This helps remove the stresses of the day; she gives me perspective.

When I have the time I love running in the Waitakeres - the views, streams, hills all provide a real connection to life where the business world cannot occupy your mind. Also around every corner there's a new adventure.

What benefits do you get in your working life from this regime?

Running enables me to see things differently. There's nothing better than starting the day watching the world wake up and seeing the sun rise; it helps me clear out any baggage before getting into the day.

I believe by doing these things, while physically exhausting, I actually get more energy rather than depleting it. It gives me a natural high and when I don't run I feel a little heavier in my mind.

If I have had a full-on morning and need clarity for the afternoon a quick 30 minute run at lunchtime around the CBD provides the energy boost I need.

What are some of the challenges in terms of maintaining this regime and running a business?

Time and energy are always excuses that we use to not do things and, yes, I suffer from them too. However the benefits definitely outweigh any demands on my time.

Rather than dwell on the challenges, I find they can be resolved with the fresh insight that a completely different activity provides. Also, running with a partner helps. Often I will reach out to a mate and that provides an added incentive to turn up and get it done.

What are your top tips for staying well as a small business owner?

1. Make time to do something without being connected to your electronic devices. Run, walk, stare at the ocean - anything, as long as you're unplugged.

2. Create activities to do with your team outside of work. If you get on as individuals, your company culture will become stronger.

3. Make a to-do list at the end of each day for the next day. Don't hold baggage in your head, as that will impact on your relationships, sleep, fun and so on.

4. If something is bothering you, share the load. I am part of a peer-to-peer business mentor group - the Entrepreneurs' Organisation - and have found it can be therapeutic to talk to a fellow business owner who can provide some clarity or insight to a problem.

Coming up in Small Business: More than 70 per cent of small businesses have no employees. What are the highs and lows of working on your own and what are some tips for making this work? If you've got a story to share about what it's like to go it alone in your business, drop me a note:

- NZ Herald

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