A Day in the Life: Flying Solo’s Sam Leader
She's one of Flying Solo's founders and loves her family, yoga and her long 'lighthouse walks'. Come check out a day in the life of our Director, Sam Leader.
Originally from the UK, Sam Leader arrived in Oz in her early 20s with her partner John-Paul. They took their backpacks off and never left. Sam snared a job in the marketing department at Tourism New South Wales, a role that enabled her to explore the state and sharpen her writing skills
After the Olympics, Sam left to start her own copywriting business and shortly after took on a client called Robert Gerrish. In 2004 they collaborated on the Flying Solo book and officially went into business together a year later.
Sam Leader was both a founder of Flying Solo, and its first editor. Today her role is more operational and this is what a (working) day in her life looks like. Take it away Sam!
"I fret about making the Best Use of My Time to an extent that the stress related to my productivity is probably more disadvantageous than the actual productivity is advantageous. "
Here’s a typical Monday, which is a ‘locked in’ work day.
I imagine the start of my day to be very similar to that of a number of households. I’m up at 7am sorting out breakfast for the kids (I only eat 500 cals on a Monday) then will oversee the girls writing out their canteen order. Next comes the “get dressed, teeth, hair, shoes” commands which increase in frequency and volume as the pressure to catch the bus mounts.
On an ideal Monday, I walk the girls to the bus stop, which is 700 metres away. It’s always a challenge to get my 12,000 steps in on work days, so I am super keen to make it to the bus on foot and may or may not sometimes use bribes to ensure my daughters are ready on time.
Back at home I have a quick tidy of the office before settling down to work. Mondays start with my weekly call with Robert and Peter, and later in the day I’ll talk with Kelly and then Lisa. In between times I’m responding to emails and checking the Friday Wrap. I’ll regularly do some basic financials, e.g. setting up payments and chasing bills and then every other week will also do a more strategic review, e.g. are we meeting our budgets? How is our cash flow? Around lunchtime Johnno and Theo come into the office to say hi, we’ll have a cup of tea together then I’ll get stuck back in.
I work straight through to school pick up time, where I fast walk at best, run at worst to collect the girls off the bus. Once we’re back home I’ll leave them clamouring for snacks from their dad while I crack on with another couple of hours work.
By 5.30 I’m so, so ready to leave the office and EAT! After dinner (something low-cal like bowl of miso soup with veggies for me) the nightly routine gets rolled out, which in our home is not too dissimilar to the rigmarole Jerry Seinfeld describes: “When I think of the bedtime routine with my kids, it’s like this royal coronation jubilee centennial of rinsing, and plaque, and dental appliances, and the stuffed animals semi-circle of emotional support. I gotta read eight different moron books. My bedtime story when I was a kid – darkness.”
Once they’re finally asleep I will have a cup of tea and a chat with Johnno followed by a 45 minute yoga sequence courtesy of Yogapad. Mondays I’ll have an early night, firstly to quell any hunger pangs and secondly because the next day I get up pre-dawn to do my beloved Lighthouse walk, an hour long journey I do two or three mornings a week.
The biggest challenge I face in the average working week? And the reality of being a soloist?
Unsurprisingly this is the challenge of running a business with a young family and having high personal health goals. These demands are on a cycle and I fret about making the Best Use of My Time to an extent that the stress related to my productivity is probably more disadvantageous than the actual productivity is advantageous. Building in more white space would be perfect, but probably too ambitious while I’ve still got a child who hasn’t started school yet.
What keeps me going?
Flying Solo is so precious to me. I love it and everything it stands for and am so proud to be a part of it. Robert, Peter and I have worked hard to make it the kind of business that supports our lifestyle goals not only because of our own needs but also so we can practice what we preach to our community. If we were behind a business that was running us into the ground, I think it’d look pretty inauthentic.
But the main thing that keeps me going is that, like most business owners I know, I’m actually unemployable. Believe me, THAT keeps me going.