My Working Day – Evangelos Sideras – MD of MiQ

As the leader of a company, you are there to set an example, to lead and inspire a team individuals to achieve a series of business goals. But how do these business leaders go about their daily routine?

Business Leader spoke to My Working Day – Evangelos Sideras – MD of MiQ, about his working day.

What time do you usually wake up?

Normally when my little boy wakes up – so anywhere between 3 o’clock in the morning and 7 o’clock at the absolute latest.

What do you typically have for breakfast?

If I wake up at 3, I’ll have two coffees. If I wake up at 6, just the one coffee. I very rarely eat before I leave the house, although sometimes we get fresh eggs from my boy’s nursery so if I’ve got the time and fresh eggs I’ll treat myself to poached eggs and toast!

What is the rest of your morning routine before you start work?

I get up, shower, have coffee, watch a cartoon with my little boy. From there, it’s a 3-minute walk to the station but I’ll try and give myself fifteen minutes to walk at my own leisurely pace. During the commute, I’ll generally listen to podcasts or watch videos to try and relax before the day starts but I’m also checking emails and replying to anything urgent.

What is the first thing you do at the start of your working day?

I have a list of ten things I try and remind myself of every morning, so I always just re-read those – they’re pretty prominent on my desk. Just things like make sure you give and receive feedback, be on time, ensure you are working to code, sort out your desk – things to get me started for the day. Sorting out my desk is a biggy. Just making sure my workspace is good to go is really important.

How do you prioritise your day’s work?

I live by the App ‘Todoist’. One constant item is to check daily if I’ve got conflicting meetings in my diary. I try to give people plenty of time when I may need to cancel or move something, I’m big on being courteous and polite.n terms of prioritising my day, I put things in as they come. I’ve always been good at managing my time and my diary. As MD, a lot of my day is dependent on what others need from me.

Do you plan meetings or are they a waste of time?

It’s true that some meetings can be a waste of time. But most of the meetings I have internally involve someone wanting to grab my opinion on something, just a quick 20 minutes to pick my brains or vice versa. I used to have a different perspective on meetings. For me, they had to be strictly regulated, with actions and outcomes. The older and wiser you get, the more you realise there are times you just need healthy debate or brainstorm, or even just a chat. People just need to get things out in the open and move on. Broadly, you can take control of that quite easily.

Do you have a working lunch or is it good to take a break?

It’s always good to take a break. I like to  leave my desk, so i’ll have a quick game of ping-pong with the team and socialise. Some of the best insights come from spending social time with the teams. There are times I’m so engrossed in my work that I completely forget to each lunch. That’s pretty rare and rarer still is eating at my desk. At MiQ, we actually get our lunches delivered to the office. We made a decision to subsidise lunches and it’s a great way to encourage people to get away from their desk to eat lunch We have a specifically designed for lunch and just hanging out. It makes a big difference.

When does your typical working day finish?

I tend to work until around 18:30 because I don’t like getting the tube when it’s jam-packed with commuters. I try and walk through the office and check how much longer people will be working.I ask if they need anything and encourage them not to work too late. We’ve got a great culture of supporting each other and if you can help someone get 20 minutes of their evening back it’s really useful (sometimes it’s just telling people that what they’re doing isn’t really a priority and to head out).

I rarely like to leave any later than seven. If I can, I like to get home before my kid’s bedtime, say goodnight, and then cook dinner.

How do you prepare for the next day’s work?

I’ll do things like check my diary before I leave, make sure my inbox is fully clear etc. Nothing ground-breaking. At home, I tend to have my stuff packed up ready for the next day (gym kit, cables, whatever book I’m reading). I’ve normally done a bit of work in the evening, so come the next day all I have to do is put my laptop in my bag and head in.

How do you switch off?

I like to watch Youtube videos of people making furniture. Watching people build and create things really inspires me. I also play golf – badly, but it’s something I just do to catch up with my dad regularly. I listen to lots of podcasts. My favourites are Off Menu by James Acaster and Ed Gamble. They interview people and build up a menu of best things they’ve ever eaten. Also,  Rule of Three, which is comedians talking about things that inspire them. I’m obsessed with comedy and understanding how and why things are funny. TV wise, I love Mythbusters and Savage Builds (Adam Savage is amazing, and his book inspired my list of 10 ways to operate). Basically, I really enjoy shows about people making things and solving problems. My favourite by far is Brooklyn 99. It’s just easy comedy, really fun.

Favourite piece of technology you have?

I am addicted to my phone. No doubt, that is the truth! But my favourite piece of technology, since I now commute on an overground train, is noise-cancelling headphones. Some people love talking on the train and I am very much in the ‘whisper if you must speak and never on the phone on a train’ camp. The headphones have legitimately changed my life.

Best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

I have two. Both come from the same person, our COO Paul Silver.

The first occurred during the preparation for a big presentation and I was covering someone else’s content. I just couldn’t get the words out, I couldn’t get the flow right. 20 minutes in, I said, “if I swap these two slides, I just think it will go a lot better.” Paul told me to “put the slides in the order that makes the most sense for you and communicate in that way.” That’s advice I’ve communicated to people ever since; build the narrative first and then build the content. Always make something your own. Tell a story from your experience and in a way that works for you. As someone who isn’t a natural presenter, that’s really helped me and it’s something.

We do this thing called ‘The Wall’. We comb through all the campaigns and see what is working and what isn’t. I remember telling somebody off in front of everyone because they hadn’t done something or weren’t listening. It definitely wasn’t my ‘natural’ leadership style. Paul pulled me aside later in the day and said “Don’t try and be someone you’re not. Remember you got to where you are through being yourself.” – I didn’t even know he was watching, but that was really important for me to hear. There isn’t one type of leader. That was so refreshing, it made me feel comfortable in my own skin. I realised I could grow and be brilliant in the business without becoming what was for me, the stereotype of a strong leader. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be strict or you can’t do something in a certain way, but it’s knowing the time and the place. Having a flexible approach to leadership is always going to work out well.

Wow. The best advice is always so obvious when you think about it afterwards!