My Working Day – Mark Sellers – Managing Director, Talk Talk Business

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 Mark Sellers, Managing Director at Talk Talk Business, about his working day.

What time do you wake up?

Our alarm’s set for 6:00 am, as my wife works for the NHS and is up, out and off to the hospital very early. Normally, I’ll have a cup of tea, read the Times newspaper app and catch up on emails to prepare for the day.

From there it depends where I’m working. If I’m in the office, I’ll move pretty quickly as I like to be in no later than 7:45 am. If I’m at home, I’ll have a go on the Peloton to kick off the day.

What do you typically have for breakfast?

Again, it varies if I’m in the office or not. If I’m at home and I have a little more time, I’ll make poached eggs.

Otherwise, if I need to get moving quickly, I’ll have something simpler. I used to always go for toast, but I’m trying to be healthier, so muesli or Weetabix.

What is the rest of your morning routine?

I’ll continue to check my inbox until around 9 am, which is when the meetings start in earnest.

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

Depends on the day, but normally the first thing on my schedule is a meeting.

I try to get my face-to-face meetings when I’m in the office. But if I’m working from home, then often trading or planning meetings will form the first part of my morning.

On the rare occasions I don’t have a meeting booked in (and my inbox is up to date), I’ll be reflecting on the day ahead.

How do you prioritise your day’s work?

I’ve got a lot of fixed meetings, as you’d imagine, and these take up much of my working day. There is a mixture of trading meetings, project meetings and one-to-ones with my team. The latter, in particular, are vital for me, as they’re an opportunity to keep up with any issues or challenges my team is facing and really understand what’s going on across the business.

There’s only one of me, so to make sure I don’t get stretched too thin, I’ll prioritise the meetings that I have to go to against those that I like to have awareness of but don’t always need to attend.

In short, my diary’s jam-packed, but my assistant Adelle is invaluable here in keeping me honest and helping me make the most of my time.

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

As you can tell from my responses, my role at TalkTalk Business means I’m involved in a lot of meetings, so I don’t think they’re a waste of time, when done properly.

A meeting’s purpose needs to be defined and not just put in diaries for the sake of it. What kind of meeting is it? Is it a message you want to get out? Is it a one-to-one collaborative session? Is it a workshop-style meeting?

I always prefer doing them face-to-face, but that’s not always possible – or indeed necessary – and in terms of the numerous gains that hybrid working offers, not being able to have every single meeting in person is a small price to pay.

It’s vital to be present in the meeting and give it your full attention. If you’re not and you’re doing other things, then it’s not going to be a productive session.

I also believe that if you think a meeting is a waste of time or not relevant to you, then decline the invite. Easier for some people than others, of course, but I’d encourage people to not be afraid to call this out. And you need to ask, is a meeting really necessary? If an email’s sufficient, this can save a lot of people a lot of time, or you can make much better use of everyone’s time.

Do you have a working lunch or do you take a break?

I always try to get at least half an hour away from my desk, to break up the day. It’s tempting to work through and try and get ahead of yourself, but I believe having a breather is really important to make sure your afternoon is productive too.

When does your working day finish?

My preference is to start early if needed rather than working late into the evening. However, I don’t mind stopping at 5:30 pm, getting on the Peloton or catching up with the family and then doing a bit of work later on. But that’s on me and I certainly don’t feel it’s fair on others to have meetings pre-9 am or post-5 pm, for example.

Everyone’s circumstances are different, but now my kids are older and my wife and I don’t have the same level of commitments we used to. The days of putting them to bed and getting them ready for school are in the past, so I don’t mind working a bit later sometimes, but I’m lucky because I’m able to switch off from work pretty quickly.

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

I’ll check my diary for what’s coming up in the next few days, to see if there’s anything I need to think about and prepare for.

Before I log off, I tend to do a last sweep of my emails and messages to see if anything’s come in that evening and make sure there are no surprises in the morning. Naturally, I’ll chew over any outstanding activities subconsciously and answers to questions might pop into my head while I’m doing other things that evening, but for the most part, when I’ve shut the laptop, that’s the end of the day for me.

What’s your favourite piece of technology?

Can I say my electric golf buggy? To be honest, it’s probably my iPad. It’s great for work and my personal life too, it’s just so versatile. Unfortunately, my kids do nab it more often than I’d like.

How do you switch off?

Usual stuff, really. My Peloton, golf on a Saturday, spending time with family, drinks with friends.

I try to avoid too much work on weekends, I would much rather get through everything I can during the week where possible. Our Sunday family meal is the one meal we all have together and I don’t want to get stuck into work after that. I will check in if I know there’s something big happening. Anything urgent, I prefer to be contacted on WhatsApp, rather than having to check my inbox.

What is the best piece of advice you have received?

Don’t worry about things that are out of your control. Just focus on what you can control and do that as well as you possibly can.