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‘Pitches always work up an appetite’ – 24 hours with…MullenLowe Singapore’s Ebenezer Tan

Between pitch presentations and internal meetings, can there be space for some ‘me-time’ – wonders MullenLowe’s Ebenezer Tan

6.45am: The first alarm rings. I am woken up by the default tune of my iPhone.

There are two kinds of people in this world — one who rely on just a single alarm on their phones; the other who cannot do without multiple alarms.

I fall under the latter category. The next few alarms ring at regular intervals. I am not really a morning person.

7.15am: I officially get out of bed after a quick peek at my messages, socials and e-mails to get a headstart on what’s out there for the day. And to see if I have missed anything from the night before.

7.45am: A glass of water and a slice of bread for breakfast — I think it’s quite healthy, no? Besides, with a presentation in the next couple of hours, it wouldn’t be too nice if my stomach started making noises mid-way.

8.00am: I use ShopBack to book my Grab ride to the nearest Starbucks before our pitch presentation — #protip, you save 20-cents with every ride — or is that #kiasuism? Your call.

A 45-minute ride means I get to sneak in some reading time.

I’ve made a habit of carrying a book wherever I go, regardless if time and environment permits. Today’s read is Quiet by Susan Cain, a gift from my ex-boss.

I try to tune out the ambient noise of the commute and focus on my book with The Strokes playing through the headphones on Spotify.

8.45am: I’ve reached my destination. Same order, different coffeeshop — a Cold Brew. I take some time to run through more email and have a final look at the pitch deck.

9.45am: Final fixes? Done. Mental preparation? Done. That’s what I’ll have to tell myself, but at least we’re marching in as a team.

10.00am: It begins.

12pm: It ends. We’ve done our part. Now all we can do is wait.

12.30pm: We talk about what went down during the presentation. We also reflect and discuss on what worked and what didn’t, during the half-hour cab ride back to the office.

At the food court

Pitches always work up an appetite, so I head out to my usual haunt opposite the office – Chinatown Complex where there’s an abundance of food options.

1.45pm: Back to work and secretly hoping that there aren’t any interruptions or distractions. I sit in a corner at the office pantry to finish a communications strategy piece due tomorrow.

3.00pm: I head to a creative review session for a campaign we’re launching in a couple of months. At MullenLowe, the approach to our work is largely led by the challenger mentality we possess collectively and as individuals.

As strategists, we are also cultural commentators, which is a critical tool for the creative process and essential to give our clients an unfair share of attention.

4.15pm: After a fairly hectic day, I’m feeling sluggish and need a quick breather. I head out with a fellow strategist to a nearby McDonald’s for some ice-cream.

The office pantry – which is fairly quiet post-lunch.

6.30pm: The office starts to quiet down as most people are finishing up for the day. I focus and continue where I left off. The peace helps me during the final sprint before I leave for the day.

8.00pm: Whew, a fairly productive day. At least once a week, I make it a point to meet the people who matter and inspire me. Today, it’s a quick and simple dinner with friends in downtown Singapore.

10.30pm: Nearly done for the day. I take a 12-minute walk home with Muse playing on Spotify while trying to slow my mind down and switch off from work.

11.00pm: My body rests, but my mind is still in overdrive. I reply to my personal messages and get sucked into the endless scrolling of social feeds, before some Netflix.

12.30am: Okay, that might have been a bad decision.

A supposed one episode of Follow This turned into two. But hey, instead of binge-watching, I’d like to think that being a strategist allows me to learn about different subcultures through any means of content consumption. No, really.

After a quick glance at my calendar for tomorrow’s schedule, I slide the bar up for my multiple alarms… and darkness.

Ebenezer Tan is a strategist at MullenLowe Singapore

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