24 hours with Bobbi Mahlab

In this 24 hours with, Mahlab founder Bobbi Mahlab talks Suits binge-watching, pesto pasta, and why everyone should consider living three minutes from the office.


Sneak in an episode of Suits on Netflix before getting up – I’m in the middle of a major Suits binge. Check email, read The Guardian.


Morning exercise. Usually I’d go to the gym, but today my brother is in town from Melbourne and we go for a walk around Balmain before heading to a coffee stop on Darling Street.


Quickly eat breakfast, shower and get dressed. My travel time to work is three minutes: that’s the benefit of living and working in the same suburb. Geography is a much underrated key to a less stressful life, especially when you have kids.


Meeting with our finance manager and content team lead to discuss the salary reviews he has recommended for his team. Each recommendation is considered against the principles of market parity, gender parity, rewarding excellence and the employee’s salary history.


Email inbox time. References have come in about a potential key hire. I call one of the referees in the USA before night falls there.


Weekly all-company meeting. The place is zinging. Revelling in the news that our work with HBF Health has scooped four major awards at the Oscars of content marketing: the Content Marketing Institute’s Content Marketing Awards in the USA.

Direct Advice for Dads (DAD) – an incredibly helpful, dead-funny site for new and expecting dads – has picked up content marketing launch of the year, best content-driven website, best digital editorial and agency/client partnership of the year.

We’ve also been recognised for our B2B work with Engineers Australia and the Australian HR Institute. So many people to thank. What a ride this has been. Mahlab has been 20 years in business later this year and winning these major awards is confirmation of the complete transformation of the business from a custom print publisher in 1997 to a content marketing agency today. I am usually a quiet achiever, but not today.


Conversation with head of client services, Cara, about our September trip to Content Marketing World in Cleveland. We’ve got everything crossed, because DAD for HBF is up for Project of the Year Award there. While we’re away, we’ll be visiting other content marketing agencies our friends at CMI have introduced us to.


Weekly lunchtime operational meeting with management team. The date is set for the business to transition from Yammer to Slack and the project owner has been allocated. Heightened discussion about changing seating in our 38-strong office from around functions to around clients.

Commercialisation team not happy with the idea at all. They are, they say, way too noisy to sit amid content creating folk. Team briefed on an urgent project for Cisco that came in on Friday (today is Monday) where two of our staff – an editor and videographer – are on a plane to WA today to do a raft of stories.


Meet again to plan USA conference trip. Book hotels. With 3,500 delegates, Cleveland fills up quickly.


More reference checking. One of the referees is interested in a new site we have launched, Heathcare IT News, as he now works in the medical tech area.


My stepson calls from Darwin. He recently got a drone licence and is seeking business advice for a deal he is negotiating.


Phone conversation with my 14-year-old son who is returning to mountain top boarding school in the Victorian Highlands for term three. This is the last conversation I will have with him for next five weeks as it’s a total tech/media/communication ban at his school. Snail mail is the only way I’ll hear from him. Ouch!


A quick catch up with our finance manager to review the salary increase decisions made earlier in the day. More emails. Check social media.


Straight to a special board meeting for the Young Girls Refuge and Detour House. This is an organisation I have been involved with for four years that is one of the only refuges in Sydney for teenage girls who can’t live at home and runs another program for addicted women.

The long-term manager of the service has resigned. We are reviewing candidates and talking about the skills and attributes most important in the role. We discuss the handover process, given the manager is leaving before her replacement will start. The situation is consuming a lot of time from many of the board members. They are incredibly smart and kind people.


Head home. Cook pasta, add pesto.


Weekly Zoom call about Mentor Walks Australia. Mentor Walks is my latest start-up that I co-founded with Adina Jacobs last October. It’s taken off like wildfire and is now in Sydney. Brisbane and – soon – Melbourne. It is a speed-networking event, where senior women mentors walk and talk with aspiring women mentees in small groups for an hour each month.

In Sydney we meet at the Opera House and walk through the Botanical Gardens. We run the venture with a virtual assistant and use Zoom videoconferencing for our weekly meetings and use Asana for project-tracking. Tonight we are looking at the number of mentors and mentees for next week’s Brisbane walk. We also discuss our August trip to Melbourne to meet with mentors and possible funders (Mentor Walks is a not-for- profit and we are seeking sponsorship).


Our Zoom call ends. One last look at social media. More time with Netflix and Suits. Bed.

Bobbi Mahlab is the founder and managing director of content marketing agency Mahlab


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