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Real Game Changers, Inspiration and Productivity – How Ellie Hughes at Freeletics Works

In our series ‘How They Work,’ startup founders and employees of Munich startups talk about their favorite tools, routines and work methods. This time, Ellie Hughes gives us insights into her workday at the Munich fittech startup Freeletics.

As the ‘Global PR Lead’ of Freeletics, Ellie Hughes is responsible for planning and implementing the global PR strategy of the Munich fitness app, which is a worldwide success. She also heads the PR team as part of her role. On top of that, Ellie Hughes is responsible for partner relationship management at Freeletics. Which tools and apps have been life-changing for her? And what helpful tips does she have to share about communication, creativity and inspiration?

Munich Startup: What does your morning routine look like?

Ellie Hughes, Freeletics: Since March, the entire Freeletics team has been working from home. That’s given me an extra hour in the morning and I’m even more productive than before. I like to start the day with a bit of tidying up: my bedroom, my desk, my to-do list and then my inbox. If I manage to take care of almost all of my emails before 9:30, then I know it’s going to be a good day. Something I’ve noticed over the last few months is that when I get that feeling – of being productive first thing in the morning – it motivates me for the rest of the day and really puts me in a good mood, regardless of how much still needs to get done.

Apart from that, I check the news and LinkedIn every morning so I know what’s going on in the world and in our industry in particular. Then I know what the world is talking about, who’s doing what and often find inspiring ideas for new projects or content for us.

True game changers for Ellie Hughes

Munich Startup: What is your favorite tool at work? 

Ellie Hughes: To be honest, I don’t know how I survived all those years at agencies without Google Drive. I‘m infinitely grateful to have this tool (as is my desktop) – never again will an IT problem cost me all of my documents! And it makes it so much easier for us to work on projects together, especially at the same time. But the true game changer for me is Slack. Thanks to Slack, communication with colleagues is faster, simpler and a lot more fun – who knows how many unnecessary emails, calls and iterations we’ve managed to avoid with it. I can’t imagine working without Slack now.

Munich Startup: Which three apps are must-haves? 

Ellie Hughes: WhatsApp, Headspace, FreeleticsThat way I stay in contact with friends and family and can unwind, meditate and stay in shape regularly, no matter what.

Munich Startup: Which Munich event is a must?

Ellie Hughes: For big events, it’s Bits & Pretzels for me. But taking a closer look is also worthwhile. The startup and tech scene in Munich has a quite a few small, local networking events to offer that often have exciting speakers and topics. 

A book for inspiration and creative meetings

Munich Startup: What book would you recommend?

Ellie Hughes: “Tribe of Mentors” by Tim Ferris. In the book, 130 very different people (“mentors”) are asked the same eleven questions, but thanks to the diverse selection, it never gets boring. It’s full of inspiration, food for thought and tips from these experts, for both professional and private life. And of course there are some parts here or there that make you chuckle. It’s a book with plenty of inspiration for everyone.

Munich Startup: What is your favorite kind of meeting?

Ellie Hughes: I’m a big fan of face-to-face meetings that are organized well, but still give you enough freedom to be creative, like our creative brainstorming sessions at Freeletics. They’re organized really well in time boxes, which allows us to quickly define and collect a wide range of topics and approaches. We don’t use phones or laptops – everybody has to stand up and participate. When everyone participating is motivated, focused and, most importantly, enthusiastic, then amazing things come out of it, and you leave the room with that wonderful feeling of having achieved so much in the last 60 or 90 minutes. To give an example, the initial concept for a global marketing campaign originated after just one meeting.

“We don’t lose momentum”

Munich Startup: What is your biggest stumbling block in daily business?

Ellie Hughes: Compared to other jobs, there are astonishingly few stumbling blocks for me at Freeletics. As a company, we’re very agile and our lines of communication are short – which means we rarely have to wait for information or approval and don’t lose momentum. In day-to-day business, it’s actually the little things, small stuff, that can end up being a time drain. But that, unfortunately, is hard to avoid.

Munich Startup: What gives you a boost of motivation at work?

Ellie Hughes: Excellent results from our hard work. For me, it’s when we get good product placement and reviews from major media outlets, or interesting discussions with potential brand partners. With very large or challenging projects, it makes it all the more rewarding to see the results in writing, especially when we see sales spikes thanks to our product placement. Then the entire team celebrates with us.

Munich Startup: How do you end your workday?

Ellie Hughes: I have a system for my inbox where I mark every email that has an uncompleted to-do as unread. That way, nothing gets lost and I always have an eye on things. At the end of every day, I try to get my unread emails down to no more than five. Zero, unfortunately, doesn’t happen very often. It helps me check my deadlines and to-dos one last time in the evening and gives me an overview of what got done that day. After that, I say goodbye to the team on Slack – especially when we’re working remotely – and then burn off some serious energy with a good workout.