Learn from the experts in Public Affairs – Blogger #13 – John Lindberg – Public Affairs Manager, International Council on Mining and Metals
At which time do you wake up in the morning?
The first alarm usually goes off at 7, depending on whether I am planning on hitting the gym before work or not! Whether I always manage to get up straight away is better left unspoken.
What is the first thing you do?
After having struggled for years with insomnia, I realised just how important it is to maintain good sleep hygiene – so no work allowed in bed. Whilst I know it is generally recommended that you keep your bedroom as technology-free as possible, I suppose I am too much a creature of the 21st century – so I normally check my personal phone for any messages that may have come through during the night, as well as glancing over my go-to news sources (the FT, the Times, the WSJ, the BBC, and Goteborgsposten (my ‘local’ paper in Sweden).
At which time do you go into the office (or start working remotely)?
I normally go to the office 3-4 times a week, depending on how much creative writing I have on that particular week, but I generally aim to be in the office for 8:30.
When is your first meeting?
Being a notorious non-morning person when it comes to human interactions – just ask my family or close friends – I avoid having meetings before 10am. However, with many important stakeholders based in Australia, it is sometimes unavoidable to kick things off at 6am!
How many times a day do you check emails?
A productivity coach once told me that you should remove email notifications to protect your mind from being distracted – but I actually find the reverse to be true, and if I don’t have them on I think more about potential emails. So as a principle I only really reply to emails in two blocks – once in the morning, and once in the afternoon.
How do you plan your meetings across the week?
I try to concentrate my meetings for the days I am in the office or when I am in a particular city – I am still very much a believer in meeting in person, and I get a great deal more out of that than staring into a screen.
How do you follow news development between meetings?
I have news alerts set up on my trusty iPad that accompany me everywhere nowadays, and I generally take a few minutes to scan Twitter a few times a day to see if there are any breaking developments that may require my attention.
How do you take notes?
For the longest time, I was really old-fashioned and I did use paper and a pen – until I lost my notebook at a drinks reception at Sydney Zoo of all places (it was completely fresh, no secrets found their way into unknown hands, and best of luck deciphering my handwriting…!). However, after that I became digital, initially taking notes on my laptop before moving over to my iPad.
How many external lunches do you have a week?
This really depends on what kind of week it is. Normally, it is probably once a a week, but when at conferences I tend to make sure that I book up every lunch – we all got to eat after all, and it’s much nicer to have some inspiring company!
What is your best tip for managing work/life balance?
I’m not sure I am the right person to ask this question to in all fairness…but making sure that you keep as much of a firewall between your work and personal life as possible is definitely a must for me – that’s why I refuse to have my work email on my private phone, and that’s also why I try and spend as much time as possible in the office – which may sound counterintuitive to working from home being better for work-life balance – but it works best for me!
What do you do to unwind?
My main way to disconnect from everything and everyone (being an introvert in public affairs poses some interesting challenges) is to escape to the mountains, be it the Scottish Highlands, Sweden, or more recently, the Himalayas. I find that hiking or climbing in a mountain environment not only allows me to recharge my batteries and contemplate everything (or nothing), but also refocuses and grounds me. The grounding aspect is particularly important – it is easy to lose perspective. For instance, last autumn was incredibly intense, with back to back international conference across the world (such as COP15 on biodiversity, COP27 on climate change, and the Paris Peace Forum on critical minerals). Whilst it is incredibly inspiring to be in the rooms where huge decisions about the future are made, it is also easy to be sucked into these policy bubbles and lose perspective of the bigger (and smaller!) picture. Being outdoors in the mountains is very much crucial for me to regain that grounding.
When I can’t find a mountain, I usually try to unwind by going climbing, going for a bike ride or a run, or reading (I’m in a Scandi Noir phase, so anything containing a gruesome murder in a bleak Scandinavian setting will definitely be my evening company). Because I am an introvert – some may think my career choice questionable – I generally need a bit of time each week where I get to deflate and reenergise myself.
How does your desk look?
When I do creative writing, or I am trying to synthesise a lot of information, it’s fair to say that my desk (and the rest of the room if I work from home) will make the aftermath of a tornado look tidy! I am a visual person, so seeing the different materials I have used helps to generate new and sometimes unexpected connections. On the other hand, if I am taking meetings or just replying to emails, my desk tends to veer into Scandinavian minimalism.
Which book did you read recently or are you currently reading?
I always read two books concurrently – one fiction, and one non-fiction. In terms of fiction, I’m reading The Great Nuclear War of 1975, an alternate history book about a post-WWIII world that I received as a Christmas gift. My non-fiction read is The Lucifer Effect by Philip Zimbardo, the psychology professor that conducted the controversial Stanford Prison Experiment back in 1971, which explores the darker crevasses of the human mind and what factors may result in atrocities being committed by ordinary people.
Do you read anything before you go to bed?
As corny as it may sound, I usually try and carve out 30 minutes at the end of my day where I just light some candles, turn on some music and read a novel. Otherwise, my brain generally won’t quiet down and I will be lying in bed staring into the celling until 2am.
Do you use LinkedIn and/or Twitter for work?
I most certainly do – Twitter remains a really important tool to pick up on potential breaking developments as well as picking up on the mood in many policy circles, especially when you can access Big Data from Twitter for trend analysis, which I started doing last year. I find LinkedIn equally useful, especially to keep yourself up to date on where people are working, but also to read some fascinating perspectives that people share.
About John Lindberg
John Lindberg is the International Council on Mining and Metals’ Public Affairs Manager and leads on ICMM’s policy and government engagement. John has a strong background in policy, government and political environments, having previously served as political adviser, think tank director, government negotiator, and most recently, as Public Affairs Manager for the World Nuclear Association. He holds a degree in political sciences from the University of Glasgow, a degree in climate change and communication from King’s College London, and he will shortly be submitting his PhD thesis in social psychology and radiophobia at King’s College London and Imperial College. In 2017, John was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Art, and in 2021 he was selected as one of the 10 most promising policy leaders under the age of 35 in Sweden, as part of the Nova111 list.
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