In conversation with Jo Zukunft, Senior Director at Incite

We recently caught up with Senior Director Jo Zukunft, who shared with us how she sets up her day for success and manages her workload – as well as her career highlights and her most embarrassing low point! Grab a cup of tea and read on…


1/ What sets you up for success in the morning?

Attitude. It’s the only thing you can control in any situation. If you decide you’re going to have a productive day, it’s going to take something pretty monumental to throw you off course.

2/ How do you fix your attitude if it’s ‘off’ in the morning?

If I’m not feeling my rosiest (and my team can vouch for the fact I am NOT a morning person), I make sure I’ve got 30mins to do something which makes me feel good. Whether that be a coffee and some mindless TV, or a walk round the block listening to a podcast – being a little selfish with my time at the start of the day helps me feel more in control for the rest of it. I also try not to schedule my most important meetings in the morning as I know I’m not at my best before 10am.

3/ How do you manage workload?

Triage. I once read that market research and consultancy is a lot like being an ER doctor. Probably not quite as much pressure as no lives are on the line. But lots of conflicting priorities, tight deadlines and changes. I manage by making lists and prioritising. This isn’t an elaborate exercise; I just look at the tasks and number the items considering three things 1) how urgent they are 2) the impact of doing/ not doing them and 3) how much each item needs me versus someone else/ some other solution. Properly triaging and re-triaging during the day helps me feel my workload is well managed.

4/ How do you switch off after work?

A change of environment. It’s far trickier now with hybrid working. When working from home, I work in the same room where I socialise and relax which isn’t ideal. Things I do to make it feel different to work: I draw the curtain across my desk to hide it from view, put my laptop away and change the lighting, so the room at least feels different. I’ll also try to go out to physically mark the end of the day.

5/ A career highlight?

Making director by 30. I know it’s probably not best practice to set yourself arbitrary goals. But this was something I decided upon very early in my career and was very proud to achieve.

6/ A career low point?

Accidently flashing a middle-aged Italian man. We were coming back from a debrief in North Italy. It was swelteringly hot, so I decided to change my top in the train toilet. I’d closed the door, but it was some kind of double lock mechanism… I gave an Italian gentleman quite a shock – much to the amusement and total lack of sympathy of my colleagues.

7/ A book you would recommend?

Binet and Carter’s How Not To Plan. It’s a practical handbook for any strategist. Not only is the content great, but their straight-talking delivery also makes it an easy and enjoyable read (I read it in one sitting). If you want something which cuts through all the noise and nonsense in marketing and communications, this is the book for you.

8/ What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received?

Not necess32rily advice, but I remember being very junior and nervous when presenting at an internal conference. After stumbling a few times, I looked into the audience and one of the senior leads gave me a reassuring smile. It was a small gesture, but it had a big impact in that moment. Now, whenever I have the chance to do something which makes someone feel better about what they’re doing, I take it. You never know how much impact you can have on someone else.

9/ What advice would you give to your younger self?

You can’t give 120% all the time. You need to pace yourself and ride the peaks and troughs. If you push to consistently go above and beyond, you will crash, and you’ll crash hard. It’s better to be good and consistent than great but unreliable.

If you fancy a chat about any of your business challenges, please do get in touch.