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Excited to introduce Annie to you, a brilliant creator of the arts who, if you’re in the Seattle area you should try to catch one of the performances she works on. Read on for Part 1 of Annie’s interview!

Hi! Who are you?! What do you do?
I’m Annie Paladino, and I am an educator and theater artist. Originally from Orange County, CA, went to college in CT, lived for four years in San Francisco, and then moved to Seattle (two years ago). Currently I work in program coordination (after-school activities and summer camp) at a private K-8 school in Seattle, and I am the Associate Artistic Director of Akropolis Performance Lab. I’m also a freelance actor/director/playwright/producer and a teaching artist.

As Program Coordinator at a small(ish) independent school, I am responsible for basically everything that happens after school or during the summer. Hiring, program development, outreach, a little marketing, program administration, budgeting, teaching, scheduling, procedure/policy development…these are all things I do on a regular basis. The position was brand new when I was hired, so I’ve had a lot of freedom to design, develop, and run these programs the way I want to. I also teach several day camp programs during the summer. It’s a LOT of variety, which I love.

I have worked with many different theater groups both in Seattle and San Francisco, but this is my first time in a leadership position, which is both exciting and scary. Scary because I don’t tend to be artistically monogamous, but I was instantly at home with APL. APL is a very small company with virtually zero organizational infrastructure. We have no operating budget, the “staff” consists of me and the two Co-Artistic Directors, and all performers/company members are paid a small stipend on a per-project basis only. We seldom produce in traditional theater spaces; our most recent production was performed in the basement studio of the Co-Artistic Directors’ house, for audiences of 10 at most. So although I carry a kind of fancy title, it doesn’t come with a salary or 401(k).

Work/Life/Passion Balance, what’s your method?
Well, I kind of cheat. A couple years ago I realized that I have two careers — one in education and one in theater. One of them makes me money, and one of them (usually) doesn’t. But they’re both careers. It doesn’t seem fair to my work in education to call it a “day job”, when it is totally work done from passion and care. But it’s also not fair to call my work in theater a hobby — it is absolutely a career and my life’s passion. In many ways, it’s actually wonderfully freeing to not be earning my income from my art. It means that I choose projects based on interest/passion/”artistic need”/whatever, rather than on my need to make rent. This works both ways: I can prioritize projects that I wouldn’t take on if I didn’t have another source of income, AND/OR I’m not forced to take on projects simply for the paycheck. This means, generally speaking, that I’m not as busy and overworked as other theater artists/performers. So yes, I’m not acting in 12 shows every year, but good lord, I wouldn’t want to.

I work hard to keep balance in my life, and I’m sometimes successful. In both my current job and my previous job (in education research), my hours have varied between 75%-100% FTE, generally staying at 75% (i.e. 30 hours/week). I mostly got lucky in my first job that the position they were hiring for was 30 hours/week and included full benefits — it turned out to work fabulously well in conjunction with my work in theater. Enough time to earn a (very modest) living and have significant investment in the work, but with a little extra padding so as not to lose my mind during tech week for a show (which might end up being an extra 25-30 hours/week for a week or two). My current job was originally 50% FTE, but I asked for my time to be increased to 75% after my first year. Again, the extra hours are vital to maintaining any semblance of sanity.

Thank goodness for maintaing sanity! Thanks for checking out the details about Annie! Next week we’ll learn about what she prioritizes, and the importance of “well-roundedness”

If you’re hankering for more information about Annie in the meantime, check out these links: 
I’m sporadically on Twitter @anniepaladino
You can find info about my artistic work at www.anniepaladino.com
And Akropolis Performance Lab is online at www.akropolisperformancelab.com

Gosh, I am overwhelmingly excited to introduce Kate to all of you. An incredible human being who not only is insanely talented but just all around the best. Seriously the best. She moved to Richmond which I don’t love, but I still love her. Without further ado… Kate!

Hi! Who are you?! What do you do?
Hi! I’m Kate. I’m a creative director & graphic designer currently working for my own design company, Camp Studios, as well as at a full-time freelance gig for a big financial services company.

Work/Life/Passion Balance, what’s your method?
I didn’t so much find balance as I toppled head first into it (plus, if you’ve ever seen me do yoga, you know from one tree pose that balance isn’t one of my natural abilities). I worked for many, many years for many, many hours a week fueled purely by a passion for good design and a fear of disappointing others (clients, managers, teammates, my parents — you name it). Then one day, after a particularly ugly 36 hour stretch of work building an app we hated by that point, where we’d only been back to our apartments to shower, I tried to send the designers home, saying I could finish up. And the response I got was “If you’re doing it, we’re doing it.” And that’s when it whacked me right in the face: I’m setting a TERRIBLE example! What am I really teaching these designers whom I adore and cherish? That jumping to every unreasonable demand was more important than our health and wellbeing?

And that was really it. That was the tipping point of a long-simmering, rarely-acknowledged sensation of: there’s more to both life and work than this. It’s not that I didn’t want to be a designer any more, it was that I realized that being a designer on my own terms was infinitely more attractive. So, in fairly quick succession, my husband and I decided to do the following things: quit our jobs, start our own design firm, move out of Brooklyn and down to Richmond and, in between moves, take the entire summer off and live at the beach to regroup and recoup. It was scary and exhilarating all at the same time.

That was just over a year ago, and it was the best decision I’ve ever made. It certainly wasn’t without second-guesses and stumbles along the way, but on the whole, I’m so much happier now than I ever have been. Right now I’m balancing fairly well my fulltime freelance gig (read: dependable paycheck) and working on half a dozen clients of my own. It helps that good design is my passion, so work and passion bleed together and make the longer hours ok. I also have a much healthier attitude towards the amount of time I should spend on a project; it was liberating to finally realize that some of the things I was killing myself over went largely unnoticed by the client. Now I can decide whether I want to put in that extra two hours on a detail that will ultimately make me satisfied and proud of the work, or if it’s something I’m ok letting go.

Overall, what has helped balance me the most is putting my time and energies into the things that matter. In the last year, we moved states, took a two-month vacation, started a business, got married, bought a house and (juuust under the wire) got pregnant. I can’t say I necessarily want every year to be full of such massive changes, but I have a sense of momentum and accomplishment that helps generate the desire to keep growing and trying new things. I’m not even that stressed about the huge changes the baby will inevitably bring (she says optimistically). Talk to me in a year, though.

When you were a kid, what did you think you were going to be when you grew up?
Definitely not a designer or artist. I took art classes here and there but I certainly wasn’t an “art kid.” I was certain I was going to be a lawyer—I even went into college as a pre-law major. It wasn’t until I saw my roommate’s (a graphic design major) classes that I thought, “hey, that looks fun.” So I signed up for an intro to graphic design class my second semester and never looked back.

The best part is, when I called my parents to let them know I was switching majors, there was a long pause and they replied “Thank god you figured it out! We always knew you should be in the arts.” That was a huge relief (my folks are the best). Plus, I like to think that I’m always creating a solid, rational, evidence-based case when I present work to the client, so that’s how to work in some of that lawyer-y stuff.

Now that you’re pretty much a grown-up, what do you think you’re going to be when you grow up?
I’ll always be a designer. It’s in my heart and brain and soul and hands. With luck and hard work, our company will grow into something that will be sustainable for our family and allow me to achieve a great balance of work and motherhood.

Thanks for chatting! Where can folks find more info about you?
Our company site is http://www.heycamp.com, and our twitter handle is @camp_studios.

Anything else you want to share?
One article and one book resonated strongly with me around the time I was deciding to make all these big changes: “Why Designers Leave” on medium.com and (don’t gag at the title, it IS self-helpy but totally worth reading) “Choose Yourself” by James Altucher.

And this will always and forever be my go-to moment of zen: YouTube

I’m really excited to introduce someone who’s made changes in their career to make a bit more of a mesh between work and play, Len Yeh! He’s a pretty incredible human, so let’s get right to it!

Hi! Who are you?! What do you do?
I’m an experience designer with a focus on fitness and education. Currently, I’m helping a non-profit educational tech startup build a web application to better the math education in our country.

Work/Life/Passion Balance, what’s your method?
Balance–in the traditional idea of leading a bisected life with neat compartments for work and play–never worked well for me. I gave that a shot early on, and I quickly found myself trying to live two separate lives that weren’t feeding into each other. I was always involved with things at odds with each other, like going out to party and keeping up with my fitness. I was terrible at identifying conflicting goals and tasks. Since the people I socialized with mainly just drank a lot and stayed up until 4AM, I was, not surprisingly, in the worst shape of my life. When one part of your life wants to go left, and the other part wants to go right, you just end up standing still.

My strategy became alignment, so that the “work” and “play” parts of my life would largely go in one direction. I began to hang out more with people who were also interested in health and wellness, so it was always easy to call it an early night and get some sleep. I was a digital producer at the time, and changed my job to become a UX designer, as it was the role I was playing in for all my personal projects and hobbies. I no longer had to introduce myself as “ABC during the day, XYZ at night.” I was just XYZ all the time.

As I mentioned earlier, I’m currently designing digital math lessons for young students at work. One of the things I’m doing outside of work is studying to get certified as a personal trainer. These two things certainly look misaligned at a glance, but my personal experiences with fitness have given me a lot of background in behavioral change, willpower, and motivation. Now, my work with education reciprocates by giving me better insight on how to distill information down to teach people how to make fitness work for them.

When your life is aligned, you’re actually always working, but you’re also always playing (and learning). That could actually sound like a nightmare for some people who aren’t interested in that lifestyle. I’m not in the business of shaming people who aren’t doing what I’m doing.

For those who think alignment sounds nice, I have to say that it’s a privilege, and not everyone is in position to make the alignment without difficulty. If you’re an investment banker and love theater, I’d assume alignment is going to be more difficult and harder to explain to people, though not impossible. My story here is abridged, and I don’t want to make it seem like finding better “balance” or “alignment” was easy or risk-free. You can’t underestimate the amount of commitment and luck needed. I am fortunate after taking some calculated risks and putting some conviction into my actions.

When you were a kid, what did you think you were going to be when you grew up?
Honestly, I probably thought I was going to become a dog and rename myself Scotch.

I don’t know that I thought I was going to be anything. I had a pocket response, telling people I was going to become a veterinarian. In hindsight, it was probably my first taste of rebellion. All the adults want your answer to be “doctor,” so that was my 5-year-old way of saying, “fuck you! I’m NOT going to be a doctor…for humans.”

Now that you’re pretty much a grown-up, what do you think you’re going to be when you grow up?
I don’t know.

If there’s anything I’ve learned, it’s that our desires and environments are constantly changing. I’m pretty happy with what I do now, but my profession didn’t even exist when I was a kid. I’m sure I could be something in 10 years that I don’t even think is possible. I could also be something much worse.

Thanks for chatting! Where can folks find more info about you?
I’m @fishbonedice everywhere on the internet, and I park some of my creative work on fishbonedice.com

I’ve been trying to write more, and last year I published an article on Medium about Vin Diesel and success. There’s a concept in there that I titled “Always Be Closing the Gap” that I think is relevant for the audience here. I can’t take credit for it. I discovered it on Quora by an awesome writer named Oliver Emberton, who I try to share any chance I get. His original post is here: http://www.quora.com/At-age-25-would-you-pursue-a-good-paying-corporate-job-that-makes-you-unhappy-or-a-hobby-that-makes-you-happy-but-has-no-guarantee-to-pay-the-bills/answer/Oliver-Emberton

I’m not exaggerating when saying that post was one of the large triggers that got me to live my life with more intention.

Anything else you want to share?
I want to thank you for doing what you’re doing and being so consistent with it. You are an active inspiration to me and the work/play that I plan on doing. Hopefully the readers who follow Workhappi feel the same.

I’M BLUSHING SO HARD RIGHT NOW

Last week we met Jesse, who’s a pretty impressive individual with a focus on bettering himself, others and getting companies running. Also, he’s a super talented cook which I can attest to. If you want to catch up on what we discussed last week, check it out here.

On how Jesse compares to Beyonce and Obama:
I am pretty obsessed with the concept that we all have 24 hours in a day. Time is the only asset we cannot get back once it’s used. I really like to think about how I can use my time most efficiently and how I can optimize my potential. I have a brother with autism who wasn’t really given a fair shot at life. It is even more motivating for me to realize my potential. I don’t feel like I’m quite there yet. Part of me thinks I need to be building a network, a platform where I can share/facilitate meaningful content. My newest hobby is finding YouTube celebs and learning how they form communities around their passions. Emergency Awesome is my new favorite channel. Charlie, the personality is the nerdiest most awesome guy, who spends his whole time talking about video games, TV shows like Game of Thrones and other weird shit. I love his cadence and true sense of self. I’m toying around with how/if/when I’ll create a little soapbox.

About the mystery of startups:
The last thing I spend a lot of time thinking about is fundamentals-based cash flowing businesses. I think some VC’s have created a mystery regarding the “value” of young companies that isn’t completely fair or realistic. We live in a time where technology can be used to create real businesses that generate real cash. I love the idea of being able to “counterpunch” – respond quickly to market opportunities through simple digital business modeling. I’d love to get to a point where we can spin out 1-2 ideas per year to take chances at these opportunities. Thats all for this rant, moving on…

When you were a kid, what did you think you were going to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a Chef. A friends mom actually remembers asking me this question distinctly, and always reminds me of my answer.

I actually took this a step further when I was looking to go to college and looked at some Hotel/Restaurant Management programs. After speaking to a bunch of people in the industry, I decided against it.

I’ve always loved being in the kitchen. When my brothers gravitated to video games growing up, I always leaned towards hanging out with my mom in the kitchen.

I also think that there is no better way to garner community and forge new relationships than being at a dinner table. For me, the greatest single moment of solace I have each week, is at a Friday night dinner, after the meal, with a few drops of wine left in the glass. Sitting there, digesting, not just the food, but the conversations of the night and the progress made over the past week. Exhale to perfection.

Now that you’re pretty much a grown-up, what do you think you’re going to be when you grow up?
I’m never growing up… haha. I honestly want to be a Dad. I want a bunch of kids running around. I think I was meant to have a big family. I’d rather be defined by the family I create instead of by the career path I forge.

How do you focus on your career while knowing you’d like to be defined by the family you create?
Because I’m focused on my career, I am less focused on the women I am bringing into my life. In order to have a family, I need to have a wife. In order to have a wife, I need a girlfriend, in order to have a girlfriend I need to date. Vicious cycle. I’m not sure if one day I’m going to wake up and realize I need to dedicate real energy to that. Right now I tell myself to listen. Listen to the opportunities that come into my life and take advantage of them. If I come across a beautiful/nice/sweet young woman in line at the coffee shop, you better believe I’ll be talking to her.

When it comes to professionally, I really do believe in the “Entrepreneurial Path”. I like defying convention. I like the flexibility of being able to run multiple businesses with their own life cycles.

I’d like to have a bunch of businesses running that create wealth through technology, but I have this weird image of owning a couple breakfast/coffee/coworking restaurants. I’d be a happy as a clam talking to customers and seeing their days brightened by a service I was offering.

Want to learn more about Jesse? Check out these links!
Twitter: jessehmorris4
Instagram: jessehmorris
Business: http://www.joinspartan.com
Email: jesse@joinspartan.com
Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jessemorris2014

Anything else you want to share?
I am a quadruplet.

In the second installment of people crushing life, allow me to introduce you to an incredible human being and all-around stand-up guy. Jesse Morris is the President/Partner of Spartan & Spartan Ventures. They are a digital agency/incubator that builds technology products/platforms for clients but also launches their own companies. ReadyCart is the most successful wholly-incubated product they’ve launched and they’re excited about the progress they’ve made with it. They also invest in startups by way of discounting their development rates for equity. Jesse oversees Business Development, Marketing and Strategy for the organization. Read on to learn about his work/life/passion balance.

Jesse on the topic of “Balance”:
Balance is one word that I usually don’t use to describe myself. I am extremely passionate and pour my whole self into whatever I’m truly committed to. This personality trait often tips the scale of being “balanced”. At this point in my life, I am committed to Spartan and creating wealth for myself through this vehicle. When the company is performing well, I feel good and have time for “balanced” activities. When the company is cash strapped or facing a serious issue, I usually feel it and dedicate the vast majority of my physical/mental/emotional time trying to solve the problem.

On people caring about 3 things:
I am fueled by meeting/connecting people and listening to their stories. I’d like to think I’m pretty self aware. I have been given the “gift of gab” and have had success helping others through bringing new people into their lives, whether it is personal or professional. I realize that you can break most people down into caring about 3 things; health, wealth, and family. If you can help someone in any or all of those three areas, you are gold. People make professional business decisions for personal reasons. I live to connect with people on a personal level and help them achieve what they are reaching for.

How NYC can affect your approach to work and life:
Back to the balance question, and the commitment thing. I recently spent 4 months living in Santa Monica, working remotely. I spend most of the year living in NYC and travel quite a bit to DC (where my business partner lives) and to Chattanooga, TN (where Spartan HQ is). The time spent in Santa Monica was amazing. It was the most balanced I have felt in years. I was waking up early to work east coast hours, but I was completely done working by 3-4pm each day. I went to yoga 4 days a week and ran, played volleyball and paddle boarded on a weekly basis. I hosted dinner parties at my apartment and made a lot of new friends. Through this experience, I realized I am much more of a daytime person as opposed to a nighttime person. I really enjoy spending time outside and running around, playing sports, expending physical energy. At night, I love a dinner party and a casual glass of wine, going to bed somewhat early and getting a good nights sleep. Living in NYC, there is so much to do after midnight, but it never really appealed to me. I think this Santa Monica trip allowed me to settle into some natural processes that is harder to do in NYC. In NYC, if I don’t go out, I work. Sometimes ‘til past 11pm.

What Jesse does in his free time:
I really enjoy cooking, playing sports, watching a show/movie, meeting new people, spending time in public (learning, people watching).

Check back next week to learn how Jesse is just like Beyonce, some causes that are important to him and his plans for the future!
Want to learn more about Jesse in the meantime? Check out these links!
Twitter: jessehmorris4
Instagram: jessehmorris
Business: www.joinspartan.com
Email: jesse@joinspartan.com
Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jessemorris2014

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