Oh man, Libby is super cool. We met over a cup of coffee one early morning at my favorite cafe, and after learning more about what was next for her, I asked her to let us in on all of it. Read on.

Hi! Who are you?! What do you do?
Hello! I’m Libby, an aspiring farmer/agricultural educator. I’m currently (newly) transitioning from a career in tech to a career more aligned with my food and agriculture dreams. My day to day now consists of getting to work on the operations team at a local food hub, as well as at a sustainability-minded restaurant.

Work/Life/Passion Balance, what’s your method?
It’s funny you ask me this, because I’m in the thick of the process of figuring this out. So far, I’ve realized that no matter how much you love your job, you still need ample life outside of work. I’m slowly learning the best ways to spend my free time, particularly how to fulfill what I need that day or that moment.

To unwind, I read, talk on the phone with my parents, brothers, and friends, jog, give myself a morning to cook a nice and big breakfast, do some personalized stretching/yoga/meditation combo, or find and consume the nearest scoop of ice cream, or peanut butter cookie. To really clear my head and/or perk myself up, I listen to music and walk around my favorite neighborhoods in the city to people and place watch. I also find I’m never in a better mood than when I’m in a third space either on my computer or writing and also kind of eavesdropping on what’s going on around me. It sounds goofy but it gives me faith in humanity and makes me love people. I’ll also occasionally strike up a conversation with a stranger, which really gets me going. Talking to someone who knows nothing about you can be very freeing, and it’s also telling what you choose to present about yourself.

When you were a kid, what did you think you were going to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a grocery store cash register attendant, because I loved the “beep” noise the bar code scanner made, how knowledgable the attendants looked punching buttons on the register, and thought it was cool that attendants get to see what kinds of food people buy for themselves. I also thought they got to keep all of the money in the register.

Now that you’re pretty much a grown-up, what do you think you’re going to be when you grow up?
TBD! But if I had to decide the job I’d have for the rest of my life tomorrow, I’d be a farmer within a coop. Goats, chickens, veggie/fruit/herb fields, and a greenhouse, with educational programming.

Thanks for chatting! Where can folks find more info about you?
Thank you! People can find me on instagram (ebelyon) or email me at

℅ Monica Sweeney. Coming out February 2016

℅ Monica Sweeney. Coming out February 2016

Meet Monica Sweeney, who is probably living your dream job right now. I was pretty excited to learn more about her current role and how she looks to the future. Read on!

Hi! Who are you?! What do you do?
Hello! I’m a human, but right now I’m a human who works for a conceptual book agency called Hollan Publishing. We’re a bit of a literary agency and book packager hybrid, which means we come up with book ideas, find expert authors to write them or write them ourselves, and then sell those concepts to a larger publisher. This makes me a bit of a hybrid, too—I spend my days working closely with authors and illustrators, thinking, wordsmithing, analyzing book trends, managing projects, and then hoping I’m doing all of it well.

Work/Life/Passion Balance, what’s your method?
My work-life-passion balance at the moment is a very delicate one. I’m in a publishing grad program in addition to my full-time job and a part-time waitressing gig. I adore sleep but get very little of it, so I rely on the people close to me, yoga, walks around my very beautiful city, an expensive concert-going habit, and various forms of delicious food to keep me centered. Part of the reason this all works is because everything I’m doing right now is just sensory overload of things that are inspiring and stimulating to me: the book business and even the law behind it, creativity and collaboration amongst incredibly talented and clever people, and, well, beer styles and food trends. I’m an avid complainer that I don’t have enough time for anything, but I’m not totally sure what I’d do with my time if I did have more of it.

When you were a kid, what did you think you were going to be when you grew up?
My childhood career goals shifted based on the (sometimes bad) media I watched. When Twister came out, I wanted to be a storm chaser; when Dante’s Peak came out, I wanted to be a volcanologist; and when I spent my early adolescence watching Buffy, I wanted to be some version of a strong, witty, scrappy feminist who did things that benefited people (though I was and still am unsure how to translate that ass-kicking into the non-fiction world).

Now that you’re pretty much a grown-up, what do you think you’re going to be when you grow up?
Someone asked me what I wanted to do with my career recently and my response was something along the lines of, “idk, run shit.” I have high expectations for myself and I want to be a leader in my field, but I want to earn it and always feel like I’m still reaching. If I ever feel like that’s not happening, it’s time to change careers. I would also welcome a role as a burrata, ceviche, and cookie taste-tester, though not all at the same time.

Thanks for chatting! Where can folks find more info about you?
Googling my name is a really silly and confusing experience, even for me. I’ve written books that appeal to a number of different proclivities and interests, so there’s that. Or just send friendly tidings via some form of social media.

Anything else you want to share?
The best fortune cookie I’ve ever cracked open said, “About time I got out of that cookie!”

My friends. My really wonderful cup of joe habit is exploding with excitement about having been able to hear from the founder and CEO of Joe, a coffee company in NYC and Philly (I’m pretty sure I’ve been to all of them). Read on to learn about how a caffeine-fueled endeavor meets balance!

Hi! Who are you?! What do you do?
Hello!  I’m Jonathan Rubinstein and I founded and am now the CEO of Joe, a coffee company in NYC and Philadelphia with 13 retail locations and a roasting wing. I started it with one little storefront in Greenwich Village 12 years ago and it’s been quite a ride!

Work/Life/Passion Balance, what’s your method?
I have to work really hard to find work-life balance.  Joe was my life and was fairly all consuming until 6 years ago when I decided to have a child, solo!  So now my work life balance is 49% Joe, 49% my daughter and 2% squeezing in a little Yoga, a book or two and a dinner out, maybe once a month.  It’s tough but I make it work!

I also threw a dog into the mix last year and maybe that didn’t help the balance very much….

When you were a kid, what did you think you were going to be when you grew up?
Though it has zero to do with what I do now, I always wanted to own a summer camp.  Hm….

Now that you’re pretty much a grown-up, what do you think you’re going to be when you grow up?
Retired?  Rich?  Tending to my garden at my country house?  A man can dream, right?

Thanks for chatting! Where can folks find more info about you?
Instagram joecoffeecompany
Facebook Joe New York
OKcupid but you gotta find me

Anything else you want to share?
Daughter, Coffee, coffee, coffee, tea, daughter, dog, coffee, coffee, yoga, coffee, coffee, coffee, daughter, coffee, coffee, sleep.

Meet Madelin, who’s bringing clear information to the world of gastroenterology… and LOVES it. No seriously, read on to learn more about her work/life/passion balance journey…

Hi! Who are you?! What do you do?

I’m the Senior Manager of Clinical Guideline Development at the American Gastroenterological Association Institute (yikes, what a mouthful!) Basically, in my day-to-day job, I coordinate the development and publication of guidelines for doctors in the gastrointestinal field. These guidelines are based on very rigorous reviews of the scientific evidence about how to diagnose, evaluate and treat all sorts of digestive disorders, from colon cancer to acid reflux. Our goal is to make sure doctors across the country are all up-to-date on the latest scientific evidence so that they can provide the best care possible to their patients.

As part of this job, I also write patient summaries for each guideline. These summaries take our guidelines and put them into plain, everyday language so that doctors and patients can better understand one another – the doctor can explain a diagnosis and how they intend to treat a condition, and the patient is more likely to know what questions they need to ask their doctor as well as how to care for themselves when they get home.

We’ve all had experiences when we walked out of the doctor’s office after a diagnosis or treatment decision with our head spinning with so much information, and wondering, “okay, so… what did we just talk about in there?” I hope that with my patient-oriented summaries, we can ensure that patients get all the information they need to manage their conditions effectively from the start and avoid problems down the line.

Work/Life/Passion Balance, what’s your method?
One of the first real magazines I ever read was my father’s monthly subscription to Skeptic magazine. One of my yearly Christmas gifts was a World Almanac, and every Christmas morning into my adolescence was spent cozied up on the couch with my nose in the new edition, soaking up all the information that excited me. I have an insatiable appetite for new information, especially when it comes to things related to health and science.

Over the past year, it’s dawned on me that my career interests, my hobbies and my overall lifestyle all have two shared threads running through them: the theme of soaking up information, and the theme of applying that information to practice. Evidence-based medicine is a huge interest of mine and guides just about everything I do in my “day job” developing clinical guidelines. But it also plays a large role in my time outside of work – for instance, I love to participate in online skeptic and science advocacy forums and listen to podcasts about evidence-based fitness and nutrition. When I’m not plugged in, I’m either in the gym using science and evidence-based methods to prepare for my first bodybuilding competition, or in the kitchen experimenting with different ways to create healthful meals that satisfy my raging sweet tooth – which is almost as insatiable as my zest for knowledge!

So as you can see, my passion for seeking out evidence and applying it to my life – and also communicating science-based information to others – pops up just about everywhere throughout my day, but I wouldn’t want it any other way. I find that because my interests and hobbies complement my 9-to-5 job, it helps me make sure that I don’t get too bogged down in working. I have so many outlets through which to express my love of health and science, and my job is only one of them! I feel lucky to be starting on a career that is fed by my biggest passions in life. There’s so much rampant misinformation around health these days, and I want to be part of improving the conversation and improving lives through the spread of information that’s based in facts, not emotions like fear.

When you were a kid, what did you think you were going to be when you grew up?
My interests ranged from oceanographer to movie producer! Somewhere around the age of 12, I saw my first episode of “The West Wing” and instantly decided I wanted to be in politics. I loved trying to figure out what makes people “tick” – why they vote for a certain candidate and how they form their beliefs. It took me 10 years to figure out that the extreme lack of work/life balance that’s inherent in politics was not a good fit for me – I value self-care too much to go down that road. I had an epiphany while I was working 80-hour weeks and living off of pizza one summer during college that what I really wanted to do was change lives through health communication, and keep my own health and sanity while doing it. Not to mention, if what you really care about is getting the straight, scientific facts to your audience, politics is probably not the best field to go into.

Now that you’re pretty much a grown-up, what do you think you’re going to be when you grow up?
I want to be the person behind the scenes of a highly impactful public health campaign  – hopefully, several! – that will get people to change their behaviors around health. As Mad Men’s Peggy Olsen said, “I want to create something of value.” In fact, advertising and health communication are very similar – I just want to sell better health to Americans, not panty hose.

Thanks for chatting! Where can folks find more info about you? – but be forewarned that you will regularly encounter gym selfies and food pics – the two most hated of all digital photography subjects.

Anything else you want to share?

I came across a quote from Maya Angelou the other day that I felt describes my life philosophy perfectly: “My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive: and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.” Leave it to Maya for that mic drop.


I am so excited to introduce Arielle is super smart (like, PhD smart) and takes on a lot of roles in her day to day. Read on to learn about her quest for balance and what she does in her (limited) free time.

Hi! Who are you?! What do you do?
Hi! My name is Arielle Linsky, and I am a second year PhD student in Clinical Psychology. This position is divided between 4 main roles: (1) Researcher: I am part of the Social and Emotional Learning Lab. We conduct community action-research projects promoting social and emotional and character development in schools. In other words, we teach kids to be smart with their hearts. (2) Clinician: I see clients for psychotherapy in our in-house community clinic, and as part of the behavioral medicine team at a family medicine practice. (3) Student: I take courses, just like normal school! (4) Teacher: sometimes I teach undergrads.

Work/Life/Passion Balance, what’s your method?
Ahhh, the quest for balance is ongoing! Probably my 3 strongest sources of “life” in the work/life balance are spending time with friends and family, exercising, and cooking. More specifically, I’m pretty obsessed with yoga, and with the classes offered at the Rutgers gym (surprisingly high quality!), and with good food- especially involving avocados and recently, fresh tomatoes.  Another key component to my survival in grad school so far, is that I have my TV on wheels in the center of my studio apartment. This means I literally can watch from anywhere- leading to lots of Netflix while I cook, get ready, do “work”, etc. One struggle has been finding time to get out to one of my favorite places in the world- The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp. Hole in the Wall is a camp for kids with serious illness, and it’s pretty much magic. The “work” balance part of the equation is made possible, in part, because, I’m really lucky to love what I’m doing. I get a lot of joy from the learning and critical thinking involved in my research and classes, and I love the direct interaction I get to have during client sessions and while teaching. I try to remember how much I love and learn from this stuff when it’s midnight and I still have class reading to do, a client note to write, and research emails to respond to… 🙂

When you were a kid, what did you think you were going to be when you grew up?
Well, I’ll say this, I spent a lot (and I mean A LOT) of time daydreaming about becoming a professional figure skater. Unfortunately, my moves on the ice, or lack thereof, never quite caught up to my dreams…

Now that you’re pretty much a grown-up, what do you think you’re going to be when you grow up?
I’ll probably be a firefighter. No, but for real, I’ll probably be a researcher/clinician in some setting- either academic or as part of a teaching hospital, at least for starters. Then… we’ll see!

Thanks for chatting! Where can folks find more info about you?
We are in the process of upgrading our lab website, so stay tuned for that, but for now, you can find out more about the Rutgers Social and Emotional Learning Lab here: Also, if you’re interested, you can check out the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp here, do it, it’s an awesome place!:

Anything else you want to share?
I’m so honored to have been interviewed for this site. Rikki- you’re awesome for doing this blog!  I didn’t pay her to say that. Seriously. 

alexbwAllow me to introduce Alexander Andrews, Principal at The Crux, LLC and all around energizer bunny. Seriously, he does more in a day than most do in a week, and I wanted him to share how he works, enjoys life and finds (some) balance.

Who are you? How did you get here?
Oh, hey Rikki.  I’m Alex – East Coast Blood, Midwestern Ambition & West Coast Personality.  I develop and produce TV shows.  Entertainment’s been a really exciting adventure.  I got my foot in the door as an intern at Saturday Night Live during the 2008 season of Sarah Palin. Then, just never stopped.

Randy Pausch once said, “Experience is what you get when you don’t get what you wanted,” and both my failure and successes started telling me I could try this on my own. I was fortunate enough to take a year, after climbing out of the trenches and up the executive ladder, to develop my own slate [a portfolio of shows to sell for us non-industry folk]; get an agent; find an investor; and form a team.  It wasn’t easy, but after going through the motions, we just opened our office last week.

What kind of work is on your plate right now?
One of my first collaborators was Huck Magazine, a UK do-it-yourself journalism and radical-culture magazine, similar to Vice (but a publication you’ll never take off your coffee table). Utilizing their vast portfolio of reportage, content and access,  partner project, Lena Katz, and I developed numerous TV formats, a few different digital series and even landed a branded campaign. The Crux was lucky to set the bar for prospective collaborators and are always searching for comparable opportunities.

I’m a producer, sure. Great. But the traditional model has changed – even from the industry I grew up in during the past decade. Today’s establishing producers should be asking themselves, do you stick with TV and try to sell a bunch of shows, or do you split your time for digital or brand outlets?  

To do both, it’s a fight to have access to everything all the time. Right now, we have 70 developing projects and pushing ourselves to constantly diversify our portfolio.  If there’s a splinter of interest in a project, we tailor the pitch overnight. And that’s what we’re all about. The Crux finds good original content or a great story and we get right to the heart of it, figure out distribution and the potential storytelling that could happen through television, digital, brand and talent. We create custom strategies to expand a brand or voice into the next era of entertainment.

What’s a good day for you?
I believe in feast or famine. I love it when you wake up, take four calls with England, then two with New York, run to pitch networks, take some meetings, introduce yourself at lunch and then you hit this wall, but all of a sudden you get that second rush of inspiration and you keep going. At the end of the day you can’t believe you did all of that. Hopefully you learned something, everyone is happy and there was a little success in there, too.

Okay, but what about sleep?
I keep reading these stories about entrepreneurs that say rest is important, and I”m working on it. But honestly? When you’re just starting out – it’s too exciting, too motivating, too much on the line.  How can I sleep away these pivotal years without really hustling? I mean, sometimes I need to rest and give myself a break because you can’t create when you’re totally exhausted, but, I really like to push.

What are your thoughts on balance?
My work is my life is my passion. There’s still balance in finding how hard can I challenge myself. This industry is like politics, as you get in it you realize how closely connected everything is. Which means you really build a network that has both competitors and collaborators and you find that balance.

My biggest issue is my attempt to balance between what I want to accomplish and what is biting off too much. Or balance between talking about it, versus shutting my mouth and just getting it done. I like to tell people what I”m trying to do, because that holds me to it, makes it real. Like, what I love is variety. And I want to bring back the 1960s version of a variety show. I’ve wanted to do that for maybe 11 years, but telling someone I’ll get it done in 2 years? Maybe I will!

So, what else?
My final point would be, everybody watches television, everyone is entertained by it, but the people who work in it, the best projects come from the more exposure you get in the life and times we live in. If you hit a plateau in the content around you then you see something new, innovative and it still entertains you with an element of surprise? Go for it and figure it out.

How can we learn more and stay up to date on all things The Crux?!



Now for Annie Part 2! If you missed out on Part 1, go back and check it out! For now, check out more about what Annie prioritizes, and her hunger to learn more, try new things and who she’ll probably be when she grows up…

I heavily prioritize sleep. Sleep deprivation is a reliable migraine trigger for me, so that’s a pretty strong motivation to get 7-8 hours regularly. But also… I mean, we all are just better with sufficient sleep. Some people might prioritize food, or exercise, or entertainment, or alone time, or social time, but for me, it’s sleep, hands down. And yes, sometimes that means car naps. More often than I’d like to admit.

I guess I also really value balance in another sense — balance of interests/passions/hobbies/whatever. “Well-roundedness”. It has always been important to me to do a lot of things. A lot of different things. So I tend to jump at a wide variety of things that may cross my path. I do my fair share of couch potato-ing with all the usual “prestige” TV shows (and some that are decidedly “unprestige”), I try to see a lot of theater and live music, I’m always up for a new crafting project (two winters ago I watched every episode of both Buffy and Angel while knitting a collection of scarves and hats), my fiance and I are big gamers (both table top- and video-), and in the last couple years I’ve gotten really into weightlifting (literally the only athletic endeavor I’ve ever enjoyed). Even within my “fields” I try to be open to newness and variety. I wrote my first play last year, and I’m basically the de-facto Athletic Director at my small school, which is just hysterical considering the fact that I’ve never played sports in my life. Literally, never.

But this is just such a hard question, and so dependent on variables. My Work/Life/Balance needs are different than those of a single person, or a stay-at-home parent, or a high-level executive, or a doctor, or a grad student, or a person working 3 part-time minimum wage jobs… and for everything I am successful at, there’s something that I totally suck at (car cleanliness, I’m looking at you). I think part of the balancing act is realizing that nobody can do it perfectly, and that if you want to stay in and play Dragon Age: Inquisition all weekend, it doesn’t make you a bad person. Yoga, book clubs, and kale juice isn’t right for everyone.

When you were a kid, what did you think you were going to be when you grew up?
I actually do not recall ever having an an answer to the “what do you want to be when you grow up” question. I do remember thinking from an early age that the two most important things a person can do with their life are to be a parent and to be a teacher. (Yeah, I was that kid.)

Now that you’re pretty much a grown-up, what do you think you’re going to be when you grow up?
I’m going to be an interesting, fun, caring, passionate, generous, weird, visionary person when I grow up.

I’m going to be Oliver Sacks when I grow up.

(Only half kidding.)

Thanks for chatting! Where can folks find more info about you?
I’m sporadically on Twitter @anniepaladino
You can find info about my artistic work at
And Akropolis Performance Lab is online at

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