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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

This lady is pretty damn cool, and I’m excited I was able to nab some of her thoughts on work/life/passion balance. She’s got the kind of job that most of us drool over, and her beautiful weaving of interest/work/relationships is even more drool-worthy if that’s even possible.

Hi! Who are you?! What do you do?
Hi! I’m Katey Rich, and I’m the Hollywood editor for VanityFair.com. I’m responsible for all of the Hollywood-related content that winds up on the website, which is everything from movie trailers and TV casting news to longform reported stories to photo galleries to interviews to recaps . . .it’s a wide gamut. Vanity Fair the magazine obviously has a longstanding relationship with Hollywood, and it’s my job to keep up the magazine’s tone while also getting in synch with the tone of the Internet– which is how we’ve discovered surprising things, like how Vanity Fair readers are huge, huge fans of Emma Watson and Game of Thrones.

Work/Life/Passion Balance, what’s your method?

When you work on the Internet it’s very easy to start thinking that work time is all the time, and there are definitely days when I’m kicking off work from 7 am on my couch and not leaving the office until 7 pm (or, if I’m going to a screening, getting home at 10). But I have a husband who’s very very good at reminding me when to shut things off, which helps me just walk away for a little while from even the parts of work that I love. And the world of movie writers is fairly close-knit and full of great people, so even work events wind up being social and relaxing. Right now I’m at the Toronto International Film Festival, which in some ways is as much about catching up with friends as it is seeing movies.

 

When you were a kid, what did you think you were going to be when you grew up?
I definitely wanted to be a writer from an early early age, but what that meant changed a lot over the years– I wanted to be a novelist for a long time, like any kid who thinks that writers can only write books. In high school I started working on the school newspaper and realized that was something I really loved, and a little bit later got into movies just as a hobby, and had some vague notion of wanting to be a film critic while never thinking that could actually happen. What I do now is a little different from being a film critic– pretty much no one anymore makes their living only writing reviews– but I have written lots of movie reviews, so in a way, I did wind up  achieving that dream.

Now that you’re pretty much a grown-up, what do you think you’re going to be when you grow up?

Hopefully better at organizing my life than I am now– not exactly a great trait for an editor who’s supposed to be in charge of a lot of things.

Thanks for chatting! Where can folks find more info about you?
VanityFair.com/Hollywood (or regular VanityFair.com, there’s my stuff and lots of other great stuff there too). I’m on Twitter at @kateyrich too. And you can listen to me on two podcasts: Fighting in the War Room and The Film Experience.

Anything else you want to share?

Pitch me if you want to write about Hollywood! We don’t take many of the pitches we get but I love getting them.

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

Meet this fancy lady, Danica, who I appreciate not only for her solid approach to work and life, but her constant support. She’s amazing.
Hi! Who are you?! What do you do?
Name is Danica Pantic, and I am a production designer. I would love to tell you the name of a company I work for, but unfortunately I am a freelancer.
For those who cock their head in confusion at my job name, a production designer is basically a set designer for film. We decide what everything on camera will look like.
Work/Life/Passion Balance, what’s your method?
This is kind of an issue for me. Shooting days are generally 12 hours. Since I work on smaller projects where I often have to execute my designs, this means that  I will often completely disappear when I work. I find it important to surround myself with friends who also have different lifestyles from me. Maintaining these relationships can be difficult sometimes, unfortunately and that’s the frustrating aspect of having an erratic schedule.
This uncertainty has helped me rely on myself to zen myself out. In other words, I have to listen to myself and figure out what will help me recharge. Often that means that after a long day of work, I just want to come home, take my pants off and drink a beer on my couch. Other times, it means booking a crazy trip somewhere.
I am still struggling to find the balance, and I have not found the answer yet. I will get back to you when I do figure it out.
When you were a kid, what did you think you were going to be when you grew up?
I thought I was going to be an archeologist. For some reason, my grandfather had a collection of National Geographics, and I loved flipping through them and seeing people so focused on brushing dinosaur bones out of the ground. It seemed like an interesting way to get to travel the world and learn something about our history.
Yup, I was a dweeb.
Now that you’re pretty much a grown-up, what do you think you’re going to be when you grow up?
I think one day I am going to lose my mind and go work on a horse ranch in Montana.  I don’t know if that counts.
Thanks for chatting! Where can folks find more info about you?
You guys can check some of my work out at danicapantic.com, and if you want to see the buffoonery of my instagram, check out @panticsantics
Anything else you want to share?
For me, working is like dating. I have to constantly evaluate what I am doing and chase after new projects when the old guys are done. This can be a grueling process, but ultimately I wouldn’t have it any other way.

 

Every new project poses new challenges and new ways to look at the world. I have, in a way, found my version of archeology. After reading a script, I have to figure out who the characters are, and decide how they would build their environments. This is the most fun part for me. I am constantly on the look out for exciting picture books that I can mine during the research period. And, come on, who doesn’t like getting paid to look at pictures?

Hey! We’re back to Jean-Pierre telling us all about his work style and what he enjoys in his day-to-day. Read on!

How do you feel about working a lot of your time. Is it sustainable?
Not necessarily. But let’s first step back and define work. “Work”, “Labor” at its root in Latin, didn’t express a joyous activity but one related to the painful exertion of the body. So I don’t really think you’re ever supposed to enjoy work.  Obviously there are tasks you’ll enjoy more, but I don’t think you should expect continuous ecstasy from work. It has ups and downs, and we have preferences with respect to the tasks, but in my experience it’s not a place of constant joy.

So how do you feel about your current tasks?
I enjoy them – Wheeli is a place where I can exercise my creativity. I always thought of creativity in the most obvious sense: painting, playing music or cooking, but after a while I realized that my creativity is different. Building a team, handling a meeting, creating partnerships, understanding the dynamics of a situation – that requires serious skill and creativity to handle. I love challenging myself to see a problem and think about how we can solve it. How to make things happen.

What gets you going?
I like what I do now. I like transactions, I really like dealing with people to find something to agree on. I really enjoy the complexity of building products, relationships, partnerships between parties and understanding how to build bridges between us.

Are you having fun?
Absolutely, no regrets. There’s no such thing as failure. This experience is like a 9 to 5 on steroids. Most people have to work in the corporate world for 10 years before they have access to the lessons I learn on a daily basis. It’s hard to remember that when you’re deep in the grind, but it’s good to step back and be impressed with what we’re doing.

What did you want to be when you grew up?
There was a time when I wanted to be lawyer. Watching movies where they argue and debate, I thought I should be out there litigating. I took a fundamental of business law class through which the professor helped me realize that I like the topic, and would be good at it, but I wouldn’t enjoy the other requirements: writing 100 page contracts and reading long briefs. And he was right. So now I focus on business; I just spend a lot of my free time debating with my friends. I also like politics.

Any extra advice?
You have to define things for yourself rather than seek to mimic someone else’s life. How someone else succeeds is unlikely to resemble your success We all come to this life with different tools, backgrounds, experiences and it’s up to us to define what works for each of us on our own. Define what success means for you (not for others and/or society) and pursue it.

Want to find out more? Check our Jean-Pierre at these links:
Twitter: @jpsourou

Thanks for chatting with us and hurray for your newest venture!

Recently I was able to sit down with someone who I greatly respect and have a quick chat about what gets them going in their day to day. We strolled over to the nearby pier to talk while being surrounded by children playing soccer. Introducing Jean-Pierre:

Tell me about where it started:
My freshman year of school my father lost his job so I came home that summer not knowing my next move. I started working odd jobs fulltime and I realized I wasn’t at my full potential. I had several friends who had gone to culinary school and I reached out asking if they’d like to start a catering business. It took us a year to get our first client, but it was a pragmatic decision, it didn’t require any capital to start. A few years later, a friend approached me asking for funding to support a movie he was making, which I did, but then went a step further to start a production company and host a film festival. Between working fulltime and starting two companies I had enough cash to also go back to school. It was a busy time.

Let’s hear about what you’re working on today:
Wheeli (www.wheeli.us) was an idea that came out of my traveling through Europe. I was headed there on vacation and a friend sent me a website for carpooling instead of the europass. He said it would make it really affordable but that’s not why I kept using it throughout Europe. I kept hitchhiking (digitally)  because it was a social way to travel. I’m still friends with some of those people today, and I thought, this is an experience that Americans could really appreciate. Especially college students who are isolated from major hubs of transportation. This way, they can connect with new people to travel where they need to be.

What is balance to you?
Balance is about understanding your limits and defining your goals, realistic ones. It’s hard to explain because I’m a dreamer, and with my cofounders I say we’re not trying to repeat something, we’re trying to create something that’s never been done. So you should still go for the impossible, but you also have to be real with yourself, listen to your needs. Understanding when I want to go see friends or when I want to spend seven days straight in the office is something I have to define for myself.

How much of your time is spent on Wheeli?
Most of it. Back when I was working full-time, holding down two companies and going back to school, I noticed that I’m really good at having an idea in my head and breaking down the steps required to make it real. Grouping together the tools and people or skills that I need to complete it. I think that if I had been able to funnel all my energy into one of those projects I could have done something incredible. So this time around I wanted to give it 100% of my focus and see if my previous success was luck, or if I really understand the process of starting companies.

Join us next week to learn what Jean-Pierre enjoys about his work and how he feels about the concept of failing.  

Hi! Who are you?! What do you do?
Hi! I am Betina and I do a couple things for work. Right now, my main role is that I am a Director at a new social sharing platform for sharing tastes and opinions called Tastetracker. I am focused on marketing, building community, and finding interesting tastemakers to help create great content for the app. I also recently became a certified yoga teacher, and am working on developing that as a part of my career. I am really interested in the energetic ties between yoga, positive psychology, and creativity. My friend Cobi and I are working on something around those interests called Om Atha.

Work/Life/Passion Balance, what’s your method?
I think that balance you’re referring to is the main reason I do yoga. And it’s the reason I block out “CHILL” nights on my calendar (I have this sickness whereby I want to do everything so I overbook myself and forget to have “me” time – so I have to schedule it). I didn’t pay much attention to balance until I found that after a few years of living in New York, I was totally off balance and disconnected from so many things I really loved for my whole life before. I realized that I needed time and space to re-establish that connection, and get to know myself again. Safeguarding that energetic balance is similar to going to the gym, or eating healthy. It’s a practice, and it takes work and commitment, and if I don’t do it, I feel like crap, and not like my best, most happy self.

Actually, exploring methods for finding balance is one of my passions. It’s why I study yoga, and it’s why I developed an interest in positive psychology. It’s also why I am not-so-secretly obsessed with personality tests, and even more esoteric things like astrology. It’s ALSO why I love art. Throughout history, humans have come up with so many fascinating and diverse methods for developing self-knowledge, self-expression, and self-care – I am fascinated by that!

My method is that I make it a daily practice to stay connected to my core values, and to trust my body in determining when specific things are needed. The general recipe is a cocktail of socializing (friends, family, parties), writing, reading (and sharing what I read), stretching, sweating, making things with my hands (collages, food), and satisfying my inexhaustible curiosity by trying/seeing/hearing/experiencing new things. I don’t like to be too regimented, but I know I am happy when I have a pretty good balance of those things each week.

When you were a kid, what did you think you were going to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a fashion designer, and I wanted to join the circus. I feel like I am a little closer to the second option.

Now that you’re pretty much a grown-up, what do you think you’re going to be when you grow up?
Oh god. I think about this all the time. Rikki, you know this. I have so many ideas for this, so maybe the next thing I should work on is committing, so that I can pick one (or two) to focus on.

I read this awesome quote today by James Victoire: “The things that made you weird as a kid—make you great today.” I liked it so much, I tweeted it. So does that mean I should be a fashion designer and join the circus? Sometimes I think, yeah, in a way.

So with that in mind, I’d like to keep teaching yoga when I grow up. I’ve been practicing since I was 15, and I love sharing what I’ve learned. I also would like design to be a more significant part of my daily life. Drawing and collage used to be my favorite pastimes as a kid.

Some other ideas: writer (specifically, I want to be Martha Medeiros – she is amazing), costume designer (for movies), accessories designer (jewelry and/or shoes), art therapist, digital nomad (hehe).

Can’t wait to see what happens! NEITHER CAN I!

Thanks for chatting! Where can folks find more info about you?
Tweet @betinavb
Gram @betinavb
www.betinabethlem.com
www.tastetracker.com (sign up for our private beta!!)
betina.bethlem@gmail.com

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