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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 ebelyon@gmail.com

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℅ 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!”

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: http://www.rci.rutgers.edu/~melias/. Also, if you’re interested, you can check out the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp here, do it, it’s an awesome place!: http://www.holeinthewallgang.org.

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?!
www.thecruxllc.com
and alex@thecruxllc.com

CRUX SIZZLE
https://vimeo.com/138970581

FACEBOOK
facebook.com/thecruxllc

#overzealousalexander
#alwaysawakealexander

There’s a lot out there about the importance of finding your Purpose, that Passion drives Success. That without passion and deep belief in your purpose you will never be happy at work. I’ve even quoted Steve Jobs, “The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.”

So today, we’re going to flip it, and take a look at Cal Newport’s, So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love. The book was recommended, and reading it (twice) has resulted in an interesting way to approach the Follow your Dreams mentality. Now, Cal’s book doesn’t necessarily say that purpose isn’t important, or that you don’t need purpose to be successful, rather, he somewhat rethinks the order of events, and instead of having passion lead your next job hunt, he has “career capital” lead it.

Let me share with you a breakdown of the steps briefly:

  1. Don’t Follow Your Passion – Wait until you understand what you’re good at. I.e. I may just love puppies (I DO!), but, that may not mean I should become a professional dog walker. I may not like picking up poop multiple times a day.
  2. Claim a Skill/Career Path – This may seem a little like find your purpose, but rather than focusing on this big manifesto, you think about the things you are good at and enjoy doing. I.e. if I love taking dogs for a walks, maybe I consider becoming a dog walker. And, no worries if I find out that it isn’t for me, I can switch to something else, no pressure.
  3. Master that Skill – and create a “craftsman” mindset. As in, get really into your craft.  Ira Glass talked about how this applies to creativity: “All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know it’s normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take a while. It’s normal to take a while. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.” Simply put, through repetition, continued generative effort and constant feedback you’ll create some very serious career capital. Maybe you’ll become a dog walker that is so good everyone in town wants you.
  4. Negotiate Control – once you have the grand master of skills, you can start asking for the things you need to make you happier. You have negotiation power now to start thinking about what you need to be happy in your workplace. Maybe you want to only walk dogs on Mondays – Fridays from noon to 7pm. Now that you’re the hottest dog walker in town, you can do that. People will be a-okay with you only working those hours because you’re simply the best.
  5. Define the Mission – now that you’re living that beautiful life of working how you want, you can take all that mastery you’ve created and apply those important skills to a bigger mission. Maybe you want to start a dog-walking business that walks rescue dogs or dogs that are up for adoption so they can get outdoors and meet potential new owners.

Now, all of this isn’t to say that passion should be tossed out the window. Instead, the focus is building up skills to support that passion, to understand that passion, and to execute on it. At first, it may seem overwhelming to consider what your skills truly are. One thing that can help is to start thinking about all the things you do in your day to day life, the ones you enjoy, and the ones that challenge you that you like to iterate on. This may help you start thinking about which company will let you build up those marketable skills a bit more. Good luck!

Credits:
Business Insider
Lifehack
Brainpickings

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

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