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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

℅ 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?
Joenewyork.com
@joecoffeeNYC
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.

Sometimes a wonderful daydream can be truly enjoyable to give yourself up to. Who hasn’t enjoyed a cup of coffee while imagining thanking your parents for your Academy Award, or running into an old coworker and their eyes glitter green while you tell them you were just promoted to Director of Everything? It can be difficult mid-fantasy to also assess just how much work is involved to get to that celebratory moment. So here’s a fun perspective to take when you’re enjoying that fantasy world:

  • Write it down. While you’re enjoying this imaginary work goal, write it down. And don’t just write it down, get the specifics down there too. If we’re continuing the Academy Award train, start writing your actual thank you speech. Consider what the award would be for – was it for Best Screenplay? Best Director? Best Costume Design?
  • Break it down. After you’ve written down all of those details, start sussing out the specifics. Are you noticing a trend that all of your daydreams include spending more time creating, analyzing, starting some thing new? Look for these specifics and start thinking about how your current skills align.
  • Map it out. As you’re reviewing the trends, and thinking about your current skills and how they relate, note the skills you don’t have. Maybe check out job postings for similar roles, or find someone who holds a similar position on linked in and snoop on their background. It’s possible that a coursera class, online course or workshop could help bridge the gap. Or, you can even set up some informational meetings with folks that you really admire and learn more about their path.

It’s good to let your daydreams become reality by busting your butt and getting some extra work in to make your zone-out moments your everyday moments. By breaking down your daydreams into reality you’re giving your brain a little nudge into reality. Or, you may find yourself zoning out about accepting and Academy Award less often…

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?

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.  

Have I got a good one for you today! This guy is great, and has good things to say about Australia versus New York  and work versus create for work/life/balance. Read on dear readers, read on!
Who are you even?
Hi. My name’s Paul. I’m an Australian who has been living in New York for the past five years. My professional role is Associate Director of Development at a branding and marketing agency.
Work/Life/Passion Balance, what’s your method?
My ideal balance between work and life is: all life, all of the time. I’m not one of those people who “needs to work”. Creative pursuits such as writing, drawing, recording music and making films, plus all the standard stuff of a good life: food, wine, learning languages, watching movies, reading books, socializing, exercise, traveling the world is more than enough to keep me from getting bored for the next 60 years or so.
Though, since my savings are likely to expire long before I do, my dream life is not an option, so I try to balance the work that is important for my bank balance with the work that is important for my soul – primarily writing and filmmaking.
I do well with imposed deadlines, so I’ve been part of weekly writing groups in the past, and I have recently signed up for a weekly screenwriting class. I also somehow managed to put my life on hold for several months to complete a short film, which looking back was an incredible feat of uncharacteristic single-mindedness. Quality aside, the 11 minute film is one of my most proudest achievements.
Though the fact remains, the happiest and most creatively productive periods of my life have been the times since college when I wasn’t working full time.
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I feel this question demonstrates a slight cultural difference – growing up in Australia I never really thought about it, nor was I ever asked. I feel in Australia there is a less of a cultural focus on career and work than the US. It’s a double-edged sword, however – there’s a level of work ethic (obsession?) and ambition on this side of the Pacific that I have rarely seen back home. But the flip side is a more relaxed, happiness- and family-focused lifestyle. (It’s likely though, that Australians would probably never have walked on the moon.)
However it occurred to me at around 15 years old I wanted to make films, and it has always felt more important than all the other creative endeavors. At the time though I never really considered this a career choice. It’s hard to say why exactly, perhaps my parents’ encouragement to pursue something more vocation-focused or just lack of exposure to the work – the film industry is minuscule in Australia.
Now that you’re practically an adult, what would you like to be when you grow up?
My interest in filmmaking has stood the test of time – it is the perfect mix of creativity and technology.
The technical challenge of understanding complex systems; the cameras, lenses, apertures, codecs, bit rates, microphone sensitivity patterns, lights, color temperatures, etc. etc., all intimately mixed with the creative – mining my own experiences for fundamental truths of the human condition, and creating a complex world to demonstrate them, contributing to the rich fabric of contemporary culture.
Where can we learn more about you?
My recent film, while it may not quite live up to the rhetoric of the previous paragraph, is available online here: https://vimeo.com/122907206
Anything else?
I loved the video, hope you do, too. My favorite quote? “Everything worth fighting for unbalances your life”
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