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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?!
CRUX SIZZLE
https://vimeo.com/138970581

FACEBOOK
facebook.com/thecruxllc

#overzealousalexander
#alwaysawakealexander

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

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?

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

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”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’M BLUSHING SO HARD RIGHT NOW

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now for the second part in our two-part series learning about how Alexa, our double-careerist makes space for work, life and passion. If you want to catch up, read Part 1 here.

How do you feel about your work/life/passion? How do you feel like it will evolve?
I have the best job in the world.  I get paid to backpack 20 miles a day off trail at 10,000ft and catch frogs.  But my work is seasonal, temporary, and without benefits.  Looking forward to a life with more permanence and stability, I am addressing the differences between wants and needs to guide career decisions.  I need a home, a community, daily exercise in the mountains, and time with my amazing husband.  I want (but may need) to think critically and problem solve, to make things with my hands, and to live in a place I love.  I don’t want to feel like I can’t afford avocados, or fresh berries, or a teeth cleaning, or a new exhaust system…

What are some things that sorta hold you back?
I make a lot of excuses to NOT pursue the things I love.  I have a hard time taking risks.

What do you do in your free time to get more passion in your life?
I bake my own bread and crackers and make my own yogurt when I have time.  I run and ski and climb but rarely take ownership of risk in the latter two.  I do yoga on my own but usually call it “active stretching” because I don’t want to buy in too much.  Not much in this world is better than sleeping in with the person you love, enjoying a breakfast of bagels and lox and stove-top espresso, going out for an afternoon hike, ski tour, run, or climb, and finishing off the day with tasty homemade dinner.  Oh, and reading is WAY better than watching Netflix but sometimes TV happens….

When you were little, what did you think you’d be when you grew up?
As a kid, I honestly didn’t know what I would be when I grew up. I thought I would figure it out as I went along.  And, now that I am partially grown up, I still don’t know what I will be when I am fully grown up, or if I will EVER fully grow up for that matter.

I will say that as a child,
1) the bottoms of my feet were usually black and tough from running around barefoot outside;
2) I had a sketchbook and enjoyed arts and crafts time;
3) I would conduct week long experiments in the bathtub to create the perfect bath product concoction, and when my mom would invariably knock one of my incubations over while shaving her legs, the experiment would have to start over from scratch and I would not be pleased; and
4) I put myself down for naptime regularly.

So, not much has changed, except that I am worse about the sketchbook and better about the experiments.

Now that you’re grown up, what will you be?
An ecologist-baker-printmaker-mom-homesteader, of course.

How can we find you if we want to learn more?
Rikki Goldenberg has used smoke signals in the past with pretty good results.

Anything else you want to share?
Um, when a page won’t load on Chrome, ever wonder why there is a dinosaur at the top of the message?  Try pressing the spacebar once, and then press it again, and watch that dinosaur…

So there you have it folks! But, one of the last bits of advice Alexa shared may have been my favorite:
It was actually good for me to write these sorts of thoughts down.  I’ve been going back and forth about returning to school for ecology since September, and I just need to do it.  It is time to commit, because committing to something is better than waiting to commit to the “right” thing.  There is no “right” thing at the end of the day.  I do not believe in soul-mates, and I do not believe in a soul-career.  In both cases of mate and career, the chemistry needs to be there, but so does the effort to make things work.  Its about making the choice right, not so much about making the right choice.  Masters (or PhD…..) in ecology, here I come.

Here’s to committing to try new – scary- things! Thanks Alexa!!

If you’re interested in telling me about your own work/life/passion balance creation, shoot me a note at workhappi AT gmail.

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