Founder Focus Part 5: happiness and work/life balance

How does the context of your work impact your happiness? (i.e. traveling, sitting at a desk all day, lots of computer work,etc)

I don’t currently travel much for my job. There are conferences I would enjoy speaking at, but simply being an attendee at most conferences overwhelms and exhausts me, so I avoid them (especially if I have to pay to attend!).

When I am working, I am mostly sitting at a desk in front of a huge window in my fabulous apartment that I love, so not much complaint there. I do get easily distracted and/or lonely, and when that happens, I call a friend for a quick chat or go meet up with other locals who also have flexible schedules.

When I’m working at Urban Co-Lab, it’s a beautiful space with very cool people, so I’m happy to be there. I only work-work about four hours a day. The rest of the time is spent on more “thinking” work where I’m just living my regular life (doing laundry, running errands, meeting up with other business people) but with my business on my mind.

I crave more classroom teaching, so I am actually joining the adjunct faculty of a wonderful close-knit HBCU here in Austin called Huston-Tillotson University. I’ll be teaching business classes to adults who are getting their Bachelors in Business Administration. I start in January, and I’m really excited!

How would you describe your work/life balance? If you don’t have balance, what makes that OK?

I have amazing work-life balance. Most of the year, I work about four hours per day. During late November and late December, I work off and on 8-12 hours per day 7 days a week as I help my clients meet their school deadlines. I don’t mind the crazy-busy weeks at all, as it is a great income influx for me! I could cut off taking on new clients closer to the deadline, but I want to help them and the money helps me get that much closer to paying off my student loans!

I wonder how much more money I could make if I worked 8-10 hours per day! I can’t even imagine working that many hours though; I get pretty exhausted with the kind of work I do. The client calls are intense and very involved!  I also take on some client essay editing, and that requires careful concentration. I have a team of 10+ independent contractors who work for me, so I am fielding their questions and concerns as well as making sure that the 80 or so clients are happy and taken care of.

Do you know anyone else who truly loves their work and what do they do?

My good friend Laura Roeder of Edgar is a huge example to me. She loves what she does and makes millions at it.

My bestie Shadiah is a co-founder and Head of Customer Experience of a wedtech startup called Honeybook, and she loves her job, is awesome at it, and is well compensated.

My long-time friend Kevin Curry is an Instagram fitness-foodie celebrity, founder of Fit Men Cook, and he loves what he does.

My friend Roshan Paul runs Amani Institute, an education organization he started, and he loves what he does.

My long-time internet friend Paul C. Brunson is a matchmaker and media personality and is financially abundant and clearly loves what he does.

Another internet friend Cara Alwill Leyba is killing it as an author and life coach with her Champagne Diet brand.

There are dozens of us! Dozens!

What we all have in common is that we took a risk (and had at least a few failures) to do what we love to do AND to do what we could get people to pay us well for.

In fact, I was once a dating coach (I even wrote a book called Be Your Own Boyfriend), but the admissions consulting paid more, and I was better at it, so I went that route. No regrets! (It is time for a second book though…)

If you’re interested in starting your own company, I say go for it! You don’t need to quit your job. In fact, I don’t recommend quitting your day job unless you have at least six months of living expenses saved up. Entrepreneurship is so hard on its own; broke entrepreneurship is just that much harder.

At some point, you have to stop taking in more advice and information and take action to move toward your goals.

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