45 Comments
Jan 18, 2023Liked by Jonathan Courtney

I went back and forth on the idea of work life balance a lot in my 20s, some of the jobs I worked I just wanted to be out the door as early as possible every single day. But usually I'd end up going home and working on some side-hustle or developing a new skill, so really I was just looking for better work.

I think the Autonomy / Mastery / Purpose framework from Daniel Pink is a pretty good way to explain why some people enjoy work and others don't. If you're missing one of those things a job usually feels pretty unfulfilling, imagine how it'd feel if you were missing all of them!

Work can feel like play, I know I often feel like I have to peel myself away from working, and its the same feeling as when I have to peel myself away from the playstation when I'm engrossed in a video game.

Expand full comment
Jan 18, 2023Liked by Jonathan Courtney

I’m so in your tribe as far as scheduling - and raised three kids giving them space to be bored - lots of good things can come from being idle:). Also had a business that fed me in a way that you speak of AJ Smart with lots of spontaneous creative decision making that surfaced due to a free calendar. In regards to work/life balance, I love this quote from Marianne Williamson : ‘Think of your work life not as separate from your spiritual life, but as central to your spiritual life. Whatever your business, it is your ministry.’ Even if the word ‘spiritual’ triggers, it is a useful reframe to think of your work as…life. Being 100% authentic whatever the stage. Also, from a seasoned elder in business, ‘balance’ is always in flux and flow - at different times in life you give energy to different things. Where your attention goes, things grow in the best of all possible worlds. One more thing: it’s different for introverts and extroverts as far as a scheduling time and a social life. Introverts need time away from people as they can feel depleted and extroverts get energy from people. Thanks for sharing and all the best!

Expand full comment

Hey Jonathan, I’ve just listened to the first two episodes in their entirety in one go. Your ramble and working through glitches in the podcasting equipment in the first episode was so good, it’s so meta. Arnab and I are going to make it a subject of one of our metasodes on Metacast. I wish we had you and Jake in our show after you started this podcast… you rock man!

You’re making something unique here and I hope it goes big and brings you into the 9 figure world! Good luck!

Expand full comment
Jan 24, 2023Liked by Jonathan Courtney

Thank you Johnathan for taking the time to answer one of my questions (about advice you would give to your future self). Very insightful!

I've been mixing personal life and work life for a long time and for me. It has always been a very natural thing to do. I guess it's because I love what I do and don't mind at all putting more time on something that energize me and make me a better person overall.

Again, great episode! There is no BS, you say like it is and it's refreshing! I love the segment about revenue, salary, dividends, etc. I have the same kind of approach as a solo entrepreneur and I could relate a lot about it!

Keep going! Your podcast has been my treat for the past 2 weeks! ;-)

Expand full comment
Jan 23, 2023Liked by Jonathan Courtney

I really enjoyed the podcast again. Just like the first one, I like it not being so smooth due to not editing. I wanted to comment on the part where you tell about you not liking to plan social activities since when it is scheduled, you sort of 'have' to enjoy it at the set time. You said you prefer the spontaneous get togethers with friends and colleagues. But, so many people have very busy lives and plan their weekends with loads of (social) activities.

I experience the same thing. I like my weekends unscheduled. But lots of people around me have their weekends planned, sometimes already weeks ahead. If I ask them to go for a drink or something just a few days before the next weekend, they don't have time since they already made plans. This sometimes makes me feel sort of 'guilty' that I ask for their time. This sometimes stops me from asking them to go out together since I feel I'm interfering with their plans.

How does this work for you?

Expand full comment
Jan 22, 2023Liked by Jonathan Courtney

This episode made me pause and think about the whole work-life balance. I’m turning 40 this year and I’ve been struggling to find this balance ever since my kid was born.

The work-life balance was never an issue in my twenties. I studied and was too busy to pick the one major that would piss my parents the most. I’m happy to say I succeeded! Try explaining a masters degree in art history to generations of psychiatrists…

When I finished school, I worked all the time. The more I worked, the better I became, and the reward was - more work! And then, I had my first kid. My maternity was way too short and I came back to a promotion I didn’t ask for. Nothing prepared me for how little I’d care about work once my kid was there. It all seemed so pointless. I felt I lost his first two years working for a company I suddenly couldn’t care less about.

When I had my second kid, it took me longer to get back to work. My brain just wasn’t the same. I wasn’t as sharp, quick, or confident.

While I was going through these challenges, so were my friends. Some had kids and couldn’t wait to get back to work. Some didn’t have kids and didn’t want to spend time around young parents. We gained some new friends (who happened to live in our neighborhood and had kids as well) but these friendships were different. They were planned, respectful and nothing like my friendships from the past.

I wonder if this work-life balance is like a scale. At first, it tilts a bit towards work. Then when you have kids, a mortgage and lots of responsibilities, it tilts towards home. As the kids become older and more independent, perhaps it tilts back towards work? Perhaps.

Expand full comment
Jan 21, 2023Liked by Jonathan Courtney

Love your podcast, Jonathan! I usually don't listen to podcasts because I don't have a long commute and it's super hard to integrate them into my life - they are usually way too long, super packed with information - but yours is different. It has a perfect 'fun, deep shit about life and business' ratio, all in a super natural way that allows me to do other things while listening to it. What's interesting is that the biggest takeaway for me so far is your overall chill vibe, the way you see and talk about problems and topics - it actually helped my anxiety when it comes to dealing with business problems - I'm a young design consultancy founder - or life in general. It is weird you had that effect on me, but thanks!

I'd love to hear about your early years of being a founder in the podcast. My design consultancy is 4 years old, yet to reach the 1M in revenue, maybe next year. We also have a consultancy side and and educational side of our business. If you could go back to the time when AJ&Smart was 4 years old, what advices would you give to yourself, what would you differently, or what did you do actually really good that could help other young founders? How did you cope with stress, anxiety and perfectionism as a founder? You mentioned that you had some difficult moments in the beginning, what kept your faith and energy during those times where you're working hard but not seeing the results yet?

Expand full comment

Nice one Jonathan, this moved from background noise to attention grabbing about a third of the way in. Great episode, particularly the atomisation and work/life balance part. To push back slightly on work/life balance - there is something to be said for doing activities that are hard and unpleasant (and maybe solitary) for a while so that you really feel noticeably better afterwards. Like fasting, cold water therapy or exercise. Suffering through 5 days of a hard job you don't like makes that 5pm Friday beer super tasty. Saying that, if somebody literally HATES their job, they should find something else ASAP.

Expand full comment
Jan 20, 2023Liked by Jonathan Courtney

Jonathan, I just wanted to say that Episode 2 worked way better for me than Episode 1: sure you're still rambling but now you're rambling way more on-topic! #waytogo!

Looking forward to many, many more episodes and interesting topics.

Cheers, Colm

Expand full comment

I'm dying for the next episode. You're my hero. UX designer looking to transition to full time facilitating here. Started watching your AJ&Smart videos when I was learning UX.

Expand full comment
Jan 19, 2023Liked by Jonathan Courtney

Dope af

Expand full comment
Jan 17, 2023Liked by Jonathan Courtney

Question for the pod! How do you go about recession-proofing AJ & Smart? Employee training always seems to be one of the 1st budget line items to go to 0 during a downturn, and large orgs usually cut design thinking-related activities (in my experience - not saying it’s right BTW). Are you thinking about this right now or nah? Thanks!

PS - need Jake Knapp to make a cameo yesterday!!

Expand full comment
Jan 17, 2023Liked by Jonathan Courtney

I am so glad I listened to this!! I have always thought I was the weird one because I am more comfortable mixing and mingling work and personal life. I’ve been called a workaholic forever…. never as a compliment. I just thought it was the negative side of being an entrepreneur.

But I love what I do, love spending time with friends and family, love making money for myself and my clients…. how can I just turn that off and on according to the clock? I’ve never known how to do that.

So thank you for making me feel a bit more understood today, and a little less like the weird one. 😊

Expand full comment

Hey Jonathan, I love the podcast and the topics you are covering. Question for you: What were some of the reasons you and others started AJ&Smart back in the day? What level of research did you do to determine if the niche you were targetting might be interested in your services? Thanks!

Expand full comment

Really good episode, love that Nat’s piece came up - have really enjoyed his writing for the last few years and got to hang out with him a bit in Austin while we lived there last year.

I think you’d love Four Thousand Weeks by Oliver Burkeman if you haven’t read it or been recommend it yet.

Expand full comment

Love this new show Jonathan!

I’m so on your side as well, I don’t understand people who literally accept to be miserable most of their day at work and then use the remaining time not being at work complaining about work! I mean... come on! Move! There are so many opportunities out there.

I actually almost feel privileged to be excited every day to go to work, mingle - literally texting from a coffee shop next to the office while waiting for my colleague so we grab breakfast ;) , talk and engage with as many as I can. Learn from each and every one while still delivering stuff here and there 😜

Life is too short to separate the two. Like you say, you may not love it 100% of the time but at least 97% and you should know why you love it 😌

On that note, have an awesome day everyone 😎

Expand full comment