Having it all: how to get the most out of your career and passion
Who would love to have a fulfilling career as well as live your life’s passion? I certainly would, and I have found that combining my work with what I love in life, creates the best me. Despite this, I still struggle to balance these two very different worlds.
1. Lauren Fong: Investment Principal and ArcAngels manager at Icehouse Ventures. I raise funds and invest in women-led startups in New Zealand.
2. Lauren Gin: electronic producer, DJ and songwriter — I create trap music and perform at music festivals around the country.
Music is my passion! I’ve been a DJ for 6 years under Lauren Gin. The surname Gin is my mother’s maiden name. I made this brand difference to keep my professional career separate.
I’ve been lucky enough to have performed at some of New Zealand’s biggest music festivals such as Rhythm & Vines, Splore and Electric Avenue. It was a huge moment for me when I released an original track, ‘Remedy’, which charted Number 4 on The Official Top NZ Charts. The song received radio play from George FM and The Edge which was incredible. Recently, I opened for one of my favourite artists — Peking Duk, and have started hosting an exciting monthly radio show on George FM.
In terms of my career in venture capital, a typical week is working from the Parnell office and having meetings in the city or virtually by Zoom. I raise funds from investors, meet ambitious founders and learn about their startup goals. I’ll also speak at an investment evening for investors focused on supporting women founders. When I arrive home, I’ll have a quick bite to eat and then start producing music until bedtime, then do it all over again the next day. It’s certainly intense but I love it.
Lately, people have been asking me how I juggle these two hectic lives. I’ve reflected on this and will share my 5 key lessons:
Lesson 1: Sacrifices are necessary
Pursuing two careers is about making wise choices. There are only 24 hours each day, so if I’m going to focus on both my passion and career, then I have to make sacrifices with my time. I really miss surfing and playing basketball and even watching a movie is a luxury. Most of my free time is spent improving and learning to be my very best. The upside though is having more time to prepare for work presentations, gigs and producing new music.
My mother used to tell me that you cannot be successful without a plan because it then becomes wishful thinking. Understanding this has helped me focus on my goals and set boundaries. I know that sacrifice, although unpleasant, will give me long-term success, and I’m willing to work for that.
Lesson 2: Build a strong support network
What I’m not prepared to sacrifice is my support network. I have people in my life who support me no matter what. Support is essential to a happy and balanced life. I’m very blessed to have my family and close friends who I couldn’t be without. My amazing life coach and extremely supportive VC and music communities have also helped me thrive.
I will never forget the incredible mentors in the music scene who have given me priceless advice. Not many people realise how lonely it is to be a woman in the electronic music industry, but I have met people who want me to succeed. Also, my amazing sister is my manager which is a huge bonus. In the VC industry, I am lucky to be surrounded by loving colleagues and influential leaders who have contributed to my career.
Lesson 3: Prioritise your mental health & wellbeing
Wellbeing is one thing, prioritising it is something else. Due to my chaotic life, I had to get better at making time to feel peaceful. I often feel like I’m running on adrenaline, so I now prioritise — or at least try to relax. I do love walks with my dog Saffron and I’m learning to meditate, which is great for creating space.
I must admit that I have another passion which is surfing. If time allows, I’ll be at my happy place — my favourite surf beach, Piha. There is no better feeling than catching a wave, riding it and jumping off at the end. If I don’t surf on a weekend, I will shoot some basketball hoops or go skateboarding.
Lesson 4: Stop and reassess your life
A couple of months ago, I did not stick to my usual balance of deadlines and rest time, and I paid the price. I was so busy I almost forgot why I started making music in the first place. I became so overwhelmed with the pressure of work and music deadlines, and with exhaustion, I became very ill.
In this state, I started to reassess my goals. I realised I had been too ambitious with my music commitments while working at Icehouse Ventures. It was during that time, I had just released a new song and then performed in two festivals back to back in different cities.
With time to reflect I re-looked at my music projects with a different lens. I completely rewrote my release schedule, which meant postponing my EP until 2023. Surprisingly, this was a huge sense of relief — the burden was lifted. In order to be happy going forward, I had to make room in my life and set realistic expectations. I need to make better choices. So I now ask myself, “how does this positively contribute to my life?”.
Lesson 5: Enjoy the ride
Life is busy, messy and wonderful. Life is about living and having special moments. Even in the midst of chaos, I choose to have fun. I have learnt to balance how I feel with what I do and it’s satisfying. If I don’t feel joy in what I do, I will stop, reassess and choose again. Life is simply lots of ups and downs. I choose an attitude of always being up and seeing my two worlds of passion and career as a gift which I am very grateful for.