Balancing the Grind with Amy Fogarty, Manager, Ecosystem & Incubation at Enterprize Tasmania

Amy Fogarty is the Manager, Ecosystem & Incubation at Enterprize Tasmania, which supports founders of innovative, high growth potential businesses.

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Let’s start with your background! Can you share with us your career journey and what you’re currently up to?

I started volunteering when I was a teenager. I found a deep sense of community and accomplishment from joining teams of other young people to campaign for political change, fundraise for a cause, or plan an event that people would talk about for years.

Having been mostly focused on aid and development organisations, eventually I was emotionally burnt out – there are only so many times you can put absolutely everything into asking the people in power for change, and have them say no, before you can’t do it anymore.

After school, I found myself working in hospitality. I really didn’t know what I ‘wanted to be’ (so I deferred my university enrollment a bunch of times, only to never end up going, oops), and so it seemed like a great stop gap.

Turned out I absolutely loved the heat (literally), chaos, and pace of bartending and managed a couple of venues for a short few years in the industry. This introduced me to the indie contemporary music scene, and that’s where I found my second community. From there, I built a booking agency and event management company called Meraki Management, which was my full time job and one true love for about 6 years.

My purpose for Meraki was to enable local Tasmanian musicians to build sustainable careers playing music without having to leave the state. The focus was on showing young performers how to turn their art into a job, and then providing opportunities to play so they could see it through. I taught myself how to do everything (as a business owner often does) and flipped between marketing, administration, bookkeeping, and actually doing the job with a lot of joy, and also a lot of stress.

As the tale often now goes, then the pandemic happened, and everything changed. I was incredibly lucky to fall into a part time administrative assistant role with Enterprize – Tasmania’s startup support space, in their Hobart coworking hub. I absolutely love the work Enterprize does in building the startup ecosystem across the state, and over the past 3 years have moved on to Community Manager of the Hobart hub, then onto a role overseeing the Hubs in Hobart and Launceston.

Now I’m Manager of Ecosystem and Incubation, which is the dream combination of having strategic oversight of all the day to day activity in our hubs, including identifying event opportunities and guest presenters, helping drive our expansion into the north-west coast of Tasmania (where we don’t yet have a hub but will soon!), and I also run all of our education programs, including the Born Global Incubator, which is our 12 week intensive training in lean startup for early stage founders, and a schools focused program called Big Ideas Challenge, where we get young Tasmanians excited by the career paths in the startup industry!

Working for Enterprize comes with a community and team I love working with, the pace and diversity I’ve loved in some of my other roles, and also immense autonomy and creativity to develop and invest in not only the startup ecosystem and Enterprize’s place in it, but myself. 

We’d love to know what a typical day is like for you. Could you describe a recent workday?

I’d really love to say I get up at 6am, go for a run, watch the sun rise, eat beautiful home cooked meals, spend my time doing what I love mindfully, and then spend my evenings with family and friends. And hey, sometimes parts of that are true, but honestly, often my time does not feel like my own and I’ve learned to be incredibly flexible and reactive as a result.

I do try to get up early enough to spend a little time outside in the mornings, especially while the weather is still great (yes, even in Tasmania it’s sunny!), and I live within walking distance to the Enterprize Hub so I pretty much always walk to work.

My days are usually a variety of chats with our community of founders, meetings with people participating in our programs, supporters and mentors, or other members of the Enterprize team, and while I’m a big believer in the Ryder Carroll Bullet Journal system to plan my to do lists and projects, I almost always get pulled off in a few different directions depending on what’s going on. My role gives me strategic oversight over most parts of the organisation, which keeps my days really varied and interesting, but I also find it hard to find time to focus and move the needle sometimes!

My work days are busy, varied, and people-heavy, so after work (and on the weekends) I love to chill out with my partner and our cats, eat great food, go for a walk along the beach, and spend time pottering around our cute little courtyard garden where we grow all sorts of delicious vegetables and herbs!

Can you define work-life balance for yourself and share with us your approach in maintaining it?

It’s taken me a lot of time (and luck) to get here, but for me, healthy balance is all about flexibility. Letting go of setting expectations of myself to ‘deep work’ and ‘deep rest’ at a prescribed time, and letting myself (when possible) jump between both as and when I need it has been by far the greatest thing I’ve ever done for my own mental (and physical) health!

I know I’m extremely privileged to be in a role and an environment where this is possible, but instead of setting rules like “I’ll never be in the office past 5” and then stressing out when a deadline is approaching and I can’t meet that promise to myself while also succeeding in my role, I’ve learned to ease up and let myself go more with the flow.

It requires some intense self awareness, and the ability to be radically honest with myself, and my boss, about what I need at all times. There’s a lot of room for my focus to swing too far in favour of work, and I have to be careful to not let that happen. But when I get it right, being able to listen to my body and my brain about what is the best use of my time in any particular moment makes me better at work, better in my relationships, and better at preserving and respecting my energy levels.

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Change is constant, and it’s essential for growth. Have you made any lifestyle changes in the past year to improve your work-life balance?

Yes! I don’t remember where I saw it, but I learned a system at the start of 2023, where you set your ‘non-negotiables’ for each day/week/month, and use them to form habits that you hold yourself to in order to be your best. They’re supposed to be realistic and achievable, but if you think about it from a perspective of ‘if I don’t do x, y, and z every week I feel worse the next week’, I think it’s pretty easy to work out!

Some of my non-negotiables include:

  • Daily – Getting 10,000 steps, reading something, and spending at least 15 mins outside (without any ‘reason’, just be outside).
  • Weekly (or more!) – Writing something (doesn’t matter what for, just get creative), spending time with friends, and doing some structured exercise.
  • Monthly – A solo date day, a life admin day, and a nature/minimal tech day.

Instead of (or as well as) setting big goals with measurable steps, this approach forced me to look at it in the opposite way – what does every day/week/month need to include for me to build a life that makes me happy? Some of the things are work related, but most of it is personal, because I know it makes me better at work if I also take care of myself.

We’re always on the lookout for new resources! Can you recommend any books, podcasts, or newsletters that have helped you in your journey towards balance?

I’m a bit of a productivity nerd, and I think nailing your productivity structures really helps you ease the burden of getting things done, which opens up time and brain space for balance! I follow Ryder Carroll’s Bullet Journal System (the original, minimal version, don’t let those beautiful artistic pinterest journals intimidate you), so organise my thoughts and to-do lists on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis.

Ryder has great books and a YouTube channel that are super helpful for getting started! I also really enjoyed Atomic Habits by James Clear (I feel like everyone in the world is on that bandwagon at the moment) for solidifying habit forming behaviours in a really practical and achievable way.

Before we wrap up, do you have any final words of wisdom or insights on work, life, or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?

The biggest thing for me, is to let it look different in different phases of your life. Trying to be all of everything, all the time is completely unrealistic. Learning to be kind to myself about how moments of focus, work, and rest can ebb and flow was a really hard journey, and one that I’m still on, but it changed the way I saw literally everything I do and how I do it.

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About Author

Hey there! I'm Hao, the Editor-in-Chief at Balance the Grind. We’re on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.