Caitlin Judd is the Co-Founder of lady-brains, a platform dedicated to helping early-stage founders and their businesses grow, so they can live more fulfilling, meaningful and sustainable lives.
To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
I started my career in Miami, Florida in the creative arts and publishing industry after completing a Business and Arts degree at Monash University in Melbourne. I studied abroad at the University of Miami and fell in love, so as soon as I graduated, I returned immediately. Miami was instrumental in opening my eyes to entrepreneurship and building my confidence in giving absolutely anything a go.
Eventually I came home to Melbourne and found myself in the construction industry in a sales and marketing role. It gave me the freedom to really craft the role to be what I wanted, but deep down I knew the industry wasn’t the right fit.
I sought out mentors and coaches and began researching workplace wellbeing, female leadership, and the practical study of how human’s flourish. I knew there was a more aligned and purposeful way for me to live and work and that was what I was trying to figure out.
This exploration led me to study positive psychology at The University of Melbourne, and at 25, I fused that with my background in marketing to start my own consulting and coaching business, helping some of the world’s best practitioners in the workplace wellbeing and leadership space build their global businesses.
My business partner, Anna, and I started lady-brains in 2017, a community and podcast for entrepreneurial women, while we were both still doing our own thing. Since the beginning we’ve launched many products and services, travelled to the US for a recording session, became the first official podcast partners at Afterpay Australian Fashion Week, nominated for the best business podcast in 2022, mentored hundreds of female founders and recently invested in our first female-founded business. It’s been an incredible journey.
What does a day in your life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
I believe that setting the day up right with a solid morning routine can help you feel calmer and more in control of your workday. So, it’s important for me to get out of the house and exercise, swim in the ocean, have breakfast and grab a coffee before I sit down to work.
No two days are ever identical and depending on what the business needs at the time is where my attention goes, however we like to time block activities. For example, Mondays are for internal meetings, Tuesdays are for external meetings, Wednesdays we have a no-meeting policy which allows us to do deep work, Thursdays we’re usually in the podcast studio or coaching, and Fridays are for catch up. I also try to meet with one new person a week to expand my professional network – it’s also a great way to get out of the house!
On any given day you’ll find me prepping and recording a podcast interview, writing newsletters and sales emails, pitching stories, attending sales meetings, designing a partnership proposal, updating sales forecasts, and the list goes on.
Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
Aside from any physical events or live podcast recordings, lady-brains largely operate online. That’s the beauty of being your own boss and choosing to design a business that suits your lifestyle.
I recently moved from Melbourne to Sydney, and while there were adjustments we had to make, we’ve found it to be an overall positive experience in that we’ve been able to grow our Sydney market and expand our network too. We’re fortunate the two cities are so close, and we travel often between the two!
I work from home, local cafes, the recording studio, co-working spaces, and I hope to take more work-cations this year to some cool spots around Australia.
What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
The concept of balance in our lives is something I’ve been exploring for a long time. It’s also a conversation we’ve had with many founders on our podcast about what work-life balance means to them, too. I believe the concept means something different to everyone, and here’s what it means to me…
Our lives are made of many work and non-work-related activities and depending on our values and current life circumstances and priorities, determines those activities.
For me, I like to look at how I can distribute my time and energy across all those activities and to make it a little easier, I tend to cluster activities into buckets, such as family and friends, relationships, work, health and wellbeing, and free time.
At certain stages of my life, some buckets may require more attention than the others, but having a framework helps me recognise when a bucket is depleted or overflowing. It helps me to see where my attention and energy go.
Over the last few years, work has consumed a lot of my time and energy. The sense of purpose I derive from lady-brains is very important, but it’s not the only thing that fuels me. I’ve learnt how to balance this out by prioritising other interests and activities.
It’s also important to set boundaries. There’s no denying that work is often demanding, we spend our waking hours working through long lists of to-dos. Setting boundaries with yourself and others helps you establish what behaviour you are and aren’t willing to accept, as well as what others can expect from you.
Remember, no one has this fully figured out, even if it looks like it from the outside. We’re all trying our best to show up, stay healthy and live our best life. If you keep your head, heart, and health in the right direction, you’ll find what works for you.
In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
My days are sprinkled with small habits and rituals that aim to keep me healthy and happy. Everyday I try to savour moments that bring me joy and pleasure, and it’s often as simple as getting out into nature and soaking up the sun, sipping tea while I work, lighting a candle, practising yoga, or clearing a space.
When I moved to Sydney, I started swimming in the ocean every morning. It’s become one of my most satisfying rituals, those first few seconds when you dive underwater and nothing else seems to matter.
There’s a fair bit of anecdotal and empirical evidence to suggest cold water is great for our health and wellbeing, our mood, and our productivity levels, among other things.
One habit I am letting go of is getting caught up in overthinking. If I find myself stuck with the same thought, I stop and tell myself to choose a better feeling. It works every time.
My goal is to create rituals that give me pause, allow me to express gratitude, and stay present, wherever I find myself.
Do you have any favourite books, podcasts, or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
I devour books that help me challenge the way I see the world and how I exist within it. I’m drawn to non-fiction books for that reason, but there’s magic in fiction, and I plan to read more interesting stories this year.
Recently I finished Phosphorescence by Julia Baird and The Book of Beautiful Questions by Warren Berger. I’m getting close to finishing Michelle Obama’s memoir, Becoming, and I’ve just started reading Leading Mindfully by Amanda Sinclair.
I enjoy Adam Grant’s monthly mailer on motivation, meaning and leading a more generous and creative life. And I also love Seth Godin’s short sharp daily emails on effective marketing, leadership, and respect. There aren’t many newsletters I open regularly but I do enjoy the brevity of his insights.
Are there any products, gadgets, or apps that you can’t live without?
I can’t live without my AirPods, iPhone, podcast equipment and laptop. Basic, I know, but all entirely necessary to do what I do.
Aside from that, I’m not really a gadget person but I enjoy tracking my steps and earning flyer miles with the Qantas app. I like to think I’ll have walked my way to my next vacay! I also love getting my daily personalised horoscope fix with Co-Star.
If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
One person that I think does a great job at integrating creativity, hard work, family, abundance, and joy into her life is Brooklyn based Australian artist, CJ Hendry. We’ve been fortunate enough to interview her several times on the lady-brains podcast and you get a real sense that she makes time for, and prioritises, both her work and family. I’d argue that she has found her version of balance and found a way for all her loves and passions to co-exist harmoniously.
I still have a lot to learn from famous philosophers as well as women that have managed a family and business. My grandmother worked well into her 80’s and raised three children. Perhaps she should be the person I interview next!
Do you have any last thoughts on work, life, or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
I love the idea that we’re all authors of our own life. I’ve had some beautiful conversations with friends and strangers recently, and the sentiment has been largely the same, we’re all being more mindful in how and with whom we devote our time.
After facing significant disruptions caused by the pandemic, everyone is finding the confidence to pick back up the pen and craft the next chapter of their lives. For some, it’s a slower, more considered pace of life, and for others it’s about getting back out there and seeing the world, perhaps both.
If there’s one thing we’ve learnt, it’s to keep doing the little things that fill up our buckets, those things that provide us with meaning and purpose, allow us to express gratitude, to connect with others, and to make us feel pure joy.
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