Balancing the Grind with Cassandra Margolin, Head of People Operations at Jasper

Cassandra Margolin is the Head of People Operations at Jasper, an AI copywriting startup.

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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?

I have been working in the HR/People industry for almost 9 years – But I found my true passion for the field when I began working for quickly scaling, start-up tech companies 5 years ago.

When I moved into the tech industry, I was working as an HR Generalist on an extremely small but mighty People team, which allowed me to take on all aspects of HR. I was able to identify areas that fueled me, and areas that I wasn’t necessarily as fond of.

I soon moved into a Business Partner position to follow my interest in making an impact as an advisor and strategic thought partner. I continued to work as a Business Partner for a few years at various tech companies – But the scope of the role was never “typical”.

In start-up culture you tend to wear numerous hats, which allowed more experience than I could have ever imagined. The unique skill set I developed in scaling hybrid/remote tech companies from an HR standpoint landed me where I am now, as the Head of People Operations at Jasper AI.

I have spent the past 8 months at Jasper building out all things People, from the ground up, while the company has quickly grown from 25 to 145 employees. I currently oversee all departments on the People team, aside from recruiting.

2) What does a day in your life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?

The most consistent part of my day is definitely my morning routine; I wake up around 6 am, drink a bottle of water, and get ready to hit the gym. After I return from my workout, I have a protein shake and some fruit or a chocolate rice cake.

From there, it’s a bit all over the place…

Anyone who works in HR knows there is no “typical day” – Which is honestly why I love my job. I never know what curve balls might be thrown my way and being kept on my toes leads to very few dull moments.

Sometimes I am in meetings with leaders and managers discussing strategy, other times I am in the weeds with my team. Then I get those (rarer) days I am heads down grinding and making my way through my to-do lists.

I wish I could say I take time out of my day to go for a walk, or do a breathing exercise, but that’s just not the truth. I’m usually tugged in a million different directions throughout the day and pretty glued to the computer.

After work, I usually make dinner with my husband. Sometimes I will watch trashy TV. Sometimes I read a few chapters of a book. Nothing inspiring or educational though, I almost always read a murder mystery. After a long day of work, I just need to step away from reality a bit and get caught up in someone else’s drama or story.

3) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?

Work-life balance to me is, well, the key word “balance” is what I really focus on.

In a leadership role at a fast-scaling tech company, there are certainly challenges I face with work-life balance. There is a lot of demand and a million competing priorities. Sometimes I am able to wrap up work closer to 6 pm, while other times I break for dinner, then get back on my computer for an hour or two in the evening.

Yes, I sometimes put in a few hours on the weekend, but that can mean I have fewer working hours come Monday. It really is just a balancing act, one that I make sure to be as intentional as possible about.

Here’s an example of how I balance: If there have been a few days in a row that I have worked 10 or 11 hours, I set boundaries with myself and take the next day to just work the solid 8, or even less. I am very mindful of when I am hitting my max.

Aside from finding balance with my typical hours, I also make time to turn entirely off from work by using my PTO. In my 8 months in my current role, I have already made time to use my PTO for a vacation to Mexico with my husband, and a trip to Vermont to see my family.

Using PTO and stepping away from work is so incredibly crucial. Everyone needs time to rest and refresh, so they don’t burn out. Nobody is able to do their best work when they are running on fumes – Better time off, means better time on.

At Jasper, we put a great deal of effort into making sure our employees take time off, and that they always feel supported in doing so. To really show our employees how much we value their time-off, we have implemented a program that provides our employees with additional funds to use on their time off, access to their own travel designers to plan vacations or staycations, and memberships with Scott’s Cheap Flights.

All so they can make the absolute best of their time away from work. We also have a mandatory time off policy that requires each employee to take at least 2 weeks of time off every 12 months.

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4) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?

Actually, yes!

As I mentioned above, I (now) make dinner with my husband most nights. I absolutely love to cook, but for a while there, I was struggling to find the time to do it. Everything changed when I began partnering with a nutritionist who helps me with meal planning and prepping.

Now cooking dinner is something I’m able to incorporate into my regular routine most nights, no matter how chaotic my days become. Having all my groceries bought and my meals planned out on the Sunday before I start my work week, has significantly reduced the stress and burden about what to make for dinner. I swear by meal planning now – It’s helped me reconnect with and make time for my passion to cook.

5) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?

Full transparency, haven’t jumped on the podcast bandwagon! I listened to a few on my recent move (23 hour drive) to Austin, TX. But that’s about as far as my podcast experience has gone.

I am part of the Lattice RfH (Resources for Humans) community and absolutely love receiving their newsletters.  

6) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?

Find things that bring you joy in life and be sure to make time for them. Life really does pass us by so quickly. Stop postponing things that you want to experience, do them now. You don’t want to wake up in 10 years and realize you missed out on actually living.

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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.