Balancing the Grind with Jeremy Meltzer, Founder & CEO at i=Change

Jeremy Meltzer is the founder & CEO at i=Change, a company making it simple and powerful for retailers to give back.

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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?

In 2014, before we began building this disruptive tech platform i=Change as a way of transforming the way we shop, in what now feels like a very different life, I pursued a career singing Spanish love songs in Miami.

Although life – thankfully – had other plans. While in Miami, I was confronted by countless stories from women recounting violence and abuse at the hands of current or former partners. 

Having also spent time in Cuba, I’d become aware of how prevalent violence and misogyny were, but assumed, initially, they were due to ‘cultural factors’. I soon learned the problem was global. 

I couldn’t imagine the extent to which almost every woman I spoke to had a story of some form of abuse from a man.

Now acutely aware of a deeper purpose, I abandoned plans to work in the music industry, and began meeting instead with NGO leaders in the US, then across the developing world, in an attempt to understand the pandemic that is gender-based violence.

After almost losing my two sisters in the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami, I’ll never forget meeting a UN official returning from Aceh who bluntly said, “you can travel to the next disaster zone and do what you can to help, or you can achieve a far greater impact by building an enterprise that generates new and sustainable funding for NGOs”.

That was the beginning of i=Change, which has now raised over $7.5 million, with a focus on helping empower women and girls in Australia and globally.

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

I wake at 6:30 and meditate, which leads to coffee, a jog, then generally I start work by 8am. 

Days are filled with tasks, working with the team, juggling cascading priorities while trying to remain ruthlessly focused on what’s urgent, and will deliver the greatest return which, in our case, means the greatest impact for our NGO partners.

A challenge I continuously wrestle with is carving the time to keep looking over the horizon, while also being present to what’s happening ‘in the moment’; to have the conversations that are essential to provide the inspiration and clarity required to make good decisions – to see the proverbial wood amongst the trees.

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

I think I’m particularly terrible at this. It’s difficult when you’ve built something – to which you’re deeply committed – to maintain an activity that doesn’t contribute or at least support the development of yourself and the business.

What’s equally ridiculous, is the guilt associated with doing so.

Of course, the irony is that it’s mostly in time away from the screen, when convening with nature, does clarity descend and the best ideas arrive. It seems that only from a calm and expansive place, can we put the pieces together – make wiser decisions from a place of deeper knowledge.

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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?

I’ve started spending more time in Bondi, where sun and sand and walking everywhere feels both simple and natural and essential. As I get older, it also feels increasingly important to live simply, own less, want for less, be present to what’s unfolding in the moment. 

Then what consistently surprises me are the moments, where it seems life is ‘winking’, beckoning in unexpected directions, leaving a trail of breadcrumbs towards a place our heart wishes to go.

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?

Starting Greatness with Mike Maples Jnr. And of course, Making Sense, with Sam Harris, who interviews some of the great minds of our time.

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?

Having met and travelled with extraordinary people working ‘in the field’ for NGOs, it seems true that to have a deep purpose, to commit to a life of service, to contribute to something bigger than ourselves, is one of the keys to happiness and an enduring sense of satisfaction.

I also find it helpful to remind myself that I am a mammal, and I will die. With this, life feels more fragile, more precious, more wasteful when living frivolously and distractedly.

This is not to say life should be serious, but I do wonder what would happen if we all connected to that thing we care deeply about and committed – with even a small amount of time each day or each week – to doing something about it.

The cumulative impact would, by sheer weight of intention and action, change the world.

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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.