Balancing the Grind with Jonny Levi, Founder at Planet Earth Ventures

Jonny Levi is the Founder at Planet Earth Ventures, which exists to support businesses that are supporting the planet.

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

Sure, no problem. I studied a double business degree at university, before joining Colorific, where I worked for the last 13 years or so and was a Director and Owner of the business for 10 of those years.

Colorific is a consumer products business specialising in inventing and commercialising products for kids and babies. We sold over 25 million products during my tenure, predominantly through major retailers in Australia, such as Bunnings, Kmart, Big W, Target and internationally to around 35 countries. The business was acquired in 2022 by one of the largest privately owned toy companies based out of Europe.

I was fortunate enough to have had so many incredible learning experiences (both good and bad!) at Colorific which has given me a great foundation in business. My responsibilities varied a lot over the years but typically on the operations side I looked after the Product Development, Marketing & Supply Chain areas as well as any Director’s responsibilities together with the other Directors, such as strategy, risk, compliance, culture and more.

Following the acquisition, I took some time off to recharge, spend time with my family and began a journey of exploration and discovery for my next career direction. This has led me to recently starting my new company, Planet Earth Ventures, with the goal of supporting businesses that are supporting the planet. I work with businesses in any industry, as long as sustainability is a key pillar within the business – for example if you’re a B Corp or aligned to UN SDGs or working in climate tech itself or have a circular model etc. then we’re a match!

I’m most excited about the Mastermind groups – these are facilitated peer advisory forum groups, typically made up of 7-10 founders/business owners – think of it as your own personal & business support squad! Having been part of a similar style group for 11 years, I can attest to the benefits that this type of support can bring! My goal is to bring this same opportunity but to businesses that have sustainability as a key focus.

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

I’m fortunate enough to have a fairly flexible workday these days, given that I work remotely with my new business. So a typical day would begin by walking my 3 kids to school and then I have a mix of Zooms, in person meetings, events & business development tasks for Planet Earth Ventures.

I have a strong focus on upskilling myself, so I’m usually undertaking some sort of course – I’m about to begin the Business Sustainability Management course at Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership which I’m looking forward to. I also allocate a portion of my time to volunteering as a mentor to startup founders through a range of different programs such as Startmate, Climate Salad and Blackbird.

I try to prioritise our kids, so I’m typically offline for school pickup and then jump back online once they are in bed.

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

This is an interesting question as everyone has a different definition and approach to work-life balance. Previously my balance wasn’t great, working long hours and not spending enough quality time with the kids.

My perspective has changed significantly in recent times, with a far greater emphasis on looking after myself, both physically and mentally, and spending as much time as possible in nature with my kids and wife. I would say that I define this by being present and available for my kids and wife and creating a lifestyle where we can live within our means, rather than beyond them.

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 absolutely, this year I’ve become obsessed with surfing and yoga – I find both of these activities give me a perfect mix of physical and mental stimulation and balance.

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’ve just finished Let My People Go Surfing by Yvon Chouinard, this is the story of Patagonia. An awesome book and very inspiring in many ways. I wish I had read it 10 years ago! I’m also pleased to be supporting Yvon Chouinard’s 1% for the Planet movement through Planet Earth Ventures.

I’m also a fan of James Clear’s 3-2-1 Newsletter – there’s always a quote or two that resonates with me each week.

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?

Have a clear picture of what work-life balance looks like for you and have the right support systems in place for those times of need. People get energised in different ways, so this may be through connecting with family & friends, engaging in sporting activities or practicing mindfulness routines – whatever works for you, just make sure you make the time for these no matter the situation.

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.