Balancing the Grind with Marina Passalaris, Founder & CEO of Beautiful Minds Australia

Marina Passalaris is the founder & CEO of Beautiful Minds Australia, a leading provider of life skills education for kids.

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

Before I set up Beautiful Minds, a journey that gave my life meaning and has helped me to help millions of children nationwide, I worked in a yogurt factory. Let me set the scene for you.

Seventeen years ago – I was juggling shifts at the stinky factory and a job at a modelling agency. The shifts were back breaking. Throwing on a hair net at 3am and spending five hours squeezing yogurt into tubes by myself in an icy room, before quickly changing and scooting tired and sore to my agency work and finishing at five. They were brutal days, but the down payment on the dream.

I’d had a vision of changing children’s lives and in particular focusing on mental health, which was criminally neglected at the time. It was one of those lightning bolts you read about in bad romance novels, but it set my life ablaze. If I hung in long enough, I could save enough money to put on my first Beautiful Minds workshops for kids.

One day I went for it. No logo. No website. Our first workshop had four children in it. I was thrilled! My dream had come true.

Word spread about the work we were doing. The phone didn’t stop. Straight away we were having an impact on a local community level and those were the happiest days I’ve known.

I still got up every day to go to the yogurt factory, but my concentration started to wane, and my squeezing skills were shot. My mind was elsewhere. I was focused on bigger things. I walked into the supervisor’s office one day, told him the yogurt life was not for me and hung up my hair net.

I decided at that point I would be relentless. I would show up every day. Create connections, create momentum and create awareness about teen mental health. Learn and get better.
It worked.

Since our humble beginnings, Beautiful Minds is now in 935 schools nationwide and we deliver 170 one day workshops a year nationally and 25 retreats. Our workshops are designed by the leading authorities in mental health. We have strong partnerships with 20th Century Fox, Nestle, Cottons, and Fujifilm.

We have had an unorthodox journey but have a passion for helping children that cannot be defeated or undermined. I have seen the lights come on for teens and their lives change in the space of sometimes a single day.

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

I wake up at 5.30-6am every morning to a cup of tea that my hubby Brendon has made and a very excited kitten scratching up our new fabric bedhead. We take our cups of tea and walk down to Parsley Bay where we wake up with an icy dip and the warm cuppa.

By 7.30am I am at my desk focusing on the top three priorities for the day.

Every day in our industry is different, but I always break it up with a coffee at Parsley Bay Café and end the day at around 7pm with a walk. Some days do go on longer, but I am desperately trying to maintain some balance in my life. Not something I am good at.

3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?

As the founder and CEO of Beautiful Minds, I do allow for remote working. We have great people on the bus – they’re all talented, but more importantly – self-motivated.

I love and get excited bringing the team together for a couple of days each week and keeping the magic of face-to-face work. The rest of the week they work remotely.

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

I honestly believe if you are serious about building a big company, there is no such thing as work – life balance. I am obsessed with what I do.

I think about Beautiful Minds every day of the week and am one of those crazy people that don’t love long holidays. I do take every Sunday off and have a social media detox day, but my brain is still ticking and I cannot wait to jump out of bed on Monday and get back at it.

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

My partner and I are exercising more. We never use social media on a Sunday. We swim every morning to wake us up and I spend as much time in my garden as possible because it makes me feel calm.

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

I have a very long list of my favourite books:

  • The Invitation, Oriah Mountain Dreamer
  • The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho
  • How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie
  • Start with Why, Simon Sinek
  • Principles, Ray Dalio
  • Do the Work, Steven Pressfield

Podcasts – anything that our good friend Alex Vespestad creates.

7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?

Our new frying pan. Clubhouse.

8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?

Oprah Winfrey.

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

We all know that life is short so it’s very simple, find a career that feels like a hobby, work your ass off at that hobby, design your life the way you want it to look and make sure there is something every day in your world that brings you great joy! Live where you want to, be who you want to be, stop making excuses and go out there and make it happen.

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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.