Founders / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Melissa Rosenthal, Co-Founder at Circle

Melissa Rosenthal is the Co-Founder at Circle, a content-first SMS tech platform for brands and publishers based in New York.

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

I’m currently the Co-Founder of Circle, a content-first SMS tech platform for Brands and Publishers. Previously I was the EVP of the live media company, Cheddar, and formerly the Global VP of Creative at BuzzFeed.

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

My workday has changed quite a bit over the past few months. I went from running a national revenue team at a large company to working for myself with my co-founder and one engineer.

I used to be in back to back internal meetings, clients calls, etc., and now I get to plan my day out for myself. I try to separate my day into four quadrants:

1) product

2) existing clients

3) new business

4) planning

Structuring my day this way helps me to stay focused and not get too bogged down with one aspect of the business. Early stage, you’re really doing everything, but it’s important to divide work and have clear roles and responsibilities with your founding team.

I’m also very lucky to have an incredible product focused co-founder, so I do end up spending most of my time on the business side.

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

Yes. It’s important to be face-to-face with clients and to some extent, I’ve always relied on an office and external space for structure, but with COVID, all of that has changed. I work 100% remote now.

I’ve found that discipline is the most important thing and the key to being productive while working from home.

I have dedicated time for working out, internal team meetings, etc. I also try to do meal prep on weekends so it doesn’t eat into the workday. You’d be surprised how much time lunch can take up if you’re rummaging through your fridge looking for something to cook.

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

I don’t really see work and life as two separate things. I always strived to be at a place or doing the type of work that I enjoy so that I’m not constantly trying to find a balance between the two. I love to travel and learn and believe that the things you do to enrich your life only add to your ability to function as a business leader.

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5) What do you think are some of the best habits or routines that you’ve developed over the years to help you achieve success in your life?

When I’m having mental block or struggling with an idea or a process, I move on to something else. I find that when my brain is resting and not hyper-focusing on one thing, I often come up with the answer. Working out has also been key. It gives me balance, structure, and helps me focus, it’s a great way to start the day.

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

Favorite business books are Grit by Angela Duckworth, The Quiet Journal by Susan Cain, and Originals by Adam Grant. On the non-biz side, big fan of works by Anais Nin and Henry Miller.

Podcasts: The Daily, How I Built This, Reply All

Newsletters: Not a huge newsletters fan and they’re usually buried at the bottom of my inbox.

If I had to pick, it would be the The Hustle and Morning Brew. I read those at least 1-2x a week.

7) What is the number one thing you do to make sure you get the most out of your day?


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

Jack Dorsey. He’s an inspirational leader, philanthropist, and somehow finds the time to run two incredibly successful public companies.

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

I don’t think there’s a one size fits all answer to the work life/ balance question. When I’m coaching or working with executives, I love to talk about what motivates them and gets them excited. Where they find the most purpose in their day.

I think the highest form of finding balance in your life is when you feel like the balance is natural. You feel like you are fulfilled in your work, have time for what you love, and feel a sense of meaning.

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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.