Balancing the Grind with Nikki Williams, Founder at Mentwell

For our latest conversation, we catch up with Nikki Williams, the founder of Mentwell, a platform revolutionising access to mental health support. Nikki’s career has taken her from the bustling streets of New York working with music icons to confronting personal challenges that reshaped her path towards entrepreneurial success. 

Today, she’s channelling her experiences into Mentwell, making a tangible impact by facilitating access to mental health care. With a commitment to self-care through yoga, meditation, and mindful living, Nikki exemplifies the essence of work-life balance. 

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

My career has been colourful to say the least. I always knew from a young age that I wanted to work in Public Relations in particular. I was interested in the music industry and doing PR in this area because I loved live music, I loved working with creatives and I wanted to help them. So I went to New York and found myself working with XL Recordings and VICE Records. I was even Snoop Dogg’s PR chick for a day – only in New York would this ever happen!

From here, I experienced some pretty serious trauma in my early 20s which led me to having to stay at home with limited social interaction. It was here that I started my first business, Milk Bottle Projects as a coping mechanism and we did (and still do) PR and Digital Marketing for hospitality and food & beverage clients. 

I have a wide skill set including networking, sales, creative skills and I don’t mind a bit of policy writing, accounting and strategy. So I found that this kind of business was perfect for me because it was challenging, but it allowed me to work all of my skill sets at once and learn new ones too. 

Then I went through another period of pretty intense change in my life during and after Covid. I took myself away for a year and a half and did a lot of personal development work. It was during this time that I had a lightbulb moment that I couldn’t help a friend pay for a psychology appointment, and I felt the need to explore creating a solution for this problem. 

Mentwell was born and 20 weeks into having a live product, we’ve processed $62,000 worth of gift cards and we have $5.8M in sales revenue secured for 2024. We have huge plans to expand what we’re doing internationally and I’m particularly passionate about helping minorities and those in significant need in our communities. 

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

Every day is different, but the one thing that remains the same is my morning and evening routine. I am up at 4:40am every morning to get onto my yoga mat straight away for an hour. I do some breathwork and meditation as a part of my practice, then I eat two bananas and muesli if I’m particularly hungry, then head to the beach for a 3-5km walk and sometimes a swim. 

Then from 9am I get to work, answer my emails, check notifications that have come through overnight and do the meetings that have been scheduled. 

By 4pm I clock off, try to fit in an activity at this time, make dinner and go to bed by 8:45pm. 

When I’m interstate, I try to keep my mornings and nights the same, so that my system can be regulated as much as possible. This also helps me make the most of my days – nothing important ever happens after 9pm for me anyway!

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

Absolutely – I try to be the best example of work-life balance as possible, so that I can represent Mentwell authentically. Work-life balance looks like working my preferred hours of 10am – 4pm. It is taking small mindfulness gaps after meetings in the form of meditation, a run, a swim or whatever I need during the day.

It means getting up at the same time every day and going to bed as soon as I’m tired or by 8:45pm. It means not drinking alcohol, eating primarily a vegetarian diet and being aware of how my body is feeling at all times (or as much as possible). It’s also leaning on health providers for massage, reiki, kinesiology, psychotherapy, yoga, the gym etc, depending on what my goals are at any given time.

At the end of the day, work-life balance relies on me being embodied as much as possible to know what I need at any given point, and finding time to give myself exactly that. The tricky part is balancing this with being a high performing leader and wanting to achieve as much as possible in a given day.

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 I have – I’m so glad to be able to say that I live in the Northern Rivers in NSW now. I made this choice very consciously because after taking a year off and spending a lot of time at the beach and near bodies of water, I realised my environment helped me cope with stress and anxiety that was caused by work.

Also making the decision to not drink has drastically changed my ability to achieve my goals with clarity and tenacity. I no longer have “down days” – I have days where perhaps I wake up with less energy but then I’m able to change this throughout the day with the right practices. 

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 love the book Grounded Spirituality by Jeff Brown. Although the title may make it sound like a “woo woo” book, it’s actually very insightful and has a pragmatic approach to personal development. I love that this concept is delivered through the lens of the author’s personal experience with someone who was considered to be “on the path” but avoiding doing the deeper personal work to push forward in their life in a healthy way. 

I have also done my Yoga Teacher Training and I recommend doing this for ANYONE who wants a re-set in their life. It was a truly life changing time for me and I know it was for a lot of other people I trained with. Highly recommend it. 

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?

Money comes and goes, but your dreams shouldn’t. Follow your dreams and always lean into fear, because this is where we learn the biggest life lessons.

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.