Renata Amaral Morris is the founder & CEO of EAT, a branding & design studio with offices in Los Angeles and Paris, focused on developing brand identities from diverse perspectives.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
Hi! I am the Founder and CEO of EAT. With over 17 years of experience in branding and design, I lead all facets of EAT’s business from closing deals to ensuring client success.
As a Brazilian immigrant to the US, I experienced challenges when doors weren’t quick to open for me upon my move to the US in 2005. My degree from the best federal university in Brazil, being bilingual and pursuing my Masters at UCLA still couldn’t land me a job in my field.
Eventually, my struggles are what propelled my drive to starting my own business. And now, at EAT, my ability to interpret client needs and translate them into effective creative direction has allowed me and the EAT team to build deep relationships with brands.
We’ve worked with companies such as Amazon, Netflix, Adidas, Twitch, Red Bull, Blizzard / Activision, EA Games, and The New York Times while firmly positioning EAT as one of the leading high end branding and design studios working with the new media industry today.
2) What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
I am a morning person. So from LA, I’ll wake up around 5:45am to start my day off early and to make the most of my time before work. First thing, I’ll brush my teeth and do a little oil pulling. I boil some water to make tea a little before 6 and move into a 20 minute meditation to start my day off on a mindful note.
Three times a week, I’ll follow my meditation by working out with my trainer. On the days I don’t work out, I’ll do yoga. After this, I make my breakfast and shower. I live close to my office so depending on the day, I will either drive to the office or choose to work from home.
My days typically start with meetings and calls until noon. Following calls, I typically move right into tackling paperwork until I get hungry for lunch. I tend to eat between 12-2 and by 2, I’m already nearing the end of my day.
I try not to eat lunch in front of the computer in order to disconnect and digest before tackling emails again. Sometimes I get outside in the sun for a few minutes before returning to my computer. I use my afternoon/night to tackle any admin / paperwork that needs to be done. And I’ll always follow my day with another round of meditation before winding down at night.
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
Since we all work from different time zones, the company is organically built to be fully remote. Initially, since everyone besides myself worked outside of the US, we weren’t sure whether or not I would be able to stay in the United States.
At the time, I had actually romanticized living in Amsterdam. But after meeting Gabe and knowing his preference for working from Paris, I felt encouraged to pick a location where I felt I could truly thrive, which happened to be the Los Angeles area.
As part of the vision of the company, we’ve always believed that creative people are inspired by real-life experiences, so we encourage our team to live where they feel happy and inspired. Then we build processes and organize the business to make sure that the company fully functions around that.
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
A good balance is achieved when you are given enough time outside of work to use your life experiences as inspiration for your creative pursuits.
Living where we want to live gives us a greater appreciation of life and therefore, makes us more appreciative of each other’s lives too. This allows us to live to our fullest potential and it shows throughout the quality of our work.
In the past, not living where we wanted to live has led to us pouring ourselves into our work a little too much which eventually led to anxiety. Work-life balance is harder to achieve when you don’t reside in a place that makes you truly happy. This is why we choose to structure our company this way.
5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
So, I had one resolution for the new year and that was to get back to practicing Ayurveda as a lifestyle. Ayurveda is an alternative medicine system with historical roots in India. It is a sister of yoga that allows me to find balance by connecting with the cycles of nature.
I’ve been slowly integrating more of these practices into my daily routine. When practicing Ayurveda, you begin to understand the importance of a solid morning routine.
Every morning, I wake up with the sunrise – I do oil pulling and scrub my tongue in order to bring my body to a place where it’s ready to greet the day with a blank canvas. Ayurveda helps breed self awareness about how I am feeling throughout the day so that I can give my body what it needs. It leaves me feeling more energetic, focused and productive.
6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
Yes! I have many.
The Skimm – The Skimm has given me a cool new way to get the news. They offer readers news topics based on their specific interests. I love the writing – it’s an amazing way to get right to the stuff that I want to consume. The letter gives me prompts that I can click on in order to expand upon the topics that I actually want to read about.
The Good Trade (The Daily Good newsletter) – I get this delivered to my inbox at about 5am everyday. They offer me something to listen to, to read, to make, etc. All of the news involves sustainable companies who are going out of their way to do something good. It offers me a welcomed feeling of calm before starting the day.
Life Kit by NPR – This is a small podcast about many different topics i.e. “Surviving work as a person of color” / “Tips for Making a Career change” etc. I really love that they cover a wide variety of talking points and I find the hosts voice to be super comforting, especially on my commute!
One Part Podcast – This podcast changed my life when I had endometriosis. The host offers a very realistic take on her experience with endo and I find her to be very humanized and relatable. It’s just super real and she’s always interviewing interesting people.
The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz – Lots of people write about how great it is to start a business, but very few are honest about how difficult it is to run one. Every time I am challenged and hit a wall, I run to this book and seek Ben’s wise advice.
Daily Rituals by Mason Currey – Just the most entertaining book ever. From Marx to Murakami and Beethoven to Fitzgerald, this lovely book presents the working routines of more than a hundred and sixty of the greatest philosophers, writers, composers and artists ever to have lived. Whether by amphetamines or alcohol, headstand or boxing, these people found inspiration and made things happen.
7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?
I love using Dropbox Paper. I prefer it over Google Drive when it comes to organizing all of our company info. It’s a free service and it does a great job of helping us to prioritize and best visualize our management tasks.
When you need to oversee a project and juggle multiple things, it’s definitely the app to go to. I also love Masterclass! We actually bought MasterClass memberships for the team at the start of the pandemic.
I have a genuine curiosity for life and a need to learn; Masterclass allows me to learn on my own terms. It has a cinematic way of presenting material, which I find very pleasant. I can informally learn bits of information on my own time while juggling other things that are going on in my life.
8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
Claire Ragozzinosimplifies the ayurveda lifestyle, which is living following the cycles of nature. I will read and listen to anything that comes out from her.
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
A good road map for anyone who is trying to maintain better work/life balance is to start by meditating. And people can meditate however they want. Through an app, YouTube videos, etc so that they can focus-in on whatever it is that they need.
There is no formula that makes sense for each and every person. It’s important to look inside yourself in order to truly know what it is that you need. Once you figure out what it is that you need, act upon it.
Dedicate the time to meditate or do whatever it is you need to do in order to focus. And do this without fear. There is always a moment of “breaking the cycle”. Once you block off the time for self-care, you have a responsibility to fulfill for yourself – trust me, you’ll start to notice a difference!
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