Balancing the Grind with Sarah Josephine Liberty, Founder & CEO of JustSociale

Sarah Josephine Liberty is a communications executive, freelance consultant, writer and podcaster, as well as the founder & CEO of JustSociale.

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

I am a Social Entrepreneur, Communications Executive, Podcaster, human rights academic, CEO of a new Australian federal NGO and advocate for Intersectional Feminism.

With a career that has spanned senior roles in the media, communications and management in international NGOs in London, New York, Jogjakarta, Sydney and Paris, I am currently the the Founder and CEO of JustSociale, a non-profit alliance in Australia that promotes awareness of and protects the human rights of Australians online.

I recently completed her Master of International Relations at Sciences Po University, Paris, one of the world’s most prestigious institutions for political science (it is the 3rd top university for this field in the world).

I host a weekly international #FeministFriday podcast and radio segment available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcast, Deezer and iHeartRadio, and which is broadcast to 42 countries via Energy Groove Radio, a global youth network.

I am also a sought after public speaker who is asked to share my lived experience of surviving gender based violence, homelessness and my background as an entrepreneur, rising above these challenges.

Additionally, I am an Ambassador for UN Women’s #GenerationEquality campaign, and sustainable French fashion label Antia ‘n Co.

I hold an Honours degree in Communications, which I completed at the University of Technology Sydney, and am a passionate advocate for women’s rights, equality, democracy and mental health.

Additionally, I am dedicated to promoting climate justice, ethical business and a sustainable future for all, and am regularly approached by the media to comment on human rights, women’s rights, international relations and environmental action.

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

No two days are the same! I usually spend my mornings replying to emails and monitoring the news and my social media accounts, before preparing strategy documents and liaising with my Board for JustSociale, which has just received formal Accreditation with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission, and will formally launch in the coming weeks.

I also spend time each week preparing for my podcast and liaising with guests, the majority of whom now approach me, given the international momentum my podcast has gained.

I have interviewed UN Ambassadors, Politicians, NGO Directors, mental health advocates, survivors of domestic and gender based violence, high profile academics, best-selling authors, climate activists, #blacklivesmatter activists and artists – to name a few.

I feel honoured to have interviewed such a diverse range of people, all of whom are dedicated to promoting human rights, equality, diversity, inclusion and making the world a better place.

I also spend time liaising with the media when doing consulting work for clients (most recently I worked with London/Israel based Non-profit MedInsight), and handling media enquiries for myself.

Lastly, I love to write. So, when I have the time, I not only write for my own website/blog (the link to which is in my email signature), but also submit articles and opinion pieces to media outlets.

I’ve been featured in a broad range of high profile Australian outlets, including the ABC, the Sydney Morning Herald, Smart Company, B&T, Influencing, Healthy Numbers podcast, Peppermint Magazine and many more.

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

Yes, absolutely. Over the past year that I was living and working in Paris, I did almost all of my work remotely via email, Zoom, Skype, Discord and WhatsApp. Especially during the global Covid pandemic (I was in confinement in Paris for 3 months), working remotely was a necessity!

Having said that, when Covid dies down, I look forward to doing more work face-to-face and meeting with my JustSociale team in person, as well as other people including media, my NGO partners, and others – including many of the people I’ve interviewed on my podcast, who’ve now become friends and colleagues. Meeting people face-to-face and having real life conversations brings me joy.

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

Work-life balance is very important to me, and although it can be very difficult to ‘switch off’ because I’m incredibly passionate about all that I do, I try to work within normal business hours (although it’s not always possible, given that much of my work involves liaising with people around the world for my podcast and NGO, so sometimes late night or early morning Zoom or Skype meetings are needed).

I try to maintain a healthy balance to my life through regular exercise, meditation, and through engaging with members of my local community, family and friends – who all show solidarity for my work.

I love libraries, bookstores and the cinema, so can regularly be found in these places (I’m a self confessed cinema nerd who tries to watch at least one film a week at my local cinema in Sydney), and am also an avid reader.

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

Living in Paris and during Covid, as I’ve mentioned above, I’ve had to work remotely much more – which hasn’t impacted my work significantly, however, because so much of what we do now is online anyway.

However, I would say that I have been increasingly conscious of ‘self care’ over the past few years – although I’m an incredibly passionate ‘high achiever’, I really try to ensure that I take time every day to do something that brings me joy or inspiration, outside of working.

In Paris, I loved walking around the streets because, not only is it a beautiful city, but it also has amazing street art, which I totally dig. And also I love visiting libraries, galleries and the cinema – because art and creativity bring me inspiration.

And, as mentioned above, I try to practice meditation and mindfulness as much as possible and ‘switch off’ from my work through maintaining regular business hours, as often as possible.

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

That’s a difficult question, because there are so many! I am a big fan of Russel Brand and his YouTube channel, Louis Theroux, and have recently read Michelle Obama’s book Becoming, as well as watching her documentary of the same name.

I also love music, and select music as a DJ to accompany my podcast (it usually features two songs), so enjoy discovering new music from people around the world – I’m a big fan of dance and electronic music, and artists like Grimes, Sia, Dua Lipa, Lana Del Rey and more.

In terms of what I read for news, I enjoy the Atlantic, the New York Times, and in France regularly read Libération, a fantastic news outlet – I had the honour of studying social media theory and its relation to democracy at Sciences Po, under their Head of Digital, Gerald Holubowicz (who I also interviewed on my podcast).

I’m also a huge fan of RuPaul, because he has done so much to promote diversity and inclusion through his show (RuPaul’s Drag Race), and Queer Eye for a Straight Guy – again for their dedication to diversity, inclusion and promoting self care. Those guys seriously rock!

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

The main App I use to record my podcast, which often has to be done remotely because my guests are frequently international, is Discord – so that has become an App that’s been incredibly important to my work.

And, I promote my podcast via Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn, so obviously can’t live without social media, my laptop or my mobile phone!

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

Jacinda Ardern, the Prime Minister of New Zealand, who I am a huge admirer of. And Russell Brand, Louis Theroux, RuPaul, or the Queer Eye cast! I’d also love to read about Barack Obama and what he’s doing now.

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

Work life balance is hugely important. Today, we live in a world where we feel the pressure to constantly be engaged or ‘plugged in’ to our devices, social media and other online platforms, but it’s so important to learn to maintain a healthy balance and unplug from these to enjoy the beautiful real world that we live in, and to ensure we don’t burn out.

Burnout was recently acknowledged by the World Health Organisation in 2019 as a huge concern globally and an ‘occupational phenomenon’, and so many people I know have struggled with it.

It is crucial for us all to maintain a healthy work/life balance for our mental wellbeing, and I try to do that by leading by example and promoting mental health awareness as much as I can through my work.

Our mental health is just as important as our physical health, and I’m glad to see more and more workplaces recognising this and giving people the opportunity to work flexibly, and to encourage them to practise self care.

Photo credit: Stefan Wellsmore

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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.