Brendon A.J. Rademakers is the co-founder at Beautiful Minds X, Australia’s leading brand in building a successful learning identity and optimising human performance for teens.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
My early work was all random, low wage crap. I did all the backbreaking jobs you can think of – trench digger, glassy, brickies labourer, coal miner, hanging Christmas banners off telephone poles from a cherry-picker. It was a great learning experience though.
You met all kinds of oddball characters and construction sites are full of the funniest people on earth. I met hundreds of guys funnier than today’s local comedians.
I picked up my act late in life after going through a family tragedy. It was the great reset and it really made me think about life in a deeper way. I’d always got A’s and B’s in High School for English, so applied to some schools in the United States and paid for it with insurance and coal mining money.
I had some massive luck straight away, got noticed by people with connections and within months was doing work experience on a famous television show at the time.
After that, things kicked off. I became a screenwriter and story editor in Hollywood and eventually moved into more the business side of things and more sophisticated deal structure work.
Back home, I met a girl and fell in love. She founded Beautiful Minds – Australia’s largest teen mental health company. I had noticed that the content in that sector was pretty awful and the distribution even worse.
We decided to team up and bring our world’s together. Mental Health for kids is a complex issue and it needs powerful storytelling and images to drive better messaging and outcomes.
2) What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
My partner and I start every day with a cuddle and a long walk together. Then I jump on a series of Zoom calls with our team based in the United States.
Every day we take a break and walk to Parsley Bay which is stunning and 50m from our house. There’s a small kiosk in the park which is run by two absolute champions – Lee and John.
John is a well-known restaurateur in Sydney and he brings restaurant quality food to this park kiosk that no-one knows about. He’s a big Lebanese guy, full of life and a deep and philosophical guy.
We get a kick seeing him every day and hearing his home-spun wisdom on things. After that we stroll to a cliff face, dangle our feet and watch the water splash around. It gives us a measure of calm and peace.
Lately I’ve been working with Epic Games Unreal Engine to build digital experiences for children’s mental health. I get to play with all my old colleagues in Hollywood and good people like Paul Roos.
We’re making some really cool stuff. I think we can make an impact in the world. We’re also negotiating a contract with a cricket superstar, talking with the Federal Government and building programs for the YMCA.
We call our family most days and ring old friends. Especially the ones who have struggled during the Pandemic. I think it’s important that you don’t let relationships wither away. I try and be the guy the drives the group chats, sends the stupid meme, check how the new baby is going.
Every night my partner and I take turns at cooking. I love the art of cooking – even though I mostly suck at it. You get to be creative, your senses are activated, you get to move your body and relax and you get to bond with your loved ones.
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
Like most, we ditched our office during the Pandemic and started working from home. We’ve loved it. We get to work in the garden and spend more time with our new kitten. I won’t ever return to an office.
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
If you’re building your own business or creating new products – your work is your life. It is inescapable. But the work I do is creative, deeply challenging, helps people and gives me great joy.
I get to work with my life partner and some of the smartest and most brilliant thinkers around the world every day. I could do it infinitely and would do it for free. So you’ve really got to work on projects and with people that light you up.
You’ve got to control your own life. If you do that, then the long hours people will simply call passion. Work-life balance is overrated.
5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
I’m lucky to have the Head of Neuroscience at Stanford University on my team. He is the gold standard when it comes to cool things you can do every day to optimise your health.
For instance – If you get sunlight on your eyes upon waking up – it resets your biological clock and controls the timing of your cortisol and melatonin. You’ll want to go to sleep naturally at night and have a rhythm to your day.
I walk a lot. I think most of my good ideas come on long walks. It gives you a healthy glow, fixes your posture and keeps you upright too. It’s less strenuous than running and hard-core cycling. I think too many people over exercise and it can be really detrimental to your health.
6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
Books: I read High Output Management by Andy Grove, Filters Against Folly, Lee Kuan Yew, Thinking in Bets and Winning through Intimidation this year during lockdown. All were brilliant and made me see the world in a different way.
Podcasts: Alex – one of my closest mates in the States is a successful podcast producer – he’s always making interesting stuff that’s worth your time.
He started with To Live and Die in LA, Son of A Hitman, Whistleblower and is working on a podcast called Shangri-La with Rick Rubin the famous music producer and Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers. I’ve been lucky enough to hear the first episodes and it’s a beauty.
Other podcasts I love are Acquired, Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History, Invest Like The Best, Revisionist History, Planet Money.
Newsletters: Joseph Pompliano writes a remarkable newsletter about sport and business called Huddle Up on Substack. One of the best newsletters I read this year. I also really enjoy Ben Thompson’s Stratechery, and Dan Runcie’s Trapital which focuses on hip hop and business.
7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?
Foam roller – otherwise I’d feel 93 every day. Good kitchen knives and an expensive pan will change your life. Scribd is my favourite app of all-time. I get a kick out of using our SodaStream every day. One hiss and I’m whizzed back to feeling like a kid again.
8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
Lee Kuan Yew.
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
In your life you’ll spend more time at work than with your family. If you piss away your work time, you have in effect pissed away your life. So you should pursue work that gives meaning and purpose to your life. Too many people sleepwalk through life.
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