Neal Freyman is the Managing Editor at Morning Brew, a daily email newsletter that gives readers a quick and conversational round up of all things business.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
I’m the managing editor at Morning Brew, a media startup with the goal of making the business world more engaging to the modern business leader. I oversee our flagship product—a daily newsletter that is sent to more than 2.5 million subscribers.
I don’t really have a background in media. I worked in urban planning and as a teacher before starting with Morning Brew.
2) What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
In the morning I’ll have a few Zoom meetings (we’re fully remote for the time being) with my writing team or with various colleagues across the company to discuss new projects. I’ll also be scanning the news for interesting stories to include in the newsletter.
At 1pm, the writing team decides on stories to scope out and write for the next day’s newsletter. Our entire afternoon is dedicated to writing and editing the newsletter that’s sent out at 6am the next day.
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
Pre-COVID, Morning Brew was intent on having every employee in our office in NYC. Now, we are remote for the time being. The switch has been quite smooth—we’re able to get everything we need done without any hiccups and are very adept at using Slack and Google Docs.
I do enjoy not having to commute 40 min. to the office every day, but I think some creative energy is lost when folks aren’t together in person. I’m excited to get back to the office.
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
When Morning Brew was a really young company (like, 3 people → 25 people), there was no such thing as work-life balance. I was working 6+ days a week many, many hours a day juggling every kind of task. We’ve hired some incredible people to take over many of these roles in the past few years, so I’ve gotten some time back.
It felt weird at first, but now I realize how important it is to give my brain a break from the day, and I encourage my colleagues who seem stressed to do the same. Because I was very close to getting completely burnt out.
5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
I got a Peloton at the beginning of the pandemic and that has been a game changer not only for physical health, but mental health. Whenever I’m feeling lethargic or down I get on the bike and immediately get a jolt of energy. It’s an amazing thing to be able to sweat like crazy 5 seconds away from your shower, too.
I also started going on early morning walks. I just needed to get outside during the day and I found the early morning before the city woke up the best time to do that. The amount of cooking I’ve been doing has also increased since there’s not much else to do.
6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
First things that come to mind:
Books: The PIllars of the Earth by Ken Follet is epic. I also like Jonathan Franzen’s sweeping Midwestern family dramas. I’m reading Elena Ferrante’s My Brilliant Friend right now, and it’s very pleasant. I’m definitely more into fiction than nonfiction.
Podcasts: Conversations With Tyler—an interview show by economist and blogger Tyler Cowen. I just love his brain.
Newsletters: Well, obviously Morning Brew and all our other newsletters. Also a fan of the NYT’s DealBook for biz/politics news, Garbage Day for pop culture, and Signal by GZERO Media is a must for geopolitics nerds.
7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?
I bought a pair of high-quality Bose headphones 2 years ago, and now I can’t work without them plus the ambient noise website A Soft Murmur.
I also recently swapped out my iPhone for a Google Pixel phone and am enjoying life outside of the Apple ecosystem (though I’m typing this on a MacBook so I suppose I’m being somewhat hypocritical. And your friends will get mad at you for screwing up the group chat but it’s worth it).
I’m afraid I’m also a Twitter addict.
8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
Probably Tyler Cowen.
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
You need it or you won’t have any friends.
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