We had the good fortune of connecting with Linda Schwartz and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Linda, what role has risk played in your life or career?
Up until now, assessing “risk” has been more of an afterthought, rather than something that I do before I set out to accomplish something. As I got older, I got wiser – especially about taking risks because I have more at stake now. The first big life-changing risk I ever took was when I was sixteen years old. I “Self-emancipated”, or as my mom would argue. I “ran away from home”, but that’s a matter of perspective. I did so out of sheer determination and to prove her wrong – that I COULD make it out there on my own and that I didn’t need her to survive. I didn’t weigh the pros and cons – in fact, I didn’t really think things through. I knew in my heart of hearts it was something I had to do and had to do swiftly. So I left home. I made up my mind, packed my bag, and temporarily moved in with a friend. And within a matter of two months, I was sharing an apartment with a new friend. I paid for my share of rent and utilities; I bought my own food (I also worked at a fast-food joint in the mall, so I was getting at least one free meal a day!); and I basically assumed all responsibility for my existence. I worked three mall jobs, all while attending high school… well, I was enrolled but attendance was another matter. Life made me choose – and I chose to work. And I worked hard. I was two or three months shy of my 18th birthday when I was hired for my first Full-Time job at a real company answering customer service calls. When I turned 18, I’d had more life experience than most of my peers and I had more work experience too. I had a leg up in that department and it served me in many ways. Fast forward to 2013. I’m 31, still working hard – over 80 hours a week – and I realize that I’m letting my life pass me by. (Actually, I’d known this for quite some time, but I couldn’t walk away from the comfortable life I’d created for myself…) I woke up for work as if it were a regular day, and when I arrived to the office I had 15 mins to spare before I had to open my office for the day, so I let myself daydream a little. I started looking for one-way tickets anywhere – to Paris, Figi, New Zealand… all the places I had fantasized about going to. And then I remembered a friend had been planning a group trip to Bali. One text to him and the next split second after seeing his response changed the entire course of my life. He said, ‘we leave in May. Have room for 1 more… wanna come?”. That was it. It was game over. I looked at my reflection in the computer and said, “F&$k it”. “Count me in. I’m buying a one-way ticket.” In that moment, the trajectory of my life was altered forever. Nothing would be the same. Nothing. And I had to accept that fact about my life. But while I was in the throes of the “blowback” from that shotgun decision, I had the same feeling I had when I was sixteen. I knew in my heart of hearts it was something I had to do. The decision had been made and there was no turning back. And here we are. This time, it became about what I wanted to do next in my life. Did I want to go back to work for a corporate company? I could have done that, but it would have been more of the same. But I had the foresight when I quit my job to delete my resume. I KNEW I wasn’t coming back to that life. I had a new resolve to live a “Lifestyle by Design” – a little concept I picked up in Tim Ferriss’s book, The Four Hour Work Week – and to live a creative life. That was another big risk for me. A CREATIVE LIFE? Really? To that end, once I made the decision, I knew from past experience and from a deep knowing of myself, that it had to come to fruition. So I decided to venture into a creative career. I became a writer and that’s how I paid the bills. Work fell in my lap – and I took it. Then I decided to become a stand-up comedian. And a podcast host. Then a wife. And now a mom. When I was young, risks didn’t look like a risk. It looked like a crazy person hell-bent on proving the naysayers wrong. But now I have a family and a very smart and incredibly practical and prudent husband who has taught me things about taking calculated risks and weighing my options and thinking things through using something called logic. Basically, he has taught me to use my head, along with my heart. And now, I’m not jumping out of the plane and building my wings on the way down. I actually have a game plan. Risks are important in life and business, you don’t grow without them. Know the difference between taking a gamble and a calculated risk… And you’ll feel more secure in taking them.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I am a Stand-Up Comedian and Podcast Host. I’m still relatively new to both, and have been on hiatus since I had a baby, but this break has been teaching me a lot about where my heart is and how deeply committed I am to the craft. As any new mom knows, ev-er-yday is different and presents new challenges when you have a baby. No two days are the same and if you can get a shower and a healthy meal down before the sun goes down, you can call yourself “lucky”. There have been moments when I feel that not having time for myself has put a wedge right in between me and my creative dreams, but then I realized that I have absolute control over my time – I have to decide to do it, and then do it. Since I’ve been on hiatus, I’ve been keeping the dream alive by watching a lot of stand-up comedy, listening to podcasts about stand-up comedy, and have enrolled in a couple of stand-up comedy classes. I’m always learning. I’ve also been writing and refining my new set; working on old jokes and writing new ones. The challenge is to keep yourself motivated, and what keeps me motivated is that I get to share this experience and share my work with my son when he’s all grown up. He’ll get to see me work on my craft and I’ll be able to tell him that I was writing jokes while he was sleeping when he was a baby. This creative life is a long haul game and I think anyone crazy enough to go after it, just might have a chance of making it. It’s a challening road, but I’m proud to say that I’m still on it.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Day 1: Breakfast at Snooze
-Hike Torrey Pines
-Lunch at The Crack Shack
-A little sunbathing sesh at La Jolla Shores
-Dinner at C-Level
-Comedy show at Mad House Comedy Club
Breakfast at Carolines BEACH DAY (Coronado)
Lunch at Hotel Del
Watch Sunset in Del Mar Dinner at Coya
Day 3: Breakfast at Hash House a Go-Go
Explore Hillcrest Hike at Hollenbeck Canyon Picnic
Lunch on the hike
Dinner at Bombay Indian
Comedy show at American Comedy Company
ROAD TRIP to Idyllwild See Lily Rock and Hike Ernie Maxwell Trail
Explore the town, meet Mayor Max the Dog Patio
Lunch at Idyllwild Brew Pub Nap
Dinner and live music at Ferros
Back to SD brunch at The Mission in North Park
Explore Balboa Park, Museums
Sunset tour of Coronado Cays on a Gondola
Dinner/Drinks at Piatis
Morning walk on Mission Beach board
walk Breakfast at Woody’s boardwalk cafe
Secret Swing in La Jolla
Kayaking in La Jolla Shores/The Cove Sunset
Dinner at Dukes (they. have the best key lime pie)
Comedy Show at La Jolla Comedy Store
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Aw man, I have so many people to thank! -Bounthoung Singmeuangthong -Kim Leighty -Janree Bannon -Steve Andrew -Shyra Smith -Jason Coleman -A.J. MacQuarrie -Lee Schwartz
She Shed – Andrew Reed Reem Edan Sarah Fatemi Jacqui Letran Holly Mignosi