We had the good fortune of connecting with Natalie Underdown, Ph.D. and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Natalie, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
Well, first and foremost – I hate the word balance. It implies perfection. I prefer work-life alignment instead. It creates a different visual in our minds, whereas instead of thinking of a see-saw that needs to be perfectly balanced with work on one side and life on the other, alignment conjures up a line made up of a series of activities. If they make sense for you and what you value, they line up. If they don’t, they stick out (making it obvious when they’re out of alignment). Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way lol… My concept of work life balance has changed a great deal. In my 20s, it was work hard, play harder mentality. As a management consultant who was working Monday-Thursday at a client site in a different city from where I lived, I would often work 60 hour weeks and then jet off somewhere to play with friends for the weekend. I balanced the intensity of my work with an equally intense social life consisting of friends, travel, concerts, parties, etc. It was so fun, I’m so glad I had that, and now I’m so glad that my life is so different now! Now that I’m married and own my own business, I feel incredibly fortunate to be able to be much more discerning in where and how I spend my time, which includes the projects that I take on. If you have workaholic tendencies, it’s just as easy to become imbalanced as an entrepreneur as it is for a Fortune 500 executive. As Jon Kabat Zin says, “wherever you go, there you are.” But I feel grateful that now I can carefully vet the executive coaching clients and client companies that I work with to ensure that we are in alignment, and thus working with them will feel more energizing than draining for me. And when I’m energized through my work, I’m able to give much more to my husband, our family and our friends.
What should our readers know about your business?
The NU Company is a boutique consultancy offering executive coaching, group learning experiences, and people + culture consulting. We take a mindfulness-based approach to supporting executives, leaders, teams and businesses. We get deep, have fun, and see our clients lives and businesses completely transform. I started The NU Co three years ago after a massive health opportunity spurred a total lifestyle transformation. It inspired me to weave mindfulness and meditation tools in with my background as an executive coach, organizational psychologist, and consultant. This healing journey, which was incredibly dark, trying, and difficult, but wound up revealing my purpose and positioned me to go on to really help others deal with uncertainty, loss, and feelings of being stuck or wanting more but not knowing how to achieve that. I couldn’t be more grateful.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
San Diego is known for its weather, beaches, and tacos! So… here’s what a sample bestie itinerary might look like: Thursday evening: fly in and head from the airport straight to Little Italy for dinner at Cafe Gratitude (vegan) and an evening stroll while enjoying a dairy-free ice cream after from Salt & Straw. Friday: hike Torrey Pines in the morning, and then that evening head to The Rose in South Park for snacks and wine, followed by a fun meander around Balboa Park in the evening where we pretend we’re in Spain Saturday: head to the beach at Windansea, followed by some late afternoon tacos & margaritas at Puesto Sunday: brunch at the Waverly in Cardiff, then head to One Paseo to shop and grab items to grill from The Butchery for a home-cooked Sunday Supper
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My husband definitely deserves a shout out – he’s my #1 support system, best friend, and love of my life. I’d also love to give my team a shoutout – Bindi, thank you for being such an incredible partner on The CEO Circle! Anna, thank you for always having the best attitude, attention to deal, and ability to take any idea and turn into something incredible! Hannah, we’ve loved having as an Intern this semester! And Bowie girl, you make everyday better and we couldn’t love you more.