We had the good fortune of connecting with Johan Carpenter and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Johan, have there been any changes in how you think about work-life balance?
24 hours. That’s all you get, regardless of status, creed, or wealth. Time and its utilization is arguably the only true currency that we are given. As someone who is deeply passionate about his craft, career, and personal relationships, the daily challenge presents itself in the allocation of this currency. This is no easy task, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach to this everchanging mental jigsaw puzzle. In the years following my college graduation, balancing the accumulation of wealth, proper regulation of health, improvement of craft, and social upkeep of friendships, proved to be more difficult than any academic coursework. Until graduation, much of my life had been conveniently scheduled and organized by institutions. With clear outlines of what needed to be completed in what timeframes, I never had to worry about time management. Now, it is the biggest challenge I face from day-to-day. The term “Work-Life Balance” is too binary and boils down a complex Rubik’s Cube of multiple moving parts. There are many aspects of one’s life that needs to be attended to, and like the maintenance of plants, these need to be “watered” consistently to survive and thrive. I am constantly rearranging the organization of time. I work professionally in real estate Monday through Friday, with occasional shifts on the weekends. This consistency allows me to be financially sound, which eliminates mental obstacle of survival for which I am grateful. This leaves my mornings, nights, and weekends to spin the other plates of my own business, my health, and my relationships. As a self-employed creative consultant and producer, I have full control over the work I bring on to myself. This control may seem like a blessing at first, but it also comes with the opposite edge of the sword. I often fall into the habit of overbooking myself, scheduling almost every night after coming home from my real estate position with clients and sessions. I also work on mixing and mastering for clients in the mornings before my shift starts. Consistent late nights and early mornings lead to burnout as well as neglect of diet, exercise, mental health, and relationships. The cart feels like it is ahead of the horse as you passively let life drag you through the dirt. Seeing these negative effects culminate has forced me to restructure my life many times to find the right recipe for success. After much experimentation, I have realized that a proper routine and allocated time for rest are crucial in sustaining my busy schedule. My most productive and fulfilling bouts of heavy workloads were when I consistently exercised and meditated in the mornings, ate well, and allowed for a Sabbath for restful rejuvenation or socializing. Although I am adding more elements into my life requiring an earlier wakeup time, the effects lead to greater health, performance, and satisfaction. With increased vitality, I am more alert and focussed. Sleep becomes much more potent, requiring less to feel rested. I am sure to schedule times to hike and socialize with friends, as constant griding can make life a burden over a blessing. I also constantly keep up with literature to optimize my time and maximize my performance. However, maintaining a proper habitual routine takes immense discipline and dedication. With variables changing from day to day, this challenge is ongoing. As a musician and songwriter myself, my current obstacle is making time to pursue my own creative endeavors. There is so much music that I have in my head that I need to produce but I seem to constantly fill my time with others. I know that I will have time in the future but as I grow older, time seems to be accelerating, my parents are aging, and mortality sinks its claws into my psyche. In the coming weeks, I will deeply immerse myself in the solving of this issue and restructure my life further to address it. I know that I can surrender to a normal life of going to work, coming home to eat dinner, and relaxing the rest of the night, but there is a burning fire in me that would be put out, making my personal existence empty. The limited nature of time and energy has been the most difficult obstacle to face for me in my adult life, far more frustating than any individual event, no matter how extreme. As Sisypphus was destined to endlessly roll a boulder up a hill and watch it fall, I am tasked to constantly balance my life, but as Camus writes, “The struggle itself towards the heights is enough to fill a man’s heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.”
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I have been immersed in music throughout my entire life. I’ve worked with artists and musicians from countless genres and backgrounds. I have also lived both in the United States and Japan growing up, cultivating a musical cognition stemming from a bicultural upbringing. This diversity has blossomed into my unique appreciation and approach to the creative process of music. The road to this point has been challenging but rewarding. I believe the greater the challenge, the greater the reward. I have constantly sought out to improve upon my craft, learning many lessons along the way. These lessons include: being patient with gradual slow hard work, prioritizing rest, removing the ego in collaborative projects, and loving the process. I would love the world to know that I am devoting the entirety of my life to excellence in all creative avenues of my life. It has and will always be my purpose.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I am a big fan of hiking in Malibu and Angeles National Forest. There are many great spots to pick and choose from AllTrails (Mt Baldy is a great one). I live and work around Downtown Culver City which has a great bar and restaurant scene that is on the rise (see Kay n Daves, Piccalilli’s, and K-Zo). Also in Culver is a pho restaurant called Pho Show. I have eaten here so much that I consider myself a patron at this point. If you like the beach, I recommend stopping by Playa del Rey, which is significantly less crowded than popular LA beaches. Bacari PDR offers a great brunch and Tripel has an awesome burger called “The Cure”. Can’t forget to get the sweet potato tots there as well. Bonus: Miyako Express.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I would like to dedicate this to my parents, Howard and Chiharu, for always supporting me and my dreams.