We had the good fortune of connecting with Mojan Nourbakhsh and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Mojan, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
Ok so I was pretty much born a workaholic — no joke, I was handing out home-made business cards on the playground in kindergarten and spent my recesses networking with the teachers. But I distinctly remember the life-shifting moment as a kid when I was unhealthily praised for overworking and stacking titles. I was twelve years old, and we were at Thanksgiving when a family member asked me what I had been up to and how school was going. I casually shared what I was up to… president of this, captain of that, honor roll, chess club, editor-in-chief etc. She was so impressed but started raving more about the titles I held, as opposed to the person I was becoming. My mindset shifted in that moment from merely doing what I enjoy, to needing the top title at anything and everything. I know she was being encouraging and meant no harm by it, but the way that registered in my adolescent brain was… ‘in order to be praised and valued, you must run around collecting every title and accolade possible in order to receive love.’ Thankfully, my mindset has changed since then.

That naturally kicked off a decade of burning myself out in order to impress other people… living off of 3-4 hours of sleep, being involved with at least some activity 7 days a week, multiple sports teams, leadership positions, and simultaneous jobs, all on top of a rigorous school schedule. That was just middle/high school. Then that led to cramming 4 years of college into less than 3 years, so I could rush out to LA and jump start in the entertainment world. I then started interning at top networks at the age of 20.

All of that looked really great on the resumes, but not on the doctors charts. By the time I was 22, exactly ten years after that conversation, I was so burnt out that my body decided to shut down. I started having health issues with my heart and immune system, not to mention I was mentally shutting down as well.

It took me about five years after that to fully recover, both physically and mentally. And although I didn’t get as much done as I wanted to in those five years, they were crucial to the longevity of my career and the restoration of my being. My mentor taught me to take a step back and to look at the bigger picture. She said, “Mojan, if you’re so focused on your achievements and don’t prioritize balancing your health, you won’t be around long enough to accomplish what you set out to achieve.” I now know that having that proper balance doesn’t slow me down or make me lazy, it allows me to work smarter and at a higher capacity than if I’m depleted.

Today, yes I still have my hands in many jars, but I’m doing it very intentionally with a lot of balance. I wear many hats as an actor, model, producer, entrepreneur, CEO — and I am also a daughter, a sister, a friend, a mentor, and so many things to so many people. Therefore, I need to make sure that I am all good and that my cup is full, before I try pouring into others.

I have worked extremely hard to build a team of people who help me maintain a healthy lifestyle on a daily basis; and I am incredibly intentional about taking breaks, meditating, implementing proper systems, eating well, staying hydrated, getting enough sleep, and recovering my body and mind regularly.

We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others. How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? 
“Was it easy?”… definitely not. Of course there were challenges. There still are, every day. But I’ve learned to rise above my circumstances and to use my adversities to stretch my capacity. That’s the only way to grow and be better tomorrow.

I think the biggest thing I tend to hear from people, especially those back in my home town, is “Oh you look like you’re crushing it out in LA… You did it, you just moved out there and you made it.” Of course I hear their heart behind the compliment and it’s super sweet, but it’s so important to know that it wasn’t as bubbly and simple as they make it sound. What people don’t see beyond the social media highlight reels are the sleepless nights, the constant rejection, the failed auditions, the stress behind strategizing two steps ahead at all times, the major fumbles, the unfinished projects, etc.
No matter the industry, we all have the ugly challenges that get in our face and in our heads, and I am no exception. So although I may have a platform, I should never be put up on a pedestal. That is a dangerous place for any human to be.

In terms of what sets me apart… it’s funny, I think I’ve worked my whole life trying to be different from everyone around me, but then spent half of it complaining that I didn’t fit in. It was always an interesting tug-of-war with myself, but I know that the unique choices that I have made to stand out have helped further my goals and dreams.

Instead of socializing in high school and college, I was emailing and cold calling executives in NY and LA to see what I could learn from them. I was made fun of and ostracized by a lot of my peers, but by the time I moved out to LA, I already had established a solid network that I could expand upon. I remember hearing the echoes of people partying down the hall while I was taking interviews and general meetings via Skype from my dorm room. I unapologetically was very focused to ‘pay now, play later’ …and it definitely has paid off.

Also another thing that sets my journey apart is how I’ve chosen to take a very unconventional path to achieve my goals. I realized very early on that the biggest thing holding a lot of people back in LA isn’t lack of talent, it’s lack of resources and time. It’s really hard to work 2 or 3 jobs, 18-20 hours a day for 6-7 days a week, and to somehow have any creative juices left over to work on your own project. I quickly found myself in that cycle and realized I needed to find a different approach. So I surrounded myself with people that actually owned their time and resources. I invested time in diligently learning from them and changing my perspective, so I can come at the entertainment industry from a different angle. Because of that bold decision, it has changed my entire approach on how can I play my cards. And because I am so grateful for someone pouring into me, I make it a point to pay it forward as best as I can to individuals who may be stuck in the same place that I was.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Like I mentioned, I worked very hard to intentionally build a strong team around me for support both mentally and physically. My team consists of my trainer, my massage therapist, my chiropractor, my cupping/acupuncturist, my nutritionist, my therapist, my assistant, my acting coach, my manager, and of course my mentors. It truly takes a village and I am grateful to each and every one of them for helping me keep my mind, body, and life on track on a daily basis!

Also, special shoutout to my mentors! I am incredibly grateful to have the most brilliant mentors providing me with constant perspective. I can ask them anything and can fillet myself open to receive honest feedback without judgement.

The most valuable lesson that I have learned is that we all have someone or something speaking into our lives — the only catch is do you know who that is and did you actually give them permission to do so? Most of the time we unintentionally allow negative friends, family, news, social media, TV shows, or celebrities to be our primary influencers, as opposed to intentionally choosing someone who has the results we want and has the ability to help us create similar results.

Find the right mentors in your life. No matter what industry you’re in, find someone who is living the life you want and learn from them.

Website: www.mojanour.com

Instagram: www.instagram.com/the.mojan

Linkedin: www.linkedin.com/in/mojannourbakhsh

Other: imdb.me/mojan

Image Credits
Eric Fallecker, Michael Crawley

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutLA is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.