We had the good fortune of connecting with Paul Emerson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Paul, have there been any changes in how you think about work-life balance?
I used to work all the time. ALL the time- weekends, nights, holidays. In fact I’d get frustrated when the weekend hit because less people were available to do business with. It was an addiction and one that ended up literally making me sick. It was cyclical- I’d work 80 hours a week and I’d push and push and ignore my personal needs, relationships, etc., and then finally after a few months I’d start to come down with some non-specific malady and it would put me down for three or four days. It was my body saying, “If you’re not going to stop, I’m going to make you.” After a decade of that, I got wise and imposed a “no work on the weekend” policy. A few years later, I implemented a “no work after 7” policy. And more recently, I’ve allowed myself to not do busy work- to not try and find work to do if there is none. I’ve allowed myself to rest. With this, I’ve found that I get just as much work done and no more mystery illnesses. I think it’s hard when you do what you love for a living because you just want to do it all the time- and that’s a huge blessing- but in the same way we nurture our professional lives, we need to be just as passionate in giving to our personal lives.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I’m a comedy director. I’ve been on one side or the other of the camera since I was a teenager. I jumped into this industry having little to no idea what I was doing. I read books, took (a couple) classes, but mostly I just kept trying. I lost confidence, I messed up a whole lot, I failed, I struggled, I succeeded and I failed again. What I’ve learned from all that trying/failing/succeeding is that the outcomes are out of my control but the *trying* is what I do have dominion over. I’ve learned that failing is 100% part of the process of succeeding. A failure isn’t an ending, it’s a stop along the way. And I continue to work hard on detaching lasting value to the outcomes and instead put my energy into idea and creation.
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?
Check out Little Ethiopia in Mid-Wilshire. I’ve been to several restaurants on the block and have never had a bad meal. Rosalind’s is one of my faves. Carnival Restaurant in Sherman Oaks is a great spot for fantastic Lebanese eats. The warm staff and killer falafel will bring you back. Grab a beer and some mac n’ cheese at Story Tavern in downtown Burbank. Incredible staff and great eats here.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I’d like to shout out to my mother. Her tireless support helped me to find the stubborn optimism that I’ve needed to be successful in this industry for 20 years. She has taken more than a few calls (hundreds) from me over the years when I felt just absolutely defeated. And she listened to my insecure ramblings, and she helped me pick myself up and dust myself off. And eventually I’d get myself back on the road. But it’s often times her encouraging voice I hear when facing those dark moments. I’m very grateful for her.