We had the good fortune of connecting with Quinn Antus and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Quinn, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
A mentor of mine once told me that my “great work” would be disentangling my sense of worth from my work. And I think he was right. I worked tirelessly for years, sometimes even refusing to take take breaks throughout the workday thinking that would be irresponsible. I even remember in high school my mom urging me not to turn in some homework assignment because I was so stressed about whether I was working hard enough.
But Covid-19 changed my perspective on work-life balance indelibly. I got really sick. I was bedridden for 2 straight months and then off-and-on for many months afterwards. I still deal with some lingering effects of long covid and covid-related complications.
During that time, I never fully stopped working. I would check in with my team as often as I could. I remember delivering a testimony for a regulatory hearing while not being able to breathe well. My cofounder and I still laugh about a time I called him while I was not mentally present because I felt I had to respond immediately to an email from a funder. It’s funny to me now, but I also wonder at how I got there – to believing that type of relationship with work was good. Over time, I began to realize that the way I’d been working wasn’t sustainable. I started reassessing my relationship with work, and I ultimately realized that while I love what I do – I really and genuinely love working – drawing boundaries around my work was perhaps the best thing I could for not only myself but also for my work.
I saw a quote this week declaring, “Hustle culture is dead.” It’s a hot take, but I hope it’s right. I no longer support work cultures that reward all-nighters, 60-hour workweeks, or sacrificing so much for your job. It likely took me longer than needed to heal from covid because I didn’t actually let myself rest. And now on the other side, I realize I would never ask my teammates to sacrifice their health for their job. We are more important than what we do. But even from a work perspective, I believe the best work comes from people who are healthy, rested, and fulfilled. Work-life balance is essential.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
Please tell us more about your business —–
We work with tech and business leaders on shifting the climate conversation. We think about things like, how can we show the reality that speeding the adoption of earth-saving policy is economically risk-averse?
We look to answer questions surrounding tensions like that with a dedicated eye on our mission: to decarbonize Colorado by scaling up exciting and critical low-carbon technologies with a focus on market-based solutions wherever possible.
Business leaders not only have the power to shift policy, but they represent the kind of innovation that represents one of the United States’ greatest competitive advantages. In Colorado, tech comprises 14.5% of the state economy and employs 11% of the workforce. We make high-impact advocacy seamless for these tech leaders.
We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about? —–
We recently held a forum among state leaders across the public and private sectors to identify ways Colorado can finance its energy transition and decarbonization. Ultimately, we found that we need new models for public x private collaboration so that we can use policy and regulatory frameworks to unleash markets in the right direction. The thing I’m most proud of it that we were named a key stakeholder on climate action by the Governor’s administration within 5 months of our public launch, and almost all of the policies we’ve supported have passed.
How did I get where I was business-wise? —–
In college my friends and I started a bicycle shop that employed men and women who were homeless to repair and sell abandoned bicycles. Our aim was to give them recent work experience and earn an income while doing so. It got me hooked on using business to make a difference. Afterwards, I moved to Colorado to work with Uncharted (formerly Unreasonable Institute), a business accelerator that supports entrepreneurs tackling social or environmental issues. I had the privilege of working with hundreds of amazing, innovative companies across the world driving impact in brilliant ways. I saw the way companies used technology, creative business models, and every tool at their disposal to reshape big entrenched issues. From there, I went to work with a friend who wanted to make an impact on climate change but was unsure how. We started asking many of the state’s environmental leaders how we could make an impact, and their answers were remarkably similar: we need broad climate policy, now. And getting that policy passed required economic support from Colorado’s business leaders. That’s how Signal Tech was born. Throughout this work, we’ve expanded into building partnerships between the public and private sectors because transitioning to the clean economy of the future is going to require thoughtful collaboration between the two, and we have an opportunity to use policy and (de)regulation to unleash Colorado’s markets so that we hit our climate goals faster while growing Colorado’s economy in a more equitable, sustainable manner.
Was it easy? How did you overcome the challenges? —–
We did a lot of beta work during 2019 but publicly launched in early 2020. Needless to say, it was not an easy time to launch an organization. Yet being new gave us freedom to reevaluate our work as covid hit and as we started grappling more with racial inequities and environmental injustices. We knew covid was dramatically changing our economy; and we tried to get out ahead of what a climate-friendly, equitable economic recovery could mean.
What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way? —–
One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is that there are a lot of ways to engage with our climate reality, and it doesn’t have to be negative. I think most people carry around a little bit of “climate guilt” – that they’re not doing enough, that they didn’t recycle that container from lunch, that the world is maybe going to end and they’re just writing emails. But this way of thinking about climate change doesn’t fit for me anymore. I think a broader picture is far more compelling.
We’re in the middle of the largest social, economic, and infrastructural transition in history. Twenty years from now, the cars driving down the road will be powered by renewable energy and will also be driving themselves. Every community will have equitable access to clean energy. You might even sell your excess solar power to your neighbor over blockchain. We’re in an unprecedented moment of opportunity to redraw our society so that it’s more just, equitable, and sustainable. And perhaps the best way for people to engage with climate is to remind their legislators and decision-makers that we want bolder climate policies now, not just because it’s the right thing to do – but also because it’s the smart thing to do, for our communities and our economy.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I love Colorado and how you could plan a new itinerary for every visitor and never run out of incredible things to do. I’d take them to a few of my favorite outdoor spots – the Paint Mines outside of Colorado Springs, hiking by Upper Dream Canyon in Boulder, and any of the hot springs. I’d probably book a room at Voicebox with a group of friends for some karaoke. We’d check out Jazz in the Park or play lawn games at Cheesman. We’d also try as many restaurants and bars as we could fit in – Comal, Hop Alley, Tavernetta, Death & Co.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
To my business partner Sam, thank you for believing in me at my worst moments, teaching me to rest, and being an anchor in a year that often left me feeling adrift. Launching a nonprofit in 2020 was, somehow, an amazing experience, and that’s all because of you.
To my husband Joe, thank you for putting your own dreams on hold for the last year so that you could carry me up and down the stairs when long-haul covid kept me too weak to walk. Thank you for loving me so fully and for teaching me to be brave.