We had the good fortune of connecting with Selena Thiele and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Selena, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
When you work for other people, it’s much easier to leave work “at the office.” Switching to working for myself was much harder to find anything resembling balance. I had to acknowledge that I’m the type of person who defaults to working until I drop, which is not uncommon with entrepreneurs. So, I worked. And worked. And worked. I’d be late to dinner with my husband, then head back to my computer after. I worked weekends and hesitated to schedule time for anything else in case a client had an emergency. Then my system would burn out, I’d catch a cold because I was physically spread so thin, and get taken out for multiple days. When I felt human again a few days later, I’d, of course, be behind again and go back to working until 11 pm and weekends, and starting the process all over again. You have to work hard to succeed, right? But why did I leave the standard work life with a steady paycheck to work for myself? The wake up came that working hard and sacrificing yourself were, overwhelmingly, not the same thing. As much as I love what I do, it’s not the only thing I love and I was neglecting all those other things and it wasn’t healthy. I was trying so hard to help clients have a work life balance, I had completely forgotten my own. My work life balance is definitely not perfect at this point, but it’s better and it is no longer considered a luxury I “earn” if I get a certain number of things done. It’s a necessity, required to keep me and my business functioning optimally. T
What should our readers know about your business?
Office Mercenary is a group of U.S.-based Virtual Assistants combining the care and customization you get with a single virtual assistant and the knowledge and support of a team dynamic. This ensures that our VAs are not left to to worry about what happens when they need down time and finding quality people to work with and clients don’t need to worry about how to pick up if a VA doesn’t work out, gets sick, or is out of town when an emergency hits. All of ties to our core of helping other develop better work life balance and getting back to the people and things they enjoy most. We have grown fairly quickly, which has been incredibly thrilling, but also has meant we’ve faced the same challenges many of our clients face. The two biggest lessons I feel like we’ve learned are to make sure your systems and processes work for you and that the wrong fit, whether client, VA, program, etc, will take more time, resources and energy, still make you feel wrong, and remove the ability to take on more that are the right fit, so it’s ok to say no. Ultimately, Office Mercenary is a group that values honesty, transparency, teamwork, and sanity. We’re professional, but never without character. Our story and brand comes from the idea of using the right people for the right job, which translate into sharing the load and letting people balance and grow.
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?
One of this things about Colorado I love is that there’s such a variety of things to do. I was a theater kid back in school, so I feel like any visit needs some time with the arts. The Denver Art Museum followed by a show at the DCPA, PACE, Arvada Center, or even some of the smaller theaters, like The Bug. If anyone has a chance to see a show at the Historic Elitch Theater, do it. It’s beautiful. I also love walking around LoHi and downtown areas. I love all of our local cider places. It really is a matter of find the type of food you like and pick a spot it feels like. Bonus points if you can see a fun local band like The Gin Doctors or play bar trivia. Particular favorites of mine are hitting Linger, which once upon a time was the Olinger Mortuary, and has the bonus of being close to Little Man Ice Cream. For adults and kids alike, I enjoy a trip to the Denver Zoo and the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. They’re fun any time, but the after hours events are always great. The Denver Botanic Gardens also is wonderful to wander and has a great summer concert series. For great views, there’s a reason why Lookout Mountain is a spot. It’s a pretty drive, so grab a picnic and go. In the same area, is the Mother Cabrini Shrine. It’s lovely and is very peaceful. Hot springs, I feel, are a staple of a Colorado visit. Steamboat is well known for good reason, but I’m at a point where I go there with friends, rent a place, we take turns cooking, and hit Strawberry Fields. When I want something a little cozier, I head to Glenwood Springs. The relatively new Iron Mountain Hot Springs has great springs and views, the town has a lot of great restaurants that are, again, mostly walkable, and there’s plenty to do even if you aren’t a big outdoor sports person. My final recommendation will probably always be Casa Bonita. Yes, I know, don’t consume the food and Black Bart’s Cave starts feeling claustrophobic if you’re even moderately tall or wide, but it is this weird, amazing little spot that harkens back to the old days of West Colfax that, in my lifetime, has gone through ~3 revitalizations, and yet that pink wonder still stands.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Special thanks to my business partner, Alyssa, because Office Mercenary wouldn’t be where it is without her, my parents, for the knowledge and experience imparted in life and entrepreneurship, to my husband Sam and Alyssa’s husband Drew, who have encouraged, supported, and understood the journey, and my friends, who are a constant source of joy.
Photos by Alyssa Griffiths and Drew Griffiths