New York Mag’s Podcast Manager on Perspective and Pleasure
The podcast business is booming and as New York magazine’s manager of podcast operations, Gaby Grossman oversees some of the industry’s best. A longtime video and branded content producer in the media world, Grossman immersed herself in podcasts by producing a widely circulated episode of The Cut’s podcast titled “Into the Thicc of It”, about her personal experience coming to terms with the body changes many of us went through during the pandemic. By detailing her own story as well as interviewing others with uncommon vulnerability, Gaby connected with the medium, and rose up the ranks at Vox Media (of which New York is a part).
But career progress doesn’t happen in a vacuum, and Gaby has worked hard to maintain a flourishing professional life without sacrificing social and personal outlets. A stint in LA during the pandemic while still working on EST meant she was waking up at 6 am and answering emails still bleary-eyed from sleep. That was unsustainable, and now back in New York Gaby makes sure she creates key moments of separation between regular life and work, especially when both are centered in her Brooklyn apartment. (Vox has a flexible, WFH or hybrid policy.)
We caught up over the phone to discuss the difference between taking a trip and taking a true vacation, the little rituals that separate your home as a workspace from a place of relaxation, and why it’s crucial to have friends outside your profession.
It’s good to say, “Okay, the workday is done. It’s time to feel different, it’s time to look different."
Shift out of work mode with a physical change:
I live in a one-bedroom apartment and my desk is my couch is my TV watching is my delivery-eating. It’s all one space, so I try and immediately put my laptop away. Even if something comes up and I have to do something later, or for pleasure I want to look at something, it just needs to go away the minute I’m done working. That’s a little bit of a separation, trying to get everything work-related out of the space.
It’s important to not be stagnant and sitting in one place at home. I try to punctuate the day with a walk or going out to do something or even a shower if I’ve been sitting in sweats all day working. It’s good to say, “Okay, the workday is done. It’s time to feel different, it’s time to look different.” Any concrete action to feel a separation between working at home and living and chilling at home is super important for me.
If your work is something you love, make sure to keep your fandom alive:
I work in podcasts that are a little bit more utilitarian, they have a purpose. In my private life, I listen to podcasts that are not like that at all. The two I listen to the most are Seek Treatment with Cat Cohen and Pat Reagan and Doughboys with Mike Mitchell and Nick Wiger. Those are both silly, hilarious, like, crack-up in the middle of the subway type shows that just feel like hanging out with your friends. When I’m listening for work [it’s] to hear about the competitive landscape; that’s not really what I’m listening to for pleasure. It’s completely different in my head.
Maintain balance with relationships outside your industry bubble:
I definitely have friends in a bunch of different fields…I’m drawn to people who have similar careers in the sense that they’re very ambitious and passionate about what they do and then I have friends from college and from working in media where it’s truly very similar fields. Socially, if someone has a problem they want to work through or they need to vent about something that happened then it comes up, but everyone’s schedules are so busy and it’s hard to get time together, so once you get a whole big crew together, we try to kinda leave work at the door.
With friends [in other fields], it’s nice because they’re not gonna know the intricacies of your workplace or your industry, but when you explain [a situation] to them, they add a layer of objectivity and help you zoom out and realize, “Oh, maybe this frustration isn’t as big of a deal as it felt like,” or, “Maybe there’s a more simple solution that it took my friend to figure out because her head is not so deep in the weeds like mine is.”
When things feel stressful, back up and breathe:
I try to remember a catchphrase that a friend taught me, which is, “It’s PR, not the ER,” meaning ultimately there is no huge life or death emergency. Everything will be okay. If you’re someone who’s ambitious and tends to be hard on yourself and you’re sitting alone in your own echochamber, it feels more intense than it is. I try to talk to someone who can help me get some perspective on the situation and try to remember to breathe.
Take advantage of opportunities to get out and enjoy life—without work at the back of your mind:
I’m a big concert person. This summer I spent a lot of time at Brooklyn Mirage and Elsewhere. I really like Brooklyn Steel as well. Going to a concert is such a fun experience even on a weeknight, because I’m truly in it. I’m not looking at my phone, I’m not thinking about other things. One of the coolest things about living in New York is that you have so much access. Every band comes to New York, every musical artist. Everyone you want to see is there and there's no shortage of opportunities, whether it’s big world-class acts you’ve been dying to see or smaller things, like random, my-friend-has-an-extra-ticket-type events.
Be intentional about time off:
Taking a break and going on a trip is something I really enjoy. And traveling for other people’s weddings and family events is not vacation, so when you travel, make some time for yourself along the way. That's been a big self-preservation piece for me. So many people had COVID catch-up weddings this year and it’s so much fun, but if you’re doing activities the entire time and celebrating other people and overconsuming alcohol, having a good time, you’re gonna come home really tired. Tacking on an extra day for recovery has been huge for me.