Name: Alina Slavik
Profession: Development Director, Hope Stone New Orleans, a part of Houston-based Hope Stone, Inc.
Are you currently doing things that you think will be a part of your life/career long term?
Yes. I’ve been involved in the arts all my life, and I always want to be connected to them in some way, whether through my day-to-day work, sitting on a Board, or simply attending and supporting art events. I’ve also been involved in non-profits for almost six years; Hope Stone is the third non-profit I’ve worked for. And I’ve been generally happy and fulfilled at all of those jobs. So I can see some themes emerging – arts, non-profits – that I think will define my long-term career. But I do have other interests, so I hope I’m able to explore new areas, as well.
What motivates you (to go to work, to do what you’re passionate about, etc.)?
Black-and-white stuff like bank accounts and Board meetings are obviously part of my motivation. But it certainly helps to work for an organization whose mission you believe in and care about. On a recent trip to New Orleans, I observed the arts education classes I had been writing grants for, and that was really motivating and encouraging. I also daydream about receiving approval letters from foundations we’ve applied to for funding – that’s a great feeling, and just picturing the goal keeps me on track. Finally, there is plenty in the world – from nature itself to individuals and their accomplishments – to be inspired by, which in turn acts as a motivator.
How do you balance your work life and your social life?
I think it’s important to plan social events – even small ones, like grabbing dinner or a beer with a friend – instead of waiting until the end of the workday or seeing if I “feel like it” later. Personally, I get a lot of energy from being around people, so I make it a priority to see family and/or friends almost every day of the week. And of course, it’s much more fun to see a movie or attend an art event with the knowledge that I had a productive workday and won’t start out behind tomorrow morning. So I often set daily goals for work, and that social event at the end of the day motivates me to meet my work goal.
When you have a lot on your plate how do you handle it?
That’s a time when I stop making social commitments and just put my nose to the grindstone. I look for any work that can be postponed and clear my calendar of non-essential engagements. Just canceling a hair appointment – not last-minute, of course – can make me feel that I suddenly have the time I need to meet a deadline. Honestly, once I accept that it’s going to be a busy time, and know I’ll have some quiet evenings to decompress, I enjoy committing to the project at hand and being very productive. It’s sort of like Finals during school – sure, it can be stressful, but there is redemption and closure in finishing something, and doing it well.
Have you had to cut down on any activities or a certain lifestyle that you haven’t had time for since college?
Not really. Like a lot of students, I was very busy in college, between full course loads and working part-time. So I had about the same amount of leisure time as I have now.
How do you keep your apartment clean during the week?
Well, I just moved, so I haven’t had much time to accumulate clutter. But I’m also essentially a neat freak, so I stay on top of housework. I guess that’s not very helpful. But I’d say the trick is not to let it get out of hand!
Best way to relax after a long day of work?
Glass of wine and a movie!
Favorite post-work hangout and/or drink?
Here I must give a shout-out to my favorite neighborhood bar, Grand Prize Bar, and their rendition of the gin drink, the Aviation. But there are tons of great bars and restaurants in Houston, so it’s also fun to try somewhere new with a friend. As you know, Miró, anyone who comes to Houston and doesn’t love it clearly does not have me as a host!
What is your go-to, homemade meal?
I hope panini and salad count as homemade, because that’s my answer! I make very simple meals but they are generally healthy.
Do you have a quick and easy work-ppropriate outfit formula?
Dresses are always easiest, paired with flats and simple jewelry/a scarf/etc.
What tools or apps can you not live without?
My iPhone and MacBook definitely make life a lot easier, but I don’t have any unusual apps. You, among other people, rave about Feedly, so that’s one I’ll try soon.
What music pumps you up to GSD?
All kinds! In college I was addicted to the ambient station on GrooveShark…doesn’t really pump you up so much as drown background noise out. But these days it could be anything from my Katy Perry/Beyonce/Psy mix to LCD Soundsystem (r.i.p.), to the Black Keys, to Beirut…to opera*! *editor’s note: Alina is a classically trained singer with a beautiful voice!
Best advice you’re received?
The other day I re-listened to this excerpt of a graduation speech given by the late author David Foster Wallace. It’s probably best to just listen to the speech, but I’ll summarize – in far less eloquent terms – that the easiest way to handle the small annoyances and daily trials of life is to recognize that those are part – in some cases, a big part – of life. It actually comes more naturally to apply yourself to a lifelong goal or major project than to handle a long line at the grocery store with grace and perspective. We talk a lot about big dreams but will ultimately spend more time on those day-to-day activities to which no one gives much thought, so his point was that refocusing your energy and your attitude during those mundane times will make life much easier to enjoy. It’s something I’ve been trying lately, and I hope your readers will join me in that effort!
Want to participate in GSD: Young Profesh Edition or know someone who would be great for this column? Email me!