From checking email in bed to conferencing behind the stroller, work-life balance can be a struggle. We’re asking Chicago business leaders how they fit their careers in with everything else. Welcome to “Day in the Work/Life.”
Max Chopovsky has a day job, a labor of love and a wife. The director of tenant representation at corporate real estate giant Cushman & Wakefield scratches his artistic itch by running Chicago Creative Space, a website that features videos of cool offices around town.
Chopovsky comes from a long line of artists and thinkers, including a grandfather who was one of the first journalists sent in to cover the Chernobyl disaster. Chopovsky himself has translated a book of his grandfather’s poetry. “I would love to just direct music videos for a living,” he says. “Because I can’t do that, this is part of my way of having my art. These videos are my art.”
Chopovsky’s drill call plays at 5:30 a.m. Breakfast at home is cereal with bananas and berries. When he has red-eye meetings, he’ll head to Yolk or Meli Café & Juice Bar in River North for a breakfast tête-à-tête around 7 a.m. Otherwise, he catches up on emails (“because nobody is awake at that time”) and plows through calls and meetings for CCS or Cushman & Wakefield.
If he’s heading into his West Loop office from his River North homebase, he kicks his brain into high gear during the 20-minute walk. “I try to accomplish multiple things at the same time,” he says. “I realized most Ted Talks are 18 minutes — the perfect time for me to listen is while I’m drinking my coffee and walking to work.”
Chopovsky’s job involves looking at spaces all over town or out in the burbs. He might be the only driver on the Dan Ryan not consumed by murderous thoughts. “If there’s no traffic, then the windows are down, the sunroof is open and I’m listening to music. Even my wife knows, there’s no talking in the car, she puts up with me for that. That gives me time to relax and dream. And it also gives me inspiration for different music that I want to use for upcoming videos.”
On days when he’s shooting an office, he meets his camera guys bright and early and spends the day filming, stopping only for lunch. After wrapping in the late afternoon, he’ll head to back to the office or home to work. Starting a day job at dusk makes for plenty of hours. “Those end up being long days,” he says.
Chopovsky likes to use his lunch hour profitably, dining with execs whose offices are being profiled on CCS or Cushman & Wakefield clients.
“Before I know, it it’s going to be 2 or 3 in the afternoon. At which point, I’m like oh [sorry, family website], I have a lot of emails to catch up on and calls.” To stay on top of correspondence, he uses organizing app Wunderlist to keep a running list of calls he needs to make.
“I’ll pull up that list and see who I need to call, so I catch up with people when I’m walking,” he says.
In the afternoon on Thursdays and Fridays, Chopovsky heads to LA Boxing to box with retired middleweight pro Freddie Cuevas. Getting his bell rung apparently provides some clarity. “That just clears my mind by definition,” Chopovsky says.
Mondays and Wednesdays, Chopovsky heads to a River North gym, where he does his level best to keep his eyes off the screen. “When I do a plank, I have a timer on my phone to do a one-minute plank,” he says. “I found myself checking my traffic stats on the CCS website as I’m doing this plank. I [thought], I need to stop, this is crazy.”
When Chopovsky and his wife can wrangle some evening time together, they don’t require anything fancy. “We are pretty low key, maybe have a BBQ at our place or go get dinner with people, or have a date night with dinner and a movie,” he says. “Sometimes we’ll go for walks in the Gold Coast or Lincoln Park, checking out boutiques and getting food at neighborhood joints.”
Since Chopovsky’s wife, a pharmacist, often works late on Tuesdays and on weekends, he uses those gaps to edit his videos. “If she’s working, then I feel bad not working. And if I’m going to work, I may as well do something I can do quietly, when nobody’s bothering me and I’m in my man cave, in front of my computer editing video,” he says. He’ll crank out a few hours on Tuesdays, and six or seven more on those weekend days.
Bedtime is typically around 10:30p.m. — at which point, phones are relegated to the kitchen to charge, which is a bittersweet parting. “It’s the only time that I do separate myself from my phone,” he says. “There has to be some sort of separation. If I have my phone with me, I’ll be looking at it.”
Check out our coverage of Chicago Creative Space’s event here.