Welcome to the Jungle Gym

A newsletter about career strategy, learning, and the changing nature of work

Work-life balance.

There’s a distinction implied in that phrase that has never made much sense.

Manipulative bosses? Performance reviews? That’s work stuff. It doesn’t belong in the life box. 

Family disputes? Childhood dreams? That’s life stuff. Make sure not to bring any of that to work.

Despite the impossibility of separating these domains, we’ve done our best to maintain appearances.

We partitioned our weekday selves from our weekend selves, our Linkedin selves from our Instagram selves, our Slack selves from our Discord selves, and pretended like work and life were somehow balanced.

Then 2020 hit— and the charade got a whole lot harder to maintain.

We lost our offices– the spatial barrier separating work from life. Now our significant others are our co-workers while our colleagues regularly glimpse into our homes.

Professional relationships have become more ambiguous. Many of our work-related questions can be answered just as easily by our teammates, as our audiences on Twitter or friends in group chats.

It’s also unclear whether work or life should be supplying us with our sense of meaning. While some of us have used 2020 to scale up our ambitions and take on more meaningful work, others are stepping back from professional goals in exchange for the flexibility to prototype a more meaningful lifestyle.

In the face of all these changes, the theater of balance is no longer a sensible way to approach work or life. The only path forward is to integrate the two domains together.

Fortunately, you’ve stumbled across the just right newsletter to help you incorporate your values, interests, ambitions, and identities into a coherent career and lifestyle.

Welcome to The Jungle Gym.


What is The Jungle Gym?

The Jungle Gym is a newsletter designed to help you build a more fulfilling career by integrating your work and life.

Each month I publish:

  • 📝 A long-form essay related to the theme of this newsletter (example)

  • 🗝 The Keyring, which features someone impressive identifying the tools, methods, and frameworks they use to make progress in their careers (example)

  • 💌 The Roundup, which curates and riffs on some insightful pieces of content I’ve been reading (example)

To check out my most popular essays, click here.

Who writes the Jungle Gym?

👋 Hey there, I’m Nick.

I’ve spent the better part of the last decade building pathways for talent development and helping people make progress in their careers.

Currently, I work in Product Marketing at Guild, a company that enables frontline workers to advance their careers by building skills and earning debt-free credentials. 

Prior to Guild, I helped run an immersive education program called Tradecraft, where we supported smart motivated people as they navigated career transitions into fast-growing startups.

As for my own education, I have an MBA from Stanford GSB as well as a Psych BA from Stanford.

Who reads the Jungle Gym?

As of March 2021, the newsletter has over 2600 subscribers.

Here are some of the lovely things they have had to say about the Jungle Gym:

“The Jungle Gym frames complex topics in a way that is clear, digestible, and engaging. When I read each newsletter, I learn something new about the world and often learn something new about myself.”

Ashley Prince Murphy (Strategic Planning & Ops Lead - Social Impact @ Facebook)

“I absolutely love The Jungle Gym. It's as if Nick climbs into my brain and deposits terrifically curated and gently provocative ideas that percolate long after I'm done reading.”

Jake Saper (Partner at Emergence Capital)

“Whenever a new issue of the Jungle Gym pops up in my inbox, I make time to read the whole thing. I know that I’m going to learn something useful and that the writing will be super high quality.”

Justin Mares (Founder & CEO of Kettle & Fire, Publisher of The Next Brand)

“Nick has a unique perspective on the intersection of work and life that I’ve found really valuable. There have been multiple times when he shared advice that gave me exactly what I needed to make a tough decision.”

Liz Fosslien (Head Of Content at Humu, WSJ best-selling author of No Hard Feelings: The Secret Power of Embracing Emotions at Work)

“Nick has earned a spot as one of my absolute favorite writers. The newsletter just keeps getting better!”

Rachel Carlson (CEO & Co-Founder of Guild Education)

“I’m continually impressed by the amount of insight Nick is able to pack into a single newsletter.”

Sachin Maini (Content Lead at NFX)

An Idea Can Change Your Life

Before I leave you, let me tell you a quick story about one of my readers who loved his job so much that he wore an "I ❤️ my job” button to work each day (I'm not kidding).

One day his boss told him that he would have to start adding a bunch of tedious sysadmin work to his daily responsibilities. When he shared his predicament with me, he hadn't just stopped wearing the button; he was actually about to quit.

I sent him this article from the first issue of my newsletter, which he used in his next 1:1 with his boss. Using the framework from the post, he made the case for why it wasn't in anyone's best interest to have him do the sysadmin work. I'm happy to report his boss took all the undesirable work off his plate, and he's back to wearing his button at work.

One idea can make all the difference. It’s my goal to share insights that can help you make better choices about your life and career.

Thanks for reading. Hope to drop by your inbox soon. 🙂

– Nick