Six years ago, we came across a product line in Europe that was geared around collapsible crates and afterward, quickly identified that there was a major gap in the U.S. regarding the organizational space. Knowing there was nothing like it back home, we quickly jumped on the opportunity and began forming relationships with manufacturers, distributors, retailers and other key players. Now, we’re very proud to admit that we have grown to become a $30 million privately-owned company in less than six years. 

Overall, the process has been smooth sailing but like any other business owner, I’ve experienced a few hiccups with managing a healthy work-life balance and over time, through trial and error, I can confidently say that I now have a better understanding of how to properly prioritize both parts of my life.

From a personal standpoint, my first child was born which naturally, caused me to re-prioritize my life a bit. During the work week, there are only a few hours of the day where I am home with my son while he is awake. During that time, I prioritize my focus on my family and enjoy them while I can. Overall, I try to be as intentional as possible to compartmentalize work time and personal/family time which can be challenging in today’s day in age considering the access we have to the world through our smartphones. Technology today has made it too easy to keep working outside of the office so when I get home, I do my best to avoid getting sucked into my phone during the few precious hours that we have as a family. Until my son goes to bed, I do my best to completely disconnect from anything work related. I’m not perfect, but my wife does a pretty good job of keeping me in check! 

Also, while you have time outside of the office, it’s crucial to prioritize yourself and take care of you. Pursuing hobbies or personal passions is a great place to start if you find yourself falling short of thinking about what to do outside of the office. Currently, I’m really into mountain biking but it rotates and changes overtime. I also really enjoy running, surfing, and going to the gym. I’ve found that if I do enough of the things I love, I don’t get bored. Even though doing what I love usually involves some sort of active activity, I try not to make it about exercising since I don’t like exercise to feel like “exercise!” 

Within the office, we are a very easy-going group. We strongly encourage a healthy work/life balance and have done so by offering generous benefits such as unlimited PTO. We are very flexible when it comes to adjusting office hours for each person, depending on their personal lifestyle and commitments. While we certainly do have busy seasons where the team can be stretched thin, we are conscious of this and encourage everyone to recharge after those sprint periods. For example, this year, we offered everyone summer hours on Fridays, where the team can leave as early as 3 p.m. In a larger effort to encourage a healthy balance, we offer everyone paid memberships to our local gym. 

Based on my personal experience, if I could give one piece of advice to my fellow professionals, it would be to be mindful of all of the various influences competing for your time and be deliberate where you are allocating your energy. Maintaining balance doesn’t happen naturally. It takes work but it’s so worth it! 


  • Mike Carlson



    As the Co-founder of CleverMade, Mike brings a diverse background of sales, retail strategy, finance, and operations experience to the table. Over the course of his career, he's contributed to the widespread success of many products, landing them in leading retailers like Target, Home Depot, Sam's Club, Walmart, and more.  Originally growing up in Rhode Island, Mike moved to San Diego in 2005 in an RV with his brother, a few friends, and his dog named Ozzy. He graduated from Bentley University in Boston, Massachusetts where he received a Bachelor of Science in Economics. Now at 38 years old, Mike resides in Encinitas and is happily married with a 1-year-old baby boy. In his free time, he enjoys surfing, biking, running, but most of all, being a dad.