Grant Barth, 57: Prioritizing Work-Life Balance

Running a successful global branding agency, Grant Barth travels all over the world, but it is in Park City, Utah he has learned to focus on what is truly important to him. He discusses his passion for mentoring, his “labor of love,” the annual Neon Rodeo; and why he is prioritizing his family and health above all else.

Finding peace while being very much in the whirlwind world of running a global branding agency, Grant Barth is thriving in the small mountain town of Park City, Utah. This year has seen a revitalized focus on his health, his family, and his work-life balance. A big part of this is an emphasis on his fitness which, with him being the principal of his agency and also the founder of the yearly Neon Rodeo event, is vital.

For someone who has spent his career bouncing between Tokyo, New York, and London, being in Utah has given him a bird’s eye perspective to see what is happening in these urban cultures without being swallowed by them. Taking time to hike with his dog and to work out has given him valuable space to separate the signals from the noise and to take care of what is truly important to him, and to return to the teaching and mentoring that have been a huge source of inspiration for him. 

Photo by David Harry Stewart.

Where are you finding inspiration these days?
A lot of it is coming from Tokyo; and nature is a big part of it. We were just in Moab. We are leaning into that sort of thing while we’re in Utah — what it’s famous for and what you can’t get anywhere else, which is nature and the outdoors. Moab was just fantastic. Then Tokyo, to be honest, having not been there for three years, when I used to travel there every six months, but now going there more frequently and developing those relationships, that’s been my — I’m really trying to make this be the year of Japan meets Utah. And it’s working. 

Looking forward to the next few years, what are your goals out there? What are you looking to do?
The priorities are just health and home. We’ve always been on the go. We’ve lived 21 places in 32 years. And to try to actually be settled for a minute is a goal — and doing a lot more with family. My mother is 92 going on 93 — we are prioritizing family time now.

Then I’ll be teaching at University of Utah next year, a global brand management course. I  love to teach and to mentor, and this allows me to really focus in on something I am passionate about. It’s a two-semester course allowing us to get a good rhythm going. Then, our company will be launching our first brand in March, and I’m expecting the workload is going to be exponential to what it is right now. Those were the top four.

“I love to teach and to mentor, and this allows me to really focus in on something I am passionate about”

Tell me about your exercise routine, your fitness routine. What are you doing?
I haven’t done as much outdoor cycling as I’d like to this year, oddly. I want to get back into tennis and then just doing weights and more bodyweight work calisthenics, and it’s mainly because I’ve just gotten busier than I expected. With our dog Ozzy, I do a lot of hiking. I’d like to do more weights, but I do as much as I can, just given the time.

How often do you do weights each week?
Ideally, at least three days a week. I have weights in my garage downstairs. I at least try to do that. This morning, I just did bands. So, at least I’ll do bands, weights, something every day. But a true weight workout, that’s at least 45 minutes to an hour. I try to get it there three days a week, religiously. If not, I do something every day but it’s not like a full — it’s in conjunction with something else.

You’ve been taking SRW’s Msc¹ Tone and NMN supplements; what’s been your experience with that?
I’ve been able to maintain my strength even if I don’t hit all my goals of my planned workout for the week. I don’t lose traction like I used to, from a strength perspective, if I miss a day. It’s been really good. I feel like I can maintain energy when I’m in the gym, which is great.  I also feel that I am getting stronger — I can feel results from it as compared to without it. I don’t take a lot of supplements, just Msc¹ and NMN. I like these as part of my current routine. They feel very helpful.

The change was quite noticeable in the large muscle groups, which was a nice surprise. Below are my improved metrics since taking the supplements. 

Push-ups to max effort: 50 increased to 65
Pull-ups max: 9 increased to 11
Bench press: 8 reps increased from 155 to 170 lbs
Dead lifts: 8 reps increased from 155 to 185lbs

“For me, it’s an easy supplement to bring into my routine. I think that it’s really good for an active lifestyle”

Would you recommend Msc¹ to other people and would you recommend people taking NMN?
Yes, I would absolutely recommend it.

For me, it’s an easy supplement to bring into my routine. I think that it’s really good for an active lifestyle; especially if fitness and strength are important goals for someone, it’s good to incorporate it. It’s been good to do it.

You’ve lived a lot of places and you’re here in Utah now. What are you thinking about as to where you will be living?
This summer was really great. We were super busy. It went very fast and that balanced the winter. Right now, it’s a good perch to be across the world to see and understand lots of options, but there’s no option out there that’s overshadowing what we have here right now. COVID was so disruptive — right now, we are getting into a rhythm and a consistency that is really working. 

And have you been traveling anywhere interesting? I know you do work in Japan and other places.
I’ve been to Japan twice this year.

Oh, wow.
Yeah. We’ll be coming up to London on another trip to Tokyo. So, most of our business right now is actually in Japan and business is going really well. But when we’re here, we go to Moab. We’ve been going to Maple Grove Hot Springs up in southern Idaho, which is a super amazing find.

Neon Rodeo

You just did Neon Rodeo. Could you tell us about it?
It’s our third year. The first one was in 2019, where we actually kicked off our white paper around how to build an experience, which then went into a classroom in University of Utah which created Neon Desert which became Neon Rodeo. In our third year, we had a creative conference portion of it that included more of a youth partnership with Spy Hop in Salt Lake City and then panel discussions, more around makers, more around community builders, and music makers… Then we had 43 DJs across the night.

For the next year, we want to go really hard into the conference part. At the end of the day, the best explanation is it’s a more creative South by Southwest that we hope will become like a larger conference, maybe multi-day for the western region. Maybe it happens to be in Salt Lake City, but Salt Lake’s an interesting city. Creatives are starting to bring in more partnerships and more global brands and more thinking from other cities. They come here and co-create together, doing something together that you can’t do on your own. Neon is a labor of love. It is really hard work putting on a conference for 1500-plus people from all walks of life. It’s a really good vibe. I wish that was my only project, but it’s not.

“We’re trying to create this interest between [Tokyo and Park City] because I can see the West being very desirable as an inspiration point for the Tokyo residents”

So, help me envision that Venn diagram. Tokyo, Moab. What’s the intersection of that look like?
Like I said, I can sit in Park City and look out so I can look toward the east and pick that and the west is all going to be Japan. If LA is involved, LA is just a meeting spot now. 

What I mean is: culturally and visually, how do Tokyo and Park City overlap?
When we lived in Tokyo, Portland was their fascination, oddly. It was when Portland was just becoming that darling city at the time, maybe 2008 to 2014. I think they’ve always had this fascination with outdoors and there’s something about the rawness of Utah and this imperfect beauty about Utah that’s interesting. We’re trying to create this interest between the two places because I can see the West being very desirable as an inspiration point for the Tokyo residents. Maybe not so much for all of Japan, but I can see there’s something, they’ve always been fascinated with the outdoors.

What music are you listening to?
My favorite show that I listen to religiously is KCRW’s Metropolis with Jason Bentley. It’s a two-hour show he does every Saturday night. But there’s enough there that I kind of listen to the whole show throughout the week, bits and pieces, which is really fun. Jungle is my favorite band right now. Their new album has been amazing and really inspiring. We saw Pat Benatar this year — amazing. Then we went to see Noah Cyrus — amazing. So, we have the whole spectrum of fierce female rock-and-rollers from all generations.

What are the three non-negotiables in your life?
Right now, time with my dog, staying active and healthy. I would say, making sure I prioritize family. Work is constant, but I’ve always prioritized work above all those other things first, and I’m really trying hard to realize the importance of time and that work always comes, it’ll always be there, but the other things necessarily won’t.

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Images by David Harry Stewart.

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David Stewart
David is the founder and face of AGEIST. He is an expert on, and a passionate champion of the emerging global over-50 lifestyle. A dynamic speaker, he is available for panels, keynotes and informational talks at david@agei.st.
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