From theDesk of ...
Founder and CEO of Master & Dynamic
As a kid, Jonathan Levine, the founder and CEO of Master & Dynamic, wanted to be an architect. He got talked out of it, but never lost his love for design. He's got a real thing for durable, industrial design and quality materials. And if you've ever worn a pair of his headphones—and felt the supple leather and sturdy metal before even hearing the crisp, full music inside—you know what we're talking about. Master & Dynamic's products combine form and function like no other on the market. “While I never studied design or engineering formally, I've always had a mechanical mind and a good eye for design and consumer trends,” he says. On the heels of having a son who was a DJ and music producer, Levine's inner entrepreneur kicked in. “I saw a niche to be filled.” A chance visit to a history museum put him face to face with an old pair of World War II aviator headphones, complete with well-worn metals and leathers. That was the inspiration for M&D's signature over-ear headphones. But the brand is not stopping there—Levine always knew this wouldn't simply be a headphone company. They're continually expanding, and he was testing new products even as we spoke. We asked for a peek at his desk, to get a better idea at how he worked. “This is my 'work from home desk' outside of New York,” he says. “It's significantly smaller than my office desk in the city.” Here's what he currently working with.
We’ve come a long way from my first workspace.
My first job was on a Wall Street trading floor. It was open, noisy and chaotic. At the time, I really didn't care about having personal things around me or on my desk. However, now I really love having objects that inspire me within reach or within eyeshot. While the chaos of my first job environment has subsided over the years, I do like a certain “energy in the room” while working.
I always keep one of our leather Master & Dynamic boxes close by.
While not the oldest item, it's probably the most sentimental. One of the cherished items I inherited from my father were antique leather cuff links in leather boxes. I used these boxes as inspiration for the boxes I later created at M&D for cable and accessories storage.
I’ve usually got a prototype or two on my desk at any given time.
Currently, it's a prototype for a soon-to-launch accessory I'm finalizing with our product team. More on that soon!
I love making lists.
I previously worked with an assistant to keep my schedule in Google Calendar and about a year ago took on the task myself. It's been extremely liberating and I'm sure has surprised a few people along the way. However, having an “analog” to-do list is where the rubber really meets the road for me.
Digital is great, but I like my pen and paper.
I have an endless supply of M&D note pads and what some might call an obsessive supply of black Pilot G-2 pens ($12.66). And I'm okay with that.
I’ve tried a bunch of productivity apps.
Despite my best efforts though, having a pile of note pads by my side at all times has worked really well. Luckily for me, the rest of the Master & Dynamic team has more than compensated for this.
Before the pandemic I ate lunch at my desk a lot.
While I've been working from home, I can at least make it into the kitchen and am looking forward to more working lunch meetings outside the office during the summer and into the fall. I've come to appreciate the time away from the desk.
I am a creature of habit, for sure.
Most days, the schedule is pretty consistent. I'm up at 5:00 am and spend the first few hours of my day corresponding with Asia and Europe. I work throughout the day and break around 5:30 pm for a run, bike ride or swim. After a light dinner, I'll catch up on some emails and strategize for the day ahead ... usually while watching TV.
I need a game plan to stay focused.
For me, having parts of my day dedicated to specific tasks has really helped, especially during the COVID times. Early AM is for Asia and Europe, late morning to early afternoon is for general overnight correspondence and planned follow up. Then late afternoon to early evening is for product, partnerships and collaborations. I use the evening to plan for the day ahead.
I’m a big believer in “inbox zero.”
I try to respond as quickly as possible to incoming emails whenever possible. I find that most of my correspondence has a pattern of back and forth and if that pattern/momentum is broken, it can often take time to get back on track. I'm definitely a “strike while the iron is hot” type of person.
Two secrets to my success aren’t really secrets at all.
It is going to sound cliché but loving what you do has really been a blessing for most of my professional life. It makes the long hours, the setbacks and the ultimate success all the sweeter. On a personal level, there is nothing like having young, talented, passionate professionals around you to help you grow and adapt.
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