What Does It Really Mean to Have It All?
What if we just stopped talking about “having it all” and started focusing simply on being content with our choices as a woman? Whether you choose to focus more on career, family, or relationships at a particular time, the beauty is you have the choice. As these seven women demonstrate, it's less about "balance" and more about making choices that allow you to feel successful in your career and fulfilled in your personal life — and there's no one way to do it.
For some of these women, it means blurring the lines between their personal and professional lives. For others, it means building regular family activities into the weekly schedule outside of work like daily dinners together and weekly one-on-one time with spouses and each child. For some, sleep is less of a priority. For others, "wind-down time" is actually built into the schedule.
While their lives may seem exceptional, each of the women profiled here have designed lives that work for them. These highly accomplished women — all mothers, wives and mega-successful entrepreneurs — have selected their own paths and are creating their own rules for mastering work, marriage and parenthood. Here’s how they do it.
Rosie Pope, Owner of Rosie Pope Maternity and Reality TV Star
You’ve likely seen her whip unprepared moms-to-be in shape on her hit Bravo series, “Pregnant in Heels,” but there’s more to Rosie Pope’s success than starring in her own reality TV show. She’s a married mom of three children (very soon to be four), ages 5 and under, and founder of Rosie Pope Maternity, a lifestyle brand that includes high-quality products, information and expert services and classes on pregnancy and motherhood. Coming soon in March (roughly around the same time as baby No. 4 arrives) is Rosie Pope Baby, a chic line of baby and infant wear starting at $9.
Pope lives in New York with her family. Her husband Daron, who formerly worked on Wall Street, is now her business partner, which helps solve the issue of never seeing each other. “Before, we were two ships sailing in the night,” she says.
How does she manage to balance the rest of her work and life — and maintain her sanity? Here’s her advice for other moms.
Don’t do it all at once; instead, think about life in phases. Even with all that’s going on in her professional life, Pope puts her kids’ needs first, even if it means sacrificing a career opportunity from time to time. “It’s instinctively easy to do, but hard in the moment,” Pope admits. “Like if you have made a promise to your child but then a business opportunity or a TV hit suddenly comes up — you have to say no to those things,” she says. To reconcile this, she’s accepted that it’s not possible to have it all at once and that life has its phases. “In this phase, I don't have much time for myself. When my kids are older and don't want to play Thomas the Tank Engine with me anymore, I’ll probably cry, but then I’ll be in a new phase.”
Live in the moment. “Being in the moment is a really important skill to have and a hard one when you’re a new parent,” says Pope. She says many first-time moms, including herself, multitask to a fault. “Of course, there will be times when you’re on a conference call and you must pump,” she says. In those cases, don’t feel torn. Just do what you have to do. “But, in other instances, really feel like you’re giving whatever it is you’re doing your all. You’re otherwise not doing justice to anything,” says Pope.
Squeeze in naptime … for everyone. At best, Pope gets six hours of sleep per night, so to make up for the lost shuteye, she tries to implement naptime on Saturday afternoons for all her children — and herself — at the same time. “It doesn't happen very often, but when it does, it’s magic,” she says.
Rosie’s Daily Log
6am: Wake up and get ready before the kids get up.
7am: All kids wake up. We have breakfast, get dressed [and start] school prep madness.
8:30am: Drop off kids.
9am: Arrive at work.
9am-4:30pm: Race against the clock, trying to get as much done as possible. Some days I’m filming; other days taking inventory of clothing; another day writing curriculum for classes.
5pm: Make a beeline home to prepare dinner, bathe the kids, help with homework and spend time with my kids.
7:30pm: Lights out for the kids. My husband and I continue working and making dinner. We work until about midnight or 1am.
Tory Johnson, Founder of Women for Hire and Sparkle & Hustle; TV Personality
Even as she celebrates 19 years of marriage, healthy twin teenagers, Jake and Emma, and two multi-million dollars business, Women For Hire, a top career resource for women, and Spark & Hustle, which offers female entrepreneurs tools and advice to help grow their ventures, Tory Johnson, admittedly, doesn’t pursue life with the goal of “having it all.” Instead, she says, “I focus on happiness.”
And in the process, she spreads that happiness. In 2013, Johnson published the No. 1 New York Times bestselling book “The Shift,” which chronicled her journey to shed more than 70 pounds. It’s ignited a movement towards better, healthier living for women across the country, as she hosts teleseminars and travels the country sharing her story.
Here are Johnson’s top takeaways for fitting in work, family and relaxation.
Be dedicated to dinner. “One seemingly tiny tweak that's made a huge difference is no phones during dinner,” says Johnson. “The four of us would sit around a table texting between bites until we realized the absurdity of that. This is such a sacred moment -- the only time we're truly all together, focused on one another's peaks and pits of the day, getting caught up, exchanging advice … laughing, too.”
Keep your eye on the money. At work, it’s sometimes difficult to distinguish which items require your utmost attention. This is especially true for Johnson, who is also a weekly contributor to ABC’s “Good Morning America” and faces numerous requests and responsibilities throughout the day, as her daily log shows. Her simple rule: “In my office, income-generating activities are prioritized over ‘nice-to-do" tasks.’”
Create routine quality time with your family. Like Pope, Johnson works with her husband, so they probably spend more time with each other than most couples. But with busy 16-year-old twins, it can be challenging to fit in quality time as an entire family. Her solution? Bake in routine activities. “My daughter and I have manicures together every Sunday. My son and I take walks alone to Starbucks a couple nights a week just to chat. We all play Scrabble, cruise around Target, hang at our weekend house in the country – pretty ordinary stuff,” she says. Johnson’s daughter has caught some of her entrepreneurial spirit and launched a business called Em John Jewelry, a line of fun and delicate charm bracelets. Mom’s proudly giving her guidance.
Tory’s daily log:
5am: Wake up. Read New York Post, then a couple sections of The New York Times. (My husband Peter reads the papers before me and flags various graphs with little notes/snarky comments!)
6:30am: Chat with Jake and Emma; make sure they have money; review everyone's schedule.
6:45am: Hop in town car to “Good Morning America” at Times Square Studio.
7:30am: Tape first live tease for my [“Good Morning America”] Deals & Steals segment.
8:05am: Second live tease for my Deals & Steals segment.
8:22am: Live segment on GMA.
9am: Respond to viewer emails and tweets.
10-11am: Review product pitches for future GMA segments.
11-12pm: Take Spark & Hustle private client call to strategize her business growth.
1-2:20pm: Work on new content for the paperback edition of “The Shift.”
2:30pm: Talk to Jake; text Emma.
3:45pm: Head to WABC for my weekly Secret Sales segment.
4:35pm: Live tease for my segment.
4:50pm: Live segment on exclusive deals for Super Bowl party savings.
7:15pm: Dinner with Peter, Jake and Emma.
8:00pm: Skype call with a Texas book club about “The Shift."
8:45pm: Create fun Instagram photos for Emma's wrist ties for Em John Jewelry.
9:30-11pm: Answer tweets and Facebook comments from GMA viewers; text friends; talk on phone to my mom.
11pm: Watch the local news with Peter.
11:30pm: Review what's on tap for tomorrow.
11:45pm: Lights out
Jessica Herrin, Founder of Stella & Dot
Jessica Herrin is the founder and CEO of Stella & Dot, a fast-growing San Francisco based jewelry and accessories company that sells items online and directly through trunk shows hosted by independent stylists. To date, Stella & Dot has created over 34,000 small businesses that have paid out over $185 million in earnings to women.
Herrin’s also the wife to “Super Dad” Chad and mom to two young daughters, ages 10 and 7. How does she do it?
Resist the white noise. “Life is about choices, and your time should be spent in accordance with your life priorities,” says Herrin. “It’s important to listen to your own true voice on what you value and not be overly influenced by the rest of the world’s opinion. That will only steal your joy.”
With family, focus on quality – not quantity. “I have set clear boundaries around family and work, and I get home for dinner with my kids. Most important, I am present when I am home with my kids. It’s the quality of time, not just the quantity that matters. I know there is always more I can get done at work, but I will never be able to redo these years with my kids!” she says. And after the kids go to bed, she and her husband typically spend an hour relaxing with each other.
Exercise the power of No. “Stop feeling guilty about not saying yes to everything and stop trying to be perfect,” says Herrin. “I say no to any school-related volunteer activities that do not directly involve being in the same room and interacting with my kids. Prioritize what you value and eliminate the activities that truly don’t matter to you.”
Jessica’s daily log:
5am: Wake up and work out. A 30-minute run is all I need to get an additional three hours of energy later in the day.
6am: Work from home -- a great time to connect with our European team.
7am: Make breakfast for the girls and get them ready for school.
8:30am: Drop the girls off at school and head into the office.
9am: Grab a cup of tea and stop by and say hello to all of the teams based in our headquarters.
10am-12pm: Attend various meetings with my field development and marketing teams.
12pm: Lunch. I always work through lunch.
1-6pm: More meetings with my merchandising team to help finalize the upcoming collection launch.
6-9pm: Head home to spend time with my husband and daughters. Work on homework, share stories from the day, have dinner together.
9pm: Get kids to bed.
9-10pm: Check back into work to finish up some things; read.
10-11pm: Wind down time with my husband. Chat and watch TV.
Angela Jia Kim, Founder of Om Aroma/Savor Spa, Savor the Success and The 7-Figure Club
Angela Jia Kim will be the first to admit that life can become too much too handle at times. “Sometimes I just want to go into my room, disappear and have 10 minutes to myself – just 10 minutes to pretend that the pressures are not there … But as a former concert pianist where my days were spent chasing the impossible perfection of art, I think I have entered into a rebellion of sorts: embracing a perfectly imperfect life.”
Jia Kim is a mom, wife and founder/CEO of Om Aroma, a luxury organic skincare line and its sister business Savor Spa in New York’s West Village. She is also the founder of SavortheSuccess.com, a social network for female entrepreneurs and The 7-Figure Club, a collective of successful, powerful women helping each other learn how to save time, money and energy reaching the top of their businesses. Here’s how she makes it all happen.
Set your limits. “I'm a goal-oriented person, so unless there's an end result, it's hard for me to relax. This is why I love to cook, get to 10,000 steps a day using my iPhone app and have [go to] happy hour drinks with friends and colleagues. I also have a ‘Savor Fund’ where I put away 5 percent of our family income to save up for something big like a summer trip to France or romantic meals with my husband.”
Work smarter, not harder; and plan. “If you plan and think through things strategically, you can get 10 times more done in a day. I created a Daily Action Planner for women so they could organize their ‘gorgeous chaos’ and think more like a pilot versus a passenger,” says Kim. She also advocates organizing the day around one thing to relish. “We, women, tend to take care of ourselves last, so it's so important to write it down and commit to it. On my list: a walk in Central Park, a gourmet meal or a facial.”
Make room for romance. Since Kim’s husband is also her business partner, separating work from their personal life can be tricky. “We have to carve out husband/wife time for dinner dates and getaways. We go to Whole Foods and come up with meals and try to cook together. He's a much better chef than I am, so it's fun for me to learn,” she says.
Angela’s daily log:
4:30am: Up, savor an amazing cup of coffee. I love that!
5am: Fill out my Daily Action Plan, work on a project that I'm immersed in -- whether it's my book, a marketing project or experimenting with [Om Aroma’s] upcoming Carrot Rose serum.
7:30am: Daughter wakes up, breakfast and bath.
8:30am: Off to school we go!
9am: Drive down from upper west side to MSNBC studio for taping of “Your Business.”
10:30am: On-air taping.
12pm: Down to West Village spa, quick organic salad and raw juice.
12:30pm: Meeting with the [spa] manager.
1:30pm: Phone meeting with a 7-Figure Club member.
2pm: Squeeze in a massage!
3pm: Touch base with Savor Spa / Om Aroma staff; return emergency emails.
3:30pm: Cappuccino with phone calls with Savor the Success team.
5:30pm: Whole Foods run for dinner.
6pm: Cook or do yoga while husband cooks.
7:30pm: Walk in Central Park with my husband, daughter and dog.
9pm: Put my daughter to bed (often fall asleep with her).
Michelle Pergament Visser, Founder of Ayablu Incorporated
As a CEO, wife and mom to 9-year-old twins, Michelle Pergament Visser has brilliantly blended her passion for design, business and family through her rapidly growing company, Ayablu Incorporated, an independent licensor of Burt’s Bees Baby, a line of soft, natural and organic pieces for children.
Here’s how she does it.
Design a family-friendly workplace. “I’m not a believer in balancing – rather, blending my personal and my professional life,” she says. “I am immensely proud of both and like to share one with the other.” To that end, she’s intentionally created a very “family-friendly work environment.” “It’s a rare day when you don’t find a child doing homework in a parent’s office or a dog running down the corridor, chasing after a ball,” says Pergament Visser.
Share and learn from your kids. “At home, my husband and I always share with our children what we are working on, and my daughter has given me some of the soundest advice. I remember once, prior to a board meeting, I was pondering how to pose a question, and my daughter, who was 7 at the time, said, ‘Just ask. That’s what I would do.’”
Indulge whenever the mood strikes! “My daily splurge usually starts at around 2am. Every morning, when my whole house is asleep, I treat myself to some really bad TV. It's a pretty new habit, but I’m loving it at the moment. I never really sleep more than four hours, but instead of trying to, now I just go with it. I found that cheesy, brainless TV is an effective way to turn my brain off for a couple of hours.”
Michelle’s daily log:
5:45am: Coffee in bed, compliments of a great husband.
6:30am: Bathe my daughter.
7am: Do hair and makeup, and dry my daughter’s hair.
8:15am: School bus.
8:20am: Leave for office.
8:20-8:45am: Call mom and sisters to catch up.
8:45-9am: Catch up with Maria, our company president.
9am: Review calendar with my assistant.
11am: Conference call with Oakland Children’s Hospital (Burt’s Bees Baby is forging a partnership with The Children’s Miracle Network, and Oakland’s Children’s Hospital is part of the organization and spearheaded the call to help finalize details of the collaboration.)
12pm: Design-merchandising meeting for Spring 2015.
1:30pm: Celebrity Baby Trends interview and shoot about Burts Bees Baby. (This is a baby trend forecast company with coverage from NBC to CNN, People, In Style, etc.)
2:15pm: Walk new space with contractors for the expansion of our corporate office.
2:30pm: Marketing and e-commerce team meeting to review immediate launches and images.
3pm: Review Burts Bees Baby packaging and pricing strategy.
4pm: Monthly financial review.
5pm: Review wholesale strategy and owners.
6pm: Review design wall updates.
7pm: Family dinner.
7:30pm: Watch kids ice skate.
8pm: Get kids ready for bed.
8:30pm: Kids’ bed time.
9-11pm: Catch up with my husband.
11pm: Return emails from bed.
Heidi Krupp Lisiten, Founder of Krupp Kommunications
“I’m grateful for having it all … but don’t run my life imagining that I can have it all at the same time. [Or] I will have a lot of disappointment,” says Heidi Krupp Lisiten, founder and CEO of Krupp Kommunications, a public relations, marketing and branding firm based in New York City.
For 17 years, she’s run her business with full steam, and now, as a wife to Darren and mom to 3-year-old Caden, life’s started to pull her in new, wonderful directions. She admits that fulfilling the functions of CEO, wife and mom could not be possible without the support of her staff, friends and loved ones. “It takes a village and great support to allow me to focus on whatever role I need to play [at a given time].”
Krupp Lisiten has established some personal ground rules and routines to allow for more accomplishments throughout the day. Here’s how she does it.
Reserve mornings for yourself. My husband has daddy-time with our son in the morning to cook together and have breakfast, while I catch up on the papers, news and time for me, she says. “I usually spend those first 15 minutes when I get up going over what and who I am grateful for … to start the day on the right foot.”
Don’t skip your workout. Staying physically fit and healthy is a non-negotiable in Krupp Lisiten’s life. “No matter what I do every day, I work out. I have a trainer I see three times a week, and he got me running. It is good for the head and soul and has given me more balance overall.”
Keep work talk at work. Since Krupp, too, works with her husband, they have to consciously create a line between work and personal time. “I have a no-business-talk zone with my husband so we can both disconnect and [have] date nights at least weekly – [and] trying to lock in some more!”
Rule time. Don’t let time rule you. “I recently learned this from a great friend and mentor,” Krupp says. “What comes first is what is needed first, and what comes last is what can wait.” Simple as that.
Heidi’s daily log:
6:30am: Caden wakes up – calls for Daddy – and comes to bed. We all snuggle and discuss the day and what to look forward to.
7:30am: Review all papers and check emails. Get dressed and ready for gym.
8:30am: Caden leaves for school. Sometimes I get to walk with him and drop off if no meeting is scheduled that day, or no trainer.
9am: Meet with my trainer.
10:30am: Check in with my office and get clear on the day’s outcomes and all things urgent, pending and goals.
11am: Meet with teams, calls with clients and media.
1pm: Lunch at desk or often lunch with media, clients or team lunches.
2pm: Check in on Caden.
4pm: A great afternoon visit from Caden – snack time and laugh time. Have meetings in office.
6pm: Leave office for client meetings or business drinks. If no client appointment, then dinner with Caden.
7pm: Bath time with Caden. Read a book and prepare him for bedtime while observing emails and keeping phone on vibrate -- but nearby.
8pm: Negotiate bed time; my hardest negotiation of the day!
9pm: Finally say hello to Darren who has been with me all day at the office, at the gym and at home, but I have not even been able to focus on him. We have adult time and catch up, make dinner, have a glass of wine, look at more emails.
11:30pm: Watch “Friends.”
12:30am: Watch “Fallon.” Lights out and pray we don’t hear “Daddy, I want out!” (or else it all starts again.)
Naomi Whittel, Founder of Reserveage Organics and QVC Personality
Naomi Whittel is a regular on QVC and founder of the award-winning Reserveage Organics, a line of nutritional supplements. She’s been hailed as a “Wonder Woman of the Natural Industry” and, last year, received the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year Award in Florida.
She is also married and a proud mom to two children, ages 9 and 2. How does she make it all work? Whittel says she tries to pursue work-life success, energy and happiness, without concerning herself too much with the concept of “balance.” “Throw out the balancing act, along with the guilt, and focus on achieving a balance within your own self that will permeate into every area, relationship and goal,” says Whittel. “Many articles and books … shed light on the need to fit our lives into this 50/50 box. Combining a busy family life with a busy career is tricky.”
To master her own juggling act, Whittel offers the following advice.
Don’t be afraid to mix it up. When it comes to combining her personal and professional lives, Whittel, like Pergament Visser, is all about blending. “I feel we need to reject the idea that these areas must be separate but equal. With today’s technological advances, I can go from a video conference call to a school recital and then jump on a plane by mid-morning. Finding the right way to intermingle your life and being okay with that is the key,” she says.
Embrace spontaneity. “You can’t – and shouldn’t – schedule it all,” she says. “For us, the key is to be spontaneous and flexible. I’m a CEO and my husband is an attorney, so we both travel and have atypical daily schedules. We don’t hold each other to a certain plan, but instead take advantage of every moment we have together to make it count.”
Treat yourself. “I reward myself with a book or a massage whenever I can. Or even something simple that makes me happy, like a piece of organic dark chocolate.” Whittel also schedules weekly “me” time to meditate. “With so many moving pieces in my life, I like to take a step back and appreciate the moments.”
Naomi’s daily log:
8am: Drop kids at schools.
8:30am-12:30pm: Team meetings at the office (research & development, innovation, marketing and design, production etc.).
12:30-2pm: Lunch meeting.
2-5:30pm: Take external calls, video conferences, group meetings (from various industry colleagues and partners like QVC, GNC, The Vitamin Shoppe, etc.).
6-8:30pm: Family dinner, homework, relax with family, kids’ bedtime routines.
8:30-10:00pm: West-coast conference calls, catching up on emails, prepping for following day.
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