#20 – Nine important questions for entrepreneurs trying to balance

Do you suffer from AOOPS (Appearance of Organized Person Syndrome).  Here is a test:

Do you appear as follows to the outside world?

Clean desk

But this is actually how you feel?

messydesk

Here is a personal example. The other month I went to a National’s game with my husband. We think we’re going to a baseball game. We think we’ll have a couple beers, hang out, have some quality time. Instead, this is what we wind up both on our crackberries. Too much stuff. Too little time.

Some questions I answered recently for the first annual Washington Working Women’s Forum  September 10th event got me thinking about what really matters to me, and how I prioritize.  Beyond that, I remembered my original inspiration for the Hot Mommas Project, and why I’m doing what I’m doing. Well, not as much the Crackberrying at the National’s game. That was lame. But, the other hard work, logistics, and the rest of the insanity that comes along with being an entrepreneur.  I recommend  every entrepreneur with a heart and a brain answer these questions:

1. Describe your typical weekday.

2. What are your life priorities? How do you ensure you remain true to these priorities?

3. What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

4. What is one thing most people do not know about you?

5. If you have children, how many and what are their ages? How would they describe you?

6. As a working woman with commitment to your personal life and your community, how do you protect against burnout?

7. What are you really good at?

8. Who did you look to as a role model and in what specific ways did this person influence you?

9. What advice do you have for high-achieving working women and men desperately seeking balance?

Here are my answers..oh, and here is the panel on which I’m speaking September 10.

About the Washington Working Women’s Forum:

When: September 10, 2009, 8am – 12pm

Where: George Washington University (register here)

More information

1. Describe your typical weekday.

Early morning – Try to get ahead on some things while kids are in bed (about 1x per week, 2x during busy weeks)

Morning – kids / breakfast / trade off with hubby to get ready

9.30 Onward – work, meetings, writing. During the spring semester I teach and grade papers.

6:00 Home for dinner.

8:00 Kids in bed

8:30 Movie with hubby or I watch my shows and he is on laptop. I try not to work at night because it impacts my sleep.

 2. What are your life priorities? How do you ensure you remain true to these priorities?

* Happy kids, happy home life

* Can look at myself in the mirror personally and professionally and can be proud of what I’m accomplishing.

* Time with family and friends. I have many local family and friends. It’s a blessing. I feel lucky. I rely on them more, not less, as I get older.

I am the “emotional center” of the household and have a good sense of when things are off-kilter. When I don’t, my husband reminds me. We share the same priorities in this exact order. It helps, a lot.

 3. What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

Movies, exercise, travel, just “hanging out.” I used to be very into music, dancing, and making glass jewelry but that has taken a temporary backseat to cheerios and the priorities listed above.

 4. What is one thing most people do not know about you?

Uuuugh. This is like one of those chain letters. There is a lot people don’t know about me. I guess many people think they know me because I’m out there and teaching, etc. But, there are only really a handful of people who truly know me. It’s not that I’m so mysterious; I just tend not to “burden” people with what is really going on upstairs. Also, I can’t whistle and hate the word moist.

 5. If you have children, how many and what are their ages? How would they describe you?

Two kids. Maxwell – 6, Delilah – 3. As Lilah says, “Mommy you rock! You’we da best!” and Maxwell says, “Mommy I love you as high as this house and the sky and everything in the world and not in the world.” So, I can’t ask for more than that in how my kids think about me, despite my yelling at them to stop whining, start listening, and please use their inside voice.

 6. As a working woman with commitment to your personal life and your community, how do you protect against burnout?

I am pretty aware of what I call my “personal bank account” and getting on overdraft protection. I have a couple sort of silly tricks that work for me, but, it all falls under the categories of:

 1. Self awareness – being tuned into what is TOO much and when I’m approaching that point and not “ignoring the teapot” so to speak.

 2. Doing something about it. Time with girlfriends, exercising, and having something to look forward to all week which is NON chaotic is good.

 3. Delegation. You MUST have help at home and at work. An old intern of mine was SUCH a help I could not let him go. He works for me virtually from India now and with almost every communication I let out a breath and say, ‘This is sooooo worth it.” That’s the feeling you’re looking for – or, at least, that I look for.

 7. What are you really good at?

  • Filling gaps. I can assess a market or an opportunity based on what is needed or doesn’t exist. This may be my background in market research, but, I really think it is more of a mentality – like, “Hey, there should be something like this out there!” and then doing something about it. The Hot Mommas Project started that way. No role models in schools for girls – and how to remedy that? Now, we’re in textbooks all over the world, online, and connecting generations to one another in a non-preachy, learning-based way that pads their resume and their feeling of personal support and leadership.
  •  Vibes. I can pick up on the energy in a room, or with people.
  •  Defusing crisis situations. Who knew that I had this talent, but, after being in some really, really bad situations I have realized I am a person that can come in and turn it around. I do not polarize people which is – I believe – what leads to most conflict. If I do create polarity/opposition in a situation, it is because: a) I don’t care – I am ready for the consequences or b) A total surprise to me and it’s time for me to take some notes and learn and grow.
  •  My husband says I’m really good at listening, and helping people.

 8. Who did you look to as a role model and in what specific ways did this person influence you?

Seeing a working woman like my mom  taught me that is just “how things are.” That was a good message for me. I never doubted myself or felt guilty for working. I turned out fine, and so would my kids. However, my mom worked for the CIA and I really had no idea what she was doing over there, so, that led me to my dad and my aunt who:

  • Are in similar functions (different industries) and are very well-known and respected because they have extraordinarily high expectations of themselves – like – LITERALLY top of field.
  •  Most importantly, they love what they do.

The combination of those two things seems to feed off each other and propel their careers. To see my dad come home from work every day really happy sent a very strong message to me growing up. Then, to have people come up to me in public and say, “We really love your dad. He is such a great guy.” or “Are you proud of your dad for being in the Washingtonian Best Lawyers again?” I feel really proud. That’s my work ethic. My aunt is super cool. She is  in the mental health industry counseling parents of children with behavior problems. She speaks at conferences and has groupies. But she doesn’t abuse it. It never, never goes to her head. She is just cool, cool, cool. She does her thing, she tells it like it is, and she goes home to her also-cool husband Jack. Both my dad (with my mom) and my Aunt Sharon (with Jack) have relationships that – no kidding – are like newlyweds. They’ve been married a LONG time. So, to know that’s possible is also an important role model for my home life, which always “wins” anyway.

 9. What advice do you have for high-achieving working women desperately seeking balance?

  1. Don’t have more than 2 to 3 major projects going at one time. A lot of little things can – news flash – add up to a “big project.” 
  2. Get systems in place so you don’t have to “touch it.” Example – all my bills are paid automatically. Example – we have a color coded calendar on our fridge making it very clear to everyone in our household what is going on when vs. 18 conversations. Example – use a Microsoft excel spreadsheet in Google Docs to track your tasks and team’s tasks. This can save time for status updates between meetings, which take too long anyway.
  3. Get help. Think you don’t have enough money, clout, time, inclination? Too bad. Figure it out or you’ll wither and die. Practice by asking help from a friend (Can I drop off my kid for an hour?) and move on from there. If you don’t have experience managing people, have that as a goal and practice any way you can: Interns, babysitters, whatever. Knowing how to manage and direct people is what will roll out the red carpet for delegation.
  4. No! Be a relentless “no” person. This is a really complex topic not easily answered in a box for a question.
  5. Get nominated, write a case, and get invited to the Hot Mommas Projectcommunity online. You’ll have an instant support group and stories from some of the best unsung heroines in the world…..everyday heroines to whom we can relate.
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One thought on “#20 – Nine important questions for entrepreneurs trying to balance

  1. Pingback: Summary of Posts 3 – Building a Million Dollar Business Part Time « Hot Mommas Project blog

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