Can women have it all? What does having it all mean, anyway? If you do manage to achieve this ideal, do you end up with regrets? What advice do successful women have for others—especially younger women and men who are starting out in their careers?
We posed those questions to dozens of Truly Amazing Women, as well as a handful of amazing Millennials, and some stellar men. In turn, we received dozens of responses from these folks, who are working in a variety of industries—from government execs, and entrepreneurs whose companies generate multimillions, to artists, authors, and the intrapreneurs who are building companies from the inside as employees, and consultants.
Their responses are listed below by industry — and what they have to say may surprise you. Mostly, we think that their comments will inspire you!
Want to chime in? We’d love to hear your thoughts on the topic. If you’d like us to include your ideas, send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
DEPUTY SECRETARY OF HUMAN RIGHTS AND DEMOCRACY AT THE US DEPARTMENT OF STATE, KAREN HANRAHAN
Who she is: Last month, Karen J. Hanrahan accepted this new position within the Obama Administration. Formerly, she was director and COO of the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review, where she led a comprehensive project for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to redefine how the US government practices international development and diplomacy. She has also been a senior advisor to the Iraqi minister of human rights. Hanrahan and her husband, Dean, are also new parents to Jordan, 18 months.
Can women have it all? Clearly, this deeply personal question varies by age, race, socioeconomic status, and personal goals. And, it evolves for each of us as we advance in our lives, ideally gaining wisdom along the way. I think women spend too much time judging each other for such personal views—and too little time figuring out ways to support diverse life decisions.
For some, one aspect of “having it all” is power. I have always believed there are too few women at the most senior levels of of decision-making. I’m talking about positions in which decisions are made that influence the world, the nation, the state. Women are desperately needed in these positions because of our way of leading, communicating, and viewing the world. But we are facing unique challenges. Although it is true that a relatively narrow band of women makes it to this level, we should spend more time finding ways to raise more women up rather than judging them for trying to get there.
Do you have any regrets? I have spent my life pursuing my professional dreams—and have been able to achieve many of them, including reaching a relatively senior level in the field I’ve always wanted to work in. I’ve always put my work first, often at the expense of relationships and life balance in general. I became indispensable because I was always available, responsive, and filling my time with activities to improve my performance.
Then, at the age of 40, I had a child. Although this changed me in fundamental ways, my ambition did not diminish, nor did my commitment to quality of work or advancement. What did change was my ability to be constantly available, seven days a week, working most of the time, and reading or writing to make sure I was the smartest person at the table.
The most senior positions in the institutions I’ve worked in come with a crushing workload. A constant, 24-hour-a-day, 7-days-a-week workload that is never complete. It demands constant attention and leaves room for little else. As I’ve risen through the ranks, I’ve watched my smart, ambitious female colleagues drop by the wayside as they build families.
And, I’ve noticed a pattern: The more senior a woman gets, the less likely she is to make it to the next level if she has children and takes steps to see those children, even if it’s only for 30 minutes on each end of a long day. As I take up another new senior assignment—with an 18-month toddler waiting at home—I understand why. I draw a new boundary, leaving the office at 5:30 p.m. and reserving a two-to-three hour window when I am not available. Then I go back to work until I go to bed. My colleagues at the same level do not have such boundaries.
Hanrahan’s advice for others: Boundaries are healthy—whether you work for the government, yourself, or don’t work at all. There is so much to having a happy, successful life. I think we all need to take a step back and consider the bigger picture.
REMIND.ORG FOUNDER, AUTHOR, BROADCASTER LEE WOODRUFF
Who she is: A contributor to “CBS This Morning,” Woodruff is the author of several books, including the bestseller, “Perfectly Imperfect: A Life in Progress,” the second one she published about midlife, after her husband, ABC News correspondent Bob Woodruff, suffered a traumatic brain injury while covering the war in Iraq. Her latest book, published in 2012, is a work of fiction, “Those We Love Most.” She is also the co-founder of the nonprofit organization Remind.org, a former senior vice president of the PR firm Porter Novelli, and a contributor to Health, Redbook, Country Living and Prevention magazines.
Can women have it all? When Bob began recovering from his injury, we penned, “In An Instant: A Family’s Journey of Love and Healing,” because I wanted to offer a candid description of what happened in Iraq, and the struggles we faced as a family as Bob recovered.
It was an experience that, obviously, changed us all. For me, the definition of what it means to be powerful has changed over the years. Whereas women once had the goal of being “Superwoman,” I think most of us now simply strive to have a super day.
I think women wear so many different hats today that we never quite feel powerful in all areas—at least, not at the same time. When we are doing great at work, we know we are dropping the ball at home, and vise versa. The challenge for me is one of acceptance.
Any regrets? Like so many women, I’m trying to have a successful career as a writer and public speaker, be a great mom and wife, be actively involved with the Bob Woodruff Family Foundation’s Remind.org, be a good friend, and find my own sense of joy. It’s a lot. And if I am doing so many things, how do I do them all well? The truth is that I don’t do them all well all of the time, and I need to make peace with that.
Advice for others: To me, being powerful is having a sense of inner peace. When I’m speaking at engagements around the country, this topic comes up and sometimes I say something that is not always what women want to hear. It is that I don’t think you can have two people with two big fabulous careers, ones that take time and travel, if you want to be involved in raising your kids day to day. Let’s be honest—if you and your spouse both travel to Singapore every month to close deals, someone needs to be home to make sure the homework is done, grades are kept up, and that the kids have a parent in the audience at the school play, football game, or orchestra concert. But that’s just my opinion.
NATIONALLY RECOGNIZED SCIENTIST, AUTHOR, DR. ESTHER STERNBERG
Who she is: An internationally recognized scientist and author, Dr. Esther Sternberg is well known for her discoveries in brain-immune interactions and the effects of the brain’s stress response on health: the science of the mind-body interaction. Currently director of research at the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona at Tucson, Dr. Sternberg received her MD degree and trained in rheumatology at McGill University, in Montreal; served on the faculty at Washington University, St. Louis (1980-86); was a senior scientist in the National Institutes of Health Intramural Research Program (1986-2012); and is research professor at American University in Washington, DC. She is the author of “Healing Spaces” and “The Balance Within,” and she also created the PBS Special, The Science of Healing.
Can women have it all? Having it all means being “present” emotionally and physically for one’s family, having the opportunity to nurture them and help them grow, and also have a rewarding and successful career.
I definitely feel like I “have it all”—I did it in series rather than in parallel. I don’t think you can “have it all,” all at the same time. The reality is children need attention and you need to be there for them. It is impossible to have a family and be successful in a career all at the same time. One doesn’t necessarily have to stop work to focus on family when the children are small, but it does require that that the child or children take precedence over the career when they are young. It also requires organization, stamina, a strong support network, and a flexible work schedule.
When my daughter was little, I took time to focus on her more than on my career and as she grew I was able to spend more time focusing on my career.
If I had to travel, I limited it to very short or overnight stays, and I attended only one major professional conference a year. I continued to work, but only 8-6 p.m., and any work I had to do at home, I did after my daughter went to bed. As a result, she once asked why I didn’t have homework, like she did—she never saw me working at home.
As she grew I started taking her to conferences with me once a year, when appropriate. This had the effect of providing a special bonding time between us, with the added benefit that she saw me functioning in my professional context, giving her a role model for a professional working woman with a family.
I was fortunate to work in academic or semi-academic settings all my professional career, so my schedule was flexible and set by me, and I could also work at home if necessary. This is the only way I could have managed a high-powered career when my daughter was little. I also had a wonderful network of friends who helped out. I car-pooled every day with a neighbor who stayed at home: I drove the early morning route, which got me to work on time. This worked great for both of us, as my neighbor didn’t like getting up and out of the house early, and I couldn’t leave work in the middle of the afternoon.
Rather than making an effort to drop all my household chores in order to play with my daughter, I engaged her in helping me out. This also had the effect of creating bonds between us, it allowed me to do my chores without resentment or anxiety, and she loved being mommy’s helper.
When I cooked dinner, I stood her on a stool at the sink and she made make-believe soup with the vegetable peelings. She loved to shop with me at the grocery or hardware store. When she was older, she started cooking parts of meals on her own—brownies in the microwave, etc., and the meals got more elaborate with time. Now as an adult, she is a working professional woman, and is also a great and creative gourmet chef!
Importantly, I always had live-in nannies or au pairs. Again, working in a semi-academic setting, it was always possible to find students at local colleges who were willing to do childcare in exchange for room and board and a small fee. I never asked the childcare providers to do cleaning—I asked them to focus on my child and hired a housekeeper to come in once a week to do the cleaning.
Once my daughter became independent, I was able to focus much more intently on my career, traveling extensively, writing books, lecturing extensively, etc. As in the article by Anne-Marie Slaughter, I have found that my career is peaking and taking off at this stage of life when my daughter is an adult and on her own. It is deeply rewarding to have a wonderful relationship with my adult daughter, who is now herself establishing a home and international career, and to also have a richly rewarding and successful career of my own.
Any regrets? No regrets. I wouldn’t have done anything differently.
Advice for others: As per my example above, it is essential to have a flexible schedule that you can set yourself. Tele-work is also an important feature that helps. A strong network of friends and or family is important, as are paid childcare providers. Engage your children in the household chores—make them part of the team. All of these pieces of advice apply to women and men who want to “have it all.”
For more information about Dr. Sternberg, visit www.esthersternberg.com.
FUTURIST YVETTE MONTERO SALVATICO
Who she is: A futurist and former manager of future workforce insights at Disney, Salvatico led the effort to establish an internal area of strategic foresight expertise, dedicated to identifying future workforce trends and assessing their potential impact on human capital strategies. In 2011, with futurist Frank Spencer, she co-founded Kedge, a foresight and futures, innovation, creativity, and strategic design consultancy. “In the 21st Century world of complex ideas and practices, successful leaders, businesses, and entrepreneurs must learn to adapt, be resilient and flexible, and create transformational strategy,” she says.
Can women have it all? As a wife, mother, and driven career woman, I am often asked about how I successfully find a balance. The truth is I don’t. Many days I feel I’ve failed as a mother, a wife, and as a professional. In fact, I sometimes joke that the feminist movement was the worst thing to happen to women. Of course I don’t really mean that, but I do believe that the opportunity for women to pursue careers outside the home came at a significant price—a price that most refuse to acknowledge even decades after the movement.
Women are (and will likely always be) the major caretakers in a family unit. While many men (including my husband) have certainly expanded their household and child-rearing duties beyond those of their 1950s “Leave It to Beaver” counterparts, the fact still remains that it is in a woman’s core to care for her family. When we gave women the “right” to pursue education and professional careers, we added to an already full plate and set the expectation for those who followed those trailblazers. Women of my generation and those of my mother’s feel we must do it all in order to acknowledge our predecessors who weren’t given the boundless opportunities we often take for granted. I grew up with the unshakeable belief that women can do everything men can do, but the truth is men and women are not the same. We are equal but we are not the same. So it should come as no surprise that when women try to pursue jobs set up for their male peers, we struggle to be successful.
Any regrets? I discovered this truth during my corporate career when I was on track to become an executive. I had worked tirelessly for the opportunity to hold a senior-level role, but as I inched closer to my goal, I was struck with the realization that the sacrifices expected of executives were, in my opinion, incompatible with motherhood. Of course, no one would ever come out and say that, and there were many women (with children) in similar roles. For me, however, it was as if I was interviewing for a role in which I was told “no, you don’t need to know how to swim for this job, but you will need to get to the other side of this raging river to be considered.”
Advice for others: In my opinion, we won’t see more women representation in C-suites or corporate boards until those positions evolve to allow women to effectively balance their whole lives. Until then, women like me will leave the corporate ranks to become entrepreneurs—seeking the opportunity to follow their passions while still honoring their calling to be great mothers, daughters, and wives. For me, that’s the definition of “having it all.”
For more information about Salvatico, visit www.kedgefutures.com.
BOKS KIDS FOUNDER KATHLEEN TULLIE, REEBOK
Who she is: Kathleen Tullie is the director of Reebok’s nonprofit organization BoksKids.org. The former financial planner and Boston mom didn’t feel like she had it all—so she quit her well-paying finance job a few years ago to stay home with her kids. Since school didn’t start until 9 a.m., and her kids were up and eager at 6, every morning before school her kids headed out to the yard to play. Pretty soon, about a dozen kids were popping by to join them. An athlete herself, Tullie slipped a whistle around her neck and started running soccer drills with the makeshift team. After a few weeks, she realized this early-morning program could be held at school, and include even more kids. Reebok’s US execs got wind of her big idea, and pulled her into the fold. Today, her program is in 160 schools—and the number grows every month.
Can women have it all? The email from Be Inkandescent magazine publisher Hope Gibbs asking me to offer my thoughts on whether women can “have it all” caused me to chuckle for not only a few minutes—but also every day since. Hope’s questions make me laugh because when I am having my moment thinking, “I’m going crazy!” or “Is this a moment of having it all?” I realize my responses are relative.
First, I don’t believe that there is one woman on this planet who would have the same definition for “having it all.” Each one of us has our own desires, drive, and determination to achieve our goals. We each have a different mix of mental and physical aptitude that contributes to goals and dreams being accomplished at a different pace.
I am always fascinated by individuals, who from the outside, appear to “have it all” because, once you peel back a layer (this can usually be done over a nice, long run or a glass of wine), I always discover something that is not working on all cylinders.
I look at two of my closest friends, women whom I adore and respect, and I think to myself: If I could have their lifestyles for a week, it would be bliss. Then, I spend 30 minutes catching up with them, and I am humbled back to my peaceful existence and very happy to be living my life.
So for me it comes to down to this: “Having it all” is having my health, my family, and feeling content with myself. The rest is great, and I aim to be as successful as possible as mom, wife, and entrepreneur.
Is it different for men? No, they are in the same boat. Again, it’s all relative, and a matter of perspective.
Any regrets? Given the opportunities I have been given, and my opportunistic nature, I do feel like I have been very fortunate to have it all. So no, I have no regrets. Life is way too short to see it that way. Rather, I view everything as a learning experience.
Advice for others: Always be optimistic, and don’t miss opportunities. We are responsible for our own happiness and destination. We are the ones who pave the path. And also remember that little things make a difference—whether it is saying hello and smiling at a stranger, or letting someone cut in front of you in a line. As Oprah Winfrey said, “Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.”
For more information about Tullie’s BOKS KIDS program, visit www.bokskids.org.
“CLEAR THE CLUTTER” ADVOCATE, AUTHOR JULIE MORGENSTERN
Who she is: Julie Morgenstern, dubbed the “queen of putting people’s lives in order” by USA Today, is an organizing and time-management expert, business productivity consultant, and speaker. A New York Times bestselling author, Morgenstern’s five books are timeless reference guides that are insightful, reader-friendly, and jam-packed with innovative strategies. Each volume features techniques and observations culled from her 20 years of experience as a consultant to individuals and companies.
Can women have it all? I think “having it all” is about striking a nourishing and energizing balance between the various departments of your life. In my work as a productivity expert, I’ve learned that each person requires a different blend between Work-Family-Romance-Self-Community, and that our needs evolve over the course of our lives.
When you hit the right balance, you feel engaged, fulfilled, and alive. When one department monopolizes your time at the expense of others, you feel depleted, exhausted, cranky, and unhappy.
It’s not realistic to expect that every day, or even every week, will be the perfect blend, as life and its various components are far too dynamic—but through mindfulness and effort, you can create a life in which all of your essential components are present and active, and balance out to a satisfying mix. Achieving that requires reflection (on what your ideal balance is at any given stage of your life) and planning—using paper or digital tools to commit time in your calendar to the things that you need to thrive.
Do you have regrets? The balance between my work and personal life feels very fulfilling to me. It’s changed over the years—as I was building my business, I was extremely content to work 12-14 hour days, and there was a time that I would take only a few hours with friends on a weekend, and that was all I needed to relax and recharge.
I called myself a highly efficient relaxer. But starting about seven years ago, I began investing more time in relaxation, friends, family, and time for myself, and now have built up these other areas, so I refuse to work at night or on the weekends—as that renewal time is too essential to my soul.
Could I always do more in any one department? Absolutely. I always kind of monitor and adjust the various departments—but the mixture, and the balance between them, feels deeply gratifying to me.
Your advice to others: The best thing to do is start by identifying the “buckets” of your life as you see them—what you are trying to juggle your time between. Then guess what percentage of your time you are currently devoting to each. Does that balance reflect your values? Is it a satisfying blend? If not, decide how you do want to allocate your time—and then make necessary decisions.
What can you cut or streamline in one department so it takes less time? What can you add in very tangible terms—to create time for things you currently are neglecting? Of all the tools I give to clients, a Time Map is perhaps the most powerful device because it allows people to proactively create the balance they desire. Once you carve out regular times in your week for each of the departments of your life, you will feel free to focus on the optimal use of each moment—knowing everything has its time and place in your life.
And get yourself a planner. Whether it’s paper or digital, invest 15 minutes at the end of each day planning the next three days. A three-day arc helps you keep an eye on your balance, and provides perspective that helps you better prioritize and protect time for what matters when crises and opportunities arise.
For more information about Morgenstern, visit www.juliemorgenstern.com.
SMILE NETWORK FOUNDER KIM VALENTINI
Who she is: Kim Valentini is founder of Smile Network International, a Minnesota-based humanitarian organization that provides life-altering reconstructive surgeries to impoverished children in developing countries. After 25 years in public relations and marketing, Valentini left the corporate arena to do what she believes is her life’s work: serving children around the world who have been born with debilitating birth defects. Click here to read our Q&A with her.
Can women have it all? Yes, I do think we can—but there is always compromise. When you have a career and a family, you have to set priorities. My family has been extremely supportive and has been an integral part of Smile Network. It has been a passion of my entire family.
Do you have regrets? No, I do not. But, I believe we all reach a point in our lives where we start to search for something deeper, richer, and more substantive. We want the sum total of our life to add up to more.
At different stages in life, we all are challenged to explore the depths of our souls. What stones have I left unturned? What passion or desire have I not pursued? Or we ask our selves the deeper question: “What is my purpose?” In the final analysis, I don’t think we will be judged for the hours we spent at the office, the closets we cleaned, or the errands we ran, but rather for the difference we made in the lives of others; our families, our friends, and the strangers we meet along the way.
In moments of unrest, when we are unsettled, or simply when we take a moment to hit the pause button, it is in those moments that our secret desires surface, our under-nurtured passions start whispering to us and sometimes change the course of our lives. How many of you hear that little voice in side of you whispering the secret desires of your heart and soul?
Your advice to others: Have a warrior’s heart. Jump, and look later. Never forget who took you to the dance. You don’t know what you don’t know. Don’t be a jackass. Show the love. Remember the little guy.
For more information about Valentini and the Smile Network, visit www.smilenetwork.org.
BAKER CAROLINA GARCIA
Who she is: Carolina Garcia just couldn’t find a proper baguette when she moved to DC. So the native of Colombia—who was trained as an economist and previously worked as an international relations specialist—took the matter into her own hands. Literally. She began baking bread and pastries for herself, her friends, her husband. And the crusty, flaky, melt-in-your-mouth morsels were such a hit that Garcia decided to open a bakery in Arlington. In 2011, LeoNora Gourmet Bakery opened its doors—and bread fans from around the DC region have since been flocking in for french bread, brioche, challah, croissants, madeleines, cakes, and tartalettes.
Can women have it all? Women can have everything and even more. We are non stoppable if we want to. Our sensibility as well as our intelligence, when used strategically, can create a competitive advantage that can take us anywhere that we want to; We just need to be organized and stay focused on our objectives.
Any regrets? I think that in life you can’t regret anything that you have done with good intentions. These events are more like experiences that give you knowledge of “what not to do next time”; you can always learn from them. Taking this into consideration, I don’t regret anything I have done, even though I have made a lot of mistakes and, if you ask me, I would have done some things different to how I did them for the first time. But again, I wouldn’t be able to say this if I hadn’t done it before.
Advice for others: DON’T GIVE UP! Everyday the sun shines again. Don’t be discouraged and dont let anyone discourage you. Dreams can be real as long as you stick to them. Sometimes they don’t turn out as we imagined but we can always learn from that. As someone said: “Shoot for the moon, even if you miss you land among the stars.”
Learn more about Garcia and LeoNora Bakery at www.leonorabakery.com.
THE ARTISTS & AUTHORS
INTERNATIONAL, AWARD-WINNING ARTIST ANDREA ARROYO
Who she is: Andrea Arroyo immigrated to New York from Mexico in the early 1980s to study in the professional program of avant-garde choreographer Merce Cunningham. She danced professionally for several years and then transitioned to the visual arts. Recently, former President Bill Clinton selected her to create The Clinton Citizen Awards Project. Those are just some of the many accomplishments achieved by this talented woman who brings attention to issues of gender justice and discrimination.
Can women have it all? I believe that to “have it all” is an abstract concept. Our lives are fluid, nobody “has it all” at all times, for we all face challenges at one point or another. For me, having it all would mean having the capacity to appreciate every moment of the life that I have created. As a visual artist, “having it all” means being able to keep creating art that is meaningful to me and that makes a contribution to society.
Besides, broad expectations can become a burden. I strive to always continue to grow as a person and as a professional, so I am always reaching for higher goals, and at the same time, I think I “have it all” when I can appreciate being in the present and enjoy the life that I have created (achievements and challenges included).
Any regrets? Sure, but whatever choices I made in the past led me to the life I have today, a life that I take responsibility for and that I love. I always try to learn from past experiences.
Advice for others: Don’t try to fulfill someone else’s expectations. Taking responsibility for your choices gives you control over your life. Be kind, support your peers. There is always something to learn from other people. And, most importantly, enjoy the journey, appreciate the present while building for the future.
For more information about Arroyo, visit andreaarroyo.com.
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR CAROLINE LEAVITT
Who she is: Caroline Leavitt is the New York Times best selling author of Pictures of You, which was also on the Best Books of 2011 Lists from the San Francisco Chronicle, Kirkus Reviews, The Providence Journal and Bookmarks Magazine. She teaches writing at both UCLA and Stanford online and freelance edits other writer’s manuscripts. Her new novel, “Is It Tomorrow,” will be published by Algonquin Books in May 2013.
Can women have it all? Freud said, “One can live magnificently in this world if one knows how to work and how to love.” Of course, that takes some juggling. I gave up a steady 9-to-5 job with great benefits so I could stay at home and write, and spend more time with my work-at-home husband, and our growing son.
I wanted it all: child, career, husband. Of course, I gave up the benefits, the steady salary. But what I got in return was being able to wake up every day without that nauseous feeling in the pit of my stomach. I was able to do work that I truly love, all the while being around the people I loved the most.
Any regrets? Yes, we gave things up. We were definitely poorer and leading more precarious lives, working longer hours to pay the bills, especially our astronomical health insurance bills, but I felt richer anyway. It was the best decision I ever made and my only regret is that I didn’t do it sooner.
Advice for others: I’d tell women to be really clear about what matters most to you and then to find a way to be true to that ideal.
For more information about Leavitt, visit www.carolineleavitt.com.
AUTHOR SHARON HADARY, “HOW WOMEN LEAD”
Who she is: Sharon Hadary is the former and founding executive director of the Center for Women’s Business Research. She has been a leader in creating social change for women for more than two decades. At the Center for Women’s Business Research, the nonprofit research institute devoted to studying women’s entrepreneurship, she harnessed the transformational impact of data and altered forever the landscape for women business owners in access to capital, markets, expertise, and networks.
Can women have it all? Yes, we can—over a lifetime. For our book, How Successful Women Lead, we interviewed women in top leadership positions in the financial industry, retail, law, pharmaceuticals, and the military. Without exception, they report successfully integrating career, family, community service, and personal goals. Here is what we can learn about composing a life from these very successful women:
- Start by defining for yourself what “having it all” means. Establish priorities that drive how you use your time and energy and be comfortable with shifting priorities depending what is happening at any given time in your life.
- Second, say highly accomplished women, recognize that you cannot have it all at the same time. It is a long life, and there are phases when some parts of your life will take precedence over others.
*Third, they say, accept that you cannot do everything yourself and that it is okay to get help. Building a personal support network of both unpaid and paid help is as critical as building your professional networks.
- Fourth, take responsibility for making your life work. When opportunities arise, adopt the approach that there is a solution that serves the needs of both family and business. Determine what you want, be creative in figuring how to overcome the challenges, ask for the flexibility you want, and be open to negotiation.
Any regrets? Certainly there are systemic changes that are needed in business and government—flexible work arrangements, options for shorter hours, day-care facilities—these and more would help women (and men) have more options.
Advice for others: At the end of the day, the imperative for each of us to make life choices based on knowing ourselves, our values, and our goals is what determines whether we believe we are living a full and fulfilling life.
For more information about Hadary, and her new book, visit howsuccessfulwomenlead.com.
CONFLICT RESOLUTION EXPERT, SPEAKER, AUTHOR LISA MCLEOD
Who she is: Lisa Earle McLeod is a sales leadership consultant. Companies such as Apple, Kimberly-Clark, and Pfizer hire her to help them create passionate, purpose-driven sales forces. She’s the author of The Triangle of Truth, which The Washington Post named a “Top Five Book for Leaders.” She has appeared on “Today,” and has been featured in Forbes, Fortune and The Wall Street Journal. She provides executive coaching sessions, strategy workshops, and keynote speeches. Click here to learn more: www.lisaearlemcleod.com.
Can women have it all? It’s not PC to say this, but, I don’t believe we can “do it all” at least not at once. But we can eventually “have it all,” over the long arc of our lives. Children take nurturing and so do careers. You can maintain one, while you grow the other, but to think that you’re going to be intensely focused on both at the same time is unrealistic.
If you’re in a work environment where success is defined as 70 plus hours of uber-focused work, it’s going to be difficult to be the kind of mother most of us want to be. Actually, with that kind of work load, it’s difficult to even have a cat.
The current dynamic in most corporations is that you are likely competing with someone who can give it their career constant attention. When they’re not performing at work, they’re improving their work skills or resting to gear up for another round of great performance. I believe women are happier if we create an environment where we can achieve success on our own terms.
As an aside, I believe that until we create a different kind of workplace that values talent more than a 70 hour work week, there will continue to be a talent drain of top level women. But for a woman deciding how to spend her energy right now, you have to deal with the current structure.
Any regrets? Yes. I wish I had been more fully present for both my children and my work. For the first decade of my children’s life, I worked part time as a consultant and business author. It sounds good in theory, the best of both worlds. But there were many times when I was out of town working, and I was worrying about my kids. Other times when I was with my kids, I thinking about work. I wish I had divided my brain a little better.
My daughters are now 19 and 14, they’re great people who I love to be around. My career is hitting new heights, and I’m still married to my first husband, So overall things turned out well. But if I had to do it all over again, I would spend more time appreciating the moment I was in, rather than worrying about the next one. I also wish I had dressed better when my kids were little. I was pretty frumpy for a full decade.
Advice for others: First, Have confidence in your ability to reinvent yourself. Deciding what to do now isn’t deciding what to do with the rest of your life. If you put your career on pause, or you take a high stakes job that takes you away from your family, you can always change your mind later.
Twenty years ago we didn’t know there would be a job called “web designer” or “social media expert.” You don’t know what the future holds for your life or your career. Have the confidence that you will adapt.
My other advice comes from Jackie Kennedy Onassis who said, “If you mess up your children, nothing else you do really matters.” This advice puts more pressure on you as a mother, but it’s also helped me keep my priorities straight.
People often equate mothering with nurturing and frankly, a lot of drudge work. Those elements are certainly present. But for me, the most important parts of parenting are strategic thinking and coaching. That means looking at the big picture, thinking about what is possible for this person, what kind of contribution can they make to the world, and then helping develop their character and talents accordingly.
Every woman wants the best for her family, the more clarity we have about what “the best” means to us, the happier we will be.
Learn more about McLeod at www.lisaearlemcleod.com.
“SCIENCE OF SINGLE” AUTHOR RACHEL MACHACEK
Who she is: Rachel Machacek is the author of the dating memoir, The Science of Single: One Woman’s Grand Experiment in Modern Dating, Creating Chemistry, and Finding Love. Careers in marketing, magazine publishing, and tourism have led her straight back to her desk at home to write full-time.
Can women have it all? What does “having it all” even mean? Surely this is a subjective sentiment. In the generalized context of our culture—where it can include leading businesses, nurturing families, and attending to community with a focus on perfection—it seems to involve superpowers that we as women (ahem, humans) were not built to sustain. So, no, women can’t have it all. And thank god for that. Because “having it all” the way I’ve heard it explained sounds terrible. However, women can have enough. Plenty, in fact. This would be achieved by focusing on the things and people that bring happiness, commitment to the things and people that will stand by us for years to come, and ceasing the “should-ing” on ourselves.
Do you have regrets? Sure. But then I remember I made those decisions based on what I knew then. And that’s okay. I learned. I think the worst regrets come from inaction due to fear of making the wrong decision or not doing it right. They’ve become frayed holes in my life fabric. But there are lessons in that, too.
Your advice to others: When the chaos of it all makes everything fuzzy and out of focus, close your eyes, breathe, breathe again (and again if you need to) and only then, move forward. And for the times that everything feels exactly right, sit and drink it in completely.
For more information about Machacek, visit www.rachelmachacek.com.
AUTHOR, HR, AND OUTPLACEMENT EXPERT SHARON ARMSTRONG
Who she is: Sharon Armstrong has more than 20 years of experience as the owner of Sharon Armstrong and Associates. She is a human resources consultant, trainer, and career counselor who consults with many large corporations and small businesses. She has facilitated training, completed HR projects, and provided career transition services for a wide variety of clients in the profit and nonprofit sectors. She is also the co-author of the The Essential HR Handbook.
Can women have it all? Having it all means creating balance (when possible) between personal and professional life. I don’t think anyone can achieve that balance all the time. That’s unrealistic. But with mindfulness and effort, you can reorder or prioritize things from time to time.
I don’t have children so I might have had an easier juggling act then others. There were years where work was my first priority and personal life suffered. Those close to me were understanding (I think), but I missed some events and opportunities to enjoy life more.
Any regrets? In the last year or so, I’ve realized that this work-first approach no longer works for me. Nowadays I’m turning down some assignments and planning more trips and outings. It feels great!
Advice for others: I’m not sure if it’s the stage in my work life or the Facebook messages from friends on their adventures or significant birthdays. But I’m embracing my new focus on balance. I don’t have it all yet—but I’m working on it.
For more information about Armstrong, visit www.sharonarmstrongandassociates.com.
HR EXPERT, AUTHOR, BARBARA MITCHELL
Who she is: Barbara Mitchell is a human resources and organization development consultant who is widely known in the areas of recruitment and retention. She has experience in both for-profit and nonprofit sectors and has consulted for a variety of organizations around the world. She served in senior human-resources leadership positions with Marriott International and several technology firms in the Washington, DC, area before co-founding the Millennium Group International, which she sold in 2008. Thereafter, she penned “The Essential HR Handbook,” with co-author Sharon Armstrong. In 2012, she published, “The Big Book of HR,” with co-author Cornelia Gamlem.
Can women have it all? My perspective may be different than some other women’s, since I have not had a family to consider as I made career choices. I know this has made my career path easier because when I made decisions, I pretty much only had to think of myself. But, yes, I do believe that women can have it all. The definition of what “it” is might be different at different times in our lives, but with dedication, determination, and not much sleep, we can do it!
Any regrets? Not really. I’ve taken advantage of pretty much every opportunity presented to me, even if it caused some sacrifice in my personal life. I’ve moved many times for my career and have enjoyed each place I’ve lived. I’ve had jobs where I traveled 90 percent of the time and, while that meant not much of a life at home, it was an excellent way to gain valuable experience. If I had it all to do again, the only change I might make is taking time to get an advanced degree, but I guess I got that on the job.
Advice for others: Find a career you are passionate about and take advantage of every seminar, class, cross-training, task force, or whatever is offered to you to gain experience. Find mentors inside and outside your field where you can go for reality checks. Build strong professional relationships with other women and support each other! Take time to give back to the community you live in. Select a significant other who values you for who you are—not what you can do for him or her. Treat everyone with respect and never stop giving thanks for the opportunities you’ve been given. Take time to feed your soul—whether in a spiritual sense or just taking time for yourself to paint, write, read, garden, hike, swim, or whatever is meaningful for you. And, above all, don’t take yourself so seriously!
Learn more about Mitchell and “The Big Book of HR” at www.bigbookofhr.com.
VIDEO ENTREPRENEUR ANDREA KEATING
Who she is: Andrea Keating founded Crews Control in 1988 as the first film-and-video-crew staffing agency. Since then, the company’s focus has been to match each client with the perfect local crew for each specific shoot. “That means we can offer our clients the quickest response time when they need to book a crew, and then provide the most dedicated customer service in the business,” she says.
Can women have it all? That is a phrase I’ve been hearing since I was in my early teens, when women entered the workforce in full force, and began bringing home the bacon and frying it up in a pan. I think the key line for me in that song from the 1980 perfume commercial is “‘cause I’m a woman.”
I also believe that “having it all” means different things for men and women. And my question is: Why does it have to be either/or or win/lose? Why can’t it be win/win?
For both men and women, it means picking the very best items to balance between work, family, time for self, time with friends—the list is endless and different for each and every one of us.
A few years ago I was having dinner with a friend, and we were lamenting our endless juggling acts: kids, careers, husbands, our own personal lives. We both had the ever-present feeling that we were letting something, or someone, down.
If we were working and our family was home we were letting family down, if we were home and work was not getting done, we were letting work down. But who was judging us? What we realized is that we were the ones both determining and measuring what “all” was, and we were our own harshest critics.
Any regrets? That’s a great question, because that’s one of the things we were working to assess. We each took a moment and outlined our “ideal life.” We defined the work/life balance between what was expected of us from work and what our work goals were, and those personal items that we yearned for. When we looked at the list, it wasn’t really that hard to figure out some solutions to make each item work.
And for the items that we were stuck on, we switched lists and became each other’s “life coach,” and problem-solving consultant. We left our dinner with a list of options we’d each explore. I must admit, some were absolutely ridiculous, but a few items could definitely be tweaked and improved on.
And the interesting thing to me was that our lists were similar in wanting balance but our “measurables” of having it all were very different. My check list of having it all did not match hers. I would not be happy with hers list—nor would she be happy with mine. But that didn’t really matter.
Advice for others: What matters is your own perception of what it means to “have it all.” Here’s my advice: Do not judge yourself against anyone else. Rather, assess your success based on your own, very personal goals. The key is to determine what your “all” is. I honestly believe that is the biggest obstacle for women—no matter if you are working as an office assistant or are heading up a million-dollar company. Having your “all” means achieving the type of success that means the world—to you.
For more information about Keating and her nearly 25-year-old international video staffing firm Crews Control, visit www.crewscontrol.com.
LIMOUSINE AND TRAVEL ENTREPRENEUR KRISTINA BOUWEIRI
Who she is: Kristina Bouweiri is president & CEO of the Washington, DC, metro area’s largest limousine, bus, and shuttle service, Reston Limousine and Travel Service, Inc., which is also among the top 10 largest shuttle-bus fleets in the country. Through collaboration with international providers, Reston Limousine offers its clients global transportation services.
Can women have it all? To me, having it all means having a career—and also having kids. I have four of them, in fact, so it’s incredibly important to me to find a way to incorporate a meaningful, fulfilling career—with a certain level of success—and being an engaged mother.
Granted, for the first five years that I was in business, I did not have kids. So I was able to work seven days a week, 16 hours a day, to build Reston Limousine. When I did have kids, my business was far along enough that I could scale back my hours, and work from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Fortunately, I have a strong support staff, which allows me to give my job 100 percent during the day, and give my kids 100 percent after business hours. I also have a full-time nanny who lives with us, so she handles the cooking and cleaning. And, I have an executive assistant at work who helps me with personal errands. To have it all, it takes a village. And I’m fortunate to be able to afford this luxury so that I can balance work and motherhood.
Any regrets? No. I do not have any regrets and would not have done anything differently.
Advice for others: I think the problem with trying to have it all is that you often feel guilty. If you are at work you feel as if you need to be home. If you are at home you feel as if you need to be at work. My advice is this: Having it all means doing the best you can to prioritize your time, and attend vital events for your family—and vital events for your career.
For more information about Bouweiri’s Reston Limousine, visit www.restonlimo.com.
WASHINGTON SAILING CAMP OWNER, EDUCATOR AMY ZANG
Who she is: As owner of the sailing school at Washington Sailing Marina since 1994 and sailing director since 1988, Amy Zang has successfully used the sport of sailing to teach lifelong lessons to diverse youth groups over the past 20 years. Amy is also a wife and a mom to two teenagers. During the school year, she is a teacher, university supervisor, and adjunct faculty member at George Mason University and Drexel University.
Can women have it all? My husband often asks with exasperation “why do you want to have it all?” He then takes a breath, and follows that comment with, “can’t you ever be satisfied?” To that I grin, and respond: “What I do is extremely important to me. I want to have a fulfilling career, and raise a family.” Then I keep grinning, and walk away.
Indeed, the whole package—the tight-knit family and successful career, is something that I have worked my entire life to achieve. But for me, that’s still not enough. I also want time to foster friendships that I value, and time to pursue my favorite pastimes. And, I have a passionate need for spontaneity.
I also want to be independent—and be taken care of. I want my freedom, but desire to be needed by my kids and husband, and my extended family. And still, I want them to easily let me take off for a “girls weekend.” I want to have big long-term and short-term goals, but they need to change as I grow and learn more about myself and the world.
And truthfully, I don’t think that any of that is asking for too much. After all, I am willing to do the work, to foster the relationships both professionally and personally, because in doing so I am building a life so that I can “have it all.”
Any regrets? Well, I believe woman can have it all—but it’s not easy. The bumps along the way constantly make me reevaluate who I am, what I should do differently, and how I am impacting the ones I love. I call that “monitoring and adjusting,” and I use that to guide me through every aspect of my life.
Advice for others: The motto for my sailing school is “You can’t change the wind, but you can adjust your sails.” I have found this philosophy easy to apply to just about every aspect in life. And, it works for almost everyone, in almost every situation.
So while my concept of “having it all” might change and evolve as I become who I am becoming, I believe I have come pretty close to having it all. I have a healthy balance in my life to do the things that I deem important. Who could ask for more than that?
For more information about Zang’s summer sailing camp, visit www.washingtonsailingmarina.com
THE BEDTIME NETWORK FOUNDER LISA MERCURIO
Who she is: With nearly two decades of entertainment business experience, Mercurio is credited with developing the media and multi-platform marketing strategies for a diverse array of projects and artists across varying genres. She co-founded the entertainment venture, Smash Arts in 2000 with business partner Cindy Bressler. The unique, New York-based company focuses on brand creation, the development of entertainment properties and management in the music, television and lifestyle sectors. Clients have included Warner Bros., Sony Wonder, and pianist Leon Fleisher.
Can women have it all? “Having it all …” While it once meant having a satisfying career and a fulfilling family life simultaneously, I believe now that truly “having it all” would be better defined by discovering your personal happiness. I’ve always been someone who took to heart the view, “you can have it all, but not all at once,” as it was my experience.
Setting oneself up for “happiness,” by means of achievement rather than fulfillment is a limited proposition in and of itself. So, to answer this question, I would say that you can certainly have happiness, but if it’s defined by achievement rather than fulfillment, chances are that it’s not possible in a given day/month/year, and that goes for men as well as women.
After my twins were born, I struggled for more than half a decade in a corporate job in a senior vice president position. I never felt like I had enough time for them as babies. I would rush home at 7:30 p.m. (imagine: that hour felt like an early time to leave the office), I traveled entirely too much, and I always felt like I had to watch my back in the office. I was on the edge.
At this point in my life, I run my own company, with my business partner (we are co-founders), and I have a lot of freedom. I live and die by my own sword (both financially and decision-wise), but if I want to leave the office to see someone play volleyball or appear in a school play, I can do it. I am also an avid marathon runner. I put my health and fitness first, because if I cannot be good to me, I cannot be good to anyone, and besides, I do some of my best thinking out on the open road. I am married to the love of my life, and I have rich and rewarding relationships around me. Have it all? You bet! I’m happy.
Any regrets? Fortunately, no. I believe that your life is a path, a process, and that you are given certain opportunities and that they have to be assessed along the way. Would it have been easier if I hadn’t had to get divorced when my children were infants? Of course, but that process ultimately led me to greater personal happiness and ultimately, to the man of my dreams. He has been the sole supporter of my professional life, and that’s a gift that’s greater than words can say.
Advice for others: I think women (especially) need to remember two main points as they move forward. The first one is that the greatest gift you possess is the ability to evolve, to develop yourself both personally and professionally.
Sometimes the trappings of life and employment can put a woman into a “box” from which she feels she cannot escape. This can be very damaging and years can be wasted in despair or depression. But, if you remember that the process of evolving can lead to greater happiness, you can use that energy and find greater fulfillment.
The second item is that you shouldn’t be afraid to move on to a different career. I’m on my fourth. None of us was meant to do one thing and one thing only. While music has certainly been a connective force in my life (my first career choice was to become a concert pianist!), I have found other rewarding opportunities along the way.
For more information about Mercurio, visit www.bedtimenetwork.com.
SENIOR CORPORATE COUNSEL BY DAY, FOUNDER GARDEN U BY NIGHT, STEPHANIE BHONSLAY
Who she is: “Why not start a gardening business that will provide personal garden coaching to people who want to experience the joy of gardening on their own, but don’t have the knowledge or confidence to begin or expand their existing gardens?” asks entrepreneur Stephanie Bhonslay, founder of Garden U. When she is not proudly tending her own New York City terrace garden, she practices law in New York City, where she lives with her husband and two children.
Can women have it all? As a stressed-out, New York City attorney pushing 50 with two teenage kids, no babysitter, a gardening business on the side that does not get as much attention as it should (and therefore doesn’t make as much money as it could), with a Phi Beta Kappa lawyer/businessman husband who has had four (or is it five?) finance jobs in the last four years, a mother-in-law with Alzheimer’s, a house in the country we can’t sell (and can’t afford), and no disposable income for a facial tuck or Botox, blah, blah, blah … I still answer YES!!!!!! YES???? Yes! I have it all, and so do you.
How do I know this? If you’re like me, at the end of a long day at work, you get to come home and help your kids with their homework, share a family dinner (who doesn’t love leftovers?), say “sweet dreams” to them as you sprint with your wine glass to the couch to hang out with your husband for an hour and muffle your laughter as you watch a sex scene on an inappropriate TV show. That’s good stuff. What’s even better is leaving work to watch a school play (even when you have no personal days left), sparing 10 minutes for a phone call with your best friend, taking a weekly trip to the gym or nail salon—and clearly recognizing how wonderful your life is.
Any regrets? I did—until I decided to look at my life from a different angle. I used to feel underappreciated, frustrated, and pretty darn miserable. Then, I took a look at all I did from the outside. Now, I cannot tell you the amount of gratitude I have for my life, because I have come to appreciate all I do. Rather than thinking about the hellish experiences my days can bring—with the kids, my pressure-cooker day job, my spouse—I step back and chuckle to myself because as crazy as it feels, I’m doing it!
And even though my husband may never fully understand the juggling act I have perfected, I know that deep down he would if he could. Ditto for the kids. And I’m just downright thankful for my boss, because I have a great job, a nice paycheck, and he’s got my back. These are all gifts.
Advice for others: As long as your day and night has the insane, chaotic, dissonant, unpredictable, challenging, inspiring, belly laughing, hanging-on-by-your-toenails feeling—you are feeling the rhythm of life. You have it all.
Learn more about Bhonslay and her company, Garden U, at www.gardenu.net.
EXECUTIVE COACH AND CHANGE-MANAGEMENT EXPERT PAMELA GODWIN
Who she is: Pamela Godwin is president of Change Partners, Inc., an executive coaching and changepmanagement consulting firm. Previously, she was president and COO of GMAC Insurance Personal Lines-Agency Division. Godwin is a director of Unum Group (NYSE), where she serves on the Governance and Finance committees. She is a 2011 NACD (National Association of Corporate Directors) Board Leadership Fellow.
Can women have it all? A resounding yes! We just can’t have it all all of the time or all at once. We have to make choices. The good news is we have a much larger portfolio of options to choose from these days. The bad news is that it’s always harder to choose from more options than fewer options. We need to be conscious of the choices we’re making, so that we don’t make them by default. And, that’s a challenge because the demands of the various roles in our lives are coming at us at such a rapid pace that it’s easy just to react instead of taking a step back to reflect and choose how to use our time, talent, energy, and heart.
To make the choices we’re confronted with, we each have to define what “having it all” means to us as an individual. That has to be answered very personally. This is an “inside-out” view, not an “outside-in view.” It’s not gender driven, in my view. It’s about being human. The gender piece (and it’s big!) comes externally from what society in general and our communities, families, etc., expect from us. If we can identify what having it all means to us as individuals, we can make it happen over time. It’s not a “once and done” event, though. And it’s not about what others’ expect from us; it’s about what we expect from ourselves. It’s a process. It evolves. It’s an adventure.
Any regrets? I don’t have any major regrets. But I certainly have had plenty of minor regrets over the years, because I am a far from perfect human being! We’re such driven creatures. We want to be the perfect mother, wife, boss, colleague, community contributor, model of health and well-being. Not going to happen.
Over the years, I’ve learned to be less hard on myself and to include myself among the people I need to take care of … physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Back in December 2006, I read a Wall Street Journal article by Daniel Akst on New Year’s resolutions. I’ll never forget this line from his article: “Perhaps the best strategy is to think of yourself not as one person but as many, only separated by time.”
How cool is that? As long as I can continue to learn from my mistakes, I can be someone stronger and smarter tomorrow! I really do think of that when I’ve made the wrong call on something.
Advice for others: We wouldn’t build a business without clearly defining our vision, strategy, and operating plan. And we make sure we develop the resources and support system to execute successfully. But so often, we don’t build that support for ourselves.
When I was returning to work after the birth of our son in 1978, I was in a major struggle with myself. I had searched high and low for the best possible caregiver to take care of our son while we were at work. And I found someone wonderful. … So I was insanely jealous of her and sure that my son would love her so much that he wouldn’t have nearly enough love left for me. I was very upset and talking with my late mother about this, who said to me, “Now let me get this straight. You’re acting as if love is a finite element, as if your child has a finite amount of love to give. You’re acting as if when he gives some love to others, it leaves less for you … he’s taken a slice out of your love pie! The truth is that a child has an infinite amount of love to give. And when he learns to love other people, he increases his capacity to love. He’ll love you more and he will love many others.”
What a lesson! And, we know that that is true about so many of the good things in life. The more you give, the more you have. The more you change, the more you can change. The more power you share, the more power you have. The more knowledge you share, the more it grows, and so on. So, learning to seek and accept help, to spend as much time accessing needed resources in my personal life and seeking and accepting counsel in my personal life, is a very important skill set that I had to develop.
The second piece of advice comes back to an element that is not infinite for individuals, and that is time. It does go so quickly and we can’t be all things to all people.
We have to choose what is going to tap into our own best selves and our own best energy. If we let others define what “having it all” is, we may never find fulfillment and true growth. We, ourselves, are the only good judge of what’s good for us. I love what Eleanor Roosevelt said: “Do what you feel in your heart to be right—you’ll be criticized anyway.”
My best advice (to myself and others!) is: Take risks, fall down, get up, move on. It all builds muscle, and it’s fun!
Learn more about Godwin and ChangePartners, Inc. at www.changepartnersofpa.com.
HOUSE OF STEEP FOUNDER LYNDSEY DE PALMA
Who she is: Following her interests and taking flight from a corporate career, Lyndsey Clutteur DePalma has founded House of Steep, which promotes health and relaxation in the metropolitan area of Washington, DC. House of Steep is a tea house and foot sanctuary where patrons soak in the benefits of tea and herbal foot baths, disconnecting from their days while reconnecting with their natural selves. Armed with an appreciation for tea and herbs, a certification in reflexology, and an MBA, Lyndsey learned the business of restaurants, spas, and small start-ups. Eighteen months after leaving her professional career as an HR manager, she has opened her first store and aims to open several more locations in the next five years. “You can never have too much of a good thing,” she says, and a really “good thing” is exactly how she views House of Steep’s brand and offerings.
Can women have it all? An emphatic yes! I think a lot of us define “it all” differently, but to me, having all of life’s offerings isn’t usually too far out of reach, depending on how we define our fulfillment. Therefore, it really doesn’t matter who we are—if we can imagine it, it is within reach.
If we still want more, setting our intention on having it (and being very specific about what “it” is) is the first step. Setting our sights on the outcome will help our actions align with our goals. Beyond this, a little support can do a gal some good. We think we can do it all (and we can), but a little help can, in turn, help us to achieve even more. So surrounding yourself with supportive people can carry you far.
Lastly, setting a timeline is helpful for the things we can influence, but sometimes it’s the timing that we can’t necessarily will our way. This is what I’d say is the biggest hurdle: patience … and awareness that “it” might already be closer than we realize.
Any regrets? Never. Just lessons.
Advice for others: Borrowing from another female entrepreneur I met early on, surround yourself with like-minded people. Always. Sure the “others” can offer you perspective, but the ones who understand, can help brainstorm your vision (or goals, in this case), and offer advice that makes sense to you, is crucial.
For more information about Lyndsey and the House of Steep, visit www.houseofsteep.com.
WOMEN’S NETWORKING DIVA, CYNTHIA DE LORENZI
Who she is: As chief executive officer of Success in the City, Cynthia de Lorenzi leads an unconventional professional networking organization for senior-level executive businesswomen. Her mission is to foster valuable peer relationships and friendships among their community of thousands of followers. Washington Business Journal selected her as one of the top 25 “Women Who Mean Business” in 2006, SmartCEO magazine awarded her the BRAVA award in 2009, and she was awarded SmartCEO’s Circle of Excellence by her peers as well as recognized by Enterprising Women in 2010.
Can women have it all? Today’s woman is confident, educated, in greater numbers than ever before, surpassing the number of men who are graduating today. She knows she can make a difference for herself and her family.
Can we have it all? Of course we/she/he can have it all! But as I really pondered this question and considered our humanness, inquisitiveness, hunger, passion, burning desires, I wondered if we are really ever satisfied, even when we do have it all. Think about women and men, those whose names we readily recognize, who have accomplished much, achieved amazing success, and accumulated great wealth, obviously having it all. Like Angelina Jolie who possesses great beauty, abundant wealth, stardom, six beautiful children, a beautiful life partner; or Donald Trump, and his wealth, power, and fame, or Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Mobile, Virgin Airlines, who enjoys vacations on his very own private island.
What is amazing is that each one of these individuals and their counterparts could simply retire, never work again, and live a life of ease and comfort, watching the days of their lives slip idly by. But none of them is doing that. Angelina Jolie promotes humanitarian causes and is noted for her work with refugees as a special envoy and former goodwill ambassador for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Bill Gates, one of the world’s wealthiest men, has pursued a number of philanthropic endeavors, donating large amounts of money to various charitable organizations and scientific research programs through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, established in 2000. Richard Branson has his head and heart in space, working on taking us beyond the skies and into the stars.
Even if we achieve what we traditionally consider great success and all that goes with it, there is often that something, perhaps it’s a restlessness or a sense of incompleteness, that awakens and begins to drive us. It is something nudging us to take heed and reach deep within ourselves in an attempt to discover and act on a special personal gift that is uniquely our own. Once found, our purpose calls on us to propel it beyond ourselves, out into the world, leaving a legacy that we passed through here in time and space.
Any regrets? Of course there are regrets—and hopefully we use those as teachable and learning moments. The greatest regret though is not to discover, own, embrace, and act on that special gift that defines our uniqueness! It is living in our passion that makes us be the best of ourselves. The greatest regrets are those of the dreams that we fail to act on.
Advice for others: Life is intended to be lived full-on, tasted, tested, lived-well, savored, relished, and shared. Take, embrace, love it, and let a sense of dissatisfaction or unsettled desire spur you own to find and share your special gift with the world!
For more information about de Lorenzi, visit www.successinthecity.org.
LISA STEIN, FOUNDER, FREELANCEMOM.COM
Who she is: Lisa Stein is the owner of FreelanceMom.com, a business and community resource for moms and women. She teaches and mentors college students at Brookhaven College School of Business, and is mom to a 2-year-old daughter, Gabriela. Lisa’s superpower is her ability to find humor in any situation.
Can women have it all? Does having it all mean having no stress, and being home with your children M-F? If that’s your choice, does it mean you still get to shop at Whole Foods and send your child to private school? Does it mean having your dream job, and being able to be with your kids at any time you choose? Then, no.
Any regrets? Not at all. I consider myself very lucky, because I am able to work from home, and be with my daughter when I want. Whole Foods and private school? We can live without those luxuries. I know that I am contributing income to my family, and I am intellectually stimulated. This is only possible because I have a supportive husband, and the resources to afford some childcare. If any of those elements were missing, I would have to make different choices.
Advice for others: I suggest we all take the word sacrifice out of our vocabulary, and get comfortable this idea that life is good when we get to make choices. And ask yourself: How much money do you really need? What can you do today to set yourself up to have more freedom in your day? If you are a single mom, it’s a different story. But for those of us who have someone to depend on—financially and emotionally—we have a luxury better than gourmet groceries and fancy schools. We get to choose what we want in life—and go after it.
For more information about Lisa, visit www.freelancemom.com.
FUTURIST KRISTIN NAUTH
Who she is: Kristin Nauth is a partner in Foresight Alliance, a futures-oriented consulting company based in Washington, DC, that helps organizations apply the power of strategic foresight. She specializes in taking a global view of trends and events and exploring how they are likely to impact societies, organizations, and individuals. Nauth has written extensively about women’s futures both in the developed world and in emerging markets and, based on her research, believes that women globally are poised for new levels of economic and societal influence and contribution.
Can women have it all? It’s a deep and complex question. I’m going to address it from the perspective of personal fulfillment: I think, as individuals, women can “have it all” if we define that as a life focused on contribution, strong relationships, and continual learning and growth. While we’re all unique, keeping those three priorities at the center of our decision-making can help us ensure that everything we do leads toward a deeply engaged, deeply meaningful life. We need to keep our eyes on the real prizes, and pare away the trivia that doesn’t support them.
By the way, the focus on learning is particularly crucial. The great futurist Bucky Fuller used to say that learning itself is a form of wealth, and that every experience, however painful or unwanted, can be a net gain if you are able to learn from it. So when the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune catch us in mid-stride, as they are so wont to do, we always have the choice to turn it into new knowledge, wisdom, and strength.
I don’t at all intend to downplay the unique challenges women face in balancing family and career. I believe, and many recent examples bear this out, that women working together for the common good may be one of the greatest untapped sources of energy and innovation on the planet. Rather than trying to fit our multidimensional lives into models that were—let’s be honest—created mostly by men to meet industrial-era goals, we need to create new models: ones that are rooted from the start in a holistic “systems” view that addresses the needs of all stakeholders. Children’s well-being should be as high a priority, across society, as company profits.
Our problems are solvable, but to be sustainable, the solutions must be devised at a systems level. And I think that over the next generation or so, women will be instrumental in pushing this view.
Any regrets? I’m an inherently shy person, which has been challenging at times and has cost me some valuable opportunities, especially when I was starting out. I think my shyness sets me apart from a lot of successful women. But I’ve learned from these experiences and worked hard to overcome my shortcomings. These days I feel incredibly blessed by the multitude of opportunities open to me at both the personal and professional level—opportunities to contribute, grow, and forge great relationships with people whom I enjoy and respect. So, all of you shy women out there—you can do it! Feel free to contact me if you’d like to talk about it. We need your voice.
Advice for others: Positive psychology is an emerging field that applies the insights of neuroscience to the question of how people flourish. Unlike most traditional psychology, it’s evidence-based and full of practical ideas anyone can apply immediately to start shaping a happier, more gratifying life. People often feel better just reading about it! I highly recommend that women check out the multitude of free, online resources about positive psychology—even just an hour of investigation can give you ideas for lasting benefit.
Learn more about Kristin and Foresight Alliance, at www.foresightalliance.com.
BRANDING STRATEGIST ROCHELLE MOULTON
Who she is: Rochelle Moulton is a personal-brand strategist who has spent her career creating rock stars—not the obvious ones, who scream so loud you can’t ignore them—but the ones who have a genuine spark that simply needs a little stoking. She makes authors, artists, and experts unforgettable.
Can women have it all? Life is about choices. Our best choices honor—at the deepest level—who we are and who we want to be. So “having it all” becomes such an individual definition. Can you be the stereotypical cookie-baking, knee-kissing mom and the CEO of say, IBM? I doubt it. But can you be a great mom and have a kick-ass career? Youbetcha.
Just don’t look to me to be the example. I skipped the having kids part and ditched the big corporate career for a more fulfilling (to me) entrepreneurial life. But when I met my Mr. Right later in life, he came with two grown boys I adore as my own. Traditional? No. Have it all? Heck, yes.
Do you have regrets? Regrets on life choices are for sissies. I have learned more through my own bone-headed decisions than I ever could have had I chosen the (in hindsight) wiser option. My only regrets are when I’ve hurt people whom I shouldn’t have—I detest when I’ve been a jerk.
Your advice to others: Make the big, bold choices that you can’t let go. And make the small moves that whisper to you. Just remember it isn’t about balance. Balance is a myth. It’s about what you need to feel alive and contributing.
That said, few of us are meant to have just one, straight career path. I think I’m on my fourth or fifth and shudder to think where I’d be had I said no to some risky choices. So do your homework, but make the choices that reflect what matters most to you. That’s the path to having it all.
For more information about Moulton, visit http://rochellemoulton.com.
FINANCIAL PLANNER RITA CHENG, PRESIDENT, Financial Planning Association of the National Capital Area
Who she is: A Certified Financial PlannerTM based in Bethesda, MD, Rita Cheng works with individuals and families to help them identify, clarify, and quantify their financial goals and objectives. Through her personalized approach, she educates and empowers her clients to plan for their personal financial future. She proudly serves as a CFP board ambassador to help raise awareness in the public at large, the media, and among policymakers about the benefits of competent, ethical financial planning. Since January 2012, she has been the president of the Financial Planning Association of the National Capital Area.
Can women have it all? Well, it kind of depends. But even as I write that, I smile to myself because my teenage daughter would cringe and remark, “Mom, there’s no ‘kinda.’ You can’t be kinda pregnant. You either are or you aren’t.”
Truthfully, I do believe that women can “have it all.” But that definition changes as we evolve. And, my experience juggling my responsibilities as a daughter, wife, mother, caregiver, professional, and small-business owner as a financial planner at Ameriprise has helped me strive for balance instead of perfection. Having control over my schedule is the only way that I personally can achieve a balance between caring for my career and my family.
Any regrets? As women, I think we are particularly hard on ourselves. But then, we are so easily influenced by external feedback. For instance, when my children were young (3 and 1), a male supervisor commented, “Rita, if you worked closer to 60 hours per week, imagine how much money you would make!” I remember shrugging. Did he realize the sacrifice I’d be making if I chose financial gain over being with my children? I do not regret my choice. But I do regret the fact that his influence made me question my choices. How many women have the same conflict? And how many men make the same choices as we do?
Advice for others: I define success by achieving balance in all of the areas of my life. As a CFP® professional, and as a mother. My goal is to provide for them, while providing for myself as the career woman I want to be. But I would be remiss to focus only on myself. My children—and all children—are the future of our country; I want to do my part to raise confident, compassionate, creative individuals who will make a contribution as professionals, and as parents. So I do believe women can have it all—but it must be on our terms.
*For more information about Cheng, visit www.ameripriseadvisors.com/marguerita.m.cheng.
WRITER, EDITOR KATHLEEN McCARTHY
Who she is: A freelance editor and writer in the mental health field for the last 20 years, Kathleen McCarthy is the senior editor for Be Inkandescent magazine, and also writes the magazine’s Parenting column. Her freelance clients have included government agencies, corporations, and universities. She has also worked for several nonprofit associations. A deadline fanatic, McCarthy is zealous about the virtues of the serial comma and admires writers who can translate dense topics into artful prose.
Can women have it all? This question makes me cranky. I want to say, “Yes, of course! We’ve come so far; women can do anything!” But my gut response is much less “hear me roar,” and much more practical. The answer I keep coming back to is, “Yes, but not all at once.” Or alternatively, “Yes, if raising kids is off the table.”
And even that “yes” is qualified. Women who opt for the non-parenting track still have to fight hard for equal pay, promotions, and recognition. Add children into the “wants” column, though, and the high-powered positions with “what’s-a-weekend?” schedules don’t mesh well. There is a middle ground—part-time professional work—but it’s a territory that remains frustratingly uncharted, or if it has been mapped, the cartographers haven’t posted it online.
Every woman I know who became a mother and didn’t choose to be either a full-time employee or stay-at-home mom has had to craft a unique, part-time employee or contractor relationship. There’s just no built-in institutional support or infrastructure in the professional workplace for anything except full-time work.
When I think about this question with my Zen vibe thrumming, however, I’m cheered by the possibilities of self-determination. I’ve worked part-time running my freelance editorial business from my home office for years, and have loved the flexibility it’s given me, and the wardrobe challenges it’s relieved me of.
My schedule has also had the unanticipated benefit of making me appreciate both facets of my life more than I might have, had I chosen either full-time work or full-time motherhood. On days when work has been frustrating or unsatisfying, I’ve been so grateful to come downstairs at the end of the day to hugs and a happy homelife. Alternately, after a chaotic, stressful day parenting three children, I have thoroughly appreciated ascending the stairs and morphing into my productive, professional persona.
Any regrets? Working part-time, and for myself, has given me the balance I sought between work and home, admittedly at the expense of a meteoric career trajectory. But that was never my goal anyway.
Advice for others: I don’t think women can’t have it all—if “all” means being fully devoted to career and family—at the same time. But then, I don’t think men can, either. I want meaningful, interesting, reasonably paid work. And I want to have a rich home life—an intimate relationship with my husband, meaningful connections with my children, close friends, time for Jazzercize—and time now and then to read a novel in the afternoon. That’s the “all” that I’ve found attainable, and deeply satisfying.
For more information about McCarthy, check our her Parenting column: beinkandescent.com.
SUN & MOON YOGA STUDIO DIRECTOR, YOGA TEACHER, ANNIE MOYER
Who she is: Annie Moyer found her calling to be a teacher in the high school English classroom, and then as a teacher on the yoga mat for the last 10 years. As the Director of Sun & Moon Yoga Studio in Northern Virginia, Moyer manages two large yoga studios with more than 50 teachers, 120 classes per week, and 1,200+ students. She teaches her own weekly classes, sees clients privately for yoga therapeutics, teaches a Philosophy of Yoga class in a local public high school, and is the mom of twin middle school girls.
Can women have it all? Absolutely, but …if you define “having it all” as having a fulfilling career, a well cared-for family and intimate partner and friends, a full and exciting social life, a nice home, and all the instruments of comfort and luxury, then there’s a critical piece missing.
If the “all” depends entirely on external circumstances, none of which we can ultimately control, then we’re setting ourselves up for failure and loss. My definition of “having it all” is believing, on a true and deep level, that if everything about your life changed tomorrow, you’d still be o.k. I believe the “all” that really counts is a connection to an inner light of awareness that shines brightly no matter the emotional, physical, social, and economic weather.
In all the ancient Eastern traditions, we are reminded of the truth of impermanence, the lesson of non-attachment to the things are are guaranteed to change sooner or later, and the blessing of true and abiding love that comes from a divine inner quiet that stays with us our whole lives. We already have it “all,” we simply forget where to look for it.
Any regrets? I’ve certainly made many mistakes, but for each one, there’s been incredible lessons learned, and as they increase in number, they intensify in depth. It’s too easy to read in a book, or be told by another, what’s the right way and what isn’t, but until we stumble and hurt and cry and ache, I don’t think we really learn anything of value. So no, no regrets!
Advice for others: Breathe deeply. Drink a ton of water every day. Find ways on a regular basis in your work and in your leisure to use both sides of your brain – do math and make art; read books and go for walks; be with others and be by yourself. Don’t begin to imagine that you know what’s going on in someone else’s life, and cut them slack for all that you don’t know or can’t understand about their own path – this is how we plant seeds of kindness and compassion. When you catch yourself judging others, work your way back around to a recognition that deep in the heart of their being, you are just like them and they are just like you.
For more information about Annie Moyer and Sun & Moon Yoga Studio, visit www.sunandmoonstudio.com.
EXECUTIVE COACH, AUTHOR, LAURA BERGER
Who she is: A certified executive coach and founder of Berdéo Group, Berger has counseled business leaders for 15 years at Fortune 500 companies, including JP Morgan Chase, Leo Burnett Worldwide, American Hospital Association, Starcom MediaVest Group, The Walt Disney World Company, and Big Brothers Big Sisters.
Can women have it all? When I compare myself to society’s definition of having it all, I come up short. I do not have children, I walked away from a six-figure salary, and I rent a modest condo. Both women and men have judged me on my choices, and I have been asked too many times why I don’t have children, why I would walk away from corporate “success,” and why I am not looking to buy a home—especially now that interest rates are so low.
Yet, most of the time, I feel as if I do in fact have it all. When I am living a life true to myself, and not the expectation of others, I am fulfilled. One of my core values is exploration, which acts as my compass when making decisions—hence the reason I chose to leave my job to start a remote business in 2005, and decided to rent verses buy. This lifestyle creates flexibility and freedom to explore new avenues and places.
Any regrets? Granted, about 25 percent of the time I do not feel that I have it all. But that is usually when I am trying to be everything to everyone. Guilt, a feeling of scarcity, and a desire to seek others’ approval seem to be the culprits. Instead of aligning myself with my core values, I am focusing on what others expect of me and noticing the “shoulds” in my life—I should be doing more, I should have more money in the account, should be going to the gym more, should have more clients, should be more attentive to my husband, and should spend more time with friends and family.
Advice for others: Ask yourself the question: “What determines your success?” I recently asked a colleague this question, and she said, “Success to me is being able to work, and to be a good mom. But I am not the kind of mom who wants to be with my kids all day. I enjoy my work, and I want time for myself.”
So what prevents her from feeling successful (having it all)? The guilt. But my colleague has learned to manage it. When she is with her children, she is 100 percent committed to them, and grateful for those precious moments. When she carves out moments to herself, she takes time to focus on gratitude, and when working with clients she expresses her appreciation of them and delivers stellar services. Is she exhausted? At times, sure, but not as exhausted as she would be if she were trying to be someone she wasn’t.
*For more information about Berger and the Berdéo Group, visit www.berdeogroup.com.
REAL ESTATE BROKER, REIKI MASTER, EDUCATOR, BARBARA BALSAMO
Who she is: A veteran realtor, Barbara Balsamo works with buyers and sellers in residential real estate. She co-owns Realty Investment Company with her husband, Shep Saltzman. They also own Vienna Complementary Medicine, where Barbara is a Reiki master, and holistic esthetician who performs state-of-the-art facial rejuvenation.
Can women have it all? Maybe. But what I defined as “having it all” 10 years ago differs dramatically from my definition today. My primary commitment has always been my family, especially parenting, and I have tried to keep my actions consistent with that commitment.
Any regrets? Did my commitment result in fewer pairs of shoes and earnings? Absolutely. Do I regret my choices? Absolutely not!
Advice for others: Know what you want. Be consistent with your choices, and never look back. When you do, you will have a smile on your face and peace in your heart.
BUSINESS CONSULTANT, AUTHOR, JANE LOVAS
Who she is: Jane Lovas, the author of “Put Your Big-Girl Panties on and Kick Your Fears in the Ass,” is a business consultant who has worked with Booz Allen Hamilton Inc., Washington Mutual Inc., Fannie Mae, Nextel Communications, and XO Communications.
Can women have it all? One of the biggest challenges I’ve had is being clear about what things are most important for me. When I was high school, I knew there were some things I didn’t want in my life, so I ended up making decisions that removed those things from my life. What I didn’t do was look ahead and say “this is who I’d like to be,” and “this is what I’d like to do.” Admittedly, that helped me take advantage of a variety of opportunities that I might not have taken if I had put myself on a specific path.
Any regrets? When I was little I wanted to be a nurse, then I decided I wanted to be a social worker. By the time I graduated from college, I was involved with computers, and then I got a master’s degree, married an Air Force pilot, and moved all over the country with our three daughters. I worked, started to write books, and became a consultant. Was this the life I would have chosen if I had planned it? Not exactly, and yet it contains most of the things that are most important to me.
Advice for others: Spend time finding out who you are, and what is most important to you. It’s not just about what you want to do—it’s about who you want to be. When you are clear about that, you not only can have it all—you do have it all, because your life is feeding your soul.
For more information about Lovas, visit www.lovasconsulting.com.
MEDIA PERSONALITY GLENNETA GRIFFIN
Who she is: In addition to conducting celebrity interviews and hosting red-carpet events, GlenNeta Griffin appeared on Country Music Television’s reality show, “Cheerleader Again,” competing against nine other former cheerleaders for a $50,000 prize. She is the author of “Taking Back the Woman in Me.”
Can women have it all? Absolutely! Women are the backbone of the family and the glue that holds it all together. We are amazing creatures when it comes to multitasking. We are strong, independent, and most of us know when to step back and allow the man to take the lead. With proper balance in our lives, we can conquer the world.
Do you have regrets? Not at all. Everything that I have experienced in my life has contributed to molding me into the woman I am today. I embrace the shortfalls and obstacles that have come my way because they have made me stronger.
Your advice to others: Push through the pain. Life is just a big test to see how bad you want it. Whether it’s success in your career or family, hard work will pay off. Never take a down period as a “no.” Those are times to prep ourselves for what’s next. Take care of your body and your mind and never stop perfecting your craft, whatever that may be. Life is too short. Don’t settle. You really do deserve the world.
For more information about Griffin, visit www.positivepresspr.com.
1960s ROCK-ART ICON DAVID BYRD
Who he is: David Byrd’s artwork has graced the posters of the hottest rock bands of the era—including Jimi Hendrix, Jefferson Airplane, The Who, and their rock opera, “Tommy,” Traffic, Iron Butterfly, Ravi Shankar, and the Grateful Dead. In the 80s, Bryd worked on the Van Halen World Tour, and became a regular contributor of covers for “TV Guide” magazine. In 1991, Byrd became the senior illustrator at Warner Bros. and crafted art for Looney Tunes, “Friends,” “Scooby Doo,” and “Harry Potter.”
Can women have it all? This is such a deeply philosophical question that is being asked by a society that is not only Darwinian, but also extremely patriarchal. It has been for eons of time, so what can one say?
As a gay man, now in his 70s, I am highly aware of this biologically rigged game. I realize that many heterosexual men have always thought of a homosexual male as a man that is a half-woman (a girly man). And what possibly could be lower than a real woman (that damned vessel of unholiness) other than a “fake woman”?
Add to that the fact that I am an artist, one who is also a feminist. I feel that the ability for women to achieve a balance between work and family is improving over time, just as it is with gay rights. But my feeling is that it is still a game that is rigged toward heterosexual white males. Courage, Gals.
I learned over time to put the emphasis on the journey, not the outcome. Of course, though we live in a society that puts the emphasis on the fact that “you are what you achieve.” I am here to tell you: This is the road to unhappiness. When I was teaching at Pratt Institute I always told my students to “be alive to the process, because the end product, however beautiful, is the doo-doo of the process.” Perhaps a bit Freudian, but for me, it was the ultimate truth.
Any regrets? Regrets are pretty useless. But I wish I would have learned something about finances, which I was never encouraged to do in The Beaux Arts Academy, where they frowned on money and selling-out to the dastardly commercial realm. Alas. I could have been a very wealthy man.
Advice for others: Be very generous with your knowledge—to all those who deserve it. Find a soul-mate to be your buddy and best-est friend (I have been with the same man for 30 years, and we are both artists). Know there are ups and downs in life (corny perhaps), but please pay attention to “THE JOURNEY.” It is all so evanescent.
For more information about Byrd, visit www.david-edward-byrd.com.
WRITER, EDITOR, AUTHOR TONY REICHHARDT
Who he is: Tony Reichhardt is a senior editor at the Smithsonian’s Air & Space magazine, and creator of “Space Shuttle: The First 20 Years—The Astronauts’ Experiences in Their Own Words.” He lives in Fredericksburg, Virginia, with his wife and three teenage daughters.
Can women have it all? Defining that concept seems one of our main tasks in life—to find out what it is we want for ourselves and, often times, for our loved ones. And those two wants may compete, or at least require tradeoffs.
If you’re a thinking adult, defining “having it all” as just a higher salary or a more exalted job title seems shallow, even sad.
The only reason I can think of why this is considered more of a “problem” for women than for men is that many American men—conditioned to always take the higher salary or promotion, no matter the psychic cost—are too unimaginative to consider the whole problem. Maybe women, who culturally and historically have lived more outside of the marketplace, in the world of child-rearing, see a bigger picture.
A Buddhist might answer that the best way to have it all is to reduce your list of wants.
To quote Bono: “What you don’t have, you don’t need it now.” Of course, I still think it’s okay to strive for a little more, for limited times or specific goals, as long as the striving doesn’t ruin your life.
Any regrets? Nothing big. Lots of little things, most of which I’ve either forgotten or would be better off forgetting.
Advice for others: Don’t put too much stock in other people’s advice. Really.
FUTURIST DEREK WOODGATE
Who she is: A practicing futurist, author, speaker, and innovator, Derek Woodgate is president of The Futures Lab, a futures-based consultancy based in Atlanta, with six satellite offices around the world. The Futures Lab specializes in creating future potential for major corporations and institutions, especially in the fields of entertainment, media, culture, and new communities.
Can women have it all? Well, clearly “all” is a relative concept that deserves its own treatise. However, considered from the general, loose meaning, I would like to answer “yes’ with a degree of qualification. First, I have for a while now fought against gender labels. I was a second-wave feminist supporter and a Judith Butler fan, particularly since I met my wife, Mary. Mary studied Women’s and Gender Studies at Oglethorpe University, and was founder and president of the Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance there for three years.
Now after earning two master’s degrees, Mary is in a PhD program at Georgia State, proving to me, and the world, just what can be achieved despite hardships during childhood and throughout her student life. Data demonstrates that women in the United States still do not have equality on many levels, but as we move forward, the workplace and many jobs actually have begun to favor women for their caring qualities, attention to detail, and academic prowess. Women are now gaining greater levels of representation in higher education and in growing and emerging professions.
My ex-wife, who is mother of my daughter and stepmother to my son, and with whom I still have an excellent relationship, is a maxillofacial surgeon. I watched her have to fight her way through what at the time was a male-dominated profession. She chose to be herself, demonstrate her enormous skills, and maintain her values while garnering considerable respect from her peers and directors.
Having it all is a personal, subjective concept that in my thinking is much more than professional achievement or family management and development. It ultimately resonates in personal fulfillment, even self-extension, by taking ourselves to levels we never would have anticipated. I regularly ask myself what the 10 most exciting, memorable, fulfilling moments are in my life. My answers help determine who I really am and who I want to become.
Do you have regrets? I have always said I have no regrets, except when I drove home to Amsterdam after dinner one evening about 18 years ago and fell asleep at the wheel, causing a fatal accident. However, more recently, I regret not having done better financial planning over the years, although my ability to easily adapt to change has made me more adept at riding out the economic meltdowns with a sense of fighting a new challenge. As a futurist, I have always tried to adapt to the future ahead of the curve, but like “the cobbler’s son has no shoes” syndrome, I have not always focused on potential disruptors.
I have had such an amazing, colorful, exciting, fulfilling life—some would say crazy—but despite the fact that for some people it would seem all too nomadic and intense, it has helped me maintain constant enthusiasm and a positive feeling about my own future and the future of the world.
I regularly talk about the growing trend of “remixed lifestyles” and now realize that I have been living that way forever. I have lived in 11 countries, and yet I have only really had five employers, including The Futures Lab. I certainly have no regrets about the decisions and risks I have taken in my professional life; they have given me the broad experience, cultural adaptability; and love of life that drives my willingness to continually explore new horizons.
I have been married a few times, which means I have won a lot, and lost a lot, but no regrets there as I have an excellent relationship with the exes I respect and with my two fantastic adult children and four grandchildren. Despite the fact that my son lives between the UK and Croatia, and my daughter, who is the front woman for the band Intimate Stranger, is constantly on tour and has been in South America for nearly a year now, my business travel allows me to see them both fairly regularly.
Your advice to others: Be true to yourself and who you wish to be at every turn. Only then will you be able to understand whether or not you have it all or are en route to having it all—on your terms.
Given that we all have subjective desires and expectations and a wealth of experiences and memories flowing around the subconscious that underpin our attitudes and approaches to life, it is difficult to give advice to others, beyond recommending that one maintain credibility, personal values (whatever they may be), and the flexibility to accept change and adapt to the emerging world with confidence.
For more information about Woodgate and The Futures Lab, visit www.futures-lab.com.
WRITER, FILMMAKER, MUSICIAN MARK BETANCOURT
*Who he is:*Mark Betancourt lives in Washington, DC, with the love of his life. He is a writer, filmmaker, and musician, but hopes to tone that all down someday to become a father.
Can women have it all? I recently read an article about a TV writer, actor, and producer who had a hand (or face) in four different television shows at once. The article began with a description of his workweek, which seemed impossibly crammed with responsibilities. He had also just become a father, and he told the interviewer that his son was his number one priority.
That word—I do not think it means what you think it means.
A priority is something you do instead of other things, not in addition to them. It’s something you choose over something else, because you care more about it—and because you can.
In arguably the most choice-ridden society the planet has ever seen, we have this problem of choosing not to choose. We just keep piling on the tasks, the experiences, the obligations. And those obligations often come with other, even more difficult and time-consuming obligations. Ask any breastfeeding mother.
Any regrets? Women are particularly susceptible to the pressure to have it all. Even if a woman can’t imagine anything more important than raising a family, she might feel she’s throwing away everything feminists have fought for by giving up her career ambitions to do it. But for women and men, the question is not so much how to have it all, but whether having it all would be an even remotely good thing.
Television, actually, can be illuminating on this question. If a child on a TV sitcom started out an episode wanting to have it all, what would the parents be telling the child by the end, as the sappy music swelled and they leaned in for a hug? That’s right. The moral of the story is you can’t have it all. But more importantly, you shouldn’t.
How often have we all seen a movie about a father who’s late for yet another T-ball game, only to almost run over one of Santa’s elves on the way and goes on to discover that family is all that truly matters to him?
Advice for others: We tell each other these stories to reinforce our values—nobody wants to see a movie that ends with the absent dad calling up his kid and saying, “Billy, there are more important things to me than your T-ball game”—but we don’t carry these values through to our own lives. We work longer hours, sacrifice more in the name of having it all. But we don’t have it all. We often have a lot of unfinished business, tasks not quite done well, conversations not finished, T-ball games not seen.
The bottom line isn’t that family is most important. Having kids isn’t everyone’s dream. Satisfaction in life comes from doing the most important things right, not from doing everything. Any TV writer could tell you that.
I wonder what the suffragettes of a hundred years ago would say to the women running themselves ragged today, trying to have it all. If they’d ever seen a sitcom, they’d know to lean in for a hug as they whispered, “We didn’t want it all, we only wanted the choice.”
ART THERAPIST AND FINE ARTIST, SARA ROIZEN
Who she is: An artist and licensed art therapist, living and creating in New York City, Roizen has worked with various organizations and nonprofits facilitating individual and group sessions and workshops. She is currently the consultant art therapist at an emergency transitional shelter for homeless adults living with HIV, mental health issues, and current substance abuse. One of her greatest joys is working with individuals in the creative process and encouraging new ways of self-expression.
Can women have it all? When I explore this question now, I am struck by how much my perception of “having it all” has shifted over the years. Paradoxically, as I get older, I find myself seeking out the child-like qualities of life and learning to embrace a more playful approach to things that arise. When I’m in the process of creating a painting and completely immersed in the experience, I am bringing together the spontaneous qualities of my inner child self while relying on the life experiences and decision-making that my adult self has been shaped by. So from this perspective, having it all is the integration and balancing of these two qualities in everyday life.
Any regrets? Like most people, I spend some time wondering what a different past choice might have resulted in. However, on a deeper level, I feel that each choice we make is a culmination of who and where we were at a given moment in time. There is a humorous quote by author Byron Katie that speaks to this. She writes, “When I argue with reality I lose—but only 100 percent of the time.” So much energy can be spent agonizing over our choices and regrets, but all of that energy can be freed up for positive use when we practice self-acceptance and appreciate where we’ve come from.
If life is a field of possibilities, then it is remarkable to think about how each moment is a chance to create something new. I strive to feel gratitude for all the experiences I’ve had so far, including the difficult ones. As an art therapist, I am constantly digging into my own past experiences so that I may be more present and open to my clients and their struggles. My past, both painful and joyful, is a valuable well of experience that I can draw from when establishing a connection with my clients.
Advice for others: I encourage my art therapy clients to allow themselves to open up and enjoy the creative process and to focus on the experience of the moment rather than becoming preoccupied by the finished art piece. I believe that this art therapy advice extends into life quite beautifully, and I try to live in this mindset as much as possible. It’s easy to get caught up in our daily to-do lists and rush from one experience to another. The greatest contentment for me is when I can rest in that space between each moment and truly appreciate exactly where I am and what I am doing. I believe that self-identity and our approach to life is much more flexible than we realize at times. Pausing to be mindful of an experience is a wonderful way to tap into the creative potential of any moment.
FINANCIAL PLANNER HOPE LEONARD
Who she is: Hope and her husband, Billy, moved to the DC area from Boone, North Carolina, in 2005. Then her husband’s job took them in early 2011 to Palo Alto, California. Hope continues in her role as associate planner for the Northern Virginia firm Egan, Berger & Weiner LLC. “Thanks to technology it has been a smooth transition, and I still interact daily with my co-workers and clients,” she says.
Can women have it all? I truly believe there is no greater investment in life that you can make than investing time, energy, effort, and lots of love into raising your children. Political consultant Mary Matalin’s comment, “Having control over your schedule is the only way that women who want to have a career and a family can make it work” has really stuck with me.
Though I do not have children yet, I plan to and I am very thankful that I work in a firm where family is valued and there is some flexibility in my schedule. I am very aware that a lot of women do not have that. Without flexibility in your workplace and a great support system at home, it is very difficult for women to “have it all.” Something will always suffer, whether it is your family or your career.
Any regrets? As a woman who has always had a deep-seated desire to be a mother, at the end of my life I do not think I will look back with regret for missing career opportunities. But I know for sure I would look back with regret if I missed out on my children’s lives due to work obligations.
Advice for others: Obviously, everyone’s situation is different, from home life, to work life, to personal goals. You have to come up with a plan that works for your family. My personal conviction is that if you and your spouse decide to have children, then your family has to come first.
For more information about Leonard, visit www.ebwllc.com.
COLLEGE SENIOR, Virginia Tech
INKANDESCENT PR EDITORIAL ASSISTANT ASHLEY FREUND
Who she is: Ashley Freund is an editorial assistant at the Inkandescent Group LLC, a promotion she received in September 2012 after successfully completing the company’s eight-week summer intern program. The fourth-year student at Virginia Tech is pursuing a Communications degree with a focus on Public Relations. She is also working toward an English minor, with an emphasis on Creative Writing.
Can women have it all? When asked if women could have it all, I began to reflect on my own life. I have a supportive family, loyal friends, and a successful college career. At 21 years old, I’d say I am pretty lucky. But I believe the feeling of having it all reflects one’s own preferences. Focusing on a career, family, or both is completely up to the woman, and from there, the concept of having it “all” can be obtained.
Any regrets? Not yet. And probably not ever.
Advice for others: The bottom line to me is happiness. Regardless of gender, race, or religious beliefs, for one to truly believe they have it all, undeniable happiness needs to be achieved.
COLLEGE SENIOR LAURA GOMEZ, Rey Juan Carlos University, Spain
INKANDESCENT INTERN, SUMMER 2012
Who she is: A fourth-year college student, Laura Gomez is pursuing a double bachelor’s degree in Administration and Business Management, and in Advertising and Public Relations, at the Rey Juan Carlos University in Spain. She also is currently participating in an online investments simulator program. Gomez holds a B2 Advance DELF Certificate in French and the First Certificate in English. In December 2010 she received the Academic Excellence Award issued by the Spanish Educational and Cultural Department.
Can women have it all? When did this question arise? Was it when men and women’s roles were tightly defined, and women had a hard time trying to be successful at the workplace? Does it still arise now that those roles are blurred and there is supposed to be equity between the genders?
Back when women faced barriers to enter business, they couldn’t have it all because they were supposed to stay at home and take care of their children, while men were the successful ones, at least in the business field. When women started defying those established rules, it became obvious that it was harder for them to follow their dreams at the workplace than for men, for even if they wanted to break the mold and go into business, that didn’t mean that men intended to break their mold and participate more in the realm of family.
So why can’t women have it all? Simply because there is not time enough. Nevertheless, over the past years, equity has increased at the workplace and tight roles have faded, letting men in into tasks formerly done by women, and vice versa. But even if possibilities have broadened for both genders, some individuals remain loyal to those old stereotypes. So that makes me wonder: what is “all”, exactly? Is it working and being successful? Is it being surrounded by your family and taking care of your children? Or a mix of both?
Any regrets? We say that women couldn’t have it all because it was difficult for them to get into the business world and, when they actually did it, it wasn’t in the same conditions. But maybe there were men who wanted to play with their children and missed out on having time with them because of society’s expectations that they would work outside the home? Well, maybe. So maybe they also thought that they couldn’t have it all.
Having it all—or not—depends on the definition of that “all”, which I think is unique to each person. A man for whom “all” is calling the shots and being a business shark is comfortable with the old roles; a woman who likes taking care of her home and her family is happy with it, too. But don’t get me wrong, even if the situation has changed and there’s more equity, I still find that whenever the women’s definition of “all” gets more businesslike, women still have more obstacles to overcome than men. A man who likes staying home usually has it easier than a woman who wants to be successful in business.
Advice for others: Whatever is your definition of “having it all,” the greatest obstacle to overcome is time. By nature, women tend to want to protect their family, but sometimes being successful at work means having to spend a lot of time on it, which is difficult for some women. A couple can more easily have it all with a balanced contribution of both the woman’s and the man’s time. Working together as a couple on shared goals, added to the fall of gender barriers in both universities and companies, will make easier for both men and women to achieve their goals, to complete their “all”, however they define it.