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Jane Hudis, JuE Wong, Lisa Price and Others on Balancing Well-being and Professional Success

Leading female founders and executives on how they approach their personal well-being while achieving professional success.

“Rising to become the first female executive group president at The Estée Lauder Cos. was an incredibly proud moment in my life. With all the responsibility that accompanies it, I’ve learned that in order to achieve success and preserve personal well-being it comes down to three things: being super organized, having great people to support you both personally and professionally, and always finding the time to harness creativity. Throughout my career I’ve learned that it’s less about work-life balance and more about integrating your work and your life overall — and carving out “me time” to think, dream big and envision the future.” Jane Hertzmark Hudis, executive group president, The Estée Lauder Cos.

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“Many years ago, I heard a P&G leader speak eloquently and convincingly about the fact that, at any given time, a person can have five distinct roles in their life, and do all five meaningfully well with time and attention. And, that those five roles change as life brings changes. So, for instance, before I was married, spouse was not a role I had to devote time and attention to. But, once I was married, that needed to be a role, and something else had to drop off. It doesn’t mean that we don’t have other roles in our lives, but that those five are the primary ones and the structure we use to make priority calls for our time, resources and attention. Being an executive is a different role than more junior ones, and it requires more. Net, as I have grown in my company and into more senior roles, I’ve had to consider that. But, I’m still a spouse, a friend, a runner in addition to being a global executive. Keeping those roles front and center keeps balance in my life. And, also brings focus to it.” Alex Keith, CEO, P&G Beauty

I’d be lying if I said I did a great job in balancing work and well-being in my career, but I do consciously try to have work-life integration. I make it a point to be fully present in whatever I do and wherever I am. When I can do this, I find that I’m less stressed and everyone around me is better for it.

Of course, it’s easier said than done. Do I slip from being present all the time in all that I do? Yes, but do I remind myself to be present? Absolutely.

Sometimes the reminder comes at a hefty price.

Thirteen years ago, I lost my husband of 20-plus years to a massive heart attack, the third week into my first CEO role. In that time between life and death, everything that I pushed back in not doing with him, because I prioritized work over him, came at me like a lightning bolt. The realization that every time I told him, we can do this “later.” Later will never happen for us again….

Today, I have incorporated the lesson of loss and regret and I remind my team to appreciate work-life integration. This helps me to stay centered. The one regret most people have is not about spending more time at work, it is about not spending more time with their family. JuE Wong, CEO, Olaplex

Progress and priorities are my focus for both business and personal well-being. I make the commitment to accomplish two things daily on the personal well-being front that can be small or not; anything from having a coffee catch-up, walking meeting or making that doctor appointment. Give yourself some physical or mental space outside of the day-to-day business routine. At work, focus on the progress, learnings, experiences. Shift the mind-set to think of pressure as exciting, failures as a necessity and challenges as moving forward. Peggy Elsrode, president, Americas, Dyson

The only honest answer is to say, “I am still a work in progress.” Today, thanks to therapy and the year that was 2020, I learned that I hadn’t been doing it “correctly” at all. But that is not to say I did nothing. In the earlier days of building a brand and a business while raising a family and nurturing a home, I got left out of that equation quite often. Along with the mom who loved to bake and the wife that used to be so much fun. It happens. Most women and, in particular, women of color, are in uncharted territory in this world of business that has not allowed us in nor is at all used to our presence. We are always navigating conditioning not only in others but in ourselves.  We’re not immune to preconceived ideologies about us. But we do our best and that is what I did. I refuse to carry any shame about not knowing what I did not know. Today, I am a better judge of what is too much. I have learned the important distinction between being tired and being exhausted. I used to only know the latter.  Lisa Price, founder, Carol’s Daughter

I’ve always believed in work-life balance and have been very intentional in managing my career with this in mind. I’ve turned down offers where I felt I would not be able to live the total life I desired. Of course, even in my current role — one that I love and can mostly reasonably manage — there are times when things get crazy, but then I try to compensate so I feel OK about the overall balance. I work for a Japanese company and often have early or late meetings. Thus, to offset, I build time in my day for exercising, relaxing or running errands during “normal” business hours. One positive effect of the pandemic is that we learned to work differently and much more efficiently. I’m now partially remote which means less commute time, rushing to “get ready” and less stress overall. I also learned to say no to both personal and professional requests that were not of value to me or my work. For me, balance and mental health must be aggressively managed to live the kind of life I want. — Karen Frank, president, consumer care business, AEMEA, and president, Kao USA

Being a mother and businesswoman is a huge challenge, but for me it was one that I not only met but embraced and grew from. My parents, who lived close by and provided ongoing support, were a significant part of the balancing act. Hyperorganization and focus were another, including keeping lots of lists and setting priorities on a daily basis. Finally, getting enough quality sleep so I could get up at the crack of dawn to exercise and have some me time was essential for both my mental and physical state. —Lilli Gordon, founder, First Aid Beauty

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I have a very old-school work ethic. It’s difficult for me to ignore emails and unplug. I’ve always been this way. I guess I thrive on high energy although I do have a few go-to routines that help me stay balanced. My favorite thing to do on weekends is to shop at the farmers market. I love to cook, so when I’m stressed-out, I make a bunch of different meals all at once. Another practice that calms me is to clean and organize. I know, it sounds like torture, but I’m literally a demon if my home or office is a mess and disorganized. It just puts me in a horrible mood, and I can’t think clearly. My remedy? I blast the tunes, scrub my kitchen and organize my closets. The smell of clean laundry makes me happy.  — Sonia Summers, Beauty Barrage

I honestly cannot say that I have struck the right balance between work and well-being. The work I have taken on throughout my career, including my current role, is deeply tied to who I am as a person and the woes of the world often sit with me long after my workday has ended.  My career ambition was to analyze workplaces and identify opportunities to improve employee engagement and drive productivity. I’ve been fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to explore engagement from both the employee perspective and the consumer.  

Understanding different perspectives and applying the various insights into the way I think, live and lead is fundamental to who I am. I’m constantly in a state of learning and that makes this notion of striking the optimal balance between work and well-being a concept that is difficult for me to own. However, listening to Peloton meditation sessions and a quiet walk certainly help me to put daily insights into perspective!  — Angela Guy, chief diversity equity and inclusion officer, L’Oréal North America

When I started Grande Cosmetics, my sons were 8 and 5 years old. I was traveling to 35-40 trade shows a year. Balancing my relationship with my family and my career was difficult and I was concerned about missing important moments in my children’s life. At the time, my husband had just lost his job on Wall Street, so it gave me great comfort that he was able to be home with our sons. I was also lucky that my family lived close by.

Building my business at trade shows was grueling on my body. I always made sure to walk, stretch and spend time outdoors before each show to ensure that I was taking care of myself. My overall well-being is a choice I make every day. We can choose to be positive or negative. I choose to be happy and embrace the time I spend with my family and dogs, while running an amazing business, and always making sure to take care of myself too! — Alicia Grande, founder and CEO, Grande Cosmetics

I emigrated from Romania in 1989 with very little, but I knew I would build something of my own. I didn’t speak much English, but I had a fierce resolve and an education in art and architecture. As an immigrant, you have to work hard, you have to be patient and you have to pave your own way when you see an opportunity — that’s how my business started and still informs the way I work today. I work very hard, but I love what I do — brows are my passion. Artists are considered creatives, but I’m also very analytical. I see a problem and I find a solution, and that gives me so much satisfaction. Product development is a painstaking journey from ideation to formulation to launch. But the attention to detail is important because I’m confident in my products. I know they serve a purpose and will bring joy to our consumers. This year is our 25th anniversary and I’m still hustling, but that leaves me feeling very fulfilled. Anastasia Soare, founder and CEO, Anastasia Beverly Hills

I try to live my life with integrity and purpose, and match how I spend my time to that. I have a fantastic network of family, friends and coaches who nurture my spirit. I take care of myself with rituals: exercise, breathing and mindful thinking, sleep, morning reading and eating a healthy diet with nutritional supplements (excluding my favorite pizza cheat). My ideal exercise is to walk my two dogs and daily Pure Barre classes. I always try to find the beauty in life and enjoy nature. I love arts and culture and integrate it into my life to inspire me. I plan my vacations in advance and make sure to find the time to decompress. Life is clearly a journey, and while I’m career-minded, I always find the joy. — Mary Von Praag, global CEO, Milani Cosmetics

The truth is, I have not mastered the concept of balance, but I’m working on it. The first step has been to recognize I was in need of help in this area. I’m five years into having a coach. We work on how to double-down on things that fill up the glass — which for me is being present in the moments I have with my husband and daughters and spending time in nature. I’m learning that presence is a practice, and that presence provides a sense of balance. On the business front, it is humbling to start a brand and attempt to scale it into a business. I feel fortunate that I started my career at The Estée Lauder Cos. One aspect I learned there is to build clarity around purpose and strategy. Being crisp on why we started and where we are headed is something I come back to daily. Working on a purpose-driven business serves as a source of balance. We are in business to make a positive environmental impact everywhere we can. That work that we all do together matters deeply and gives me great joy.  — Randi Christiansen, cofounder and CEO, Nécessaire