Q: What have you been up to since you got your new MBA?
A: When I entered the new MBA class, I felt pretty lost in my career. I released my first cookbook a year prior and just completed my first year of motherhood. And even with so much to be grateful for and proud of, I was desperately seeking to fill some sort of professional void. I felt like I was floundering, coming up with all sorts of unrealistic business plans that clogged my time and life versus bringing more order -- which is why I signed up for the new MBA class. I needed help.
When I "graduated" from the class, though, I didn't come out with a clearer path or a new career. Instead, I left with the gift of space. Through the lessons, I learned to be more patient with myself and less obsessed with the "next big thing," eventually able to see and enjoy everything happening in the present.
As a result, my career picked up momentum without me really trying. I ended up signing my second book deal and letting the career I had already built (and the work I had already poured myself into) snowball on its own. That year, I ended up traveling more for work than ever before, landing dream gigs with Food Network, Mrs. Dash, and an appearance on Dr. Oz. As for any new projects, I learned to ask myself first, "can I do this with ease," before saying yes. And I found that the more I gave myself space in my career -- versus filing it -- the more success I achieved.
Q: How do you want to feel? What do you do to feel that way?
A: Stress is my kryptonite. As someone who lives with lupus, stress will cause my disease to flare. And as a human being, it causes havoc on my sleep and my enjoyment of life. Not to mention my productivity. But with a two-year-old, constant deadlines, and the uncontrollable things in life, stress is inevitable. And I learned with the new MBA that it is not about eliminating stress (which I think may be impossible), but managing it. Learning to see it differently, channel it differently, and use it differently. Now when I find myself stress or feeling like I'm "not doing enough," I realize it is a sign to slow down. Find the things I can eliminate from the to-do list to make more room to get the important things done. And get back on track.
Q:What does success mean to you?
A: These days, success is not about money or prowess or a fancy business card. For me, it is about helping other people. Making an imprint with my work. And feeling like I'm making a difference, even in a small way.
But after taking the new MBA, I learned something new -- now, success is also about being gentle with myself. If I don't knock out all the to-dos on my list, if I can still be happy with my day and myself, that is success. If I don't meet my deadline, but I fed my daughter a great dinner of broccoli, then that is success. If I had to cancel appointments so I could rest, get better, and take care of myself, that is success. I didn't realize it until the new MBA class, but we make our success about everything but ourselves. Now, I'm trying to flip that around and make it about me.
Q: What’s stuck with you most from the new MBA Curriculum?
A: Mostly, I took away the idea that moving slow and small often produces bigger results than trying to do too much too fast. I learned that overloading our lives does not equal being more successful or efficient. Just busier and more stressed. And I learned with more space and more time, I often see and appreciate my accomplishments more clearly.
Q: What are the 2 or 3 things that help you stay on track?
A: My favorite tool is the "power hour." With limited time to do work, the power hour helps me focus. I have also eliminated long "to-do" lists from my life and only choose one or two items a day. That way, I stay focused and realistic about what I want to accomplish that day. It brings me so much more joy and happiness in my work. It eliminates that feeling of failure (and flailing to get things done!). And I feel more in control of my schedule. I love that they are such small adjustments that make such a huge impact. And again, remind me that often, less is more.
Q: How can the new MBA community help you?
A: I love that the new MBA is a constantly growing and expanding network. Whether I'm looking for professional help or a personal sounding board, there is now a circle of women out there ready to pitch in. A community with shared values and interests, ready to help.