Welcome to THE BALANCE PROJECT: a series of relevant and refreshingly candid interviews featuring inspiring and accomplished women talking about balance. I’ve always been curious about how women I admire manage the tragically glorified “doing it all” craze. So I asked them. As I suspected, no one really does “it all.” Everyone’s making sacrifices somewhere. And that should make us all feel a little better. I hope the conversation will be steered toward that reality rather than toward the flawed and dangerous assumption that we should try—or even want to try—to perfectly do “it all.”

By the way, looking for THE BALANCE PROJECT novel that was inspired by these interviews? It’s here.

No. 114: Kristy Wallace, COO of Ellevate Network

Age: 37
Where I live:
 Brooklyn, NY
Job: COO of Ellevate Network
Kids:
 Two daughters (Zoe, 10 months, and Morgan, 2) and a son (Benjamin, 6)

Kristy_Wallace_HeadshotHave you changed jobs or adjusted anything in your career to have more balance?
I think that family, finances, career, personal fulfillment, and goals/dreams/aspirations all need to be taken into account when striving for balance. The prioritization of each changes depending on where we are in life but all continue to be important. I spent the early part of my career working incredibly hard—long hours, weekends, non-stop emailing and phone—so when I had my first child I decided to leave the workforce for a bit so that I could recharge and focus on family. When I had my second child I was working at a start-up. Lots of stress and very little money but incredibly fulfilling on a personal level. My husband had agreed to work in a “stable” job so that I could pursue my passion. After the birth of my daughter I found that the stress of financial security outweighed the benefits of working for a start-up so I switched to a new company. This was fulfilling in another way because I made sure to align my new career with my personal values and thus started working for a company that was having an impact on gender disparity in the workforce. I’ve recently given birth to my third child but feel that the balance is still there. And, my husband has been able to pursue starting his own business so he is in a great space as well.

Do you think having “it all” is realistic or overrated and why?
I think it is overrated. I’m very type A and spent a lot of time striving to “have it all.” This meant sleepless nights thinking of all that needed to be done, early morning laundry sessions, and guilt on the occasions when I wasn’t home to see my kids. The stress and effort to have it all meant that I wasn’t relaxed, care-free, or focused on the kids. I had to decide whether I wanted to do it all, but do it poorly or if I wanted to just do the best that I could and be happier. I’ve been working on cultivating my “team” or “life hacks.” I have a great nanny who is reliable, kind, and wonderful with the children. I see her as a vital part to our parenting. I hired someone to help with the housekeeping. Not stressing about this is worth the money. I use Blue Apron (food delivery service) which ensures that we have fun healthy meals each week without the stress of planning the menu. Taking the time to remove things from my plate and letting go of the things that aren’t critical has had a huge impact.

What part of “balance” can you just not seem to figure out?
“Me” time. I focus a lot on the kids, my husband, and the cooking/cleaning/activities and I always put myself last. I’m trying hard to change that.

What part of “balance” are you getting better at?
I make a point of not looking at my phone from the time I get home from work until the kids are in bed. I want to be 100% present with them.

Do you have a favorite time management tool, hack, or other strategy you use that helps you achieve balance?
See above. Also, I’ve made it a priority to work out in the morning. Just 20 minutes. I can do this watching the news or listening to a podcast in my living room while the kids are still asleep. Ideally I’d be more focused on it and spend more time but I feel that this is all I can give right now and I’m happy that I’m doing something. I can always talk myself into getting out of bed 20 min early ;-). I also pack lunches and get clothes ready the night before. It keeps the mornings smooth and happy.

What was the best advice you ever heard on balance? 
From a mentor/co-worker?
“Family always comes first. Don’t ever feel guilty about that.”
From your mother?
 “Many hands make light work—you don’t have to do it all.”
From your spouse/partner? 
“Don’t stress. It will get done.”

If you had one extra hour in each day and you couldn’t work or be with your family, how would you spend that hour?
Reading, working out, walking around the city—doing things that I enjoy but don’t spend enough time on.

What do you wish you’d known when you were 20?
Save more and spend less. Kids cost a lot of money.

What do you hope to know by time you’re 60?
The happiness that comes with a fulfilling career, happy and healthy family, and loving marriage.

What one part of your home life do you wish you could outsource?
Laundry. I actually enjoy doing it but don’t have the time.

Whose job do you wish you had?
Jessica Alba’s. I’m totally glamorizing her job but I admire that she saw an opportunity to create a product that met her personal values (organic, all natural) and that wasn’t currently available in the market. Instead of lamenting the lack of product, she went and made it.

Whose job are you glad you don’t have?
Marissa Mayer’s.  She lives under a microscope due to her gender. So few women are in top spots, that those who do lead, end up being judged quite harshly.

Favorite books?
 I always love To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, and The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. These are books I read during pivotal times in my personal life.

What are you reading right now?
I just finished The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. I enjoyed the strong female characters and historical references.  I’m currently reading The Martian by Andy Weir. Lots of science and space. Fun read. I also read A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara recently. It is a very heavy book rife with struggle, turmoil, love, and friendship. I was very moved by the book.

Biggest vices…
Activity? Travel research. I always want to make sure that I’m getting the best deal or staying at the best place so I spend way too much time on this.
Food? Chocolate and wine.
Website? Facebook. I’m so nosy and love seeing what everyone is up to.

How many hours do you generally sleep at night during the week?
5-6.

What do you read every morning?
Email, Facebook, and Flipboard (news).

Complete the following sentences:
I think I: am just hitting my stride.
I wish I: had more time.
My kids: 
make me smile every day.

Do you have a personal motto or favorite saying?
“It takes a village to raise a child.”

43592

FB6D22DA-6ECE-42E7-BEF4-AC4841969496[669]About Kristy:
Kristy Wallace is the Chief Operating Officer at Ellevate Network, where she is responsible for business operations, product development, and strategic partnerships. With an entrepreneurial mindset and an aptitude for building businesses from the ground up, Kristy is backed by more than 15 years of experience in generating thriving revenue centers, including corporate strategy, product development, revenue forecasting, hiring, training, marketing, pipeline development, and contract closings.

Prior to joining Ellevate, Kristy oversaw sales and business operations as a founding team member of Zeel.com, a health and wellness startup with deep roots in the New York City tech scene. From 2002 to 2007, alongside the same leadership team as Zeel, she served as VP of Sales at Vault.com, a career information website that surveys employees for vital industry and business information. While there, she grew recruitment advertising revenues and ultimately generated 40% of the company’s income. In 2008, she was named GM of Vault International and went on to increase the revenues of three overseas operations to nearly $2 million.

Kristy obtained her BA in English/Sociology from Villanova University and began her career as a financial analyst at KeyBank. In her “free time,” she serves as Co-Chair of the Leadership Advisory Board for the Girl Scout Council of Greater New York and is a Board Member for Workforce Professionals Training Institute (WPTI). A passionate runner, reader and world traveler, Kristy lives in Greenpoint, Brooklyn with her husband and three wonderful children.

Find out more about Kristy:
www.ellevatenetwork.com
Twitter: @kristysisko
Facebook: kristy.sisko
Instagram: @kristyawallace
Pinterest: kristysisko

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WANT TO READ MORE ABOUT WORK-LIFE BALANCE? CHECK OUT MY NOVEL THE BALANCE PROJECT!

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