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. 121: Georgene Huang, Founder of Fairygodboss

Age: Biological 35/Psychological 28
Where I live:
 New York City
Job: Founding Fairy (of Fairygodboss.com)
Kids:
 Mother (and sometimes maid) to Max (not-so-terrible 2) and baby Allegra (of 4 teeth)

GH HeadshotHave you changed jobs or adjusted anything in your career to have more balance?
Absolutely. Small adjustments happen all the time because balance is not a static state (of mind). Balance depends on what needs and demands you and others around you are placing on yourself at any given time. Sometimes there are very large adjustments, e.g. when you start a company or have a baby. But sometimes the adjustments are literally seasonal. For example, think about how balance looks/feels during the Christmas season. Just thinking about it makes me feel a bit tired.

Is the job you have now the same one you had before kids? If not, how and why did you change directions?
Starting your own company gives you control over your time in a way that being an executive does not. There is no denying that I—and many other women—who own their own companies think that’s a benefit of being an entrepreneur.

However, I’ve also done the corporate executive thing while I had children and there are benefits to that as well. For example, work is not as personal, it’s easier to compartmentalize work and home, and you also have great elements of control depending on your seniority.

In short, I’m not sure that one is necessarily better than the other in terms of work/life balance. I think the pros and cons net out.

Do you think having “it all” is realistic or overrated and why?
The fact that “having it all” is in quotation marks is quite revealing. What I mean is that it’s a concept, an idea: a Platonic ideal. So to the extent that an idea is something YOU have control over, yes, I think it’s realistic. You get to define what it means and how you feel about it.

What part of “balance” can you just not seem to figure out?
I still feel guilty about taking personal trips (weekends or overnight trips) away from my kids. I think this will change over time, because everyone tells me that what children need will change over time.

What part of “balance” are you getting better at?
Feeling less guilt—or even no guilt—for exercising, seeing a friend, or even working on my company (which I consider “me” time).

What was the best advice you ever heard on balance? 
From a mentor/co-worker? 
Strangely, no colleagues/mentors have ever given me “advice” on balance. Maybe that says something about me or them, or the kind of jobs I’ve had (i.e. its not really been culturally ok to talk about it).
From your spouse/partner? 
Again, its not advice, per se. But my husband has and continues to radiate happiness with his choices. He doesn’t consider it “work” or “life” balance choices. He’s just happy. And that, at the end of the day, is what balance looks like.
From your kids? Thank goodness they are not quite giving me advice. But I’m looking forward to that day!

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?
I would see my friends. My work and personal life tend to crowd out my social life, but that’s slowly starting to change for the better.

What do you wish you’d known when you were 20?
That it was ok that I didn’t quite “get” Kant or Derrida. I used to obsess over the meaning of dense philosophical texts!

What do you hope to know by time you’re 60?
That it’s perfectly fine to feel scared on a motorcycle.

What part of your home life do you wish you could outsource?
Keeping the house stocked, i.e. who wants to think about making sure there’s enough toilet paper and toothpaste around the place?

Whose job do you wish you had?
I’m pretty psyched about my own.

Whose job are you glad you don’t have?
Any politician’s.

Favorite books?
Too many to name. I tend to like non-fiction books that take me out of my day-to-day life and inspire, e.g. Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder.

What are you reading right now?
A Fighting Chance by Elizabeth Warren.

Biggest vices…
Activity?
 Checking email too much.
Food? French fries!
Website?
Gmail.

How many hours do you generally sleep at night during the week?
7.

What do you read every morning?
My email.

Complete the following sentences:
I think I: am pretty lucky.
I wish I: were better at telling jokes.
My kids: 
are so beautiful.

Anything else you’d like to add?
It felt pretty self-indulgent to reflect about myself!

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Mobile Landing PageAbout Georgene:
JS_BusinessCard_Front_FINAL
Georgene Huang has always been interested in how people feel about their jobs because she’s had to do a lot of career research! After graduating from Cornell and Stanford, she was a corporate attorney at Sullivan & Cromwell, a private equity analyst at Lehman Brothers, a managing director at Bloomberg Ventures and an executive at Dow Jones. She co-founded Fairygodboss.com because she’s worked with fantastic, helpful women in her career and wants to help make life for working women just a little bit easier.

Find out more about Georgene:
www.fairygodboss.com
Facebook: fairygodboss
Twitter: @fairygodboss
Instagram: @fairygodboss

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

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