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—and maybe a little obsessed—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 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.”
2015 marks the second full year of The Balance Project! And there’s lots in store: First, The Balance Project is celebrating its first birthday. Read all about how it got started and what I’ve learned from it here. Second, my second book, THE BALANCE PROJECT: A NOVEL, will be published in April. It’s women’s fiction and it was inspired by these interviews. More about that here. Third, in preparation for the launch and because these interviews have received such tremendous response, I will publish new interviews two or three times per week, not just on Fridays. Thank you for your continued support!
No. 45: Kimi Culp: Producer, Author and Creative Consultant
Where I live: Los Angeles
Job: Producer, Author and Creative Consultant
Kids: Two girls (ages 21 months and 5 years) and a boy (age 7)
Is the job you have now the same one you had before kids? If not, how and why did you change directions?
When I had my son, I was working for Harpo remotely. Eventually, we moved to Los Angeles and I started working for OWN full time in an office. My dad once told me to look at my life from 30,000 miles above and ask myself, “Do I like what I see?” He gives solid advice and things weren’t looking so hot for me. I was barely making it home to tuck my two young kids in bed, had little time for my husband and friends, and was commuting an hour and a half every day. At that moment, I decided it was time for a new life chapter. Liberated is the word I would choose to define that experience.
Do you think having “it all” is realistic or overrated and why?
Overrated! “Having it All” is a burden our generation has both inherited and put on ourselves. There is a cost benefit to every decision we make in life. The best we can do is look deep within ourselves to discover what truly fulfills us and use this as our compass as we make decisions in our daily lives. Do I fly back early from the business trip to make sure I am there for the recital? Do I find the courage to create boundaries? Do I make time to care for myself? Something’s gotta give, and I believe the pursuit of perfection is futile. Perfect is the enemy of good.
I should also add that I have never understood the “mommy wars” and am a huge proponent of women supporting women. I know many amazing working and stay-at-home moms. There are a lot of different ways to be a great parent; the end goal is choosing what is right for you and your family.
What part of “balance” can you just not seem to figure out?
I have scaled back my professional life to have more time with my kids. My goal is to fully focus on them when we are together throughout the day (drop-offs, pick-ups, frozen yogurt after school, etc.). If I am stressed about something work-related, it weighs heavily on my mind. My thoughts and focus are on the problem or finding a solution. My intention is to be present in these moments but there are plenty of days when my focus is not where I would like it to be. Leaving the iPhone behind is almost always a good decision.
What part of “balance” are you getting better at?
I have always been an ambitious person, which I believe is a gift and a blessing. As I get older and my kids get older (even though they are still little peanuts), I am learning to define success as the entirety of my life, not just my professional accomplishments.
I also try “my best” to practice prayer, gratitude, and meditation daily. There is incredible power in these practices, and they make me feel at peace. Feeling at peace and balance go hand in hand.
What was the best advice you ever heard on balance…
From a mentor/co-worker? Have enough confidence in your value to create boundaries that work for your life.
From your mother? While I was growing up, my mom finished her undergraduate studies, went to graduate school, became a social worker in a shock trauma unit, and went on to teach self-esteem workshops to battered women. I have always had great respect for this. As we got older, she worked a lot less and was always available to us. I have always been grateful for this.
From your kids? The value of being in the moment. They will stop and look at a flower or mushroom for a solid minute or two. Adults just don’t do this, especially moms trying to juggle a million things. I think you can learn a lot about life from your kids if you slow down and pay attention.
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?
Doing anything outdoors.
What do you wish you’d known when you were 20?
That the best is yet to come.
What do you hope to know by time you’re 60?
That 60 is the new 50.
What one part of your home life do you wish you could outsource?
Finding small shoes and missing sweatshirts.
Whose job do you wish you had?
A professional photographer or an artist.
Whose job are you glad you don’t have?
Any celebrity. I don’t think I would be very nice to the paparazzi when they showed up at my kids’ AYSO games.
What are you reading right now?
The Conscious Parent by Dr. Shefali Tsabary.
Activity? Wine with girlfriends.
How many hours do you generally sleep at night during the week?
Depends on the night but I LOVE to sleep.
What do you read every morning?
Grams of sugar on cereal boxes.
Complete the following sentences:
I think I: am a good person.
I wish I: could play the acoustic guitar and surf.
My kids: are pretty friggin awesome… most of the time :-).
Do you have a personal motto or favorite saying?
“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined,” by Henry David Thoreau.
Anything else you’d like to add?
I am convinced that Peanut M&Ms taste different based on their color. My husband disagrees. Please share your thoughts on this matter.
Kimi Culp’s unique specialty is generating original ideas and concepts and bringing them to life online and on screen. Her experience includes work as a producer and story developer for NBC, ABC, The Oprah Winfrey Show, and The Documentary Group. She has conceived and produced hundreds of stories around the world and negotiated exclusive interviews for some of the most prominent names in journalism including Diane Sawyer and Barbara Walters.
Most recently, she served as Executive Director of Talent at OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network. Kimi is the co-author of the best-selling book, A Letter to My Dog. Her book has sold eighty thousand copies around the world and is published in three languages.
Kimi is a strategic partner at Long Story Media, a short form content and creative consulting company. Their clients include The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Kaiser Family Foundation, and Alicia Keys Foundation. Kimi began studying the art of production and storytelling at the University of Colorado where she earned a BS in broadcast journalism and continued her studies with the photojournalism program at SPEOS in Paris, France. She is currently producing a film and social action campaign based on the story of Steve Gleason, a friend and former NFL football player who is living with ALS.
Based in Los Angeles, Kimi loves spending time with her husband and three children, hiking, and playing at the beach.
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 1: Jessica Mindich, Entrepreneur
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 2: Veronica Beard, Fashion Designer
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 3: Emily Liebert, Author
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 4: Lyss Stern, Mom-trepreneur
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 5: Lauren Slayton, Nutritionist
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 6: Elizabeth Moyer, Blogger
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 7: Annabel Monaghan, Author
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 8: Holly Gordon, Director
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 9: Jill Salzman, Entrepreneur
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 10: Jennifer Levinson, Jen’s List
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 11: Jenny Hutt, Media Personality
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 12: Angela Santomero, Kids’ Media Creator
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 13: Carola Donato, Yogi
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 14: Tiffany Washington, Pastry Designer
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 15: Emily Giffin, Author
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 16: Alana Sanko, Writer
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 17: Cara Lemieux, Journalist
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 18: Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke, Authors
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 19: Nikki Mark, Author & Foundation Director
Shonda Rhimes on Doing It All
Indra Nooyi on Balance
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 21: Jill Bryan, Comedian
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 22: Cindy Callaghan, Author
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 23: Stephanie Hirsch, Artist
My Times of India Interview on Work-Life Balance
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 24: Whitney Dineen, Author/Baker
AmEx’s Sobbott on Balance
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 25: J0-Laine Duke-Collins, Dessert Stylist
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 26: Whitney English, Entrepreneur
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 27: Jennifer Gooch Hummer, Author
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 28: Melissa Amster, Book Blogger
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 29: Nigel Marsh, Author and Entrepreneur
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 30: DayNa Decker, Entrepreneur
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 31: Amy Selling, Blogger
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 32: Heather Sonnenberg, Entrepreneur
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 33: Allison Winn Scotch, Author
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 34: Bibi Kasrai, Entrepreneur and Chef
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 35: Karen Sutton MD, Orthopaedic Surgeon
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 36: Samantha Ettus, Balance Expert, Author, TV/Radio Personality
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 37: Pam Yudko, Holistic Health and Transformational Coach
THE BALANCE PROJECT| No. 38: Nancy Huang, Nonprofit Outreach Director
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 39: Mary Laura Philpott, Writer, Editor and Illustrator
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 40: Towanda Long, Marketing Communications Specialist
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 41: Kristyn Kusek Lewis, Writer
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 42: Tracy Pollan, Actor and Writer
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 43: Christianne Phillips, Fitness Consultant and Writer
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 44: Susannah Lewis, Writer
The Balance Project Interview Series Turns 1!