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 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, the novel that was inspired by these interviews? It’s here.
- The Balance Project interview series recently celebrated its first birthday!
- Fortune ran a feature about The Balance Project.
- Want to be a part of The Balance Project? Complete the interview.
No. 61: Marie Claire Lim Moore, Banker, Author and Speaker
Where I live: Singapore
Job: Banker, Author and Speaker
Kids: A boy (4), a girl (2) and a baby girl (2 months)
Have you changed jobs or adjusted anything in your career to have more balance?
When I was first considering my current job in Singapore many people warned me that I wouldn’t be able to see my kids during the week. “They work late in Asia,” it is commonly known. This turned out to be true. When I first got here, I followed what seemed to be the default schedule, which meant a later start to what I was used to in New York and a later end. Not only did I find myself staying late in the office, but when I got home, because I was managing the Global Client business, I was also on evening calls with New York. After a few months, I realized I would need to adjust my schedule to make time for family. When you’re a professional, you know what you need to do to get the job done. Being at the office when my kids were having dinner and going to bed was not required to get the job done. I made a schedule that worked for me and had no negative impact on my boss or my team. I came to the office early and got home in time to have dinner with my kids and then got back online to answer emails and take calls after they went to bed. Had I listened to all the people telling me not to take this job while my kids were young, I would have missed out on an incredible opportunity to work in Singapore.
If you’re a parent, is the job you have now the same one you had before kids? If not, how and why did you change directions?
Slightly different. I’ve become more focused on jobs where I play to my strengths vs. develop my weaknesses. When I was just starting out my career I would look for roles that would round out my skillsets. I had a natural proclivity toward marketing and communications, so I went out of my way to take on assignments in finance and risk. At some point, however, I’ve learned that in order to continue succeeding you need to start focusing on what you’re good at. You’ll save yourself some stress and have more balance in your life as a result. With kids, this has become particularly important to me.
Do you think having “it all” is realistic or overrated and why?
My definition of having it all is simple. For me, having it all means having a successful professional life and a fulfilling personal one. By this definition, I believe it’s possible. Now, if your definition of having it all means perfection as in reaching the highest beauty standard, highest marriage standard, highest mother standard, highest homemaker standard, and highest work standard (taken from Wonder Women: Sex, Power, and the Quest for Perfection written by President of Barnard College Debora L. Spar) then no one—man or woman—can have it all.
What part of “balance” can you just not seem to figure out?
Physical fitness. I have watched many of my girlfriends (even those who were never particularly athletic like me) get hooked on some form of physical fitness whether it’s yoga or pilates, running, or Soul Cycle. They have found their “thing” and incorporated it into their life, which gives them more balance. I try to run with my husband on the weekends but it’s not quite the same. Writer and actor Mindy Kaling recently said, “I have to pretend when I run that I’m avenging the murder of my husband.” This actually resonated with me!
What part of “balance” are you getting better at?
Prioritizing. Being at the right place at the right time for the right thing. Sometimes this means being at my son’s school volunteering to teach a lesson. Other times it means being at a work dinner engaging a client.
What was the best advice you ever heard on balance…
From a mentor/co-worker? “Be prepared.”
From your mother? “Don’t let perfection hold you back.”
From your spouse? “It doesn’t matter what other people think.”
From your kids? “If family is most important, why are there 5 office days and only 2 non-office days? Isn’t that baliktad?” (My son was 3 at the time and baliktad means “backwards” or “opposite” in Filipino/Tagalog.)
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?
Writing my thoughts and reflections for that day.
What do you wish you’d known when you were 20?
“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.”
What do you hope to know by the time you’re 60?
I hope I (still) know how to write letters. Communication has become so much more convenient, but it’s also become so much more brief. My friends and I have gone from long letters to short emails to one sentence text messages.
What one part of your home life do you wish you could outsource?
Cleaning (and admittedly, I do so).
Whose job do you wish you had?
Kelly Ripa, Jon Stewart. They meet and speak with fascinating people every day and still have a manageable and predictable schedule conducive to family life.
Whose job are you glad you don’t have?
Any job that won’t allow me to manage my own schedule (for the most part).
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling, Funny in Farsi: A Memoir of Growing Up Iranian in America by Firoozeh Dumas and Leap of Faith: Memoirs of an Unexpected Life by Queen Noor.
What are you reading right now?
Thrive by Arianna Huffington, #GirlBoss by Sophia Amoruso, and The Soft Edge: Where Great Companies Find Lasting Success by Rich Karlgaard.
Food? McDonald’s fries.
How many hours do you generally sleep at night during the week?
What do you read every morning?
The New York Times, The Straits Times, The Wall Street Journal, Twitter and Facebook news feeds.
Complete the following sentences:
I think I: have an amazing family and support system.
I wish I: could see my oldest and dearest friends regularly (but still live in Singapore).
My kids: have the most infectious smiles.
Do you have a personal motto or favorite saying?
“The happiest people don’t have the best of everything, they make the best of everything.”
Marie Claire Lim Moore is a Filipina-Canadian-American working mother and author of Don’t Forget the Soap. After spending the early part of her childhood in Vancouver, Claire moved to New York City and attended the United Nations International School. She went on to study at Yale, climb the corporate ladder at Citi, and travel around the world. She met her husband, Alex, while working in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and they married in Manila, Philippines shortly before moving to Singapore. Now Mom to Carlos, Isabel, and Sofia, Claire also manages the Global Client business for Citi in Asia where she is responsible for the retail bank’s global services across 13 countries.
Claire is regularly ranked among leaders in the Asian-American professional community and her experiences have been written about in The New York Times, USA Today, Smart Parenting, Good Housekeeping and People Asia. She enjoys juggling her thriving career and growing family, fundraising for Filipino community events, and promoting work-family balance for women through her talks as well as her writing.
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 | No. 45: Kimi Culp, Producer, Author and Creative Consultant
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 46: Traci Bild, Entrepreneur
The Balance Project Interview Series Turns 1!
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 47: Laura Vanderkam, Journalist and Author
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 48: Amy Tara Koch, Style Expert and Author
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 49: Cozy Friedman, Kids’ Hair Expert
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 50: Bobbii Hach-Jacobs, Music Promoter
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 51: Niketa Jhaveri, Game Creator and Web Designer
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 52: Sheri Silver, Blogger
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 53: Lori Pollan, Cookbook Author
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 54: Chatón Turner, Attorney and Blogger
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 55: Joanne Wilson, Investor and Blogger
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 56: Nicola Kraus, Author and Creative Coach
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 57: Shiri Sarfati, Marketing Expert
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 58: Audrey McClelland, Entrepreneur and Blogger
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 59: Jessica Lahey, Writer and Teacher
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 60: Lindsay Bressler, Entrepreneur