THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 104: Stacy Sukov Blackman, MBA Consultant

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. 104: Stacy Sukov Blackman

Age: 43
Where I live:
 Los Angeles, CA
Job: Founder & President, Stacy Blackman Consulting
Kids: Two daughters, 5 & 8, and a son, 12

SB 089Have you changed jobs or adjusted anything in your career to have more balance?
When I launched my business I was doing absolutely everything by myself and things were pretty hectic. As the business grew, I started to outsource various roles so that I could be the type of mother I wanted to be and also grow my business. There have been times when my balance has shifted in favor of mommy mode (for example after my third was born). Other times, the balance has shifted the other way. All around me there are full-time moms as well as moms who work full time and outsource to nannies. I chose something in between for myself, and I am constantly tweaking the roles that I take on in the business in order to reach my personal ideal balance. The pendulum on my scale is constantly swinging.

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?
NO. After my first child was born I left my full-time job in online marketing and decided to give my tiny on-the-side consulting practice a chance to grow. I kept thinking that I did not want to ask permission to take my child to the doctor or to a music class. I wanted to be fully in charge of my schedule. Being in charge has allowed me to find my balance, and that balance often changes according to my needs and desires.

Do you think having “it all” is realistic or overrated and why?
I think having “it all” is realistic and not overrated, but it depends on your definition of having “it all.” I definitely do not DO it all, but I do most of the things that I want to do. As a parent I carve out the moments that I want to be present for, which is when they are home from school. I am not running the PTA; I am not designing Pinterest style parties for them; I am not super mom. But I love going to their games, their shows, picking them up from school, and sitting down to dinner as a family every night.

Professionally, I squeeze in work when I can and I delegate responsibilities that require more attention or more regularity than I can give. My schedule is too unpredictable to consult with clients. I do not take any meetings before 9 or after 3. I may miss a room mom meeting to attend a work conference, but if it comes to face time with my kids, the kids always win.

I think I have found a balance that makes me feel I do have it all.

What part of “balance” can you just not seem to figure out?
Making enough time for all of the great people in my life. I’d love to have more lunches with my mom, dad, or sister. I’d love to meet up every night for dinner with friends. I’d love to do a better job of staying in touch with old friends who are not local. Ultimately people and experiences bring me a lot of joy, but often they become a lower priority because I am busy getting all the other “stuff” done.

What part of “balance” are you getting better at?
Realizing that I cannot do it all and asking for help. When things don’t happen at work, tapping someone on my team to manage the project. Getting help at home to take on the small projects that would never happen otherwise. My instinct is always to take it on myself and that’s just not possible.

What was the best advice you ever heard on balance?
From a mentor/co-worker?
“You can fake it. Passion makes up for experience.”
From your mother?
 “When people are unkind, remember it’s often because they feel terrible about themselves.”
From your spouse? “Sometimes you need to do the right thing instead of being ‘right’.”
From your kids? “Stop worrying!”

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?
Cooking—I never, ever, ever cook, and I think it would be fun. Or just taking a walk and enjoying the day!

What do you wish you’d known when you were 20?
That all of the twists and turns are just part of the journey. The things that are scary or frustrating or difficult all amount to something great. You will take steps backwards and sideways but from it you learn and do end up moving forward. Life is a marathon, not a sprint.

What do you hope to know by time you’re 60?
Why we are here.

What one part of your home life do you wish you could outsource?
Putting my kids to sleep. (Is that terrible?) Love the bed time story and hug but having to lie down with my five-year-old…after twelve years of this with various children…I am done!

Whose job do you wish you had?
Emmanuelle Alt, Vogue Paris Editor.

Whose job are you glad you don’t have?
Most people’s. I don’t really want a job; I like being my own boss a lot.

Favorite books?
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl.

What are you reading right now?
Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan.

Biggest vices…
Activity? US Magazine.
Food? Gummy candy.
Website? Shopping on Net-a-Porter.

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

What do you read every morning?
I dive straight into email and clear out the easy stuff. Then I try not to look at my email until end of day. Otherwise I would spend all day just answering emails and not getting anything done.

Complete the following sentences:
I think I: have a lot to be grateful for, and I am grateful!
I wish I: felt comfortable with public speaking.
My kids: show me what it’s all about and remind me that no matter what, I have an amazing family and I can derive great joy and meaning just from that.

Do you have a personal motto or favorite saying?
Yoda said this: “Do or do not. There is no try.”

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About Stacy:
A successful entrepreneur for over a decade, Stacy Blackman has a proven track record, having founded and sold her first company, WebWisher.com, in 1999. During this time, Fortune Magazine chronicled Stacy’s career for a span of nearly two years, running stories about her in several issues and featuring her on their cover in May of 2000. WebWisher is now part of The Knot, a publicly traded company.

sbc-logoStacy earned her BS in Economics from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and her MBA from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University. Following business school, Stacy tapped into her flair for invention and began building businesses, launching WebWisher, evaluating businesses as a Resident Entrepreneur at idealab! and eventually launching Stacy Blackman Consulting, the leading admissions consulting advisory.

SBC has a popular video series, runs live and virtual workshops and now has a publishing arm, with 25+ e-guides covering different aspects of the MBA admissions process. Stacy was elected for two terms to the Board of Directors of AIGAC, the Association of International Graduate Admissions Consultants. Stacy writes the Strictly Business MBA blog for U.S. News and has published a book, The MBA Application Roadmap. She is also a contributor to the Wharton Blog Network and has published articles for hundreds of websites and print publications. Stacy currently resides in Los Angeles with her husband and three children.

Find out more about Stacy:
www.stacyblackman.com
Twitter: @StacyBlackman
Facebook: StacyBlackmanConsulting
Instagram: @StacyBlackman
Pinterest: StacyBlackman

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

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