THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 108: Jennifer Berson, PR Executive

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. 108: Jennifer Berson, PR Executive

Age: 39
Where I live:
 Sherman Oaks, CA
Job: Founder & President of Jeneration PR
Kids: Two sons, ages 3 and 5

JenerationPR_BTS-36Have you changed jobs or adjusted anything in your career to have more balance?
Prior to starting my PR and social media marketing firm, Jeneration PR, in 2005, I was a civil litigation attorney for four years. I looked around the law firm where I worked and didn’t see many women in leadership roles that had the kind of work and family life I was seeking. I knew that I would eventually want to get married and have children, so I realized I needed to make a dramatic change in my career to get closer to the life I wanted. I made the switch from law to PR right as I started dating my husband, and I’ve never looked back.

Do you think having “it all” is realistic or overrated and why?
I think the definition of “having it all” varies dramatically from person to person, and therefore your happiness or definition of success shouldn’t be based on comparing your life to some else’s and ultimately feeling “less than.” If you set realistic expectations and search for a life full of gratitude, then I believe you can feel like you have it all every single day, even if your ultimate goals or dreams haven’t yet been achieved. And don’t allow guilt to enter into the equation—it’s unproductive.

What part of “balance” can you just not seem to figure out?
Meal planning. I just can’t seem to pre-plan all of our weekly meals in advance so I can cook every weeknight. I’m usually running out to buy some last-minute ingredients to cook dinner for the night, or I’ll resort to serving the same 5 meals out of convenience.

What part of “balance” are you getting better at?
Self-care. I’ve come to realize the importance of taking care of myself as the glue that holds the family together. I try to take breaks from work and caring for the family for regular Girls’ Nights Out, a quick manicure, lunch with friends, or a spa day. Next up is incorporating some kind of regular fitness routine. When I am relaxed and refreshed, everything at work and home just runs so much more smoothly.  I would also add that I am trying to be better about asking for help.

Do you have a favorite time management tool, hack, or other strategy you use that helps you achieve balance?
Recent discovery for me: I absolutely love Siri on the iPhone for scheduling reminders. You can create different lists in your reminders app, and then dictate to Siri to add items to specific lists that will pop-up at a specified date & time. A few examples: “Remind me to put money in my parking meter in 22 minutes.” “Remind me to call the pediatrician tomorrow at 9:15 a.m.” “Add peanut butter to the grocery list.” You simply hold down the button to activate Siri and dictate what you need, and that’s it! Once something pops into my head, I immediately dictate a reminder and know I don’t have to think about it again until the right time. And this way, these small reminders stay out of your calendar so you can use that to schedule actual appointments and tasks that move your bigger goals forward.

What was the best advice you ever heard on balance?
From a mentor? “Balance is BS, so stop trying to achieve it… It doesn’t exist.” This inspired me so much, I wrote a blog post about it!
From your mother?
 “Ask for help and pay for it if you have to.” My mother is very independent and self-sufficient, but she’s no martyr. She is always willing to ask for help where she needs it, and encourages me to do the same. Recently, we decided to have our cleaning lady come more frequently, and when I told my mom she said, “Great! That gives you more time to take care of the things that really matter!”
From your spouse? “Do it now and don’t delay.” My husband is very organized and really good at driving projects forward. I tend to be a procrastinator, and he’s the opposite. Observing him take care of business right away, even tackling the hard, nasty tasks first, has inspired me to be more of a “doer.” Every time I want to put off doing something, I say to myself, “If I do this now, my future self will thank me.” It works.
From your kids? “Mommy, be here.” (Which I just choose to interpret as “be present.”)

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?
Planning and designing all sorts of home improvement and decorating projects around the house. I’m currently itching to redesign the front of our house to give it more curb appeal.

What do you wish you’d known when you were 20?
That my life is my own and my choices should not be guided by trying to impress people, including my parents.

What do you hope to know by time you’re 60?
How to keep my mouth shut and opinions to myself.

What one part of your home life do you wish you could outsource?
All of the “food responsibility,” from meal planning, to grocery shopping, making school lunches, and preparing all meals. I feel like a short-order cook. Even if I try to outsource the grocery shopping, I still have to plan the meals and make the shopping list. I’ve tried meal delivery kits, which were convenient and always turned out delicious, but it was way too much chopping. So. Much. Damn. Chopping!

Whose job do you wish you had?
I would love to be the senior beauty editor for a magazine or a top blog. I would be in heaven to be able to test all of the latest beauty products, gadgets, and treatments! And I think it’d be pretty amazing to be Oprah, even just for a day.

Whose job are you glad you don’t have?
Barack Obama’s. Being president of the United States seems like a horrible, thankless, impossible job. Have you ever noticed how much presidents seem to age during their time in office? No, thank you.

What are you reading right now?
I just finished The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins and now I’m reading Primates of Park Avenue by Wednesday Martin for my book club. I’m also reading a parenting book, The Blessings of a Skinned Knee by Wendy Mogel.

Biggest vices…
Activity? Social media, specifically Instagram… and just too much fiddling on my iPhone in general.
Food? Savory…Green olives and pickles and beef jerky… oh my! Oh, and all gummy candies.
Website? Refinery 29. All of their headlines are click-bait, and I fall for it every time!

How many hours do you generally sleep at night during the week?
Between 7 and 8. It’s rarely uninterrupted sleep though, as my three-year-old has been having nightmares lately. Most recently he woke up terrified and crying, “Darth Vader came into my room to destroy me!” Poor little guy!

What do you read every morning?
theSkimm, my email on my iPhone, and a quick scan of a feed of blogs I follow on BlogLovin’.

Complete the following sentences:
I think I: am an extremely fortunate person.
I wish I: could clone myself.
My kids: are like a present that I get to keep unwrapping every morning.

Do you have a personal motto or favorite saying?
“Done is better than perfect.”

Anything else you’d like to add?
Thank you so much for including me in The Balance Project. I really enjoy these interviews and am so honored to be featured in one!

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Screen Shot 2015-09-16 at 8.24.59 PMAbout Jennifer:
Jennifer Berson is the President and Founder of Jeneration PR a public relations and social media marketing firm specializing in promoting beauty, baby, and lifestyle brands. Prior to founding Jeneration PR in 2005, Jennifer was a civil litigation attorney in Los Angeles. This year, as Jeneration PR celebrates its decade anniversary, Jennifer will be launching a series of public relations courses for busy entrepreneurs.

Jennifer has been featured in the New York Times, Entrepreneur Magazine, PR Week, Huffington Post, Fox 11 News, TV Guide Network’s “Hollywood 411,” PR Web and was profiled on Apple.com. Jennifer was selected by Babble.com as one of the 10 “Mompreneur’s Who Made it Big!”

Find out more about Jennifer:
www.jenerationpr.com
Twitter: @jenerationpr
Facebook: JenerationBuzz
Instagram: @jenerationpr
Pinterest: jeneration

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

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