THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 113: Courtney Nichols Gould, Co-Founder & Co-CEO SmartyPants Vitamins

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. 113: Courtney Nichols Gould, Co-Founder & Co-CEO SmartyPants Vitamins

Age: 45
Where I live:
 Venice Beach, CA
Job: Co-Founder & Co-CEO SmartyPants Vitamins
Kids:
Proud stepmom to an 11-year-old boy and 13-year-old girl

Courtney- Official Headshot 2015Have you changed jobs or adjusted anything in your career to have more balance?
Building the business from inside our house allowed us to both be more flexible about when we work. It also allowed the kids to be a part of it (they were 5 and 7 when we started the company) and see what it takes to make something from scratch.

Do you think having “it all” is realistic or overrated and why?
I think you bring meaning to things, so everything can have meaning and be worthwhile. For me, the experience is more dynamic. I think “it” is informed by what you are focused on and you can’t focus on lots of things at once but I do think you can increase the chances that you will take meaning and joy from all of your experiences if you give your full focus and that your focus will move around. The key is to not be doing one thing while focused on another and to not worry that whatever you are not focusing on is suffering for it. Giving things breathing room (be they jobs, spouses, kids) benefit both from your focus AND from your inattention.

What part of “balance” can you just not seem to figure out?
Travel as a necessary part of work, travel you want to take with family/friends, and time at home. Not enough time for all those. I need 400 days/year and I would be set!

Do you have a favorite time management tool, hack, or other strategy you use that helps you achieve balance?
I meditate before I get out of bed, before I let my feet touch the floor (okay, maybe after I have a sip of water). And that meditation makes me better at everything else I do, more able to focus during the day, etc.

What was the best advice you ever heard on balance? 
From your mother?
 “Slow down.”
From your spouse/partner? 
“Not everything needs or benefits from your attention all the time.”
From your kids? “We miss you when you are gone.” As kids get older and get less interested in sharing the details of their lives, being gone here and there creates reunion moments and they get chatty again!

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?
With horses or swimming or hiking or at a fabulous dinner party.

What do you wish you’d known when you were 20?
You are just fine, and even, better than fine, and having nothing to apologize for.

What do you hope to know by time you’re 60?
That no time is wasted.

What one part of your home life do you wish you could outsource?
Packing. Packing. Packing. Did I mention packing?

Whose job do you wish you had?
The woman I met who raises orphaned lions, tigers, etc. to be re released into the wild; someone helping to stop the slaughter of elephants; an astronaut; Formula 1 race car driver; top-of-her-game dancer/parkour/America Ninja Warrior; or top female polo player. (There are A LOT of jobs I would love to have, and I may still get to do some of them!)

Whose job are you glad you don’t have?
Anyone who has to work in an environment of fear: fear of losing their job, fear of injury, fear of making ends meet. Or jobs with repetitive physical labor that creates chronic pain and a lack of agency/self control.

Favorite books?
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Reflections on the Art of Living: A Joseph Campbell Companion by Joseph Campbell.

What are you reading right now?
Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith and The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro. (Both are very very good.)

Biggest vices…
Activity? Eating sea salt & vinegar chips while cuddled with family watching Master Chef. I’m not really sure it’s a vice because we always learn stuff. But the chips, the chips are bad.
Food? See Activity Vice. And sugar cookies.
Website? Nature porn and baby animal videos. I have watched thousands of videos.

How many hours do you generally sleep at night during the week?
7. I protect my sleep vigilantly. It makes the difference between a good and bad day, big ideas and lazy thinking.

What do you read every morning?
The faces of the people I love to see how they are starting the day. This includes our dogs!

Complete the following sentences:
I think I: am doing what I’m meant to be doing.
I wish I: knew I had another 200 years and a way to save all the species and the beautiful planet we inhabit.
My kids: 
bring out my best and worst self and always show me what I still need to work on.

Do you have a personal motto or favorite saying?
“Never, never, never give up.” —Winston Churchill. And, “Floor it and steer like crazy.” —Mario Andretti

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Courtney- Official FUN Headshot 2015About Courtney:
Since 2010, Courtney Nichols Gould has been the co-founder and co-CEO of SmartyPants Inc., a leading preventive health care brand putting better health in the reach of more people every day. Prior to starting SmartyPants, Courtney was the founding COO of CLEAR, the original fast pass for airport security, and the president of Mail.com. She is an advisor to and angel investor in various stage start ups across a variety of industries including: ReChar, DadLabs, and HAH. Courtney is also committed to helping with access to clean water, a board member of Blue Planet Run and Founding Well, and a donor to charity:water.

Find out more about Courtney:
www.smartypantsvitamins.com
Twitter: @courtsmarty, @smartyhealth
Facebook: SmartyPants Vitamins
Instagram: @courtsmarty
Pinterest: @smartyhealth

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

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