THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 116: Jenna Segal, Producer

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. 116: Jenna Segal, Producer

Age: 39
Where I live:
 New York City
Job: Producer
Kids:
 Three kids ages 4, 7, 9

jennasegalHave you changed jobs or adjusted anything in your career to have more balance?
I quit my job so that I could stay home with my children because I did not believe I could have balance working in network television in production. Approximately two years after having my first child I started dabbling in a passion project, to see my favorite movie GIGI as a show on Broadway. I worked for myself on the project and was able to make my own schedule which, while at times did not give balance, did give me more flexibility and control of my own schedule. The great thing about Broadway producing is it takes a really long time to make a show happen and then there is a flurry of activity that you can ramp up for. Once a show opens, there is a calm. It is still stressful and time-consuming but not 24-hour-a-day-7-day-a-week time-consuming…and shows don’t start until 7 or 8 so if you live in the city you can be home for dinner then go back to the theater if needed.

Do you think having “it all” is realistic or overrated and why?
I do not believe it is realistic to have it all because when I try to do it all I do nothing well. I need a team that includes a babysitter, parents, husband, and “a village” to achieve anything both in and outside of my home at the level I expect of myself.

What part of “balance” can you just not seem to figure out?
Friends. When I am really churning away at work and keeping it all together at home, I am not as good of a friend as my friends expect. It leads to a lot of hurt feelings and disappointment.

What part of “balance” are you getting better at?
Letting go of the guilt. I used to feel guilty about missing every playdate or pick up at school or
event for friends. But I know my kids are really proud that I made my dream happen, and they will remember GIGI more than my missing pick-up.

Do you have a favorite time management tool, hack, or other strategy you use that helps you achieve balance?
Photo on 9-24-15 at 6.08 PMGoogle calendar makes me feel connected to my kids’ day so I don’t feel guilty. I also have a giant white board on a wall in my home so when I leave that day, I can know exactly what is up for the kids on the way out the door like PE or library or playdates! It leaves space in my head when I’m working to feel like I’m still connected. I do also schedule exercise in my calendar, but I have to because I hate it and will find any excuse to not do it.

What was the best advice you ever heard on balance? 
From a mentor/co-worker? 
I was one of very few female co-workers to have kids while working in Broadway, but Heidi Thomas, who is a mother, wife, and the writer of Call the Midwife (and my partner in crime), told me it would all be ok. I believed her. She’s very smart.
From your mother? “Don’t stop working.” (I didn’t listen.)
From your spouse/partner? 
“Broaden your conversation.”
From your kids? “Pay attention… to me!”

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?
Alone… I’m an only child. An hour of alone time for me is decadent!

What do you wish you’d known when you were 20?
That life is full of compromise and complication. There are no absolutes.

What do you hope to know by time you’re 60?
How to be satisfied.

What one part of your home life do you wish you could outsource?
I feel like I have the right balance in my home life right now, but I outsource a lot. My nanny is a great returner of packages, and she does all of that for me so there are no Amazon packages piling up! I also have her sort through the mail and separate bills and throw out all the junk which keeps the piles from building up.

Whose job do you wish you had?
Lisa Sugar‘s. She runs a company called POPSUGAR. We went to college together and I think what she created is amazing!

Whose job are you glad you don’t have?
Barack Obama’s.

Favorite books?
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.

What are you reading right now?
That Kennedy Girl by Robert Jr. DeMaria.

Biggest vices…
Activity? Honestly, biting my nails. I can’t shake it. I know I should say, “Soul Cycle” but I could make biting my nails a full-time activity.
Food? Wine.. that’s a food group right?
Website? Net-a-Porter… refer back to nanny returner. She has banned me from using it because I am 5’1″ and their clothes are for women 5’10”.

How many hours do you generally sleep at night during the week?
If no kids come in then 7.5. If they keep coming in then a non-consecutive 6.

What do you read every morning?
New York Times summary. US Weekly and People summary.

Complete the following sentences:
I think I: have not yet accomplished what I am supposed to in life.
I wish I: were better at fundraising so I could make all the projects that are in my head!
My kids: 
are my most important job, and my legacy but cannot be my most important accomplishment. It would be too much of a burden for them to carry.

Do you have a personal motto or favorite saying?
“Take your passion and make it happen.” I started singing that song (from Flashdance) when I was 8 with my feet taped in masking tape and leg-warmers. It stuck.

Anything else you’d like to add?
People always say if you love what you do you will be successful. I think it is really important for a woman who is working with kids to know before taking that advice how she defines success, because sometimes the kind of work you really love isn’t compatible with a family all at once, but if you stay interested in what you love, it can be later in your journey.

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About Jenna:
JS_BusinessCard_Front_FINALJS_BusinessCard_Front_FINAL
Jenna Segal heads Segal NYC, a production company focused on developing content for women in theater, film, television, and digital. Segal most recently was the lead producer of GIGI starring Vanessa Hudgens, which she shepherded to Broadway after a sold-out run at the Kennedy Center, and is an associate producer of LADY Parts, a web series. She began her career in political talk shows in Washington, DC including CNBC’s Equal Time and CNN. Later, Segal moved to the VIACOM networks (MTV, VH1, Nicktoons, Nickelodeon) working in production management development on live shows and events, animated programing, reality competitions, variety shows, documentaries, live action gaming shows, game shows, documentary programming, extreme sport competition/shows, and reality programming, escalating to the position of director of production management development.

Jenna serves on the Board of Directors for the Birthright Israel Foundation. In the development spirit she created the successful Passport Program currently being implemented at the JCC Manhattan. Jenna also serves as a member of the Board of Directors for Women’s Project Theater and A Better Balance. She is a member of the Central Park Conservancy Women’s Committee and Emily’s List Majority Council as well as the Broadway League. Jenna has three children and lives with her husband in New York City.

Find out more about Jenna:
www.segalnyc.com
Twitter: @jennakatzsegal
Instagram: @jennasegal

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

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