THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 77: Jill Royster, Marketing 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—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. 77: Jill Royster, Marketing Consultant

Age: 41
Where I live:
 New York City
Job: Founder, Jill Royster Consulting

JCRSmallPhotoHave you changed jobs or adjusted anything in your career to have more balance?
Absolutely. In 2007 I got very sick and had to move home with my parents in VA for 4 months. It was a very humbling experience, particularly because I had to rely on my parents to help with everything: driving, changing my dressings, bathing, etc. Although I tried working virtually from my parents’ dining room table, it was hard to keep up with the day-to-day demands of my job. Without the ability to participate in a full day of meetings or travel from week to week, I felt useless and ineffective. It was a dark time because my job was my identity. The entire situation forced me to reevaluate who I was, how and where I spent my time, and what I wanted from my life (not just my job) moving forward. I needed a more balanced approach to living. It seems reckless thinking about it now, but soon after returning to NYC, I quit my job and traveled throughout Africa for three months. Nothing like the African bush to bring “balance” into perspective.

Do you think having “it all” is realistic or overrated and why?
I think you can have it all, just not at one time. My definition of having “it all” has changed considerably over the years. In my 20s, it meant living in Greenwich Village and becoming a “Director” by 30. In my 30s, it meant becoming a “Sr. Director” (priority #1), having a boyfriend (priority #2) and traveling someplace far flung (priority #1.5). Now that I’m in my 40s, it is much more emotional than tactical. I want to go to bed each night feeling good about the day. Period. It’s hard work just keeping it that simple.

What part of “balance” can you just not seem to figure out?
I haven’t yet figured out how to not get sucked back into the grind. I started my own marketing consulting company in 2008 to try and create more balance between work and more “purposeful endeavors”—like photography, which is my passion. But it’s still askew—I’m more aware of the discrepancy; it’s just not yet fully integrated.

What part of “balance” are you getting better at?
I’m getting better at drawing boundaries. For me, this is the secret sauce for creating (and maintaining) more balance in life.

What was the best advice you ever heard on balance…
From a mentor/co-worker?
“Success is the intelligent use of mistakes.”
From your mother?
(and my grandmother, Mimi) “Let it go.”
From your spouse?
“Learn to love the inner-Jill.”  

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?
I would try to squeeze in a workout and then have dinner with a friend, talking about life, love, and the pursuit of happiness over a good bottle of Oregon Pinot Noir. Then I’d get home way later than expected, and my husband would tell me I cram too much into an hour!

What do you wish you’d known when you were 20?
That work would satisfy you but not complete you.

What do you hope to know by the time you’re 60?
I want to truly embody the mantra “life is short.”

What one part of your home life do you wish you could outsource?
Cooking.

Whose job do you wish you had?
I wish I could be a travel photographer who brings greater attention to global issues—be it hunger, illness, conflict, or some needed change. Being based in Africa, at least part of the year, would be the icing on the cake.

Whose job are you glad you don’t have?
I would not want to work in politics today.

Favorite books?
A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving and Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela.

What are you reading right now?
The Confidence Code by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman.

Biggest vices…
Activity? 
Exercise. (I love to exercise, but it doesn’t always love me back!)
Food?
 French fries.
Website? Afar.com (my favorite travel website right now).

How many hours do you generally sleep at night during the week?
I sleep 5-6 hours per night. Sleep does not come easy for me as my mind is always spinning. Ambien is my best bedtime friend.

What do you read every morning?
The New York Post.

Complete the following sentences:
I think: a lot about what it means to live (and practice) a purposeful life.
I wish I: didn’t worry so much.

Do you have a personal motto or favorite saying?
Expect it when you least expect it.

PastedGraphic-2PastedGraphic-2About Jill:
The Founder of Jill Royster Consulting, Jill has 20+ years experience in partnership marketing with recognized success in the creation and execution of strategic initiatives and associated marketing programs.  Her experience has been focused in the sports and entertainment industries, working in both traditional media as well as experiential marketing efforts. She is currently working with an NYC-based advisory firm to develop a global thought leadership initiative that uses “sport” to drive societal benefit.

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