Welcome to THE BALANCE PROJECT: a series of relevant and refreshingly candid interviews featuring inspiring and accomplished women talking about work-life 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. 171: Debbie Saviano, Co-Founder of Women’s Leadership Live

Age: 64
Where I live: North Texas
Job: Co-Founder of Women’s Leadership Live
Kids: Tawny Saviano Hale (46) and David Alan Saviano (45)

Have you changed jobs or adjusted anything in your career to have more balance?
My first career was as an educator and school principal of five campuses (pre-K to high school). I transitioned into a career as a social media strategist and, along with Linda McMahon and Stacey Schieffelin, founded Women’s Leadership LIVE in 2014. As business owners, we establish our work schedule and thus, have the flexibility to identify priorities which enable us to “try” and have that balance we all seek.

Do you think having “it all” is realistic or impossible and why?
Words have power and they influence the thoughts and actions of others. In communicating a message that we can “have it all,” unrealistic expectations are placed upon women AND when was a man asked that same question? Instead, we must identify what it is we want to accomplish in each of our chapters and seasons of life, thereby allowing us to “have it all.”

Do you prefer the phrase “work-life balance” or “work-life integration”? Or do you think they’re both terrible?
Personally, I lean toward “work-life integration.” Today, we seem to be more in tune with the importance of creating a life that is filled with those activities and responsibilities which are in alignment with our overall life goals and DREAMS.

What part of “balance” can you not seem to figure out?
Traveling makes it challenging to balance healthy eating and exercise. In full transparency, it is something I struggle with daily.

What part of “balance” are you getting better at?
Thanks to technology, time management is something I have a much better handle on. Apps and programs designed to help us stay organized are highly effective and are in my tool kit. I’m always on the lookout for the “next big thing” that will make our lives easier.

Do you have a favorite time management tool, hack, or other strategy you use that helps you achieve balance that you would recommend to others?
Utilizing Google Documents: Calendar and Basecamp are programs/features that we use at Women’s Leadership LIVE. Both of these allow the WLL team to have instant accessibility to all projects and appointments. As someone who could spend a lot of time on social media where we can all be so easily distracted and lose a crazy amount of time, I utilize a social media campaign calendar I created, which enables me to concentrate on the objectives of why I’m there.

What’s the best advice you ever heard on balance?
From a mentor/co-worker?
Focus on what it is you want to accomplish and put your efforts there.
From your mother? Don’t think you can do it all; it’s impossible.
From your spouse? Time is money and we determine how and where to spend our energies and how to best utilize the hours in a day.
From your kids? You can’t save the world, Mom!

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?
Exercise and meditation.

What do you wish you’d known when you were 20?
That we determine our destiny and the sooner we identify what it is we want to spend our life doing the easier the journey will be. Also, that we cannot do this alone. Having a community of like-minded women who understand and are open to transparent conversations can make all the difference in the world. Time runs out and we have no guarantees. Make the most of it!

What do you hope to know by the time you’re 60?
Already there, and I feel strongly that we have this life journey to experience but once and we have a responsibility to leave our space better than when we entered it. Placing great value on relationships is the cornerstone of success, personally and professionally.

What one part of your home life do you wish you could outsource?
With age, you recognize that you should focus on activities you enjoy AND are really good at. For me, domestic support affords me time to spend on the business. Having my home cleaned professionally allows me additional time that I would not have had otherwise. I also view this as helping a woman grow her own business.

Whose job do you wish you had?
It might sound silly but I truly believe that we each have a purpose in this life. Wishing and hoping for someone else’s life takes away from what we are meant to contribute. With that said, it is often times motivating for us to view what someone else is doing and model our actions after their accomplishments. Being a co-founder of Women’s Leadership LIVE is a dream come true as it allows me the opportunity to have such a positive impact on women around the globe. I wouldn’t trade that for anything.

Whose job are you glad you don’t have?
In the words of Dolly Parton, “Working 9 to 5,” where you are working for someone else and your options are limited.

Favorite books?
The Big Leap: Conquer Your Hidden Fear and Take Life to the Next Level by Gay Hendricks and The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan.

What are you reading right now?
The Go-Giver: A Little Story About a Powerful Business Idea by Bob Burg and John David Mann.

Biggest vices?
I consider activity a must, so I need to do more not less.
Salty snacks.
Social media.

How many hours do you generally sleep at night during the week?
7-8 as I feel strongly that sleep is critical for efficiency. A ten-minute afternoon nap is a great refresher.

What do you read every morning?
Spirituals—currently The Daily Message: Through the Bible In One Year by Eugene H. Peterson. Journaling is also an important aspect of my morning rituals. I find that taking time to be grateful as well as examining the day that lies before me allows me to prioritize.

Complete the following sentences:
I think I: am most fortunate to have the relationships in my life and activities I have experienced.
I wish I: knew then what I know now!
My kids: are my greatest joy and represent what I hope for the future: individuals who have a strong faith and are committed to creating a world that we all want to live in.

Do you have a personal motto or favorite saying?
We all want to be Charged & Connected!

Anything else you’d like to add?
As a mature woman, I look back on my life and recognize that everything I have done has involved education. There is no greater gift or responsibility than being a life-long learner. Today, we have the ability to access information via a multitude of platforms and in doing so, acquire more knowledge than ever before. Let us take advantage of the opportunities we have to obtain knowledge but also to share that which we have learned. In doing so, we can come together to create a world that we want to leave for generations to come.

About Debbie:
Debbie Saviano represents those who transition into something new after a successful career. In her case, it was social media. Debbie comes from the world of academia serving as principal of five different campuses with students in pre-K to high school. As an administrator, Debbie was recognized as a leader who always put students first and was an advocate for interdisciplinary education. Her passion for education and life-long learning is ever present as one of the three Founders of Women’s Leadership LIVE (WLL). Debbie views WLL as a guiding force and a champion of women, which offers a unique platform in how it educates and inspires women to launch and expand their own businesses by taking their product to market. Debbie continues to educate and train others on the power of social media, through speaking, courses, and publications. Debbie offers guidance on the power of the contemporary ROI: Return on INFLUENCE.

Find out more about Debbie:


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