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 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.”
2015 marks the second full year of The Balance Project! And there’s lots in store: First, The Balance Project is celebrating its first birthday. Read all about how it got started and what I’ve learned from it here. Second, my second book, THE BALANCE PROJECT: A NOVEL, will be published in April. It’s women’s fiction and it was inspired by these interviews. More about that here. Third, in preparation for the launch and because these interviews have received such tremendous response, I will publish new interviews two or three times per week, not just on Fridays. Thank you for your continued support!
No. 51: Niketa Jhaveri, Game Creator and Web Designer
Where I live: Naperville, IL
Job: Founder and Co-CEO of Brave Champs
Kids: Two boys, ages 2 and 5
Is the job you have now the same one you had before kids? If not, how and why did you change directions?
For 14 years I have been in the User Experience and Design field. I still am because you can never forget the artistic side of you. I now apply my UX skills in creating a product rather than a software on the computer screen. The only thing that changed for me after having kids was to manage my time more efficiently. I am still learning how to juggle between the roles of mom and entrepreneur better and do both with all my heart.
Do you think having “it all” is realistic or overrated and why?
It really depends upon your definition of “all.” First define on a piece of paper what “all” means to you and look around. Can you mark all the items in your list? Then yes, you can have it all. But be realistic with your list; don’t have an item like “ I want to be the richest person in America” OR “I want to be a perfect mother.” That would just leave you dissatisfied. In my “all” list, I have 1. Raise a healthy family 2. Strive each day in my business to be better than yesterday 3. Focus where I am spending time. When I look at this list, I can mark it to say “YES, I can have it all.”
What part of “balance” can you just not seem to figure out?
I am very uneasy if I don’t get it perfect, even if it is as small as making a birthday card or creating a special car out of Legos for my son. I have to have it perfect. And because of that, I lose track of time. So I am training myself to let go of things even if it is 90%. One day, I will get there!
What part of “balance” are you getting better at?
I am getting better at advance planning. Things don’t happen if you sit around ￼and wait. You just have to be more proactive to make things happen. I have a huge scrum board in my home office. I learned about it from working in an agile environment (IT lingo) over the years, and that helps me focus and make advance plans whether it’s for family or my business. It helps me feel more in charge of my time.
What was the best advice you ever heard on balance…
From a mentor/co-worker? “Start saying NO!”
From your mother? “Create a to-do list and stick with it. Make sure you finish that by the end of the day.”
From your kids? “It’s ok that it’s not perfect mama… it’s perfect for me!”
What do you wish you’d known when you were 20?
To focus on what I wanted to do rather than listening to others say, “You can’t do that.” Well, I am still young and finally blocking all that negative talk, but I am all ears for pragmatic advice.
What do you hope to know by the time you’re 60?
That my needs also are priorities in my life.
What one part of your home life do you wish you could outsource?
Dishes and laundry! I cook a lot at home. From fresh breakfasts in the morning to three different meals for dinner: protein-rich for the kids, interesting meal for hubby, and low-carb salad for me. So you can imagine how many dishes I have by the end of the day. Thanks to my husband for helping me out, but we definitely need help there. Anyone out there looking for work? LOL
Whose job do you wish you had?
Professional organizer. It is so therapeutic to have everything in your house organized. I love how they are so perfect in everything they do, and at the end you get what you need in a few seconds like magic! I try and try to organize but at the end I lose patience.
Whose job are you glad you don’t have?
Anyone with repetitive tasks everyday. I am a creative and passionate human being. I thrive on creativity whether it’s my cooking or my designs. I can’t stand doing the same thing everyday!
What are you reading right now?
Smart Parenting, Smarter Kids by David Walsh, Ph.D.
Activity? I love to dance—it brings the inner me out. I used to be a choreographer in years back but not so much anymore. I love to craft, too. It just makes me feel happy to make something out of paper and it’s tangible. My basement is filled with crazy craft supplies, which I may not finish using until I am retired.
Food? Roadside Pav Bhaji (Indian cuisine).
Website? Pinterest, to get creative ideas.
How many hours do you generally sleep at night during the week?
I take 7 hours of beauty sleep. My brain won’t function without it.
What do you read every morning?
Complete the following sentences:
I think I: like the new me who is in more control of all aspects of life.
I wish: to take videos of my kids before they grow up right in front of our eyes.
My kids: and my husband are my three lifelines.
Do you have a personal motto or favorite saying?
“Try to play and have a chance at winning rather than be on the sideline and already be a loser.”
Niketa is a mother of two boys and the Founder and Co-CEO of the educational board game Brave Champs. She is also an advisor for two new and upcoming IT platforms in 2015 and a User Experience Designer by heart. Niketa got her Masters in Human Computer Interaction with distinction from DePaul University in Chicago. Her mission is to educate kids through fun methods one kid at a time.
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 1: Jessica Mindich, Entrepreneur
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 2: Veronica Beard, Fashion Designer
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 3: Emily Liebert, Author
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 4: Lyss Stern, Mom-trepreneur
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 5: Lauren Slayton, Nutritionist
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 6: Elizabeth Moyer, Blogger
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 7: Annabel Monaghan, Author
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 8: Holly Gordon, Director
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 9: Jill Salzman, Entrepreneur
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 10: Jennifer Levinson, Jen’s List
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 11: Jenny Hutt, Media Personality
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 12: Angela Santomero, Kids’ Media Creator
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 13: Carola Donato, Yogi
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 14: Tiffany Washington, Pastry Designer
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 15: Emily Giffin, Author
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 16: Alana Sanko, Writer
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 17: Cara Lemieux, Journalist
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 18: Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke, Authors
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 19: Nikki Mark, Author & Foundation Director
Shonda Rhimes on Doing It All
Indra Nooyi on Balance
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 21: Jill Bryan, Comedian
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 22: Cindy Callaghan, Author
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 23: Stephanie Hirsch, Artist
My Times of India Interview on Work-Life Balance
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 24: Whitney Dineen, Author/Baker
AmEx’s Sobbott on Balance
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 25: J0-Laine Duke-Collins, Dessert Stylist
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 26: Whitney English, Entrepreneur
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 27: Jennifer Gooch Hummer, Author
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 28: Melissa Amster, Book Blogger
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 29: Nigel Marsh, Author and Entrepreneur
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 30: DayNa Decker, Entrepreneur
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 31: Amy Selling, Blogger
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 32: Heather Sonnenberg, Entrepreneur
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 33: Allison Winn Scotch, Author
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 34: Bibi Kasrai, Entrepreneur and Chef
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 35: Karen Sutton MD, Orthopaedic Surgeon
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 36: Samantha Ettus, Balance Expert, Author, TV/Radio Personality
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 37: Pam Yudko, Holistic Health and Transformational Coach
THE BALANCE PROJECT| No. 38: Nancy Huang, Nonprofit Outreach Director
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 39: Mary Laura Philpott, Writer, Editor and Illustrator
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 40: Towanda Long, Marketing Communications Specialist
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 41: Kristyn Kusek Lewis, Writer
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 42: Tracy Pollan, Actor and Writer
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 43: Christianne Phillips, Fitness Consultant and Writer
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 44: Susannah Lewis, Writer
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 45: Kimi Culp, Producer, Author and Creative Consultant
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 46: Traci Bild, Entrepreneur
The Balance Project Interview Series Turns 1!
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 47: Laura Vanderkam, Journalist and Author
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 48: Amy Tara Koch, Style Expert and Author
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 49: Cozy Friedman, Kids’ Hair Expert
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 50: Bobbii Hach-Jacobs, Music Promoter