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. 57: Shiri Sarfati, Marketing Expert
Where I live: Miami, FL
Job: Co-Founder and President of Markati Group LLC
Kids: Two boys, 10 months and 3 years.
Is the job you have now the same one you had before kids? If not, how and why did you change directions?
No. I started to scale back at my full-time job as a corporate executive at an international skincare company when my first son was around a year and a half. I missed the time we had together and started to work more from home. Once I got pregnant with my second, corporate life was rapidly becoming less of where I wanted to be. I began teaching as an adjunct professor at The Fashion Institute of Technology. I enjoyed making my own hours, working on my class curriculum at home, and going in for a few hours a week. I knew I had it in me to start my own business. I started talking to some of my colleagues and opportunities kept coming to me. I knew that it was time to work on my own business full time and leave corporate life to have a better work-life balance.
Do you think having “it all” is realistic or overrated and why?
My mother always thought she could have it all. She is a highly successful business woman and runs a multi-million dollar company. She made it look easy. But when I started my own family, I struggled with leaving my baby in daycare or with a nanny and there really wasn’t another option. The demands of my job did not allow for flexibility. I started to feel guilty when I would duck out of a meeting to pump, or when I had to leave on time to relieve the nanny for the evening. I met with another successful mother and she said to me, “Don’t feel guilty. Do what you need to do. What feels right for you.” Those words resonated with me. I knew that being away from my children for 8+ hours a day did not feel right for me. You can’t be good at your job and be good at home. It just doesn’t work without giving up a little on both.
What part of “balance” can you just not seem to figure out?
Finding us time, for my husband and me—it is so important, and sometimes it’s so hard to carve it out. When the day is over and the kids are tucked in, I’m either at the computer finishing up on work or trying to squeeze in a quick yoga class just to feel whole again. Sometimes, having the time for a long shower feels like bliss. But having a 10-month old doesn’t give us much freedom to stray too far from home. A date night one of these evenings is definitely in order.
What part of “balance” are you getting better at?
Me time. Going to the gym, taking a yoga class, taking a swim, or just getting a much-needed pedicure. I’m learning to steal some time for myself. It just reenergizes me. I give so much of myself everyday to my kids, to my husband, and to my clients, it’s nice to do something for myself weekly.
What was the best advice you ever heard on balance…
From a mentor/co-worker? “Don’t feel guilty.”
From your mother? My mother is big on schedules. “Planning things out in advance gives you time to do it all!”
From your kids? “Mommy, don’t go to work.”
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?
Taking a walk, meeting up with a girlfriend, or calling my sister.
What do you wish you’d known when you were 20?
Not to be so stressed out. I worried about everything—about whether I would meet my husband, would I have a family, would I be successful. I wish I could tell myself at 20 to just enjoy the moment more.
What do you hope to know by the time you’re 60?
I hope to know how to find my calm.
What one part of your home life do you wish you could outsource?
At this moment, potty training. And I wouldn’t mind if my husband had a boob with milk to do the nighttime feeds—lol!
Whose job do you wish you had?
I wouldn’t mind being a young YouTube star—maybe like Michelle Phan!
Whose job are you glad you don’t have?
Any highly paid female executive at a corporate company. You give up on that “balance.” It’s just not for me at this stage of my life.
Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek, Crush It!: Why NOW Is the Time to Cash In on Your Passion by Gary Vaynerchuk, and The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger.
What are you reading right now?
Rich Dad Poor Dad: What the Rich Teach Their Kids About Money That the Poor and Middle Class Do Not! by Robert T. Kiyosaki.
Food? Dark chocolate.
How many hours do you generally sleep at night during the week?
5 hours of very interrupted sleep.
What do you read every morning?
My Instagram and Facebook feeds.
Complete the following sentences:
I think I: am a good mother.
I wish I: could sleep through the night.
My kids: rock my world.
Do you have a personal motto or favorite saying?
“Life isn’t about finding yourself, It’s about creating yourself.”
Anything else you’d like to add?
My family and I recently moved from NYC to Miami. We decided we wanted a lifestyle change. We wanted to find more balance and NYC did not seem the place for us any longer. It was a huge move for our family, but we realized that quality of life was more important to us.
Co-Founder & President of Markati Group LLC, Shiri is a marketing professional with 15 years of marketing, branding, public relations, and product development experience. She has been featured and quoted in numerous trade magazines including WWD, Launchpad, Skin Inc., and Day Spa magazines as well as The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Metro, and on CNN, CBS, and FOX and has been an invited speaker at international conferences. Shiri earned a B.A. from Barnard College, Columbia University and holds a Masters degree in Cosmetic and Fragrance Marketing and Management from The Fashion Institute of Technology. She lives in Miami with her husband and two kids.
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
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 51: Niketa Jhaveri, Game Creator and Web Designer
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 52: Sheri Silver, Blogger
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 53: Lori Pollan, Cookbook Author
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 54: Chatón Turner, Attorney and Blogger
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 55: Joanne Wilson, Investor and Blogger
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 56: Nicola Kraus, Author and Creative Coach