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. 60: Lindsay Bressler, Entrepreneur
Where I live: New York City
Have you changed jobs or adjusted anything in your career to have more balance?
Earlier in my twenties I spent a few years in investment banking. Looking back on it, it was the best decision I ever made because it’s where I met my husband! But, I ultimately left because I wanted a better work/life balance. Ironically, I probably work as many hours now as I did then, but it’s dramatically different mentally because it’s for myself, and I can make my own schedule, which helps!
Do you think having “it all” is realistic or overrated and why?
It’s interesting, because I think having “it all” is really more about what “it all” means to someone. To me, having “it all” is not…. being the CEO of some Fortune 500 company, hands-on raising three kids, having a beautiful mansion, and a husband who walks in every night with a bouquet of flowers while I slave over a homemade three-course home-cooked meal. That’s a fantasy. To me, having “it all” would mean five years from now I am just as happily married as I am today, have at least two, healthy children, a warm and welcoming home, great friends, and some job, wherever that job is, that I’m passionate about and that challenges me. And maybe I’m still young enough that I’m being naive, but I think my version of having it all is realistic. I feel really lucky that I have a lot of that today.
What part of “balance” can you just not seem to figure out?
For me, the challenge with balance has always been about my work life. Every job I’ve ever had I’ve thrown myself into 150%. Even now when I’m consulting, I get super passionate or really curious about something, and I spend way more time than I had planned to, and get paid to, on a particular topic. Work life is crazy, complicated, and frustrating, and it’s hard—especially when your husband or significant other also has a really tough job—to compartmentalize the stresses of your work life and be able to take a step back and enjoy each other in the few minutes that you have together. When we only have two nights a week for dinner, it’s constantly a struggle for me to figure out how I can be more present and in the moment instead of worrying in the back of my mind about the meeting I have the next day. I imagine that only gets harder with kids.
What part of “balance” are you getting better at?
I hope I’m getting better at the work stuff—putting things into perspective—learning that sometimes my job is “just a job.” I can’t solve everyone’s problems right away, and sometimes I do have to take care of myself and stand up for myself.
What was the best advice you ever heard on balance…
From a mentor/co-worker? To trust my gut and put it into perspective. I met my mentor a few weeks ago when I was going through a big transition with work. I spent 20 minutes describing in detail every thought in my head about what happened and my next steps, and when I came up for air she just looked at me and said, “Lindsay, I know this seems like a lot to process right now, but last year you met me and you outlined to me your plan and look where you are today! You’re right on your plan, and you’re doing exactly what you told me you wanted to do a year ago.” It was the most grounding thing someone could have said to me.
From your mother? My mom is more of my familial role model. Her best advice has been to enjoy my husband and to relax!
From your spouse? Probably like my mom, to relax and that he married me because I am smart, driven, and a hard worker but everything isn’t going to get figured out overnight and I need to be patient and enjoy being in the moment. Our kids and our home 10 years from now don’t need to be planned today.
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?
Working out! I love being active whether it’s doing Tracy Anderson or yoga or just going for a long walk around my favorite little neighborhoods in NYC—it really helps me clear my head.
What do you wish you’d known when you were 20?
That I should have paid less attention to Duke basketball and partying (sorry Mom and Dad!) and more attention to all the amazing, interesting classes I could have taken in college.
What do you hope to know by the time you’re 60?
How to play golf somewhat decently… so that I can spend more time with my husband on our vacations!
What one part of your home life do you wish you could outsource?
Cleaning! Laundry, dishes, dusting… it’s the worst!
Whose job do you wish you had?
A fashion/lifestyle editor or stylist, no one specific but just that field in general—I just think it would be so fun to look at amazing things all day or play dress-up with clients and make them feel great and get paid for it!
Whose job are you glad you don’t have?
A doctor—just seeing people who are sick would make me sad all the time.
I’m really not a book person (I know that is terrible to say especially for this project!!). I want to be a book person, but I find TV really fascinating and a great escape—both scripted and reality.
What are you reading right now?
I’m reading Within by Dr. Habib Sadeghi, but, as I said, I’m not really a book person so I’ve been “reading” it for 3 months… I’m terrible! This is a much better question for my sister…
Activity? Shopping…I just get inspired by such beautiful things, and I can’t help it!
Food? Pasta—any really good al dente pasta is just the worst for me!
How many hours do you generally sleep at night during the week?
Lately… 8+, I really need my sleep!
What do you read every morning?
TheSkimm—it’s hands down the best summary of the news, and it’s funny!
Complete the following sentences:
I think I: am a really loyal friend.
I wish I: had more hours in the day.
Do you have a personal motto or favorite saying?
No, but I really should… I did just hear an amazing quote from The Imitation Game, “Sometimes it’s the people no one imagines anything of who do the things no one can imagine.”
Lindsay Bressler was most recently the Chief Operating Officer at Tracy Anderson Method, where she was responsible for leading operations across the studio, media and corporate divisions. Prior to Tracy Anderson Method, Lindsay served as the GM Marketplace for OpenSky, overseeing several areas of the organization including merchandising, business development, email marketing, PR, and business analytics. Prior to OpenSky, Lindsay spent several years in finance both at The Raine Group and Goldman Sachs. At Raine, Lindsay worked with sports, digital media, and entertainment clients on strategic advisory projects and private equity investments. Prior to Raine, Lindsay worked at Goldman Sachs in the Technology, Media and Telecommunications group, working with clients across the media and entertainment space on strategic advisory, M&A, and capital fundraising opportunities. Lindsay has a BS from Duke University.
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
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 57: Shiri Sarfati, Marketing Expert
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 58: Audrey McClelland, Entrepreneur and Blogger
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 59: Jessica Lahey, Writer and Teacher