THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 150: Reshma Saujani, Founder/CEO of Girls Who Code

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 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. 150: Reshma Saujani, Founder/CEO, Girls Who Code

Age: 40
Where I live:
 New York City
Job: Founder & CEO, Girls Who Code
Kids: A son, Shaan, 1

reshmaHave you changed jobs or adjusted anything in your career to have more balance?
I offer paid leave for parents and flexible work schedules so that I can lead by example of having a life with more balance. When I had my son a year ago, it was important that I was breast-feeding him. Additionally, all Girls Who Code employees have the option to work from home on Fridays so that they can have more time with their families or a more balanced personal life.

Do you think having “it all” is realistic or overrated and why?
It’s not realistic. You’re constantly making sacrifices, both personal and professional.

What part of “balance” can you just not seem to figure out?
Is it really possible to have a balanced life? I think it’s more about finding a way to integrate your personal life into your professional life and vice versa.

What part of “balance” are you getting better at?
I’m getting better at realizing that everything I’ve read is wrong and I have to write my own playbook and my own rules. My own rules are constantly evolving as I continue to grow, learn, and get better.

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?
We really try to not use phones at the dinner table. I also try to limit time on devices while I’m playing with my son.

What was the best advice you ever heard on balance?
From a mentor/co-worker? “You’re always a mess, and it’s okay.”
From your spouse?
 “You’re not ever going to be the ‘perfect’ mom. That doesn’t exist and that’s okay.”

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?
That seems unfair to even ask, but I’d spend that extra hour reading.

Whose job do you wish you had?
Beyonce’s.

Favorite books?
Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela.

What are you reading right now?
Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World by Adam Grant.

Biggest vices…
Activity?
 Orange Theory Fitness.
Food? Chocolate chip cookies.

How many hours do you generally sleep at night during the week?
I try to get 7.5.

What do you read every morning?
I read the New York Times.

girlswhocodeAbout Reshma:
Reshma Saujani is the Founder and CEO of Girls Who Code, a national non-profit organization working to close the gender gap in technology. Through its Summer Immersion Programs and Clubs, Girls Who Code is leading the movement to inspire, educate, and equip young women with the computing skills to pursue 21st century opportunities.

Started in 2012, the organization has grown to reach 10,000 girls in more than 40 states. In 2016, Girls Who Code will run more than 80 Summer Immersion Programs and 500 Clubs. The results speak for themselves: 90 percent of alumnae have declared or intend to declare a major or minor in computer science.

Reshma began her career as an attorney and activist. In 2010, she surged onto the political scene as the first Indian American woman to run for U.S. Congress. During the race, Reshma visited local schools and saw the gender gap in computing classes firsthand, which led her to start Girls Who Code. Reshma has also served as Deputy Public Advocate for New York City and ran a spirited campaign for Public Advocate in 2013.

Screen Shot 2016-04-12 at 12.59.23 PMReshma is the author of the groundbreaking book, Women Who Don’t Wait In Line: Break the Mold, Lead the Way, in which she advocates for a new model of female leadership focused on embracing risk and failure, promoting mentorship and sponsorship, and boldly charting your own course—personally and professionally. She is a graduate of the University of Illinois, Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, and Yale Law School. She’s been named one of Fortune’s 40 under 40 and 50 Greatest Leaders; a WSJ Magazine Innovator of the Year; one of the 50 Most Powerful Women in New York by the New York Daily News; CNBC’s Next List; Forbes’s Most Powerful Women Changing the World; Fast Company’s 100 Most Creative People; Crain’s New York 40 Under 40; Ad Age’s Creativity 50; Business Insider’s 50 Women Who Are Changing the World; City & State’s Rising Stars; and an AOL/PBS Next MAKER.

Find out more about Reshma:
www.girlswhocode.com
Facebook: GirlsWhoCode
Twitter: @reshmasaujani and @girlswhocode
Instagram: @GirlsWhoCode

WANT TO READ MORE ABOUT WORK-LIFE BALANCE? CHECK OUT MY NOVEL THE BALANCE PROJECT!

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