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 do “it all.” So I asked them. Every Friday I’ll feature a new interview. Here’s what Lyss Stern had to say…
No. 4: Lyss Stern, Mom-trepreneur
Age: 39 (40 next month)
Where I live: NYC
Job: Founder, DivaLysscious Moms
Ages/genders of kids: Jackson (10) and Oliver (6) and a little girl due in March!
Is the job you have now the same one you had before kids? If not, how and why did you change directions?
After graduating from Syracuse University, I got my Masters in communication from NYU, worked in the world of public relations for a few years, and then taught pre-K and kindergarten (while going back at night for my masters in early education from Hunter College). After I had my first son, I dove into the mommy world for the first time. There were so many activities for kids and babies, but nothing that truly, fully spoke to the moms; there was nothing for them to keep themselves consistent with their lives before having children. That’s when I decided to start organizing events for moms that were luxurious and fun. I create all of the events for Divalysscious Moms. Today, we reach out to hundreds of thousands of mothers. Overall, I changed directions to feel more connected with my inner (diva) self, my career, and my family.
Do you think having “it all” is realistic or overrated and why?
I think the term “all” is relative to the woman; if a woman is completely satisfied in every aspect of her life—if she is not pining for or seeking more—then she has it “all.” A woman does not need to be a mother, CEO, perfect housewife, or doctor all at once to have it all (unless that is what she solidly wants). In 2012, I spoke on Anne-Marie Slaughter’s article on why women can’t have it all, and all I had to say was that anyone, regardless of gender, can have it all if she puts her mind to it. I do think it’s overrated! No one is “perfect”—something is always going to give. And who wants to be “perfect” anyway? To me that sounds so boring!
What part of “balance” can you just not seem to figure out?
I think I need to hire someone just to sit there and remind me not to overbook myself!!! Every new year I love having a brand new, white, blank calendar, but I end up covering it completely with ink within weeks. I would seriously love to know how other women, moms, and/or CEOs stop themselves from squeezing in “just one more” thing or committing to “just one more” little obligation. I cannot seem to put a limit on what I dip my toes into or what I am involved with because I love being in the mix of everything, and making sure I am privy to all that is FabULyss for moms and children. So, I would have to say that the one part of “balance” I just cannot seem to figure out is saying no to certain proposals and invitations. However, I will admit I am getting much better at saying no.
What part of “balance” are you getting better at?
I am learning to get better at not beating myself up over not getting everything done in one day, all while reminding myself how fortunate I am. Following through with a packed day as a mother while running your own company is definitely not easy!! It is important for working mothers who seemingly have the world on their plate to always keep a clear mind and keep only positivity in their view; I always need to tell myself how lucky I am to have all the responsibilities and daily tasks that I do. When work gets difficult, I remind myself that I have two amazing, healthy sons. When I think about skipping one of my twice-weekly blog posts, I tell myself how lucky I am to have women who care what I have to say. All of the things that make my life chaotic and sometimes stressful are also the things that give me a great, fortunate life in which I am able to put all my talents and interests to daily use. How many women can say that? But, yes, “me-time” is crucial.
What was the best advice you ever heard on balance…
From a mentor/co-worker? “Avoid jealousy and petty drama.”
From your mother? “Stay active and aware of your surroundings.”
From your kids? To relax, laugh, and appreciate the little things and moments.
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?
Exercising! Either a Flywheel spin class and/or a Core Fusion barre class at Exhale. The barre class at Exhale not only makes me feel beautiful, but look better, too, and I swear by spinning—it puts me in “the zone.” Nothing beats exercise-induced endorphins when it comes to getting your day moving!!
What would you have told yourself…
20 years ago? I would have told myself not to sweat the small things because they ended up not mattering in the end.
20 years from now? The same, as it is crucial and something that is easy to forget when you are in such a social position.
What one part of your home life do you wish you could outsource?
Keeping my oldest son up with his homework and his weekday and weekend bedtimes.
Whose job do you wish you had?
I’m a huge fan of Angelina Jolie. She is so classically beautiful and gets to use her status, wealth and popularity to make a difference in the world in areas that she really cares about, which is a dream of mine. She also gets to express herself creatively for a living. I also have to admire her from a maternal standpoint as she has generously made a beautiful and seemingly humble life for all her children, biological or not.
Whose job are you glad you don’t have?
I am glad I don’t have to have a job where my creativity or personality are suppressed. I would not be able to wake up and go to work happily everyday if I knew I had to follow a set pattern and just go through the motions. I believe that work is nothing without passion and creativity.
I wish I could answer this question… I can’t! There are too many favorite books on my “LYSST” that I love!
What are you reading right now?
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt.
Activity? Flywheel Sports.
Food? Iced coffee and gummy candies, although these are not foods! I would have to say sushi!!!!
Website? Hmmm… that’s a hard one. I love to read Forbes.com.
How many hours do you generally sleep at night during the week?
I try (and I mean try) to get between 6-7 hours.
What do you read every morning?
I skim the New York Times (weekends I read it in its entirety), I read the New York Post, and skim The Wall Street Journal.
Complete the following sentences:
I think I: have created a meaningful and successful career for myself.
I wish I: will continue to watch my amazing children grow happy.
My kids: are my world! The center of my universe!
Do you have a personal motto or favorite saying?
“A girl should be two things: classy and fabulous,” by Coco Chanel.
Lyss, a former style columnist for The New York Sun and correspondent for Cookie magazine, launched DivaMoms, a luxury lifestyle network, in 2003. Today, DivaMoms has become the premier domain for both information-seeking moms and established commercial brands. Her mission: to help moms be the best they can be for their families while maintaining their identities. Through DivaMoms, Lyss exposes her network of over 500,000 influential women to the best in brands, products, and services created for moms. Lyss is the co-author of the best selling book, If You Give a Mom a Martini, offering her expertise on mommy me-time to women everywhere. The book, which has recently been optioned to become a motion picture, features contributions from celebrity moms like Kelly Ripa, Christie Brinkley, Melissa Joan Hart, and more. Lyss has been featured on/in NBC’s Today Show, CBS’ This Morning, Crain’s New York Business, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Post, and others.
Please share your own tips on balance below and check back every Friday for another interview from THE BALANCE PROJECT. Better yet, subscribe in the box to the right and I’ll let you know when a new one posts…