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.”


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No. 71: Emily Greenspan, Art Consultant

Age: 44
Where I live:
 Los Angeles
Kids: A daughter, Phoebe, 11, and a son, Nolan, 14

emily_photoHave you changed jobs or adjusted anything in your career to have more balance?
Of course, without consciously realizing it though at first. I think we all make moves in our lives that ultimately help us to achieve balance…depending on our personal lives! My first job as an assistant editor at Elle Decor Magazine, when I was single, was amazing, fast paced and long hours, where I really learned how to get things done and get them done on a deadline. Then I got married and moved to London for two years because my husband was transferred for work. I was lucky to land a job with Polo Ralph Lauren in the buying department. I loved that job because it was very numbers oriented yet I was still dabbling in the design/fashion world. When we moved back to the States, I worked for my father at Newel Art Galleries, rounding out my background in the arts. I was selling decorative art and antiques, working with interior designers and architects to furnish residential and commercial projects. Then I had kids and took a break from working full-time to be a mother. This was wonderful but as soon as the kids were in school all day, I got bored. I wanted to be an adult again. That’s when I turned my hobby/passion of art collecting into a career. I had been buying contemporary art through the years, building a personal collection with my husband until one day it hit me—I could do art buying as a career and advise other people. Over the years, so many people had already asked me to help them navigate the art world, scout for them, negotiate for them, etc. that I knew I could turn it into a business. It was and is the perfect balance of my strengths and interests.

Is the job you have now the same one you had before kids? If not, how and why did you change directions?
After I had children I tried to find a job that would be flexible enough so that I could balance family and career. After working in the constantly hectic business of magazines, what’s nice about my current job is that I work for myself so I can set my own hours and be available for my family if I need to be. I am able to set aside time for my clients whenever necessary, although sometimes my business correspondence happens after hours once the house is asleep. It’s much easier to send work emails at 11 p.m. than at 4 p.m. at the height of carpool!

Do you think having “it all” is realistic or overrated and why?
It depends on how you define “having it all.” At first I thought “having it all” meant miraculously juggling work, kids, husband, friends, family, and “me” time with seamless ease. It took me a while to realize that truly “having it all” means happiness in my life no matter what I am doing or how much I have or don’t have on my plate… inner peace and true gratitude for my gifts of health, happiness, career, and family. We don’t have to be over-scheduled and successful at juggling all of that in order to feel as if we “have it all.”

What part of “balance” can you just not seem to figure out?
Sometimes it’s hard to accept that the balance in my life isn’t going to be the same everyday. There might be a curve ball that throws me off balance so I have to be ready for that, like something in my schedule might change unexpectedly so then everything else changes in my day—the domino effect.

What part of “balance” are you getting better at?
I am trying to get better at letting things go and being more flexible (see the answer about being off balance!). I am also getting better at pausing… which really helps me maintain composure in many situations, both at home and with work. I realize that my first reaction is usually emotional so it helps to take a step back, maybe pause for 24 hours before coming to a conclusion about something. I can then move forward with a decision so my reactions are less emotional and reactive and instead more thoughtful and considered.

What was the best advice you ever heard on balance…
From a mentor/co-worker?
“Take life one day at a time.”
From your mother? 
“Ignore all the comments that may hurt your feelings and don’t retaliate—you will always come up smelling like a rose.”
From your spouse? 
“Unclench your fists.”
From your kids? All the advice I always give to them.

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?
There are so many things I would want to do, like take a hike up in the canyons where the views over LA are breathtaking, get my hair done (haha), watch bad TV without feeling guilty, but I think I would really want to go through my “Bucket List” and do adventurous things I don’t ever have time for like sky diving, surfing, wake boarding—all the crazy activities that I may never get to do or know how to do.

What do you wish you’d known when you were 20?
That I was going to marry my prom date.

What do you hope to know by the time you’re 60?
That I am finally older and wiser!

What one part of your home life do you wish you could outsource?
Bill paying and FILING! I am the queen of organized piles…

Whose job do you wish you had?
Oprah Winfrey (talk show host and philanthropist), Anna Wintour (Vogue editor and fashion icon), Paula Cooper (influential art dealer and gallery owner), and Buddha—all rolled into one.

Whose job are you glad you don’t have?
The President of the United States.

Favorite books?
Hatchet by Gary Paulsen, because when my son was in 4th grade he suggested I read it since he loved it so much!

What are you reading right now?
Whatever my book club is reading: this month it’s Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng. I’m also reading Seven Days in the Art World by Sarah Thornton and Still Alice by Lisa Genova. I also skim Los Angeles Magazine, The LA Times, ArtNet News, Juxtapoz Magazine, and The Hollywood Reporter.

Biggest vices…
Watching Shark Tank.
 Graeter’s ice cream.
Website? The Soul Cycle website Mondays at noon.

How many hours do you generally sleep at night during the week?

What do you read every morning?
A daily inspirational quote and my emails.

Complete the following sentences:
I think I: can.
I wish I: was taller!
My kids: are the love of my life. I am so proud of them. I never thought I would or could feel so deeply for another human the way I feel everything along with them.

Do you have a personal motto or favorite saying?
I just read a great quote recently that I really like. I tend to write favorite quotes on sticky notes and put them up in my kids’ rooms so we can all share in the wisdom. It said, “I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions.”

PastedGraphic-2PastedGraphic-2TAGARTSLOGO_header_4_1About Emily:
Emily Greenspan is the owner of TAG ARTS ART ADVISORY, an art consulting firm providing knowledge, experience and comprehensive advice on the acquisition of contemporary artwork and the development of art collections to first-time buyers and established collectors. Her services include complete art management and guidance for private collectors, corporations, hotels, restaurants and other commercial spaces. She has been collecting contemporary art by emerging artists for over 20 years. Emily’s philosophy is to find artists early in their career and continue to buy them as they develop into the mid-career stage. She initially started her firm while living in New York but, having moved to the West Coast in 2011, she has now based her company in Los Angeles. Emily has been around the arts her whole life. Her father owned Newel Art Galleries, a prestigious antiques gallery in New York, where she worked for several years. Before that, she was an editor at Elle Decor.

Emily+Greenspan+CoachArt+Gala+Champions+SlnkPiufmPnlEmily currently serves on several acquisition committees at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and has been involved with planning the Santa Monica Museum of Art’s annual INCOGNITO event. She has also been an active supporter of the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Ridgefield, CT and has appeared numerous times on NBC’s Open House “Tips of the Trade” to share her art-world expertise. She also serves on the board of a non-proft organization called, CoachArt, which provides free lessons in the arts and athletics to children with chronic illnesses.

Find more about Emily here:
Twitter: @GreenspanEmily
nstagram: @tag_arts

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