Women in Blogging: Sydney Carver, Summer Wind

Sydney Carver

Sydney Carver

Tell us about your journey to where you are today.

I grew up in a suburb of Pittsburgh, PA. In 2008, I attended school at James Madison University. During my 4 years at school, I studied Public Relations, Communication and Writing. I also joined Zeta Tau Alpha and was Historian on the Executive Council. I worked hard and made both Dean’s List and President’s List. I graduated in 2012 and moved back to Pittsburgh where I started a career with a luxury event planning company. I am an event coordinator and also handle all of the social media for the company. We do everything from nonprofit to corporate, private parties to weddings and everything in between. I really enjoy what I do!

As for Summer Wind, I started blogging in 2009 after my freshman year of college had ended and I had a lot of time on my hand for the summer. When I started, I had no idea I would still be going at it in 2014! But blogging is truly my passion and I am so proud to call Summer Wind ‘mine’.

How has your life experience made you the individual you are today?

I like to think I have lived an incredible life thus far. I’ve had my fair share of trials and tribulations, but I feel very blessed in that I have great friends, a supporting family, a career that I truly enjoy and Summer Wind, a creative outlet where I find passion.

Why did you become a blogger?

I started off reading blogs for about 6 months before I started my own. Once my classes had ended and I had some free time, I thought ‘why not’. I was majoring in PR and writing and I thought this would not only give me a chance to write everyday but it would also be a creative outlet for me.

What have the highlights and challenges been during your time as a blogger?

Hmm…this is SUCH a hard question. I think overall, the people I have met and formed friendships with and the people who I may not have met in person, but have created a relationship with through social media/e-mails is truly invaluable. It is a really amazing feeling when someone e-mails me and lets me know they enjoy reading Summer Wind and that we have something in common.

I also really enjoy getting to attend events and parties. Going to New York Fashion Week was definitely something amazing. Not only was the entire experience fun, but I am proud that I got myself there on my own, with my hard work and dedication.

As for challenges… I hate to talk about them because I never want to seem whiney, but there are definitely a lot. I think the #1 challenge for me is trying to find a balance. Working a high stress, intense job that requires long hours every week plus blogging 5-7 times a week is a lot. I often find myself a little bit sleep deprived and stressed, but when I seen the results of my projects both at work and with my blog, I know it was all worth it.

I also think that as a blogger, it’s really neat because I get to wear so many different hats. One minute I am a PR person pitching ideas and sending out media kits, and the next I am a graphic designer laying out all of my favorite shopping finds of the week. Then, you’ll find me as a photographer taking some photos for my blog and then a ‘model’ (I use that term VERY loosely) in front of the camera where I show off some outfits I put together. The challenge comes in when I really only went to school for PR and writing– not graphic design nor photography and I’m most definitely not very good in front of a camera. But, not knowing pushes me to teach myself. I YouTube, Google and read lots of books on photography and graphic design and a lot of other things I need to know. It’s a lot of work and time and effort but it’s fun, too!

What advice can you offer those looking to start their own blog?

I get asked for advice on starting a blog all of the time. When I started in 2009, the market of fashion and lifestyle blogs wasn’t nearly as big as it is now. I think now, it is really tough to break through the market. But, with that said, I would never discourage someone not start a blog. I always tell people who ask me for advice: start a blog, but not for the money or the ‘fame’ or the praise or the free stuff, but start it for yourself. If you start it for yourself and keep going, your true self will shine throughout your blog and people will be interested and will come back for more!

How do you maintain a work/life balance?

In the previous question I kind of touched on how hard it is to maintain balance. At times, I truly get overwhelmed. When I am sitting at work and I see my blog e-mail count getting higher and higher, it stresses me out. It’s hard to go from being on a computer all day at work, to getting home and being on a computer until I go to sleep. Not to mention, it’s even harder to add in a social life between work and blogging!! Somehow, though, I make it all work. I stay up late, I don’t go out one night a weekend… etc. As tough as it is, I enjoy it and wouldn’t have it any other way. I am a busy body. If you asked any of my friends, they would tell you I am always on the go!

What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?

I think overall, women are fighting a tough battle in the workplace. With unequal pay still an issue in 2014, and women trying to start a family, I just think it’s all around tough.

My friends and I are always chatting about how busy we are and how we cannot imagine having to raise a child, too. I think being a mother is an incredibly hard job and I always ask my mom ‘how the heck did you do it’?!

What are your thoughts on Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In book and movement?

I truthfully have never read Lean In. I listened to her Ted Talk and I think she is an incredibly intelligent and successful woman. I also think she has a very valid point that there are just not as many women at the top. I admire her for pushing women of the world to push themselves to work harder and to make it to the top.

As I haven’t read Lean In, I can’t really speak too much on the book, but the entire movement is inspiring. I am all about supporting other women and supporting women in business– I actually work for a woman run business!

How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?

I think everyone needs a mentor… I think a mentor can be anyone at work, a family friend, etc. I think the people who have mentored me throughout my life have pushed me to work harder and be the best person I can be!

Which other female leaders do you admire and why?

I really admire Tory Burch for building her empire. She is beautiful AND smart and has a family, too… she really does it all!

What is one word that sums up where you have got to today?

Drive. I have an insane drive for success… I’m not sure where it comes from, but I want to be the absolute best version of myself!

Women in Business: Manon Antoniazzi, CEO at Visit Wales

Manon Antoniazzi

Manon Antoniazzi

Manon Antoniazzi was recently appointed to the role of Chief Executive Officer, Tourism and Marketing for Wales within the Welsh Government. Prior to this she worked in the private sector as a specialist in leadership development and was a member of the household of the Prince of Wales, where she served as a senior Private Secretary from 2004-2012. Manon has worked in public affairs and governance at the BBC, as Secretary of BBC Wales and subsequently Head of Public Policy, Nations and Regions. She has also worked as Director of Communications at the National Assembly for Wales and Head of Press and Public Relations at S4C.

Manon is a former Chairman of The Prince’s Trust Cymru and Governor of the Royal Shakespeare Company and has served on the advisory boards of the Philharmonia Orchestra and Welsh National Opera. She is currently a Non-Executive Director of the London Philharmonic Orchestra. She holds a doctorate in Medieval Literature from the University of Cambridge.

Tell us about your journey to where you are today.

Like most people, I have always worked best when driven by things that interest me and about which I feel passionately.  My first job (after finishing a PhD in Medieval Welsh Poetry) was at Welsh Water where I was tasked with drawing up a policy for bilingualism across the various groups in the company. This was a great introduction to commercial life and taught me a lot about balancing principles and practicalities.  It proved the start of a varied career which has spanned marketing, communications, governance, policy and management work – the unifying thread has been cultural content.  Each job has had elements within it that have led to the next and I’ve been fortunate to twice have had the chance to return in an enhanced role to a previous employer, showing that it can sometimes pay to be bold about career moves.  Having made that start in the private sector, I have also worked in the public sector and the third sector, so I have an appreciation of the strengths – and frustrations – of each.

How has your life experience made you the individual you are today?

Definitely the most defining experience was the birth of my daughter.  I was pregnant when I was appointed as Assistant Private Secretary to The Prince of Wales in 1993 and started work in Clarence House when Indeg (now 20) was 5 months old.  It was a crash course in combining motherhood with a very busy and demanding job and on top of it all I had to move to London.  I don’t believe I will face many things that testing again!

Has there been a particular role that has propelled your career into a different direction to what you were expecting?

I haven’t been prescriptive about planning a career, but probably the most striking change of direction came when I was at S4C, the Welsh language broadcaster, as their head of Press and Public Relations.  The channel had developed a strong expertise in animation which had potential to be marketed in different language versions around the world.  One project was an animated film of The Prince of Wales’s book The Old Man of Lochnagar and I found myself not only co-ordinating a press launch, but also coaching HRH to deliver a Welsh-language voiceover (not that he needed much coaching).  Next thing, I was asked whether I’d be interested in my name going forward as a potential Assistant Private Secretary in his office.  It was approaching the 25th anniversary of his Investiture in Caernarfon Castle and it was thought a good idea to have a private secretary on the team from Wales.  It was a two-year secondment which was to turn into an eighteen-year professional association…  I was privileged to get to know the UK from a unique perspective and work in partnership with some of Britain’s leading cultural and charitable organisations.

Tell us about your role at Visit Wales.

I was appointed eighteen months ago to work with the talented team responsible for developing the tourism sector and maximising its contribution to the Welsh economy.  As part of the Welsh Government, we invest strategically in individual tourism projects and major events and are also responsible for marketing Wales domestically and overseas.

What have the highlights and challenges been during your time at Visit Wales?

We had an excellent year last year, helped by fine weather, but of course also by some very focussed marketing work!  Highlights include the current celebrations of Dylan Thomas’s centenary, the chance to host a meeting of NATO in September in Newport, and the opportunity to appreciate through local visits just how far the industry has developed in the last few decades.  Challenges boil down to making the most of our resources to make an impact in an increasingly competitive global marketplace.

For a reader who is thinking of visiting Wales what would you recommend that they see and do?

The website www.visitwales.co.uk  has a wealth of information on what to see and do – be that for a family holiday, luxury weekend or activity trip.  As the Wales Coast Path has just celebrated its second anniversary, why not tackle some of the 870 mile long path. Rhossili Beach has recently been named as the best beach in the UK and among the top ten in the world – and there are plenty more fantastic beaches to explore along the coast path.  The Dylan Thomas 100 festival adds to our wealth of festivals and events this year as we celebrate the centenary of his birth, an opportunity to discover more about the poet and the places which inspired him.   There’s plenty of on offer to get the adrenaline going too, from Zip Wires to downhill mountain bike tracks and of course, no visit to Wales would be complete without a visit to one of our 641 castles.

How do you maintain a work/life balance?

I work long hours, but do so in order to protect time off with the family, who will let me know quickly enough if I’m getting it wrong.  There are plenty of things I love doing outside work, such as reading, playing the harp and running, so I don’t allow work to expand to fit all the available time.  I am fortunate to have an excellent team around me – that makes it much easier to share the burden.

How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?

I have had great advice at various stages in my career, not least from my parents.  Outside the family, one former boss is still someone to whom I turn every time I contemplate a new career move.  On the professional front, I worked on a project a few years ago to help an international mentoring company called CMi establish an office in London – our purpose was to match up high flying (board level FTSE100) executives with experienced Chairman who could mentor them, utilising lessons learnt from experience rather than from theory books.  This has left me with great respect for that mode of working and the benefits gained by both parties from developing strong privileged relationships with people who are just distant enough from your work to be objective.  It proved particularly useful for women in business – irrespective of the gender of their mentors.  You do have to establish excellent chemistry though, so it isn’t entirely straightforward to find the right match.

Which other female leaders do you admire and why?

I lapped up Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In last year.  I think it should be required reading for young women.  It is still too difficult to achieve success on the same terms as men in some sectors and getting the tone right can be tough.  I have learnt a lot from female bosses I have had over the years, from Menna Richards at BBC Wales to Jenny Abramsky at the Heritage Lottery Fund and Welsh Government Minister Edwina Hart.

Women In Web Weekly Round-Up

WEEKLY ROUND UP TEMP

We hope you are having a lovely Easter weekend with lots of sunshine, treats and fun! Check out our weekly round-up whilst eating a yummy hot cross bun, or munching on that last chocolate Easter egg.

This week we spoke to Theresa Brown, Partner in charge of Microsoft Dynamics GP Practice at Armanino. If you are seeking a career in the financial industry this Q&A is one that you don’t want to miss. 

Sheryl Sandberg recently re-released her successful book Lean In, and it now has a bonus section for graduates. There are some great Google Hangouts coming up covering topics in the book. Click here to find out further details.

We were honoured to interview Tiffany Dufu, Chief Leadership Officer at Levo League and a launch member of the Lean In team. Tiffany has dedicated her life to empowering women and girls, and formally served as President of the White House Project. Check out her inspiring Q&A and thoughts on how we can inspire women and girls here.

This week’s question from co-founder Ena is: “The success of a job interview depends on your ability 2 sell yourself and for the panel to sell the job. Post offer, what do you consider?” We’d love to know your thoughts, so please share them with us!

Other stories that have caught our eye this week include…

The confidence gap

Does Westminster have a problem with women?

Young girls depict history’s most compelling women

Great interview with Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to President Obama and Sally Blount, Dean at Kellogg School about helping women become leaders

Empowering Women and Girls: Tiffany Dufu

Tiffany Dufu

Tiffany Dufu

Named to Fast Company’s League of Extraordinary Women and by the Huffington Post as one of 19 women who are leading the way, Tiffany Dufu’s life’s work is advancing women and girls. She is a nationally renowned expert and speaker on women’s and Gen Y leadership. Tiffany serves as Chief Leadership officer, Levo League and on the Launch Team for Lean In. She is former President, The White House Project, and was previously at Simmons College and Seattle Girls’ School. Tiffany is on the board of Harlem 4 Kids and lives in New York with her husband and two children.

Tell us about your journey to where you are today.

My personal and professional journey are the same because my life’s work is advancing women and girls. My first formal job on this path was raising money for Seattle Girls’ School. I was then a Major Gifts Officer at Simmons College in Boston before moving to New York where I eventually ran The White House Project and am now Chief Leadership Officer for Levo League. All of these organizations have a goal of creating a world where women’s talents and voices are leveraged for everyone’s benefit. Along the way I’ve had many women mentor and sponsor me. I’m the product of their cumulative investment and I thank them for my success.

How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?

My parents taught me that if you want something you’ve never had before you’re going to have to do something you’ve never done before in order to get it. For me, that means not being afraid of taking risks. The first one that comes to mind is running for class President in middle school. It was terrifying, but when I lost I learned the most important lesson: that you can fail, wake up the next morning, and the world hasn’t fallen apart.

It’s been your life mission to advance women and girls, and you have served as the President of the White House Project, and most recently as the Chief Leadership Officer at Levo League and a launch team member for Lean In. What have been the highlights and challenges you’ve experienced during these positions and how have you met your mission?

My mission is something I strive for consistently. I’m not sure we’ll reach the end goal in my lifetime. My highlights are always in moments when I’m interacting with women who recognize their own power. Whether they are students demonstrating their knowledge to a large crowd with unfathomable poise, or a woman who decides to run for office, or a young professional who musters up the courage to ask for a raise, I’m most inspired when I see women realizing their own potential and purpose through my work.

How do you think the Lean In movement has made a difference?

One of my sponsors, Marie Wilson, taught me that if you want to make any meaningful impact in the world you have to meet people where they are. And you have to leverage popular culture. Sheryl did that with Lean In. She captivated the attention of the masses and many more people that otherwise wouldn’t be are now talking about women in leadership – and doing something about it. It’s been wonderful to see.

What advice can you offer those seeking a career in non-profits?

The non-profit sector is expansive. It includes everything from an ivy league college to a small community center. Conduct lots of informational interviews to learn about how others navigated their path and to explore all of the different opportunities. I also think it’s helpful to be clear about your own passion so that even as you transition to various organizations throughout your career your brand remains consistent.

How do you maintain a work/life balance?

I don’t. It’s all the same to me. I just do the best I can every day to be the kind of person I would want my children to grow up to be. I also listen to loud music and dance all over my furniture…frequently.

What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?

Unconscious bias. Many workplaces purport to be a meritocracy but they are all complex political ecosystems, and the role that gender plays in them is powerful.

How can we collectively close the leadership gap and advance opportunities for women and girls?

Pass legislation that creates affordable childcare options for families, ensure there is equal work for equal pay, and mentor and sponsor women.

How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?

I wouldn’t be here without it. My mentors have helped me to develop a level of self awareness. They help me to achieve clarity through guidance and encouragement. I consult them whenever I’m making any major decision. Their wisdom has been priceless.

Which other female leaders do you admire and why?

My mother-in-law. She is a fierce negotiator and amazing entrepreneur. If it weren’t for her, my husband wouldn’t have the assumption that ALL women are supposed to rule the world. I’m also indebted to Janie Williams and Marie Wilson, who really saw me and gave me opportunity even when others didn’t.

What is one word that sums up where you have got to today?

Resiliency

Lean In for Graduates

Graphic _4

We’re passionate supporters of the Lean In movement and it was exciting to hear that a new version of the book has been released especially for graduates.

Since Lean In was published a year ago, it has sparked a global conversation about gender equality. Now Sheryl Sandberg has enlisted the help of experts to create Lean In for Graduates, a handbook that offers instruction and inspiration for the next generation.

Lean In for Graduates includes the full text of the original bestseller as well as new chapters on finding your first job, negotiating your salary, listening to your inner voice, and leaning in for women of color and millennial men.

There are lots of exciting ways to get involved over the next few weeks:

Make sure you get involved!

Graphic_5

Women in Business: Theresa Brown, Partner at Armanino

Theresa Brown

Theresa Brown

Theresa is the Partner in Charge of the Microsoft Dynamics GP Practice at Armanino, and has more than 25 years of experience in management consulting and accounting leadership roles. Prior to joining Armanino, her industry leadership experience included finance roles at Peet’s Coffee and Tea, Mizuno Sports and The San Francisco Music Box Company. Theresa focuses on recommending comprehensive solutions to the broad spectrum of challenges faced by the CFO Organization. Exhibiting her expertise in mergers and acquisitions, Theresa managed the strategic acquisition and successful integration of Rose Business Solutions, a fellow Microsoft Dynamics Inner Circle partner, to expand Armanino’s national Dynamics GP practice. Theresa is a Microsoft Dynamics GP Certified Master and Microsoft Dynamics Certified Trainer (MCT) and sits on the Microsoft Product Partner Advisory Board. She was awarded the 2008 #1 Trainer for Dynamics GP in the United States by Microsoft. She is also the current East Bay Chapter President and a long-term member of the Accounting and Financial Women’s Alliance.

Tell us about your journey to where you are today.
I grew up in Alaska, a wonderful place for any kid to grow up. This last frontier makes it a necessity to become pretty independent at a young age. I cannot tell you how many times I had to bail my car out of a snowbank! Like most, I worked through school, and when attending my first accounting class I realized I was pretty good at it. I was immediately asked by friends to tutor them, followed closely by an invitation to teach computer labs at night (I helped to teach Lotus 123 and Peachtree classes). Fast forward to my first accounting job where I did accounting for a husband/wife team that owned several businesses.

After my parents migrated south, I followed them to California and landed a job as an Accounting Supervisor for a rapidly expanding retail company. It was right about this time I took a small sabbatical and did modeling for a year, something I had done on the side for several years and I wasn’t going to be persuaded to not try it. I had an offer to go to New York to model for a big agency but really didn’t like the starving model life, plus I was madly in love with my husband (then boyfriend) and would not leave him. So, back to accounting I went and from there, I had progressively more responsible roles as Cost Accountant, Accounting Manager, Assistant Controller and Controller.

Married, with two children, by this time I was a little exhausted by some big changes, including two cross-country relocations. I grew tired of the monthly grind, and my company was hunting for a new ERP system. I helped select and implement it, then decided this might be a new career for me, one that allowed me to call on my historical experiences, and afforded more flexibility for family life. I quit my job, became a consultant and haven’t looked back. After 15 years in consulting, I’ve recently been promoted to Partner. It has been a wild ride, and I can honestly say I would not change one thing about the journey.

How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
A variety of roles, industries, and cultures has given me a great opportunity to be exposed to many things. Without this exposure I would not be able to speak my client’s language, problem-solve or lead a team.

How have you learned from these challenges and successes?
Failures as well as successes are what define me, I think the most important thing has been learning how to handle both. One of the things has taken me years to learn, (I haven’t yet mastered this but continue to try) is how to spend more time focusing on proactive, positive things, rather than dwell on and be reactive to the bad things. I spend a lot of time on proactive, teambuilding activities, and allow the team to lead the meetings. I don’t claim to know everything, I am not in the trenches every day and I don’t believe that my ego should rule my career. I don’t succeed – the team does.

What have the highlights and challenges been during your career as an accountant and consultant?
My biggest highlight was making Partner at Armanino! I was so honored to be chosen – I finally have achieved my goal. The problem is, I haven’t yet planned beyond this goal, so I now have more work to do. My biggest challenge was participating in the downsizing and relocation of a sizable company – and moving across the US, twice in two years. The integration was rocky and unsuccessful for me, my family and most of the other relocate-ees. Hence, the second move (back to where I started). I don’t regret trying, and am glad to have had the experience.

What advice can you offer women seeking a career in the financial industry?
When seeking a job, do your homework! Think about your personal interests and try to align yourself as best you can. Foodies might look for something in the hospitality industry. Pet lovers could seek out a non-profit that helps animals. If you enjoy taking time off during the holidays, you might choose to avoid retail! Look at future career potential. If you have the desire to move up, be sure to ask a potential employer about their planned growth, succession planning and opportunities for advancement. Depending on the size of the organization, the opportunity may not even exist. Look for a position where you will learn from leadership – find a mentor, if not your immediate boss. Set goals for yourself, review them with your mentor and track them.

In business, do not be afraid to take risks. Once you’ve formulated an idea and done your homework, go all in! I allow myself one moment of doubt, recognize it, and tell it to go away. Self-doubt is a deal-killer.

How do you maintain a work/life balance?
Mastering my own schedule and prioritization – making time for myself has been the hardest thing to master and the most impactful on my happiness and well-being. I live by a calendar, and share all my appointments with my husband, who helps to keep things running smoothly. Daily workouts are important – my husband and I go first thing every morning. I feel stronger, happier and more alive by making this the first thing I do, plus there is no guilt the remainder of the day and no opportunity to find other more important things to be done. When my children were young workouts were a luxury, so I found this personal time by simply pulling over on the side of the road a few blocks from home, and unwinding before I came home to a busy household.
I love to cook and spend time with my family, so when I’m in town, I make it a point to prepare meals. I try to not to do emails on the weekends or at night, which allows me to focus on my family. I found by not sending emails on nights and weekends, my team also does not feel obligated to respond, allowing them the same family time courtesy.

I am so very fortunate to have a loving and supportive husband, an IT Manager for a Fortune 200 company, who works from our home. Over the years he has been our home manager, shuttling kids to and from school, practice and doctor appointments. I don’t know where I would be without his support.

What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?
Family planning. From pregnancy to childbirth and beyond, women bear the lion share of this responsibility. Toward the end of my second pregnancy, I was at a doctor’s appointment and was going into labor far too early. The doctor told me to go straight home; I was to be on bed rest for the remainder of my pregnancy. Of course I didn’t quite follow those orders, I dropped by the office to pick up my computer. (What else was I going to do for three months in bed?) Due to my uneasy feelings, I took a short four weeks off with my first child and only two weeks with my second; not nearly enough time for bonding. Though it is illegal to discriminate, each time I wondered if my job would still be there when I returned from my leave. Employers need to lay out action plans in advance that help families and the company survive and thrive.

What are your thoughts on Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In book and movement?
I have been following Sheryl throughout her many interviews and in all honesty haven’t made my way to the end of her book, but I haven’t put it down since I started reading it. I am saddened by some of the statistics that Sheryl has exposed. I must admit, I’ve been a little blinded by my own life experiences, I wasn’t raised to see a difference between what men and women could do. My great-grandmother worked as a translator for the French Embassy. My grandmother worked as an electrical draftsman for the Navy, drawing plans for ships and submarines. She worked in this capacity at a time, after the war, when women would not dare to ask for a raise or a promotion. Still, they realized her talent and she was promoted several times. My mother owned her own accounting business for mechanical contractors, and in the 1980’s took that a step further to keep our family business afloat, becoming HVAC and Sheet metal certified. While none of them aspired to the “C” suite, they all worked in male dominated professions, and I’m amazed that they progressed further in their careers as single parents than they did when they were married.

How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?
I would not be where I am today without strong male and female mentors. From my mother and friends, to CFO’s and VP’s, I have always searched for those with a passion to share their knowledge; ones that will sit with me and take the time to talk about the bigger picture. I also look for those who will challenge me when I am getting complacent!

Which other female leaders do you admire and why?
Oprah and Hilary Clinton are both women I admire, both have set high goals for themselves and neither has been deterred by failure. Their humanitarian efforts put them on the top of the list in my book.

What is one word that sums up where you have got to today?
Positive

Redefine success and change your life with the Third Metric

I’ve been interested in Arianna Huffington’s Third Metric concept for several months now, and the more I’ve read about it, the more I am resigned to the fact that I need to change my life.

In Huffington’s new book, ‘Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being Wisdom and Wonder,’ she talks about the current culture that many of us are experiencing. It’s one of burnout and exhaustion, where success is defined by two metrics- money and power. Huffington likens it two a two legged stool which will sooner or later break and cause damage. To change our attitude on how to measure success, Huffington introduces us to the ‘third metric’- one of wellbeing, wisdom, wonder and giving back, and one which will allow us to take care and invest in human capital. Huffington experienced an ‘ah ha’ moment to realize that she needed to change, and for her, it was collapsing from exhaustion.

Many great leaders tap into their wisdom and creativity, and that requires redefining success through the third metric. Huffington states that we are in a constant ‘fight or flight’ mode, and this observation has led her to name the gazelle as her new role model because they know how to graze after trouble and switch off.

Huffington believes that burnout is the disease of civilization, and that women have to lead the way out of it. So how can we make adjustments in our lives to avoid burnout? Huffington herself suggests making your bedroom a technology free zone. Charge your smartphones and iPads in a separate room to reduce the risk of checking them before bedtime or if you wake up during the night. It is imperative to have uninterrupted, renewal time!

Whilst technology is fantastic and has certainly changed my life, I agree with Huffington when she says hyperconnectivity is the snake in the technological garden of Eden. We must learn to disconnect from technology to connect with ourselves, as the culture of burnout will not build a culture of creativity. Being ‘on’ all the time will not help, and we need to go on a digital detox, and use sleep as an enhancement and advancement tool for our health and wellbeing. From my own experience, I have found that when I have less sleep I am not at my best, and I struggle to complete tasks to the best of my ability. Sleep is so important, and it’s one of the main messages that I am taking away from this fantastic book.

I think that we have all experienced the panic of time famine when we feel like we are running out of time. Huffington affirms that it is okay to complete a project by dropping it, particularly deciding what you are going to put your energy into. It’s important to do things with clarity, and often, the worst things in your life open doors to the best things. I think we can all think of several examples of when this has happened, and life only really makes sense when you look back. Huffington shares a fantastic quote by Rumi in the book- “Live life like everything is rigged in your favour.” Don’t be a victim and make sure that you are in control of your attitude- you are bigger than what happens to you.

It’s important to define success by what’s important to us- it is your own life and no-one else’s. I’m a supporter and advocate of Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In movement, but I have also recognized that we need to lean back to recharge, and then lean in again.  A career is not climbing a ladder- it’s about a dance and creating as many opportunities as possible. Above all, we need to ‘restore connection,’ and find our own individual place of wisdom, strength and real connection to change our lives and change the world.