Meeting both business and personal demands has long been a juggling act for women entrepreneurs. Between the long hours, travel, meetings and employee and customer challenges, there’s little time left for personal needs. Still, leading a rich, well-rounded life is as essential to your business success as it is to your sanity.
We ask Canada’s leading businesswomen to tell us how they effectively manage work/life balance. Each issue we’ll bring you the tactics and strategies that help women grow their companies and careers, while still finding a little “me” time to help deal with the personal commitments of life.
THIS ISSUE: Barbara Philip is co-founder and partner of Barbariain Wine Consulting, which provides such services as wine seminars and tastings, staff training, wine writing and presentations to consumers, corporations and organizations. She is also Curriculum Department Head for the International Sommelier Guild, an industry association that tracks trends and provides research and educational courses. In November 2007, Philip was the first woman in Canada to be named a Master of Wine, the wine world’s highest designation and an honour held by only 265 people worldwide.
Maintaining balance, says Philip, “is something that I think about, something that I talk to my friends about, and something that you have to make a conscious effort to achieve.” But as a busy entrepreneur actually achieving it is hard to do, especially when you really love what your work is.
As much as she’d love a day here and there with no agenda to follow, she says her solution has been setting and sticking to a schedule to fit in all her activities. Teaching regular classes in Las Vegas on Sundays, San Diego on Mondays and Vancouver on Tuesdays leaves Philip only four days a week to address her many other obligations to clients, family and friends (not to mention herself).
No matter how busy work gets, it’s important to give priority to social appointments, she says. “I schedule in social things, and I absolutely stick to them no matter how out of control the work has gotten or how many more things I have on my plate.” For example, “There’s a coffee date I have for tomorrow that there’s no way I have time to keep. But I will go.” Work never suffers; it always gets done another time, she says. “Relationships and staying in touch with people is much more fragile than work is.”
For herself, she schedules a half hour of yoga each day. And one perk of being in the wine and hospitality industry is that there are opportunities to mix business with pleasure, she says. She enjoys great business lunches, French classes, and “sometimes, I might be writing an article, but I’ll have a glass of good wine beside my computer. It’s not like I’m 100% go, go, go,” she says. “I treat myself very well.”
Philip, 42, credits her husband’s emotional and intellectual support for helping her through the “three years of intense study and working” to earn her Master of Wine degree, an extremely rigorous program that involved lots of travel (which she completed while still teaching, working in her consulting business, and working at a former job as a restaurant sommelier). “It dominated all sorts of time,” she says. Her business suffered in terms of taking on and scouting for new business, she says, but the investment of time and effort has paid off.
Working with her husband may not sound very balanced, but it really is, says Philip: “We understand what each other does so well that it helps provide balance. Even if we’re talking about work, it’s highly relaxing. It’s nice, that sense of coming home to someone who’s going to relate 100%.” The couple try to schedule a night or two off together each week, and while no evening is truly off-limits when it comes to work, she says, it¹s a commitment they work hard at keeping.
You have to remain vigilant about achieving balance, says Philip: “I achieve it, but then I lose it and then I have to work at it again. If you ignore it for a little while, you can look back and see that it’s gone.”