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: Victoria Sopik, president and CEO of Kids & Company Ltd. Her Markham, Ont.-based firm runs child-care services for corporate clients. The firm currently operates 14 centres across Canada and boasts revenue of $3.5 million.
Victoria Sopik has learned a thing or two about combining business and family priorities. No wonder. In addition to heading up her day-care company, Sopik heads up a busy family of eight children, aged 10 to 21. Her secret: “A lot of women and moms get caught up in what they think a good mom or wife should do, and I don’t focus on that,” says Sopik. “It’s all about what works for me personally.”
Unlike many people, Sopik doesn’t segment her life into work-time, family-time, or personal-time. “To me, that doesn’t make sense. It’s not all or nothing,” she says. “My philosophy is ‘Do it all, all the time’.” So whether she’s at work, exercising or spending time with her kids, she’s always plugged in via her cell phone or BlackBerry. Says Sopik: “I combine everything to make it work.”
If she’s golfing with her kids on a Saturday, for example, she checks messages while waiting for her turn to play. At her children’s sports or school functions, “I’m the mom that goes into the ladies room and checks her BlackBerry,” she says, “I’m the mom sitting there at the hockey or volleyball game sending e-mails to people,” working when her children aren’t in action. “Meanwhile, I’m getting dirty looks from other parents, but for me, [if I wasn’t working there,] I wouldn’t be there at all.”
“I’m always connected, I’m always checking in,” says Sopik. “Some people need to go on holiday and disconnect in order to relax, whereas I’m the opposite. I’m a happy, relaxed person when I am connected to my world, and my world includes both my business and my children.”
Sopik admits that business has meant missing some family time over the years, “but the payoff for me is that I want to be a working mom role model. That’s really important to me.”
It helps that Sopik has a calm personality. “I’m a very minimally stressed person,” she says. “It’s the temperament from having all those children-there’s very little that gets me riled up.”
And Sopik avoids feeling guilty when she can’t or doesn’t do something well. Just as parents teach children not to feel bad when they miss the mark, women need to teach themselves, she says. “I have this talk with myself all the time: You’re really great at this and that, but you didn’t do very well this time? Oh well, next time you’ll do better.”