Randi Zuckerberg's Simple Secret for Juggling Career and Kids
The media maven offers a candid look at her 'lopsided' life as a working mother and explains how she prioritizes her time.
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True, her childhood dream was to sing on Broadway and, true, she recently did in 30 Rock of Ages shows. And, yes, the Harvard psychology grad also fronts a cover band called Feedbomb, made up of current and former Facebook employees (she left a sweet gig at the elite global advertising firm Ogilvy & Mather to create and run Facebook's marketing arm from 2005 to 2011). But belting it out on stage is only one of the plates the busy mom of two spins these days.
Related: 20 Questions With Randi Zuckerberg
On top of being an accomplished actor and musician, Zuckerberg, 32, is also an Emmy-nominated TV producer and contributor. The Zuckerberg Media founder and CEO regularly appears on CNBC and on the Today Show to discuss the demands of life in the digital age, the focus of her New York Times best-seller Dot Complicated (HarperOne, 2013). She also wrote a children's book around the same theme called Dot. (HarperCollins, 2013), which The Jim Henson Company recently optioned the TV rights to.
Heap on to an already hectic schedule caring for her newborn son Simcha, keynoting one women's leadership conference after another and hosting a weekly SiriusXM Business Radio show, and it's a wonder Zuckerberg has time to catch her breath.
We caught up with the media maven to find out how she successfully juggles raising two young kids and an exceptional career.
Entrepreneur: You recently welcomed a second child to your family. Congratulations! What apps and tech do you lean on two make your life a little easier?
Zuckerberg: We're new to this whole "having two kids" thing, so I'd say we're definitely still figuring it out. The baby is so much easier this time around, but the combination of the two? Chaos!
Luckily, behind every great parent are a whole bunch of great apps and gadgets. A few of our favorites include: Nest thermostat (so we can keep our room perfectly chilled, while also keeping the nursery toasty warm and manage it all from our phones), DropCam (to check in on the little guy during nap time), Dropbox and Evernote to store important documents and to-do lists (baby brain is a real thing!), my Swash laundry device (so I can "refresh" that blazer that just got baby spit up on it, before rushing out the door to host my SiriusXM radio show), the Rock-a-bye Baby channel on Pandora (you haven't lived until you've heard a lullaby rendition of Metallica), PayPal to manage all the expenses going in and out (babies are expensive!), and the Timehop app so we can compare Simi to what Asher looked like at his age -- an instant smile every day!
Shopping wise, I'm a bit obsessed with Zulily (flash sales site for kiddie gear) and of course, Amazon Prime. It's scary how many Amazon boxes arrive at our house every day. And finally, I have a small Facebook group of fellow new moms who I get advice from and share photos with every day, so we don't have to bombard everyone else with a million baby photos!
Entrepreneur: What's a typical day in life of Randi Zuckerberg like?
Zuckerberg: I have a mantra that I started following a few years ago: Work. Sleep. Family. Fitness. Friends. Pick three.
If you had asked me this a few weeks ago, I would have told you that I've chosen: family, family, family. Definitely no sleep. Now that I'm beginning to emerge from the tunnel of newborn-land, I wake up around 7 every morning (well, I never really go to bed, so interpret "wake up" as you'd like) and I try to go a full hour without checking my email. It's difficult, but I find that if I check email first thing, I get thrust into the weeds, whereas not checking it allows me to get centered and figure out my goals for the day.
After seeing my toddler son off to school, I then dive straight into work. I'm either off to the studio to record my radio show, or working out of my home office on the phone with the director of the show I'm producing (Application Pending, a comedy about kindergarten admissions), one of the clients or companies I'm advising, or one of the writers for my website, Dot Complicated. When my husband gets home from work, it's dinner and family time until about 8 p.m. Then, as soon as we get both the boys to bed, we're both back on our laptops. Sigh…the modern marriage.
So I guess right now, I'm picking work, family, sleep (in small spurts, at least). Hopefully I'll be able to rotate fitness and friends back in there soon…
Entrepreneur: How do you get it all done? Do you enlist help?
Zuckerberg: I'm so lucky that my parents live close to us. My mom is over almost every afternoon to help with the baby so I can have some "me" time. And I'm even luckier to have an incredible husband who enthusiastically does his lion's share of the work around the house…and then some.
If you swung by our house on a Saturday morning, you'd likely find my husband wearing the baby in the Ergo carrier, baking cookies with our older son, while letting me sleep in. We also have an au pair who lives with us. I love the idea of exposing children to people from other countries, hearing other languages, etc. We had several au pairs when I was growing up, and I'm still in touch with a bunch of them on Facebook. With two full-time-plus working parents, who both travel for business a great deal, it's nice to have another adult living in the house with us. Plus, thanks to her, our older son now speaks a good deal of Japanese.
Entrepreneur: Do you think work-life balance is a myth?
Zuckerberg: I actually don't like chasing the ideal of finding balance. It's like the mythical unicorn of getting to inbox zero. It's completely unattainable. I think it's okay to be "well lopsided," just as long as it balances out over the long term.
It's okay to be super focused on your career at certain points, and super focused on your family at others. Before I had our second son, I told my husband that I really wanted to double down on my career for a few months. I upped the amount of business travel I did. I even spent six weeks living in New York by myself to star in a Broadway musical, knowing that I was also going to take a few months completely off on maternity leave to focus on family.
When I look at 2014 as a whole, I feel like everything balanced out, even though each day was pretty lopsided in one particular direction.
Entrepreneur: How squeeze in downtime for yourself? What do you do to relax?
Zuckerberg: Downtime? What's that? Seriously. I remember before I had children, thinking I was so busy. But now, I think: WHAT ON EARTH WAS I DOING WITH ALL THAT FREE TIME?! Before kids, my ideal evening involved a spontaneous trip to Vegas. Today? My ideal evening involves a glass of wine, at least 10 minutes of uninterrupted conversation with my husband, and an episode of "Orphan Black" on Amazon. (If you haven't heard of that show before, go watch it. You're welcome.)
Entrepreneur: If you could give busy mompreneurs just one piece of advice, what would it be?
Zuckerberg: Work. Sleep. Family. Friends. Fitness. Pick three. And remember, you can choose a different three every day. As long as it balances out in the long run, you're ok. So don't put pressure on yourself to do all five of those things well every single day.
Entrepreneur: What are some of the biggest challenges you see women in tech facing right now and how can they overcome them?
Zuckerberg: Tech moves at light speed. There might be one app everyone is talking about and throwing money at today, and then two weeks from now, it's completely out of business.
Entire businesses get launched, sold, and shuttered in a matter of months. Which means that in other industries where having a baby sets you back a little bit, in tech -- taking a few months off for pregnancy/maternity leave -- sets you back five-fold.
After both of my sons, I had clients and businesses putting pressure on me to get on conference calls and travel to meetings just a few weeks after giving birth. Three weeks is a long time in the tech world, so surely you must be able to move on with your life by then, right? At some point, we need to be able to manage the frenetically paced world of tech innovation against the ACTUAL realities of biology and childbirth. Otherwise, women will never stand a chance in keeping up in a traditionally men's world.
Entrepreneur: You're keynoting virtual-reality company Next Galaxy's Business Innovation and Growth summit on Jan. 20 in Miami Beach, Fla. How did you first get interested in virtual reality (VR)? Also, which business sectors do you think are best poised to benefit from VR and why?Zuckerberg: Virtual reality is one of the trends I'm most excited about. Of course, I'm excited about the opportunities it provides for media and entertainment, with the creative genius of folks like Christopher Nolan and Pixar.
But even more than that, I'm excited about the innovations it will bring about in industries like healthcare and recovery. Recently, a team of doctors was able to conduct an incredibly complicated heart surgery on a fetus, thanks to advance practice through VR.
I've heard of instances where VR has helped people suffering from PTSD or extreme phobias, by allowing you to face your fears, a little more each session, through VR immersion. I've even heard about VR being able to cure lazy eye! I'm looking forward to keynoting Next Galaxy's VR Summit, but I'm even more excited to learn about all the exciting innovations going on in the space that I'm not even aware of!