In 2014, after subsequently serving as Vice President at Goldman Sachs and Chief Marketing Officer of NYSE Euronext, I ventured out on my own so I could have more flexibility while raising my two young daughters.
While I was a "party of one" at first, serving as a virtual CMO for several major financial-focused brands, I quickly identified a niche and the Ricciardi Group was born. In less than four years, we built a team of over 30 full-time employees and contractors, enlisted a board of advisors from some of the world's leading firms, and expanded our client roster to include Fortune 500 companies like Adobe, Legg Mason and BNY Melon, and emerging technology brands like AlphaPoint, ComplySci, and General Assembly.
What this rapid growth meant was that I had to get extremely focused on the tasks at hand while also continuing to prioritize the things that were important. Often times, what you gain in flexibility as a business owner, you often lose in “setting boundaries.” In other words, while I could decide on my working hours, often depending on my kids’ schedules, it often meant I was working all the time...day, night, weekends, weekdays.
In order to strike some sort of a balance, and not get sucked into the vacuum of “startup life,” I cut out several habits that just don’t serve me, my family, or my company. What I’ve found is that it’s given me time and energy back, and ultimately made me much better at all of my jobs.
1. Checking emails first thing in the morning
I used to feel pressure to be “connected” the second I rolled out of bed. What ultimately happened is that I went into high alert mode and was unable to be present for my kids during an important time of their day.
2. Only working out when I “had time”
The truth is, we prioritize what’s important. And getting into the habit of saying that we will do something “only if we have time” is likely the surest way to never do it. In other words, I had to rid myself of the habit of putting my physical health last. I am so much better at all aspects of my life when I feel healthy and in shape. My workouts of choice are to run on the weekends, do one yoga class mid week, and usually Fridays I try to lift weights. The days are typically set in advance, and scheduled into my calendar like everything else.
3. Making endless lists with no focus
A dear friend of mine once quipped: “Sometimes I feel like when I make lists, I’m actually making lists of all the things I won’t ever do.” This couldn’t be more true for me. I now start my day making a list of the top things I need to get accomplished first and foremost that day. Writing it down each morning gives me focus, then I can revisit and re-prioritize based on what happens throughout the day and week. On one side of the paper are the items my team is working on, and the other side are the top things I’m working on that require my attention, engagement, and actual execution.
4. Foregoing creativity
I’m a trained classical pianist. Over the years as a career oriented person, and then with kids, my creative pursuits ended up taking a backseat. Many of my jobs have been focused on creative problem solving, so while it’s technically business-related, I have gotten some of my creative juices flowing in that way. My girls are only two and four, but I realize it’s important for me to show an example of balancing both the “art and the science.” They see me playing the piano and now they want to play! We even practice together once a week, and I get to teach my girls a wonderful skill while spending quality time with them.
After stints as the Chief Marketing Officer of NYSE Euronext and Vice President at Goldman Sachs, Marisa Ricciardi ventured out on her own in 2014 so she could have more flexibility while raising her two daughters. While she was a "party of one" at first, serving as a virtual CMO for several major financial-focused brands, Marisa quickly identified a niche and the Ricciardi Group was born. From helping early-stage CEOs allocate venture capital that will have the highest impact on their business, to assisting CMOs in navigating the complex marketing landscape, Marisa is committed to providing her clients with a clear path for turning business strategy into action.