Women can do anything — but not everything. As the largest online career community for women, we at Fairygodboss realize that balance is a myth, and that picking what to prioritize when everything feels important on a day-to-day basis isn't always easy. In the #MakingTime series, women share with us how, for one day, they chose to spend their most precious resource: time.
Who: Radha Vyas
What: Co-founder and CEO of Flash Pack, an adventure travel firm that curates daring global escapes for professionals in their 30s and 40s
The first thing I do in the morning is breastfeed my five-month-old daughter, Anyā. I often get asked how I run a high-growth business while being a new mum and the truth is, it’s not easy! I miss Anyā so much during the day but luckily, I also love my work. We have a wonderful nanny and I try to ensure I’m totally present with Anyā during the time I’m with her, and totally present at work when I’m there. I also try to drop the guilt although it creeps up on me regularly.
I spend a good half hour reading to Anyā while I have coffee and make breakfast. Usually, I’ll eat something like porridge made with organic oats, cocoa powder, dates and hazelnuts. I might have Jazz FM on in the background, or I’ll listen to a careers podcast to get me in the mood to think big. I love How I Built This from NPR; it’s always motivating to hear how entrepreneurs have grown their ideas from scratch.
If possible, I try and walk to work with my husband and co-founder, Lee Thompson. We launched Flash Pack as a bedroom startup in 2014, about a year after we first met and brainstormed the idea on a date. It’s seen huge growth ever since; especially in the past year when we’ve hired 60 new members of staff and opened a New York office (the States is now one of our biggest markets). So this 30-minute morning walk is a rare moment of quiet time where we get to talk through big decisions and solve problems.
We have very well-defined roles – Lee looks after the brand side of the business and I take charge of operations. We have a rule that we are allowed to challenge each other, but if we are not able to agree, each of us has veto over our own area of the business.
I arrive in office. The first thing I do is grab a large glass of water and catch up with my executive assistant on the running of the day and anything urgent that I need to address. I’ll then meet with our chief financial officer to go over cash flow.
I’ll check any new customer feedback. It’s our privilege that we often get really detailed responses from solo travellers who join our trips. People make these deep, meaningful connections with others in their group. They also come away buzzing from trying something new and challenging, like abseiling down Table Mountain in Cape Town, or zip-lining above the rainforests of Belize.
It’s really important that the team and I take note of each and every review as we continue to push for the best standards in customer delivery, and reward the strong sense of loyalty that stands at the core of our global community.
I check my email; I limit myself to doing this just three times a day, using a system that allows me to pin and snooze emails by swiping left or right on my phone. I try to get to inbox zero at least once a week, so I’m not overwhelmed and have the head space to deal with the most important messages.
I always look forward to meeting with our product team, who are charged with possibly the best job of all: dreaming up new and exciting trips! Our customers are well-travelled and discerning, so it’s a challenge to keep them on their toes. Unique experiences are our calling card: we like to head off the beaten track and try local and game-changing ideas that represent the cutting edge of the travel industry.
This might be something like arranging a high-altitude champagne breakfast in the Himalayas, leading a secret “backdoor” hike to the world-famous site of Petra in Jordan, or curating a luxury camping stay on a hidden island in the Philippines – complete with a private chef. The aim is to stage-manage moments that surprise and delight, while at the same time tapping into the character of a place and staying ahead of industry trends, tech developments etc. It’s great fun to brainstorm as no idea is too out-there – the bigger and bolder, the better.
I have a video call with our Chief Operating Officer, who recently moved State-side to head up our New York office. We launched there earlier this summer. London and New York aren’t hugely different in terms of working culture, but there are still nuances of a new environment that we need to get our heads around. We’re learning so much every day, though, and it’s super-exciting to see new members of the US team chime in with our discussions on Slack.
I can’t function without a proper lunch so around midday, I’ll pause to join the wider team in our breakout area. We don’t have many good food options in our neighbourhood, so three times a week, Flash Pack pays for lunch to be delivered to the office. We might try anything from Cuban empanadas to Hawaiian poke bowls or mezze – it’ll usually have a sharing/street food theme, and debate is always raging on what’s best or where to try next.
As I’m breastfeeding Anyā, I need to take time to pump as I dash between meetings. I find the Elvie wearable pump is really easy to use from my desk, and my team are now used to seeing my bags of milk in the fridge! I want to set an example to other young professional women that it’s possible to carve out a space that fits all their ambitions in family and work. If we are going to change our reality, we need to see these two worlds collide and recognise that it’s OK.
I really enjoy networking with other entrepreneurs, especially when it comes to sharing inspiration with fellow female leaders. So if there’s an opportunity to do so, I’ll schedule in afternoon catch-up events; they’re a great chance to work out how we in the business world can work to support one another. I also spend this period making key strategic decisions, or helping the senior management team to do the same.
I take time out from operational activities to work on the Flash Pack Foundation. Every time a Flashpacker books a trip with us, we make a $6 contribution to our grassroot project partners around the world, working in areas of education, human rights advocacy, gender empowerment and animal welfare. We’re also taking a series of steps to become carbon neutral and provide clean water tanks on all Flash Pack adventures by the year 2023. So there’s lots to work on here, but it’s absolutely necessary if we are to offset endemic problems within the travel industry, and create a legacy that we can be proud of.
Every week, we have our “All Hands” meeting, which is a chance for the whole company to get together and fill each other in on progress across different departments. Lots of people struggle with public speaking but we encourage everyone to get involved and build their confidence. There’s always this great, upbeat atmosphere and we might head for drinks after, or to one of our monthly “Master of Fun” nights, where team members take turns to organise adventure activities e.g. boules and cocktails, or axe-throwing. We also encourage collaboration between teams by organising random coffee dates, so individuals in different sections can get to know each other.
I leave for home via bus. I used to put in long hours in the office, but now that I’m a mum, I try to get back in time for Anyā’s bedtime and then carry on working for a bit from home before I hit the pillow.
Lee or I take turns to make dinner, while the other puts Anyā to bed. I love to listen to podcasts while I cook; HBR IdeaCast and Girlboss Radio are both favourites of mine. If all has gone well with bedtime, we’ll then eat, chat and enjoy a glass of wine together.
We’ll generally put in a few hours’ extra work while watching Netflix. I hardly get any time to watch TV properly these days but I like catching up on Working Moms if I can.
I tend to be in bed quite early. I stretch, feed Anyā and do 15 minutes of mindfulness meditation before going to sleep.
Interested in contributing to Fairygodboss' #MakingTime series? Email [email protected] with "#MakingTime" in the subject line.