Photo courtesy of Jennifer Li Chiang
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: Jennifer Li Chiang
What: CEO and Co-founder of MuseFind
Where: Greater Vancouver, Canada area
I usually wake up at this time, which is 15 minutes before my actual alarm. I’ve been fighting a bad habit of checking my phone as soon as I wake up, so instead I meditate and make time to list and think about the three things I am grateful for. These are small rituals that keep me grounded.
I brush my teeth and I always put on sunscreen as my base. My makeup is simple, clean, and takes me less than five minutes for this total process. My wardrobe is always simple: black dress that falls past my knees, silk scarf and running shoes. Alan Watt’s lecture “How to be unstoppable” plays in the background as I get ready.
Helmet on, headphones out. I bike to work every day: rain or shine. Today is beautiful. The Pacific ocean beats along the sandy shores of Sunset Beach, mountains outline the edges of water. Knowing that downtown resides directly beside the ocean paints a story that an urbania ecosystem can live closely with nature.
This 10-minute bike ride is my chance to align the tasks at hand and to breathe deeply. It gets my heartbeat up and the entire ride has a slight incline.
I’m usually the first person in the office. My ritual in the office is just as important as my wakeup one. I make a coffee, pour a glass of water or Kombucha, and review the tasks at hand. I sit in a separate room when I do this and prioritize my tasks.
I use a paper notebook and pen; still my preferred output when thinking. The irony of being a tech startup CEO is not lost on me. After this, I jump into my inbox and clear any urgent issues before starting my day.
Stand up is critical for the team; it gets our hearts pumping, a touch base with everyone. We always end our turn by sharing a piece of gratitude. Today, I share that I’m grateful for the amazing city that we live in; a meeting ground of metropolitan life with endless mountains and ocean water.
10:05 a.m. -12 p.m.
Mornings are full of energy. I grind through any customer calls, issues, feedback and of course, any demos or meetings with investors. I find great joy in still being able to have a high-touch experience with our customers; I love being able to be hands-on at our size still.
I check in with our sales and marketing progress and our product success team. We’ve been working hard on blending the two to cohabitate together. I truly believe that a long-enduring company brings value to a customer when it balances revenue with engineering and design.
We’re about to release MuseFind on the Shopify app store and the office is buzzing with excitement. Espressos and green teas are the standard choices of flavor for everyone’s boost of the morning.
Right before lunch, I have a jump on a practice pitch call with one of our investors Bonnie Foley Wong, CEO of Pique Ventures. A fantastic start to the morning.
Having 11.5 years of time in as an Army Reservist has its perks. One of them being my preference for eating quickly. Lunch passes by quickly and sometimes I am able to join the team for a team outing. Most of the time, lunch and the afternoon buzz melt into one another.
The afternoon is where brainstorms, internal meetings are almost always exclusively reserved for. We’re very visual and hands on and use more paper, sticky-notes and markers than the average startup.
Today, we’re tackling our home-page design. We’re reviewing and learning from best practices in the industry but also blending in our own unique value proposition as MuseFind.
No project is ever built alone, including this one. It’s a collective effort with multiple team players from marketing, customer success and design coming together and providing feedback.
I’ve scheduled coffee with a successful CEO in Gastown, Vancouver.
I bike from our office to his. Luckily, his office is only a 13 minute ride away in the opposite part of downtown Vancouver. We met at a networking dinner and I admire him for building a SaaS company generating $100M in revenue and now building another giant. I’ve been making a conscious effort by surrounding myself with entrepreneurs that I admire and respect; both in Vancouver and New York.
Cooking to most of my entrepreneurial colleagues is a chore; but it is a choice I make. The act of creating a meal gives me a comforting sense of control from an otherwise, chaotic day. During the work day, it feels as though there are hundreds of tasks and projects to acknowledge and work on, but cooking is a singular task yielding a delicious reward. It is my form of meditation. Tonight I’m making stir fried beef with green onions and a side of homemade kimchi; a recipe my mother in law taught me when she visited us from New York.
My husband washes the dishes more than half the time after each meal and we prep any leftover food for our lunches. Towards the end of the night, I had planned to go to the gym but decided to stay in and complete the last page of my coloring book.
Emails from our Japanese business development partners pop in and I answer them quickly; a call is scheduled for tomorrow evening to discuss the terms of a large agency deal they are closing.
Rest is a critical part of maintaining my strength as an entrepreneur in this marathon. I’ve experienced burnouts before (the most was three times in three months) and was warned by my family doctor that a lack of adequate sleep would drive my body to age four times faster than it should.
I’m in bed, winding down and listening to “Dragnet”, an old time radio show. I still have yet to divorce the phone from my bed stand; it serves as my alarm clock, weather reporter and now, presents the exciting adventures of Dragnet’s radio star. I am excited to sleep but more excited to jump into the next day--this kind of joy is one that you can never buy!
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