We had the good fortune of connecting with Jen De Simone Swiss and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jen, have there been any changes in how you think about work-life balance?
My work-life balance today looks significantly different than it did when I was in my 20’s. When you’re just starting out in your career, you’re at the bottom of the totem pole. You are trying to prove yourself and work your way up as fast as possible. You work extra hard to get that raise so you can feel a little less broke. When job searching, you choose companies with the most prestige to build your resume rather than focusing on what makes you happy. Earlier in my career, there were days when I ate breakfast, lunch, and dinner in the office in order to prove I could do whatever was thrown at me. It was not sustainable, but it was a learning opportunity.I balanced the demands of stressful work environments by becoming a runner. I went for short runs after work when I had time and long runs in Central Park on Saturdays. Running and training for races kept me sane. Today, I choose to work at places that support work-life balance.
My catalyst for change was becoming chronically ill in my mid-20’s with Lyme Disease and other related complications. I could no longer live the way I had been for so long. It also made me realize there was way more to life than my career. From there on out, I started focusing on selecting companies with positive work cultures rather than companies that would pay me the most money. Where could I work that would allow me to support my health and have a life outside of the office? Once I started working at places that cared about me as a person, my happiness started to shift. And surprisingly, so did my career success.
I think about balance as having enough time each week to do things that bring you joy. Whether that’s going for a run, cooking dinner, spending time with family, reading a book or just having enough time to rest properly. When you have time each week to do little things that make you happy, everything in life becomes better. Including your job.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
At shetakesfive.com, it is my mission to help busy career women seamlessly fit wellness into their packed lives. There is no pressure to make drastic changes, just simple ways to improve your lifestyle and feel good. In a world that glorifies “hustling”, I take a more relaxed approach to supporting your career, health and happiness. This year, I am most excited to launch our interview series. I’m looking forward to connecting with some amazing women and sharing their insights with our readers.
Getting to where I am today business-wise, which includes having a full-time career, while managing a blog was a process. I always thought it had to be one or the other, I never thought I could design a life that allowed for both. Rather than try to quickly figure out how to make a living off blogging, I found jobs that supported my work-life balance. That way I had time outside of the office to dedicate to writing. I also knew nothing about branding so I signed up for courses and branding programs that helped me learn more about the digital marketing world.
There are many lessons I’ve learned along the way. One, I learned that sometimes you have to take chances and risks to have the life you want. Two, when you are launching a business, you don’t have to do everything on your own. It’s okay to lean on other experts to help you when you get stuck. Three, when you start feeling stuck, it’s time to step away and allow space to think and be inspired. I want the world to know that it’s possible to be successful while supporting your health and well-being. At shetakesfive.com, I share content that will inspire you to live better while balancing the demands of life.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
If my best friend was visiting New York, there are a few places I would take her. I love Cafe Clover for brunch. Dinner would include Sant Ambreous (West Village), Il Buco and Avra. Also, I love Erin McKenna’s bakery on the Lower East Side for gluten-free cupcakes and sweets. For drinks, I love Tulo House for their delicious, clean hot beverages and San Tropez for a glass of wine. My favorite places in the city to visit are Central Park, The Met, Comedy Cellar and catching a jazz show.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
There are many but I would like to give credit to two people. First, I would like to shout out Career Coach, Jeanne Grabowski. A few years ago, I was feeling incredibly stuck and unhappy in my job but terrified to make a change. Jeanne gave me the push and accountability I needed to explore other options and launch something of my own. As a result, I am much happier.
All photos are by Daryl Getman.