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Bobbi Brown on Work-Life Balance at a Start-up

Just because you're busy doesn't mean you can afford to ignore your physical and emotional well-being.

Henry Leutwyler/Courtesy Company

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In the '80s, Bobbi Brown was a freelance makeup artist with a knack for creating moderate, natural-tone cosmetics. In 1991, she launched her own makeup line and began building a cosmetics empire that she eventually sold to Estée Lauder. Today, Brown's products are sold in more than 900 locations worldwide, including 13 freestanding Bobbi Brown retail shops.

Q: How do I stay sane during the times when I feel like I need to put in 26 hours of work a day on my business to make it a success?

Dana Mauriello
Founder, DMarie Studios
Palo Alto, California

A: I know what it's like to feel like there's not enough time in the day. When I started my company, I had two sons who were toddlers. It was exciting, but sometimes I literally had to remind myself to stop and breathe.

You might feel like you need to put in ridiculously long hours to get your business off the ground, but if you want to be at your best, it's important to get enough sleep, eat well, and exercise.

One of the ways you can find time for those things is making sure that you're not trying to do everything by yourself. As soon as you can afford it, get some great people working for you. Then, when there is a lot on your plate, make sure that you delegate that work appropriately.

Another way to stay sane is to schedule a little time every day to do something for yourself. My time is in the morning, before my family wakes up. That's when I usually exercise. It clears my head. I can be so stressed out about work that my judgment becomes clouded, and then I'll take a spin class and feel completely refocused.

If you are at the office and are feeling overloaded, sometimes even a little stretching helps. Lately, my schedule has been unrelenting, and I have been feeling really overwhelmed. So I purchased an exercise ball, which I keep behind my desk. Between meetings, I will shut my door, take some deep breaths, and stretch out my neck and back on the ball. Then I feel ready to take on the next hurdle.

I also believe that it's important to recharge your batteries, and that means getting out of the office from time to time. Go take a walk. Better yet, take a day off, or even a week off, if you can manage it. It will actually help you do your job better. Great decisions aren't made sitting in an office.

And when all else fails, you could always try a good martini and some yoga. Not necessarily in that order. And probably not at the same time.




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