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Here's What Work-Life Balance Means to These 20 Founders…

Staff Writer. Covers media, tech, startups, culture and workplace trends.

Work-life balance is something that we are all seeking, and sometimes it can feel like how you actually achieve it is one of the biggest mysteries the world has to offer.

There is no perfect formula to figure out how to allocate equal time to your career, your friends and family.

For the 20 entrepreneurs we spoke with, that isn’t always the goal — in fact, some readily admit it’s impossible. That’s okay.

Launching a company can be all-consuming, but no matter what kind of backgrounds they had or industries that they are in, these successful founders agreed that it is essential to make time in your busy schedule to do the things that you love.


Name: John Zimmer
Company: Lyft
Work-life balance philosophy: It’s a combination of finding work that you are passionate about so you feel good about committing the time, as well as making the physical and mental time and space to be the with the people most important in your life.

Read more about Zimmer: Lyft Co-Founder John Zimmer: ‘You Should Never Veer Off the Path of Your Own Values’

Name: Luis von Ahn
Company: Duolingo
Work-life balance philosophy: I don’t understand the meaning of that. I don’t burn out, because my work is my hobby. I do this because it’s what I love to do. That’s not a big issue for me.

Read more about von Ahn: Why This Founder Says the Worst Advice He Ever Got Was to Listen to His Users

Name: Aaron Levie
Company: Box
Work-life balance philosophy: I think in my case work is so exciting that it is life to me; it is what I enjoy doing. Every day I show up to work, I get to work with my best friends. It’s not something that I need to counterbalance with anything.

Read more about Levie: Why This Founder Says You Shouldn’t Be Afraid to Go Big

Name: Brit Morin
Company: Brit + Co
Work-life balance philosophy: I think more than work-life balance, it’s about work-life fit. To me, that means figuring out the best way to spend time with my husband and children and also run my business without feeling like I’m compromising on either. Sometimes that means catching up on podcasts while I run, and sometimes it means leaving the office at 5 pm, so that I can be there for bath time. The hardest part of this balance — especially as a working mom of two — is finding time for friends. That’s something I hope to continue focusing on over the next year.

Read more about Morin: This Founder Shares the Secret to How to Make Your Business Last


Name: Amber Venz
Company: RewardStyle
Work-life balance philosophy: It’s just living intentionally. It’s just feeling I’m in control of my own time. I think it comes down to calendaring things and feeling at the end of the week I was actually in control of what happened and where my time was invested.

Read more about Venz: This Founder Shares the Mindset That Helps Her Stay On Track


Name: Bastian Lehmann
Company: Postmates
Work-life balance philosophy: You can only be at your best if you have something that grounds you. It can be friends, a partner, a hobby, just something else that you do. It’s so important that one finds a balance.

Read more about Lehmann: This Founder Shares the One Trait He Looks for in Every Hire


Name: Carrie Dorr
Company: Pure Barre
Work-life balance philosophy: I don’t believe work-life balance exists the way society has been describing it. I’d love to help shift how we describe it, because it puts an unrealistic burden and expectation on women. I want to redefine what it looks like. I believe in quality time, not quantity. So I’m fully present with my kids, with my husband, my friends, and the same when I’m at work. It requires us to accept that there is usually not a day where you get an A-plus in every category. It’s looking at it as a whole rather than trying to make your day look so perfectly categorized. Otherwise I think that’s a recipe for disaster.


Read more about Dorr: This Founder Shares How to Tailor Your Schedule to Fit Your Brain


Name: David Bladow
Company: BloomThat
Work-life balance philosophy: To me it’s having enough time outside your daily work to find center and find joy. If it’s cooking, spending time with my wife or going skiing on a weekend, it is being able to set aside time that’s not work. Being an entrepreneur it’s easy to lose track of that, and you are working harder, but you’re not being productive. It’s addition by subtraction. If you can find that time to relax, you will be more effective with the time you devote to work.

Read more about Bladow: This Founder Has 3 Simple Tips to Achieve Maximum Productivity


Name: Gavin Armstrong
Company: Lucky Iron Fish
Work-life balance philosophy: For me, it is an ideal that I’ll have one day. I think it’s important to make time for yourself, because it is very easy to burn out. I always try my best to make time for my friends, even if we’re in different places.They keep me grounded and keep me sane. It can be difficult, but I’m trying to do a better job of staying engaged and making time for them. It’s as simple as sending silly photos and jokes back and forth just to laugh. I think it’s important to laugh every day.

Read more about Armstrong: This CEO Has Helped Thousands — and He’s Just Getting Started


Name: Josh Reeves
Company: Gusto
Work-life balance philosophy: Work-life balance implies to me a zero-sum game, and it’s not. If work is better, life doesn’t suck and if life is better, work doesn’t suck. Work can and should be a part of life. Work-life as a part of living is making sure that I spend time on things I want to do, and I’m passionate about. Making sure I’m doing what’s important to me and making sure how I spend my time matches what is important to me.

Read more about Reeves: The CEO of Billion-Dollar Startup Gusto Believes Passion Should Come Before Revenue

Name: Julia Hartz
Company: Eventbrite
Work-life balance philosophy: Finding balance is an ongoing challenge, which requires constant attention and dedication. My life is extremely binary — my passion is in Eventbrite and my love is in my family. The nature of business today is that the lines of “work” and “life” are a little more blurred. Time spent outside of the office or with family is sacred, so we try our best to bring many things that happen outside into the office.

Read more about Hartz: The Day This Eventbrite Co-Founder Learned When to Speak Up

Name: Randi Zuckerberg
Company: Zuckerberg Media
Work-life balance philosophy: To me, it’s a long-term goal. A lot of people put pressure on themselves to make it a short-term, everyday goal. I like to give myself permission to be lopsided on a given day.

Read more about Zuckerberg: Why Everyone Can Use Randi Zuckerberg’s Number One Focus Tip


Name: Chris Wanstrath
Company: GitHub
Work-life balance philosophy: You are able to be the version of yourself you want to be at both work and home, and you do not let one situation negatively impact the other.

It’s harder to quantify, but I think everyone knows that people who are happy and have that balance do better work. If you feel like you one activity is being negatively impacted by another that’s a sign of work-life balance not being in check.

Read more about Wanstrath: This Founder Believes He Found the Answer for Burnout

Name: Tim Chen
Company: Nerdwallet
Work-life balance philosophy: There are two modes of operation: highly analytical and a daydream mode. I think the right balance is a mix of those two. Work is a social purpose, and the two feed off each other well.

Read more about Chen: Nerdwallet’s Founder Shares the Worst Advice He Ever Got

Name: Oliver Kharraz
Company: Zocdoc
Work-life balance philosophy: My way of dealing with that is to protect my weekends as much as I can, and get most of my work done during the week.

Read more about Kharraz: This Founder Says to Succeed You Need to Question Everything

Name: Daniella Yacobovsky
Company: BaubleBar
Work-life balance philosophy: It comes down to is having an understanding of what it is you need to accomplish, having a timeline and the flexibility to set your path. Work-life balance for us means that if I have an important dinner I want to go to with friends I am leaving a little bit earlier than I normally would, I have the flexibility to do that. I know what needs to get done, I know that I am going to do it, and I can set that pace and tone. I think there is a nice element to that flexibility with startups. I also think it’s about figuring out what’s important to you and how do you create space in your life.

Read more about Yacobovsky: This Co-Founder of BaubleBar’s Secret for Inspiration? Always ‘Keep Your Eyes Peeled.’


Name: Merrill Stubbs
Company: Food52
Work-life balance philosophy: It’s all about having perspective. It doesn’t mean erecting a wall between the two; that’s unrealistic. It means trying to stay in the moment and being engaged in whatever it is I’m doing, trying not to let other things creep in and decrease my productivity or my enjoyment of that moment.

Read more about Stubbs: The Life-Changing Book That Helps This Entrepreneur Think Big


Name: Jenny Ripps
Company: Owl’s Brew
Organizational tool: It means constantly prioritizing and making choices. Most of those choices should lead to me getting home on time to put my kids to bed. But it also means assessing where I need to be and knowing there are multiple things that I care about, including my family, marriage and work.

Read more about Ripps: The One Thing This Entrepreneur Does Each Day to Stay Productive

Name: Oren Frank
Company: Talkspace
Work-life balance philosophy: I think the concept is mistaken. I think work is work and life is life. and I think that anyone that has a real discussion with themselves whether they should spend more time working or more time with their family or loved ones is making a huge mistake. Hopefully, they will learn to regret and repair.

Read more about Frank: This CEO’s Favorite Productivity Tips Are Surprisingly Simple


Name: Heidi Zak
Company: ThirdLove
Work-life balance philosophy: I don’t think there is such a thing. Every day you choose something to prioritize, especially as a working mom. Sometimes I stay late to work or leave early to go to my daughter’s preschool. Every once in awhile I squeeze in something for myself. You’re always picking and choosing, and hopefully, it’s balancing out over the week or month.

Read more about Zak: What This Founder Learned at a Farmstand Helped Her Bra Startup


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