Vicki Saunders is the Founder of SheEO, a Toronto-based global initiative to radically transform how people can support, finance and celebrate women entrepreneurs.
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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
I’m the Founder of SheEO. I’m an entrepreneur. I love the freedom and autonomy that being an entrepreneur brings. When I was younger I thought about getting a job about once a month because it was so hard doing what I was doing but I realized that I can’t work for anyone else. It’s just in my DNA.
2) What does a typical day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
Well, as my coach says, i’m habitually, non-habitual so no two days look the same. I travel a lot. Right now it’s 7am and I’m answering these questions in my backyard before heading to the office.
It’s Friday and we do 4-day work weeks in the summer but I’m breaking the rule today by meeting someone who is outside our network as a favour for an Activator.
When I’m in town, I usually go to the office early after having a coffee at home with my husband. We set intentions for the day and I’m off to the office. The SheEO team does stand-up check-ins/outs with the whole team, at 10 and 4pm ET each day.
I spend about 30% of my time in consultation with Activators and Ventures in our network, about 30% on strategy and growth working on the business and 30% inside the business on product development, communications, team, etc.
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
Everything about SheEO is on your own terms. We have remote and flex work. We trust one another. People don’t do great work unless they want to so we trust you to set your own boundaries and create the conditions to make a significant contribution.
4) Do you have any tips, tricks or shortcuts to help you manage your workload and schedule?
I think of prioritizing as an iterative process. I check-in with myself and others each day to think about what is the highest and best use of my time and energy. I use a formula – Energy for Impact and I follow the energy.
This means that I’m constantly measuring how much energy I give to something versus the impact it’s creating. I’m always looking to put as little energy into something to maximize impact. I am also deeply aligned with the work I do so it energizes me.
I pay attention to things that don’t energize me and find ways to off-load them to people who are energized by those activities. It’s a constant practice.
5) What does work life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
I don’t like the term because it infers that there is some fantasy place we should all be striving for. It’s not a goal I am aiming for.
I strive to be present and notice what’s working for me and what’s not, what feels right and what doesn’t, what feels in pursuit of my potential and what doesn’t.
I know when I’m off the charts in terms of work and sometimes that’s ok. I am careful with my energy and work on managing it well so I stay healthy.
6) What do you think are some of the best habits you’ve developed over the years to help you strive for success and balance?
I tell myself the truth. I don’t blame others about what happens to me. I take responsibility for my own actions. I work daily to be more radically generous, a practice we all work on at SheEO.
Happiness and health matter to me. Mental health over physical health to be honest. I used to work out every day and when I started SheEO for some reason I decided to put all my energy into building the community.
I put a LOT of effort into staying clear, meditating and being kinder to myself and others. I’ve only recently gotten back into working out regularly (feels great!) and most importantly I notice that it’s ok to cycle in and out.
I don’t judge myself or blame myself. I just notice it, say “isn’t that interesting” and move on. My deepest practice is being radically generous. It’s my commitment to myself and the world.
7) Are there any books that have helped you improve over the years?
I have read thousands of books about everything you can imagine.
I love MJ Ryan (simple practices on gratitude, generosity, etc), Cheri Huber (her book titles are all you have to read, she says), Ben Okri (imagination) and tons of non-fiction. I’m currently reading Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men.
8) What is the number one thing you do to make sure you get the most out of your day?
Check in with myself and trust my gut on what feels right.
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
You do you. It’s important to set your own goals and work on what matters to you. At SheEO we use the phrase “on your own terms”. No one has the path or the answer for you. You have to find your own way. It’s an inside job as they say.
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