Company: Trish Thomas: Boldly Smart Solutions
Professional Industry: Consulting
Job Title: Business Owner
WIXII-ISM™ FROM TRISH THOMAS:
“That is always my primary goal in consulting and in life… helping people find what they love, grow into masters, and pursue perfection (and profits) with abandon.”
“My daughter, Lydia, has also said many times that watching me work hard for what I want and engage in a job I truly love has been healthier than having a miserable stay-at-home mom (which I would surely have been!).”
Meet our featured Wixii™, Trish Thomas. She is in her early 40s and mother to a 17 year-old daughter. She has a B.S. in Computer Information Systems and her M.B.A. from UNC Chapel Hill. She currently owns her own consulting practice focused on integrated strategy and marketing services for fast track growth companies, and she spent many of her younger years in “the wilds”—having logged about 5 years total with no electricity or running water.
TRISH’S CAREER PATH:
I studied under a professional artist for 9 years as a child and passed up scholarships to 2 prestigious art schools to get a degree in the newly emerging tech field. After about 3 weeks of programming I realized that I hated actual IT tasks, and quickly transitioned to managing techies rather than being a techie! For about 10 years, I bounced around a variety of corporate roles that more reflected my aptitude for driving change and managing people rather than for the actual job. I’ve been a network admin, a hospital administrator, a web developer, a marketing/PR exec and a turnaround leader in various industries. After realizing that I was consulting by job-hopping (giving me a highly dysfunctional resume in the process), I returned to grad school and completed a M.B.A. in Management and Strategy. For the past 11 years I’ve been helping companies drive and manage fast track growth and loving every minute of it!
TRISH’S MINDSET AND WORK-LIFE MIX:
I am an eternal optimist but very pragmatic along the way. Negativity and worry are pointless. Even when bad things do happen you can seldom fix anything by fretting about it, and in fact often bring bad things on yourself through self-sabotage. But as much as I keep a sunny outlook, I’m also ruthless about productivity and results. In business, if something doesn’t make money it doesn’t make sense. And money comes from smart, productive people engaging 100% in work they love. That is always my primary goal in consulting and in life… helping people find what they love, grow into masters, and pursue perfection (and profits) with abandon.
I’m lucky to have a mellow, Hawaiian husband to balance out my long hours and sometimes frenetic energy. We have definitely worked together to cover parenting and household duties, so I believe that partnership and/or community is key to managing life’s inevitable craziness. Work-life balance is an elusive dream, and I truly think every turn we take in life does represent a choice… and we lose some things when we achieve others. I’ve worked a lot while Lydia was growing up, but when we are together we have fun, share deeply, and I am fully present. I know many friends who say they are with their families a lot, but because they never stop texts, emails, social media and calls they are distracted and no value is there. Lydia has also said many times that watching me work hard for what I want and engage in a job I truly love has been healthier than having a miserable stay-at-home mom (which I would surely have been!). Now she works with me in my business a few hours each week and comes with me on business trips, allowing her to see the world. Making time for myself is probably the biggest challenge, but I am so happy, loved and blessed that 20 extra pounds is a small cross to bear.
Describe a “day in your life” from waketime to bedtime:
I wake up around 6 am and have a few hours to relax with Will before hitting work. This is my time to water my garden, drink some tea, read, etc. I’m typically in meetings or working on projects 10 hours a day, but honestly meeting with many of my clients is more like play with old friends at this point – work may be a misnomer some days! My biggest personal challenge is not eating and drinking my way through each day from one meeting or happy hour to the next. I serve on 5 non-profit boards at this time and will be chairing the Denver/Boulder BBB Board and the Women’s Council at CU next year. So board meetings and committees do fill up a lot of time, but I love giving back to causes and the community. Weekends are usually quiet at home or spent with friends outdoors, at concerts, at ballgames, etc. I’m a simple person and have a very contented life.
How does your current mindset/attitude empower and/or frustrate your ability to thrive in your work-life mix? How has your mindset/attitude toward life changed over time?
I tend to get aggressive about making more money in spurts. So there is certainly negative impact on my rest and fun in waves, but I don’t immerse myself in work for months on end with no relief. I’ve learned over the years that I’m a project person and do best when I give 110% for a short time and then recharge. I’m sure I could make more money if I was willing to be a road-warrior or take on any project, but that’s not me. I work only with clients I like on projects that get my juices flowing. And I’ll always be an entrepreneur at heart, pursuing an occasional side project of my own (currently it’s partnership in a healthcare software company, ONE Healthcare Systems).
What specific actions, choices, steps and/or decisions have you made (or would you like to make) to better manage your work-life mix?
I’m not the perfectionist I used to be. My house used to be impeccable all the time. Now I have a housekeeper come in bi-weekly and I’m more peaceful about being happy rather than “Martha Stewart-ish.” I make myself turn off and just enjoy my home, my family, and my friends. One day when I die there will still be undone things on my to-do list and absolutely no one will care about most of them. As a culture, we’ve come to glorify busy-ness… and that’s not healthy.
Please share specific tips for effectively managing your time and schedule.
I don’t bill by the hour (unlike most consultants), but I pay very close attention to where my hours go. This is not as much about money, but because I want to be conscious about where my precious time and energy is channeled. Don’t get me wrong, tracking hours does help me bid projects fairly and monitor my time, but I always honor fee quotes with clients no matter what so it doesn’t impact invoicing. I firmly believe that what we give energy to grows, so I try to put my energy and effort behind things that have lasting value and generate real ROI.
Please share your favorite efficiencies and timesavers.
A mindset of abundance allows you to invest your time rather than whiling it away without thinking. I pay for all the things that I don’t need or want to do. My sister is my assistant and she handles (for a reasonable hourly rate compared to mine) all the little tasks that aren’t a good use of my time. I gladly pay to have my house cleaned, because I want to enjoy my home, not work on it all the time. Gardening I love, so I never farm that out, but for many people it would be a good decision. Devoting your time and effort to tasks you enjoy and that bring in money, experience or connections is smart. Release the rest and free up space for things that really matter. Money isn’t the only thing we invest. Everything that flows away from us in terms of thought, time, work and energy should be investment that pays big dividends.
If you could change one thing about your work-life mix, what would it be?
I would love to have more residual income and am working on that right now. My income is tied to my hours and activity, so when I take a real break I feel it in my pocketbook down the road. Having some residual income is so liberating because it gives you more choices. That’s truly what money represents to me… freedom to make choices and take action.
What do you currently find most challenging/concerning about your work-life mix? What areas do you most needs support?
I’m always looking for efficiency tools – technology solutions, programs or people that can make my life easier and shorten the time and complexity for everyday tasks. A few simple examples… Evernote is a great tool for organizing notes, tasks and other content for easy access later, and Prezi is an amazing web-based resource for creating visually inspiring and innovative presentations (blows PowerPoint out of the water). Staying abreast of the latest a technology and tools – and finding the ones that work for you while discarding distractions – is key to maintaining efficiency without reducing quality.
Are there changes your workplace or you could make to better manage your work-life mix?
My workplace is my own, so I’m probably not the best contributor here!
What advice would you give an earlier version of yourself?
Trust your gut! Your instincts were right a heck of a lot more than they were wrong. You should have acted faster with less data on what you knew was true.
Is there anything you would like to share about work-life mix?
It would be healthy for women to shift the conversation from “having it all” (which is a myth), to making wise choices and getting the most you can out of life given conflicting priorities. In America today, we have very little to complain about. What is “hard work” or “tough choices” for us is often our own fabrication of trouble where none really exists, especially when compared to the challenges people face all around the world. Gratitude is a powerful thing and we need to practice it more often. It transmutes complaining into a feeling of blessedness almost immediately, and puts life instantly into perspective.