The Thrive Questionnaire with Aditi Gokhale

This strong leader talks about finding a balance between work and family.

When you have the opportunity to ask some of the most interesting people in the world about their lives, sometimes the most fascinating answers come from the simplest questions. The Thrive Questionnaire is an ongoing series that gives an intimate look inside the lives of some of the world’s most successful people.

Thrive Global: What’s the first thing you do when you get out of bed?
Aditi Gokhale: I’m a morning person. I like to wake up early, have my coffee and check the day’s top headlines and social media to see what’s happening in the world. I then catch up on texts and urgent emails so I’m fully up to date and ready for the day. I also like to spend time with my son before he goes to school and I head to the office. It gives me the inner peace and motivation I need to start my day.

TG: What gives you energy?
AG: I love a good challenge, which is why my current role at Northwestern Mutual gets me excited. When people think about financial planning they equate it to anxiety and deprivation. I want to change that mentality by helping people make the most of every single today. Our new brand positioning “Spend Your Life Living” taps into that and strongly connects with the services and products we provide. It’s this kind of work that gets me energized!

TG: What’s your secret life hack?
AG: Having an incredible, trustworthy executive assistant who manages my life and hectic schedule!

TG: Name a book that changed your life.
AG: “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead” by Sheryl Sandberg.

TG: Tell us about your relationship with your phone. Does it sleep with you?
AG: My phone sleeps next to me for the simple reason that I have family all over the world in different time zones.

TG: How do you deal with email?
AG: I try to be as efficient as possible between email and text messages to make sure things stay on track at work. I don’t send long emails and my team knows that I won’t read long emails either. They need to be direct, easy to understand and have an objective. I also don’t like unnecessary “reply all” responses.

TG: You unexpectedly find 15 minutes in your day, what do you do with it?
AG: That’s easy! I would spend extra time with my son OR FaceTime my parents in India.

TG: When was the last time you felt burned out and why?
AG: I constantly tell myself that life is a balancing act between my personal time, family/social life and work. I really try to make it a point to balance all three things constantly for inner peace and happiness.

TG: When was the last time you felt you failed and how did you overcome it?
AG: When I hired the wrong person at one of my previous companies. It was a senior role and I quickly realized that I didn’t hire the right person for the job. First, as a leader, one needs to recognize when there is an issue and take full accountability. Then find a solve that works best for the company and the employee. I ended up having a conversation with the employee who also realized that it was the wrong fit. We reorganized the team to get us back on track.

TG: Share a quote that you love and that gives you strength or peace.
AG: “Keep your eyes on the stars and your feet on the ground.”- Theodore Roosevelt

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People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

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