CEO Tracy Sandler Shares How Her Boundaries with Technology Lead Her to a Healthier Life

The creator of Fangirl Sports Network explains the power of being present.

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.

The sports world can be a great escape from the stressful realities of daily life. But Tracy Sandler, a lifetime sports fan and Founder & CEO or Fangirl Sports Network (FGSN), was frustrated that most of the sports content out there didn’t speak to women. That’s why, three years ago, she made it her mission to change that when she launched her company. FGSN, a digital media company for female fans, delivers commentary about professional teams and a behind-the-scenes look at women making waves in the industry. For Sandler personally, making a career pivot from the political arena to entrepreneurship was made easier by the experience she had garnered: “Working for former D.C. mayor Adrian Fenty, I learned so much about time management, prioritizing, and being a manager,” she tells Thrive. 

In her Thrive Questionnaire, Sandler reveals her new relationship with technology, and the three (each very unique) role models that inspire her.

TG: What’s the first thing you do when you get out of bed? 

Tracy Sandler: Brush my teeth and make my coffee. I love the ritual of making coffee in the morning almost as much as the coffee itself.

TG: What gives you energy? 

TS: Working out! I try to get to the gym five to six days a week.

TG: What’s your secret life hack? 

TS: Making sure I get my workouts in. It truly makes as much of a difference mentally for me as it does physically.

TG: Name a book that changed your life. 

TS: The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz.

TG: Tell us about your relationship with your phone. Does it sleep with you? 

TS: As a CEO and an NFL beat writer, I need to be relatively attached to my phone, but I’ve made a few changes over the last year. It charges in the bathroom overnight on Do Not Disturb, and I won’t have it out after 7:00 p.m. I’ll check it every so often, but it’s not sitting on the dinner table.

TG: How do you deal with email? 

TS: I like to stay on top of email. Having thousands of unread emails really stresses me out, so I try to look, open, and respond in real time.

TG: When was the last time you felt burned out and why? 

TS: A couple of months ago I was on eight flights in nine days. That was a lot, and as exhausted as I’ve been in a long time.

TG: When was the last time you felt you failed and how did you overcome it? 

TS: I wouldn’t necessarily categorize it as a failure; there has been a lot of trial and error in terms of what content best translates to our Fangirl followers. Therefore, I’ve had to be flexible and malleable, because Fangirl may be my baby, but it’s not for me. It’s for the community of female fans we’re building. As long as we’re not doing anything I’m uncomfortable with, I want to serve those fans!

TG: Share a quote that you love and that gives you strength or peace. 

TS: The San Francisco 49ers’ cornerback Richard Sherman once said, “The best ability is dependability.” That really spoke to me.

TG: How do you prioritize when you have an overwhelming amount to do? 

TS: I make a list of: top priority, what can wait, and what can be delegated. Fangirl Sports Network is my baby, so it’s hard for me to delegate at times, but it is necessary.

TG: What advice would you give your younger self about reducing stress?

TS: It sounds cliché, but don’t sweat the small stuff and don’t take things personally. Ninety-nine percent of the time it is not about you.

TG: Do you have any role models for living a thriving life? 

TS: I have three! My dad, who gives much to the community, to our family, and to his work, and he manages to do it with a smile and with love for all of it.

Bumble CEO, Whitney Wolfe: Whitney has created multiple spaces that empower women, starting with dating and expanding to business and friendships. She seems to have created a personal and a professional life that brings her joy and that is true to her.

ESPN’s Michelle Beisner-Buck: I interviewed Michelle for our Get My Job Podcast and had the pleasure of meeting her at Levi’s Stadium before a Monday Night Football game. She does incredible feature stories on athletes that highlight struggle and triumph, and she does it with class, all while raising twin toddlers with her husband Joe Buck. Michelle has been outspoken about the struggles of IVF and of balancing it all, and I believe that is so inspiring and helpful to women in all industries and walks of life.

TG: What’s your personal warning sign that you’re depleted? 

TS: When I start to get irritable over little things, I need a break. 

TG: When you notice you’re getting too stressed, what do you do to course correct? 

TS: Some sort of self-care, whether it be hot yoga, a manicure, a blowout, or something along those lines. I know I need to take some time for me to really decompress.

TG: What’s a surprising way you practice mindfulness? 

TS: I try to meditate when I can, and I have a short, breathing meditation that I can do anywhere that really resets me.

TG: How do you reframe negative thinking? 

TS: I accept that I have the thought and then I let it go and move on. Sometimes it works better than others, but I try!

TG: What brings you optimism? 

TS: I’m naturally a pretty optimistic person, which is very helpful. My nieces and nephews and my dogs always bring me extra positive vibes when I need it.

TG: Tell us about a small change you have made in your life to improve your sleep. 

TS: Moving my phone to another room and putting it on “do not disturb” has been so helpful for sleep. I was able to adopt it immediately once I decided to do it.

TG: Tell us about a small change you have made in your life to improve the way you connect with others.

TS: Making sure I’m present. When I’m at coffee, dinner, drinks, whatever it is, I try to be there, which means no Apple watch, no phone out. It’s not always easy, but it’s actually really nice.

TG: Tell us about a small change you have made in your life to improve your focus. 

TS: When I really need to focus without distraction, I put my phone in airplane mode until the task at hand is finished. No text, no Slack, no social media to take away my focus.

TG: What’s your evening routine that helps you unwind and go to sleep?

TS: After my skincare routine, I read in bed until I fall asleep. Reading has always been the best thing to help me sleep.

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