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How Busy Leaders Create Equilibrium or Balance Between Their Work and Family Lives” With Tyler Gallagher & Lisa Donohue

I would love to inspire a movement where we as people take time out of our day to personally and in-person (not via email, phone or text) thank someone else for something or ask how we can help. Technology has become a barrier to real feelings and emotions, and it only takes a small personal […]

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I would love to inspire a movement where we as people take time out of our day to personally and in-person (not via email, phone or text) thank someone else for something or ask how we can help. Technology has become a barrier to real feelings and emotions, and it only takes a small personal gesture to brighten someone’s day or help them during a time of need.


As a part of my series about the strategies that extremely busy and successful leaders use to juggle, balance and integrate their personal lives and business lives, I had the pleasure of interviewing Lisa Donohue, Chief Marketing Officer of CycleBar, the world’s first and largest indoor cycling franchise.


Thank you so much for doing this with us Lisa! What is your “backstory”?

Mypleasure and happy to share…

I grew up in the country outside a small town in Northern, CA called Chico, which is where my family had lived for generations. Education, sports, 4-H and hard work were what shaped my years through high school until continuing onto undergrad at University of California, Santa Barbara and graduate school at Loyola Marymount University. I am fortunate to have parents and extended family that were mostly entrepreneurs and who supported me in everything I did (and still do today) and who give me a deep understanding of the skill set, commitment level and sacrifice that it takes to be business owner. My parents also introduced me to the excitement and global awareness that travel provides at an early age, which was and continues to be an important aspect of my life. I’ve even traveled to Ireland to attend cooking school and from that experience, started making artisan food products that is a personal passion today. I found fitness after working in healthcare for many years, and being a fitness enthusiast myself, decided that I finally found work that I truly love! Prior to my current role as Chief Marketing Officer at CycleBar, I spent many years with consumer and service-oriented brands, including two other successful boutique fitness brands. Due to my family and background, working in the environment that CycleBar offers is one that I relate to very well and can’t believe how lucky I am to work with such an amazing group of passionate people on a daily basis.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

It would have to be the first time that everyone on our entire team took a CycleBar class together — and for many this was their first indoor cycling class! For anyone that has taken an indoor cycling class or any fitness class for the first time, it definitely can feel more than a little unfamiliar. With everyone in the same class together, all of us with different fitness and coordination levels — it quickly brought out all the laughs that you could possibly imagine, took down personal walls and insecurities and bonded us together very quickly. I highly recommend a fitness class for a team building activity!

What was your biggest challenge to date either personally or professionally and how did you overcome it?

It would have to be learning that I was not accepted into my graduate school of choice, which directly caused me to have to re-think what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. In an effort to overcome the disappointment, I did two things: 1. Quickly found my first “real” job in a related industry, 2. Started meeting regularly with a career counselor to help me identify areas of strength and careers that would be best-suited for me. What both of these things helped me do was quickly bring structure to my life and get a set plan in place for where I was headed and how I was going to achieve it.

What does leadership mean to you and how do you best inspire others to lead?

Leadership I have found to not be a one-size-fits-all thing — everyone has to find their own style to inspire and lead others and to lead others individually as well. I’m always working on being aware of how my style of leadership comes across to both teams and individuals — which I found can be very different depending on the person or people — so it’s important to communicate and behave in ways that motivate and inspire based on the circumstances.

Important traits

  • Confidence. Have confidence in yourself and decisions, and also to be comfortable saying “I don’t know but will figure it out.”
  • Genuine. Be clear and consistent, and don’t lose touch with reality
  • Honesty. Always do the right thing.
  • Empower. Give others the ability to plan and make decisions.
  • Communicate & Collaborate. Keep everyone apprised of your thoughts and goals, and ask others for their ideas and feedback.
  • Care. Not only about your work, but most importantly, those on your immediate and extended teams.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

I’ve been incredibly lucky to have had many teachers and people I’ve met during my education and career that have inspired me and given me priceless guidance. When asked to choose a particular person, that person is always my paternal grandfather. He unfortunately passed away before I graduated college, before my career had even started to take shape. I learned from him through the example he set by being a successful entrepreneur, starting a thriving business, being respected by his community and always finding time at the end of every day to spend with his family and friends, throw the ball for his dog in the yard…and enjoy a piece of chocolate.

Was it difficult to fit your life into your business/career and how did you do that?

To be honest, it’s always been a very natural fit, and I have always managed to find balance between life and career. Yes, work can be all-consuming at times depending on projects, or deadlines might be in play, but once completed, I’ve always made a point to take some time to decompress with family and friends or even just by myself. Making plans in advance with others is a great way to ensure balance.

Did you find that as your success grew it became more difficult to focus on the other areas of your life?

For me, as my career has become more demanding, the more precious my free time has become, so I’m compelled to maximize opportunities in free moments. Fitness is an industry that is busy 7 days a week and year round, so carving out specific time for self and personal growth is incredibly important to me (and I encourage my team to do the same) — and I truly believe makes me better equipped to succeed in my work and career.

Can you share five pieces of advice to other leaders about how to achieve the best balance between work and personal life?

  1. Make specific plans with family and friends and decide on a fun activity to do together.
  2. Pick a few new topics a year to learn about — and jump in. Read, attend a talk/seminar/class, involve travel, create.
  3. Get up early and embrace the day. Eat well, drink lots of water and exercise…but also give yourself license to enjoy a few healthy vices too.
  4. Give back and help others.
  5. Get out and explore!

What gives you the greatest sense of accomplishment and pride.

Seeing others on my team achieve and grow in their roles and responsibilities, while also knowing that they are happy in the personal life.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would love to inspire a movement where we as people take time out of our day to personally and in-person (not via email, phone or text) thank someone else for something or ask how we can help. Technology has become a barrier to real feelings and emotions, and it only takes a small personal gesture to brighten someone’s day or help them during a time of need.

What is the best way for people to connect with you on social media?

Since I spend most of my time on social media on the @cyclebar profiles, the best way to get in contact with me is on LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/lisadonohue

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