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How I Thrive: “Know your priorities; I love my career, but my family comes first”, with Lyndsi Stafford and Ming Zhao

Know your priorities. I love my career, but my family comes first. At 5pm when I pick up my son, my phone is in a drawer. You cannot get ahold of me during this time and I never schedule calls either. After he goes to sleep, I often check my emails etc. but being fully […]

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Know your priorities. I love my career, but my family comes first. At 5pm when I pick up my son, my phone is in a drawer. You cannot get ahold of me during this time and I never schedule calls either. After he goes to sleep, I often check my emails etc. but being fully present with my family takes president over anything at work. Especially during the hours when my son is home with me.


At times it feels like wellness or elevating one’s wellbeing, is diametrically opposed to high achievement and high performance in one’s career. The stress, mental energy, long hours, lack of restful sleep, preoccupation that result from a high-achievement life seem to directly inhibit wellness. And yet, in order to sustain the creativity, flexibility, mental acuity and resilience that are necessary for high performance, wellness and wellbeing of the mind, body and soul are also mandatory. So how do we achieve both? This is the question I’m hoping to answer through conversations with high-achieving women who have gleaned and are practicing their own philosophies on maintaining their wellbeing.

As a part of this series about what successful women leaders do to thrive, both personally and professionally, I had the pleasure of interviewing Lyndsi Stafford. Lyndsi is the founder and CEO of eLuminate Marketing. Her company was selected for the 2015 Best of Fort Lauderdale Award in the Marketing category by the Fort Lauderdale Award Program. She’s been featured in Huffington Post, Forbes Women, Business Collective, Entrepreneur and Black Enterprise. She is also the marketing director of one of the fastest growing dog chew companies in United States and South America.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path and to where you are today?

Ever since I was a kid, I would come up with commercials in my head to market products. I continued this love for creativity my entire life by attending a magnet school focusing on communication and then studying public relations in college and continuing my education by receiving a Master’s Degree in Integrated Marketing at Florida State Univeristy. While in college social media was in its infant stages and a few innovative companies want to pursue this new thing called “Facebook.” I interned at these companies, discovering a true love for the industry. In 2014, I decided to start my own marketing company and it was the best decision I have ever made. For over five years, I have had the privilege of working with some of the most talented individuals and developing incredible marketing campaigns.

Today, I still run my agency, eLuminate Marketing. We are a boutique firm focusing on digital marketing in particular social media marketing. We help mid-to-large companies increase their brand awareness on social platforms by developing creative and innovative marketing campaigns. In addition, I am the marketing director of a company called Nature Gnaws. They are one of the fastest growing dog chew companies in the United State and South America.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

Three years ago, a potential client came to me asking for marketing help. The company, Nature Gnaws, which sells dog chew products online hired my agency to assist with all aspects of the marketing. Fast forward three years later and this little start-up, which started in a kitchen, is now hitting almost $15 million in sales. They are a top seller on Amazon, Chewy, Walmart.com and Target.com.

I am so humbled and grateful to be sitting in the front seat of this incredible rollercoaster ride. I love watching an idea emulate into a 20,000 square foot warehouse full of employees and thousands of happy customers. It’s been an incredible journey and I cannot wait to see what else is in store.

Can you share a story with us about the most humorous mistake you made when you were first starting? What lesson or take-away did you learn from that?

At the time I was working too many hours and often too fast, making careless mistakes along the way. For a particular political client, I was putting together an email marketing campaign showcasing the politician’s strengths and wins throughout his career. I developed this email and hit send to a database of hundreds of thousands of people.

After clicking send I realized I spelled “beaches” (which was in the subject line, mind you) incorrectly. Thousands and thousands of people received an email that said “beachers.” I was so embarrassed and felt horrible for this silly mistake.

What advice would you give to other leaders about how to create a fantastic work culture and work life?

Ever since having a child my mindset on work changed significantly. Just because you work 80 hours a week, doesn’t make you successful. I’m a big advocate for efficient work and follow the principles of Tim Ferris, the 4-hour work week.

Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of our interview. In my work, I focus on how one can thrive in three areas, body, mind, and heart. I’d like to flesh this out with you. You are a very busy leader with a demanding schedule. Can you share with our readers two self care routines, practices or treatments that you do to help your body to thrive? Kindly share a story or an example for each.

I always have a 30 minute to one hour work out on my calendar. Just like important meetings and conference calls, working out gets the same time and attention. I do not schedule anything during this time. Additionally, I like to work out in the morning to prevent anything from getting in the way of this important time. As the day goes on, it’s easier to skip a work out.

Can you share with us two routines that you use to help your mind thrive? (Kindly share a story or example for each.)

As entrepreneur and especially a mom, it’s very easy to put your needs last, but I have discovered that the happier I am, the better leader and mother I become. Every month, I schedule an hour or two for me. Whether it’s getting my nails done, getting a massage, going to be beach or movie. This is my time and I don’t have any guilt around it.

Additionally — I love to read. Every month, I read two books. One book is for pure fun and enjoyment. The other book is a “growth” book. These topics can be anything from business advice, self-help, parenting advice and relationships. It’s important to always have a thirst for knowledge.

Finally, can you share with us two routines that se to help your heart, your emotional or spiritual life to thrive? (Kindly share a story or example for each.)

For me it’s setting aside time to work out. I love the feeling after a great workout. It’s the perfect way to start the day.

When life is very busy, and you cannot stick with your ideal routine, are there any wellness practices, rituals, products or services for your mind, body, or soul that you absolutely cannot live without?

Setting aside 30 minutes to one hour a day to do something for my body. Whether it’s attending an Orange Theory Fitness class, running or even walking my dog. Doing something for my mind and body every day makes me a better mom, boss and wife.

All of us have great days and days that are not as great. On days when you feel like a rockstar what do you do? What does that day look like, and what did you do to get there?

I was given great advice from a colleague of mine. Be 100% in what you are doing at the time. Meaning, when I wake up and have one hour with my child before dropping him off at daycare, I give him my undivided attention. I am 100% mom. No phone, no work emails. Then after dropping him off at daycare, I work out. During that hour, I am focused on me, my body and mind. After a great work out, it’s time to sit at my computer, and write out in order the priorities for the day. What needs to be accomplished? I put 100% of my time and efforts on these projects. No emails, no text message, no distractions. By being 100% committed, you achieve more and feel better doing it.

In contrast, on days when you feel down, what do you do?

I was sick with the flu over Christmas and the New Year, leaving me bedridden for a little over two weeks. This posed as an extreme challenge for me both mentally and physical. As a business owner and mother, I had to accept the fact that I couldn’t be 100%. I continued to tell myself that “this too shall” pass and be grateful that I do have my health, and this is temporary.

Do you have a story about the weirdest, most bizarre or most humorous wellness experience, treatment, practice, or practitioner that you’ve ever partaken in? If you do, we’d love to hear it.

I guess the weirdest experience would be when I was visiting Thailand. They had this fish tank where you put your feet in it and the little fish eat at your dead skin. It tickled a lot, but my feet felt so soft afterwards.

You’re a high achieving business leader, and you also have family and loved ones that may require a different side of you at home. How do you leave the executive at the door, and be the most loving caretaker at home?

Know your priorities. I love my career, but my family comes first. At 5pm when I pick up my son, my phone is in a drawer. You cannot get ahold of me during this time and I never schedule calls either. After he goes to sleep, I often check my emails etc. but being fully present with my family takes president over anything at work. Especially during the hours when my son is home with me.

Is there a particular practitioner, expert, book, podcast or resource that made a significant impact on you and helped you to thrive? Can you share a story about that with us?

Tim Ferris of the 4-Hour Work Week. I used to have this mentality that if you work a lot of hours you will be successful. I am much more efficient with my time and outsource items that others can handle. Every day I print out a to-do list and number the priorities for the day. This helps me go from one task to another without distraction. Then 1–2 times a day I check email. Don’t get bogged down in your emails, you will never get anything done! Additionally, any research or items that others can help me with, I outsource. I focus my time and efforts on my skills such as sales and marketing.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start 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. 🙂

Being more time efficient so you can focus on what really matters. Focus on tasks you have on hand so you can leave work at 5pm and spend quality time with family. People are always saying how busy they are, but if they really looked at their day-to-day activities, I am sure there is a lot more time than they realize.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?

“Not to Worry.” This was a phrase often quoted by my grandmother and my mom my entire life. As an entrepreneur, mom and marketing director, it’s easy to get frazzled over the little things. But in the grand scheme of life, I have my health, a beautiful family and I love what I do. There’s no need to worry.

What are the best way our readers can follow you on social media?

LinkedIn:https://www.linkedin.com/in/lyndsistafford/

Instagram:https://www.instagram.com/eluminatemarketing/

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!

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