Respect your routine. I have learned that I demonstrate self-respect by honoring the lifestyle and rhythm that sustains my energy and focus. My routine is one of the secret ingredients that allows me to give my very best to my clients and collaborators. Regardless of what is happening in the world, I have learned that a lifestyle based on honoring the habits that keep me healthy mentally, physically, and spiritually helps me weather any storm.
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 Mary Beth Simón.
After 30+ years in corporate financial services, Mary Beth now uses her strategic talents to coach entrepreneurs and individuals on creating their contingency plans empowering their second-in-command to keep business and life flowing smoothly in an emergency. Mary Beth founded Niche Partnership Consulting because her clients’ transformations inspire her. She believes that the combination of continuous learning, growth, and change is the fountain of youth and recently became a certified Les Mills BodyFlow instructor.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit. Can you share with us the “backstory” behind what brought you to this particular career?
As a corporate project and program manager, I loved creating clarity from messy and ambiguous situations. I believed then and still think that we can solve most problems.
I planned to create a consulting practice after retiring at the end of 2018. But then, in 2017, one of my closest colleagues who had retired two years prior was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Through the process of spending time with her before she died and then helping her husband navigate the corporate complexities required for him to assume her retiree benefits and assets, my new career started to crystallize. I realized that all of us could do a better job preparing for the unexpected, and that’s when I decided to coach people on how to create their contingency plans using the system I developed.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you started? What lessons or takeaways did you take out of that story?
One of the most pivotal events that I attended early as an entrepreneur was lunch in New York City with Carol Cox, the Speaking Your Brand business and podcast founder. Carol invited her community to join her for lunch in NYC one Friday in August 2019 while visiting the city. At that lunch, I made many meaningful connections and received essential feedback about my business.
Interestingly, I can trace so many important milestones in my business back to the connections made that day in New York.
The lesson of that day continues to ring true time and again in my business. And that lesson is: show up. Through the simple act of showing up at in-person and virtual events, I have made deep connections with collaborators, friends, and clients.
What does leadership mean to you? As a leader, how do you best inspire others?
To me, leadership means creating a compelling vision of what’s possible for my clients and team — a powerful vision firmly rooted in a leader’s integrity and authenticity.
As a leader, I inspire others best through teaching strategies that deliver peace of mind. In a world of increasing complexity and uncertainty, strategic life skills are gold — leaders who are confident navigating the unexpected experience the freedom to take their business to new heights.
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 am grateful for a community of women podcasters who have been vital to my business success.
Early on, I worked with one of Carol Cox’s speaking coaches at Speaking Your Brand (SYB) to create my signature talk, which is the cornerstone of my presentations, training, and messaging. SYB has continued to support me with valuable training on optimizing my Linkedin profile and pivoting my in-person signature talk to a virtual presentation. Currently, I am in SYB’s Thought Leadership Academy to further expand my professional impact with a TEDx talk and book.
I met Lou Blaser, the Second Breaks podcast and business founder, through another community to which we belong. Lou gave me my first podcast guest opportunity. We continue to connect regularly to discuss business and life.
Amanda Berlin, the Empowered Publicity podcast founder, whom I met through Carol Cox at that lunch in New York, has been essential to creating compelling and concise messaging for my business — since then, working with Amanda has led to valuable opportunities and connections.
And Amber Hawley, the founder of the My Biz Bestie business and podcast, whom I met through a client event hosted by Carol Cox, invited me on her show, became a client, and advocated for me to speak at an event in Chicago in 2021.
I am tremendously fortunate to know this community of women podcasters who support fellow women speakers and entrepreneurs.
Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now shift to the main core of our discussion. This is a question that nearly everyone with a job has to contend with. Was it difficult to fit your life into your business and career? Can you articulate what the struggle was?
Starting a business can be an all-consuming endeavor. Thanks to my corporate experience, I knew that it was essential for me to maintain a healthy balance of mental and physical activity and not burn out. Sometimes it’s easier said than done.
Too often, during my corporate career, while working on demanding projects, I would neglect my family, wellness, and workout routines. I would tell myself that it would only be for a short time, but then overworking became a habit that was difficult to break.
That’s why I decided to pursue my Les Mills BodyFlow instructor certification while I was creating my business.
I must balance a very cerebral endeavor with equally demanding physical goals for me to maintain optimal health. Staying committed to training for certification helped me make better business decisions.
In order to give greater context to this discussion, can you share with our readers what your daily schedule looks like?
Sure. I wake at 5 a.m., have a cup of decaf coffee, and my husband and I sit for one of our twice-daily transcendental meditations. Next, we head to the basement for an hour of Les Mills BodyFlow or BodyPump. Then I take care of the dogs and get ready to start my day.
I start work at 9 a.m., take a short lunch and work until 5 or 6 p.m.
I meditate a second time between 3 and 5 p.m., and that gives me an energy boost for the remainder of the day.
Mondays are reserved for writing, strategy, and managing business operations. The next three days are dedicated to client work, prospecting, networking, and marketing. Friday’s are reserved as flexible, so I can use the day to focus on personal or business needs. I prep for the week ahead a couple of hours on Sunday afternoon or evening.
Did you find that as your success grew it became more difficult to focus on the other areas of your life? Can you explain?
During my corporate career, I learned that my wellness, family life, and fitness practice suffered as I climbed the ladder, and my work was the most demanding; when I needed the balance of family and fitness the most.
Pursuing my Les Mills instructor certification while starting my business created fitness goals and deadlines that kept my life balanced. Later, teaching at the local Y a couple of times a week ensured that I continued to practice BodyFlow several times a week.
When COVID hit, having a consistent meditation and fitness practice in place was key to remaining strategic in my business. I leaned into my routine and was able to make the necessary pivots promptly.
What was a tipping point that helped you achieve a greater balance or greater equilibrium between your work life and personal/family life.
In my corporate career, I managed several high-visibility enterprise-wide projects and programs. While creating strategies or program structures, I often worked long days and weekends for months at a time. I would postpone family time, fitness, and self-care until I had more free time. As time slipped away in this unhealthy lifestyle, it became more challenging mentally and physically to regain a sense of balance.
Since retiring from corporate and starting my own business, I have consistently maintained the equilibrium I sought to establish. Don’t get me wrong; I still tend to over-work. But, especially during COVID, since I’m not traveling for clients or events, I have much more time to devote to working on and in my business.
Ok, so here is the main question of our interview. Can you share five pieces of advice to other leaders about how to achieve the best balance between work and personal/family life? Please share a story or example for each.
- When we say yes to one thing, we are saying no to something else. You’ve probably heard that one before, but it’s important to remember our work and personal life. Every person has their agendas, causes, and goals and is looking for collaborators to help them achieve them. I suggest that it’s essential to evaluate every request to fulfill your agenda, causes, and goals. If my goal is to spend more quality time with my loved ones, is that goal better served by taking a walk in the park with them or attending a fundraising event? There is only so much time in a day, week, year, and life. Let’s be slow to say yes to other people’s requests.
- Don’t underestimate your need for rest and unscheduled time. Exhaustion is not the prize you’re striving to win. Inspired and strategic thought does not arise from a place of depletion. Science shows that our memory and problem-solving skills are enhanced after our brain has had sufficient time to rest. I schedule rest and unplanned time on my calendar and respect that appointment as if it were a client meeting because I know it will make me a better businesswoman.
- Respect your routine. I have learned that I demonstrate self-respect by honoring the lifestyle and rhythm that sustains my energy and focus. My routine is one of the secret ingredients that allows me to give my very best to my clients and collaborators. Regardless of what is happening in the world, I have learned that a lifestyle based on honoring the habits that keep me healthy mentally, physically, and spiritually helps me weather any storm.
- Trust your intuition. Our time andenergy are ourmost valuable resources. Listening to our intuition helps us become aware when we are wasting our precious resources. Feeling drained and unappreciated indicates that we are pouring ourselves into an energy vampire, and it’s time to unplug. It may be a colleague, client, or relative. Unplugging isn’t easy, but it is an essential act to bring the fullness of our gifts to the world.
- Know your priorities. Several times throughout my life, I have had loved ones experience severe health issues. It is challenging to manage the emotional demands of simultaneously caring for a loved one and executing an ambitious career. Learning how to temporarily minimize my career to make more space for my personal life became a skill that served me well. At times I would drive 35 miles round trip during a lunch break to spend meaningful time with a loved one fighting a battle. It was a balancing act and essential to honoring my values and priorities. How many times have we minimized our personal life to make more time for our career in the whole scheme of things?
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
One of my favorite life lesson quotes is:
“You wanna fly, you got to give up the thing that weighs you down.” Toni Morrison
Our culture is often about more; more responsibility, power, money, and commitments.
I find that examining what I want less of in my life to be a valuable exercise that helps me keep my lifestyle aligned with my principles. And sometimes, that amounts to letting go of the thing that weighs us down.
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 want to inspire adults eighteen and older worldwide to create contingency plans so that the people who care about them are authorized to help in an emergency. Unfortunately, in the US, 25% fewer adults have Wills and estate planning documents in place than three years ago.
What is the best way for people to follow you online?
Thank you so much for these fantastic insights!