The Thrive Questionnaire//

The Thrive Questionnaire With Stela Campos

The career expert opens up about her life's biggest turning point, her secret life hack, and the small habit that's helped her stay focused.

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.

TG: What’s the first thing you do when you get out of bed?
SC: I prepare my breakfast and pick up the newspaper to read.

TG: What gives you energy?

SC: Riding a bike in the park at at 8:00 on Sundays, reading a book there and drink coconut water. I also like to write there. Meeting friends and talk about music, going to shows, and playing guitar and keyboard.

TG: What’s your secret life hack?
SC: Music. Apart from my career as a business journalist I am also a singer, composer and I have seven records done, which I have produced as an indie artist. 

TG: Name a book that changed your life.
SC: Any book from John Fante, and recently “What I Talk About When I Talk About Running” by Haruki Murakami.

 TG: Tell us about your relationship with your phone. Does it sleep with you?
SC: I can say I am getting more addicted to my phone after I have put all the social media on it like LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter  and Facebook. But I don’t sleep with my phone. I leave it outside of the bedroom. Sometimes at Saturday I leave the phone recharging in the kitchen all day until evening. I try not to check it so often on the weekend.

TG: How do you deal with email?
SC: I get about 300 or more emails a day at work. Some are advertising or spam and some are just not interesting. It is hard to answer the ones I think I should. I select what I think might be useful for my work and if is not urgent I left to answer in the end of the day. Sometimes I forget to answer some but I feel much better when I got rid of them by the end of the day before and didn’t leave it for the next day. If I do that it will accumulate and I will have to dedicate more time to them.

TG: You unexpectedly find 15 minutes in your day, what do you do with it?
SC: I would do something relaxing, like reading something not related to my work or may be listen to a new release from my favorite artist at Spotify. But I think 15 minutes are not enough to change your routine, I would need  more time to do that relaxing activities. Being realistic in 15 minutes I think I could only take a break for a coffee.

TG: When was the last time you felt burned out and why?
SC: I felt burned out when I said yes to many things at work, at the same time. That happened after my company were acquired by a big group and I felt I had to prove my value to people I didn’t knew. But I was wrong, I had already a reputation built through out 20 years of hard work, work harder at that specific time wouldn’t change nothing. I was very stressed with my family, I had no time to go to the gym or ride my bike or meet my friends.

TG: When was the last time you felt you failed and how did you overcome it?
SC: I understand now that every time I had failed it happened because I had high expectations about the success of something. An example, sometimes I write an article that I consider good enough to be in the front page of my newspaper, but my boss didn’t chose it or paid enough attention. That used to upset me, but now I am trying to see it from a different point of view. That same article sometimes is well received by referenced professionals at social media. I started to think about these people I am writing for and the impact that a good work can have at someone’s  life. I feel more confident, most of the time, that when I do a real good job, it might not pleases everyone, but if it pleases my conscious is fine. If I did my best that might value to someone. That makes me feel renewed and motivated to continue.

TG: Share a quote that you love and that gives you strength or peace.
SC: AfterPatti Smith’s concert yesterday, I cannot think about another quote : “People have the power.”
 

TG: How do you prioritize when you have an overwhelming amount to do?
SC: I make a to do list in my phone. I put it all together. Before, I used to put just things related to work as priority in my list. Now, I mix everything: going to the dentist, to clean my room, my agenda at work… I try to select what will need my attention more urgently. Sometimes is my work, sometimes is my son. It depends. I have another list where I write things I want to do in the long term, just not to forget they exist and to put it into a perspective.

TG: What advice would you give your younger self about reducing stress?
SC: I would say to me not to care a lot about others opinions, not to think much before trying something, and not to think about work in the end of the day at home. I think my my best advice for myself would be to always put things into a  perspective. Dont be upset when my role as a mother, a wife, as journalist, as a musician, it isn’t working properly because things change, priority changes. We shouldn’t feel guilty about that and pay attention to this changes.

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

SC: For me, the best model is to find a time for yourself to be able to do what you enjoy inside and outside work. Finding a purpose at your profession  helps to deal with a heavy load of work. Sometime the purpose is inside of you. I think is good to ask yourself from time to time why did you choose to work with something, why are you still working with it?
 

TG: What’s your personal warning sign that you’re depleted?
SC: My warning sign is when health starts to gets bad. I realize I did not complete the dentist treatment, I didn’t do the check up by December or when I realize the house needs repairs and I had forgot, I didn’t read the communication from my son’s school, or realized my cat was getting sick.

TG: When you notice you’re getting too stressed, what do you do to course correct?
SC: I try to go back to exercise my body at the gym. I try to eat better, not drink alcohol and program something with friends that are not from my work.

TG: What’s a surprising way you practice mindfulness?
SC: I don’t practice, But I would like too.
 

TG: How do you reframe negative thinking?
SC: Sometimes is hard to do it, but I think I do it when I put things into a perspective. I look at the big picture, and not at the details.

TG: What brings you optimism?
SC: To think about new projects, in any field. That makes me really feel alive and productive, so I become more optimistic.
 

TG: Tell us about a small change you have made in your life to improve your sleep. What did you do, how long did it take until it became effective, and how you sustain this habit?
SC:  I am sleeping earlier. I realized that I prefer to do things in the morning, like writing or thinking, that’s why I am awaking earlier. I want to have some quality time for myself before I go to work at 10 am. So I awake at 6:00. And my body knows that at 10:30 pm 11:00 pm I need some rest. I don’t feel ashamed to sleep early, I just go to bed when I feel tired. I don’t care if some people find it weird.
 

TG: Tell us about a small change you have made in your life to improve the way you connect with others. What did you do, how long did it take until it became effective, and how you sustain this habit?
SC: A few years ago, I decided that every new person has something to be known that might be interesting, no matter where this person comes from. I started to accept invitations to lunch more often. That happened when I become a columnist, that is a different from being a reporter or editor.  I needed to meet different people to have new ideas. But I also decided that I would limit that in two lunches a week not to prejudice my agenda at work.I think it is working for me, I met wonderful people since then, some very boring too, but I decided to take risks and to be open to new people. I feel more comfortable  doing networking.


TG: Tell us about a small change you have made in your life to improve your focus. What did you do, how long did it take until it became effective, and how you sustain this habit?
SC: To focus I realized that was better to choose the priority at any moment. And try to finish one task before moving to another. It hard to do it with so much interruption. When I must focus in writing something important I wake up early and even before reading the newspaper, when my mind is still empty, I go to do this task. I don’t check messages in my phone or talk to anyone. I just stop when I finish or when I reach a point in the middle of the work that I need a  break for a coffee to renew my strength to finish it.To finish a task very early makes me feel real good.

TG: What was the biggest turning point in your life?
SC: There were several. But I think when I decided to face that my two careers could coexist  was a turning point for me. Besides I am very proud and dedicated to my work in music, I had to focus in my career as a journalist. That freed me from the obligation to perceive success in both careers at the same time. I discovered I loved to write about people at work, that I could help many people think about their professional life and that I also could influence HR people to adopt better practices to make the workplace a better place for everyone. And that I could also write songs about it or show how this two different worlds got connected and that I could study a way to talk about this two unique experiences I have.


TG: What’s your secret time-saver in the morning?

SC: Reading the paper while having my breakfast.
 

TG: What’s your evening routine that helps you unwind and go to sleep?
SC: When I arrive I have a chat with my husband, a glass of wine, I take a soup and then I go to bed. Sometimes I watch TV, comedy sitcoms to disconnect from work. I also stop checking my phone as I step inside my house at night.

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