The Thrive Questionnaire With Alexa von Tobel

The entrepreneur says she fails a little bit everyday, and it keeps her going.

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.

Alexa von Tobel is the founder and managing partner of Inspired Capital and the New York Times best-selling author of Financially Fearless and Financially Forward. She has served as a presidential ambassador for global entrepreneurship for The Obama White House and has been featured by The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Good Morning America, the TODAY Show, and more.

In her Thrive Questionnaire, she opens up about the importance of spending time with her kids, the motto that gets her out of bed in the morning, and why she’s OK with failing everyday.

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

AVT: Coffee! Then, I like to workout. Nothing starts your day better than exercise. Getting those endorphins going right away can change your whole perspective on the day. 

TG: What gives you energy? 

AVT: New ideas (which is why I love my job at Inspired Capital).

TG: What daily habit or practice helps you thrive? 

AVT: My favorite motto is “Get up, dress up, show up” — and it’s how I approach every day.

TG: Name a book that changed your life. 

AVT: Richard Branson’s Losing My Virginity. I read it when I dropped out of business school to start LearnVest, and it gave me the extra courage I needed.

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

AVT: First of all, I don’t know why we call it a phone, because it’s so much more than that! My phone does stays on my bedside table — my husband and I always debate leaving it in our bathroom but haven’t succeeded in doing that…

TG: How do you deal with email? 

AVT: In dedicated chunks of time throughout the day — one of which is ideally while on the elliptical in the morning. 

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

AVT: At the beginning of the week, I ask myself, “What’s the most efficient thing I can do with my time?” Most people lump everything into one schedule or list, but I take it one step further and clump my tasks into groups of three. For example, I’ll list out the three most important things I need to accomplish at work, at home, and so on. From there, I can filter by impact so the critical things get done first.

TG: You unexpectedly find 15 minutes in your day, what do you do with it? 

AVT: Spend some extra quality time with my three children.

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

AVT: Whenever I go too long without getting at least six hours of sleep! That’s a certain recipe for being fried. I’m currently obsessed with the book Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams and believe that sleep is everything. 

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

AVT: I fail a little bit everyday, but I just keep going. That’s the beauty of being an entrepreneur. 

TG: What advice would you give your younger self? 

AVT: “Dream bigger because no one else is going to do it for you. If you want to be a lawyer, how about stretching your dream and aiming to be a Supreme Court Justice? If you fail, who cares? Always think: when I’m 90 years old, will I regret this?

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

AVT: It’s a long one, but I love this Theodore Roosevelt quote: “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

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