The Thrive Questionnaire With Linda Wells

The founder of makeup line Flesh and founding editor-in-chief of Allure opens up about her morning routine, her email inbox strategy, and how she reframes failure.

Gilbert Carrasquillo / Contributor/ Getty Images
Gilbert Carrasquillo / Contributor/ Getty Images

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.

Linda Wells is the Founder of the beauty line Flesh and the Founding Editor in Chief of Allure Magazine,, and the Allure video channel. Most recently, she was contributing beauty editor at large at New York Magazine‘s The Cut and the producer of “The Linda Wells Report,” in Hearst’s Harper’s Bazaar, Elle, Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan and Town & Country.

In her Thrive Questionnaire, she opens up about her energizing morning routine, her refreshingly human email inbox strategy, and the interesting way she reframes failure.

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

I meditate for 20 minutes. I just took a course at the New York Meditation Center and now I’m completely hooked. That morning meditation sets my day, my attitude and my energy in the right direction. The evening one clears my head of a lot of the day’s noise.

What gives you energy?

Working with creative people, coming up with new ideas for products, images, stories. The act of writing always gives me energy (but thinking about writing, procrastinating about writing, making excuses about not writing — those are enervating).

What daily habit or practice helps you thrive?

I always feel better when I get seven hours of sleep, meditate, make my bed (no kidding; leaving my apartment in order makes me so much happier than running out the door with chaos behind me), get in a good sweat; and accomplish things at work.

Name a book that changed your life.

The Palm at the End of the Mind by Wallace Stevens. His poetry makes me believe in the power of beauty to warm your soul and expand your heart.

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

It sits on the bedside table, face down, on sleep mode. Right before I go to sleep, with the lights out, I play an audiobook or the New Yorker fiction podcast set on a 15 minute timer. It reminds me of reading a bedtime story to my boys when they were little. Who doesn’t love a bedtime story?

How do you deal with email?

I try to answer email quickly, but if one requires a lot of thought or involves scheduling something, I sometimes — and regrettably — open it, close it, and forget it. Those unanswered emails haunt me.  I now tell people that if they don’t hear back from me right away, they should feel free to resend the email and I promise I won’t be annoyed (unless you’re an email marketer masquerading as a friend).

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

I break down the work into manageable pieces so it doesn’t feel like an overwhelming mountain. That’s how I started Allure and Flesh: one task at a time.

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

I text someone I love — my sons, my partner, a friend. If I get lucky and they answer, we may even do something outrageous like talk on the phone.

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

I felt pretty crispy right before the holidays; I took only a few days off in 2018 because we launched Flesh and a lot of other projects on the Revlon brands. A year of late nights and weekends, and I needed a break. So I went to a warm place, swam a lot, laughed with friends and felt completely restored.

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

“Failed” is a strong word, and it’s not one I use often — even in my head, because it’s so absolute. So I guess the way I overcome it is not to frame something as a failure in the first place. If the problem is a relatively small one, I address it right away and do what I can to fix it. If it’s something big, I give myself 24 hours to mull over it, sleep on it, and then come up with a remedy.

What advice would you give your younger self?

 Forgive yourself. 

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