The Thrive Questionnaire With Sarah LaFleur

The founder of M.M.LaFleur shares her favorite morning ritual, how she deals with failure, and why she's traded in her email breaks for walks around the block.

Image: M.M.LaFleur
Image: M.M.LaFleur

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.

Sarah LaFleur is the Founder & CEO of M.M.LaFleur, which she founded in 2013 with a mission to help women take the work out of dressing for work. Prior to founding M.M.LaFleur, she worked in the luxury goods group of Starwood Capital in New York and Paris, and as a management consultant at Bain & Co. and TechnoServe.

In her Thrive Questionnaire, she shares her favorite morning ritual, how she deals with failure, and why she chooses phone calls over emails.

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

SL: I snuggle my 85-pound dog, Ruggles.

TG: What gives you energy?

SL: Running and singing. I run almost every morning along the Hudson River to gear up for my day. On the weekend, my favorite thing  is to go to jazz night on Sunday’s at Pisticci’s, an Italian restaurant in New York. I take my 92-year old grandmother and my husband, and we sing along to “New York State of Mind” with their bandleader, Pamela.

TG: What’s your secret life hack?

SL: Baths! I take them once, sometimes twice, a day.

TG: Name a book that changed your life. 

SL: The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir. You could say it changed my entire perception about what it means to be a woman, and it may be the unconscious reason behind why I started my company, M.M.LaFleur.

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

SL: No. It used to, but then I saw Arianna speak at a conference, and I ended up buying an alarm clock. (That’s completely true. I was not paid to say that.) 

TG: How do you deal with email?

SL: If it’s an email that requires thinking, I tackle it in the morning when my brain is at its best. Anything else I deal with as they roll in. I try to keep my replies short and sweet. If it starts to get complicated, I pick up the phone. Email is not a place for complicated conversations.

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

SL: Go outside for a quick walk and call my family or friends. In the past, I would have used the time to check my email, but I’ve recently started doing these walks, and they bring me so much joy. 

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

SL: Last year. The company was going through a challenging time, and I also was going through multiple rounds of IVF after a couple of early miscarriages. I wish I could say I learned some life-changing lesson from it, but all it reaffirmed for me was Oprah’s wisdom: “You can have it all. Just not all at once.” 

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

SL: I fail on a daily basis. This is not false modesty; this is just the nature of start-up life, of running a company. I feel like I am always trying new things, as are my employees. We often fail, but sometimes we succeed! And we are always, always learning. The upside of frequent failing is that failure doesn’t even register anymore as a negative. It just is.

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

SL: My Director of Analytics, Stasha, shared this quote by Eleanor Roosevelt with me at a time when I needed it most: “You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”

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