Be sure you are doing what you love and are smart at it. Hire out or get support for all the rest. This can be burdensome, mentally draining and time-consuming.
Set boundaries with work and family. Do not mix the two. When it is time to work focus solely on that. When it’s a family tie, make that your priority.
Make a list of what is and what is not working within your personal and professional life. This can help you pinpoint the areas where you need to reprioritize your time.
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 Tonya Robertson. She is the learning and strategy specialist and the Founder and CEO of Focused Training Solutions, a company that is committed to curating instructional learning tools designed to optimize performance in the workplace. Robertson has worked with numerous C-Suite Executives of well-known companies to create training materials that will guide their team to success and establish good retention among their employees. Alongside working tirelessly to help others be productive in the workplace, Tonya also devotes her time to organizations such as the Association of Talent Development and Dell’s Women Entrepreneur Network. She has also received a Doctorate Degree in Education and eLearning. To learn more about Tonya and her work, visit www.focusedtrainingsolutions.com
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?
I decided to pursue my career in entrepreneurship and create my own company because of my previous jobs and childhood upbringing. I felt like I did not have a voice and I was raised in a way where a persons’ path was already determined for them. Starting my own business and going against the grain gave me the motivation to do more and show others that you can always change your path. While developing my business, I realized that you have to be your own cheerleader and not depend on others to validate your why for creating your brand.
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?
A story of bird poop. It was a cool weekday and I headed to Ruth Chris to meet with a client about proving learning and development services for her team. I was confident in my sales presentation, was dressed to impress and every piece of hair was behaving. As we stood outside waiting for a table, down came a huge drop of what I assumed to be a raindrop from the sky. However, I quickly discovered what I thought to be a raindrop was a black and white drop of bird poop. Embarrassed as ever, I ran inside in disgust and scrubbed the life out of the dirty spot on my shirt. Needless to say, we canceled lunch and instead had a phone meeting that same evening. The client ended up becoming a customer, but I really think she was an easier sale because she pitied me. To this day, I fully understand the meaning of hope for the best but prepare for the worst. I keep a change of clothes with me at all times.
What does leadership mean to you? As a leader, how do you best inspire others?
Leadership to me is putting the people and their needs first and providing coaching if needed to learn more about their personal and professional goals. In my space of business, I inspire my team to freely and creatively execute their tasks so long as it meets our client requirements. I allocate time to personally understand and cater to their needs. This leaves them empowered and productive. When they are productive the clients are happy and when the clients are happy we all get paid.
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?
Becoming a teenage mom, my son was a constant reminder for me not to give up. Being a young inexperienced, my decisions were not always the best. There were plenty of times I failed miserably but I knew I had to keep pushing. I had another precious being depending on me. I had to always plan ahead to ensure our financial security. This tenacity is still a long lasting reminder that it’s okay to fail.
Watching my grandmother work for pennies on a dollar, in situations which her only recognized value was a house maid inspired to me create my own opportunities and never wait for someone to allow me a job. My entrepreneurial spirit was birthed by watching her harsh reality.
Reverend and Mrs. William Carr, accepted me as their own and supported me at a critical time in my life as a teen mom with an uncertain future. They were instrumental in ensuring that I did not become a statistic, continued my education and supported me every step of the way.
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?
The struggle was my career. I was pregnant at 16 and through I did go to college as soon as I graduated at 17, I changed my career path to accommodate being a mom. My dream was to be a news anchor or a fashion buyer. I instead became an educator. Even though I pivoted, it was a very rewarding experience to be able to share my life lessons with other teenage girls that looked like me and that were in similar situations as me.
In order to give greater context to this discussion, can you share with our readers what your daily schedule looks like?
My daily schedule consists of a lot. I’m a wife, mom, homeschool teacher, and a 2-time entrepreneur. I’m up at least by 4:30 to enjoy some me time and to try and get ahead of the day. I like to have at least 1 major task completed before the family gets up and moving. Early mornings consist of meditation, exercise, and lots of conversations with myself. I process my thoughts and gain clarity when I talk out loud. Around 9 am is when the day officially gets started with the rest of the family. Between my husband and I, we take on homeschooling our 5-year-old and work with her to learn about kid-friendly business concepts. I’m on the wind down by 7:30 each night and try to practice intentionally ending my day with quiet reflection time and a task list for the next day.
Did you find that as your success grew it became more difficult to focus on the other areas of your life? Can you explain?
It wasn’t harder per say. I just had to realign my priorities. My priorities are much different now than they were several years ago. Situations that served me in seasons prior and not so fitting now. I have to practice being present and ensure that the activities that I am engaging in is the best use of my time. That helps me make the most of my valuable time.
What was a tipping point that helped you achieve a greater balance or greater equilibrium between your work life and personal/family life?
Losing a few very close people to me was a tipping point. Being able to hear them acknowledge all of their life regrets as they lay on their death bed forced me to reevaluate what I considered as important and how I balanced my time.
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.
- Acknowledge that work-life balance is necessary and take time out with your family to create a plan. Their input is important too, but don’t forget to include some downtime for yourself. Consider the things that help you relieve stress. Consider the things that would make your family happy. Just like when completing the annual plan for the company, preschedule, vacations, outing days, relax days, etc. Encourage your team to do the same.
- Be sure you are doing what you love and are smart at it. Hire out or get support for all the rest. This can be burdensome, mentally draining and time-consuming.
- Set boundaries with work and family. Do not mix the two. When it is time to work focus solely on that. When it’s a family tie, make that your priority.
- Make a list of what is and what is not working within your personal and professional life. This can help you pinpoint the areas where you need to reprioritize your time.
- Get input from your team about their needs professionally and personally. This can help them operate at peak performance which creates a harmonious, less stressful environment. This, in turn, can create less stress for leaders.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Every master was once a disaster.” This is a quote by T. Harv Eker. This quote serves as a gentle reminder for me to never stop learning and doing — with time, consistency and fine-tuning, results will become better.
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 would organize a worldwide day for “bring your leader to your desk day.” This would be day in which all leaders would take time out of their schedule to really see and do what their team are doing every day. This will help leaders gain a better understanding of what really goes on in the organization. Leaders are the decision-makers, but they are also hands-off and oftentimes do not understand the real work that is required before making hasty decisions.
What is the best way for people to follow you online?
Thank you so much for these fantastic insights!