Cornell University - Bachelor of Architecture and MBA
In 2009, Brett Blumenthal was laid off from a job she really didn't enjoy all that much. Coming from a background in architecture and the management consulting industries, Brett used to secretly hope she'd be laid off. Why would anyone wish such a thing — especially in this economy? Well, it's simple. Brett knew if she stayed put, she'd stay unhappy. When that day in 2009 came, she saw it as a chance to do something on her own — reinventing her career and herself.
Brett's next step was to invest all of her time and energy into a passion she'd played in during her corporate days but had not focused on to the extent that she wanted to. By starting sheerbalance.com, she is now aiming to help individuals live happier, healthier lives. So far in addition to the website, Brett has written two books (her third, "A Whole New You: Six Steps to Ignite Change for Your Best Life" will be released Dec. 31) and has served as a speaker and television segment guest on the topics of health and well-being.
Brett, a firm believer in a strong work/life balance also believes we should always be evolving. As she puts it, "If I’m not changing or doing something new, I know I’m not growing and eventually, I get bored."
Compromise is needed. Only looking for career-related success can lead to unhappiness in other areas.
What inspired you to leave the career you had within the architecture and management consulting industries and launch your own business?
While in those industries, I had been writing for my site Sheer Balance and other online media outlets (including Yahoo!, Divine Caroline and Gather) about health and wellness, on the side. (My passion for wellness began when I started teaching aerobics during my time as a student at Cornell University.) When I was laid off, I knew I was unhappy with my career, and decided that it was a great time to see where I could take my passion and the work I had begun with SheerBalance.com.
What does your job involve on a daily basis, and what types of responsibilities do you have in your position?
My job varies between writing, speaking, graphic design, marketing and social media.
What is your favorite part of your job?
I love speaking and connecting directly with my audience. Face-to-face is so impactful, but I also love the time I spend on television. I also really enjoy when my books are finished and arrive on my doorstep in final copy format. There is nothing more rewarding than seeing your hard work pay off in a tangible product!
What challenges keep you awake at night?
I believe in many ways that you are only as good as your most recent project. Having written three books, with the third coming out this January, I always worry that the next book won’t be better than the last. Every author who writes more than one book hopes that each one is more successful than the next, but there are certainly no guarantees.
Is work/life balance ever a problem with you? If so, what is one no-fail tactic you use to create balance?
Working for myself, I am able to manage the work/life balance piece of the puzzle pretty well. However, there are most certainly times that are more stressful or busy than others. And, with a baby on the way (I’m 19 weeks pregnant), I have to wonder how things will change once the baby is born. I’m sure it makes it much more challenging to balance things. That said, no matter how stressed or frazzled I get by work, I really believe that maintaining a healthy lifestyle is paramount to stress management and overall well-being (this is what I teach after all!). I know if I don’t get to the gym at least four or five times a week, don’t eat right and don’t get enough sleep, I will not perform at my best, no matter the deadline. So, I always make an effort to prioritize those things.
Was there ever a moment in your career where you’ve thought, “I made it!” What was it?
This has happened in different ways at different times. I really believe that we need to celebrate our accomplishments, and enjoy the small successes as much as the big ones. That said, I think the most recent time I thought “I made it” was when I received my first royalty statement for my last book, "52 Small Changes". In one month I had sold 30,000 copies. It was at that point that I realized that I needed to take my writing career much more seriously.
What are some of the rules you live by?
1 / I’m brutally honest. I don’t know how to be any other way. In a sense, I have a “tough love” approach to self-help and wellness. I don’t believe in pacifying people or telling them what they want to hear, because it would be doing a disservice to them and to myself. If someone needs to be told they are making excuses, then I tell them. If I think they are doing a great job, I tell them. I don’t sugar-coat things, I just tell it like it is.
2 / Don’t waste your time trying to help people who don’t want to be helped. I refuse to work with clients who I can tell are not self-motivated or aren’t really interested in making change. To change, you have to want it. If a potential client comes to me and starts giving me a million excuses as to why they can’t change, I see a red flag. I have walked away from several clients because of this. If someone comes to me desperate to change but positive and open-minded, I’m excited and eager to work with him or her.
3 / I believe in many ways that things happen for a reason. I have faith that things work out and whatever is meant to be will be.
4 / I believe in constant change and self-improvement. If I’m not changing or doing something new, I know I’m not growing and eventually, I get bored.
5 / I believe in having heart. I might be tough when it comes to honesty, but I’m also a huge softy who can cry at the drop of a hat given the circumstances. I believe you need to be empathetic and sympathetic.
What qualities does one need to possess to be successful in your line of work?
No doubt, you need to be a good writer. But, I also think you have to be extremely self-motivated. I’m driven, but not because someone else has expectations of me. If I don’t push myself to set new goals, nothing would happen. I’ve written three books in three years. I think it might be time to slow down a little with those deadlines, but at the same time, I built that momentum by myself.
What one piece of advice do you wish you could tell a 21-year-old version of yourself?
“Please, for the love of God, do what you love.” I spent 13 years trying to figure out what I wanted to do. I changed my career, no joking, seven times in 14 years. That is a new career every two years! I’m exhausted! And, that isn’t counting the career changes I dreamed of making! I spent many years trying to be perfect or trying to fit into the “mold of what I thought I should be” when in reality, I never really took the time to think about what it was that I wanted. It is so important to be true to yourself and to what you want and to what you value.
How do you define success?
Great question and I’m glad you asked. My definition of success has morphed over time, and I think that it's extremely important to acknowledge that that happens. As a teenager, success meant getting straight As and into the college/university of my choice. As a college student, it meant getting good grades and finding a great job. As a 25-year-old, it meant making a great salary and advancing in my career, and now, as a 38-year-old “wiser” woman, I realize that success, in the end, is about finding happiness in all aspects of your life. And, for this to happen, compromise is needed. Only looking for career-related success can lead to unhappiness in other areas, such as your personal relationships and emotional well-being. Success purely on a family level may result in a lack of happiness or success within your intellectual well-being or your career. Finding the optimal balance in all areas you value, is true success as I define it today.