We ask Canada’s leading businesswomen to tell us how they effectively manage work/life balance. Each issue we’ll bring you the tactics and strategies that help women grow their companies and careers, while still finding a little “me” time to help deal with the personal commitments of life.
THIS ISSUE: Marianne Bertrand is president of Muttluks Inc., a Toronto-based designer and manufacturer of durable, fitted dog boots and accessories. Founded in 1994, Muttluks has gained a loyal following among dog lovers and organizations that use working dogs, such as search and rescue canine units. Her dog-boot design won Bertrand a Canadian Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Award for Innovation in 2002.
The key to achieving a successful work/life balance is finding ways to give yourself more “wiggle room”, says Bertrand, time in your schedule to cope with unexpected work and personal pressures. Bertrand has faced both in the past few years; an ongoing custody battle in addition to business challenges has left the single mom feeling frazzled more than a few times. “I’ve burnt out a couple of times in my life,” says Bertrand, and with a four-year-old daughter, “you don’t have any recovery time. So, you have to learn to pace yourself.”
Bertrand regularly practices relaxation strategies like yoga, tai chi, and meditation. She also unwinds by getting out of the city to her 150-acre farm located three hours outside of Toronto. Bertrand lives and works in the city from Monday to Thursday, and spends Friday through Sunday running the farm and caring for her animals (including nine horses, two donkeys, three goats, a pig, two barn cats, and three dogs). “It’s a different way of being. It’s very intuitive, rather than all of the number crunching that you get with my other business,” she says.
On the business side, Bertrand is regaining her focus after hitting a financial snag in late 2006. She blames the rough patch in part to the fact she was less engaged, and partly because she had the wrong administrative and managerial staff in place. After reading “Good to Great,” by Jim Collins, Bertrand took action, replacing many of her key managers. That¹s helped the business improve dramatically, she says. Her goal now is to have the company “tick more efficiently,” even when she’s not around.
Working four days a week helps her stay healthy and productive. “After that, I start to degrade and it’s not beneficial,” she says. “Before, I just did what needed doing. Now, I’m saying wait a minute, if I want this business in my life, it’s got to be a win/win for the business and for me.” Ironically, by reducing her work hours, not only does she have more time for her personal life, she¹s become more efficient and better able to prioritize at the office. ³I would say my business is in a much better place for it.”