Women across Canada are kicking butt in the workforce, all while maintaining their cool and doing the things in life they enjoy. “Motivation Monday: How she does it” is a new series where we profile notable women working in various fields to find out how they juggle work-life balance. For this installment, we chatted with Anne-Marie Withenshaw — Radio and TV Host.
Photo Courtesy of À Couteaux Tirés
Can you describe what you do?
I’m a TV host, a radio host and a producer.
What does a typical day look like for you starting from the moment you wake up?
Well, I never wake up by choice (laughing). I always wake up because someone else is waking me up and it’s usually my daughter! That’s the hardest part of my day because I really love sleep. So for the first two hours of my day I’m usually with my daughter and then I’m off to work. Work is never really in the same place, it hasn’t been in the same location since 2002. I don’t really know any other way. I’m always off to a meeting and because my shows are weekly, we meet once or twice a week. So every day I’m in a different office and I’m always on the road.
Being on the road and having your daughter, what are some challenges you face juggling that as a career woman?
I don’t find it’s that hard to be someone who works at the same time as having a family. I’m very present on social media, I do a lot with my phone, but I’m the type of person who will lose my phone in my house every day. That’s why whenever I’m with my daughter, I’m happy and it sort of really grounds me. It gives me an excuse to not be working and to not be at work.
The only thing I find hard is to concentrate my work hours between let’s say 9:30 am and 4 pm, and then at night when my daughter’s asleep to pick back up, if I do. That’s what I find hard, the small amount of work that you can get done in six hours. Like there’s no more time for long lunches or going out, getting a coffee, you just have to work for those six hours and do it. I’m also really lucky that my shows allow me to have a really flexible schedule so I don’t really have that nine to five pressure that most parents have. The only pressures we have are dealing with atypical schedules. This summer for example, I was working on the road a lot so my daughter was on the road with me. I feel I’m giving her some unique experiences so it’s pretty fun, the only thing is it’s hard to switch back and forth between mom mode and then back to work.
How do you overcome these challenges?
I think you just have to try and be productive. I’m what you call a lazy ambitious person (laughing). I really like work, I love new projects, but at my core, I’m fundamentally a chiller who likes to just live the good life. I try not to take on too much and it’s been working so far. I know my limits. I think I’m the least likely person to ever have a burn-out because I know when to say no, and that’s been especially important since I had my daughter. Learning to say no is a big one and usually it’s hard. I love not working weekends, I love going to the pool with my daughter after school and I love not being in a meeting until 6 pm. At the same time, I’m very hard working so I get really stimulated when I have a day that starts super early - even though I hate waking up early - and I don’t mind working a twelve hour, fourteen hour or sixteen hour day, two days a week, but as long as the other five days are super relaxed.
How do you juggle work-life balance?
Again, as long as I know the reward is at the end of the tunnel, I don’t mind working hard. I work in a lot of food television so eating well has always been a priority and it’s also been easy to manage because that’s my job. I work with a company now called GoodFood which has been an amazing revelation to me. I was using their services before I started working with them and was already a fan. They make meal kits. Every week, I log into their website and choose my meals. They send you the recipe, the ingredients and everything you need to make them. Every Monday I get my box from GoodFood and set aside an hour on the Monday or the Tuesday to make one of those meals, and that starts me off on the right foot for the week. It cuts out the grocery shopping and I try to find all these little life hacks to cut steps. Like shopping online works for me, scheduling all my meetings online works for me, ordering my meals works. So all these little things allow me to focus on work when I need to.
How do you like to unwind?
I love going to the gym, that’s my stress reliever. I meet my husband there at the end of every week at 5:30 pm. We work out and then we have a nice dinner and a drink. That’s my ultimate because you worked out, you feel good, and then you eat, and you have a drink - it’s perfect. So working out is my number one. Obviously, and especially since I’ve had a kid, I will take any spa day, anybody who wants to go I’m always in (laughing). I’m always like, Yes! "You want to get your nails done?" Yes! "You want to go for a massage?" Yes! I don’t care, I always say yes. And I try to sneak them in in little bits, an hour or two hours, that way you don’t have to book a whole day. I try to go once a month.
Photo Courtesy of À Couteaux Tirés
Do you have a favourite spot?
Well it’s sort of what’s convenient. I get my hair and my nails done at Deauville which is sort of an all-in-one place in TMR. I like places that are easy and that you don’t have to reserve a million days in advance. I love getting my hair blow-dried or braided at Blow Me blow-dry bar - for me that’s the ultimate, not having to blow dry my own hair - so fun! I also love going to Bota Bota and if I have a full day, I love going to Balnea in the Eastern Townships.
If you had to choose between wine and cocktails, which would you choose and why?
You know what, I’m a coffee person. You could tell me you cannot have another drink of alcohol in your life and I wouldn't even be sad. But if someone told me you can’t have coffee, I would be very depressed. I’m not the same person before and after coffee, no joke. So I’m not a big drinker, I’m really a coffee person. It won’t keep me awake, it just makes me happy.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
This is tacky to say, but just be yourself. I feel like in the world we live in now especially, where there’s so much emphasis put on authenticity, whether it’s through any kind of service industry, people relate to authenticity. It’s the currency of our current generation. And the only way that you’ll get your message through is by being yourself. Sometimes it’ll take a little longer for people to accept it, sometimes it’ll take a bit of a detour for people to understand you, but I feel that for me, the times that I’ve succeeded most are always the times I’ve bet on myself. In the sense that I choose a project that’s true to my true nature, I communicate authentically in my interviews, I’m myself - that’s how I’ll connect the most with the person I’m interviewing. In every area of your life, if you’re brave enough to just not really care what people think and be yourself, that’s the best advice.
How do you define success?
I feel success is really when you feel proud of what you do and at the same time you get pride from doing good work and helping others. For me that’s when you’re most successful. I work in TV, I’m really proud of what I do but the other part of my work makes me the most proud. I’m on the board of directors of the Evenko Foundation which helps promote staying in school through art. We try to help in the funding of after-school and extra-curricular after-school programs throughout Québec so that kids in underprivileged areas will have the motivation to stay in school. We’ll bring musical instruments or pop stars to schools and help 300 or 400 kids at a time, during one day, that whole month of planning that it took really makes it worth it. And I know it sounds cheesy but for me that’s what success is. As long as you’re helping someone through your work, that’s when you’re really successful.
Do you know someone we should feature in this segment? Send an email to [email protected].