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 Madeleine Kojakian (aka Maddy K) - Event Architect and Small-Business and Lifestyle Coach.
Can you describe what you do?
Maddy K is an event design agency. We do social events, corporate events, galas and in the last few years, we’ve been transitioning into experiential event marketing. So I would say it’s a combination of marketing, social networking and event planning.
What does a typical day look like for you starting from the moment you wake up?
There’s no typical day for me, just because everyday is so different, but that’s why I love doing what I do. I wake up really early in the morning, take some time to be able to meditate, pray, and just be able to be in my zone. Then I take a good half-hour to strategize on my day, make my to-dos, prioritizing all the important elements. And then I do another half-hour of emails in the morning because once my day kicks in, I’m hardly ever in front of the computer. I’m either on the road or in meetings, planning and strategizing. My work is a lot with people so if I don’t have that time in the morning, I’ll never be able to catch up. Typically once I’ve done all that, you know I have two kids, so the reality of motherhood kicks in: I have to feed them, get them ready for school, drop them off and then my day begins. Usually my meetings start at 10 am in the morning - this gives me enough time to be able to do everything I need to do - and it’s non-stop until night time.
What are some challenges you face as a career woman?
The personal challenge is dealing with everyday guilt of being away from home and the kids. Not always being there when you’d like to be there and missing out on some events that you would normally like to be there for. But at the same time, there’s an opportunity cost and that’s the price you pay for having a successful business and being a career woman. On the professional level, the challenge is having to juggle and deal with running a business. Making sure that you’re able to give good service to your clients, but at the same time doing the behind-the-scenes work of running a business. It’s dealing with all the paperwork, lawyers, accounting and day-to-day tasks of running a business which are not necessarily the fun and glamorous parts. But still somebody has to do it, you know? That’s the biggest challenge for me, it’s having to wear the different hats and not being able to focus on the one thing that you love doing.
How do you overcome these challenges, to make more time to do what you have to do?
I delegate as much as I can, but obviously you can’t completely disconnect either because it’s your business and you have to know what’s happening in your company. And there are pros and cons to delegating as well. That was a big challenge that I had at the beginning and even though I’ve had a team for quite a few years now, I still have a hard time delegating. I find sometimes it’s just easier for me to do something instead of passing it to somebody else.
With such a busy schedule, how do you best juggle work-life balance? Do you have any tricks?
You know, there’s no trick. The truth is, sometimes there are ups and sometimes there are downs. The way I look at it, whenever there’s an opportunity where things are a bit quieter at work, I take advantage and plan something with my family. My days are so full, and I have so many activities with family when I’m not working that the only thing I’m sacrificing (unfortunately) is me time. I never watch TV, I never just sit at home lounging, but that’s the price I’m willing to pay to be able to have my business and at the same time have some fun time with my family. Another thing I've learnt with the years is that it’s always good to have a good solid support system, not just in business, but in your personal life as well. I have a tutor who takes care of my son’s homework which frees up some of my time, and takes away some of my day-to-day stress. I have a nanny who takes care of my daughter and it relieves me of the pressure of leaving the kids with my husband. I have a cleaning lady who comes and cleans the house and I know it sounds like, ‘oh my gosh you have so many people!’, but the more they do these things, the more time you have to spend quality time with your family. I try to delegate things that are not necessarily quality so I can get some time for my business or to use in a positive way with my family.
How do you like to unwind?
I love to unwind, but it’s very difficult for me to unwind. When I have that good hour in the morning, it really helps me to reconnect with myself. I call it my holy hour - it’s my me time. It’s my time to think and just be with myself. Because once the day starts it’s just so full, you know, with meetings and even in my commute I have conference calls, like right now, it’s go go go and at night again it’s go go go, and by the time I have time to unwind I just fall asleep honestly. (laughing)
Choose one: wine or cocktails?
I’m a wine person. I like it better I guess. I’m not a huge drinker but I dine out a lot, so when I’m at a restaurant I like to have my glass of wine and it’s my little down time before whatever I’m waiting for.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
Oh my gosh, I’ve received a lot of good advice and I’ve applied a lot of it, and a lot I haven’t, and learnt the hard way. The most important thing that’s stuck with me is that “done” is always better than “perfect”. Especially when you’re dealing with women who are perfectionists. I struggle with that, I have such a hard time leaving the house if the house is not top notch perfect and more often now, I’ve accepted the fact that it’s better to do things than waiting for them to be done perfectly. If you wait you might never get around to it, so it’s always better to just do, you know? If you want to bake a cake with your kids, just do it. You don’t have to wait for that perfect moment, for the kitchen to be perfect and for everything around you to be perfect. Just do it. Tick it off your list, it’s the only way to move forward.
How do you define success?
Success I define with knowing that I’m doing the best that I can and every day I wake up inspired and happy.
I saw that you posted on Instagram about having adventures. I was wondering if you could speak to that, did you have an adventure in mind, something you’d like to share as a great adventure?
Yes, absolutely! I’ve had many adventures and I love adventures. It can be something as little as taking the day off and leaving town alone for the day or for a few hours, or it can be something big. One adventure that I will never ever regret is when I went to a retreat in Tuscany with my girlfriends two years ago. We went to the Debbie Travis retreat for ten days, it was the most amazing adventure ever. And I remember when it came up thinking ‘who are you kidding Maddy? You’re not gonna go, it’s in the middle of the summer, it’s your busy season, where are you going to leave your kids? What are you going tell your husband? Are you kidding me?’ I had that battle in my head, you know? And my girlfriend was sitting in front of me and was like ‘c’mon Maddy you can do it!’ Anyway all this to say, I did it. I don’t even know how I did or what got into me, but I did it and it was the best thing ever. I was so happy and am grateful that I took that leap and went on that adventure because it opened up so many new adventures for me.
Do you know someone we should feature in this segment? Send an email to [email protected]>