What would you do with an extra hour (or WHYDAH as we like to call it) is a series of short interviews with startup founders and social entrepreneurs around the world, who share the #extrahour values of a balanced lifestyle.
Michele, what gave you the energy to pursue your goals and fuel your daily work while facing the challenges of being a program manager at the Future Leaders Foundation?
Nothing gives me more energy and determination to excel than being surrounded by extremely talented and hard-working people. I derived a lot of my energy from collaborating with an excellent team at the Future Leaders Foundation and from engaging with our brilliant grantees from over 40 nationalities.
On a more personal/quirky note, whenever I feel tired or weighted down by a major life challenge I sometimes pay a quick visit to an older cousin of mine who has two younger children (one is 4 & the other 7). Kids have so much energy, curiosity, and positivity and these are extremely contagious :)
What do you usually do to get focused on your work and daily life?
Back when I was working, I also used to spend my morning and evening commutes (1 hour each way by subway) reading fiction. In the morning, this helped wake me up by forcing me to focus on the plot and the moral. In the evenings, it helped me transition out of “work-mode” so that I could have a relaxing dinner, some down time, and then focus on whatever personal projects I wanted to work on.
And what would you do with an extra hour?
Write for one hour everyday… a loved but long-abandoned hobby. Spending an extra hour a day cultivating this new habit has helped me become more creative, confident, and better at prioritization. I often lose track of time and end up writing for two hours. That’s two “extra hours.”
So I have become much more selective of how I spend my time and of avoiding unproductive/unhealthy activities (i.e. watching TV or mindless online browsing) that might rob me of my “extra hour.”
How difficult was it to leave your social entrepreneurship work and move abroad for a sabbatical?
It was challenging to leave a stable job in New York City — a city where everyone dreams of “making it” in — especially, for my rather nebulous plan to go to Brazil and Ecuador to rest and think about what I want to work on next.
I intentionally did not create a lot of structure before arriving and I did not buy a return ticket to the US. This lack of structure was initially quite terrifying but I am learning to develop better habits, to reflect on what I really want, and I am embracing the adventure and possibilities of “the unknown.”