How I Thrive: One rule I try to live by is, “DFD: device-free dinner”, With Rachel Dalton
An Interview With Ming Zhao
I find the work and family balance to be one of the biggest challenges facing working moms today. I want to be able to flip the switch when I walk in the door at night, and just be a 100% calm, loving mom. But in today’s ultra-connected world, it’s not so easy. It’s hard to turn the phone off, and not pick up that call from a client or my production partner. My kids know that when I am with them, I sometimes have to take an important call, but thankfully they are very understanding. Their maturity and support allows me to do what I have to do, with less guilt! And I do my best to transition from “executive” to “mom.” One rule I try to live by is, “DFD: device-free dinner.” My kids know, once we sit down to dinner, the phones must be off and away from the table. That one routine has led us to device-free meals, which helps us to all focus on each other and connect in a meaningful way.
At times it feels like wellness or elevating one’s wellbeing, is diametrically opposed to high achievement and high performance in one’s career. The stress, mental energy, long hours, lack of restful sleep, preoccupation that result from a high-achievement life seem to directly inhibit wellness. And yet, in order to sustain the creativity, flexibility, mental acuity and resilience that are necessary for high performance, wellness and wellbeing of the mind, body and soul are also mandatory. So how do we achieve both? This is the question I’m hoping to answer through conversations with high-achieving women who have gleaned and are practicing their own philosophies on maintaining their wellbeing.
As a part of this series about what successful women leaders do to thrive, both personally and professionally, I had the pleasure of interviewing Rachel Dalton.
Rachel is an attorney who secures all types of celebrity talent for any kind of event and customized, unique experience. She started her career in corporate and entertainment law and founded her own company 18 years ago, after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania Law School. Rachel has three children, whom she adores, and keep her very busy during her off-hours. Rachel also thrives on an active lifestyle, loves nature and particularly enjoys her time on the golf course!
Thank you so much for doing this with us Rachel! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path and to where you are today?
My brother, Mitch, is actually responsible for my career path taking a turn to the celebrity side. Mitch and I were always very close and I wanted him at college with me. He was a standout football player in high school and I helped recruit him to UPenn to play football there, where he achieved all-Ivy honors. From there, I worked with Mitch’s agent, who helped him become a 3rd round draft-pick for the NFL’s Carolina Panthers. Working with Mitch’s agent opened my eyes to the world of professional sports and entertainment, and from that moment on I knew that was what I wanted to do — work with celebrity talent.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
I think the most interesting story would have to be, that I was brought in on a fun surprise last spring while backstage at Madison Square Garden in New York City. I was meeting with the legendary manager for the musical artist, PINK, who was performing that evening. We were meeting to discuss details for a private event that we were working on. Then all of a sudden, the manager told me he was going to fill me in a secret…As it turned out, country music star Chris Stapleton was going to join PINK on stage for a duet that they sing together — performing it live for the first time in history! No one knew this was going to happen except the artists and their teams. As I watched the show, I was thrilled and excited when both artists stepped out for the duet and the entire crowd went wild!
Can you share a story with us about the most humorous mistake you made when you were first starting? What lesson or take-away did you learn from that?
Early in my career I booked Jackson Browne for a client’s private birthday celebration at their summer home in Nantucket. There are very few 5-star hotels on the island, and they were all booked by the time we went to make reservations. I had to pick a hotel that I never heard of, which wound up not even having air conditioning! And the party was in July! Well, when we got there, my production partner and I looked at each other and our jaws just dropped, as we stood there starting to sweat. Well, we got some fans and put lots of goodies in the room to try to distract the artist upon arrival. Thankfully, the artist’s team was very cool about the whole thing (no pun intended!), and they put on an amazing show. But I learned to always do a site meeting and to check out each hotel thoroughly in person, in advance of booking!
What advice would you give to other leaders about how to create a fantastic work culture and work life?
I think having a positive attitude is the single most important thing one can do in both the office and in life. It gives you a sense of inner peace and confidence. In addition, everyone around you can feel your positive energy, and that transforms your work environment. Not only will you see productivity increase, but you will also notice a feeling of happiness in your workplace.
Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of our interview. In my work, I focus on how one can thrive in three areas, body, mind, and heart. I’d like to flesh this out with you. You are a very busy leader with a demanding schedule. Can you share with our readers two self care routines, practices or treatments that you do to help your body to thrive? Kindly share a story or an example for each.
I find the body, mind and heart are connected. Feeling good in one area, helps you feel good in all. I like to exercise daily — whether it’s a nice walk at a brisk pace (even just 20–30 minutes) and immerse my senses in the great outdoors. I find appreciating nature to be a huge part of calming the mind, which translates to the body and makes my heart happy. If the weather is bad, I will hop on my indoor exercise bike instead. I also enjoy taking a hot bath at night just before bed. After I shut down for the evening, spend some time with my kids and everyone is tucked in, a peaceful bath is a nice way for me to unwind.
Can you share with us two routines that you use to help your mind thrive? (Kindly share a story or example for each.)
Every morning when I wake up I meditate for about 5–10 minutes. I think of all the things that I am grateful for and that starts my day off on a positive note. Another routine I have is writing out a daily “to do” list. This helps me organize my thoughts and goals for the day — even if I don’t get to everything, the list helps me to visually see what I have to do and prioritize.
Finally, can you share with us two routines that use to help your heart, your emotional or spiritual life to thrive? (Kindly share a story or example for each.)
I find spending time with my children helps my emotional life. Helping with homework, chatting during the ride to tennis practice and having dinner together really give me perspective on what matters most in life. Another routine I have is my daily nature walk. By forcing myself to get outside and observe nature, it clears my mind and allows me time to embrace my emotional and spiritual side.
When life is very busy, and you cannot stick with your ideal routine, are there any wellness practices, rituals, products or services for your mind, body, or soul that you absolutely cannot live without?
Even when life gets insanely busy, I find spending the 5 minutes meditating first thing in the morning really sets the right tone for the day. In addition, even a short 10 minute walk, just to get outside and clear my mind is invaluable.
All of us have great days and days that are not as great. On days when you feel like a rockstar what do you do? What does that day look like, and what did you do to get there?
Great days are incredible. On those days, it just seems like everything goes my way, and I am aware and very grateful for those times. That day might start with a relaxing and focused meditation, a good workout, and productive session at my desk, some good client calls and a relaxing evening with family or friends.
In contrast, on days when you feel down, what do you do?
Some days feel like the odds are stacked against me. On those days, I try to stick to my usual routines, and tell myself that things will turn around, and just do my best to get through it. I remind myself that without the bad days, there would be no way to differentiate the good days.
You’re a high achieving business leader, and you also have family and loved ones that may require a different side of you at home. How do you leave the executive at the door, and be the most loving caretaker at home?
This is a great question. I find the work and family balance to be one of the biggest challenges facing working moms today. I want to be able to flip the switch when I walk in the door at night, and just be a 100% calm, loving mom. But in today’s ultra-connected world, it’s not so easy. It’s hard to turn the phone off, and not pick up that call from a client or my production partner. My kids know that when I am with them, I sometimes have to take an important call, but thankfully they are very understanding. Their maturity and support allows me to do what I have to do, with less guilt! And I do my best to transition from “executive” to “mom.” One rule I try to live by is, “DFD: device-free dinner.” My kids know, once we sit down to dinner, the phones must be off and away from the table. That one routine has led us to device-free meals, which helps us to all focus on each other and connect in a meaningful way.
Is there a particular practitioner, expert, book, podcast or resource that made a significant impact on you and helped you to thrive? Can you share a story about that with us?
Back in college a family member recommended that I read How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. That book changed my life. It taught me how to interact with people, whether strangers, family members or friends. The book gave me the tools to start a conversation with anyone, in either a business or social setting. It had such a significant impact on me that I had had my own children read it, and I still thumb through it every now and then to refresh the concepts.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
Hands down, it would have to be a “kindness movement.” Getting people to understand that their behavior and attitude is contagious and one kind word or gesture can change a person’s day, week, month, life. I always tell my kids, it costs them nothing to give someone a smile, ask them about their day, and say please and thank you. Simple things that can have a huge impact others, that hopefully those people will pay forward.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
My favorite life lesson quote is, “The noblest question in the world is: What good may I do in it?” — Ben Franklin. This is relevant to my life as this has really become my life’s philosophy. I try to reflect on and integrate this idea into my daily life. And I try to instill this philosophy into my children as well, giving them a challenge and a goal to reach for not only in their own lives, but in their communities and the world around them. This philosophy has inspired my family to start a charity focusing on food rescue for those suffering from food insecurity in our community, which helps to feed 10,000 people in our area weekly.
What are the best way our readers can follow you on social media?
Facebook: Rachel Dalton
LinkedIn: Rachel Dalton
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!