Women in Wellness: Working out before the school run with Lorna Borenstein from Grokker
As a part of my series about the women in wellness, I had the pleasure of interviewing Lorna Borenstein, CEO and founder at Grokker.
I believe that people are here in order to make a bigger impact in the world — and with my book, ‘Make an Impact’, I had the chance to prove that hundreds of people are using their influence to improve other people’s lives.
As the founder of the Health Bloggers Community, my mission is to support people with growing their passion into a business — and so many women are building businesses empires all over the world.
This series is a chance to spotlight some of these women
“When it comes to what matters, the most precious commodity is time because we can never get it back again — and none of us ever feel like we have enough of it.”
Lorna Borenstein is CEO and founder at Grokker, the video-centric health engagement solution employees love. Previously, Borenstein was president of publicly traded Move Inc. (NASDAQ: MOVE). She also held a number of executive positions at Yahoo! including Chief of their global personals online dating service and head of Marketing for their multi-billion dollar worldwide Search & Marketplace businesses (Shopping, Travel, Autos, etc.).
Borenstein entered the Internet world back in 2000 when she launched eBay Canada out of her guest room in Toronto, Canada and went on to serve as eBay Inc.’s vice president & general manager.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your ‘backstory’?
When I joined the tech industry, the Internet was in its infancy and no one was an expert. I had just resigned from a terrific job at HP to help startups go global, and started getting work by pitching myself to venture capitalists on Silicon Valley’s Sand Hill Road.
About a year in, I got the phone call that changed my life: a colleague from HP was working at hot start up and wanted my help opening up an international business in Canada. That company was eBay — an unknown brand (and concept) at that point.
I was flattered, but to be honest, I was a bit dismissive at first. People at the vanguard advised me to take the job; however, the people in my life who experienced success in the more trusted, comfortable and less risky business world cautioned it could tarnish my reputation.
Fortunately, I made the decision to take the job! But this experience helped switched my mindset from protecting against loss to creating abundance — the pursuit of what could be. It’s this mindset that helped lead me into becoming a founder, myself.
Can you share your top three “lifestyle tweaks” that you believe will help support people’s journey towards better wellbeing?
My recommendation actually has four interconnected parts: sleep, exercise, nutrition, and fun.
Think of your life as a tent with flaps. If all flaps are staked down, it’s stable. One undone flap will flutter in the wind. But if two or more are undone, it’s unstable. That’s why I apply the 8:3:3:1 framework to my life — and it’s what I share with people I mentor.
I’ve found that for my brain to work and to feel emotionally balanced and happy, I need eight hours of sleep a night, a minimum of three significant workouts a week, three nutritious square meals each day, and one fun thing to look forward to each week. Those are my flaps — and for me, they create connectedness and stability. My best advice is to find your version of 8:3:3:1.
Your numbers can be different, but look at it this way: if you have more than one flap that isn’t properly staked to the ground, you know what to pay attention to if you want to feel your best.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
I’ve had a lot of interesting things happen. But one of the most satisfying moments of my career happened at a party I attended during the Fortune Brainstorm TECH conference in Aspen a few years ago.
A Microsoft executive hosted a dinner at his home; and I’m there having a great time when a man I’ve never seen before pushes towards me with his smartphone. He’s smiling, seeming to say, “Look at my phone!” At first, I wasn’t sure what was going on, but I soon realised he spotted my name badge and was showing me his Grokker app.
It so happens he’s a senior exec at a large consulting firm who’s been using Grokker’s consumer app for years. He told me he travelled a lot and Grokker helps him stay fit when he’s in his hotel room, on the road. It was a weird moment because I’ve never been a rock star or an actor, but someone thought I was so cool because I was the “Grokker lady!” It felt great!
Can you share a story about the biggest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
To be clear, I have made so many mistakes and have learned from every single one. As a working mother of three, I was constantly having to choose between work and my family. I felt like I had to sacrifice things in my personal life in order to succeed at work. I think that was often a false choice.
For 20 years, I woke up at 5:15 a.m. so I could get a workout in before waking up the children to give them breakfast and see them off to school — and still be at work by 7:30. The biggest lesson I learned was you can’t please everyone all the time by thinking that you can.
When it comes to health and wellness, how is the work you are doing helping to make a bigger impact in the world?
Grokker enables physical, spiritual, and emotional wellbeing how you want it and when you want it, even when it feels like you don’t have time. When it comes to what matters, the most precious commodity is time because we can never get it back again — and none of us ever feel like we have enough of it.
Grokker provides an incredibly wide variety of expert-led, premium video you can fit into your schedule when and how you need it. It provides flexibility and acceptability, no matter what level you are, no matter what age you are, and across a wide variety of topics from yoga, fitness, mindfulness, sleep, financial wellbeing, and nutrition.
We are whole people, and the approach we take is to help you is to understand you are made up of many different aspects that need to be supported to feel your best — and to make sure you have the right motivation, the right content, and the right inspiration for you when you need it.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
Yes — an incredible woman named Geraldine Laybourne, founder of Oxygen Media, the head of Nickelodeon Junior, and more. She’s iconic. We met and became lifelong friends when I was president of a publicly traded company and she was on my board.
When I told Geri I was resigning from that role and retiring, she stopped me and said, “Oh no, no, no. You’re not retiring. You’re taking a much-needed break and when that is done, you’re never going to work for anyone ever again. You’re going to start something, and you’re going to give it your all and make it the most gorgeous belly flop in the world, if that’s what it comes to. But go and try something and do it on your own!”
I credit Geri with putting the bug in my ear about being a founder. I had run other peoples’ companies and divisions of other companies, but never aspired to be an entrepreneur and start my own.
I found myself on this multi-year sabbatical, struggling to maintain any type of wellbeing because I didn’t have enough time and had three kids — it was so hard to fit it in, and I thought, “Someone needs to fix this!” Instead of letting it go, I had Geri’s voice in the back of my head. The Goal isn’t success here. The goal is to try to do something meaningful that I’m passionate about.
That changed my life and I’m really grateful.
If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be?
Like the pledge of allegiance in school, I’d love for people to take a pledge of wellbeing at work before the day begins. A moment or two for just mindfulness and health. Whether it’s stretch break or breathing exercise, every day, everywhere across the world, people would come together as a community to focus on the collective wellbeing of this planet.
What is your ‘3 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started’ and why?
First, it doesn’t get easier and that’s OK. Secondly, don’t listen to the nay-saysers: they’re not necessarily right, even if they’re more credentialed. Their life experience may not fit with the opportunities you’re thinking about or risks you’re considering. And finally, really focus on enjoying the journey and don’t worry about the destination.
Do you have a “girl-crush” in this industry? If you could take one person to brunch, who would it be?
Arianna Huffington. I’ve known her personally for 15 years, and she’s very impressive. Her ability to generate awareness of the importance of sleep in the collective consciousness has been nothing short of amazing. In fact, Grokker’s sleep content has made it one of the most popular categories among users, no doubt influenced by Arianna’s work promoting sleep’s impact on how we feel and perform.
Sustainability, veganism, mental health and environmental changes are big topics at the moment. Which one of these causes is dearest to you, and why?
Mental health, no question. It has affected my family personally, and mental health issues are so prevalent now, particularly when it comes to adolescent mental health. It’s a national emergency.
We need to work at removing the stigma and treating from a young age, teaching people the tools they need to cope with mental illness, anxiety, and mood issues. I feel like it is an epidemic and it’s something we can have an impact on. When I’m done in the for-profit realm, that is where I will spend my time.
About the author:
Fab Giovanetti is a business mentor, published author, influencer-specialist, best known as the founder of the Health Bloggers Community and co-founder of the Register of Health and Wellness Influencers.
Serial start-up founder and professional troublemaker, she is obsessed with avocados and helping people making an impact in health and wellness. Sounds like you? Get daily tips on how to grow your influence via the HBC magazine.