Nothing’s better than watching a power lady take over the business world. But how do they stay healthy on top of everything else? How do ambitious people get things done without burning out before breakfast?
Bring in Stylerunner founder and 2016 Young Entrepreneur of the Year Julie Stevanja. Sick of bland in-store options when it came to yoga clothes, Julie quit her London start-up job and returned to Australia to launch an e-tailer for luxe workout gear. Five years later, Stylerunner is a global phenomenon, with a network of over half a million people and a media publishing arm, Triple White.
So what does it take to lead an activewear kingdom without forgetting about your wellbeing entirely? We asked Julie for some pro tips for leaders in training.
Get healthy for yourself, not for others
Even lesser mortals struggle under the relentless endorsement of bikini bods, so how hard is it to stay sane as a leader in the activewear industry?
Julie admits it “could be very easy” to feel pressured to exemplify the ideal body, but instead she keeps her distance.
I think we feel far too much pressure from society.
“I think we feel far too much pressure from society. I live a healthy life because I want to and it’s good for me. I try not to pay too much attention to anything that doesn’t serve me.”
Keeping yourself balanced and positive, says Julie, is crucial to staying away from unhelpful expectations. Grounding yourself in the community is also important.
“I really love that my connection to the [Stylerunner] community is not as someone who’s a sport elite or unobtainable. I’m an everyday girl who saw a business opportunity and worked really hard. I’m also very much like our customers.”
Make time to clear your mind
With the online arena as mercurial as the quality of takeaway pizza, the challenge for any business leader is to stay ahead. But freeing up the mind for innovation and creativity means leaving behind the stress.
“Stress is not sustainable,” says Julie. “It isn’t healthy, it’s not productive and it doesn’t allow for creativity.”
She suggests clearing your mind with a meditation app. While Julie says meditation is often the last thing you want to do when feeling overwhelmed, it’s a valuable way to restore mental clarity and creativity.
“That’s where innovation happens,” adds Julie.
Fit more in with fitness apps
Can’t find room for a fitness class? While Julie is a big fan of high-intensity workouts such as Bikram and Megaformer pilates, she’s also a champion of fitness apps, which she uses to incorporate additional workouts into her already tight schedule.
On top of Aussie workout queen Kayla Itsines’ SWEAT app, which ranges from yoga and resistance workouts to post-pregnancy programs, Julie also recommends Pocket Yoga’s Practice Builder app, which lets you create your own yoga sequences.
And when all else fails? Count steps.
“I like to get outdoors,” says Julie, who tracks her progress on her iPhone. “I try to walk at least once or twice a week.”
Avoid the trap of overwork
While working yourself to death might seem like a good idea at the time, it’s not only unhealthy, but unsustainable.
“Slow and steady wins the race,” says Julie, pointing to Arianna Huffington’s book Thrive as an example of a healthy work-life philosophy. The Huffington Post co-founder reexamined the nature of modern success after literally falling over from exhaustion – something Julie doesn’t recommend, either.
Women probably do put more pressure on themselves to prove themselves, which is really unfortunate because the imbalance shouldn’t be there in the first place.
“In the first year of Stylerunner I worked really long hours. Those were high-pressure days and I survived, but it’s not sustainable.”
She says women are often even more susceptible to overwork.
“Women probably do put more pressure on themselves to prove themselves, which is really unfortunate because the imbalance shouldn’t be there in the first place.”
But even more important than falling asleep on your desk, says Julie, is developing a routine sustainable enough to see you through your success, and maintain that ever-crucial creativity.
“It’s so important for business. You need to innovate or you’ll fall behind in a world that’s evolving at such a fast pace.”
Rope in an exercise buddy
Can’t seem to fit in socialising, let alone exercise? Try combining them. Julie says one of the most powerful things you can do for your health is to get an exercise buddy or join in on community events. Last month, Stylerunner ran a #MakeMayFit campaign to try encourage others to band together to get fit.
If you want to get results, then you need to have the drive to get started.
Making a commitment not only to yourself, but to a group, is something Julie says is “so beneficial to staying motivated”.
“If you want to get results, then you need to have the drive to get started.”
Learn the difference between urgent and important
One of the most powerful pieces of advice Julie says she’s ever received is not to confuse urgency with importance.
If you’re trying to create something big, make sure you’re working on the important things, not the urgent things
“If you’re trying to create something big, make sure you’re working on the important things, not the urgent things. People often get them confused.”
Julie says emails are a “huge distraction”. As a rule, she tries to limit checking emails to two or three times a day.
And rather than scribing a to-do list, she employs the Eisenhower Matrix to prioritise tasks into four quadrants in terms of urgency and importance. This decision-making tool, supposedly invented by the extremely busy 34th President of the United States, Dwight D. Eisenhower, also helps to delegate or drop tasks. Which is often easier said than done.
“You’ll very quickly become aware of what’s not worth spending time on,” says Julie.
Don’t forget to enjoy the journey
Looking back on her success, Julie urges any bosses in training to savour the ride.
“Enjoy the journey – it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Ensure you’re loving what you’re doing and it will never feel like work.”
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