Heidi Cohen Interviews Laura Vanderkam
New book: I Know How She Does It: How Successful Women Make the Most of Their Time
Q: What’s your best piece of advice for readers looking to improve their marketing?
Book authors often don’t start out thinking they need to know much about marketing, but the smart ones quickly figure out otherwise! You can’t share your ideas with the world if no one can find your ideas.
Marketing is fundamentally about helping people who need your message to find that message. There doesn’t need to be anything inauthentic or pushy about it. Just be clear on your story, and why your message matters to you and the world, and then look for places to tell that story.
Q: What was the inspiration for I Know How She Does It?
As a working mother myself, I have long been frustrated by the cultural narrative that attempting to combine a big career with raising a family will inevitably turn you into a harried mess. A lot of women are doing just fine with the juggle. I wanted to talk about their stories and strategies, and add some hard data to the debate on whether women can have it all.
Q: What is the key concept behind your book?
The key concept in I Know How She Does It is that when you look at life in its entirety, there is space for career, relationships, and taking care of oneself too. I collected time diaries from 1001 days in the lives of women who earned at least $100,000 a year, and had kids at home. I found that they worked, on average, 44 hours a week. They slept 54 hours a week (almost 8 hours per day!) There are 168 hours in a week. If you subtract 44 and 54 from 168, you are left with 70 hours. So on some level, it wasn’t surprising that women were able to have big careers and full lives too. 70 hours a week is a lot of time!
Q: What do you want readers to take away from your book
In I Know How She Does It, I share the strategies that successful women use to make the most of their time at work and at home. I hope readers will come away with practical tools for advancing in their careers while enjoying full personal lives as well. I also hope they will come away with a new mindset toward time. We really do have enough for what matters to us.
Q: How do you describe yourself professionally?
I am a journalist, speaker, and author with an interest in helping people live better lives. I aim to make people say “I haven’t thought about it that way before.”
Q: What are 1-3 books that inspired your work/career?
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by the late Stephen Covey was the first productivity book I read, and it remains the one all others are measured against. In all my time management speeches I mention his simple but profound line about putting “first things first.” All of time management really comes down to that.
The Elements of Style by Strunk & White made me a better writer. I discovered this book in 10th grade and it saved me a lot of wordiness over the years!
To The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf is my favorite novel. I re-read it once a year as a reminder of what prose can be, and how a writer can create a world that draws you in.
Q: What is the biggest challenge that you’ve had to overcome?
Like most writers, I’ve experienced a lot of rejection over the years, but I enjoy writing so much that I just kept at it. I am so grateful to be able to make a living doing something I love! Some people might think that having four children under the age of nine would be an obstacle to building a career, but I have not found that to be the case. Indeed, my kids have given me more things to write about.
Q: What’s something unusual or fun that most people don’t know about you?
While I primarily write non-fiction, I also wrote a novel called The Cortlandt Boys. This is the story of a small town high school basketball team that wins the state championship with a last second 3-point shot. The ramifications of that unlikely shot play out over the next two decades of the characters’ lives. I am terrible at playing basketball, but I really love watching it, and writing about it.
Q: Is there a piece of content, a social media campaign or a marketing campaign that you worked on that you’re particularly proud of?
I write a monthly newsletter called “Just a Minute” that started out with 400 subscribers, who were mostly friends and family. It now goes out to over 25,000 people. I am very proud of its growth over the years, but I am even more proud that I often hear from people that it is one of the few newsletters they actually read!
- Name: Laura Vanderkam
- Blog: LauraVanderkam.com
- Book(s): I Know How She Does It, 168 Hours
- Facebook: lauravanderkamauthor
- Twitter: @lvanderkam
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