Left to right: Enerspace yoga session, Jamie Russo, and the Enerspace coworking space in Chicago
Jamie Russo of Enerspace has a lot of start-up experience as well as big co consulting and brand management. Her passion is health and wellness, particularly helping people create a lifestyle that helps them excel at their business endeavors and achieve superior mental and physical wellness. After growing a health services company that became focused on getting employees at large companies engaged in their health, she conceived of this idea to fully integrate work and wellness. The ability to self-select a work environment through coworking spaces is an explosive trend and she is shaping the ability to choose an environment that fosters optimal well-being. Chicago is the first location. Enerspace will be taking workplace + wellness national in 2014.
I was introduced to Jamie—a fellow West Loop business owner—through a mutual friend. I found that we had much in common, including children around the same age and a love of health and wellness. She loves to talk and write about integrating wellness into work space design and is available for speaking engagements and guest blogging (contact her).
Jamie Russo of Enerspace
Tell us a little about your business/job responsibilities.
I am the Chief Work + Wellness Officer of Enerspace which is a coworking space for entrepreneurs and mobile professionals. The first location has been open almost exactly one year and we just doubled the size of that location so I still wear a lot of hats. I have an outstanding woman running the space now and am trying to shift my focus to growing the business and writing and speaking about workspace design of the future.
What are the ages/genders of your children?
My daughter, Dagny is 15 months old. Our first “child” is a male mini GoldenDoodle named Miles J. He’s three.
Did you start your business before or after having children?
I had wanted to start my own business for a long time. A few years into the last start-up, where I had been the first employee but still not a founder, I was committed to making that happen. I got to a point where I just needed to be more in control of my life, both bigger picture and day to day. That was for me but also turned out to be very important to integrating a child into our family. While working on my business, I also got pregnant with Dagny. A famous Chicago architect once said “Make no little plans” so I forged ahead. I signed my lease in September, had Dagny on November fifth and started the build-out for Enerspace a couple of weeks after that. I opened for business when she was three months old (and in the hands of an amazing nanny).
How did your business life change after having children?
Before I had a child, I was almost solely focused on career success. I worked long hours (nights, weekends), traveled a lot to meet with clients. I had an end goal in mind but wasn’t enjoying the journey. Now that I have a child, I have an unalterable commitment to doing what I am passionate about while STILL being successful. I just define my own success now.
I believe in working smarter, not longer, and I try to stay focused on designing my work around the life that I want to live vs. (barely) living around my work. This outlook is for my personal happiness, to help me to be a better mom day-to-day and to be a role model for my daughter.
Describe a typical workday.
Due to the nature of owning a coworking space and the stage that it’s in, there is no typical day. When I’m in Chicago, I get up at 5:30, go to Rowfit, then spend as much time with members and networking as I can. When I’m in the Bay Area, I get up at 5 am to get a start on priorities for the day and get organized. I go to CrossFit three times a week from 6 am to 7 am and other days I run sometime during the day to get my Vitamin D and to refocus and stay productive.
My ideal typical day would be: Get up, catch up on news, participate in social media activities, generate some content (blog post, book chapter), work out, make breakfast for Dagny while addressing any time-sensitive things going on at Enerspace. I have someone that runs the space but I am still very involved. Then, eat breakfast with Dagny, drop her at the sitter. Come home, answer emails, work on PR/Marketing, work on business plans for expansion, network for coffee or lunch, continue projects from the morning, catch up on a few personal things, take Miles to the dog park, pick up Dagny. Enjoy a healthy family dinner with my family. I try to doing significant work after Dagny goes to bed to a couple of nights a week. The other nights are spent with my husband planning weekend trips and watching Downton Abbey and Homeland.
What is one tip you can share with other Biz Mamas?
Value your time. If you own a business that you can/want to grow, then think about what activities are taking time away from that growth. Cleaning your house, planning meals, buying groceries, cooking, getting the dog groomed. Outsource those things. In Chicago, for $15-$20/hour, you can have a very qualified individual do all those things for you.
The moms that I know that own businesses, and don’t seem like they’re on the ledge half the time, get other people to do these things for them so that they can either make more money or have the leisure time and flexibility that you deserve for working so hard/smart. If you can bill a client $75/hour, then it makes economic sense to pay someone $20/hour to take your dog to the groomer. Save your down time for value-added activities like enjoying the dog park with your dog, eating dinner with your family, or getting a manicure! For $100/week you could eliminate your errands enjoy your weekend and maintain your health and sanity.
Chicago, Illinois / San Mateo, California