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This entrepreneur keeps it real about what it really takes to succeed

Photo: PopSugar
Photo: PopSugar

Photo: PopSugar

With so many kickass female entrepreneurs out there, giving advice to millennials on how important it is to incorporate meditation, daily time-outs from technology, and even napping—looking at you, Arianna Huffington—it can be hard to translate that advice to a 20something who’s just starting out. (AKA someone who can’t just flip off her phone at the end of the day and explain to her boss that the reason she missed that deadline was because she needed me” time.)

Enter Lisa Sugar—who literally does it all and isn’t shy about the hard work she puts into it. In her new book, Power Your Happy: Work Hard, Play Nice, and Build Your Dream Life, the PopSugar founder opens up how she’s found success doing something she truly loves.

But she does not claim it’s easy—or that her days are perfect. From admitting that the first thing she does every day—even before brushing her teeth—is check her phone, to confessing that even she works during vacations, Sugar makes that whole empire-growing career quest seem really relatable. (And impressive!)

Instead of insisting that she effortlessly makes time for SoulCycle, endless meetings, her children’s soccer games, and writing a book, she is refreshingly honest about her life. (She’s nowhere near Inbox Zero, her SoulCycle trips are confined to the weekends—only if her girls’ games don’t conflict—and sometimes she stays up late finishing work. Don’t tell Arianna!)

What else did she share with us? Scroll down to see Sugar’s five tips for succeeding at the career of your dreams.

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Photo: Stocksy/Bonninstudio

1. Know when to shut off

Sugar is the first to admit that, when awake, she’s always on her phone—but bedtime hours are off-limits. “I really try not to look at it until my alarm goes off in the morning,” she explains. (Sounds familiar.) “That is what is super important to me because I do know if I pick it up in the middle of the night for any reason, I just won’t be able to go back to bed.”

Sugar is also a huge believer in picking and choosing to fit in all of her work and play. “For me, that’s Soul Cycle on the weekend,” she says, “I work a lot during the day, but if I’m in town, I’m home putting the kids to bed. Come time for the weekend, I’m a soccer mom. I’m running around, birthday parties, I’m like really invested in that. I’ll find my slivers of ‘me’ time too that make me really happy and just balance it all out among the crazy.”


Photo: Stocksy/Lumina

2. When you do what you love, the work is okay

Instead of dividing the week into the wonderful weekends and the long, painful week, Sugar loves every single day and embraces each day for what it can bring. “That’s not to say I don’t appreciate the downtime of weekends,” she writes. “Those two days do mark a great break in the week, but I also love what I do on the other five days. My ultimate goal has always been to love my family, my ‘work,’ and therefore my life.”


Photo: Stocksy/Cloud Studio

3. If you can’t work out, work your exercise into your commute

Sugar admits that she doesn’t always get a chance to work out during the week. Instead, Sugar walks to her San Francisco office every day—about a 45-minute commute. “That’s a nice way to start the day,” she says. “I try to keep that first hour open, and if [my husband’s] not with me, I’ll use that 45 minutes that I’m walking in to make phone calls or get through all my email before I actually even get to that office. Once I get in, I can start diving in on whatever needs to get done.”


Photo: Stocksy/Waa

4. Keep a few consistent habits for good health

As a crazy-busy entrepreneur, Sugar doesn’t always have time to craft the perfect expert-level smoothie or explore all of the latest drinking vinegars—she’s also, believe it or not, a sugar fanatic. But, she’s learned to incorporate healthy habits throughout the day. Besides her daily walk to work, she sips on lemon water all day long and drinks it warm at night before bed. As for breakfast, Sugar has perfected her go-to smoothie: “kale, pineapple, almond butter, yogurt, blueberries—that’s it, every single day,” she tells us.


Photo: Stocksy/Lumina

5. Leave room for that “one-hour workday”—to manage your inbox

Looks like we may have been onto something. Sugar is the first to admit that managing an inbox is the ultimate struggle—imagine how many emails she must get a day—but her biggest piece of advice is to set aside time devoted to working on that inbox. “I do really think it’s important to block those times out so that you can crank through stuff you think is important, so like I said, I leave that first hour of my day open,” she explains. “Then I also leave my lunch hour open, which three out of five days a week gets filled with a meeting eventually, but if I can have that hour open, I’m also just trying to crank through some email and make sure the inbox doesn’t get too crazy. Having those two dedicated hours that are blocked on my schedule allow me to not feel so behind when the days pass so fast.”

She may seem super busy, but she doesn’t dwell on her “to-do list”—she lives it. Find out why she (and so many others) are done glorifying “busy.” And then check out your fall checklist to have your healthiest and most radiant season yet.