Chance Favors the Prepared Mind

By Randi Zuckerberg

January 3, 2017 6 min read

I met Erica Keswin at The New York Times' New Work Summit and was blown away the moment I met her. She's a workplace strategist with an out-of-the-box approach to balancing work and family.

That's why I support This Woman's Work.

Erica Keswin is the founding principal of Organization Performance Relationships, a boutique consulting firm that works with individuals and businesses to address ways to cultivate meaningful and productive relationships as they face the growing tide of digital distraction. As a keynote speaker and consultant, Erica also has a platform called Never Caught Up, which focuses on work-life integration and wellness. She and her business partner, Barbara Reich, combine humor, analytical data and anecdotal evidence to demonstrate how women can achieve greater productivity, less stress and a deeper level of fulfillment in their lives.

1) What was your proudest moment in achievement?

It is hard to pick just one. On the professional front, over the last 20 years, I have worked at great companies, with smart managers and colleagues, and have leaned in and out in different roles. One of my proudest professional achievements was launching my own company, OPR, which works with businesses to help them realize and unleash the power of relationships, which is an important theme in my life. I am beyond thrilled to be in a position to integrate my most personal passion into my professional work. It is a big achievement, and I feel very lucky.

And then there was the moment this past May of watching my twin girls become b'not mitzvah. They worked hard and prepared for years, were articulate, poised and pretty much rocked it. I am proud of the young women they have become through this important rite of passage.

2) What is the single best piece of advice you have been given, and by whom?

My husband, Jeff, shared a quote with me that inspires and guides many aspects of my life. Louis Pasteur said, "Chance favors the prepared mind," which really resonates with me. I have always believed in trusting the process of thorough preparation and hard work, and Jeff and I are working to instill these values in our children. We loved the quote so much we gave one of our twin daughters the middle name Chance.

3) What does "success" mean to you?

I don't want to look up from a screen and realize I've missed my kids' childhoods. So success to me is setting aside my infinite list of to-dos, emails and phone calls and making room on the couch when one of my kids wants to snuggle with me — even though it's past her bedtime — or actually being aware enough to notice when another one needs a hug after she falls in a ski race.

To me, success means being open to connection.

4) What is the most recent great book you read, fiction and nonfiction?

My favorite nonfiction book is "Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less," by Greg McKeown. I, like everyone else, struggle with getting off track due to my digital devotion. The concept of essentialism reminds me to be relentlessly disciplined in my focus on priorities — in both my work and with my family. I need to learn to say "no" more than I say "yes."

I have to admit I have been mostly reading nonfiction. Game-changing, truly helpful books are coming out faster than I can read them, from Charles Duhigg's "Smarter Faster Better" to "Originals," by Adam Grant, and "Daring Greatly," by Brene Brown. But on a recent flight, I was determined to find a book that would draw me in so much that I would not be tempted to buy Wi-Fi on the flight in order to work. I had read "Me Before You," by Jojo Moyes, a few years ago and Ioved it. As luck would have it, there was a sequel. I started "After You" in New York and finished it landing in San Francisco. Mission accomplished! I was engaged, focused, didn't think about work and didn't mess with my phone. Sometimes an intense story with a few cathartic tears is just what the doctor ordered.

5) How does being a parent inspire you?

No one can prepare you for becoming a mother. It is challenging, gratifying and also humbling. In fact, it is the hardest job I've ever had. Motherhood inspires me every day to be — or try to be — my best self by seeing each of my children as individuals, by truly listening to them and letting them chart their own path. It inspires me to be both supportive and protective, as well as providing my kids the space to learn, grow and even fail. The failing part is the hardest but probably the most important in the long run.

Find out more about Erica Keswin at http://www.ericakeswin.com.

Randi Zuckerberg is the founder of Zuckerberg Media, a best-selling author and the host of a weekly business show on SiriusXM, "Dot Complicated." To find out more about Randi Zuckerberg and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.


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