Badass Q & A With: Hannah Litman

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What is your morning routine?

I wake up between 6:30 and 7, take the dog out, drink a warm water and lemon, and make school lunches for the kids. I then wake the kids around 7:20, which is no easy feat, even though they are just 10 and 8. I’m dreading the teenage years! While they get dressed and ready for school (thank G-d for school uniforms!), I make their breakfasts, make sure their homework is in the correct folder, agendas are signed etc. We then leave the house between 8 and 8:10, getting to school between 8:15 and 8:20. Back home, it’s time for coffee, and then an hour-long walk around the nearby marina with the puppy. Once home, I either shower and dress if meetings are part of the day, or oftentimes have a quick splash and sit right down at the computer to check emails, work and so forth.

What is your evening routine?

The kids’ school day finishes relatively early (3PM)—what I would consider the middle of my day—which can be a challenge but they’ve adapted well to having a mom who largely works from home and accepted (most of the time) that I may need to do a little more work, or take a phone call, even once they’re home. I try and wrap up anything pressing before going to pick them up, knowing I can continue where I left off once they’re in bed if needed. When they come home, it’s shoes off, hands washed, lunch boxes on the counter. They then have an hour to blow off steam before starting homework at 4PM. Once homework is completed they’re allowed a little TV time on rainy days or to play outside with their friends in the neighborhood on sunny days (we live in a fabulous gated community with a ton of children). If I have the bandwidth, I might take them to the pool. Then, at 6PM, it’s time for shower while I prepare dinner, which is typically comprised of a grilled protein, a carb, and a salad. Once a week, I’d say, we’ll have spaghetti Bolognese. But I confess, if it’s been a particularly demanding day, or I’m feeling a little emotionally drained, we have a bunch of healthy-ish takeout options nearby that I’ll opt for over cooking and clean up. After supper, we gather on the couch to watch a family-friendly show. I have a subscription service, UK TV Everywhere, which streams English television right here to us in Miami. I love this service as I don’t tend to like many of the children’s programs, for my kids’ age group, on TV here in the US and there are also very few family shows, which we can all get into and enjoy. Plus, I love sharing a little of my culture with my kids, even when we are here. Depending on the evening, the kids tend to be in bed by 8:30, reading until 9PM. I then relax with a glass (or two) of wine and a movie; if I haven’t got work to finish up, that is.

What is your idea of success?

Contentment, financial freedom, happy kids, annual vacation, lovely home and peace of mind.

What has been your greatest achievement thus far?

Successfully pitching, launching and running Profile Magazine (which is, incidentally, how I met Brenda). That was 13 years ago, though… I need to create a new achievement high.

What has been your biggest failure and how did you overcome it?

I’ve had so many! But most of them have been learning opportunities in disguise. When I’m in the midst of one, my mantra is “This too shall pass. It will all be ok.”

What do you feel is the biggest mistake people make when starting a business? Did you make it?

That’s a tough one to answer because it depends on the nature of the business. One thing that’s imperative is to hire a good accountant! Unless you’re an accountant, yourself, of course!

What is the trait you most admire in others?

Generosity, human spirit, open mindedness, good manners and good communication skills.

What is your biggest professional pet peeve?

Haughtiness, poor communication skills, judgement/ closed mindedness and yes-men.

How do you define a great leader?

Someone who positions themselves in the trenches with their team—views themselves as one of them, a cog in the machine so to speak—to empower and get the best performance possible from all involved.

If you could have dinner with anyone (living or dead) who would it be and what would you like the topic of conversation to be?

Just one?! Honestly, it changes on a daily basis depending on the challenges/opportunities I am facing in that given moment. On a personal note, I’d love to have one last supper with each one of my deceased grandparents and have one last opportunity to let them know how they helped shape me into the woman I’ve become, ask what they think I can do better and learn from lessons they experienced when they were at this point that I am now in in their own lives. On a professional note, I’ve been so fortunate to have access to some of, in my opinion, the best men and women in business today throughout my life and career to date, but I would love to have a têteàtête with Hilary Clinton, woman to woman, on her plans for the future and how, in her opinion, I can propel my own success and ready my own children for their own bright futures.

Who is the most badass woman you know and why?

I know so many incredible women who are badass for a whole array of reasons. My Grandma, Ellen Litman, was my original badass; she was a Holocaust survivor who did an unthinkable amount of charity work in our local community and earned herself an MBE from the Queen. I just came into her childhood journals and they have opened up this whole new world to me where I can actually, through her own words, hear and envision just how much she had to experience to overcome such harrow at such a young age. Her words demonstrate such strength of character.

These days, in both my social life and work, I come into contact with women who are badass for a whole slew of reasons. Look at Brenda, who has started this project and generated a community of women. Equally, my former client, Ginny Simon, who, in her 40s, created GinnyBakes, an exceptional line of baked goods, is doing exceptionally well and for which her husband left his legal career. Another is Stacy Boegem (The Happiness Agenda), who’s story is worth reading to understand just why she is so badass. I guess I’m exceedingly fortunate to be surrounded by so many exceptional women who I admire and look up to. Thank you for reminding me! Others of note include Elaine Sugimura, Share Ross, Judith King, GG Benitez and Norah Lawlor. These, and so many others, impact me greatly and I’m privileged to be able to call them my friends and mentors.

What is your best negotiating tactic?

Be honest and real.

What’s your best networking secret?

See above. And stay in touch in a genuine way.

How do you stay organized throughout the day?

A work in progress. But iPhone/ iCal and my desk planner help.

What advice would you go back and give your younger self?

Breathe. It will all work out in the end. (I tell that to my current self, too).

Phone call or email and why?

Depends on the situation. In today’s crazy world where we are all juggling work, partners, friends, kids, family,and so much more, I do think a text or a voice message via What’s App/Voxer, is a sufficient way to let a loved one know that “I wish I had time to call but I want you to know that I’m thinking of you.” Work-wise, it’s similar; sometimes, you need that voice/face time to hash out something in five minutes that could take five days if left to email correspondence. Other times, you need a quick yes/no and there’s no need for the time that pleasantries and small talk on a phone call would ensue.

What are you most proud of in your life?

That I’ve made it through some of the biggest personal and professional adversaries and am still standing. That, and my kids. I think they’re pretty great, too.

What qualities do you believe make someone a great team member?

Open mindedness. It’s really key, I believe, to all communications and successes, both individually and collectively. To be closed minded is to be shutdown and, essentially, deaf and blind to other ways of seeing and doing things. It’s certainly shutting yourself off to being innovative, new, fresh and a game changer.

What is the fastest way to turn you off in an interview?

Poor manners. The semblance of reciting rehearsed monologues. Lack of interest. Desperation. Smarminess.

How does someone impress you on an interview?

Genuine. Good manners. Well presented. Done their research. Warmth.

Where do you get most of your information?

Fast Company, Inc., Daily Mail (I admit it!), Facebook (it’s my personal newsfeed), O, Time, Entrepreneur, The Skimm and LinkedIn.

What apps could you not live without?

Facebook, LinkedIn, What’sApp, Voxer, Daily Mail and Nest (I’m always forgetting to change the temp when I leave the house). Also, getAbstract is another great one as you can read business books in 5-page summaries. Ideal for when you’re stuck waiting somewhere, like the doctors waiting room.

What is the best lesson you learned from your worst boss?

Never think—or act—in a way that demonstrates to the people who you manage that you are, in any way, shape or form, better than them. They are the people doing the work that you will, essentially, get the credit for performing. Show them they’re valued.

What do think are the three most essential lessons you have learned in business thus far?

  1. 1 | Don’t ever assume the highs will remain high and the lows remain low.
  2. 2 | Accept when something isn’t working and change course.
  3. 3 | Be honest: about expectations, performance and results.

What is your professional motto?

Stay the course.

Who is your business crush?

I actually don’t have one…. And it would be weird to say my Dad.

Where would you like to be professionally in a year?

Back to where I was a year ago. It’s no secret that people in my industry have experienced enormous cut-backs this year and I’m actually speaking with a number of them to see how we might be able to change up the traditional model, collaborating to boost each of our businesses. Remember: there is no such thing as competition. As my coach and mentor, Share Ross, says, “Out of the 90 billion people who have walked this earth since the beginning of time, no one has your voiceprint.” To that point, as my dear friend, Stacy Boegem points out, “No one else does what you do in exactly the way you do it.”

What do you regret most?

Regrets.

How do you define happiness?

Contentment and peace of mind. Living in the moment.

What is your best remedy for FOMO?

Remember: Hannah, you live in paradise and just because you can’t afford that Italian Riviera vacation, or life means you can’t be reckless at Coachella, you get to spend most weekends on the beach. So get a grip.

What makes you badass?

With an instinct on the pulse of what’s about to trend, I’ve always been ahead of the curve. My strategic thinking and innovative creativity are what clients often point to as my key differentiators. This is what makes me badass.

Categories: Badass Profiles

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