Vicki Irvin is used to wearing a cape. For many years the former human resources executive juggled a career, business, hubby and child - most important, even when she felt like she was walking on a tight rope, she never allowed her life to become a circus. Today, the business and entrepreneurship coach happily shares her formula for "having it all" with others. "It's important for women not to get caught up with looking at each other," she advises. "You never know another person's whole story, so focus on doing your personal best." Irvin, 39, used her personal mantra, "Business, Beauty and Balance" as the springboard for business, The Superwoman Lifestyle Movement, a network and resource for female entrepreneurs. The master multitasker gives Essence.com the skinny on how to live large in every aspect of your life:
ESSENCE.com: What made you start The Superwoman Lifestyle Movement (SLM)?
VICKI IRVIN: I was tired of being the person responsible for telling others they would be laid off. In 2006 I began investing in real estate. I did well and eventually transitioned to helping others. The Superwoman Lifestyle Movement was created in 2009. During that time I was being approached by women who wanted to know how I was building my business and handling my duties as a wife and mother.
ESSENCE.com: Your mantra is 'Business, Beauty and Balance". Why?
IRIVIN: I believe when one of these areas is off kilter everything is thrown off balance. You feel out of whack. I encourage women to take care of their physical and emotional health first. Your diet is your fuel for life. Additionally, I make sure that women understand that it's alright to place an emphasis on aesthetics. If you feel good when you're presenting - whether it's to a boardroom, gal pals, or partner - you will perform better.
ESSENCE.com: There's been a lot of chatter around professional Black women managing careers and relationships. What are your tips?
IRVIN: The dynamics in every relationship are different so you have to figure out what works in your situation. Each woman has to decide how important nurturing a relationship is in her life, and then make that part of her daily routine. For example, my husband and I value family time, so we've allocated a no call zone into our regimen.
ESSENCE.com: A lot of African-American women are balancing careers and small businesses. Any tips?
IRVIN: First, whether you're a business owner or employee it's important to be good at what you do. Entrepreneurs must become masterful at marketing, be in a constant mode of implementation and come up with a consistent daily routine. Employees have to focus on improving themselves and strategize on ways to move up the corporate ladder. Initiative is essential for all parties.
ESSENCE.com: Do you truly believe women can have it all?
IRVIN: Yes. There's only one caveat: You have to define your own "all". People get caught up in looking at others, but you don't know anyone else's story. We all have different strengths and lives. Embrace yourself. Remember for every woman that you admire there may be 20 others looking at you.