In February 2018, I self-published my first book, Run My World: How I Empowered Myself Through Fitness. It would not have been possible without the support of incredible friends, mentors, and role models, and now I’m highlighting some of the amazing people in my life that run their worlds.
Empowered (wo)men empower (wo)men, so now I’m raising a glass to some of the best people I know. I’m so grateful to share their stories — I promise you’ll be even more inspired to run your world!
Mary’s note: L’Oreal led a workshop at 1871 last year all about balancing your side hustle, and I immediately fell in love with her positive vibes yet realer than real attitude. She asked all participants to email her afterward with a goal so she could hold us accountable. I still hadn’t told anyone I was writing a book, but I confided in her. She held me to my goal, and she motivated me to bring it to fruition. When it came time to find an editor, I knew anyone other than L’Oreal would be subpar. I look up to her so much, and I’m thrilled to share how she runs her world. I cannot wait for her book either!
Name: L’Oreal Thompson Payton
Hometown: Belcamp, Maryland
Current City: Chicago, Illinois
Occupation/Business: Director of Communications for OneGoal, freelance writer, blogger and public speaker
In one sentence, what does it mean for you to run your world?
Being the CEO of my life and understanding that success looks different for everyone. My two biggest concerns are: am I happy and am I helping others?
Acknowledge Your Past: What’s one lesson from your past that has really influenced your life?
When I was in middle school, my grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. It was really tough for me because the woman I loved and adored so much no longer recognized me, and that was painful for me to process as an adolescent.
She passed away before my eighth-grade graduation, but since then I’ve made a conscientious effort to tell my family and friends that I love them before it’s too late. Or, as I wrote in my high school’s literary magazine my freshman year, I give them “flowers for the soul.”
Find Your Fit: What are your favorite ways to move and exercise? How did you find your fit?
I love dancing, whether it’s in my bedroom rocking out to Beyoncé or in a studio full of other badass women! I feel sexy and confident when I’m dancing. But I also love to slow it down with yoga and tap into my tough side with kickboxing. Those are my three favorite workouts.
Lately I’ve been getting into strength training, which makes me feel strong, like I can do anything! And I want to get a bike soon so I can get back into outdoor cycling. Spin class is great, but there’s nothing like feeling the breeze against your face.
Fuel Your Body: What is your favorite meal to fuel your body? What is your favorite meal to fuel your soul? Have you had any struggles with your relationship with food? How do you try to fight/challenge the cultural standards around dieting and disordered eating?
Right now, my favorite meal to fuel my body is the Harvest Bowl from Sweetgreen. I’m working on mindful eating and the fact that this meal has a little bit of everything I need — protein, fat and carbs — AND it’s delicious make me happy.
My favorite meal to fuel my soul is hands down baked macaroni and cheese. My family is originally from the South and that love for comfort food was definitely passed down to me — I love it all, fried chicken, shrimp and grits, biscuits! I love Southern food and I equate it with being at home and spending time with my family. It makes me happy.
Overall, I’ve had a pretty healthy relationship with food. I’m definitely a stress eater, so don’t let me near a candy jar when sh*t gets crazy. But lately I’ve been educating myself (by reading health and fitness blogs and following personal trainers I admire on social media, such as Mary K) that there’s no such thing as “good” or “bad” food. I don’t need to punish myself for having a cupcake. That doesn’t make me a bad person. I can have the damn cupcake, everything in moderation!
Practice Mindfulness: Do you meditate? If so, how? How do you try to be mindful on a daily/weekly/monthly basis?
Absolutely! I start my mornings with a mindful practice that includes prayer, meditation and journaling. I know that I need to start the day with quiet and stillness before I power through my to-do list and back-to-back meetings. That’s my “me time” and I cherish it dearly.
I use the Insight Timer app to listen to guided meditations about various topics, including abundance and manifestation.
HIIT vs. LISS: Tell us about your work-life “balance.” How do you manage planning/productivity while being a straight up hustler?
I remember a manager once telling me there’s no such thing as work-life balance, it’s just life. So I’ve been moving toward an attitude of alignment when it comes to work and life priorities rather than balance, because something is inevitably always going to pull your attention away from the other.
It’s a juggling act, really. I may drop a ball here or there, but I pick it up and keep going. Because I’m a morning person, I typically dive into my personal projects/side-hustle after my mindfulness practice. Not only does this give me a sense of accomplishment before my 9-5 starts, but I also get to kick off my day doing work that I love and brings me joy.
As far as planning, I map out every week each Sunday in my Ink + Volt planner, I don’t know what I’d do without it. This gives me a bird’s eye view of the week ahead so I can prepare accordingly. And Buffer is a godsend for scheduling social media so I can remain active across platforms and promote my content while focusing on my day job. Plus everything lives in my Google calendar. If it’s not on there, it doesn’t happen!
Get Out of Your Comfort Zone: What have you done in 2018 that is most out of your comfort zone? What is something you really want in 2018 that you’re a little scared to do?
Wow, so many things! Starting off the year in a new role as director of communications for a national nonprofit was a bit overwhelming, especially seeing as how I’d just switched from journalism to nonprofits three years ago.
I also spoke at Ignite Chicago, a TED-esque event where you have five minutes to talk about a topic you’re passionate about with 20 Powerpoint slides that automatically advance every 15 seconds. For someone like me who has a deep-rooted fear of Powerpoint, this was WAY out of my comfort zone!
And something I really want in 2018 that I’m scared to do is submit the proposal for my first book. I completed the proposal earlier this summer and now I’m preparing to submit it to literary agents. Opening myself up to rejection is really scary, but I know the end result will be worth it!
Tell us a travel experience that pushed you out of your comfort zone.
I studied abroad in Spain during the fall semester of my junior year of college. It was equal parts exhilarating and terrifying. I remember listening to Kelly Clarkson’s “Breakaway” on the flight over there and sobbing.
But the travel experience that really pushed me out of my comfort zone was visiting my best friend in Thailand the summer after college graduation. I didn’t have a full-time job at the time and she was teaching English there, so I thought it’d be fun. I didn’t speak Thai and was nervous about how I’d even find my friend at the airport without my phone (this was before I had an iPhone), so the whole process was daunting to me, but probably one of my most favorite travel experiences to date!
Shine On: What accomplishment makes you most proud? What’s a big, hairy audacious goal (BHAG) that you’ve been contemplating and want to speak into existence?
The accomplishment that makes me most proud is completing my book proposal. My BHAG goal is one day giving a TED talk and being a New York Times bestselling author. Stay tuned!
Website: LT in the City