We had the good fortune of connecting with Erika Thomas and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Erika, have there been any changes in how you think about work-life balance?
Balance is so important to me, I’m a Libra sun and rising, after all! Haha. In all seriousness, the idea of work/life balance is so elusive, the first step to finding it was to really determine what that would look like for me personally. Of course, that has evolved over time.

In high school, I worked at a surf & skate shop so I could listen to great music, have a relaxed environment, and enjoy my off days at the beach. Fresh out of college, it was a job that would give me guaranteed 3 day weekends every week, and another one with a CEO that valued using PTO (and even beyond that as unpaid vacation if you needed it). After that, it was a job that I lived close to and was able to walk to the office. Then, as I became thrust into the world of hospitality, it became combining my love of travel, nightlife, and incredible food and beverage into my career. When COVID hit, those things I viewed as balance priorities shifted dramatically.

Now, three kids later, work/life balance for me means being able to wake up slow, have breakfast as a family, work from home, taking 10 minutes to play spontaneous games of hide & seek or sing in the living room when I have a break between meetings. It’s being able to work in decadent loungewear or do a HIIT workout before I have lunch. Time management is everything. Working a bit while they sleep if I need to finish something urgent. Being able to be available to my kids for a few hours every single day is worth working asynchronously throughout times when I’d prefer to logoff.

I imagine it will change again when they get to school age, though I have really enjoyed the freedom of my days working from home. I am more productive, while also having the mindfulness to consider everything I eat and drink throughout the day. Making a latte with superfood powders, thinking and preparing my meals with intention, and setting an example for my kids as a working mom that enjoys the simple moments of everyday life. I am more conscious of my health and overall wellness. The shift from commuting every day and being tethered to an office are simply not things I see for myself again. That time has passed.

There’s a perspective that working for someone else means you can’t truly be in charge of your life – I disagree. Sometimes, working for someone else gives you the ability to set professional boundaries and do just that.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I graduated with an English Lit degree and absolutely no clue of what I wanted to do professionally. That ‘blank slate’ mentality could have been debilitating, but I knew two things for certain: that I wanted to earn a living on my own, and that I wasn’t going back to my hometown.

I moved to Miami on a whim, and while I anticipated it to be easy, staying with a friend for a bit, it was the opposite. There is a distinct memory I have of driving on the interstate with almost no gas, with about $37 in my bank account and a few overdue credit cards. It was around 9pm at night and I had no clue where I was going to sleep. I ended up contacting my roommate from freshman year of college, Jackie, that I hadn’t stayed in touch with, and she basically saved my life. Her and her grandparents were just so incredibly open and welcoming to me, and I was able to get my self established and properly begin a life here thanks to them.

While it had nothing directly to do with my career, I think that entire experience taught me the value of being resourceful, showing gratitude, and leaning in for help when you need it. Those lessons definitely carried over into my career and I think have made me more empathetic and understanding.

I call myself industry-agnostic, because I never wanted to be pigeon-holed into the same career my entire life. While I have had a lot of experience in brand, marketing, communications, and PR, they are not the start or the end of my abilities. Being able to take skills and bring a new perspective to different businesses is so refreshing, and I learn so much about each industry each time I hop into a new one. Looking ahead, I’d like to see myself as a sustainability lead one day, channeling my communication talent to save the planet.

I want people to know that I had all the odds stacked against me, but I never felt beaten by the world or that I should give up. I simply decided to change my perspective until I could change the narrative.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Bienvenidos a Miami!

A week, wow, we can do so much!

Hang out and watch the sailboats in Coconut Grove
Take a Brightline train ride up to Palm Beach for a day, The Colony Hotel is one of my favorite places on Earth

Get an acupuncture facial by Dr. Elizabeth Trattner, she is just incredible and her studio has the most high-vibrational energy in Miami
Do an art & architecture tour of Miami Design District, with dinner at Mandolin
Have rooftop cocktails at Sugar, Miami and dinner in a cozy corner of Le Petit Maison

Spend an afternoon on Key Biscayne (+ a boat ride if you can)
Stroll on South Pointe and eat at Planta on south of Fifth
Wander around Faena and admire the lavishness of it all
Put on a wide brim hat and explore Fairchild Botanical Gardens and Matheson Hammock Park

Day trip to Key Largo and have lunch in the FL Keys

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
In the digital space, there are so many great resources and groups to find guidance and support. Every morning I read Scandinavian Mind and The Good Trade. I also check out the Elpha digest and contribute to a few community conversations.

I’ve met so many incredible women and also follow some that I have never met in real life. I’ve always been a huge fan of Gwyneth Paltrow and her innovative dive into wellness when she launched goop. I know Gwyneth is divisive, but to me, she brought the idea of well, conscious living to mainstream.

I read a lot, too. My grandfather, William Holston, gave me so many books about Zen Buddhism, so he was key in helping me understand and be curious about bigger picture spirituality ideas and practices. The yin to his yang, my grandmother, Bea Holston, was a pillar of kindness and understates grace. I’d like to think maybe some of that rubbed off onto me, too.

Professionally, I must also recommend the book Damn Good Advice (for People With Talent!) by George Lois. Also, the Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday.

Instagram: www.instagram.com/itsmeerikat

Linkedin: www.linkedin.com/in/erikamthomas

Twitter: www.twitter.com/itsmeerikat

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