Meet Mag Retelewski. Based in Chicago, she runs her own consultancy that advises executives at Fortune 500 companies and offers insights based on design thinking and behavioral science. In addition, she maintains careers in the arts, as an instrumentalist and as a ballroom dancer. She is also a mother. Yep, she does it all — and does it well. I met her right here, actually. We’ve struck up a correspondence on LinkedIn about the virtues of multi-careerism, and it quickly became apparent that more needed to learn of her remarkable story and her insights.
On her motivation for having many careers
“The need to be fulfilled, complete, and happy.”
On how long you’ve had these careers
“I have played the violin and the piano since I was 8 years old and went through the entire classical violin training in Europe for 12 years, where I received a degree while also pursuing elementary, high-school and then business education. After college, I went into a corporate world for about 6 years. Then I felt I was ready for my own business. I started my consulting company and have had it for 12 years. Most recently, in the last 4 years, I have been seriously practicing competitive ballroom dancing — my third career.”
Advice to multi-careerists
“Don’t think of your careers as ‘work’ but rather as fulfillment of your potential. You don’t choose what you like, you choose what you do….You become more energized and happier doing what you truly enjoy both at work and at home.”
On Overcoming Obstacles
“I have learned to be selective about sharing my passions with people. In my consulting role, I help Fortune 500 companies innovate. The projects tend to be ‘all consuming.’ Because of this, I have had friends, family, or even colleagues question my work ethic or commitment to my ‘day job’ if during the day I decide to train my ballroom dancing. In reality, that ‘break’ is necessary for me to clear my head, relax and be more efficient in handling my projects and other work commitments.”
On how her different careers are mutually beneficial
“My violin and piano training shaped my personality and contributed to work ethic immensely. I have become more persistent, driven, organized, hardworking and open-minded. I’ve developed grit. When you practice an instrument or learn a new dance routine, it can take thousands of hours to polish the masterpiece…There are many challenging engagements in my consulting job, and I don’t give up easily when things get hard…”
On Managing Personal Time
“Many people are not lucky enough to discover what they love or have the courage to follow their passions. I manage to schedule dance training during the hours that do not collide with family or work. When I travel for dance competitions two or three times a year, my husband works from home and takes care of the kids. I’m grateful and happy I have this partnership with my husband, and I don’t take it for granted. Finally, I think it’s important for my kids to see their mom as someone who follows what she loves.”
On Something She Wishes She Had Known Earlier
Since my ‘dual careerism’ came into play so early in life, I wish I knew that I would become a better individual because of the incredible effort it took to maintain both tracks…What was hard for me to understand, is that others were making fun of my commitment or I was teased. In retrospect…I would have cared less about what others thought about my choices.”
On how to navigate the corporate world while having a second career
“This is a tricky territory because some people may perceive your multiple roles as you’re spreading yourself too thin. Alternatively, some may judge you for the type of activity you chose. If it’s not along the line of what people think is acceptable traditionally, it may not be easily understood.”
A Day In the Life
6 am – I wake up and start my day with a glass of water and lemon to cleanse my body and then have a cup of coffee. Then I check emails to see if our European clients may need something urgently.
6:45 am – I get my two kids ready, prepare them for the bus.
7:30 am – I go for a 3-5K run and I listen to motivational tracks. When I’m finished, I stretch and then meditate.
8:30 am – I’m refreshed and ready for my day. I typically follow intermittent fasting schedule (16-18 hour food breaks) so my first meal is at 12 pm and I eat a nutritious and healthy lunch.
12:45 pm – I take a ballroom dancing lesson and then go back to work.
3:30 pm – my kids finish school so I prepare them a meal and my husband or I drive them to their tennis/theatre or drone racing activities. I finish work around 6 pm. We have dinner as a family.
8:30-9 pm – my kids are asleep. I read or listen to non-fiction audio books for about 30 minutes. I finish my day around 10:30 pm.
Where to find Mag
- LinkedIn, Twitter
- Clarteza, her company. Her team focuses on accelerating innovation. They connect the dots in seemingly unrelated places to learn about human behavior.
Kabir Sehgal is a Multi Grammy & Latin Grammy Award winner, as well as New York Times bestselling author of fifteen books. His latest work is Close the Loop: The Life of an American Dream CEO and His Five Lessons for Success (Hachette, 2020) with his father Raghbir Sehgal which is a Los Angeles Times & San Francisco Chronicle bestseller. Follow him on LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Spotify, YouTube.