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Utah Business

How Sara Jones, CEO of InclusionPro finds peace while working at home

I’ve operated a consulting firm for the past five years.  I thought moving to social distancing would be easy for me ― a minor transition because I was already working fully remote.  When I first began consulting, I would go to coworking spaces to break up the monotony. In addition, I had plenty of outlets for human interactions – like participating as a board member of Women Tech Council to plan huge events and attending the wide variety of entrepreneurial events that Utah had to offer.  And I really, really enjoyed getting together socially with friends – brunch, lunch, dinner, you name it.

So this is me now wiping that smug smile off of my face.  With social distancing, my social outlets for human interaction were now gone.  I felt the weight of true isolation and it started to impact my mental well-being. Like many of you, I felt trapped in my own home. In determining how to best approach my health during the self imposed time at home, I made a mental list of all the things I was going to accomplish during this “down time”… and then I quickly scrapped it.  

As I watched government, education, and industry leaders scramble to react to COVID-19, the trauma of what was about to happen weighed down on me. I decided the last thing I needed was to try to be superwoman. During this time I was also preparing for TED to feature my TEDxSaltLakeCity talk…..talk about stress (you can check out my talk here  https://go.ted.com/sarajones)! Having gone through many career transitions and disruption helped me to ease that pressure off my shoulders.  I had to remind myself that “this too shall pass.”  I was happy to support this transition much more behind the scenes while trying to find some hidden gems in this time – such as spending time with my family.  I was also grateful to have interesting consulting projects to work on that kept me connected with the outside world. 

Most of the “rituals” I have used during this time have been discovered happily by accident.  I found that small daily things can bring a little peace and order during this uncertain time.

  1. Cut the video:  With so many Zoom calls, I started switching to no video.  I eventually found that people weren’t really bothered that my video wasn’t turned on (at least no one said anything).  I went weeks without wearing makeup, which was great for my skin.  I offered phone calls so that people didn’t feel pressured to be on video and I felt more freedom to be myself.
  1. Puppy time:  We got my son a new puppy for his graduation present ince we can’t take a  celebration trip this year.  It’s been fun to see my family interact more because of her.  The boys come out and play, we coordinate her care, and have to work together to make sure our older dog feels equally as loved.  
  1. Daily Dyson:  With the kids at home all the time and a new fur child, we’ve had to vacuum every single day.  Growing up, I had a neighbor who loved to vacuum because it was her daily thinking time.  Back then I thought she was crazy but I have become that person!  Vacuumming gives me a small moment to feel productive.
  1. Step it up:  Like many of you, comfort eating has become a real habit for me. Everytime I get in an exercise rut, I join a Step Bet.  You and hundreds of people work on hitting step goals for six weeks.  My competitive side keeps me moving to win the bet and my older dog also loves it since we often take walks together.
  1. Peloton meditation: Who knew Peloton app has meditation?  I have to credit Kim Wittman at Vivint Smart Home who suggested this app.  Honestly, I was kind of jealous of those who had Pelotons during this time.  I had no idea Peloton had a whole library of sessions – even walking, stretching, yoga, and sleep meditations!  Those first few weeks, the anxiety was building and I was not sleeping well.  This nightly ritual was incredibly valuable.

I found that small things that I wouldn’t normally value have become helpful supports to keep me grounded.  As we all adjust to our new normal, may we stay physically well, mentally healthy, and emotionally supported.  

This article is part of a month-long work from home series where executives and entrepreneurs discuss how they’ve adjusted to remote work. Read more here.

Sara Jones is CEO of InclusionPro. She draws from over 20 years of professional experience in technology, business development, law, and leadership. InclusionPro works across a range of industries including technology, engineering, materials manufacturing, financial/venture firms, human resources, legal services, health care, higher education, e-commerce, consumer products, distribution, and non-profit organizations.  Jones, who was adopted from South Korea at age three, grew up as one of few Asians in a predominantly white community, and in her professional life, has often been one of few women leaders. These experiences helped her develop a profound and personal understanding of the value of diverse perspectives. Over 2 million people have watched her TED talk on transracial adoption. Jones was previously CEO of ApplicantPro, VP of Strategic Development at Patent Law Works, head of business development at School Improvement Network, and began her career as a patent attorney, becoming a partner at Workman Nydegger. She has advocated throughout her career for the benefits of greater diversity in our companies, boardrooms, and circles of power. Jones is a Co-founder of Women Tech Council (WTC), a national organization focused on the economic impact of women in driving high growth for the technology sector. She also serves on the Utah State Workforce Development Board, Board of Trustees for Intermountain Healthcare Salt Lake Valley Hospitals, and the Executive Board of Silicon Slopes. Jones was honored as a Distinguished Alumni from the University of Utah (2021), a Utah Business Magazine CEO of the Year (2019), received a Distinguished Alumni award from the University of Utah College of Engineering (2017), and was a Utah Innovation Awardee. Jones has a J.D. from BYU and a B.S. in chemical engineering from the University of Utah.