Inspiration from our Luncheon Life MD Panel

In December, Project Lighten hosted its first “Luncheon Life” event for Thinkers to connect with each other over lunch and shared experiences in work and life. For this first “MD Icebreakers” event, some of our MDs gathered in a panel to answer questions about their own career and personal journeys — questions submitted by the rest of us and pulled from a fish bowl. Their responses were candid, vulnerable, and inspiring. These were some of the top quotes:


How do you balance parenting and working?
Maggie Schear: “If you can really be thoughtful about finding that childcare setup that makes you feel good about coming to work and not guilty [or] worried about coming to work, that for me has been a big unlock, because emotionally then, I’m here and I want to be here, and I’m not worried about Emmy when I’m away.”

When your personal life is chaotic, how do you maintain the happiness you show at work?
Ashley Grice: “Perspective I suppose. I remember and I remind people about this all the time in here that as important as our job is — and it is important — we are not emergency room doctors. Right? No one’s going to die if they don’t get their Purpose the next day…. [Our work] is important, but the idea of making sure that you can find space in the chaos is really important.”

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From left: Cathy Carlisi, Cristina Lilly, Maggie Schear, Chip Gross, Ayan Ahmed

What’s your Purpose?
Chip Gross: “I don’t have a succinct answer…. I was on a flight once, and there was a little bit of turbulence, and one of the things I thought about was, if unfortunately something were to happen, what would I leave my family with in terms of things I felt would be, maybe not Purpose, but guiding principles? So I took some time to write those up, and we actually have those posted upstairs in our hallway so that every morning when the kids get up and they go to their bathroom, they can see these things that I’ve always felt are the most important things that they should think about.”

The Gross Family Principles
• Love each other
• Life is too short to be mediocre or bored
• Know what makes you happy — search for it
• Never forget your humanity
• Have faith in the future

When your job is to take care of others — business, clients, your family — how do you take care of yourself?
Cristina Lilly: “Oof, I would say I’m not very good at doing that. I’m starting to carve out more space for me. It’s not easy. It’s not easy when you have client demands, team demands, child demands, husband demands, my family lives close to me and they’re getting older, so there’s a lot that pulls at you. I do wake up very early, and that’s where I fit in my exercise, and that is my time where nobody bothers me — except for in hotels when they point at you and are like, ‘Are you going to get off the machine soon?’… But that’s really it, is sort of finding the spaces in between, in between the pebbles, pouring in that sand and trying to be better about it.”

Do you have any advice about managing emotions in the workplace?
Cathy Carlisi: “I’m going to speak first to the emotional people because I think the other people don’t need this advice as much…. What makes you really good at what you do is staying sensitive and staying vulnerable and not putting up walls, and not covering up all of that, because if you don’t stay somewhat raw and exposed, you lose the ability to really communicate with people and have that empathy and that connection with clients and teams, and so… [it’s about] using emotion in the right ways, but trying really hard to not let the negative emotions come out as much.”

Thank you Maggie, Ashley, Chip, Cristina, and Cathy for giving us all a glimpse into your lives, to get to know you just a little bit better.

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