Emily White is the founder of Dreamfuel, a platform that helps elite and youth athletes raise money to help get them to the next level. Prior she managed artists & athletes behind some of the largest crowdfunding campaigns in history. Now she focuses on Collective Entertainment.
What is one thing that you do that you feel has been the biggest contributor to your success so far?
Being a product of my father’s competitive swimming program. It taught me work ethic, time management, teamwork, and so much more. In my adult life, my real key to success (beyond sleep, which I’ll get into below), is exercise.
It takes my mind to a place beyond average thought and it is my favorite headspace to be in. Add some meditation on top, and I feel almost anything can be achieved.
Tell me about one of the darker periods you’ve experienced in life. How you came out of it and what you learned from it?
Tough to say. I basically no longer drink, for a variety of reasons. And that is one of many ways I work to enhance my brain for maximum optimization; which more often than not leads to creative breakthroughs and ultimately success for what we’re trying to achieve.
What is something you wish you would’ve realized earlier in your life?
That my brain as an entrepreneur is capable of solving just about every problem. That doesn’t mean I can solve all of the world’s problems, but when I give myself the environment and space that I need, it’s amazing what we’ve been able to work through, solve and achieve – even when you think something is otherwise dead and done.
What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?
That failure is a good thing! Yeah, if you have the privilege to do so. Don’t get me wrong, I understand the sentiment of learning as we grow. But give me a break, let’s stop celebrating failures and realize that only a certain set of people get the chance to fail over and over and consider that a success.
What is your morning routine?
My morning routine begins the night before. Unless I have something going on, I go to bed as early as possible and wake up 9 hours later (usually about 6 AM on weekdays).
If that’s the case, I’m able to read The New York Times over a locally sourced, organic smoothie, and then generally bike to the pool (about 2 miles), swim 2,000 yards, or hit an hour yoga class. I then make local, organic eggs and whole wheat bread for breakfast, meditate for 5 minutes, and am ready to begin the day at about 8 AM.
What habit or behavior that you have pursued for a few years has most improved your life?
Sleeping 9 hours a night. I wish I was an 8 or 7 hour person, but I’m not. Once I had this revelation, my entire life and businesses changed. I credit Olympic legend Anthony Ervin with this inspiration, after hearing him speak to exercise physiology students on what is most important for his training with regard to recovery.
And constant meditation breaks throughout the day. I do almost a mini-vipassana style in the sense that I take 5-minute meditation breaks before big calls, meetings, speaking gigs, or even before responding to this interview! There is no better way to get focused, calm, and hone one’s thoughts.
What are your strategies for being productive and using your time most efficiently?
Ultimately it comes down to sleep, exercise, meditation, and nutrition that serves my energy needs throughout the workweek. Shameless plug, there is a chapter on this in my book, Interning 101 called, “Overwhelmed? Take a Deep Breath and Take Care of Yourself—It Will Make You a Better Worker and Person.” Ultimately it lays out everything I’ve answered here in more depth.
When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, or have lost your focus temporarily, what do you do?
Meditate. As mentioned, just 5 minutes can change everything. But the reality is, this is how I often feel at the end of the week and on weekends, which is why breaks are crucial to rest the mind and body.
If a work emergency arises, I’ll, of course, handle it, but ultimately I rest my mind (selfishly) on weekends so I can perform at the highest level possible come Monday. And of course, taking breaks is fun too.
What book(s) have influenced your life the most? Why?
Steve Jobs Biography – Not to sound like a creep, but I’ve always felt a connection to Steve. Not because I want to be or emulate him, but because I understand. I understand (and similarly have chilled as I’ve aged a bit), frustration when others don’t get why the work has to be perfect, or as close to it as possible.
His deep love of The Beatles, music, art, and clean, modern design has always resonated with me and there isn’t much in that book that I can’t relate with.
Not that I grew up in The Bay Area with adopted parents, but ultimately, his drive, spirit, creativity, and again frustration when others can’t yet see the bigger picture or goal, has often kept me going when I’ve needed it.
Phil Jackson’s Eleven Rings, also brings in an element of spirituality with life and business lessons that I can deeply empathize with. I was an athlete growing up, and fitness is still a huge part of my entrepreneurship and high level work.
The fact that Jackson intertwines meditation, Buddhism, and leadership to getting some of the best athletes (and often biggest egos) on the planet to flow and play seamlessly together is both magic and a fascinating process.
It’s not a requirement, but I know that many on my teams have benefited from my leadership on similar practices and I feel that this path has supported everything we do in both life and career.
Do you have any quotes you live by or think of often?
I actually don’t! I suppose “Be so good they can’t ignore you,” resonates with me more now that I’ve been discriminated against as a woman in business. As a kid, I thought it just meant to shine as an athlete.
And I know people mock it (as it has happened to me J), but I feel that “Be the change you want to see,” is deeply important. It’s tough when you see folks in tech, for example, who claim to be open to all, but just flat out don’t hire, promote, or invest in women. I often wish people would think about that quote when programming conferences as well.
Unfortunately I’ve had to point out that quote too many times when I’m a speaker at conferences that have 93% male panels with 7% female representation (a real stat from a recent music conference – an area that has less sexism that other fields and still results in deeply imbalanced numbers).