Harvard MBA. Fluent in Spanish, German, and French (plus a little Dari). Expert multi-tasker as deputy director of the Council on Foreign Relations’ Women and Foreign Policy program, contributing editor-at-large for Newsweek and The Daily Beast, and mom to a 10-month-old baby. Gayle Tzemach Lemmon is a woman who got up at 4 a.m. to squeeze writing a (NY Times bestselling) book around a full-time job and actually conducted an interview for a Newsweek story from the hospital when her baby was five days old. She’s driven by some wise words her cousin once told her. “He said, ‘Changing your life is supposed to be this hard. If it were easy, everyone would do it.’ In other words, don’t try to go around the work. You have to go through it,” she says. I caught up with Gayle one morning to learn a few more of her secrets.
I believe in having a plan A, B, and C. You can’t say I’m going to “follow my passion” unless you can also make sure the rent gets paid. I learned this because my mom and aunt were single moms who worked more than one job to make rent.
I try to work out six days a week. It really helped me manage the hormone swings after pregnancy. I do a combination of yoga, dance, and classes at the Tracy Anderson studio.
I recently switched to an iPhone. But I miss my Blackberry keyboard! Now it takes me an hour to send one message.
I’ve been a vegetarian since I was little, to the horror of my family, and try to follow a vegan diet. When I’m traveling [to far-off places], I eat a lot of protein bars, especially Think Thin ones. Afghan food is great. Airplane food is not.
I live by the words of strong women in my family. My mother used to say, “On a scale of major world tragedies, yours isn’t even a three.” Meaning, keep it all in perspective. My aunt would say, “After the dance [i.e., once you make your dream happen], they can’t take it away from you.” And my grandma always encouraged me to take big leaps and not dwell on the downside. She reminded me, “McDonald’s is always hiring.”