Balancing Act: The Secret Weapon behind Work-Life Balance

work_life_balance_signs(1)(MCT)—We all struggle for work life balance, but most of us don’t realize that sometimes the path toward achieving might be something so simple.

Some of the most successful people I know are sharing their secret weapon for remaining strong and finding balance.

One of them is Donna Shalala. By her own admission, Shalala is a workaholic. She is the president of University of Miami and has a resume that anyone would find impressive — accomplished scholar, teacher and administrator. Her jobs titles include a stint working for President Bill Clinton as secretary of health and human services. While Shalala doesn’t have kids, she does take care of her elderly mother and oversees thousands of employees. Last week, I was at a luncheon in which Shalala was asked about work life balance.

The secret weapon, she says, is a good night’s sleep. “The biggest mistakes I’ve made in my career happened because I was overtired,” she told more than 400 women at a lunch sponsored by The Commonwealth Institute South Florida.

Coincidentally, or maybe not, Arianna Huffington, co-founder and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post Media Group, also is on a campaign to advocate for a good night’s sleep. Her personal wake-up call came in the form of a broken cheekbone and a nasty gash over her eye—the result of a fall brought on by exhaustion and lack of sleep. She wondered, “Is this really what success feels like?”

Instead of bragging about our sleep deficits or how busy we are, Arianna urges us to shut our eyes and see the big picture: We can sleep our way to increased productivity and happiness—and smarter decision-making. The first step, she says, is getting 30 minutes more sleep a night.

So, there you go! Two powerful women are telling you that sleep is key to good decisions and our wellbeing. If you’re giving up sleep to get more done, it’s time to change that habit. Arianna says sleep deprived women will learn the hard way the value of sleep as she did, especially when trying to see the big picture in business.

As someone who is guilty of giving up sleep, I’m going to change my habits. I hope you will, too.

Cindy Krischer Goodman is CEO of BalanceGal LLC, a provider of news and advice on how to balance work and life.

©2014 The Miami Herald
Distributed by MCT Information Services

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Robin Williams Puts ‘Villa of Smiles’ Back on Market

Robin Williams has a legendary career as an actor and comedian, as well as a new CBS sitcom, “The Crazy Ones.” Oh yeah, and he still has a massive vineyard estate in Napa Valley.

Source: IMDb

Source: IMDb

The funnyman made a serious attempt to sell it in 2012 for $35 million, but no one bought it. So now he is Good Will Hunting for a buyer at a lower price. Cyd Greer and Joyce Rey of Coldwell Banker Previews International will list the estate this month at $29.9 million.

The home itself is deluxe, with 5 bedrooms, 12 baths and 20,000 square feet. Built from Portuguese limestone, the house also features an oak-paneled library, a home theater, climate-controlled storage for art and wine, a private tower with a bridge accessible from the master suite, plus outdoor amenities including a 65-foot pool, a horse barn and a spring-fed pond for bass fishing.

But the 640-acre estate is a working Napa Valley farm, with 18 acres of olives and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. Williams commissioned the estate in the early 2000s and named it Villa Sorriso, or Villa of Smiles.

Photos courtesy of Coldwell Banker Previews International.


Emily Heffter, a reporter and writer for Zillow Blog, covers celebrity real estate, unusual properties, and other real estate topics. Read more of her work here.

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Why Being Pre-Approved for a Loan Matters

Approved-098f7b-300x205.jpgSo much has changed in the past few decades that the old ways of buying or selling a home simply won’t work today. For decades, buying a home was pretty much the same thing: You shopped around, made an offer and then went to the bank to get a loan. If you were denied or there were problems, you walked away.

Today, a buyer needs to speak to the bank and get approved prior to shopping and definitely before making an offer on a home. Not being pre-approved today won’t get you past the front door. Here’s why:

Markets move faster today

With online listings and so many real estate resources available to buyers and sellers, it’s easy to quickly get a property in front of the masses. Buyers aren’t waiting on a call or fax from their real estate agent like they did in the 1980s. Instead, motivated buyers get push notifications from Zillow or texts from their agents and see homes as soon as possible. It’s more efficient.

Transactions happen at the same speed. If you’re not approved for a mortgage when you make an offer, the seller risks waiting weeks to see if your loan will go through. That’s not good for them. Show that you’re pre-approved, and you’ve eliminated one huge hurdle for the seller.

Know what you can afford

People today are focused on their monthly payments more than the total purchase price. Why? Because, unlike the typical buyer a generation ago, many of today’s buyers don’t plan on staying in their homes for 30 years. Instead, they can commit to 7 to 10 years and are open to alternate mortgage options that could save them money on their monthly payments.

It’s helpful to know exactly what a $425,000 mortgage will cost vs. a $500,000 mortgage on a monthly basis. Also, in some parts of the country, there are options for FHA loans with as little as 3 percent down. Knowing all your options before you start shopping allows you to shop and buy smarter. There’s no sense looking at homes in the $400,000 range if you can afford more, and vice versa.

Competing with pre-approved buyers

Few buyers today get into the real estate market without forging a relationship with a local mortgage professional. It’s simply smarter to have your ducks in a row. In a competitive market, you may face multiple offers on one property. If you don’t have a pre-approval letter to go with your offer, you have zero chance of getting your offer accepted. Not being pre-approved means you aren’t a serious buyer in the eyes of the seller.

Getting pre-approved means organizing all your documents, documenting your income, debt and credit, and understanding all the loan options available to you. There should never be a cost to be pre-approved for a loan. And you aren’t committed to a mortgage when going through the pre-approval. Got a signed contract from a seller? Then you’re ready to lock in a rate and choose the mortgage that’s best for you.


For more insights into the important changes happening in real estate, read Brendon’s new book “Next Generation Real Estate.” Brendon’s practical real estate advice is regularly sought out by print, online and television media outlets including FOX News, CNBC, USA Today, Bloomberg, FOX Business and Forbes. A licensed Realtor and an active investor himself, Brendon owns real estate around the U.S. and abroad and is licensed to sell in California and New York. As a trusted real estate expert, consumers often call on Brendon for advice and to help them find a real estate agent. You can follow him on Twitter or Google Plus.

Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.

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Popular Apartment Amenity Trends for 2014

Shopping for an apartment isn’t just about finding a unit that has an updated kitchen, walk-in closet and hardwood floors. In addition to your wish list of in-unit features, there are also shared community amenities to consider. From basic perks like parking, on-site laundry and fitness centers to more elaborate features such as lazy river pools and pet spas, there are amenities to suit the needs of every renter.

We talked to Jennifer Staciokas, vice president of marketing and training at Lincoln Property Company, to find out some of today’s most popular amenities.

apartment private yard

Domain Parkside, Lincoln Property Company

Private outdoor spaces

Apartment living doesn’t have to mean sacrificing yard space. “Private landscaped backyards are great for pets or residents who want outdoor space. It’s way bigger than a patio and feels like you have a yard,” Staciokas said.

An expanded patio area in a first-floor unit can serve as extra space for entertaining, gardening or playing. These units have been so appealing to renters that Staciokas has seen rent increases of $150 to $200.

Barista-run cafes

One of the perks of apartment living is convenience — whether it’s a community gym, proximity to public transportation, or in this case, free coffee. Residents at Lincoln Property Company’s Dallas community can order specialty coffee drinks from the on-site cafe. Instead of trekking over to the nearest coffee shop, residents can order from the barista downstairs and be on their way.

“It’s free for residents, so it’s a money saver, too,” Staciokas said.

apartment pet spa

Pet Spa, Lincoln Property Company

Pet spaces

Pet-friendly communities used to be difficult to find, but their popularity is growing thanks to renter demand. With these pet-friendly apartments come amenities for renters to enjoy with their furry friends.

“Dog parks are popular, but we make them more interactive like having agility items or toys, and seating areas for residents,” Staciokas said.

Full-service pet spas with washing and drying stations are another pet-friendly perk that’s convenient and budget-friendly for residents.

Delivery lockers

High-density apartment communities present the risk of package delivery mix-ups or even worse — stolen mail. Management companies have started to eliminate these risks by installing delivery lockers. These lockers are convenient for residents and securely store larger deliveries until they can be picked up. When a delivery arrives, residents receive an email containing a code, which they then use to access their package.

Whether you live in a suburban community or urban high-rise, amenities are no longer there just to add convenience to apartment living. They are also providing a sense of community to make renters feel at home.


Jennifer Chan writes for the Zillow for Pros Blog and covers rental real estate news and trends. Read more of her work here.

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After Country Wedding, Kate Bosworth Moves to Country

Source: IMDb

Source: IMDb

Newlywed Kate Bosworth reportedly has a lakefront home in Montana with new husband Michael Polish, and the couple were recently spotted house hunting in Los Feliz. So it’s not so surprising that the actress has listed her home at 2633 La Cuesta Dr in the Hollywood Hills for $2.499 million.

Bosworth, who started her career as a trailblazing girl-surfer in “Blue Crush,” married writer-director Polish in a summertime Montana wedding last year.

Martha Stewart Weddings released photos of the couple’s hoedown nuptials at a barn near tiny Philipsburg. Bosworth’s Los Angeles home, like her wedding, is secluded and beautiful, with traditional elements.

The gated, 3-bedroom, 3-bath, 2,890-square-foot house is a classic California ranch, with huge windows overlooking the patio and an open floor plan.

“It’s like a contemporary cabin,” said Dan Weiser, the listing agent along with Sally Forster Jones of Coldwell Banker Beverly Hills East. “Some aspects of it are very traditional, but it’s been beautifully updated.”

The upstairs master has 2 walk-in closets, a big bathroom with a double Carrara marble vanity and jetted tub, and French doors to outside.

Photos courtesy of Coldwell Banker Beverly Hills East.


Emily Heffter, a reporter and writer for Zillow Blog, covers celebrity real estate, unusual properties, and other real estate topics. Read more of her work here.


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