What's Her Secret: Randi Zuckerberg
The 'Dot Complicated' author, radio host and businesswoman shares her tips on unplugging, friendships and collecting cell phones at dinner parties.
Randi Zuckerberg is the founder and CEO of Zuckerberg Media, author of Dot Complicated (and children’s book Dot), and editor-in-chief of digital lifestyle destination Dot Complicated, which is now a radio show on SiriusXM. The tech-savvy mom and businesswoman shares insights on unplugging, friendships and dinner parties.
What does wellness mean to you? "There are a lot of components to wellness. Obviously, your overall health, fitness, diet, things like that, but also emotional health, too, which is kind of the strength of your friendships and relationships. Also, I've become more and more of an advocate for finding balance between being plugged in and being unplugged. We talk about exercise, food and drinking in moderation, but only recently have we started talking about tech in moderation."
Right. How do you personally find that magic sweet spot between healthy tech and overwhelming tech? "I think it's very hard to find that, even I struggle with that. Because when you get a text message or an email, it actually releases dopamine in your brain such that it becomes addictive to check messages. When you see you have a new message come in, it's very, very hard to not get that first, so you have to cautiously and mindfully discipline yourself and say, 'Okay, I'm going to unplug for these two hours,' or, 'I'm not going to check my email for the first 20 minutes when I wake up in the morning.' Or even, as basic as this sounds, 'I'm not going to send text messages when I'm driving.' I know that sounds like something that should be basic, but a study came out recently that said more than 60 percent of adults admit to texting and driving."
What specific strategies do you and your family use? "There are several that we're trying. First, I try more and more not to use my phone as an alarm clock in the morning, I find that when I use my phone as my alarm, it's way too easy to fly automatically into checking email, whereas if you're phone is charging overnight in a completely different room, you're less likely to fall into that, and a lot of studies show that the happiest, most successful, most productive people wait 20 to 40 minutes in the morning before checking email. [And] when I'm throwing a dinner party, I like to try to collect everyone's phones, and whoever reaches for it first has to help me do the dishes. It's a big incentive."
That's great advice. Are these topics you're addressing on your new radio show? "We're going to be covering a whole variety of topics ranging from business to balancing tech in your life, your personal reputation online, your identity, unplugging, tech and your family. I'm really excited to have the opportunity to do a deep-dive into these issues and spend an hour on [these topics]."
Yes, there's so much to discuss because we all have such strong responses to the way tech affects emotional parts of our lives, especially dating and parenting. "Absolutely. There's a bit of a phenomenon that I talk about in my book called, Closer to Friends but Further From Friendship—we can now so instantaneously connect with acquaintances around the globe that sometimes it has the effect of damaging the relationships with the people we love who are right there next to us."
Speaking of which, any tips on dating in the digital age? "First of all, I thank my lucky stars I met my husband before this crazy world. It's complicated; I talk to a lot of people who are in the thick of it. For me, one of the most interesting things is, when you go on a date now, you know pretty much the briefing about the other person. You've definitely Googled them, you've definitely looked at all of their profiles online. On one hand, it can be a good thing, because you're not making all of that small talk, but on the other hand, does that take the mystery and fun out of it? And, is it a little creepy to know so much about someone when you're meeting them? How much do you let on that you Googled them? How much you divulge that you know is something a lot of people talk about."
That also raises questions on the definition of intimacy, and feeling close to someone, which goes way beyond knowing facts about him or her. "We have to make sure we're not confusing knowledge with intimacy. When you're sitting behind a computer screen, it's really easy to pour your heart out in a way you wouldn't do face to face, or confuse just chatting with someone with intimacy, and it's really important to separate that."
Agreed. Tech aside, what are other rituals you have in your own life that contribute to your sense of balance? "Exercise is a huge part of our lives in our family. When I started dating my husband, we were very poor entry-level employees in New York, and our typical date was meeting and going for a run around Central Park and then sharing a bagel. It was, like, a free date. So that's something we still do almost every weekend, my husband and I still wake up and go for a run together, or stick our son in the stroller and jog around with the stroller. I'm six-and-a-half months pregnant with our second child, so there's not that much running happening for me right now, but last year, I set a goal for myself to run 1,000 miles in the calendar year, and my husband and I ran most of that together."
Fun. How about food? "On the diet side, I have to say, I do love food so much, I feel like I love to know I can eat all the delicious food that exists out there. But probably once a year, my husband and I try to do a 30-day cleanse and take out all dairy, all gluten and a lot of sugar from our diets, which is pretty painful, but it makes you feel amazing. And it reminds you that food is fuel, not just calories, and that really makes you think about what you're putting into your body, and gets you back on track."
Finally, as a busy businesswoman and mother, what else is essential to your wellness? "One thing I've seen, especially from a lot of my friends who are parents and also busy running companies, is that friendships unfortunately are the first thing that gets axed off your priority list. When you're so busy, working all the time, and then you're home with your kids and trying to maybe also get some sleep and maybe go to the gym once in awhile, the first thing that goes is investing in your friendships and investing in yourself. I really advocate to people to make sure you're carving some time in there to nurture your relationships and do things that make you happy because at the end of the day, it's going to make you better at everything else you're doing."