Dr. Mona Jhaveri is the founder of Music Beats Cancer, as well as the executive director and chairman of the board. This nonprofit organization is a powerful funding platform that empowers the public to support cancer-fighting solutions. Through partnerships with independent music artists, Music Beats Cancer is increasing the chances of more cancer treatments, monitoring and prevention tools, and diagnostics. Dr. Jhaveri is also a cancer researcher.
I had the opportunity to interview Dr. Mona Jhaveri, and what I most wanted to know was how she maintains a balance between family and work as she helps grow the nonprofit. Our conversation follows.
Disclosure: This sponsored interview shows how one woman founder is growing a nonprofit without getting to the point of overwhelm.
Interview with Dr. Mona Jhaveri
One of the things I appreciate about this interview is how Dr. Jhaveri challenged my assumptions when asking questions. She kept me on my toes and no doubt is an accomplished leader making a positive difference, as you will note from her answers. I’ll let her speak for herself; here is our interview.
Thank you for being here! Dr. Mona Jhaveri, what does a ‘balanced lifestyle’ mean to you?
A balanced lifestyle involves making choices that enable you to sustain your output. That said, I think balance is a skill that women have had to master for centuries. For example, women balance caring for children while maintaining the home and working in the community all at once.
In modern times, the blend of work, childcare, and community does not exist. Instead, working environments exist as corporate structures, children are cared for separately, and the community is less involved in supporting both.
Looking at the nonprofit industry overall, do you see struggles to achieve balance?
For myself, personal and professional activities have always been intertwined. There is no magic formula for making this work.
I am extending what women have done before me; however, with virtual communications through mobile devices, mixing personal and professional activities is now easier for modern women that are doing it all. I have found myself sending work emails while grocery shopping and conducting conference calls while driving my kids to their activities.
Technology has certainly been helpful in that way. What work-life balance challenges have you experienced while growing Music Beats Cancer?
Indeed, there are challenges like having to be in two places simultaneously or scheduling a meeting when your family needs attention. Although that said, I don’t see these as challenges, per se. This is a leader’s job description — to manage the chaos powerfully.
The other challenge is managing the expectations of your family and community. Inevitably, women demand to be constantly present and available for their children, spouse, and community. Unfortunately, this is not possible and would certainly disable my ability to lead my organization effectively.
For this reason, it is imperative that I not only set expectations for my family and community but also set them up to succeed without me. This requires communication and organization and mastering the art of preparedness.
Well said. With any startup, including a nonprofit like yours, there are bound to be long working hours. What are some communication tips for maintaining personal relationships while working late?
I don’t work late; I work all the time. Different parts of my work are delegated to different times of the day, although work and family overlap.
I am accustomed to creating boundaries of when I stay off my work emails on Saturdays to decompress and be present with the family, and vice versa. I am unavailable for my family during the morning hours so that I can focus on my work.
Are there days when you feel overwhelmed? If so, how do you cope?
I don’t have the luxury of being overwhelmed. If I become overwhelmed to the point of dysfunction, it would be hard on my family and disruptive to my work. That’s unacceptable, so I don’t allow myself to get that point.
The key to maintaining this balance is forgiveness of myself and others and acknowledging how much in my world is going right. When keeping the “long game” in mind, setbacks are inevitably minor issues. There is always tomorrow to unravel the difficulties of the day.
I will be thinking about that answer long after this interview. Let’s talk next about how you handle requests. Saying ‘yes’ to everything can cause a lack of focus. How have you gotten better at saying ‘no’?
I was never bad at saying “no,” and when I say “yes” to something, it’s a powerful “yes” — one that I can commit to. If you say “yes” to things that you can’t realistically do, it’s not only stressful, but it’s a reflection of your poor judgment as an effective leader.
A good leader does not have to please everyone. A good leader should do a job that she says she can do; that’s integrity.
What would you say to a woman who thinks she must choose between family and career?
For some women, I think there is nothing wrong with choosing one or the other. It’s a different journey.
Balancing the various worlds of work, family, and community is not for everyone. I would say to these women, who are on the fence, that they should choose what’s best for them. This might take some trial and error to figure out what situation suits her best.
In my case, I did not feel like I could work a formal job while pregnant and caring for children. I dropped out of the workforce but did what I could to “stay in the game.”
I started a biotech company; I learned how to write business plans, pitched my ideas to investors and attend conferences, etc. — and I did this all while caring for my family. This enabled me to grow professionally and positioned me to step into action when the time was right.
Wow. In your current work at Music Beats Cancer, how do you stay motivated?
Motivation can be the hardest challenge because you must get out of your way. But, of course, this is easier said than done. Setbacks can deflate you, and so can the negative opinions of others.
At some point, it gets easier to channel and alter your internal conversations so that they empower you until you are unstoppable. This is yet another unspoken but essential soft skill of a successful leader.
Dr. Mona Jhaveri, thank you for being here. One more question: What is the one thing you want us to know about Music Beats Cancer?
Music Beats Cancer was born from a vision to support potential solutions for fighting cancer. Many areas of cancer treatment and care are sorely underperforming and not working for those in need.
Entrepreneurs have answers that need to be noticed and funded. Music Beats Cancer wants to change this, and we need people who wish to see a change in the war on cancer to get on board.
Connect with Music Beats Cancer and Dr. Mona Jhaveri online
Stay up to date on this innovative nonprofit that dedicates itself to raising funds for cancer research and awareness. Check out the Music Beats Cancer website to donate, volunteer, learn more about the mission, find out the latest events and campaigns, and more.
Top photo: Meet Dr. Mona Jhaveri, founder of Music Beats Cancer. Used with her permission.