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By Jim Pytell, Managing Editor

New Jersey Business magazine

In 2013, public policy expert Anne-Marie Slaughter participated in a TED Talk seeking to answer the question: “Can we have it all?”

A question and conversation that is typically associated with working mothers, Slaughter explored the challenges of maintaining a healthy work-life balance and concluded that having it all isn’t merely a male or female issue — but instead a human issue affecting everyone. 

At the New Jersey Business & Industry Association’s Annual Women Business Leaders Forum (WBLF), which was held in Atlantic City over the past two days, three top women business executives shared their insights on the same question, in a panel moderated by NJ Spotlight News Anchor Briana Vannozzi. 

“Having it all to me is integration between my personal and professional life, sort of like an ebb and flow,” said Rosanne DeTorres, managing partner and co-founder of DeTorres & DeGeorge Family Law with offices in Morristown and Flemington. “I don’t think you can have it all at the same time. To me, it is about accepting whatever season of life you are in and being present in that space during that time.” 

She talked about the mounting pressures that society places on all of us, which have been exacerbated by social media, and the importance of staying grounded and true to who you are. 

Diane Wasser, partner-in-charge of New Jersey and managing partner of regions at EisnerAmper, explained that to her, having it all means happiness. 

“[To me it is] being happy and making sure you are surrounding yourself with people, a schedule, family and career that you enjoy. Balance is so personal and different for everyone,” she said, adding that everyone’s definition of “all” is different, and it is up to the individual to find their own unique peace. 

Sharing a personal example, Wasser explained how she adjusted her sleep schedule to be more present in certain areas of her life. 

“I started to get up at 4a.m. and would work to get ahead of my day. I got to a place where when I would get the kids up for school, I was more present. For me that led to happiness,” she said. 

Beatrice Romao, senior vice president and market president of retail at TD Bank, described her happiness as a blend of being able to do the things that you need to do, and want to do in your work and life situation.  

“[Those situations are] constantly changing and you need to be okay with that,” she explained. “You can’t look for perfection because that will be the quickest path to frustration.” 

“It is okay to be less rigid as you go in order to fit what your life and time commitments are,” Wasser added. 

 Another point that was brought up was getting over the hesitancy to ask for help – an important step in being able to advance one’s career and personal life. 

“A lot of people may feel that being vulnerable and asking for help is a sign of weakness, but I’ve grown to accept that being vulnerable and asking for help is really courageous,” DeTorres said. “It allows me to stay humble and acknowledge what I don’t know.”  

 She added that while asking for help is the first hurdle, who you ask is just as vital.  

“I did a lot of networking,” DeTorres continued. “I dipped my toe in all kinds of environments, meeting a lot of people and being curious about people. [By doing that,] I ended up creating a peer group. We are the best of friends now and get together once a month. These are the gals I am most vulnerable with and they see every part of me. They give me the feedback I need to excel, not just in my professional life, but also my personal life.”