Cheryl Porro: Avoid Burnout So You Can Work Better

January 23 - Sarah Ashlock

FIRST THOUGHT: Share Your Stuff

When you’re a mama, sometimes you wake up at 4am: not because your baby’s crying. Not because you have to pee (which you do). But because you have to work before the baby stirs, the pets bark for their food, the recycling dudes come, the sun rises. Sometimes, I think that if I share how hard I’m hustling, it comes across as though I’m complaining, as if I want sympathy. But here’s the thing: If I don’t tell you that I’m up when the infomercials are still airing, then you might think you can’t share the hard work you’re doing, either. Today, express what you’ve been up to in a factual way, so as not to garner pity, but to invite others to share their stuff, too.

WOMEN IN NUMBERS: 33 Percent More

Everyone has his or her fair share of deadlines. College students are riddled with them, of course, so between a couple part-time jobs, trigonometry and pledging for a sorority, it must feel good for them to be out of that stress. Speaking of studying, more and more women are studying STEM, a tough curriculum in a tough, dude-ridden atmosphere. More specifically, women under 25 are 33 percent more likely to learn computer science than women who are older.

WOMAN TO WATCH: Cheryl Porro, CTO at Thrive Global & Former SVP at

So why are younger women interested in studying subjects like engineering and programming? Leaders. Mentors. Women who are advocating for them and encouraging them, like today’s Woman to Watch, Cheryl Porro. Cheryl was the senior vice president at Salesforce and is now the chief technology officer at Thrive Global. She’s one of those leaders whose mere existence offers generations after her the encouragement to explore more technical fields.

Cheryl’s mom emigrated to the states from Portugal, allowing Cheryl to grow up seeking to live the American dream. Salesforce, a cloud-based software company, was a perfect match for Cheryl, who was an application engineer in the nineties and also a former employee at Amazon. In a way, she steered Salesforce in its current direction by helping to implement the company’s software in nonprofit and educational organizations.

Now, Cheryl’s new role at Thrive Global is the culmination of her life’s work. Founded by Arianna Huffington, the company combines technology with sustainable, science-based ideas on how you can improve your well-being. The company is the answer to people literally dying because they work too much: It touts itself as the answer to burnout culture, AKA this idea that more is more is more is more.

Cheryl says she has experienced burnout firsthand. You see, she exuded success, or at least everyone’s idea of it. (After all, she had been promoted seven times in seven years.) But she felt anxiety and pressure no matter what, no matter how hard she worked. She finally realized that prioritizing herself through meditation, exercise and diet over her work actually helped her work. Sound counterintuitive?

One of Cheryl’s colleagues, Joni Bryan, shared a profound essay about what Cheryl has taught her about leadership. (To me, if someone you respect publishes a beautiful post about you, that’s success right there.) According to Joni, the way Cheryl prioritizes her health and well-being, as well as the way she takes time to mentor, are commendable.

Cheryl connects with individuals regardless of their status and fosters a work environment that insists failure is necessary because it’s a learning tool. To succeed and find your perfect work-life balance, you’ve got to push your limits and fail first.


British computer scientist Karen Sparck Jones said:

"I think it's very important to get more women into computing. My slogan is: Computing is too important to be left to men."

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