Tamara Lohan shares the secrets of her success

It’s tempting to think that life could be one big holiday for Tamara Lohan, co-founder of exclusive travel agency Mr & Mrs Smith. Of course, the reality is that hard work, productive habits and a sharp eye on healthy work-life balance have all played a role in maintaining a successful business alongside family life. Here’s her top tips.

Tamara Lohan shares the secrets of her success

1. Get in the zone.

For me, the morning is all about the kids and the dog – and a run, if I can fit it in.

And while I run I listen to podcasts. I’m a total podcast addict – I see it as my learning curve. I get some exercise to clear my head, but pack in new information at the same time! My recommendations are: The Knowledge Project, the Tim Ferris Show, A16Z, Masters of Scale and Reid Hoffman. There are some great British ones, too. I enjoy Secret Leaders, for example. And I don’t just listen to business and technology podcasts – I love Woman's Hour and Invisiblia, too for example. It all helps to set me up for the day ahead.

Hear how Tamara balances work and family life in our first ever podcast

2. Be curious

I think it's critical to any business to have a culture of learning. I often try to go to conferences outside of my own industry, because I feel there is always so much to learn from people who are doing things in completely different ways, in completely different industries, for completely different audiences. It can be really eye-opening.

And when I’m recruiting, curiosity is one of the key things I look for. I want to surround myself with people who love to learn as much as I do.

3. Involve the whole family in a family business

At 11 and 9, my children are already very opinionated and they tell my husband (Mr & Mrs Smith co-founder, James Lohan) and I off if we talk too much about work at home. But they are also interested. Of course, we try to travel with them as much as possible, and whenever we do we all look at hotels with a critical eye.

The children have moved on from simply judging the hotel by the swimming pool to actually noticing service elements, which makes me really proud. They’re picking up useful skills.

Of course, sometimes when we tell them that we have yet another hotel to go and look at, they just roll their eyes. On our last trip to Rome we had to see eight hotels in one day, so I gave them a little grid where they had to rank the hotels in terms of services. We gamified it for them – if you can make it fun, and show you value their viewpoint, it really makes everyone feel like part of the family business.

Read our tips on preparing to pass on your family business to the next generation

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4. Balancing the business

Of course, life isn’t all about business. Downtime is essential and it’s easy to lose sight of that.

We may be in the travel industry but some holidays are nothing to do with work. They’re about spending time together – and bringing us all back down to reality. Luxury hotels are great, but we recently took the children to a static caravan in Devon so that they could see what real British holidays are like! And of course it rained, but we had so much fun fossil-hunting and just enjoying the time and space.

And I do want them to understand that even work-related travel has huge benefits. These experiences will make them – my son is 11 and he's been to 21 countries. What he goes on to do with that, I can't wait to see.

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