Karen Murphy O’Brien co-founded Murphy O'Brien Public Relations 25 years ago with her husband, Brett O'Brien. The company has since grown to 50 employees working at its West Los Angeles office in the Roll Global Building. It services more than 80 clients, including Peninsula Hotels and The Cheesecake Factory. On a daily basis, O'Brien shuffles between meetings with the company’s management team, has lunch with clients and media influencers, reviews client strategy plans and attends new business presentations. In addition, she works for several charities and serves as a board member of Chrysalis, an organization that helps low-income and homeless Angelenos find and keep jobs. We spoke with Murphy O’Brien about how she juggles it all.
Question: Describe your morning routine.
Answer: My husband and I share the morning routine. We have one kid in high school and one in middle school. Breakfast for the 16 year old is at 6 a.m. He’s a football player and needs to eat a lot. My husband makes the bacon and I make the eggs, and then when the next one gets up – he’s a sixth-grader – it’s a little easier because the bacon is already made. Sometimes we quiz him for a test and then one of us gets him to school. And in between that there is some emailing going on. My tech day starts when I wake up. I check my phone to see if there is anything urgent from the night before.
How do you achieve work/life balance?
I make time three days a week for my physical and mental help, which is one and the same. So on Mondays, when I work from home, I see my trainer. On Fridays, it’s my yoga day, and then I hike on the weekends. That prepares me mentally for the week. I also love to cook. Cooking is a passion and music is a passion. I’m a classically trained pianist and I have two musical children. The purest form of meditation for me is to sit down at the piano and just play. Both of my children are musical. One is in the National Children’s Chorus and plays the piano. The 16 year old is a music technology genius. One of the things I like to do to take a break from work, when I am working at home, is to go into the garage and listen to his hip-hop songs in his vocal booth. Sometimes, he’ll ask for my opinion. Another thing that helps with balance is that I have an amazing stable of women who are my friends and I make time for them. For me, a hike or a glass of wine with a friend is better than a therapist.
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