The Balancing Act: Can You Have It All?


career marriage
Janet Hanson provides insight on how to balance work and love.

In the three years that followed my divorce I had exactly two blind dates. They were guys that weren't "in the business," which meant that we had nothing in common. I was a Wall Street "big hitter" and wanted to date someone who was fun and sophisticated. I soon discovered that most of the cool guys wanted to date women who were beautiful and sexy, which was not an easy look to accomplish if you worked like a dog and looked like you had.

So in January of 1987, when I was sailing in the Caribbean with my parents and siblings, I made the decision to resign from the firm. I was overweight, I drank too much, and I felt tired and old. I'd had an outrageous career at Goldman Sachs, worked with some of the best and smartest people on Wall Street, but I had no personal life. And worse than that, I had absolutely no prospects.


On April 15, the tax date, I left the firm. I left my apartment in New York City and moved to Princeton to live with my sister. I was so depressed that there were days when I couldn't even get out of bed. It took me almost two months to get on my bike and start the process of putting myself back together physically and mentally. And it took another three months before I started to feel like a human being.

One day during the summer I got a call from an internal consultant at Goldman Sachs. He wanted to know if I would like to work with him a few days a week on various projects, and I thought, what the heck, I can always quit if it doesn't work out.

Not long after I returned to Goldman, I reconnected with Jeff Hanson, a really nice young guy who had tried to interview me a few times as one of the firm's "culture carriers." He had a brilliant analytical mind and was great fun to talk to. He was also a little full of himself but not to the point of being obnoxious. After one date, we decided we were truly meant for each other. Three weeks later, we got engaged.

Janet Hanson is an entrepreneur who founded 85 Broads, a global networking community for professional women. This essay is adapted from More Than 85 Broads (McGraw-Hill). For more excerpts from other powerful women, visit

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