Slow Down to Do More, with Wendy Schultz and Ashley Graber

I owned a brick and mortar store that ruled my life. I missed out on family get togethers, summer vacations and time with my husband and kids. I recognized that it wasn’t what I truly wanted and faced my fear of looking like I had failed in the eyes of the world. It was a successful business but it wasn’t the business I wanted anymore. I used the contacts and experience gained from running that successful business to create a new business where I own my time and am in charge of my schedule. It’s liberating.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Wendy Schultz, President and CEO, The Simple Life Hospitality. Wendy left a senior level position in a healthcare system where she oversaw the revenue cycle to begin a life of entrepreneurship in 2013. Driven by a strong desire for success, she has built a successful business that supports her dream of owning and managing a network of vacation rental properties. In 5 short years, her commitment to integrity and excellence has rocketed the business to a level that not many businesses achieve in their lifetime. She has a Masters of Business Administration degree and is a licensed real estate agent specializing in investment rental properties. She is mainly responsible for new property and new client acquisition. Wendy is a teacher at heart and loves to help people find vacation homes that they can enjoy as well as rent to offset expenses! Wendy enjoys traveling and spending time with family and friends. Her favorite place to be is at the beach! She also has recently taken up horseback riding. She and her husband, Scott, have two daughters who are elementary school aged. They also have a love for animals with a menagerie consisting of a dog, two cats, and a horse. They reside in De Pere, WI and have a home in Venice, FL.

Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to this specific career path?

In 2013, I was working in a high level position at a healthcare system and even though outwardly it appeared like I had it all, I was burned out to a crisp! The straw that broke the camel’s back was when a close friend of mine — a department manager who reported to me — embezzled a serious amount of money from our employer. The betrayal rocked me to the core and panic attacks became a daily occurrence. I knew that it was time for me to make a change.

I recognized that I had a passion for vacation, the beach and home decor, so I opened an online retail store to sell vacation home decor. That led to me opening a seasonal brick and mortar store in 2015 in the vacation destination of Egg Harbor, WI. I also began remodeling condo hotels and vacation rentals through my design division after seeing the need there was for design services at a reasonable cost. My husband, Scott ended up joining the business full time in 2016.

My husband and I originally bought our first vacation property as a place for us to stay so that we didn’t have to make the 1.5 hour commute each way from our store to our full-time home in Green Bay, WI. We quickly realized that making more than $200 a night renting it out to other people was more appealing than staying there ourselves, so we ended up continuing making the commute despite it being the reason we bought the property in the first place! We purchased a second property right next door thinking that this would be the property we would stay in. But once again, the steady cash flow trumped the convenience of having a place to stay.

When word got out that we were more successful with renting our properties than the onsite property managers were, other owners began asking us to manage their properties for them. And just like that The Simple Life Hospitality (thesimplelifehospitality.com and simpleliferentals.com) was born.

Not long after our vacation rental management company was started, we opted to close the brick and mortar store and concentrate on building a network of vacation rental properties. It allowed us more time and freedom because we found we could do most of the work from anywhere. Over the last several years we have managed more than 20 properties and continue to grow as a company.

According to a 2006 Pew Research Report report, 26% of women and 21% of men feel that they are “always rushed”. Has it always been this way? Can you give a few reasons regarding what you think causes this prevalent feeling of being rushed?

I don’t think we have seen this level of being rushed ever before. One of the reasons I feel that everything seems rushed is our tendency to overcommit ourselves and our children to activities, sports, meetings, committees — you name it. When I was growing up, I played a few recreation league sports, but now kids are starting earlier and earlier playing not only in recreation league teams but also tournament teams. There is this immense pressure to get your kids in activities and sports early so they’re not “behind”.

Add to that the pressures of being a committed employee and a martyr to hard work. Sprinkle in a dose of unavoidable comparison by viewing the “highlight reels” of others on social media and no wonder there is a feeling of inadequacy. Social media gives us a perpetual feeling that we’re “not enough.” Look at her body from exercising everyday; I’m not traveling enough; My job isn’t as good as hers; Did you see her new car?; Her kids are excelling at sports and won the spelling
bee; My “friends” got together without me; Their marriage is much better than mine…. and on and on it goes. To make up for those feelings, we are constantly striving to fill the void through activity.

I also think we have become a very distracted society where we must constantly engage our brains in something, whether it’s social media, Netflix, gaming, etc. When we finally break away from these activities, we can’t help but feel rushed. So much of our time has been sucked into these distractions that we don’t allow ourselves enough time to devote to what is truly important.

Based on your experience or research can you explain why being rushed can harm our productivity, health, and happiness?

Feeling rushed puts us in a perpetual state of stress. It has been well documented that stress is not healthy on our bodies and can lead to serious health conditions. I find it difficult to shut off my brain even during times of rest because my mind is always trying to keep up with everything I have going on. Ultimately, there is a feeling of never being or doing enough that leads to unhappiness. When you are rushed, you don’t get the opportunity to enjoy the fruits of your labor or savor in the small things. Sometimes you have to force yourself to sit back and remember: isn’t happiness and celebration what we’re doing all this hard work for?

On the flip side, can you give examples of how we can do more, and how our lives would improve if we could slow down?

I believe that so much of what we do in our daily lives is in response to a feeling of not being enough and/or not wanting to be judged by others. It also is an attempt to fulfill the feelings we desire to have in our everyday lives. For me, that is feeling joyful, energized, relaxed and confident amongst others. If you can assess what’s truly important and filter out what you feel you need to do to not be judged by others, you can identify the most effective actions that will help you get there. Eliminating the tasks that you’re doing purely out of fear of judgement or because you feel like you “should,” frees up some much needed time in your day.

We all live in a world with many deadlines and incessant demands for our time and attention. That inevitably makes us feel rushed. Can you share with our readers 6 strategies that you use to “slow down to do more”? Can you please give a story or example for each?

  1. I owned a brick and mortar store that ruled my life. I missed out on family get togethers, summer vacations and time with my husband and kids. I recognized that it wasn’t what I truly wanted and faced my fear of looking like I had failed in the eyes of the world. It was a successful business but it wasn’t the business I wanted anymore. I used the contacts and experience gained from running that successful business to create a new business where I own my time and am in charge of my schedule. It’s liberating.
  2. I created a business that is location independent so I can integrate my work into my vacations and vacations into my work. For example, I am writing this while on vacation in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. Beat that!
  3. I created residual income and passive income streams so my business continues to bring in revenue even when I’m on vacation or sleeping. The work I did up front to create the business continues to pay off. I have done this through e-commerce and utilizing online booking platforms for my vacation rentals.
  4. I hired a team so I can be more productive. Having a team allows me to work on the things I am best at, which in turn makes my business more successful. I’m not getting bogged down in the little things.
  5. I spend a lot of time in quiet thought, so I can listen to my intuition and make necessary adjustments to my business.
  6. I eliminated many distractions in my life such as listening to the news, watching TV and playing games. I’ve also started unfollowing/unfriending negative people on social media. It helps me declutter my brain. I used to get so upset about things I’d hear on the news or political discussions on social media. I realized that I was giving my power away and there was little I could do to take it back except to not give it my attention in the first place.

How do you define “mindfulness”? Can you give an example or story?

I define mindfulness as being present in the moment; not allowing situations and emotions to consume me; enjoying and being grateful for the many blessings in my life. At times I take for granted all that being self-employed has allowed me to do. I can work whenever and wherever I want to. I can get my kids ready for school in the morning and be home with them after school. I can travel whenever I want to. I can write off travel as a business expense. I can ride my horse in the middle of the day and go to lunch with a friend. There is so much freedom that being in this business has brought me and I try to take time to appreciate these blessings. My dear friend of 22 years passed away from breast cancer a couple months ago and she has inspired me to continue to go for my dreams because tomorrow is never promised. Her death has had a profound impact on me and I have a new level of perspective I didn’t have before.

Can you give examples of how people can integrate mindfulness into their everyday lives?

Spending a few minutes to quiet your mind through meditation, yoga, writing a gratitude list, or whatever else brings you mental peace, can make a big impact. I would also recommend looking at your to-do list to determine what is truly necessary and what can be delegated, pushed to a different day or eliminated altogether. Give yourself spaciousness in your day. Spend time connecting with others in-person.

Do you have any mindfulness tools that you find most helpful at work?

I have created a practice for myself when I’m going through a particularly tough situation. I’ll go back and recall other times in my history when I thought the world was ending or that I wouldn’t get done what needed to be done. I always remember the fact that the situation passed and I survived it. Plus, I acknowledge how while at the time it was all consuming, it doesn’t feel like a big deal in hindsight. Every time I do this I come out stronger on the other side. It has calmed my anxiety more times than I can count.

What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources that inspire you to use mindfulness tools or practices

For books I love:

Untethered Soul by Michael Singer

The Desire Map by Danielle LaPorte

Ask and It is Given by Abraham Hicks

You Squared by Price Pritchett

The Science of Getting Rich by Wallace Wattles

And podcasts:

The Successful Mind Podcast with David Neagle

RISE Podcast with Rachel Hollis

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

My favorite quote (loosely quoted) is “I am on a mission to create a life I don’t need a vacation from.” Since leaving the corporate world, I’ve relinquished the Sunday night, “pit in my stomach” feeling of dread. I have intermingled vacation with work. I have inspired my kids by involving them. I have built a business around what I’m passionate about. I don’t care what day of the week it is because it always feels like a Saturday. I take risks and pursue my dreams relentlessly. I have fun in my business and although it is not always a vacation, it feels like one most of the time.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would like to inspire people to create a life they don’t need a vacation from. All too often people are waiting for when they get to stop. When is their next vacation? When is their next 15 minute break? When can they go to lunch? How many days until the weekend? When can they retire? Then on the weekend, they feel great on Friday night and Saturday but then dread the work week beginning again on Sunday. My mission is to inspire people to move towards their dreams NOW. They should not wait because they may never get the chance if they do. I want to show them that most of people’s fears come from not having the right knowledge and that by doing a bit of research, they can very quickly determine the steps they need to take and shoot down myths. I would like to show people how to integrate making a living into living their best lives. I want to show them that the biggest risk of all is not in failing but in living in regret of not pursuing their dreams. I want to challenge the limits of possibility and find solutions to what many thought were impossible. I am proof that it can be done.

Thank you for joining us!


Slow Down to Do More, with Wendy Schultz and Ashley Graber was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.