The founding partner of Halogen Ventures, a venture capital firm focused on female-founded consumer technology, Jesse Draper is also the creator and host of 2015 Emmy-nominated tech-focused television series, The Valley Girl Show. Through it, she’s produced and distributed over 300 interviews with a who's-who of thought-leaders including Ted Turner, Mark Cuban, Sheryl Sandberg, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, Jessica Alba and Eric Schmidt. (It’s no wonder she was listed by Marie Claire magazine as one of the “50 Most Connected Women in America.”) She’s also a contributor to Marie Claire, SV Magazine, Mashable and Forbes.com, and she appears regularly on The Katie Couric Show, Fox New’s Good Day LA, CNBC’s Who Wants to Be the Next Millionaire Inventor? and more. Oh, and did we mention she’s a new mom? Here’s how this media mastermind and tech investor keeps it all going.
What’s one practice, goal, or purpose that helps get you out of bed each day?
When I started my show seven years ago, I did so in part because there were so few women in tech. I felt I could help in two ways—one was media and the other was funding. I’ve run The Valley Girl Show for years, and we’re in the process of moving that to a new platform. But also I’m a fourth generation venture capitalist, and the first female one in my family. After I had my baby, I decided it was time to fundraise for a new venture capital fund, and that’s my main focus.
And what are your mornings like?
I’m such a morning person. I never have trouble getting out of bed. I think it’s partly because as soon as I wake up, I start looking forward to talking to people and having my coffee and seeing the baby. That last part has of course changed everything. It’s totally crazy, but there’s absolutely a fun to it. For example, he’ll will start crying and my husband and I will get all worked up and run into the room and he’ll be totally over it--giggling and so cute. Contrast that with the end of a day, which is really not my favorite. It seems like I always have a dinner thing I need to have my last few brain cells on for, or I’m lying on the couch killing them by watching The Bachelor.
So what does healthy feel like to you right now?
I have a lot of weight to lose from pregnancy. It’s been tough to schedule enough exercise, so a few days a week I’ll book some 30 minutes calls in the morning, and then I’ll do them as I walk or even jog. I’ll of course get winded and I think people often think I get nervous on the phone—or just that I’m really intense!
That’s amazing. Any similar efficiency hacks with food?
I went to a nutritionist, Philip Goglia, not long ago, and he had me go through what I eat in a regular day. Now, I eat a lot. My whole family eats a lot. In fairness, we’re all very big, tall people, but I was still pretty sure the nutritionist would be appalled by how much I’m eating. Yet to my complete shock, he told me I actually need to eat more, just of different things. Like, I needed to double the amount of protein. My mind was blown. Since I’ve done that, I feel so much healthier and stronger. The best tip I’ve got, though, is this one: Living in LA, where everything is so far from everything else, I feel like I never have time to stop and eat during the day. My solve is to take along these Justin's Nut Butter packets. The hazelnut ones are like a chocolate candy bar and I’ve learned they’re the nutritional equivalent of 12 almonds and a piece of fruit. So I’ll have two a day between meals. It tides me over, and I feel like it’s kickstarted some weight loss.
What about indulgences—healthy or otherwise. Do you have any?
I have many! My indulgences are wine, cheese, chocolate, and cheeseburgers. Especially cheeseburgers. (Hat tip here to R+D Kitchen and Hillstone.) I have added a healthy thing to the mix, though: Green juice. I have meetings back-to-back most days and I’ve realized that if you do them all at coffee shops you over-caffeinate. But if you break it up with something at a juice place, you just get a little kick.
Given all the travel you do, and now with your son as well, what’s your best advice for staying healthy in that context?
I used to bring a huge bag when I traveled. Now, with a baby, I basically bring nothing. Just his stuff, a simple black dress for meetings or dinners, and a workout outfit. You start the trip more exhausted when you’re lugging things around, so I make a priority of packing as light as possible. I also drink a ton of water. Another thing my nutritionist told me is that I need to drink an ounce of water for every pound. I’ve started doing that, and it makes a big difference.
How do you and your husband balance childcare?
I grew up in a family of four, where everything had to be very fair. So as much as we can, we try to take turns. For example, tomorrow we’re hopping on a plane for a five hour flight, so we’ll each be in charge of our son for 2.5 hours each. That said, we notice when the other person is fried and we make room for that. Parenting is the best thing, but it’s hard. A lot of people sugarcoat it, but no matter how you slice it, it’s hard.
Is there a product or life hack that’s saving your sanity?
I have a virtual assistant that I got through Zirtual. And that has saved my sanity scheduling-wise. The other thing is grocery apps. I love them. Postmates is my favorite. When we’d just had our baby, my husband had to go back to work after two weeks and I didn’t have any family in LA. So having someone deliver groceries was life-saving.
Whose advice have you taken recently? What was it?
I want to quote my husband here. It’s work advice, and I think it’s so good. He reminded me that in the beginning of your career, you’re mostly learning how to do your job, so you’re working for free and doing a lot of favors. But then you accumulate skills, you know how to do your job, and you start getting paid. I’m someone who has a very hard time switching from the offering to the asking. So my husband is constantly reminding me, “No free lunch, Jesse.” It’s been really motivating to remember that—while I still do plenty of favors, that will never stop—I should also be compensated for what I’m doing.