Botanica Founders Emily Fiffer and Heather Sperling join Jenna to share how they manifested the near exact vision they had for their restaurant into reality. The two best friends discuss key lessons on using your values as your compass, being mindful of how your attitude influences others, as well as learning how to pick your battles as a perfectionist.
The Power of Intention
While reading an interview with Emily Fiffer and Heather Sperling, the founders of Botanica, I was struck when they shared that their restaurant, market, and magazine are nearly exactly how they envisioned them to be. How? I wondered. How does one translate the near exact vision they have in their head into reality, albeit one as complex as a restaurant?
Fortunately, I was able to ask them in today’s podcast and was once again moved by their response. It wasn’t just the space that came to life — Even exact quotes they hoped people would use to describe Botanica have been said, verbatim.
“I credit that to the power of intention,” Heather shared. “And, the importance of — when you’re doing a project that is intensely personal, complex, and going to demand a lot of you — figuring out what your core values are and refusing to deviate from them.”
It’s special to witness how deeply these two best friends live this philosophy, and the way those values of celebration, positivity, hospitality, and nourishment have come to define Botanica. Living a values-led life is a shared ambition for all of us, so it was a privilege to hear an honest glimpse into what it really takes to do so every day. Here are a few of the insights I’ve been reflecting on since our conversation. You can learn more about Emily and Heather’s inspiring journey in their episode, and if you’re in Los Angeles, be sure to visit them in Silver Lake.
Rely on your values as your GPS
Emily and Heather met as food and lifestyle editors, and over many shared meals were inspired to create Botanica. I appreciated the way they described their transition from being journalists to founders for the sense of certainty it revealed we can all access when embarking on a new path…
“We left the safe world of writing about food from our desks at home to actually doing it in a big way,” they shared. “Intention was an essential part of the process. Before we knew how we were going to manifest Botanica, we set our foundational values and said: If we make every decision in a way that’s reflective of these values something good will come of it. It helped us feel confident taking a journey down a road that was totally untraveled for us.”
As we embrace new experiences or overcome challenging ones, Emily and Heather’s example reminds us that our values are our compass; If you have a strong sense of values, you always have a strong sense of direction.
Master the balance between excellence and sanity
One of the traits Emily admires most in Heather is her attention to detail, which Heather views as a building block of overall excellence. Though they both agree it’s contributed to Botanica’s success, learning how and when to lean into it has been one of Heather’s greatest growth experiences. Her personal journey provides an apt mirror to each of our own pursuits of excellence, and the important role positivity and perspective should play in realizing them. Here’s a brief excerpt of what she shared..
“You have to pick and choose your battles. This is true in every part of life; Your family, your work, your relationships.
There are always a million things that can be tweaked. You have to decide what you are going to focus on making better right now and what you are going to make better later.
It’s really hard to balance that constant desire to improve with figuring out how to be a happy, rational, and dependable person for you and the people around you.
It takes compromise and a lot of letting go. It’s a minute to minute, push and pull between the two forces.”
Acknowledge the way your attitude influences others
We’ve all walked into a room, read a negative emotion on the other person’s face, and felt our own energy change as a result. Emily shared an honest learning being on the other side of that interaction.
The early days of Botanica’s launch were, of course, filled with unexpected daily challenges. Though, Emily was deeply grateful for the experience, constantly being in problem-solving mode led to feelings of anxiety and stress showing on her face which, their General Manager shared, was influencing her team. She’s since learned an essential life lesson: Smile and get through it.
“Anxiety is contagious,” she said. “As leaders, we feel our job is to smile through every possible circumstance. People are looking to you as a source of strength and stability. It’s important to be positive and not let that anxiety bleed.”
What I appreciate most about Emily’s advice is its universal application to all of our interactions; Whether you’re speaking with a friend or helping someone solve a challenge, your attitude not only significantly influences the person but the nature of your conversation and the result.
Part of learning not to let your anxiety, or other negative emotions, bleed is learning how to manage them. Emily and Heather shared a helpful practice that can be used personally or professionally…
Create a private time and space where you can air your anxieties, concerns, and challenges and then work through them mindfully. A helpful lens to approach them is asking: How am I going to deal with this in a way that is aligned with my values?
This exercise can be done with a partner, contemplated on a walk, or written in a journal; Whatever approach is best for you. The goal is simply to acknowledge and work through your challenges during a dedicated time period so, as Emily shared, the emotions that accompany them don’t bleed into other areas of your life.
Developing the awareness of how your behavior influences others, and striving to consistently uplift them, is a learned skill, that, like each of the values Emily and Heather shared, requires daily practice to cultivate. As we each commit to living our own values, I found this insight from them to be an inspiring reminder of why it’s all worth it: “Intention and effort are at the root of everything. The reality is it takes a lot of work. It’s also really special because, at the end of the day, you’re really tired but you’re usually pretty satisfied too.”