How Jessica Burns aims to creates equal opportunity in life and work.

Everyone is aware of gender inequality in the tech industry. But Jessica Burns wants you to know that the the issue is similarly pervasive in the restaurant business. The VP of brand marketing and creative at Grubhub helped start a program, called RestaurantHER, to address the problem. Launched last year, the initiative makes it easier for users to identify and support women-led restaurants.

In American restaurants, women hold only 22% of chef positions, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Those who rise to that coveted status, earn 28% less in base pay than their male counterparts, according to Glassdoor. “That’s a major gap,” Burns says. The initiative includes a map of female-owned and -helmed restaurants across the country, which has been steadily populated since 2018. To celebrate Women’s History Month this year, Grubhub is also giving diners the option of rounding their order to the nearest dollar and donating the change to the James Beard Foundation Women in Leadership Programs, which supports female chefs in becoming leaders in the industry. “It’s solving that issue of putting more women into the pipeline to owning restaurants and leading kitchens,” Burns says.

She’s particularly proud of RestaurantHer. But it’s only one facet of a demanding job leading brand marketing at a growth-driven tech company. Despite the professional pressures, Burns describes the pace as “sexy.” “We come up with an idea, we develop a prototype or a test, we get it out there quickly, we fail, we do it again. For a creative person, that’s really exciting.” Still, for her, it requires a strict regiment for breaking up her day that allows her to be optimally productive while staying personally grounded.

Morning meditation

I wake up around 6 o’clock, 6:30. (If I’m tired, that 30 extra minutes makes all the difference.) One of the things that I’ve been trying to do in the morning is a mini morning mediation, just to set my intentions for the day. A lot of people meditate because it’s a trendy thing, but for me, it’s more about “OK, I have to ground myself before the craziness of the day starts.”

School prep

I’m a mom of an amazing six-year-old boy, so a lot of my morning is getting him ready for school. And I have to say, it’s my favorite part of the day. Mostly because when he wakes up, because he’s six, he has the craziest things to say. He’s either reflecting on his dreams or he’s excited for the day to start, and he’s amping himself up for what he’s going to experience at school, and as a creative person, I find that’s such a good way to start the day because it gets you out of the “I have to get on the subway, get into work mode” and lightens me up a bit.

Podcast commute

I take the subway to work every day. I try to consume as much media in the morning as possible, so I can ground myself into just being a human being and having a role within the world to understand what’s going on and how I can impact that. So I listen to a lot of podcasts wen I’m riding on the subway. Some of my favorite ones are good, quick hits of news, like NPR’s Up First and The New York Times’ The Daily. If I don’t want hardcore news, I love NPR’s How I Built This, and I love Reid Hoffman’s — Reid Hoffman was a co-founder in LinkedIn — Masters of Scale podcast. Then, just to be on top of what’s going on in the industry, I read a lot of TechCrunch and Mashable and AdAge.

I always get coffee every morning at La Columbe before work. That habit I feel is so important. If I were to disrupt that, I feel like my whole day would be a bust.

Saying good morning

My team is split between New York and Chicago. With my New York team, I try to say good morning to as many people as possible and smile and feel like I’ve connected with someone. I’m not the kind of person who makes a beeline for their desks and goes into email. I feel like it’s really important to connect with my entire team. I also do the same thing on Slack with my Chicago team. I’m, like, “Good morning, everyone. How’s it going?” Doing a temperature check of the team is so, so critical.

Third bird

I follow a methodology for the rest of the day. Daniel Pink wrote a book titled When that I’ve been evangelizing and have been putting into practice the last year or so. He is super critical of the periods of the day when men and women are the most productive. He categorizes people into three types. You’re either an early bird, a night owl, or you’re somewhere in between — you’re kind of a third bird. I’m very much a third bird, and I use that to control my schedule during the day. And I have to tell you, it’s been pretty life-changing.

This is the schedule of the third bird: In the morning, I do all of my critical thinking. If I have to make big decisions during a meeting with my team, I do all of those before noon. That’s when my brain is the most active and my critical-thinking skills are at 100%. Around noon, that’s when I’m at my all-time low from a mental-capacity perspective. That’s when I do a lot of my administration stuff, like check emails, make notes for myself, schedule meetings if I have to. Don’t talk to me at noon, because I’m not going to give you a coherent thought or answer. Then around 3 o’clock in the afternoon, I have a creative rebound. That’s when I’ll schedule brainstorms to think through new content ideas with my team, new campaigns, big ideas. I really follow that, and my team’s really good about scheduling meetings at those times. I know that sounds crazy-regimented, but it’s been pretty transformative for me to just be able to be a productive human being throughout the day.

Taking stock

One of the things I love to do at the end of the day is to write down my top three accomplishments and then reflect on those, because I think we get trapped in “I didn’t get what I wanted to do accomplished in a day,” when in fact you did actually accomplish some things and those need to be acknowledged and reinforced. I also do a to-do list for the next day, just so I can start to think about how to tackle those things.

After-work routine

I try to wrap up work around five, sometimes a little bit later if there are any big projects that are being executed. I try to work out. Thankfully, my gym is right across the street from work, so there’s really no excuse, and after about an hour workout — I’m a big runner, it’s like my therapy — I get on the train and listen to music. Listening to music helps me get out of my head and think about different things. Then I get home and eat with my family. That’s super, super important. I learn about all the crazy things that my son did during the day and my husband did at work, and then I usually get back online around nine to check my emails and make sure I didn’t miss anything.

Easing into sleep

I’m in bed by eleven, but I make it a rule to not look at my phone. I try to read something that’s just completely different and challenging. Right now, I’m reading Sapiens. I’m learning about the origin story of human beings, and it’s been a really dense read. Maybe it’s helped me sleep a little better at night, because it’s so dense.

Magenta is a publication of Huge.