Being a working mom is no joke! Just ask Chili’s Senior Marketing Director, Suzie Tsai. At home, Suzie and her husband, Denis, are rock-star parents to Sloane (7), Leelou (4), and Perry (3). Around the Brinker office, Suzie is notorious for her infectious laugh that can often be heard ringing through the halls of the Marketing Department. Suzie has an incredible way of blending her personal and professional life. She does it all, and she does it with a smile!
Here’s a day in the life of Suzie Tsai:
Brinker & Me:
Eleven years ago, my life changed for the better. I got married to my wonderful husband, Denis, and took a new job with Brinker International – it was a complete reset of my life! I love that my Brinker anniversary coincides with my wedding anniversary because Brinker has been such an important part of my story. I started a new family, and at the same time, Brinker became my family. As I look back at my journey over the past decade, I honestly don’t think that I could have grown my family in the way that I have without Brinker. It might sound crazy, but being a working mom has made me a better mom and a better worker, too.
If I don’t work out in the morning, there won’t be time for it later in the day. So, Denis wakes me up at 6:00 AM three days a week (Tuesday, Thursday, Sunday) for a high-cardio workout routine. He keeps me accountable by dragging me out of bed each morning. On our rest days, our kids act as human alarm clocks! Our youngest and only son, Perry, runs into our room, jumps in our bed, and is closely followed by his sister, Leelou. Our oldest daughter, Sloane (we call her “the teenager” even though she’s 7 years old), doesn’t get up until someone wakes her up, so we usually pull her out of bed around 7:00 AM. Once everyone is awake, it’s a mad rush to get the kids ready for school before we’re out the door at 8:15 AM. Leelou and Perry attend a bilingual Chinese school that teaches the behaviors and lifestyles Denis and I grew up with in our Korean and Chinese backgrounds, and Sloane is in elementary school. Denis and I take turns driving and picking up kids from school each day.
I love walking into the office each morning because my hands are finally free! The work day is a working mom’s escape. I sit down at my desk around 8:45 AM, and Suzie time begins. My day is dictated by my calendar – open it up, and all you’ll see is meetings. I’m booked solid for the next month! My calendar paints a picture of my life and is layered with both work and family stuff. It keeps me balanced. I even have my team’s stuff on my calendar! I love knowing where everyone is at and where everyone is going. It helps me work and connect with my team better. While I spend a lot of time meeting with people at Chili’s, I also spend a lot of time with our marketing agency partners. I love their creative energy and am grateful for the way they bring creative visions to life.
I’m here to make my team’s life easier – that’s my management philosophy! People don’t quit on a job, they quit on a boss. So, I value and put time into my work relationships. My team is almost all women – they’re like my sisters! So, whether we’re talking about work stuff or just catching up, it’s always a fun chat. Since my schedule is always so packed with meetings, I use my lunch time and drive time for 1x1s with my team. I like to have lunch with my husband sometimes, too. But, we have to book it! If it’s not on the calendar, it’s not happening.
Even though my schedule is always busy, I make time each month to volunteer at Sloane’s school to read with her class. I love this time because I get to see her in action and observe her progress first-hand. It gives me context around her educational development and provides an opportunity to get personalized feedback from her teachers.
Evenings at Home:
I call my mom every night on my way home from work to check-in and catch up on life. Whether we have 5, 15, or 50 minutes to chat, it’s always special time. I’m usually home around 6:30 PM and head straight for the kitchen! I cook dinner for the family three or four times a week. I just want the kids to be happy, so we eat a lot of dinosaur nuggets and frozen corn dogs. But, I’ll also make my favorite Asian dishes, spaghetti, or Denis will throw something on the grill.
After dinner, Denis and I will help with homework, play, or watch some TV with the kids before marching them to bed. It’s lights out for Sloane, Leelou, and Perry at 9:00 PM! They all share a bedroom, so we’ll usually hear giggles for about 30-minutes before they drift to sleep. After the kids are in bed, Denis and I will clean up, do the dishes, and run a couple loads of laundry. To make sure that I’m up at 6:00 AM, I know I have to go to bed at 11:00 PM. So, I have an App on my phone that rings at 10:30 PM every night to remind me to go to bed! Silly as it sounds, it’s easy to forget that you need sleep, too, when you spend your days chasing after three tiny humans. Once my head hits the pillow, I pass out and get a little rest before we do it all again.
Denis and I LOVE Game of Thrones and Silicon Valley, but we hardly ever have time to watch them. So, sometimes we’ll wake up early on a Saturday morning to binge watch a few episodes before jumping into the day’s activities. Our weekends are usually full of soccer games, kids’ activities, and school. (Sloane attends a Chinese Language School every Sunday.) Sometimes Denis and I will drop the kids off at my mom’s house and go see a movie – she helps keep us sane! I’m lucky to have family in Dallas. It gives me a support network and truly helps me survive being a working mom. The weekends are hard. Monday is the routine. So, after working through a weekend of crazy, I’m always grateful to return to my desk every Monday morning.
Questions for Suzie:
What inspires you? My mom is my biggest inspiration. She was a working mom like me and is always positive and happy! And my husband, Denis, he’s the smartest guy I know who’s always up on the latest technology, current affairs, and politics – he keeps me up-to-date and in-the-know while providing unconditional love for me and the kids. My mom and Denis make me a better person.
What’s your guilty pleasure? Wine! I love it. I’m a Pinot Noir kind of gal! I don’t get to have a glass too often because I’m too tired and have to wake up early every day. But, when I get to have a glass, it is wonderful!
What’s the last game you played? Shopkins Go Fish! It’s one of the kids’ favorites.
When’s the last time you said, “I love you?” This morning to my husband and kids! We say it every day. Sometimes I yell out to Sloane from the car window when I drop her off at school. She’s still at the age where it’s cool to love your mom!
When’s the last time you danced? At Luz’s (Chili’s Social Media Manager) wedding! It was so much fun – we were dancing all night long!
When’s the last time you cried? Again, at Luz’s wedding when she had her father-daughter dance. It reminded me of my father-daughter dance at my wedding and all the wonderful, happy memories that I have of my dad.