Lisa Earl | Crain's Pittsburgh

In this ongoing series, we ask executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders about mistakes that have shaped their business philosophy.

Lisa Earl


Lisa Earl is the manager of Ross Park Mall in Ross Township, north of Pittsburgh. She has been in the retail field since 1987, beginning her career at Southern Park Mall in Youngstown, Ohio. She has held various positions in the Simon organization, which owns Ross Park Mall, including office administration, marketing director, assistant manager and operations director. She’s been the manager at Ross Park Mall since 2001.

The Mistake:

I had to learn about life and work balance.

When I first became a manager, I did everything myself. I ran over everyone in the process, and I got a lot of accolades, but I wasn’t always well-received.

I worked 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., and my entire life was my work. I loved it and I was really driven, but the level I was working didn’t leave a lot of time for anything else.

You can’t treat everything with the same level of urgency.

The Lesson:

I don’t think I really had an “a-ha” moment, but when my daughter was born with Down syndrome, that really put things in perspective. It really threw me for a loop, and I went into a depression. If I had had more balance, I think it might have been easier to deal with.

Another thing that really helped put things into perspective was when I was diagnosed with breast cancer in December. I had surgery in January, and things are going well, but to be diagnosed like that really made me realize what was important.

Now, stuff I used to freak out about 15 years ago may not be as important. You can’t treat everything with the same level of urgency.

Not everything is at the same level of priority, and I think that’s something you learn over time. You have to think, “in the big scheme of things, is this going to have an impact on the customer, or on customer service?” And a lot of the time, the answer is “no.”

I still work 24/7, but I think now I work smarter. I don’t have to always be at the mall or in my office to get things done. If you try to make everyone happy all the time, no one wins. It’s still important to be the person you are; if you’re someone who is driven to work hard, that’s rare, so you should do it. But you have to make decisions about how to manage your time so you can focus on things outside of work that are more important. 

Follow Ross Park Mall on Twitter at @Ross_Park_Mall.

Pictured: Lisa Earl | Courtesy of Ross Park Mall.


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