When you have the opportunity to ask some of the most interesting people in the world about their lives, sometimes the most fascinating answers come from the simplest questions. The Thrive Questionnaire is an ongoing series that gives an intimate look inside the lives of some of the world’s most successful people.

Thrive Global: What’s the first thing you do when you get out of bed?
Amy Ephron: Umm — make coffee. Unless someone else has already made it.

TG: What gives you energy?
AE: Well, that’s a complicated question. Love, learning, exercise, being needed, laughing; also conversely: Sometimes if someone tells me that I can’t do something, a little bell goes off and I go, watch this. Sometimes in really difficult situations or adversity of some kind, you have to find a kind of energy, too.

TG: Name a book that changed your life. 
AE: ”The World as I See It” by Albert Einstein. (Note: Out of print, find the original, not the weird un-copyrighted version.)

TG: Tell us about your relationship with your phone. Does it sleep with you?AE: I lose it a lot and then it comes back to me sometimes in magical ways. (This can also be expensive, leaving your phone in a cab for example and having to find the driver and talk him into bringing it back to you.) It does not sleep with me.

TG: How do you deal with email?
AE: Sometimes I respond by phone. I wish I understood better how to put things in “email files.” I think there should be an email class (and an iPhoto class.)

TG: You unexpectedly find 15 minutes in your day, what do you do with it?
AE: Write. Stare at the ceiling. Have a lovely cup of tea if I’m out. Stare at the ocean or the trees if there are any in proximity and see if I can see any birds…

TG: When was the last time you felt burned out and why.
AE: I don’t believe in that. Get some rest. Take a minute off. And start all over again, if you have to.

TG: When was the last time you felt you failed and how did you overcome it? 
AE: I don’t believe in that. You don’t overcome something like that, you learn from it, move on, and try not to dwell on mistakes or inadvertent failure. Next!! Excellent motto.

TG: Share a quote that you love and that gives you strength or peace.
AE: This is a rough translation of the beginning of Jose Marti’s poem Una Rosa Blanca: “I cultivate white roses for the honest friend who offers me his hand.”

Amy Ephron is the author of the award-winning and bestselling A Cup of Tea. She is also a contributor and contributing editor at Vogue and Vogue.com. The Castle in the Mist is her first novel for children. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and any of their children who stop by.

Originally published at journal.thriveglobal.com