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?
Joan Blades: I start my morning with about 15 minutes of yoga stretches listening to music or maybe a TED talk—watching the sun come up and the light change on the hills and bay. 

TG: What gives you energy?
JB: My kids, my dog, friends, sunshine, thick moss, light filtering through leaves, playing soccer, riding my bike … long list. 

TG: Name a book that changed your life.
JB: So many good books. I can’t pick one.

TG: Tell us about your relationship with your phone. Does it sleep with you?
JB: Heck no to having my phone sleep with me. In fact, I don’t take it with me when I hike or bike or garden typically. I want to be unplugged.

TG: How do you deal with email?
JB: So much email in my life … I try to sort out the important, the relationships that are key, the emails that will contribute to my productivity and recognize I simply can’t pay attention to everything and be effective.

TG: You unexpectedly find 15 minutes in your day, what do you do with it?
JB: Depends upon the time of day. Is it beautiful outside? Feeling the sun on my face or a breeze, moving with energy, singing … these are joyful things.

TG: When was the last time you felt burned out and why?
JB: When I was sick. It makes it harder to persist, and the work I do takes ridiculous persistence.

TG: When was the last time you felt you failed, and how did you overcome it?
JB: I fail all the time! We are trying to move our culture toward kind and tolerant relations where respect and dignity for all is the norm. We are attempting to spark massive participation in this movement through Living Room Conversations with people who have differing beliefs. Most people don’t say yes. That said, even though we haven’t reached our goal yet, every conversation is a beautiful thing. I focus on the successes.

TG: Share a quote that you love and that gives you strength or peace.
JB: I love the parenting directive, “Be kind. Don’t whine.” Simple is powerful. If everyone first considered “Is this kind?” in decision making, we’d be in much better shape.

Joan Blades is a co-founder of LivingRoomConversations.org, an open source effort to rebuild respectful civil discourse across ideological, cultural and party lines while embracing our core-shared values. She is also a co-founder of MomsRising.org and MoveOn.org. She is a co-author of The Custom-Fit Workplace, winner of a Nautilus book award in 2011 and The Motherhood Manifesto, which won the Ernesta Drinker Ballard Book Prize in 2007. A mediator (attorney) by training and inclination, she is a nature lover, artist and true believer in the power of citizens and our need to rebuild respectful civil discourse while embracing our core shared values.