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.

Sterling is the co-founder, co-CEO and president of Burnett New York, a luxury womenswear brand she founded with Emily Burnett. Sterling serves as a member of the Unicef New York Board of Directors, and has been featured in numerous publications. In her Thrive Questionnaire, she opens up about her morning routine, her go-to energy source, and her genius tip for managing an overflowing inbox.

TG: What’s the first thing you do when you get out of bed? 

SM: I drink two glasses of water and then take 10 minutes to meditate with a cup of green tea.

TG: What gives you energy? 

SM: Art in any form is always an energetic boost for me that gets me inspired and motivated.

TG: What’s your secret life hack? 

SM: Listening. If you listen to different perspectives and ideas, it is truly amazing the personal growth that is a result of being open to learning diverse views.=

TG: Name a book that changed your life. 

SM: Grit by Angela Duckworth.

TG: Tell us about your relationship with your phone. Does it sleep with you? 

SM: I try my best to disconnect entirely around 10 p.m. and not revisit my phone until 7 a.m. after my meditation.

TG: How do you deal with email? 

SM: I do my best to keep an empty inbox, so I am meticulous about going through emails throughout the day and responding within the hour so I do not get too underwater. At the end of each day, my goal is to have no more than 15 unread emails.

TG: You unexpectedly find 15 minutes in your day, what do you do with it?

SM: Every week I leave articles I come across that interest me or that are sent to me open in tabs on my web browser. If I get 15 minutes, I take the time to read through them.

TG: When was the last time you felt burned out and why? 

SM: I have always been an overachiever in everything I do, so I would say about once a week I feel burned out, but the fact is, a majority of the time I feel extremely excited and motivated about what I do, so that is what matters. A little bit of a burned out feeling is normal in my opinion. If you don’t feel that way once a week, you aren’t being challenged enough!

TG: When was the last time you felt you failed and how did you overcome it? 

SM: I have small failures all the time, but I know failure is the key to growth, so I always remind myself that each failure is a positive learning experience.

TG: Share a quote that you love and that gives you strength or peace. 

SM: ”Be the change you wish to see in the world.” —Gandhi

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  • Sterling is the Co-Founder, Co-CEO and President of Burnett New York, a luxury womenswear brand she founded with Emily Burnett. Sterling and Emily met when Emily began designing Sterling's custom wedding gown when she was Creative Director at Dennis Basso. The two agreed that the fashion world was missing a powerful female-founded and women's empowerment focused luxury label, so they began working on a business plan for what is now Burnett New York. Sterling tapped her network of diverse inspiring women to find nine female investors to fund Burnett. Sterling made the decision to leave her Wall Street career as a Goldman Sachs analyst after an eye-opening trip to Vietnam with UNICEF. She decided she wanted to focus her energies on helping women and children in need by creating social impact businesses. Inspired by how much one solar panel can provide a single community, McDavid was inspired to launch The Starling Project, a luxury home fragrance line that with every sale helps provide solar energy to families in need through the company’s partnership with UNICEF. Sterling serves as a member of the UNICEF New York Board of Directors. In 2016, Sterling received the UNICEF Champion for Children award at the annual Children First Gala for her dedication to helping women and children globally. She also received the President’s Volunteer Service Award from President Barack Obama for her philanthropic work. Sterling was named a top female entrepreneur by Town & Country magazine and was one of 50 women listed on the magazine’s Modern Swans list in 2017.
    Sterling has been featured in numerous publications including Forbes, The New York Times, Town & Country, InStyle, Harper’s Bazaar and Downtown Magazine NYC.