Our new series, What Do People Do All Day?, takes a look at the work life, lunch habits, and downtime of people across different industries.
Name: Noora Raj Brown
Title/company: SVP of communications, Goop
Years on the job: 3
City: Los Angeles
Noora Raj Brown was barefoot when she interviewed with Gwyneth Paltrow in 2016. “I was at her house in New York, [and] she always has people take their shoes off,” she explains. “I was like, ‘I’m so happy I got a pedicure.’” In keeping with the no-heels vibe, their talk unfolded more like a conversation than a job interview. “She was obviously interested in my skills,” Brown says. “But she was also really interested in what drives me.”
They discussed Brown’s travel writing, which she’d been publishing on a freelance basis while working in public relations for InStyle. “She was like, ‘I come from the same place, where I’m an actress and I’ve had this great career, but I’m also drawn to other things and there are muscles that I want to flex,’” Brown recalls. “I think we really connected about that.”
Three years later, Brown is still with Goop, where she reports directly to Paltrow and handles PR for everything from product launches and popups to wellness summits and the website. Beyond the material perks of working for the company—i.e., access to beauty products, workout classes, and so on—Brown says she’s most grateful for the cultural ones. As she put it on Instagram last summer: “I’m currently in the countryside on the annual two-week break GP gives the entire company so we have a chance to pause, recalibrate and relax. (The world would be a little bit better if more bosses were like her.)”
Below, Brown gives a glimpse into what she’s up to when she’s not on one of GP’s mandatory vacations.
What’s your morning routine like? And when does work make its way in?
I wish I could say I start with a meditation practice, but I literally roll over and fumble for my phone as soon as I wake up around 6:30 a.m. I do a quick scan of emails/Slacks and then run to a workout class, usually Modelfit or CorePower Sculpt. I take a superquick shower, grab an oat-milk latte from Carrera Coffee on my block and then head to work. I’m usually in the office around 9:30 a.m.
What’s the first time you check your email? Which emails are you most likely to read?
About four seconds after I wake up. I usually lay in bed for a good 15 minutes, willing myself to go workout, and read through most of my emails. Unless it’s a question from my boss or something urgent from a media outlet or colleague, I flag and star all Slacks/emails and get back to them later.
What’s the first Slack message you got today?
A company-wide Slack reminding us that there is space left in a reiki class we’re hosting in the office this week.
How do you usually spend your commute?
I have a 45-minute drive each way, so I always try to schedule calls for the morning commute. On the way home, I’m usually burned out and I listen to a podcast. The Goop podcast is a staple, as are Pod Save America, How I Built This, and Fresh Air. I also just finished The Dropout [about Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes], which was so captivating that I would sit in my car outside my house until the episode ended.
What’s the first thing you do when you sit down to work in the morning?
Respond to any starred/flagged emails or Slacks that require a quick response or approval. Once I get through those, I update my “To Do” Excel sheet, which somehow always gets longer and never gets shorter.
Do you have any rituals or routine tasks you do to get started?
I take a packet of Goop “Why Am I So Effing Tired” vitamins to help my focus. Then I tackle the “Urgent” column in my Excel.
What’s the thing most likely to break your focus?
Meetings. Or new snacks in the office.
Which messaging services do you keep always on (i.e., email, Slack, IM, WhatsApp, etc.)?
Slack. How did we exist without it?
Are there any you deliberately turn off?
No, but once in a while if the office is going on a tangent about the Power Ball or something, I’ll mute the channel.
How many hours a day do you think you spend in meetings?
Way too much.
When was the last time you daydreamed in a meeting, and what did you daydream about?
This morning, about what I was going to make for dinner.
Video conferencing: pro or con?
Con. I feel like there is always a technical difficulty on at least one person’s end.
Where do you take phone calls?
I pace around the office on long phone calls. I think better that way, but I try to do it in one of the less-used common spaces so as to not annoy everyone.
How often do you eat a meal at your desk?
Always, unless I’m meeting someone for breakfast or lunch.
Do you nap during the workday?
No. Is that allowed?
What time at night, if ever, do you stop reading and responding to emails?
I’m usually checking my phone until I fall asleep. I need to set boundaries.
What’s the last work thing you do before bed?
Look at my calendar for the next day.
Tell me about your tabs. What websites are you most likely to have open at any given moment?
Too many tabs stress me out. But I have breaking-news alerts enabled on my computer so I’m up to date.
What website or app are you most likely to go to if you’re looking to waste time?
NYTimes.com, VanityFair.com, or NYMag.com.
What are your starred Slack channels?
#comms #talent #press #travel #bookclub
What’s your Slack pet peeve?
What’s your preferred email signoff?“
Thanks so much” or “Best.” Predictable.
Marry/kiss/kill: Slack, email, phone. Explain.
Marry: phone. It’s incredible what can happen if you just pick up the phone.
I actually love Slack. Do I have to kill it?