cool to be KIND // communications manager Lena Kleinfeld talks to TPP about finding balance, beauty and purpose
It’s a bright Sunday afternoon in Los Angeles and Lena Kleinfeld’s arrival at Cecconis (thrumming with late lunch conversation) is just in time for our gluten free pizza cravings. The German-born communications manager is a picture postcard of 21st century beauty, but there’s something else about her that makes her almost magically irresistible.
We first locked eyes with Lena at the Munich International School where we attended middle school together. We shared countless firsts and formed a bond that would later span time zones, decades and dimensions. At the end of ninth grade, after three fun-filled years of nights out and hours spent talking while doing each others hair and makeup, Lena moved to New York City, an entire ocean now suddenly between us. Although it was tough leaving her friends and familiar surroundings behind, Lena explains that this constant notion of movement (she moved every three years growing up) forced her to stretch her comfort zone and taught her to adapt quickly. “It also massively grew my interpersonal skills. I learned to easily understand and connect with people from all over the world,” Lena adds on. “Careerwise, it helped me see the bigger picture and anticipate what might resonate with different audiences.” It also taught Lena to place value on people instead of objects. Today, Los Angeles where she lives with her boyfriend of six years and New York where her parents live is home. “Whenever I visit Munich to see my friends, that also feels like home,” Lena explains.
Following Lena’s teenage transatlantic move, she attended The Dwight School in New York City from which she graduated three years later with an international baccalaureate diploma. She then went on to study communications with a minor in the business of entertainment, media and technology at New York University (NYU). “My minor enabled me to take classes at the Stern School of Business and Tisch School of the Arts, which is where I realized that I am very drawn to creative industries,” she tells us. Upon graduating university, Lena moved across the country – this time on her own accord – in order to pursue a career in the entertainment industry. Despite her noteworthy and rigorous education, Lena started at the bottom and worked her way up. She interned in a production company’s development team before joining a talent management and production company where she worked within the talent department. From there, Lena moved on to a corporate communications role at a Hollywood studio where, over the past three years, she has grown form an executive assistant to a manager. “I love that I get to work in a role that combines my knowledge of public relations and brand communications with my deep interest in the entertainment industry,” Lena tells us, her bright blue eyes sparkling with excitement. Seeing each other today, halfway across the world and over a decade after we first met, we are beyond grateful that this very special lady re-entered our lives. Having unintentionally lost touch during our high school and university years, social media reunited us a little over two years ago in the city of angels. After all this time, it was refreshing to see that we were able to pick up right where we left off.
“Working in communications at an international company is a 24/7 job,” Lena shares with us. “I am very committed to my work and I love the fast-paced nature of it because I thrive in these kinds of situations.”
In order to avoid feeling stressed or low on energy, Lena explains that she schedules regular workouts, meditations and family/friend time into her calendar. Her meditations alternate between a Tony Robbins meditation and a transcendental meditation that she learned at the David Lynch Foundation. “I try my best to have a positive outlook on life and spread this positivity to the people around me,” Lena explains. Just like us, Lena is a firm believer in the fact that everything we take into our bodies will affect how we feel, move and look. As a result, she has become very conscious of what she feeds her body. “I’m very interested in how I can support my body to function at its highest level,” Lena goes on to say. Due to her sensitive skin, she tries to stay away from gluten, dairy and processed sugar, hence our gluten free pizzas. “Of course, I try to be flexible and there are times when I can’t eat according to my preferences, and that’s fine. But I feel so much better when I do.” Although it has been somewhat of a learning process for Lena to find that work-life balance, she tells us how incredibly lucky she feels to have an older sister to guide her along the way. In order to give back some of this knowledge, Lena has become a big supporter of mentorship programs. She’s a mentor to two young women at her company, a student in her program at NYU and a young woman from SCS Noonan Scholars. “I love helping these young women navigate the transition from college to career,” Lena tells us. “We work together to identify their strengths and how to best highlight those, set goals and make a plan to achieve these.”
To give you a better understanding of Lena’s day to day, she typically wakes up at 5.30am or 6am and starts the day by drinking warm lemon water with honey and a pinch of salt before taking her probiotics. “Some days, I do a 30-minute yoga or pilates workout. Then, I make a coconut milk latte, and head to the office.” Having lived in LA for the past four years, Lena has learned how to best utilize the time in her car. “I love to catch-up on phone calls and listen to podcasts,” she explains. The second Lena gets home from work, usually not before 7:30pm or 8pm, she’ll light a candle and turn on music or a TV show to unwind. She loves to cook a plant-based dinner – her current favorite is the vegan lasagna based on Melissa Wood Health’s recipe – and will, often, jump back into a few work e-mails after. “I love this kind of wind down time in the evenings,” she explains. On weekends, one day is committed to running errands and doing work whilst the other day, usually Sunday, is for relaxation. “My boyfriend and I don’t see each other much during the week. He’s a music producer and works late so, on Sundays, we love to spend quality time together,” she tells us. For Lena, a born water sign, living close to the ocean has become a necessity and a place where she can best recharge.
We agree to migrate over to Soho House where we can finish our chat and follow up on work e-mails in peace. It is nearing 5pm and the sun has slowly started to set. Even after so many LA sunsets, the laden sky remains a novelty in and of itself time and time again. Working in communications for a publicly-traded company, Lena is almost always plugged in, even on a Sunday. “The more people that reach out to me with projects and questions, the better. This shows me that I am creating value for them and for the company, and that is very fulfilling,” Lena explains. That being said, there are little things she does in order to allow for personal time. For example, Lena doesn’t look at her phone first thing in the morning and always plugs her phone into a charger that is purposefully out of reach from her bed before she goes to sleep. She has also made it a rule to put her phone away when she’s having meals, at the very least when she’s with other people. Although these tricks may seem minor they are very effective and allow Lena to put her best self forward at work: focused, clear-minded and full of energy and ideas.
Additionally, Lena enjoys taking time at the beginning of each year to tune into herself and figure out what she wants to achieve. “I set goals and make a plan on how to achieve them but also try to stay flexible along the way,” she explains. “On my path so far, I’ve realized that as long as I am proactive, take opportunities, work hard and reflect along the way, life develops in a good direction.” Making her way up the career ladder, Lena has learned that feedback is one of the most fundamental tools to grow. “I remind myself to be grateful for the person who is giving me feedback and thank them.” The key thing, however, is to take time to reflect on it.
“I expect a lot from myself,” Lena confesses, “and while I strive to be the best version of myself every day, it’s impossible to do everything perfectly all the time.”
We agree that, in the end, it’s all about how things feel rather than how things look. “If I’m happy, great. If I’m not entirely happy, then I figure out how to resolve that issue and take action.” When it comes to social media, Lena is fully aware that people only share a microscopic view of their lives – often highly edited and curated. “I look at Instagram with that understanding in the back of my mind and view it more as inspiration rather than something I compare myself to,” she tells us. To her, Instagram is a space where she can showcase her personality and lifestyle, essentially her personal brand. As a communications professional, she is very conscious of what she shows to the public but also tries not to take it too seriously, to be authentic, positive and fun. “Social media is a place where I can express my creativity. I have a strong sense of aesthetic, and love capturing beauty and moments that I want to remember,” Lena tells us as she holds the camera on her iPhone against the glowing sky.
“At the end of the day,” Lena concludes, gently sipping her coffee and staring at the evening sky, “I always remind myself to be thankful, to be kind to other people, and to find joy and purpose in every situation.” A Pisces and naturally empathetic, intuitive, and selfless, Lena isn’t like any other communications manager. She is where she is today as a result of her hard work, ambition and perseverance. The thing that strikes us most about her is not just her quiet intelligence, but the aura of balance about her, as though she’s in alignment with herself and the universe.
Q&A PART I
What time do you wake up?
On weekdays, between 5:30am and 6am, depending on whether or not I want to workout that morning. On weekends, I sleep in until around 9am or 10am.
What’s the first thing you do when you wake up?
I drink a cup of warm water with lemon, honey and a pinch of salt, and have my probiotics
How do you mentally prepare for the day?
I meditate for about 20 minutes, alternating between a meditation I learned from Tony Robbins and transcendental meditation I learned at the David Lynch Foundation. I find that this helps set me up for a positive experience, where I can present the best version of myself to the people around me.
What is the last book you read?
Becoming by Michelle Obama
Who is the last person that texted you?
How do you drink your coffee/tea?
I love a coconut milk latte
Q&A PART II
What's the most attractive quality in someone?
Are you an early bird or a night owl?
What does your everyday make up look consist of?
Very natural – a little bit of makeup foundation or concealer, some eyeshadow in a brown tone, mascara, light bronzer, lip balm and sometimes a dab of lipstick.
What does your ideal food day look like?
Avocado toast for breakfast, a salad filled with veggies for lunch and vegan lasagna (recipe by Melissa Wood Health) for dinner.
Last movie you saw and loved?
A Star Is Born
Something you can’t leave the house without?
My cell phone
How do you recharge?
By doing yoga, hiking, reading and cooking. Sometimes, I treat myself to a massage or a facial.
What would be your perfect date?
Dinner at an Italian restaurant filled with great conversation and laughter. Followed by going out somewhere we can dance to early 2000s hip hop and R&B.
Q&A PART III
Where do you feel most inspired?
Near the ocean
Swim in the ocean or go on a hike?
In Los Angeles, I would choose a hike. I love to swim, but the Pacific Ocean is very cold most of the time during the year.
Describe living in LA in 3 words?
Entrepreneurial, health-conscious and sunny!
Something you recently discovered?
That many skincare and makeup products are full of toxic chemicals and that there are great natural alternatives.
Girls night out. What are your hair and make up vibes?
Hair down with natural waves. Glowing skin, smoky eye and a rose-tinted lip.
Something everyone should try at least once?
Starting the day by drinking warm lemon water, meditating and practicing gratitude.
Q&A PART IV
Where will you travel next?
Do you like to sit window or aisle on the plane?
Favorite place to go shopping in LA?
In store, I love shopping at Reformation and The RealReal. I’m a big fan of online shopping and my go-to websites are Shopbop and Net-a-Porter.
What do you hold close in life?
The people I love
Favorite type of workout / workout place in LA?
I like the flexibility and efficiency of working out at home. Therefore, I subscribe to Our Body Electric and Melissa Wood Health, and really enjoy their yoga and Pilates workouts.
What’s your most used emoj?
The red heart
What are you currently watching on Netflix?
Friends from College
What’s on your bedside table?
The book I’m currently reading as well as a few other ones that inspire me, a Diptyque candle, and my digital alarm clock.
What time do you go to bed?
During the week, I’m typically in bed by 10:30pm. On weekends, it can get a little later, but usually before 12am.