My Food Bag co-founder Theresa Gattung had a full-time job while a full-time law student but the effort was too much and she got sick.
"For the first time in my life I started to think I should pace myself," she said.
The former chief executive of Telecom New Zealand was Napier City Council's Business Breakfast speaker yesterday at the MTG Century Theatre.
Last year she was made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to business and philanthropy and inducted into the Marketing Hall of Fame at the 2015 TVNZ Marketing Awards.
My Food Bag is a food home-delivery service providing ingredients and recipes to cook meals.
Various styles of meal are available but one was a resounding failure. A barbecue bag sold only 12 bags.
"People really like their weekend barbecues. It's mid-week dinners they need help with."
The company has served more than 13 million meals to more than 35,000 customers and grown to $100 million turnover in its three years.
It delivers to most major New Zealand cities and greater Sydney and Melbourne.
Cheerful and chatty, Ms Gattung told her life story from being conceived on high seas during her parents' immigration.
She was ushered into the principal's office after giving unsolicited advice on how school assembly could be run better.
"Unless you can keep a still tongue in your head you will never have a happy marriage," the nun told her.
She was "devastated" at not getting a job in financial services but landed a job as National Mutual market research manager. She steadily climbed the corporate ladder and yesterday shared leadership lessons learned, including having to choose between being liked and being respected.
People's personal attributes and attitude were very important when leading.
"We think it is positional power that matters, but it is not."
Despite her principal's admonishment she asked billionaire investor Warren Buffett, while at a Bill Gates-hosted summit for 100 CEOs during the Enron scandal, why United States companies had not adopted the British governance model of separate chairman and CEO roles. "How can you have more than the one jockey on the one horse?" he replied.