It's Working Project

"In my old life, 80% of my waking time was spent getting things done and wowing people above, around, and below me. As a business owner, now 80% of my waking time is spent on enabling people and building authentic relationships."

Faced with a Pivot or Perish Scenario, This Working Mom Took Career and Family Happiness into her Own Hands

What inspired you to leave your job after you started your family?

Becoming a mother unleashed something powerful in me.   I had a hunger for a greater purpose.  If I was going to leave my children in someone else’s hands for 40+ hours a week, I wanted my work to be life changing.  For me and for others.  I wanted to be challenged at a larger level and have a more rewarding and dynamic career.  Staying in brand management felt too “safe.”   

How do you think that decision has changed your life?

My life is completely different.  As an entrepreneur, I decide what I do each day and which work to take on.  Staying at Procter would have meant continuing on the constant quest to exceed expectations with insane work hours and travel. By comparison, now I have to deal with the consequence of being the only one who the buck ultimately stops with and who the chaos rolls up to.  Thank God my husband and I share our business risks and rewards together.  I don’t think I would have the gumption to be an entrepreneur exclusively on my own. There are many days when I do yearn for a traditional job that would be “safe.”   However, overall I’m proud of my accomplishments in the past nine years.  I’m probably aging faster in some ways from the sheer risk management of being an entrepreneur, but also slower in other ways as each day is so different and exciting. 

What do you think life would be like if you were still in your former position?

I definitely would see my kids at least 30 – 40% less than I do now.  I also would feel the constant pressure to move up.  I’m a perfectionist who was intoxicated by the challenge of the up or out culture – my competitive spirit allowed my job to consume me.   There are some more practical women who have been able to balance the demanding culture of Procter with the needs of their family.  For me, entrepreneurship is a better fit because the lack of a clear road map gives me the creative freedom to develop as I desire, not as someone tells me to.

What advice do you have for working parents who are straining to make it work?

1) Enable yourself to say no as needed to the unnecessary – birthday parties, extra activities, happy hours, work dinners.  2) Ask for help when you need it, even if it’s every weekend. 3) Don’t beat yourself up if you sometimes have to miss specials kids events or are not uber organized with your home.  4) Every choice has a trade off. Parents who only work inside the home have lifestyle and mental trade offs as well. Being a working parents is also a blessing. Many of us “get to” work and not just “have to” work.  5) Remember to appreciate the “Get to” part of being a skilled, meaningful contributor outside your home. That’s basically the advice I try to give myself every day.  It’s easier to give advice than take it.  : )

Can you reflect on one moment of family life that was made possible or enhanced by your decision to make your career change? One moment of work life?

Every day is filled with such moments that were enhanced by my choice to work as an entrepreneur.   Today’s morning routine is an example of such a blessed experience.  If I was corporate, I wouldn’t have time to spend with my kids between 6 and 8 am as I do now. My husband and I got to start our day by having our 2-year-old daughter jump into our bed around 6am to snuggle.  Then a quick conversation with my 9-year-old daughter about Pioneer day and how we could craft a bonnet from what’s in my closet. Having a moment over cereal with my 7-year-old daughter as I realize she’s never tried Golden Grahams and feeding her first bite from my bowl as I reminisce on how much I loved them as a kid.  Then the privilege of getting to brush their silky sweet curls and tie hair back before we jump in the car to get to school around 8am. My life would be way too hectic for those moments of connection if I was still trying to juggle being a powerful, corporate executive. My old life included many team meetings and call ins with Asia, Europe, and South American starting at 6am. In my old life, 80% of my waking time was spent getting things done and wowing people above, around, and below me. As a business owner, now 80% of my waking time is spent on enabling people and building authentic relationships. That is a pretty good deal.  I’m reaping the right reward for me.