I sort of hate the question always asked of professional women of “How do you manage it all?” My short answer is typically: “Barely. And sometimes only barely.”
My daughter was once a bridesmaid at a wedding, wearing a dress that I forgot to have hemmed. My son wore his lower-school uniform well into middle school because I somehow missed that we were supposed to switch it. And my cat desperately needs to be groomed. Desperately.
But I do a few things right. And being an entrepreneur — and sharing the journey with my kids — is one of them.
My kids see the impact my career is having.
My kids are seeing that it doesn’t have to be about having an interesting career OR having an impact. It can be about having an interesting career AND having an impact. As a family, we don’t just talk about what I am doing at Ellevest. We also talk about why we’re doing it: to help close the gender money gaps. This had led to some terrific dinner-table conversations about the impact my kids want to have when they’re in the workforce.
(Side note: When I left the big-company world, I fretted that my potential for having a real impact might be over, without all the resources, all the people, all the investment dollars that a big company can bring. Given the way the world is changing, boy, was I wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong.)
They have learned that success is not forever, and failure is not fatal.
So many of their friends’ parents seem to be set. She’s a senior vice president at XYZ Company; he’s is a doctor. They held those roles last year; they most likely will next year.
In contrast, my kids have seen the highs and lows of my career transitions and my starting a business. This is a trajectory that I think will become more the norm, given the accelerating pace of change of business. They see that career reinvention – and more than once – is possible over the course of one’s career.
And, particularly for my daughter, I think this matters. The research indicates that women and girls take failure harder than men and boys; after all, we love to get that A in school. The shame around failure still exists in society — but not in our household.
When my kids need me, I can be there.
Both of my kids had serious health issues (both are now completely recovered). I was able to be with both of them every step of the way, because of the flexibility entrepreneurialism gave me. Sure, I’ve been late to my share of school plays and missed more than my share of parents’ nights, but my kids fully understand the priority we as a family place on family.
Contrast this to when I was in corporate America and I had a personal health scare. I told my CEO I would have to step out of an offsite for a bit to have a brain scan … and he told me to get back to the meeting as soon as possible.
No “Oh my goodness, take the time you need.” Not even a “I hope you’re ok.” (And, to be clear, I didn’t use a euphemism: I told him it was a brain scan.) He never asked me the results of it, either. I know all corporate bosses aren’t like this, but mine was. The freedom entrepreneurialism gave me when my family needed me was a real blessing.
I am endlessly grateful.
Do I like it that it’s tougher to get a woman-owned business funded than a man’s? No. Did it drive me nuts that one of the fathers at my daughter’s school told me it had been noted that I missed the paperback book fair? Sure.
My categorization of these issues: As Billie Jean King says, “Pressure is a privilege.” Being entrusted with helping to build Ellevest and being able to bring up my kids: Both of those things are a privilege, and I try to make sure that my children know that … even as my daughter tripped over her bridesmaid dress as she walked up the aisle.