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The best thing an investor ever said to me (and I’m pretty sure he didn’t even know it)

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It’s funny what you remember.

One of my responsibilities at my former firm was marketing our funds to institutional investors. Over the 10+ years, I’m sure that I attended over 1000 meetings with current and prospective investors. But one really stands out in my mind – even though I’m sure the investor never realized the impact of his words.

This memorable meeting occurred when my younger daughter was in kindergarten. I knew it would be a long one, as they had been pretty serious in their due diligence process leading up to this point. I scheduled it for two hours and then also had a 90-minute cushion after the meeting’s scheduled end. However, after that I was signed up to be the guest reader for my daughter’s birthday celebration with her class. She was SUPER-pumped for this. The night before, we had picked out the book together, selected her special birthday outfit and rehearsed exactly how we would read together. The school is 15 minutes from the office, so I had a decent amount of wiggle room.

When the meeting hit the 3-hour mark, I started to sweat.

I was trying not to look at my watch, but each minute thinking “if I don’t leave in 15 minutes I’m going to be late,” “if I don’t leave in 14 minutes I’m going to be late,” “if I don’t leave in 13 minutes I’m going to be late…”

Finally, I cracked. I stood up, pushed in my chair and said “gentlemen,” (because of course I was the only women in the room…) “I’m very sorry to have to leave, but you are in excellent hands with my partners and I promised I would be in my daughter’s kindergarten class to celebrate her birthday today. “

I told them I would check in tomorrow to see if there were any other operational items to discuss. I kept my voice steady, but my hands were shaking as I walked out of the room and considered what the ramifications of my actions might be.

I dumped my stuff in my office and ran out like a lunatic to hop in a cab. I made it on time, to my daughter’s great joy, and put my stress about leaving to the side and truly enjoyed my time with my daughter and her classmates.

The next morning, I saw that I had a voicemail from the most senior person from the investor group. I was terrified. Was he angry and going to penalize our whole firm for my early departure?

But the voicemail was awesome. He said “Amy, I just wanted to say how cool it was that you excused yourself from the meeting yesterday to celebrate your daughter’s birthday at school. I love that you owned it and didn’t make some lame excuse about having a previous commitment or another meeting. If more people did that we’d all be better off.”

Hallelujah!

He was absolutely right. So, from that moment onward I made it a conscious habit, as a senior woman in a male-dominated industry, to be honest about when I was doing things with or for my kids. Not only is that more authentic, but it allowed me to be a role model for people on our team and in the finance community as a whole. Years later I still have employees thank me for showing them that being an involved parent and a dedicated professional are NOT mutually exclusive.

We can talk work/life balance all we want, but we all know actions speak louder than words.

When we respect peoples’ ability to find their own balance among and between all aspects of their lives (work, family, friends, health, spirituality, leisure, community service, etc.) we help them to have full productive lives. I firmly believe that respecting and honoring this in team members leads to greater loyalty and engagement. And we hope that respecting and honoring this in Jugl users will help us find ways to continually add value and create great experiences for you with our product.

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