I really enjoy listening to podcasts. I find them to be a great way to add little bursts of learning and entertainment into my commuting, carpooling, dog walking and laundry time. Those times when I’m alone and semi-occupied tend to be short, but it definitely adds up. This week I was catching up on the new season of Gimlet Media’s Startup podcast (described on iTunes as a “series about what it’s really like to start a business”).
I’m on Season 5, Episode 41 which is entitled “Running a Family and a Business” and the blurb says:
Executive coach Jerry Colonna sits down with Diana Lovett, the founder of a socially responsible chocolate company called Cissé Cocoa. In the episode, they tackle something that many founders struggle with—how to balance entrepreneurship and parenthood.
First of all, having now looked at www.cissecocoa.com, I feel like I need stop writing and drive to Whole Foods and try some of these amazing looking products!! OK, fine. I will wait until after work to do that…
Anyway, during the podcast discussion, Diana is very candid about how hard she is finding it to navigate being a mom and an entrepreneur. She reports feeling really guilty about missing out on so much stuff at home, and then when she leaves work she feels guilty about all the things left undone at work. She says that it feels “relentless” (a word we Juglr’s often find ourselves using as well). My heart ached for her while I was listening. Again, it makes me wonder how it is that women find this so hard, but men rarely speak about it. Do they not feel this? Do they suffer silently? Are we somehow masochists?
Coach Jerry was interesting. First of all, I found his tone and manner to be very soothing. I loved his advice to slow down when dealing with difficult issues. He compared it to a speed bump: that if you try to go through difficult issues quickly, you will just end up wrecking the undercarriage of the car. He offered interesting perspectives about the destructive power of guilt (which he defines with reference to Sharon Salzberg as hatred directed towards oneself) to lacerate ourselves and deplete our energy. I loved his question: what do you believe about the world that you would like your children to know? And I loved Diana’s answer: that she does not want her children to be bystanders nor collaborators, but people who are part of the resistance.
What do you believe about the world that you would like your children to know? – Jerry Colonna
Diana, I hear you, sister. I was senior enough in my last job that I had a decent amount of flexibility and I became the queen of running out for an hour (we live in the city because we could never make this work if we had long commutes) and then coming back and then working for a few more hours and running home to make sure I was in time for the nanny but then logging on again to do more after the kids were in bed. It is neither easy nor relaxing, but I made it work for us. But I travel and I had a team and clients and sometimes I just couldn’t be there for the girls. There were a few pretty unforgiving years there with meltdowns and “mommy don’t go’s” and leg grabbing. Or my personal favorite of “you never come to my…” When my husband travels the girls NEVER cry and beg him not to go. Why is that special bit of hell reserved for mothers? And is that a compliment to me or a failure (or maybe a bit of both?)
However, when I am struck with fear or exhaustion or any of the million other negative emotions that I have discovered are part of the startup roller coaster, I love to look at the picture below:
The writing says: Dear Mom, I just want you to know I think you are so brave to take on as big of a task of [sic] starting your own [business].
I cried when she gave it to me. I mean if ever that was a sentiment to capture what values I hope to be instilling in my daughters as a woman, mom and entrepreneur – this was it all in one adorable Fujifilm Instax printout!
So my message to you, Diana, if you happen to see this: stay strong! We can change the world (or at least some corner of it) and we definitely can raise children who strive to be part of the resistance!