Are you undervaluing yourself?

Are you undervaluing yourself? To be able to answer this question, you have to know what you’re worth. After all, whether you’re offering services or products, before you can sell them you have to set prices, right?

I remember my first gig as an independent contractor.

I was a pre-teen and an excellent babysitter. All of the families I sat for were familiar faces from either my neighborhood or from school. Yet, I remember shrinking, mortified, whenever a parent {a grownup, eek!} would ask me how much I charged.

Looking back I’m fairly certain I never actually answered the question. I think I usually responded with some version of “whatever you think is fair” and gratefully took whatever I was offered.

When I graduated from college and started planning weddings part-time, I encountered the same issue.

How much do you charge?

I argued inside my head for a while. If I go too high, they might not hire me. If I go too low, I may feel like I’m working for nothing! Better stay “competitive” just to be safe.

Not once did I consider what my skills and experience were actually worth to provide the bride and groom and their families with a beautiful, memorable and stress-free wedding.

Because my desire to close the deal outweighed my business savvy at the time, I only charged my full rate once in my four years planning weddings.

Luckily for me, this was just something I was doing on the side. All of the money seemed like a bonus to my income. But as time went on {and I became a mom} I actually started turning more brides away than I was agreeing to help. It just wasn’t worth my time and talents for the amount I was going to charge.

Of course, I could have restructured my pricing if I wanted to make a real go at it in the industry. In the end I realized that while I enjoy being intensely organized and guiding couples through the planning process, weddings just weren’t my passion regardless of my fees.

Asking yourself if you’re being undervalued isn’t just a question plaguing serial freelancers and business owners. Knowing what you’re worth is important when applying for jobs and seeking a raise or promotion from your employer.

How do you determine your value?

Have you ever tried to have a conversation with someone selling their house? They always seem to think it’s worth more than it is.

When we listed our house this spring, the market was booming and my husband and I were confident that we could turn a profit on our home. My parents, both realtors and representing us, reminded us of a common saying in real estate.

“A house is only worth what someone will pay for it.”

To get a house ready to put on the market, you first have to do your homework. You evaluate comps to see what other homes nearby are selling for. You inspect your home and determine if any updates need to be made to improve the value. Rarely does someone just declare “my house is worth a million dollars!” and get away with it {unless, of course, it’s a million dollar house}.

Next, you invest some time and money. You declutter, clean, and paint. You get any outstanding repairs done.  That way, when you slap on the sticker price and open the doors, you’re presenting your home as the best version of itself and hope to get top dollar – and fast!

Your business may not change quite as frequently as the housing market, but when determining your value the same thought process should occur.

You are educated, qualified and prepared to be doing whatever it is you’re doing. Next step? You need to know what your services or products are worth, so you start with market research. Then, find your ideal client and ask if they’d be willing to pay what you’re asking. Then, before you hit the pavement, make sure you’ve fine tuned whatever it is you’re offering. Ask your friends and family for feedback. Your products and services should be something you are proud to stand behind.

Once you know what you’re worth, don’t accept anything less.

Ultimately, only you will be able to advocate for your awesomeness. By identifying your ideal client, you’ve done yourself a huge favor by also establishing that your business may not be for everyone. There may be those that cannot afford your services or don’t appreciate your product.

And that’s okay.

Whether you’ve got a job to do or a business to run, I hope you feel empowered to do so while earning the compensation you deserve. You’re worth it.

The New Normal

The other day I went out to lunch with an old friend. She’s currently on maternity leave after having her second child. While I think she looks fabulous, you can still tell she is a tad tired in that I’ve-got-a-newborn-who-isn’t-sleeping-through-the-night-yet sort of way.

I asked her how she was adjusting to life with two children. She said they were still trying to figure it all out, and asked how I had done with the transition to two kids.

I tried to think back to when my son was born. He’s only two, yet it’s hard to imagine our family before he was in it. {Not to mention the extremely permanent “mommy brain” I’ve suffered as a result of having children altogether.}

It was exhausting.

Why did it seem so different the second time around?

Would things ever go back to normal?

On the one hand, I wasn’t faced with the newness of each mom-task like I was when my daughter was born. You can read a million books and Google your heart out, but nothing truly prepares you for parenthood.

With my daughter I was able to make her the sole focus of my attention. This time, as my husband left for work each morning and I realized I would spend my maternity leave outnumbered, I went into survival mode.

I nursed my son while simultaneously helping my newly potty-trained daughter use the toilet.

I let my son fuss a little bit longer than usual in his swing to finish making my daughter’s snack.

I woke my son up from his nap – on more than one occasion – to pick up my daughter from a friend’s house {something I wouldn’t have dared with my firstborn}.

I could definitely relate to my tired friend. The transition to two children is exhausting. But it is also fleeting.

As hectic as those early days were chasing a toddler after a sleepless night with a newborn, they soon mellowed thanks to new routines, better communication, and a little bit more patience.

We settled into our new normal.

I encouraged my friend to hang in there. Just six weeks post-partum and she looked like a rock star. She too will find her new normal soon enough.the new normal2

Our conversation really got me thinking about all of life’s changes. Our inability to control them – or even predict some of them. And our ability to decide how we choose to handle them.

My family went through a lot of changes this summer and we’ll encounter another big one in a few short months.

While change can be exciting, it can also be a little intimidating. {And in the case of an infant….or moving…exhausting.}

Maybe it’s a new job. Or a layoff.

Maybe it’s a new city. Or returning to live with your parents.

Maybe it’s a new school. Or leaving your kids for the first time.

{Shout out to my grieving back-to-school mommy friends. One sent her sweet first-born off to Kindergarten. The other sent her “baby” away to college. They’ve had five and eighteen years to prepare for this moment, but how do you really get yourself ready for such a milestone besides loading up on tissue boxes?}

Change, whether predictable or completely unexpected, is a part of life. It turns our regular routine on its head and alters the version of “normal” that we’ve become accustomed to.

Without change, there’s no growth.

All of our stories are a work in progress. Embrace the changes that life throws at you. Sometimes it’s how we overcome those changes that make our stories worth telling.

You will find your new normal soon enough.

“I woke up one day and asked myself why I wasn’t following my passion”

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Q&A with Amy Neil

Have you ever wondered what it what be like to ditch your 9-5 to follow your passion?

A self proclaimed “mom boss,” Amy Neil has always known that she wanted to help people. Previously a collegiate coach, she traded in people for their pooches full-time.

With the support of her husband, some amazing mentors, and dedication to becoming the best in her field, Amy has grown her side passion project into a booming business.

Self-promo time. What do you do?

I work with dogs and their humans. My mission is two fold. First, I bring support to owners whose dogs have behavioral issues ranging from general excitement to severe reactivity and aggression. Second, I use social media to help educate pet dog owners on how to create a healthy and confident relationship with their dog. The result is fewer dogs rehomed or sent to shelters because owners have the tools and support to work with their dogs.

You weren’t always canine bound. How’d you discover your passion for dogs?

I took a windy road to get to where I am. With a bachelors of science in Athletic Training, I did that for a year. I coached the throws events for Columbia University Track and Field, ran a farm, sold cars, and worked at a non profit. Dogs were an underlying theme the whole time, but I never thought of it as a feasible career. Then I had the cliche moment where I woke up one day and asked myself why I wasn’t following my passion. From there I put the blinders on and just started learning all I could about dogs.

Any tips for dog owners?

I want people to know if they are struggling with their dogs, ask for help. Asking for help is the hardest but most amazing thing that can be done for both humans and dogs. What I do is more than dog training, it’s a passion to help people feel like empowered, confident, and strong leaders. It’s an amazing process, and I am so grateful people allow me the opportunity to be a part of it.

I’ve gotta know. Do you have a favorite breed?

Haha, that’s a tough one! I have a running bucket list of breeds I’d like to own one day, boxer, basset hound, dalmatian, german shepherd, and bloodhound are all on my list. Beagle is my favorite, and not just because I own them! They make great family dogs, love a good run, clever as can be, and if you can harness their nose super eager to please, and don’t take up much space. On the flip side, they can be really big babies, too smart for their own good, and when they listen to their nose they ALWAYS wind up in biggggg trouble. I love both sides!

What is a typical day like for you?

We usually are all up around 6 and I help my husband leave for work. I get Ruby her breakfast then shoot my Morning Chit Chat video everyday. Around 10am Ruby and I head out for dog walks, we walk anywhere from 1 to 3 different dogs a day. Otherwise it’s totally dependent on how many training sessions I have, if I have a dog boarding at the house, or if there is group class that night.

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What do you hope your daughter learns from watching you grow your business?

There are a lot of things I hope she learns, but the biggest thing would be to work hard for what you believe in and don’t worry what others think. Always bring positivity to the table. The struggle can get really REAL sometimes. It’s how you deal with the struggles that matters. I want her to understand that perseverance, determination, even a little stubbornness will take her a long way.

How has becoming a mom affected your professional goals?

It’s made me more tenacious and confident in the choices I make. In a really crazy way, becoming a mother afforded me the opportunity to grow my business. I quickly realized going to a traditional job, organizing childcare, giving my time to someone rather than myself just wasn’t working for me. I learned that working for myself was the only choice.

Finish this sentence: Before I had kids, I wish someone had told me…

About the little moments. When a diaper change becomes a tickle fest, the cuddles just after waking up, when “Daddy” gets home, sitting down for dinner. The most special moments happen at the most random times, make sure to enjoy them.

They say it takes a village. Who is your village?

It does take a village! Of course, my husband. My parents, his parents, many other family members alway willing to watch Ruby when we want to sneak away for a minute. Business wise, my coach and mentor Shane Kulman. Shane has helped me break down so many barriers that were in my way. Also, my dog training mentor, Tom Davis. It’s really nice having someone to fall back on in the field. He and I bounce a lot of things back and forth, it’s super affirming for me and helps me remember I am on the right path. By opening myself to all Shane and Tom have to offer, my business has really taken off.

What’s your best piece of advice for working moms?

Somedays you just need to slow down and be with your kids. Don’t ever feel obligated to miss the important moments with your kids because of someone else’s needs and desires. If you feel like you are missing those moments, then it’s time to slow down and re-evaluate what you are trying to accomplish.

I’m on a quest to having it all. Do you think you have it all?

I feel like having “it all” means being able to provide support to my family on OUR terms. Not having to work 9-5, providing time for adventures, not missing important moments, not answering to anyone else. Having “it all” means creating the life that works for us, even if it means breaking all the rules.

Want to be interviewed for #workingmomwednesday? Contact me to find out how.

“I lost my job, and needed another door to open”

mom business owner

Q&A with Karrie Kaneda

Karrie Kaneda is a designer, saleswoman, social media marketer and office manager. And that’s just her day job!

Like most mom business owners, Karrie knows how to wear many hats in order to run her company and her household.

Karrie knows the secret to a “happy habitat” is to find the beauty in everything. When life handed her lemons, she turned them into blankets and has been making her customers happy ever since.

Self-promo time. What do you do?

I design blankets for my company I started called Happy Habitat. My throws are made in the US from recycled cotton, and all about pattern and color. I sell them on my website and to stores all over the world.

How’d you get your start?

I lost my job, and needed another door to open. I opened several doors that had no excitement for me. And since money is a necessity, I figured I might as well spend my time doing something that I enjoy. I wanted to spend my days doing something that I could put my whole heart into, not just something that wasted time in my day. After some time playing with patterns, I landed on blankets as a useful, earth friendly way to put what was in my head out to the world, and make some money while doing it.

What inspires your designs?

More like what doesn’t! I just looked through photos on my iPhone to see what I had taken pics of that have recently inspired me. Here’s a few: a rust colored dead rose, spit out cherry pits, clouds, tiles {always tile! Moorish tiles get me every time!), eagle feathers, graffiti, words and rhymes.

Do you have a favorite pattern?

Don’t let my daughter see this because her and her brother fight over which one of their throws sells the most, but Kenichi is probably my favorite. Kenichi is my son’s middle name {means healthy first born son in Japanese}— he helped come up with the colors for the first one I made. Misaki is my daughter’s middle name, which means beautiful blossom. Her throw has flowers in it inspired by her name.

What has been the best part of owning your own business?

No office politics! I can get things done quickly. I don’t have to follow rules, written or implied- that feels good.

Have you had any setbacks?

Because my personal life and professional are very intertwined, I’d say that I’m affected when my professional/personal life is off balance. It’s been a bit off balance lately and that has set me back in terms of inspiration and efficiency. I haven’t been able to respond as quickly as I like to people and have all these design ideas, but just haven’t been able to implement everything that’s in my head I want to do. All I can do is be healthy and take care of myself the best I can. I’m getting my balance back now, and can feel my mojo coming back! All you can do is move forward.

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What is a typical day like for you?

No day is typical, but it starts with getting my kids up and out the door to school. Next up, coffee. Either at home by french press, or I’ll head out to work at a coffee shop and slowly savor a triple short cappuccino. Music is always loud. First thing I’ll do is process orders from my website and for stores— so sending invoices, updating the status of customer orders, getting back to people with questions. So glamorous! 😉 Because I’m constantly making new designs, I’m often busy taking product photos, and editing them. If I’m lucky, I’ll work designing new patterns. And I’m always posting on social media. I then pick my kids up from school and hang out with them— dinner etc., then I’m often back at it at night for a bit.

Finish this sentence. Before I had kids, I wish someone had told me…

Cherish their youth and your time with them, they are only little once. Oh, wait… 10,000 people did tell me that! I’m glad I listened though. I think I’ve savored them, and still do!

Have your professional goals changed since starting a family of your own?

I’ve realized it’s not about money. That’s not what is most important. There is real value to doing things that are just “fun”— you can’t measure that with money. Money will hopefully follow if you are doing what you love and having a good time while doing it. I  mean, I’m always thinking how things affect my business, but I do make a lot of business decisions on if it’s a ‘good’ thing to do. Does it create good for someone else? Is it fun? Does it benefit other people? For example, I have done collaborations with people that didn’t make a ton of money, but the friendship that came from it was invaluable. So, I’d say professional goals have changed from just making money, to making experiences.

Any advice for a woman looking to start her own business?

Start small. Don’t hire people to do what you can do yourself. Know what your strengths are and use them to your advantage, and know your weaknesses and get help for those things. But first try, and try HARD to do everything yourself. If it’s your business, you should probably know about those things anyway. Owning a businesses isn’t just hiring other people to do things. unless your loaded, then that’s another story. And probably a boring, uninspiring story 😉

I’m on a quest to having it all. Do you think you have it all?

I think I’m pretty darn close! My kids always ask me if I could have any job in the world what would it be? And I always answer the same: I would do exactly what i’m doing now. Wouldn’t trade it for anything. I have 2 funny, beautiful kids that constantly surprise me with their wit and quirks. I am fortunate to be able to spend a lot of time with family and friends that is always full of laughter— and what’s better that that? Every day I’m grateful.

Want to be interviewed for #workingmomwednesday? Contact me to find out how.

The best job I’ve ever had

Earlier this week my husband and I hit a big milestone in our marriage – our 7 year wedding anniversary. We celebrated by going out to lunch while the kids were at school, because we haven’t quite scoped out the babysitter scene since moving to Texas.

It was nice to spend some alone time together, something that with a two and four-year-old at home happens much less often than either of us would like to admit.

We talked about the dreaded 7 year itch in a marriage.

I don’t know if this is actually a thing. We agreed that this last year probably held our fair share of marital hardships between me leaving my job, the miscarriage, and the move, and decided to move on.

What surprised me most about our kids-free conversation was how often reflecting on our life together turned into work talk. And how, for us, the two topics seem to be so intertwined.

Yes, sometimes our marriage feels like work. But I mean work-work.

Being married in our early 20s meant going through a lot of job experimentation and self exploration while fulfilling the roles of husband and wife.

If you would have told me 7 years ago that today we’d be business owners living in Texas waiting on baby number 3, I would have rolled my eyes. And yet today, it seems somewhat obvious that we’ve been heading in this direction all along.

Let me take you back to 2009.

While many of our friends were still finishing up graduate school or searching for jobs following the economic crash the year prior, we were handing in our 2 weeks notice and preparing to move across the country to get married. We arrived back in my hometown of Kansas City just a month before our August nuptials completely jobless.

Over lunch we talked about what a turning point that was for us, as professionals {if either of us could have been labeled that fresh out of college} and as a couple {it was good practice for the 3 moves that would follow}.

Our families warned us not to do it. They said the move was irresponsible. They encouraged us to be appreciative of the jobs we had given the economy. Looking back we can appreciate where they were coming from.

But I think we’d make the same choice if we had to do it all over again.

That itch to walk away from stability to pursue what we wanted would become a habit for us in the seven years that followed.

During that time, my husband would be laid off, start his own business, return to a career in finance, leave once again to run Pit Stop Auto Detailing full-time, and most recently accept a corporate job where he can continue to pursue something he loves while still operating his own business from afar.

While my own business path may have fewer curves, it’s also had a lot less direction than my car-loving husband’s. Unlike him, I wouldn’t discover something I really cared about until my daughter was born.

Not only did I immediately become crazy about being a mom {something I always knew I wanted to be}, but I unearthed an unknown desire to be a working mom {something I’d never even considered for myself}.

Yet, it wasn’t until after the birth of my son two years later that I got my own itch to pursue a business of my own.

With all of the changes in our careers, one thing has kept us both {me} from totally losing our {my} minds.

We’ve always taken turns satisfying our itch.

There’s no way my husband could have started his own business in 2010 without my reliable paycheck {however measly} and health insurance.

There is no way I would have pursued going out on my own without the stability and success of his business.

Over the last seven years I think we can both agree we’ve gotten what we wanted out of our professional lives, just not all at the same time.

Just like the jobs we’ve held, our marriage is hardly perfect.

We don’t always see eye to eye on who should change our son’s diaper or pick up the cat puke on the floor {true story}. There is more yelling in our house than either of us are proud of, and with the busyness of kids and careers someone’s needs are often unmet.

But one thing we’ve consistently done throughout our marriage is support one other whenever we get a professional itch. We take on each other’s goals, even if it means taking turns.

And we’ve never gotten that marriage itch, which makes being his wife the best job I’ve ever had.

“None of us are expected to be Super Mom”

Q&A with Crystal Sullivan

If you don’t start every morning by reading theSkimm to face the day armed with the world’s top news stories, you’re missing out big time.

Earlier this summer I had the amazing opportunity to travel to New York City and meet the team behind the popular e-mail newsletter. Not only was I encouraged to ask questions while at SkimmHQ, but my own opinions and interests were equally solicited.

When I shared my passion for working moms with the founders, I was introduced to Crystal Sullivan. She’s a savvy go-getter with seemingly endless energy and good ideas. Moreover, as the first working mom to join the team, she’s laying the groundwork for a healthy work/life balance at HQ.

Self-promo time. What do you do?

I am the HBIC-Revenue at theSkimm…no seriously, I am Head of Media Revenue which means that I lead our Sponsor & Partnership sales team and identify new forms of revenue. I get to work with some of the smartest and most creative people and wake up every day excited to do it.

What’s something about theSkimm HQ that most people don’t know?

Most are surprised to find that we have a mix of both men and women working at the company.  We also have 3 people at HQ that are color blind and one is a running historian {it’s real, I promise}.

Tell me about a challenge at work. What did you do to overcome it?

I have pretty strict hours with my kids’ schedules that doesn’t always allow me to stay and finish things at HQ late into the evening. There simply aren’t enough hours in the day. That led to me having a never-ending workday and we all know that can lead to burnout. I decided that when I came home, my phone would go into a place that wasn’t easily accessible for 2 hours. I announced it to my family to hold me accountable and my team so they weren’t hunting me down. That allowed me to mentally download, cook dinner, spend time with my family and once that was done, I would jump back online and “finish” my day.

That takes some serious self-discipline! What is a typical day like for you?

I wake up at 5:00am and head to SoulCycle for the 5:45am rooster ride. My closest girlfriends {also working moms} and I all meet there-usually still yawning and wiping our eyes. We emerge happy and inspired and ready to face the day. I go home, shower and make lunches for school or camp, pack bags and pick out clothes before getting the kiddos up and ready to face their day. After drop-off at 8:30am, I head to NYC from NJ. My commute door to door is about 1 hour and 20 mins. I arrive at Skimm HQ, where I am literally greeted with the biggest smiles {this is no joke—everyone is SO happy}.

After a full day of leading, mentoring, learning, sharing & skimming I start my commute back home at 5pm. I arrive home around 6:30pm and am greeted at the door with hugs and 101 questions, as well as all of the saved up little facts about what they did all day that they have been dying to tell me. We cook dinner, shower and relax as a family before I tuck them in around 9. I’m then back on my laptop responding to emails, and finishing out my day before I finally hit the pillow at 11 telling my husband I love him and counting down the days until the weekend where I can “sort of” sleep in.

I’m exhausted for you. What keeps you sane?

SoulCycle and therapy {seriously!}. There is nothing I feel I can’t tackle after walking out of either.

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You previously worked in the world of sports. What did you learn about yourself being in a male dominated industry?

Most people automatically assumed that I was just a “sales” woman and didn’t know much about the sport itself. Totally untrue and it helped me build unbelievable relationships that led to long-term partnerships. Women are extremely successful in the sports world, because there aren’t many of us and the ones that are there are incredibly passionate.

Have your professional goals changed since becoming a mom?

Honestly, my professional goals haven’t changed, which is something I love to share with anyone that will listen. I have never felt like I sacrificed a position or desired career path as a result of becoming a mom. Additionally, I don’t let myself feel like I am letting my children down by not being with them all day, every day. I admire and respect any woman who chooses the career path of being a stay at home mom. It’s a hard job that I’m fairly certain I would not be able to handle, for so many reasons. I’ve been clear with all of my employers that while I am fully dedicated to my role, my children are my priority and I have been supported 100%. I want to pave the way for all future moms behind me…we can do both.

Finish this sentence. Before I had kids, I wish someone had told me…

…to enjoy every second of not “worrying.” It doesn’t matter where my kids are, who they are with or what they are doing, I think of them and their happiness and safety all day. I mean that in a healthy way, not a helicopter mom way. There is no carefree,”I have no other little humans to think of.” But I wouldn’t have it any other way. I also think about myself very differently. Being my healthiest physically and emotionally is important to me in general, but knowing I want to be around to see my great-great-great grandkids motivates me even more!

They say it takes a village. Who helps you with your kiddos?

My husband is my number one supporter and a very involved dad. However, because we both have demanding careers we have a live-out nanny. She has been part of our family for 6 years and our kids adore her. She literally runs our house every hour that we are not there during the week. I also have my parents who drop everything to be with their grandchildren {huge plus}. We live in a very socially active community with amazing moms and dads so everyone helps everyone with carpools and sports, etc. It’s awesome!

What’s your best piece of advice for working moms?

PLAN AHEAD. I’m terrible at this, especially with meal prep and grocery shopping. But when I actually do it, it makes a world of a difference. Also, having a network of people around you and your kids that you all feel comfortable with is so important. None of us are expected to be Super Mom…it’s ok to ask for help. Also, create a ritual for yourself either when you first get home or after the kids go to bed that you look forward to. I LOVE to shower and use fancy products. It’s a great way to treat myself after a long day.

I’m on a quest to having it all. Do you think you have it all?

I do. And it’s not perfect for everyone…but to me, it’s all I could ask for. I’m married to my best friend {we fight and annoy each other like every couple}, my kids are healthy and I really love my job and the career path I’ve chosen. I have a home, not just a house, and my family and girlfriends are a part of my foundation. I’m fortunate. And I know it and appreciate it every day.

Want to be interviewed for #workingmomwednesday? Contact me to find out how.