Quit trying to do it all

They say “quitters never win, and winners never quit.”

Well…

Today I’ve decided that I quit.

It wasn’t an easy decision. I mean, it stinks. I’ve been doing it for 5 years! But enough is enough. And I’m happier for it.

I’m talking about cloth diapering.

Don’t get me wrong, it was great while it lasted. Many of the cloth diapers were gifted to me at my first baby shower before Daphne was born. The adjustable buttons allowed these green alternatives to grow with each of my first two children. These puppies saved me a fortune on disposables over the years. As long as you don’t hate poop or laundry, cloth diapers are an amazing alternative.

Until you have three children.

I literally cannot wrap my head around something that cannot be thrown in the garbage in the middle of the Houston Rodeo or at the neighborhood playground.

Our busy family is on the go. All. The. Time.

And so after only one week of cloth diapers, I’m calling it quits.

I could look at this as a failure in my efforts to be green and, more importantly for my family, save money. Plus, I did it with my first two children, how could I not just keep it together for my third? Yet…

I see it as a total win.

I’ve won back more time with my family or to work on my business, even if it is just minutes each day – it all adds up! I also ditched one thing from my daily to-do list and freed up our washer/dryer for the mountains of clothes my family of five creates.

Quit trying to do it all.

Seriously. Why are you doing it to yourself?

While I’m a huge advocate of having it all, doing it all is just crazy talk. In fact, even trying to do it all will probably prevent you from feeling fulfilled because you’ll be so dang tired all the time.

The biggest thing moms forget is that in order to truly feel happy – and feel like we have it all – we have to let go sometimes.

Maybe it’s not taking on that volunteer gig. Perhaps it’s knowing when to hire someone to clean your house or mow your lawn. Other times it means knowing when to straight up quit, like I did.

Are you doing something that doesn’t bring you happiness or taking on way too much right now?

If you’re feeling overwhelmed or exhausted, I encourage you to find something to cut out.

You’ll be the winner in the long run.

Do you want to try cloth diapers? Target now carries my favorite brand, bumGenius. Comment below if you’re a first time user…I’ve got tons of tips to get you started like a pro!

 

When you feel like you’re falling behind

Have you ever felt like everyone else is getting it right and you’re falling behind?

I know I have.

Sure, we can blame social media and its abundance of filtered depictions of “real life.” Don’t get me wrong, it certainly doesn’t squash these feelings of inadequacy.

The truth is, I’ve been comparing myself to others long before Facebook came about, and I bet you have, too.

One of my earliest memories of this was in elementary school.

The teacher was repeatedly complimenting another student’s completed artwork in class.

I loved art. I’d done art camp the summer before. I even wrote children’s books for fun at home and drew the pictures to go along with my stories. I wanted to be an illustrator when I grew up! And I thought I was really good at it.

I still remember how insecure it made me feel to hear the other student’s praise over my own. Maybe I wasn’t as good as I thought I was? Maybe my ideas were lacking? My color choices all wrong? And why wasn’t I finished with my artwork yet?

Clearly I was doing something wrong.

falling behind

So what did I do?

I started copying what she had done.

Yup, I abandoned my own vision to “catch up” to what I thought was a fast track to success – in this case, our teacher’s approval.

And do you think it worked?

Not so much.

For the first time I was introduced to the nickname “copycat”. The teacher, I assume on my behalf yet further endorsing my classmate, added, “copying is the highest form of flattery.”

I didn’t care for that too much. Besides, I didn’t really want my artwork to look like hers at all!

In the moment, I just wanted regard from our teacher – likely in the form of a good grade.

But I should have kept my focus on my end game – my passion for art and desire to have a career in it!

Instead, I became more insecure about my abilities as an artist. I stopped pursuing it, because I was {falsely} under the impression that someone else was doing it right, and I my skills were falling behind.

Who knows what I could have created if I would have stuck to my own vision! Maybe I would be an author/illustrator of children’s books today.

I do know one thing – I would have been a lot happier, and avoided some harsh elementary school criticism, if I’d just stayed true to myself.

And, since it was 2nd grade art, I likely would have gotten a good grade just for finishing.

What’s your end game in your business or your lifestyle?

Or, asked another way, how do you define success?

Maybe it’s a million dollars. Maybe it’s the ability to work from anywhere, or not work at all and stay home with your children full-time.

Just because there are other millionaires and stay at home moms out there, does not mean that you’re falling behind at all. They’ve just already finished their artwork.

I’m finally ready to give myself permission to take my time creating mine.

Without copying.

And, more importantly, without worrying about what grade I’ll get.

We all have our own artwork to paint. We didn’t all start painting at the same time and we inevitably won’t all choose the same colors and designs.

This is a good thing.

As long as you keep picking up the paint brush.

In other words, mama, you do you.

Podcast Prep – Can moms really have it all?

I’m super excited to share with you some exciting – and slightly terrifying – news.

I’ve been invited to speak on not just one, but two podcasts in the next month!

First up, the Extraordinary Moms Podcast.

I was invited to share my pursuit of a work life balance after being introduced to SoCal mom Jessica by a mutual friend. Not unlike my Working Mom Wednesday blog posts, Jessica celebrates motherhood by inviting moms onto her show to tell their stories.

In a few weeks I’ll be sharing my spin on the whole “mommy blog” thing on The Blog Chronicles with Matthew Loomis. Fun fact: I set up this blog using Matthew’s easy to follow steps!

moms have it all

Once I got past the initial “what the heck am I going to talk about” nerves, I realized how pumped I was about sharing my mompreneur journey.

After all, I shouldn’t run out of topics about my life, right? We are all experts in our own experiences!

What makes me a tiny bit terrified; however, is finally sharing my beliefs on the controversial “having it all” debate.

Can moms have it all? Or can’t we?

After a year of pursuing it, I’ve come to my own conclusion and I’ll be diving into what I think on these podcasts!

Have you done anything recently that terrifies you? Let me know how it turned out!

P.S. I’ll be sure to share the links on my Facebook page when each interview is published!

Growing my Business through Peaks and Valleys

Growing my Business through Peaks and Valleys

It’s been several weeks {okay, over a month…}, but today I’m writing to you from a mountain.

Okay, I’m not literally sitting on top of a mountain with my computer plugging away on this blog post. It’s more like a “Cloud 9” kind of mountain. I’m in a good place. A great place, actually.

My business is finally rocking and rolling down here in Houston. I’ve actually had to turn a few opportunities down. This solopreneur is even considering hiring someone part time!

How did I get here?!

Climbing this mountain took a while. Longer than I was expecting actually, and with a lot more setbacks. After months of transition and not feeling so great, I thought I was ready to go after some new business. The problem is I went about it all wrong. I was going after what I needed {cash money} instead of what I wanted {partnerships with companies that excite me}.

I knew I was making desperate choices instead of smart ones. Our move drained our savings more than either my husband or I had anticipated. The cost of living adjustment was also out of line with our Google research before the move. Add some blown out tires, a broken water heater, and a dead refrigerator to the list {have I mentioned those baby doctor bills?} and we found ourselves in a valley.

The pressure – whether real or imagined – was on me to guide our family out of the valley and begin climbing our mini-financial mountain of debt.

We already use coupons, don’t eat out and follow a pretty scaled back budget. So if I didn’t grow my business, and soon, I might as well set up camp down here in the valley and get comfortable. I could easily take my kids out of preschool and save a ton of cash. It’s our {like most working families} second largest monthly expense after our mortgage. Surely I could manage my current workload during naps and after hours like a lot of other work-from-home mamas do. It was an option.

The other option was to increase our income. My income. I had always intended to grow my business once we got settled, but for some reason {ahem, morning sickness} it just hadn’t been a priority until it became a necessity.

Since I work at my computer all day, I started online. I joined several freelancer websites, built out my digital marketer profiles online, and I found projects quite quickly. The problem was that, for me, the work was both temporary and uninspiring. And frankly, I wasn’t going to be paid what I was worth since many of these jobs could have just as easily been outsourced overseas.

I have no doubt that eventually I could have climbed a mountain like this, but it would have been the equivalent of circling the mountain at a very low incline. Around and around I would have gone slowly accumulating height along the way, but I would have been exhausted. No, I know the quickest route from point A to point B is a straight line.

It was time to reevaluate my approach to how exactly I planned to grow my business.

I took to cold calling on local companies. After a lot of research online of companies that I would want to collaborate with, I picked my favorites and approached them with how I could improve their online presence. I actually got a handful of responses this way and even a face to face meeting. Unfortunately, budget became an issue and the longterm potential for us to partner together seemed unlikely.

I felt stuck as I looked up at this mountain I so badly wanted to climb.

grow my business

Do I start walking around the base of the mountain? People have made much worse sacrifices to help support their families than working for less than they’re worth.

Do I acquiesce to a life in the valley? Pulling my kids out of school would take a huge line item off of our expenses every month.

I seriously considered it, but ultimately I knew that this mountain mama and her adventurous kiddos probably wouldn’t be happy down there for long.

And so I decided I was going to lean on the small but mighty network I had developed since moving to Houston.

I told my new mom friends bluntly what I was capable of and that I was looking to grow my business. I actively solicited referrals at my monthly FemCity events. Within just two weeks I had 6 prospects, and three of those turned into clients.

It’s been a a few weeks and I’m still adjusting to the air up here out of the valley. It’s been a whirlwind of success, and I’m excited that my door keeps getting knocks!

The truth is, we always have choices. But when you’re down in a valley looking up at that mountain it doesn’t always feel that way. I’m proud to be in a position where I’ve been strategically climbing towards that peak and am now blessed with different routes for how to get there.

My current view tells me this mountain range is quite long with many peaks to climb and a vast valley down below. As a business owner, I will always be growing my business through peaks and valleys. I will constantly be faced with new opportunities and new challenges, and some of those will be unavoidable.

I think it’s important during our highs and our lows to remember that it’s only temporary, something I wish I had told myself earlier when camped out in the valley.

For my business and my family, it seems the hike has just begun.

“The risks may be big and scary, but the rewards are even greater if you go for it!”

Q&A with Nellie Akalp

When I was approached by Nellie Akalp’s publicist about featuring her story in an interview for my blog, I was immediately impressed. Not only did phrases like “serial entrepreneur” and “mother of four” jump out at me as someone I could definitely relate to, but as I read her story I realized she was one working mom from whom I could also learn a thing or two.

Nellie Akalp started her first business with $100 and sold it 8 years later for millions. If I don’t have your attention yet, instead of retiring early, Nellie got back into the industry with the launch of her current business, now recognized on the Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing privately-held companies in America.

I chatted with Nellie about her entrepreneurial story and how she and her husband started a business literally from nothing and grew it into a multi-million dollar venture, only to turn around and do it all over again while raising their four children!


Self-promo time. Tell me about your business.

I’m an entrepreneur, mother of four, author, speaker, and business expert. As the founder and CEO of CorpNet.com I work with entrepreneurs daily to help them start, grow and maintain their businesses. CorpNet is an online legal document filing service that provides new and existing business owners with the most cost effective and comprehensive products and services for starting a business whether it be setting up a sole proprietorship/partnership, incorporating or setting up an LLC, or running and even expanding a business. We help entrepreneurs incorporate, form LLCs, file DBAs and more on a daily basis. For those with an existing business CorpNet.com can help with corporate compliance to ensure the business owner is kept up to date on important due dates each year.

Before CorpNet, you ran a success company that was eventually acquired by Intuit for $20 million. Why’d you head back to work?

After my non-compete ran out with the old company, I realized that I was too bored, too passionate and way too young to take on an early retirement! Plus I was still so deeply in love and passionate about small business and helping other entrepreneurs start their startups, so I decided to start it all over again with CorpNet.com. It’s never been about the money for me; it’s about creating something out of nothing and watching it explode and create solutions that solves problems.

You’ve helped hundreds of thousands of businesses get off the ground. From your experience, what’s the biggest factor holding back future business owners?

I think what holds most entrepreneurs back is the lack of willingness to take risks. Being too afraid to try new things, implement ideas, think big or looking stupid in front of friends, colleagues and loves ones really causes people to hold off on going after their business dreams and goals. The risks may be big and scary, but the rewards are even GREATER if you go for it!

Have you ever failed? How did you overcome it?

I have failed more than a hundred times and I am still not done failing. In order to be successful, failure is definitely a pre-requisite to absolute true success. I look at failure as a message that there are bigger and better opportunities lying ahead that must be seized, and seldom look at it as a negative. In a nutshell, failure is a part of life, if you don’t fail, you will never learn, if you don’t learn, you can never change and evolve as a person.

What is the best part about being an entrepreneur?

The ability to do the things you love to do the most and being able to do it on your own time and terms without any limitations is really, in my opinion, the best! In addition, being able to have it all, raising children and having an amazing career all at the same time, where I can inspire and motivate other mommy entrepreneurs that you can have it all is just the best!

What does a typical day look like for you?

In my life, trying to balance running a very fast-paced, growing business, and balancing it with managing a household of 4 kids and having a healthy marriage requires planning and routine. Here is a rough snapshot:

6:00am – wake up, shower and drink coffee, make breakfast for kids, check email
6:30am – wake up kids
7:00am – feed kids
7:20am – take kids to school
7:45am – get to gym and workout
9:00am – work till 3:00
3:00pm – pick up my daughter and spend one-on-one time with her until we pick up other three kids from middle school and high school
3:45pm – pick up the three other kids take everyone to get a snack
4:30pm – get home and help with homework and start dinner if no games after school
6:00pm – dinner with family
7:00pm – take kids to dance or other after school activities (either my husband or I while the other attends to the other kids and does homework)
9:00pm – bedtime for kids
9-11:00pm – me time where I make myself a tea, take a bath and time with Phil where we watch a movie or just chat about the day
11:00pm – bedtime for me and it starts all over again the next morning!

nellieakalp1

Your husband is also your business partner. How do you split the responsibilities at work and at home?

It’s all about being organized, planning ahead and staying one step ahead of your game. Work stuff will come up at home and family stuff will come up at work. It’s bound to happen – after all, I am married to my husband and business partner! For us though, we don’t try and totally separate the two because that just makes things more complicated. We deal with what comes up as it arises. If you plan ahead and know your schedule and stuff does come up, you’re more prepared on how to deal with it if you do. Again, a total balance should never be the key, but you should try to have both aspects of your life exist in harmony.

You have four kiddos. Has becoming a mom influenced your professional goals?

Absolutely 150%! It makes me want to work even harder, but more efficiently and qualitatively because time is so scarce and these kids grow up so fast. I know my time is limited with them. I want to spend every waking minute with them when they are not at school or not at an after school sport or activity. It also has made my #1 goal be that I will never ever work for anyone else and will always be my own boss.

What do you hope they take away from your success?

I want my children to know that true success comes from a ton of hard work and never giving up. If you fail, it’s not the failure that matters. It’s how you rise from it and get up that makes you a winner.

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

The three things I would share with working moms are:

  1. Set Goals Early and Often. I think a lot of new entrepreneurs don’t think about setting goals when they first start out. They just want to get the business started and begin making money. But setting goals is a really easy way to set your sights on where you want to go. You might not hit your sales target for the quarter, but if you do your best to get there, you’ll likely do better than you would have without that goal. And don’t just set one goal and leave it at that. I like to set new goals every year and even every month to keep myself and my team moving in the right direction.
  2. Be Willing to Take Risks. You’re already a bit open to risks, or you wouldn’t be starting a business! But don’t be afraid to try new things, implement ideas, and think big. The risks may be bigger, but so will the rewards.
  3. Protect Yourself. I can’t tell you how many times I have told new entrepreneurs to protect your business and yourself! Forming a corporation or filing an LLC is such a simple thing to do, but the benefits extend long beyond your first year and it’s the best way to protect your personal assets should your business be sued down the line.

What keeps you sane?

Plan a vacation, even if it’s tough. Set boundaries with technology. Make time to exercise. Take Breaks during the day. Prioritize your day and limit your tasks and goals to 3-5 per day. Don’t try to control everything and just go with the flow. Reduce distractions during the day. Establish a firm “end time” to your day {and work week}. Physical and emotional wellbeing is really important, but getting spiritual something is also a huge must for me. It keeps me present and in tune with my higher power.

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

I don’t think I have it all and even if I did, I would still want more! I would still want to work, because it has never ever for one minute been about the money for me. We could have retired after our first business was acquired and I’m sure many people would have. But for us, it just didn’t work and I didn’t feel like I “had it all.” Yes, I like to be able to go to bed at night knowing that I have money to pay my bills and have no stress. But, more important to me is being able to watch and see people’s lives change and transform in the work I do and services I provide. That’s why I still work and still run a business!


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

Bouncing back: 5 tips for climbing out of a rut

climbing out of a rut

Y’all. I’ve been in Texas almost a month and I’ve realized two things. The first, I say y’all now. The second is that I am in a big time rut.

For starters, I’m coming off of one of the most stressful experiences of my life. Buying and selling a home doesn’t always bring out the best in a person. Moving cross country is a total mental, physical and emotional drain. Uprooting toddlers and finding new friends, new things to do and a new school isn’t my idea of a walk in the park. Plus, I’ve had to pull all this off before climbing into bed at 9 p.m. each day because baby Golden is zapping all of my energy for him {or her!} self.

So it’s no secret why I’m in a rut. The boxes are unpacked, the kids are settling into their new school and yet finding a way to climb out of this uninspired, unproductive hole still seems impossible.

If you’re normally quite constructive like me but have found yourself in a rut from time to time, read on!

Cut yourself some slack

As women we tend to be so hard on ourselves. Yet when I give myself a hard time about something, it tends to make me feel way worse. But who hasn’t been in a career or life rut? It happens to the best of us! Over the last few months I’ve chosen to be generous with myself when it comes to how much television I’ve let my kids watch or how little I’ve contributed to this blog. I was doing my best given my situation, all of which was temporary after all.

Start small

You’ll never get out of your rut if you acknowledge you’re in one and decide to to try to climb out. I recommend starting with something small. A big, overwhelming undertaking could send you right back into rut-mode, but taking on a manageable task and finishing it with ease may give you the encouraging boost to move on to the next to-do. Momentum gained!

Find inspiration

If you’re having trouble even getting started, you need to find a bit of inspiration. Maybe it’s going for a walk outside {I always bring my phone on walks because A. music and B. note taking for when those big ideas pop into my head}. Or listening to music. Or visiting an art exhibit. Whatever activity clears your head will help you forget your rut and fill your mind with motivation.  If that nature hike doesn’t shake your rut strut, spend some time with your children, husband or best friend. These people we love {who don’t judge us!} tend to remind us of what we’re capable of.

Do your best

If you’re like me, you are used to giving everything 110%. But vying for perfection could leave you drained or disappointed. For climbing out of a rut you need to abandon your usually high standards and find satisfaction in getting the job done. There’s plenty of time to improve when you’re rut-less.

Keep climbing

You did it! You’ve done something. It may not be your best work. It may not even contribute to your goals at all. But it was something. Anything. And now you can – and will – move forward, gradually introducing a renewed focus and quality. You’ve got this, mama!

“We love that we can continue our mom’s legacy”

family business working moms

Q&A with the Co-Owners of J.L. Childress Co.

One of the reasons I truly enjoy social media is that it allows me to keep up with the people I’ve met throughout my life and what they’re going out and accomplishing in the world.

A standout is one of my sorority sisters, Sarah Gray, who along with her sister Kate Doti co-owns J.L. Childress Co. Started by their mom Jan Childress 30 years ago, these working moms are designing, manufacturing and selling on-the-go accessories in the juvenile market both in the US and internationally. Plus, they’re unveiling a new sub-brand jay elle this August {pumping moms stay tuned!}.

If you’ve got a kid in a car seat and have lost count of diaper changes, you’ll want to keep reading to find out how these sisters are making parenting a breeze for busy mamas like us.


Self-promo time. Tell me what you do.

Sarah: Kate and I are the co-owners of J.L Childress Co. We’re a “small but mighty” company so we all wear many hats. I split my time overseeing the financials & accounting of the company with managing sales to key accounts such as buybuyBaby and Babies ‘R Us and leading our product development initiatives.

Kate: I am responsible for all of our operations & logistics including our full supply chain, as well as managing sales to key accounts such as Amazon.com and our International Sales relationships and finding time for some marketing & PR in my spare time 🙂

Did you always plan to go into the family business?

Kate: It wasn’t always an obvious choice for me, but in 2007, when my parents approached me and told me that they were considering selling the business, I knew in my heart that when I was ready to have kids, working for the family business could provide flexibility and enable me to create work/life balance according to my own terms. Family dynamics within a business are always challenging {especially in our small little offices}, but working with my sister is an amazing journey. We have this successful company with 30 years of history that we get to grow and experiment with. It’s like raising a kid with your sister… not always easy, but so fun!

Sarah: I planned to NOT go into the family business…obviously I had no foresight when I was younger. Things changed when I got married and saw the potential path of my previous career; it was a successful path, but just not the one I really wanted as I began to envision my life as a wife and mother. Kate and I actually semi-worked together in our careers prior to JLC, so I knew that we were a good blend of alike and different, and that we would complement each other well. Working with your sister {or any family member} can be a challenge at times because your “professional filters” can easily be forgotten, but the pros far outweigh the cons. I get to create something amazing with my best friend and share in our successes together…it’s pretty special. Thanks Mom 😉

How have your goals changed since starting families of your own?

Sarah: I actually think my goals have stayed the same, it’s just become more challenging how to achieve them. Pre-baby, I could stay late at the office, travel whenever and wherever, and really dedicate as much time to work as I wanted. Post-baby, the plan is, “how can I squeeze as much as possible into my shorter work day so I can still accomplish my goals?” That’s pretty challenging and I definitely have NOT figured it out yet. Will take any and all advice!

Kate: I agree with Sarah in that my career goals and goals for J.L. Childress have stayed the same, it’s more the timeframe for achieving them that has changed. There are only so many hours in the day and with my kids being so little right now, my #1 goal is to spend as much quality time with them as I can, while still giving my job 100%.

family business working mom sarah
Sarah and her husband love on their sweet baby boy

So what’s your must have baby item?

Sarah: I have a couple {sorry!}. My J.L. Childress Diaper Bag Organizer is so ridiculously handy & helpful {they’ll be available in June at buybuyBaby stores!}. I’ve been using prototypes for over a year and could not live without it. My son is only 19 months so I’ll say this one without any guilt…Wubbanubs J and multiple.

Kate: White noise machines {if I close my eyes and listen right now, I’m on a beach, waves crashing at my feet…}.

Where did the idea for jay elle come from?

Sarah: Working + breastfeeding = pumping at work…and I don’t think I’ve found ANYONE who likes to pump, especially at work. When I was pumping for my son, I was pumping 4 times at work and waking up in the middle of the night to pump enough milk for the next day. It was a challenging experience all around and I kept thinking working & pumping mamas need help! They’re trying to give their kids valuable breastmilk and struggling to fit this new “pump routine” into their “work routine.” I thought…what could we possibly do to help these moms? From there, we spent lots of time talking to all sorts of working & pumping moms to figure out what they needed to help them through this experience. This ended up being community, organization, discretion and encouragement. We used these four pillars to develop jay elle and our first product, a Breast Pump Bag Kit, will launch this August. jay elle is a play on J.L. Childress, and the company’s logo is written in our Mom’s handwriting. Life always comes full circle!

Kate: We love that we can continue our mom’s legacy with jay elle. She started J.L. Childress with a bag for mom’s pumping at work and now 30 years later, we’re doing the same thing for a new generation of pumping moms!

What’s the best part of owning a business?

Kate: Continuing a family legacy and watching our ideas and hard work make it onto store shelves for other parents to enjoy.

Sarah: Flexibility! It’s the reason I am at J.L. Childress. If my son is really sick I can go home and be with him, or if he has a school event {some day} I’ll always be there. It of course means I’ll be finishing my work that evening when he’s sleeping, but at least I can be there for anything and everything.

What is a typical day like for you?

Kate: I’m still nursing my 13 month old, so she ends up in bed with my husband and me around 4 a.m. for a very-early-morning feeding. Cuddling with her in bed is my absolute favorite time of day right now and I’m cherishing every minute as I know it won’t last forever. Mornings after that are a total frenzy. I bring my 3-year-old to preschool and make it into the office by 9 a.m. I try to get home before 5 p.m. to squeeze in as much playtime as possible before the dinner/bath/bedtime routine takes over. By 8 p.m., I’m on the couch with my laptop, a glass of wine or a popsicle….or any combination of the three.

Sarah: I wake up to Danny making noises in his crib around 6:45/7 a.m. and then play and get him breakfast, attempt to get ready for work but usually playing with him wins. Nanny arrives at 8 a.m, rush to get ready in 30 minutes, head to office by way of local coffee shop, checking emails on the way in, and finally in office by 9 a.m. Work…work…work…mainly emails, meetings, phone calls, etc. 5 minutes for lunch at my desk {who has time to eat?!} and more work…work…work. 4:45 p.m rush to get out of the office so I’m home by 5 p.m. to relieve the Nanny and then play time {usually outside in the backyard}! Attempt to make a healthy dinner around 6 p.m. if there’s food in the house {or go to the grocery store with a toddler..eek!}. More family play time when Daddy gets home, then bath at 7 p.m., stories then bedtime at 7:30 p.m. Sleeping baby = pour myself a glass of wine and catch up on my favorite shows {or work!}. I go to sleep around 10 p.m.…wake up the next day…and repeat!

family business working mom kate
Kate Doti smiles with her family of four

Finish this sentence. If I could go back and do it all again, I wish someone would have told me that…

Kate: …you should start looking for childcare early. I also wish that someone could have given me tips on questions to ask. Many of my friends come to me now for advice on childcare and I tell them to 1) trust your gut, 2) if it’s not working, change now – don’t wait and 3) remember that they work for YOU and should be making YOUR life easier.

Sarah: …you won’t know how you feel about working after baby until AFTER BABY. A lot of women make plans to return to work or not return to work before they have a baby, and I think actually having a baby can really change your mind and change your priorities. Just give yourself the space to really decide what will work best for YOU and your family. And any decision you make is the right one.

What’s the hardest part about being a working mom?

Sarah: Finding time for myself. When I’m at work, my work has my full attention. When I’m at home, my son and my husband have my full attention. I don’t get my full attention very much, and it’s been really challenging for me to give myself permission to do things for ME and take time for ME…and even when I do give myself permission, I rarely take action. Still working on it 🙂

Kate: Missing out on so much of my kids’ days.

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

Sarah: My Mother-in-Law says you can have it all, just not all at the same time. And I agree that “it all” is very different for everyone. I think after having a baby the importance of living in the moment really hit me. All I know is that we have TODAY…I don’t know what tomorrow will bring and I can’t change what happened yesterday. For me, any idea of “having it all” is really just living every individual day to the fullest, even if it’s just a pretty normal day. It means doing your best, loving the most, being as happy as you can be and being at peace with your life and loved ones. I think if you focus on each day, that eventually each day builds and builds and your goals become reality. If I can go to bed at the end of each day and be happy and healthy, and my family is happy and healthy, THAT’S having it all for me.

Kate: I do think that I have “it all,” and that the hardest part is being mindful and recognizing that we have been given such blessings. It’s difficult to always want more and to feel like things can always be better, which is a good thing for self-improvement and especially in building a business, but it can also be destructive if you don’t appreciate what you already have. To have healthy kids, a husband who is my soulmate and a selfless father {and cooks dinner 7 days a week… don’t hate me}, a successful career, to be able to work with my sister, be surrounded by family and friends who love and support us… I think that’s pretty much all I could ask for.


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

“Be present as these moments go by fast”

support women entrepreneurs

Q&A with Violette de Ayala

Today’s a big day! Femfessionals Kansas City is celebrating it’s one year anniversary. While I couldn’t be more excited to recognize the amazing women {like her and her and her} who make our community great, it will also be bittersweet as I pass on the presidency in preparation for my upcoming move.

My year launching Femfessionals in Kansas City wouldn’t even have been possible without the woman behind it all. While I’ve never met Violette de Ayala in person, I’ve shared countless conversations with her by phone, email and social platforms.

Not only did Violette teach me the profound impact we can have on one another {often without even knowing one another in the tradition sense}, but she’s showed me {and thousands of others} that we become our best, most successful selves when we lift up one another.


Self-promo time. What do you do?

I am the Founder and CEO of Femfessionals and committed to helping millions of women grow business together, in positivity and in harmony according to their vision.

If that wasn’t your gig, what do you think you’d be doing?

I would be an Angel Investor helping women entrepreneurs grow business! Same thing, but from another perspective.

What on your resume led you here?

I launched my first business at the age of 22 and haven’t stopped launching businesses. I have owned companies in personal training, Pilates, marketing and PR industries. All of my past experience helps me serve women globally from the understanding of knowing how to create a business from scrap funding and limited time. I personally know the real struggle of launching businesses while raising a family and juggling life and work and all the other stuff in between.

It sounds like you’re paying it forward!

The number one question I get is “how do you do it?” As a result, I teach many classes sharing my method of duplicating your productivity in half the time of the norm.

What has been your own biggest setback?

The hardest challenge has been what many women entrepreneurs experience themselves: a lack of funding. More and more companies share through the arms of advertisement how they invest in women and their businesses. Yet still, its incredibly difficult for women to find outside funding. We didn’t have the financial funding/support like some of the other organizations. We had to wear many hats and work 75-hour work weeks and make less then minimum wage a few times. We are not alone in that scenario. I hope to personally change this in the future.

What keeps you motivated?

Hearing the ways our organization has changed the lives of thousands of women. They have grown businesses together, shifted their lives to walk in their purpose and become friends along the way. That’s the best! I love to see our FEMS connect on social media and work together to lift one another up.

Finish this sentence. If I could go back and do it all again, I wish someone would have told me that…

…it will all work out and stop the stressing.

support women entrepreneurs

 

What is a typical day like for you?

My typical day is a sitcom on Comedy Central! The standard is 6 am wake up with some email responses. 7 am out the door with the two girls {one on a bus stop and the other directly to school}. I hit Equinox to work out because it makes me a better human. I work back to back until 3 pm carpool. Then 4 pm carpool. Then the pick ups between girl scouts, volleyball and all the other playdates and activities. After dinner and homework time, I connect back at work from 7-9 and then work again from 9:45-10:30. I work on Sunday’s a bit to prepare for the week and that is my golden hour.

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

It takes a planet!!! My village {aka. my planet} is composed of my neighbors, my girlfriends and other mommies. Steve is a great dad and works a lot of hours during the week. On the weekends he helps out and takes the kids out so I have some downtime. I have a great support system.

What’s the best part about being a mom?

The best part of being a mom is witnessing three humans change the world through their kindness and service to others. All three of our little ones, in their own way, are authentic in their connection of how they want to leave their legacy. It’s beautiful to know the world is a better place because of these kiddos.

Any advice for working moms?

Create a network with other moms to help you and be sure to dedicate quality time to your kids. Schedule off work hours/no wifi connectivity time. Be present as these moments go by fast. The worst regret is not being there for those moments that seem ordinary but turn out to be filled of lifetime highlights. Be. Present.

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

We all have our own personalized visions, our own desires and goals. “Having it all” {as I define it} is a fluid state of mind that continues from one platform to another one. We never arrive at the state of perfection but instead flow continuously within harmony to our next great milestone. Everything in life is compromise and balance, and between those lines is the sweet spot of having it all. To discover that delicate balance is indeed the gold of the topic.


I always ask my mamas if there is anything else they want to share at the end of their interview. Violette ended with these words: support other women by purchasing from their stores, using their services, recommending them to others and being there to lift others up when needed.

Amen.

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

3 reasons why you should always respond

why you should always respond

I’m a firm believer that you should go after what you want, because the worst anyone can tell you is no. But what happens when that person you’re reaching out to isn’t saying no, they aren’t getting back to you at all?

It can be frustrating if you’re on the receiving end of the phone that doesn’t ring or the email that never gets answered. Maybe you’re even guilty of being the one failing to respond from time to time.

I’ve written about why I think it’s important to care about what other people think before, but I think it’s even more relevant in the workplace, especially if you own a business. By failing to respond, you may be doing some permanent damage to your reputation.

How do you resist the urge to ignore? It can be tough. For one thing, sales calls can be extremely irritating. If you’re like me, you may not pick up when an unknown number calls. For two months straight I received a call at the exact same time every day on my cell phone. I complained about it to anyone that would listen. Why wouldn’t they take a hint? When would they stop calling? The nerve!

Then one day I answered. It was a very nice salesperson. Person. There was actually someone being paid to harass me everyday at the exact same time. I kindly told him that I wasn’t interested and could he please remove my phone number from the list. I never received another call. The worst he heard was no.

We live and work in a highly distracting world full of social media networks and open office floor plans. Achieving efficiency is hard enough, and now you’re supposed to carve out a part of your day just to get back to people? Yup.

While not every group email requires a reply all, it’s important to consider whether any damage could be done {to you or the initiator} by not getting back to the people who reach out to you.

Here’s three reasons why I think you should always respond when people contact you.

Responding makes you reliable

I used to work with someone who was notorious for not responding to emails. I’m not sure if he never read them or actively chose not to reply. Either way, he quickly earned a reputation for not being a very reliable employee. People began questioning his ability to do his job and stopped soliciting his contributions to projects.

On the flip side, Facebook actually rewards businesses with a badge when they have an impressive response rate. Who wouldn’t want to work with a business that’s been endorsed for their dedication to customer service?

Responding builds relationships

We all know the saying, “treat others how you want to be treated.” I’m not sure why, but most people don’t seem to be applying the golden rule when a phone or computer come into the picture. Do you like being ignored? Me neither!

The truth is, communication builds relationships, and these days a large majority of our communicating isn’t taking place face to face. Get comfortable on the phone, learn email etiquette, and understand what is {and isn’t} appropriate to put on the internet. Then take the time to respond and engage and watch your relationships flourish.

Responding creates opportunities

There is a lot of junk mail out there, so I understand the temptation to send to spam. About a year ago I received a pretty generic sales pitch on LinkedIn about bringing a women’s organization to Kansas City. Other than my name, nothing about the message was customized. And it was sent from a complete stranger from halfway across the country. I almost deleted it. I think about my decision to respond all the time. The messages turned into phone calls which grew into an amazing community for local professional women and business owners and has contributed to my personal and professional growth one hundred times over. Imagine the opportunities missed by not getting back to someone!

I’m not saying you need to chime in at the end of an unnecessarily long email chain that lost it’s productivity nine emails ago. In fact, please don’t. But before you decide to leave someone hanging, I do encourage you to ask yourself if turning a blind eye could come back to bite you.

Do you ever think it’s appropriate not to get back to someone? Tell me in the comments.

“There was no guarantee that I would be successful, but I still took the risk”

took the risk on bridal business

Q&A with Dede Palmer

When I first met Dede Palmer, I immediately found myself admiring her confidence. Something about her truly says, “I’ve got this.” After learning more about her background as an accountant and complete 180 degree turn into the bridal industry, it became clear that any sense of accomplishment that Dede portrays is because she’s earned it.

Dede is smart and savvy, sure, but it’s her drive to be great at whatever it is that she decides to take on that is truly inspiring.

But being a numbers gal with a keen eye for ivory gowns is just one piece of what makes this working mom a success. She takes care of her family the same way she operates her business – by giving them 110%.


Self-promo time. Tell me about your business.

I own Altar Bridal, a boutique that specializes in selling designer wedding gowns and wedding day accessories. The store opened June 1, 2010 in Kansas City, MO, just south of the Plaza. I made the decision to move the store to Leawood, KS July 2014. We opened with and continue to focus on carrying a collection of gowns by designers that are up and coming, have a unique flair about them, are made with high quality in mind, and that are not carried by other boutiques in the Greater Kansas City area. We also LOVE to support local Kansas City designers. We currently have 2 local gown designers that we work with as well as numerous local accessory designers.

If making brides look good wasn’t your job, what would you doing?

I love teaching and helping others problem solve. So, I could go for teaching classes at the college level or small business consulting.

What is the best part of being a business owner?

Freedom {for the most part}. And not just freedom from the day to day grind of the office job I used to have, but freedom to choose how I run my business. Freedom to decide what my day is going to look like…or at least how I think it will look. You never know what the next phone call or email will bring you in the bridal business.

Tell me about a time you failed or really messed up.

Oh boy. Failure is like a demon to me. I’ve never really wanted to do or try anything that I might fail at until I started this business. And even then the early mantra was “Failure is not an option.” Since then, I’ve been trying to be ok with the possibility of failing. And so while I don’t really have any massive failure to report, there have been lots of mistakes along the way. I’d say the biggest one was over-hiring early on for the store. I thought I needed numerous employees – but really that was just a cash suck. I’ve loved everyone that has worked at the store at one time or another, but if I could go back in time, I know I would do things a bit differently when it comes to hiring and managing my payroll expenses.

How did you overcome it?

I now run the store pretty lean. But try to recognize when we do need the extra hands on deck. I’m also better about managing hours being worked and only hiring and having staff work when I need them.

What is a typical day like for you?

Hmmm, doesn’t exist. But I think that is one of the perks of owning your own business. Now that I have a staff at the store that I can fully trust and rely on, I don’t have to be at the store every day. Which is life changing. If I want to go to the gym, get laundry done, work on some store marketing, take my daughter to violin, balance the store checkbook, get dinner started, promo a trunk show on social media…I can. All in one day.

They say it takes a village. Who takes your daughter to violin if you can’t swing it?

This is where my family is so blessed beyond measure it’s hard to even explain. About 6 years ago we became friends with two other families that had kiddos about the same age as ours. Over the last 6 years all of us have truly become friends that are family. We eat dinner together 1-2 times a week on average. Our kids are more like siblings. And whenever someone needs backup, it’s a no-brainer, they will be there. It’s awesome. I can’t imagine getting through life without them.

Have you had to miss a moment in your child’s life that you regret?

Of course I’ve missed some moments here and there but nothing that I deeply regret. But if I didn’t have the freedom that I do because of owning my own business, and was back in the cubicle crunching numbers…I fear I might have a different answer.

What is your favorite part about being a mom?

Just knowing what it’s like to love a human being like you love no one else in the world. I know that sounds cheesy, but when I truly stop the world around me and intentionally look at my kiddos, it takes my breath away. In those moments, it’s when I feel the overwhelming feelings of love and responsibility for these two human beings.

If your kids take away one thing from you running a business, what do you think that would be?

I hope that they realize that there was no guarantee that I would be successful {still isn’t}, but that I still took the risk, put myself out there, and did the hard work. I don’t want them to ever second guess their ability to follow their passions or fear failure without even trying.

What keeps you sane?

Time off. Like off the grid, time-off.

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

Don’t worry about the other moms. Do what works for you and what makes you feel like being a good mom to your kiddos.

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

Yes. I have a loving family, amazing friends, food in my belly and roof over my head. What else do ya really need? Well, besides a few cute outfits to make you feel fashionable on a gloomy day.


If you know someone getting ready to tie the knot, I can think of no one better to outfit the bride to be in the gown of her dreams than Dede and her staff at Altar Bridal.

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