1. Why Marissa Mayer Deserves “New Mom” Kudos, Not Criticism

    October 8, 2012

    Last Friday, amidst the morning shuffle of getting kids dressed and packed for school, I caught a clip on the news about new mom and Yahoo CEO, Marissa Mayer. I had to turn the volume up so high my neighbors could probably hear it, just to drown out the noise of my family. I’m glad I did because I was able to learn that Mayer had just landed the cover for Fortune magazine as one of their “50 Most Powerful Women.” Good for her, right?! No, the news was that she was catching flack for not posing pregnant on the cover. Right. Because she’s in the spotlight for being an extremely successful young executive who happened to just have a baby, she should automatically become an unofficial spokesperson for working mothers by letting this nine-month pregnancy wholly define who she is as a person and a professional. Makes total sense.

    Now, I am one to talk, since I’ve had three children over the lifetime of my business, and this story just really rattles me. The wrath of these female critics is so completely the opposite of what should be happening right now! Instead of celebrating her big moments (brand new baby and the cover of Fortune in one week, whoa!), let’s take this person who’s broken through that glass ceiling, a woman being hired as CEO of a high tech company, and let’s ostracize her. Now I don’t hide the fact that I’m a mother, but it’s only one part of who I am, and it doesn’t have much bearing on the daily operations of my business. Most of my clients never even knew I was pregnant, let alone had a baby. Not because I was ashamed, but because it was irrelevant. Why shout it off the rooftops if I didn’t feel like it?

    Oh, and Mayer plans to go back to work after a couple weeks? Shame on her! I could be wrong, but I think you’ll have a hard time finding a group of CEOs or business owners who can justify taking more than two weeks off for any reason. Obviously I don’t think that pregnant women should be discriminated against, and I agree with Mayer that employees (mothers and fathers) should get plenty of time off to enjoy this very special time with their newborn babies. But I would be shocked if the CEO of a large corporation took three months off to be a mother. Did I want three months to recuperate and bond with my babies? Sure. How much time was I able to take? Three weeks, max. While it’s one of the most gratifying moments in life, having a child does not release us from all other responsibilities in life, whether that is looking after younger siblings and maintaining a household, or running a business that represents many other people’s livelihoods. Life goes on, and we do our best.

    There’s a great debate about whether or not women can “have it all,” personally and professionally. YES. They can. But there are sacrifices that must be made in order to really have it all. The fact that Marissa Mayer landed the Yahoo gig with a bun in the oven is amazing, in and of itself. The fact that at her level of success, she felt confident enough that she could both start a family and maintain a career is also great! The fact that crabby bloggers are criticizing her for not bearing all the the cover of Fortune Demi Moore-style is a disservice to her accomplishments and the great example that she’s already set for young women. Let’s be realistic and give Mayer the credit she deserves.

  2. My Disney Princess is Going to be a CEO

    July 25, 2011

    I find it increasingly hard to swallow the notion that Disney Princesses are ruining today’s young girls. Suffice to say, I grew up on Disney and I’m running a company comprised of intelligent and self-assured women and men. Somehow I can’t translate that into an entertaining children’s story… Wendy… Peter Pan? I don’t know.

    Contrary to trending beliefs, having childhood princess fantasies did not crush my self-confidence and it did not infect me with the idea that I needed a man to wisk me away into some kind of royal domestic bliss. I remember when a new Disney movie would come out and how all I wanted was to hold that shiny plastic VHS case in my hands so I could watch The Little Mermaid over and over and over again. But believe it or not, my thoughts on female role models and romantic relationships were almost entirely shaped by those I witnessed in real life. I remember from a pretty tender age seeing women who were in my family, or friends of our family, who felt really trapped in their marriages, unable to make independent decisions, unable to speak freely, unable to spend their own money and generally feeling pretty oppressed. Maybe they weren’t the breadwinners of the family, maybe their relationship had just degraded to this sorry state from years of neglect, there were hundreds of factors in play. For some reason, I don’t think that watching Cinderella as a child was one of them. Because I freaking loved Cinderella, and I knew exactly what kind of relationship I didn’t want with whatever man I chose to be in my life.


  3. 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Me: Thing One

    February 2, 2011

    Aedan, 2010

    Yes, that’s a Cat in the Hat reference (Thing One, Thing Two). I’ve been watching it all day with a sick little boy on this snowed-in work-from-home day.

    And probably as a result of spending five full days working from my home office watching the snow pile up around our hilltop home, I have been doing a lot of thinking about miscellaneous topics and realized that this blog is getting stuffy with all kinds of technical factual business, and it might be interesting to know a little bit more about the voice behind it. So I have committed to a series of random posts further introducing myself.

    Thing One:

    I became a C.E.O. “officially” the day before I gave birth to my second son. It would have still be memorable for me I think even if it hadn’t been permanently associated with Aedan arriving five weeks early. Surprise! The timing is appropriate however, as I have literally raised my business along with my children for the past five years. When asked “Who’s the boss?” a couple years ago Sean would quickly tell you, “Mommy.” Now he’s five and that answer has changed to “Me,” or even sometimes, “Aedan.” (Two year olds are always in charge.) (more…)

  4. Working from Home: Merging the Domestic & The Professional Experience

    May 23, 2010

    This week’s revelation: I like working from home. This sounds silly. Who wouldn’t? Well for this workaholic mom, after weeks of feeling anxiety about not being in the office, I have come to a place where I am enjoying being at home every day, and I also do not feel especially compelled to be at the office. This transition has taken several weeks, a few months really, of feeling daily guilt about my absence from work. No doubt this is why it feels like a revelation. Chalk it up to maternal instinct, but suddenly nothing is as important as being with little Eva. Beyond that, I am thoroughly enjoying being able to multi-task my work to-do list and my home to-do list throughout the day. You know I’m not happy unless I have a full task list!

    Typically coming home from the office was met with the exhaustion of immediately needing to jump from work mode to domestic mode, looking after our two boys, not to mention trying to address things that need attention on our fixer upper New England home. My work is never done! But being home the past several weeks has given me the opportunity to put our house on the to-do list, and multi-task to tackle some much-needed updates and repairs. Bringing our garden to life, throwing some paint up, reorganizing our living spaces are just a few things that my husband and I have been able to devote time to between feedings and Skyping. Making such regular progress in this area of our life has been really cathartic–especially now that the kitchen is done, and small jobs seem all the more manageable!

    That said, Pearse Street is (as always) my other “baby,” and I am bugging my staff with questions and updates just as frequently if not more than I usually do. But so long as things are running smoothly, I don’t feel that I need to be in-office, in the flesh, when I can be occupying dual roles, at home and at work. The irony is that when I started the business 5 years ago, this is precisely what I had mind, until our business grew so quickly that my level of involvement was no longer open for negotiation.

    This could all be a phase. As Eva grows and starts to be able to hold her own with her rambunctious brothers a little better, I will no doubt feel more compelled to return to my daily office regime once again. For the time however, I am glad to be able to take this reprieve and the opportunity to re-prioritize and take care of some long-neglected home matters, bettering our personal lives and my overall peace of mind!

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  5. Celebrating the New Arrival and Yes, Still Getting Work Done!

    May 17, 2010

    I’m officially that negligent blogger! I have a good excuse however. I’ve spent the past few weeks anxiously awaiting the arrival of our third child, and this Mother’s Day, I was blessed to finally meet her! Since leaving the hospital early last week I’ve been able to catch up on my email, get updates on projects, connect with my clients and coordinate a few milestones at work. (So glad she came on a weekend!) Unfortunately six weeks maternity leave is just not in the cards for this C.E.O.  :/

    That said… my head is still quite firmly in the new-blissful-mommy clouds. Our little girl is officially a true beauty and an amazing blessing. The experience of having children is well beyond words, as any adoring parent can tell you. It’s a combination of relief, bliss, excitement, anxiety and of course, the inevitable exhaustion. I have been overwhelmed by all of this, in addition to the great amount of love and support from our friends, family and extended network of Pearse Street team members and even clients! (more…)

  6. Stressed is Desserts Spelled Backwards

    March 16, 2010

    So I took the weekend off.

    I still checked my email and Facebook a few times a day, but made a point to not aimlessly surf or brainstorm new concepts. I cooked some decent meals, cleaned my house, played with the kids, tackled a few small home projects and hosted two poker tournaments with our friends. Productive, good fun, exhausting.

    Sunday nights are usually my pre-game into the work week so that when I get to work on Monday morning to a pile of work, I don’t feel too overwhelmed. But this past week was a mix of loving work and hating work, so I am wondering how to emotionally prepare for the next five days.

    It was actually a pretty good week overall. I connected with two Inc. columnists this week. Meg Hirshberg, writes regularly on the juggling act of balancing life and career. As a mother of three, she sympathized with my current “condition” (as I’m calling it these days) and the challenge of maintaining clarity through the nonstop chatter and activity of a two-year-old and a four-year-old at home. It’s always encouraging to connect with someone who has been there, especially someone who’s writing about it. I read another post by a fellow Smith College alum and new mom whose maternity leave has expired. She mentioned her surprise appreciation for having emerged from the “pregnancy fog” at work. I had forgotten all about this and was momentarily excited about when that day will come for me too. After seven months, the fog begins to feel permanent.


  7. Where Are Your Cojones? Gender Roles for the CEO Mom

    January 22, 2010

    Warning: This is probably extremely offensive to both sexes. Sorry, it’s just the way I feel.

    As a young female in a professional role  typically occupied by men (C.E.O.), in a male-dominated industry (web/software development and technology), it would be fair to say that in order to get through my day I have to be a bit mannish at times. I also work mostly with men on my staff, and I’d say 90-95% of our clientele and service providers are also male. Now, I’m not the type of feminist who feels the need to de-feminize herself to excel professionally in a “man’s world.” I do religiously wear pants and mundane colors to work, but trust me, I celebrate the sisterhood! There are times, however, when I have exchanges that leave me thinking, Holy Trump, where are your cojones? And why are mine bigger than yours?!

    Moodiness, wishy-washiness, whininess and above all dramatics are all qualities that I have a hard time accepting in my male or female counterparts, especially when I’m the one with the triple progesterone levels on a daily basis. (Thanks, baby!) In fact when it comes to women, I realize that I may have even higher expectations for attitude, management and professionalism, because of my role and the responsibilities I carry with it.

    It is certainly odd to think about gender roles in our particular professional environment. For all intents and purposes, I am “the man” at work. Decision-maker, bread-winner and even at times defender. And while I sometimes bring the boss mentality home with me, truly, I’m more than happy to come home to my two little babies who love me for being their mommy: the nurturer, meal-cooker and house-cleaner. The way going to work can save my sanity at times, coming home to my domestic role can do the exact same thing. (more…)