Many women I know have a hard time putting themselves first.
By Naama Bloom (Head of Marketing, Harvest)
I’m staring down the barrel of 40. And my life has never been more uncertain or exciting than it is today. Five years ago, I was a newlywed with a secure corporate job at a Fortune 100 company. Today, I am a mother of two, married to a tech entrepreneur (same guy), and I lead marketing at a fast-growing software company. Oh, and I have a business on the side that I run “in my free time.” This type of massive shift was not what I expected for my 40th year but I’m happy.
Tired, but happy.
Here’s how I got from there to here and why.
Shortly after I got married, my husband David left the company where we both worked to found a startup, Ordr.in. We had a newborn and both worked more than full time. I was exhausted, but he wasn’t. He was inspired. His day to day was exhilarating. The difference between his experience and mine was profound.
My corporate job was good. There was balance and stability. I was well paid and the people were smart. But I wasn’t inspired. I wanted more impact than I could have at a company with 50,000 employees. With my husband already knee deep in a startup, we needed my benefits and salary. But emotionally, I needed more.
When our second child was born, I used my maternity leave to put my career on a different trajectory. I hustled like I’ve never hustled before. I was on the West Coast for interviews twice before my son was eight weeks old. When asked at the end of a full day of interviews if I had any questions, I replied, “Yes, where’s your pumping room?”
Many women I know have a hard time putting themselves first. Once you become a mom, it’s even harder. There were so many reasons why I should just stay put: wrong time; too old, too busy, two babies, a mortgage, etc. I wasn’t even sure if it was possible to find what I was looking for. I put those reasons out of my head and said, “f*** it.” My husband (my biggest supporter) didn’t let those reasons stand in his way when he started his company. Why should I?
I looked at a lot of opportunities. Some I passed on, others passed on me. But I kept looking for that just right place. I found it at Harvest where the team is made up of grown ups who care about results, not face time, where my scope of responsibilities is broad, and where there are other parents. Heaven.
Like all working moms, my life can be overwhelming. In order to manage, I need tools.
My tool of choice is the 80/20 rule. Let go of any attachment to perfection, define what’s important up front, and focus on the 80% that really matters. That other 20%? Forget it even exists. Once you find your 80%, look again. Even within important jobs, there are almost always things that are less important. Get rid of them.
You need to be ruthless. I am blessed with an ability to cut through BS and I deploy that skill aggressively! You can’t work fast if you’re obsessed with perfection. And you can’t raise a family, work full-time and start a business if you’re not efficient. We all care about different things so our 80/20 bargains are different. Find the one that works for you.
Not long ago, I got an idea. Why should I have three half-used boxes of tampons under my sink and still be surprised at work when my period arrives each month? I want a subscription service that delivers the right supplies at the right time. But it was just an idea that I hadn’t acted on.
Then one day over dinner, David asked me, “Are you going to be angry if you read about this business in TechCrunch?” My stomach dropped and now my budding business, HelloFlo is what I do each night after my kids go to sleep.
By stripping away the clutter in my life, in my job, and in my mind, I found amazing capacity to do more for myself that truly matters. Even starting a business. I have to work outside the home. But I also choose to. And I’ve found a great way to make it work.
For me, being inspired and motivated at work enables me to be inspired and motivated at home. These days, women’s choices of family and career are constantly scrutinized. But I think, it simply comes down to living in a way that makes you happy and skipping the rest. If it’s work, great. If it’s family, great. Just find that inspiration and go for it.
Editor’s note: Got a question for our guest blogger? Leave a message in the comments below.
About the guest blogger: Naama Bloom is Head of Marketing at Harvest, a leader in time tracking and reporting used by thousands of teams around the world. Before Harvest, she spent 9 years at American Express OPEN in a variety of roles including customer acquisition, loyalty and brand management. Naama was one of the chief architects behind the launch of OPENForum.com. She is a mother, wife and budding entrepreneur with HelloFlo. Follow her on Twitter at @naamabloom.